Lee Odden

Optimizing With Youtility – Free Tools to Better Understand Your Customers and Create Marketing That Matters

Youtility for Better MarketingAs you know, we rarely run guest posts but today I’d like to welcome best selling author Jay Baer to TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog.  Jay’s new book, Youtility, is lighting the bookseller charts on fire and has offered an excerpt for your reading pleasure. 

After meeting Jay about 5 years ago at SXSWi, it’s been a pleasure to see his rise as a digital marketing powerhouse keynote speaker, consultant and all around great guy. Jay is a veteran agency owner going back to the very early days of the internet and an entrepreneur. He’s worked with numerous Fortune 500 brands and is one of the few marketing “celebrities” that walks the talks he’s giving. Enjoy!

Lee Odden

RIP Google Reader, External Keyword Tool is Next

Google Reader RIP

Click to open full infographic – Wordstream

Today Google has retired Google Reader joining a long list of other Google products that have been discontinued. See a full list by clicking the Wordstream infographic to the right.

The reason offered by Google: “usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products.”

I suppose it’s to be expected when you have an organizational culture where 20% of your time can be spent experimenting on new projects. Of those that make it to market as betas, many will not become viable as contributions to the business.  Luckily, in the case of Google Reader there are plenty of alternatives like Feedly.

Lee Odden

Opening Up Twitter Analytics to All – Smart Marketing Move ala Google

Twitter AnalyticsIs Twitter the right place for your social media investment?

Whether you have time or ad dollars to spend, this is a question that marketers are visiting and revisiting as the demand for social media performance increases.

According to Twitter, 35% of consumers that follow a brand are more likely to purchase from that brand. Twitter users are also 47% more likely to visit the company’s website and 35% are more likely to retweet content from a business they follow.

Is Twitter right for you? How do you know the performance of your Twitter engagement and marketing activities?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have access to Twitter Analytics without having to advertise?

Yes, it would. And now you can.

Lee Odden

How Personas Guide Meaningful Content Creation & Optimization

Optimize Content with PersonasAs marketers accumulate information about customers, it is also important to identify common characteristics and patterns to help guide messaging, engagement and offers.

Behaviors that contribute to your business objectives like, sales, advocacy, sharing, referrals and repeat business might contribute to your understanding of an “ideal” customer that can be characterized as a persona:

Admin Bob – Influences the CEO on software purchases and cares about price, service and speed.

Being able to identify your “best” customers also means there’s another end to the spectrum:  patterns that reflect undesirable customer behaviors and an “avoid” persona:

Gatekeeper Jane – Maintains power by filtering information to the CEO about software purchases. Cares about control, recognition and status quo.

Companies that solve different problems in different markets may determine that multiple personas best represent their target audience.

Lee Odden

The Truth About Content Marketing & SEO

SEO tunnel visionOver the past few years, there’s been a tremendous focus on content creation in the search and overall digital marketing world. Once you get past the hype, there are plenty of well documented case studies showing the ROI of a content marketing approach.

Unfortunately, content marketing campaigns are often guilty of paying little more than cursory attention to the optimization of digital assets for search. There might be a “keywords” or “SEO” check box on a task list, but it’s not anything that takes full advantage of search based discovery. The content might be engaging and inspire action, but good luck finding it on a search engine.

Why is this? It can be a mix of factors ranging from the ambiguity of SEO cause and effect to prioritizing tactics according to the ability to implement and understand how to measure their impact.

Miranda Miller

7 Steps to SEO at Scale: How to Ramp Up Your Search Engine Optimization Strategy

Miranda Miller     Online Marketing, SEO

Scalable SEO in brands and organizationscomScore reports that in April 2013 there were over 20 billion search queries and of the 13 billion+ handled by Google, 16% of daily searches have never been seen before.  Each of those attempts represents buyers looking for solutions at the moment of need. Online marketers that take advantage of modern, scalable search engine optimization best practices as part of their overall digital marketing mix can gain a significant advantage over competitors to become “the best answer” when it matters most.

Understanding the basics of search engine optimization can be challenging given how often major search engines update and change the rules. However, buyers’ overwhelming use of search to find solutions is too great to ignore its influence on the buying cycle and achieving sales growth goals.

Lee Odden

Want to Improve Your Online Marketing? Master These Search & Social Media Tactics

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media

Digital Marketing BasicsFast changing trends and serious competition has digital marketers chasing the latest and greatest tactics like hamsters on exercise wheels.

Good advice is both hard and too easy to come by. Search “social media marketing” on Google and there are over 1 billion results.

All the scrambling often means core skills are overlooked. In fact, one of the easiest things a company can do to improve online marketing performance is to stop sucking at the basics.

When it comes to optimizing for search and social media, well implemented basics are as good for search engines and social networks as they are for your customer’s user experience.

Here are a 8 fundamentals worth applying to your organization’s daily content creation, amplification and optimization process.

Lee Odden

What Should Lead Your Online Marketing Strategy: SEO or Content Marketing?

SEO content marketingThere are quite a few studies showing that companies publishing more blog posts and more content in general equates to generating more business than those that don’t.

I suppose if you’re starting from scratch, adding any kind of content has the potential to improve a company’s ability to attract people seeking to buy.  Since content creation is one of the biggest obstacles to companies realizing gains with content marketing, it’s no wonder that advice about how to produce articles, blog posts, infographics, white papers, and visual marketing has become so popular.

Which brings me to the point of this post. When looking for help with content marketing and content creation, there’s a difference between what one gets from a SEO agency and a content marketing agency. That difference is not so much about one being better than the other, but more about sizing up which is most appropriate for your situation.

Alexis Hall

3 Ways to Use Multi-Channel Analytics Reporting for Better Content Marketing

multi-channel marketing analyticsThe average consumer goes through more than five touch points with an ecommerce business before they convert. This number is trending upward, as companies and customers continue to interact across a greater number of platforms. B2B companies, with often greater price points and a longer buying cycle, may find the number of interactions with prospects prior to conversion even higher.

Good content marketers know that integrated, consistent messaging is critical across multiple digital platforms.  It allows us to connect with our customers how – and when – they expect to connect with us.

With so many touch points between first contact and conversion, how are companies able to break through all of the data within analytics? We need to determine not only which channels are most effective, but also how to customize marketing activities to the behavior and preferences of the audience in that channel, at that point in their decision.

Lee Odden

Drive More Demand for Your B2B Business with Optimized & Socialized Content Marketing

Optimize Socialize B2B Content Marketing

With 9 out of 10 B2B marketers using content marketing, competition for attention is more fierce  than ever. The constant battle with Google algorithm and indexing updates and the masking of useful data against which to optimize has caused many ambiguities when it comes to implementing traditional SEO advice.

That doesn’t mean search doesn’t warrant top priority. Search is core to finding answers in daily business life: Google handles 100 billion queries monthly and 16% of those queries have never been seen before. According to a recent DemandGen report, 81% of B2B buyers start their journey to finding solutions through search.

That means there are huge opportunities for continuous optimization of content performance in search to attract, engage and convert. Great SEO strategy also contributes to great user experience, so it should play an essential role in every digital marketing mix.

Miranda Miller

Never Miss an Opportunity to Engage: Social Marketing Tools to Connect with Influencers

Engage influencers with social toolsThis month, we learned that although 65% of brands participate in influencer marketing, just 10% of total digital marketing spend goes to social, which includes influencer marketing. Some have cried, don’t people see the opportunity? Why aren’t they spending on influencers!

Technorati Media’s 2013 Digital Influence Report shared the above insight, as well as the fact that a mere 6% of social spend is allotted to marketing to influencers. This doesn’t signal a problem to me at all. In fact, it’s an indication that while influencer marketing is recognized as a valuable piece of the online marketing puzzle and many practice it, it doesn’t require a great deal of budget to accomplish. That, friends, is what we call an opportunity.

Evan Prokop

Marketing Automation Software: Tips for Choosing the Right Solution

Evan Prokop     Online Marketing, SEO Tools

How to choose the right marketing automation software solutionMarketing software must be powerful and versatile enough to accomplish specific tasks and automate processes, yet also user-friendly and scalable. The purpose of automation is to help you save time, increase revenue, improve communication and better measure the return on your investment in all marketing activities. However, the right solution for your company must also integrate with your existing solutions and be manageable by the people expected to input data or make sense of the output.

All of these considerations make choosing the right marketing automation software a serious task and not one to be decided on a whim. As an account manager at TopRank, I am often asked to recommend, set up, and manage marketing automation software for our clients. One of the major lessons I’ve learned is that it’s important to choose a platform that is not only within your budget now, but will continue to meet your company’s needs down the road.