5 Awesome Takeaways from HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 Report

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Today’s consumers are much more self-directed in their buying habits, leveraging the internet and mobile technologies to research, review, interact and buy the products and services they need or want. As a result, many brands and marketers are shifting their marketing tactics to join consumers on their buying journey, rather than interrupting their day with a random cold call or talking at them as they flip through a magazine.

That shift is toward inbound marketing tactics such as blogging, eBooks, whitepapers, social media marketing and dozens of other content marketing tactics—a way of effective marketing that TopRank Marketing is all about. And the growth and importance of inbound marketing is only going to grow, according to HubSpot.

Avoid Content Ennui: 10 Creative Blog Types to Serve Your Audience

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When it comes to blog content, a lot of us are serving breakfast when we should be serving dinner.

Let me explain. Odds are you have a go-to breakfast that you eat nearly every day. A bowl of cereal with a banana, some oatmeal with maple syrup, a haunch of beef seasoned with the tears of your enemies—generally there’s not much variety from day to day. On the other hand…

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For dinner, we generally require some variety. Maybe it’s that no one is fully awake for breakfast, so it doesn’t matter what you eat. Maybe it’s the realization that eggs and bacon are perfect foods.

The 4 Essential Questions Your Content Must Answer in Less than 15 Seconds

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A rodeo cowboy gets eight seconds to become a champion. What can content marketers do with nearly twice that time?

HubSpot reports it takes less than 15 seconds for a reader to decide whether or not content is worth the effort. Think about that: In half of the Jeopardy theme, your reader’s mind is already made up.

You’re probably familiar with that statistic–it’s a marketing classic. But what exactly is happening in those 15 seconds?

There’s a series of subconscious questions anyone asks as they’re contemplating reading content. You ask them; I ask them; and our fellow human beings that we call an “audience” ask them, too.

Your content must answer these four essential questions, and fast.

Learn How to Optimize Your Content Marketing Agency Investment

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Each year, brands are investing countless hours and thousands if not millions of dollars in marketing to prospects and current customers with content. Often times, internal marketing teams are finding that they need content marketing agency expertise and support outside of their organization.

Working with an agency that specializes in content marketing can provide brands with a more strategic and scalable marketing program that leverages expertise and additional resources that specialize in content. However, agency retainers can be substantial and there isn’t a marketing executive out there that isn’t in search of maximum return on that investment.

11 Common (and Avoidable!) Content Marketing Mistakes, As Explained by Memes

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Question: How do you get better at content marketing?

Answer: You learn from your mistakes.

Follow-up Question: What’s even better than learning from your mistakes?

Answer: Learning from other people’s mistakes.

If you’re looking for bad content marketing, it’s a buyer’s market. Every brand is a publishing company now. Some are doing amazing work. Most are…not so much.

While bad content may not be of value to its target audience, it definitely is useful for content marketers looking to improve.

I know it’s no fun thinking about the (sometimes costly) mistakes content marketers make. And I definitely don’t want anyone to feel bad who has made these mistakes in the past. We’re not here to shame anyone; we’re here to do better.

10 Free On-Demand Webinars Every Marketer Should Check Out

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Everything in the digital marketing world seems to move at light speed. And like most things in life, just when you think you have it all figured out, everything changes.

As a result, we marketers need to stay sharp, flexible and inspired. We need to make a concerted effort to stay on top of industry news and trends in order to grow our brands and keep pace with the competition. We need to be lifelong learnersand on-demand webinars can be incredible tools to help us do all this and more.

Not only do on-demand webinars help you learn new things and refine your skill set, but because they’re archived events you can listen and learn at your own pace and on your own schedule.

9 Dos & Don’ts for Writing Compelling, Clickable Headlines to Draw in Your Audience

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Well, hello there. I’m so glad you’ve stopped by the TopRank Marketing blog today. I’m pretty sure I know why you’re here — you’ve been searching high and low for the most adorable cat video of the day. Well, here it is:

Okay. Okay. Just kidding. But I really do know why you’re here. You’re looking for a little headline help. And regardless of how you found this blog post today, you believed something valuable, educational and actually on the topic of writing headlines (not cat videos) was waiting for you when you clicked—and that’s all thanks to the headline.

Headlines are arguably the most important aspect of any piece of content. It’s the first thing—and often the only thing—users will read. In fact, 8 out of 10 people read headlines, but just 2 out of 10 will actually continue reading the rest of the content, according to Copyblogger.

7 Content Marketing Lessons Brands Can Learn from Journalists

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Before making my debut in the content marketing world, I was a journalist living out her days at coffee shops, city council meetings, ribbon cuttings and community gatherings. The daily grind was grueling at times, but it was also exciting. The prospect of breaking news always kept me on my toes and every day I worked to give my readers the latest and greatest news and information. And of course, I aimed to deliver that news and information before the competition.

Now as a content marketer, I find that while my job title has changed, the essence of what I do hasn’t. Like journalism, content marketing is all about providing your audience with quality content that informs, engages and develops your brand as a trusted go-to resource.

6 Ways to Use Video to Add More Value to Your Digital Marketing Strategy

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Humans are highly visual beings, so it’s certainly no surprise that online video content is becoming a favorite source of information and entertainment across the digital landscape—and it shows no signs of slowing down.

According to a HighQ infographic, experts believe that 69% of consumer Internet traffic will be from video by 2017—and that number will rise to 79% by 2018. As a result, video is becoming an increasingly important tool for marketers as they work to capture audience attention, provide value and increase engagement across their digital properties. In fact, the same infographic reports that 52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

8 Ways to Build Credibility & Trust with Content Marketing

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Imagine if the Nigerian prince—you know, the one spamming your email—really did have millions of dollars he needed to smuggle out of the country. Imagine he was legitimately offering you a generous portion of the cash to help you out. Think how sad and baffled he would be as yet another email went unanswered, even unopened. His motives are pure—but he lacks credibility, and so he cries himself to sleep on a mountain of landlocked money.

You are offering something of value to your audience (aren’t you?). You’re striving to be authentic and transparent and customer-centric and every other buzzword. But like the theoretical Nigerian prince, your content can be ignored if you don’t establish credibility and build trust.

Hello, It’s Me: How to Add Conversation Back Into Content Marketing

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It was the video sensation of last year, currently sitting at over a billion views on YouTube. It features a smoky-voiced chanteuse in a big fur coat and a thoroughly obsolete flip-phone. And it’s a great example of what’s wrong with the current state of content marketing.

I’m referring, naturally, to Adele’s video for “Hello.” In case you missed it, or any of the hundreds of covers and parodies that it inspired, here it is:

Ostensibly, the song is about trying to make a connection with an old flame. But if you listen closely, it’s the most one-sided conversation imaginable. “Hello, it’s me,” Adele sings. “I’ve been wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet…they say time’s supposed to heal you, but I ain’t done much healing.” Notice how many times she says “I” in those opening lines?

Keeping it Real with Content Marketing: Why Integrity, Storytelling & Creativity Reign Supreme

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Marketing is often seen as a game. A game in which the marketers are the strategists and the customers are the pawns. Unfortunately, that is a game in which nobody wins. Marketers may feel a quick rush due to their success but customers that feel duped or mislead will surely, and quickly spread news of foul marketing practices.

There is no shortcut to providing value to customers through your marketing. In fact, now more than ever self-directed buyers are relying on the content they read online to lead their purchasing decisions and if something “feels fishy” they’ll quickly move on to a more reputable source.

Because of the amount of content being created today, that also means that not only integrity, but creativity and storytelling are an incredibly important part of creating content that connects your customers to your brand.