Tag Archive | "2018"

4 Top Trends in Customer Centricity to Drive Digital Marketing Success in 2018

Consumer Trends Marketers Need to Know

Ask any digital marketer if they’ve been able to set their strategy on autopilot over the past decade, and I bet you’ll get a laugh or two—as well as an emphatic “No.” If we’ve learned anything it’s that the digital landscape is simply too fast-changing to keep the business as usual mindset.

But while the global rise of the internet, the explosion of social media, and the development of mobile technologies and other digital tools and platforms are undoubtedly “to blame” for the constant state of change we operate in—it’s really the everyday use of these innovations that requires our flexibility and attention.

Simply put, thanks to these modern essentials, our behavior, expectations and attitudes as consumers have changed—and they’ll continue to. The mobility and network access enabled by mobile phones and tablets, coupled with the incredible amount of content now available (thanks content marketers), means consumers now have the majority stake in developing their own customer journey.

In fact, last year comScore reported that users spend an average of 69% of their media time on smartphones—and other research shows that the great majority of people use the internet and mobile technologies to research products before they buy.

But what’s the next stage of evolution in consumer behavior? And how can digital marketers adapt their strategies to fit with consumers want and expect?

Below we highlight some of the consumer trends that will have (and are already having) a big impact on digital and content marketing in 2018 and beyond.

#1 – Voice-activated personal assistance will continue to shape consumer behavior.

While voice-command technology began to emerge in the early part of the century, it’s taken on new life over the past couple years thanks to the emergence of mobile personal assistants, and the birth and increasing adoption of tools like Amazon Echo, Cortana and Google Home.

To put it simply, these voice-activated technologies just make life simpler. According to Think with Google’s research, the top reasons people turn to voice-activated speakers are:

  1. It allows them to more easily multitask.
  2. It enables them to do things faster than other devices.
  3. It empowers them to instantly get answers and information.
  4. It makes their daily routine easier.

What does this mean for brands and marketers? Google says their research also shows that people welcome brands to be part of their experience, and they’re open to receiving information that’s helpful and relevant to their lifestyle.

Think With Google Stats on Personal Assistants

Image Credit: Think with Google

As a result, brands and marketers have the opportunity to explore digital advertising opportunities in this arena. But, perhaps more immediately important, optimizing for voice search is critical.

According to Gartner predictions, 30% of all web browsing sessions will be done without a screen by 2020. Some voice search optimization tactics include focusing on featured snippets, using more conversational keywords and content structure, and adding structured data markup to help search engines better understand the context of the content you’re providing.

#2 – Consumers want to experience a brand, product or service before they buy—and video is the conduit.

I think it’s safe to say that video is no longer an emerging or rising marketing trend—it’s part of the now and the future. According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs’ 2018 content marketing benchmark reports, 72% of B2B marketers and 76% of B2C marketers use pre-produced video as part of their strategies.

It’s certainly not difficult to see why video has taken off. Humans are visual creatures by nature, and as the internet, social media and technology have evolved, consumers are spending an increasing amount of time in front of the screen—elevating video as a preferred engagement medium.

But a bit of change is in the air. Consumers don’t just want engagement these days. They’re also looking for an experience—especially when it comes to products they’re interested in.

According to other research by Think with Google, video is straight up changing how people shop. In fact, in the past year, 40% of YouTube users turned to the platform to learn more about a product before they purchased it. In addition, the watch time of “Shop with me” videos—where viewers actually follow video creators as they shop—has increased a whopping 1,000% over the past two years.

YouTube Research by Consumers Statistic

Image Credit: Think with Google

Essentially, consumers are going beyond third-party review sites and word-of-mouth referrals, and looking to video content to learn the good, the bad and the ugly about the products they’re pondering. This means it’s time for B2B and B2C brands alike to elevate the stories they tell using video. Here’s what Think with Google had to say:

“Since many users aren’t going to be able to physically touch a product before they buy it, brands need to come up with creative ways to help people ‘experience’ it online. Think of ways to bring your product to life online so it stands out—like using virtual reality or augmented reality—such as L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius app that lets users virtually try on makeup.

“There’s a whole community of creators testing and evaluating products, including yours. That means users will be validating any claims you make, so make sure your product can live up to them.”


Consumers are looking for an experience – especially when it comes to products they’re interested in. #digitalmarketing #videomarketing @CaitlinMBurgess
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Read: Report: What Marketers Need to Know About the ‘State of Video Marketing’

#3 – Consumers are growing more curious—as well as more impatient.

To say the least, 2017 was an interesting year socially, environmentally, and—of course—politically. As the year unfolded, it’s no surprise that people turned to the internet and search engines to get a better understanding of what’s happening in their communities, countries, and around the world.

From Google’s perspective, the wide world of search in 2017 also unveiled new consumer behaviors. In yet another recent Think with Google piece, 2017 saw a “new super-empowered consumer” take shape.

“We found that people are more curious, more demanding, and more impatient than ever before,” the article said. “We saw evidence of this throughout 2017, and it will be critical for marketers to understand these new behaviors as they move into 2018.”

Essentially, people are getting more specific than ever in their searches—and they expect and demand useful, relevant information quickly. The takeaway for marketers here is that long-tail search term variations will expand—and perhaps even become a new normal. As a result, there’s no better time to double-down on creating—what TopRank Marketing likes to call—best-answer content.

What does best-answer content look like? In a nutshell, best-answer content is:

  1. Addressed to a specific audience
  2. Addressed to a specific query
  3. Substantial
  4. Comprehensive, addressing complimentary queries and crosslinking
  5. Not blatantly promotional

As our CEO, Lee Odden, so eloquently once said: “Stop creating content. And start making answers.”

This should’ve always been part of a marketers mission, but it will be even more critical in the years to come as search and consumer preferences evolve.

In addition, use the data and insights at your fingertips (and pursue new sources) to get a deeper understanding of audience needs, wants and attitudes, develop more holistic consumer personas, and create content and messaging that is highly-personalized. Personalization will be key for meeting consumer demand and expectations.


Stop creating content. And start making answers. – @leeodden #contentmarketing #BeTheBestAnswer
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#4 – Distrust is at an all-time high—which calls for more transparency and authenticity in marketing.

We’ve know for a while that consumers are becoming increasingly weary of advertising and brand messaging. But over the past couple years, the general state of trust across the globe has “imploded.”

The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Survey—an annual trust and credibility survey—showed the largest-ever drop in trust across the world’s four major institutions: business, government, media and NGOs.

2017 Edelman Trust Barometer

In the Executive Summary, the opening note is actually titled “The Implosion of Trust,” and it cites major social, economic and political upheaval—and rising “fake news” speculation—as the unsurprising culprits. But the good news is that Edelman’s findings also show that business is the “last retaining wall” of trust.

As a result, it’s more important than ever for brands and marketers to commit themselves to transparency and authenticity in all that they do. From embracing both positive and critical consumer feedback on public forums and social media, to losing the jargon and developing a more human voice—transparency and authenticity need to be baked into your strategy, rather than being afterthoughts.

One way to add both value, authenticity and credibility to your marketing efforts will be through the use of influencers. Influencer marketing has exploded over the past couple years, and it’s not going anywhere in 2018. Regardless of the type of content, there’s always an opportunity to include credible voices and opinions that will touch and resonate with your audience.

Read: Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2017 Plus Thoughts on 2018

The Only Constant is Change

As you move forward in 2018, now is not the time to set and forget your digital marketing strategy. On the contrary, you need to be at the ready to make meaningful change.

The fact of the matter is that consumers are playing an increasingly powerful role in their buying journey—and brands and marketers need to embrace this if they’re going to survive and thrive into the future.

Content is at the core of every digital marketing strategy. What other trends do marketers need to be on the lookout for? Read Content Conversations: Content Marketing Predictions for 2018 featuring insights from Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, Chris Brogan, Alexandra Rynne, Tim Washer, Dayna Rothman, and Chris Moody.


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Daily Search Forum Recap: January 12, 2018

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web…


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Troubleshooting Local Ranking Failures [Updated for 2018]

Posted by MiriamEllis

I love a mystery… especially a local search ranking mystery I can solve for someone.

Now, the truth is, some ranking puzzles are so complex, they can only be solved by a formal competitive audit. But there are many others that can be cleared up by spending 15 minutes or less going through an organized 10-point checklist of the commonest problems that can cause a business to rank lower than the owner thinks it should. By zipping through the following checklist, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find one or more obvious “whodunits” contributing to poor Google local pack visibility for a given search.

Since I wrote the original version of this post in 2014, so much has changed. Branding, tools, tactics — things are really different in 2018. Definitely time for a complete overhaul, with the goal of making you a super sleuth for your forum friends, clients, agency teammates, or executive superiors.

Let’s emulate the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which earned lasting fame by hitting on a simple formula for surfacing and solving mysteries in a most enjoyable way.

Before we break out our magnifying glass, it’s critical to stress one very important thing. The local rankings I see from an office in North Beach, San Francisco are not the rankings you see while roaming around Golden Gate park in the same city. The rankings your client in Des Moines sees for things in his town are not the same rankings you see from your apartment in Albuquerque when you look at Des Moines results. With the user having become the centroid of search for true local searches, it is no mystery at all that we see different results when we are different places, and it is no cause for concern.

And now that we’ve gotten that out of the way and are in the proper detective spirit, let’s dive into how to solve for each item on our checklist!


☑ Google updates/bugs

The first thing to ask if a business experiences a sudden change in rankings is whether Google has done something. Search Engine Land strikes me as the fastest reporter of Google updates, with MozCast offering an ongoing weather report of changes in the SERPs. Also, check out the Moz Google Algo Change history list and the Moz Blog for some of the most in-depth strategic coverage of updates, penalties, and filters.

For local-specific bugs (or even just suspected tests), check out the Local Search Forum, the Google My Business forum, and Mike Blumenthal’s blog. See if the effects being described match the weirdness you are seeing in your local packs. If so, it’s a matter of fixing a problematic practice (like iffy link building) that has been caught in an update, waiting to see how the update plays out, or waiting for Google to fix a bug or turn a dial down to normalize results.

*Pro tip: Don’t make the mistake of thinking organic updates have nothing to do with local SEO. Crack detectives know organic and local are closely connected.

☑ Eligibility to list and rank

When a business owner wants to know why he isn’t ranking well locally, always ask these four questions:

  1. Does the business have a real address? (Not a PO box, virtual office, or a string of employees’ houses!)
  2. Does the business make face-to-face contact with its customers?
  3. What city is the business in?
  4. What is the exact keyword phrase they are hoping to rank for?

If the answer is “no” to either of the first two questions, the business isn’t eligible for a Google My Business listing. And while spam does flow through Google, a lack of eligibility could well be the key to a lack of rankings.

For the third question, you need to know the city the business is in so that you can see if it’s likely to rank for the search phrase cited in the fourth question. For example, a plumber with a street address in Sugar Land, TX should not expect to rank for “plumber Dallas TX.” If a business lacks a physical location in a given city, it’s atypical for it to rank for queries that stem from or relate to that locale. It’s amazing just how often this simple fact solves local pack mysteries.

☑ Guideline spam

To be an ace local sleuth, you must commit to memory the guidelines for representing your business on Google so that you can quickly spot violations. Common acts of spam include:

  • Keyword stuffing the business name field
  • Improper wording of the business name field
  • Creating listings for ineligible locations, departments, or people
  • Category spam
  • Incorrect phone number implementation
  • Incorrect website URL implementation
  • Review guideline violations

If any of the above conundrums are new to you, definitely spend 10 minutes reading the guidelines. Make flash cards, if necessary, to test yourself on your spam awareness until you can instantly detect glaring errors. With this enhanced perception, you’ll be able to see problems that may possibly be leading to lowered rankings, or even… suspensions!

☑ Suspensions

There are two key things to look for here when a local business owner comes to you with a ranking woe:

  1. If the listing was formerly verified, but has mysteriously become unverified, you should suspect a soft suspension. Soft suspensions might occur around something like a report of keyword-stuffing the GMB business name field. Oddly, however, there is little anecdotal evidence to support the idea that soft suspensions cause ranking drops. Nevertheless, it’s important to spot the un-verification clue and tell the owner to stop breaking guidelines. It’s possible that the listing may lose reviews or images during this type of suspension, but in most cases, the owner should be able to re-verify his listing. Just remember: a soft suspension is not a likely cause of low local pack rankings.
  2. If the listing’s rankings totally disappear and you can’t even find the listing via a branded search, it’s time to suspect a hard suspension. Hard suspensions can result from a listing falling afoul of a Google guideline or new update, a Google employee, or just a member of the public who has reported the business for something like an ineligible location. If the hard suspension is deserved, as in the case of creating a listing at a fake address, then there’s nothing you can do about it. But, if a hard suspension results from a mistake, I recommend taking it to the Google My Business forum to plead for help. Be prepared to prove that you are 100% guideline-compliant and eligible in hopes of getting your listing reinstated with its authority and reviews intact.

☑ Duplicates

Notorious for their ability to divide ranking strength, duplicate listings are at their worst when there is more than one verified listing representing a single entity. If you encounter a business that seems like it should be ranking better than it is for a given search, always check for duplicates.

The quickest way to do this is to get all present and past NAP (name, address, phone) from the business and plug it into the free Moz Check Listing tool. Pay particular attention to any GMB duplicates the tool surfaces. Then:

  1. If the entity is a brick-and-mortar business or service area business, and the NAP exactly matches between the duplicates, contact Google to ask them to merge the listings. If the NAP doesn’t match and represents a typo or error on the duplicate, use the “suggest an edit” link in Google Maps to toggle the “yes/no” toggle to “yes,” and then select the radio button for “never existed.”
  2. If the duplicates represent partners in a multi-practitioner business, Google won’t simply delete them. Things get quite complicated in this scenario, and if you discover practitioner duplicates, tread carefully. There are half a dozen nuances here, including whether you’re dealing with actual duplicates, whether they represent current or past staffers, whether they are claimed or unclaimed, and even whether a past partner is deceased. There isn’t perfect industry agreement on the handling of all of the ins-and-outs of practitioner listings. Given this, I would advise an affected business to read all of the following before making a move in any direction:

☑ Missing/inaccurate listings

While you’ve got Moz Check Listing fired up, pay attention to anything it tells you about missing or inaccurate listings. The tool will show you how accurate and complete your listings on are on the major local business data aggregators, plus other important platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, Factual, Yelp, and more. Why does this matter?

  1. Google can pull information from anywhere on the web and plunk it into your Google My Business listing.
  2. While no one can quantify the exact degree to which citation/listing consistency directly impacts Google local rankings for every possible search query, it has been a top 5 ranking factor in the annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey as far back as I can remember. Recently, I’ve seen some industry discussion as to whether citations still matter, with some practitioners claiming they can’t see the difference they make. I believe that conclusion may stem from working mainly in ultra-competitive markets where everyone has already got their citations in near-perfect order, forcing practitioners to look for differentiation tactics beyond the basics. But without those basics, you’re missing table stakes in the game.
  3. Indirectly, listing absence or inconsistency impacts local rankings in that it undermines the quest for good local KPIs as well as organic authority. Every lost or misdirected consumer represents a failure to have someone click-for-directions, click-to-call, click-to-your website, or find your website at all. Online and offline traffic, conversions, reputation, and even organic authority all hang in the balance of active citation management.

☑ Lack of organic authority

Full website or competitive audits are not the work of a minute. They really take time, and deep delving. But, at a glance, you can access some quick metrics to let you know whether a business’ lack of achievement on the organic side of things could be holding them back in the local packs. Get yourself the free MozBar SEO toolbar and try this:

  1. Turn the MozBar on by clicking the little “M” at the top of your browser so that it is blue.
  2. Perform your search and look at the first few pages of the organic results, ignoring anything from major directory sites like Yelp (they aren’t competing with you for local pack rankings, eh?).
  3. Note down the Page Authority, Domain Authority, and link counts for each of the businesses coming up on the first 3 pages of the organic results.
  4. Finally, bring up the website of the business you’re investigating. If you see that the top competitors have Domain Authorities of 50 and links numbering in the hundreds or thousands, whereas your target site is well below in these metrics, chances are good that organic authority is playing a strong role in lack of local search visibility. How do we know this is true? Do some local searches and note just how often the businesses that make it into the 3-pack or the top of the local finder view have correlating high organic rankings.

Where organic authority is poor, a business has a big job of work ahead. They need to focus on content dev + link building + social outreach to begin building up their brand in the minds of consumers and the “RankBrain” of Google.

One other element needs to be mentioned here, and that’s the concept of how time affects authority. When you’re talking to a business with a ranking problem, it’s very important to ascertain whether they just launched their website or just built their local business listings last week, or even just a few months ago. Typically, if they have, the fruits of their efforts have yet to fully materialize. That being said, it’s not a given that a new business will have little authority. Large brands have marketing departments which exist solely to build tremendous awareness of new assets before they even launch. It’s important to keep that in mind, while also realizing that if the business is smaller, building authority will likely represent a longer haul.

☑ Possum effect

Where local rankings are absent, always ask:

“Are there any other businesses in your building or even on your street that share your Google category?”

If the answer is “yes,” search for the business’ desired keyword phase and look at the local finder view in Google Maps. Note which companies are ranking. Then begin to zoom in on the map, level by level, noting changes in the local finder as you go. If, a few levels in, the business you’re advising suddenly appears on the map and in the local finder, chances are good it’s the Possum filter that’s causing their apparent invisibility at the automatic zoom level.

Google Possum rolled out in September 2016, and its observable effects included a geographic diversification of the local results, filtering out many listings that share a category and are in close proximity to one another. Then, about one year later, Google initiated the Hawk update, which appears to have tightened the radius of Possum, with the result that while many businesses in the same building are still being filtered out, a number of nearby neighbors have reappeared at the automatic zoom level of the results.

If your sleuthing turns up a brand that is being impacted by Possum/Hawk, the only surefire way to beat the filter is to put in the necessary work to become the most authoritative answer for the desired search phrase. It’s important to remember that filters are the norm in Google’s local results, and have long been observed impacting listings that share an address, share a phone number, etc. If it’s vital for a particular listing to outrank all others that possess shared characteristics, then authority must be built around it in every possible way to make it one of the most dominant results.

☑ Local Service Ads effect

The question you ask here is:

“Is yours a service-area business?”

And if the answer is “yes,” then brace yourself for ongoing results disruption in the coming year.

Google’s Local Service Ads (formerly Home Service Ads) make Google the middleman between consumers and service providers, and in the 2+ years since first early testing, they’ve caused some pretty startling things to happen to local search results. These have included:

Suffice it to say, rollout to an ever-increasing number of cities and categories hasn’t been for the faint of heart, and I would hazard a guess that Google’s recent re-brand of this program signifies their intention to move beyond the traditional SAB market. One possible benefit of Google getting into this type of lead gen is that it could decrease spam, but I’m not sold on this, given that fake locations have ended up qualifying for LSA inclusion. While I honor Google’s need to be profitable, I share some of the qualms business owners have expressed about the potential impacts of this venture.

Since I can’t offer a solid prediction of what precise form these impacts will take in the coming months, the best I can do here is to recommend that if an SAB experiences a ranking change/loss, the first thing to look for is whether LSA has come to town. If so, alteration of the SERPs may be unavoidable, and the only strategy left for overcoming vanished visibility may be to pay for it… by qualifying for the program.

☑ GMB neglect

Sometimes, a lack of competitive rankings can simply be chalked up to a lack of effort. If a business wonders why they’re not doing better in the local packs, pull up their GMB listing and do a quick evaluation of:

  • Verification status – While you can rank without verifying, lack of verification is a hallmark of listing neglect.
  • Basic accuracy – If NAP or map markers are incorrect, it’s a sure sign of neglect.
  • Category choices – Wrong categories make right rankings impossible.
  • Image optimization – Every business needs a good set of the most professional, persuasive photos it can acquire, and should even consider periodic new photo shoots for seasonal freshness; imagery impacts KPIs, which are believed to impact rank.
  • Review count, sentiment and management – Too few reviews, low ratings, and lack of responses = utter neglect of this core rank/reputation-driver.
  • Hours of operation – If they’re blank or incorrect, conversions are being missed.
  • Main URL choice – Does the GMB listing point to a strong, authoritative website page or a weak one?
  • Additional URL choices – If menus, bookings, reservations, or placing orders is part of the business model, a variety of optional URLs are supported by Google and should be explored.
  • Google Posts – Early-days testing indicates that regular posting may impact rank.
  • Google Questions and Answers – Pre-populate with best FAQs and actively manage incoming questions.

There is literally no business, large or small, with a local footprint that can afford to neglect its Google My Business listing. And while some fixes and practices move the ranking needle more than others, the increasing number of consumer actions that take place within Google is reason enough to put active GMB management at the top of your list.


Closing the case

The Hardy Boys never went anywhere without their handy kit of detection tools. Their father was so confident in their utter preparedness that he even let them chase down gangs in Hong Kong and dictators in the Guyanas (which, on second thought, doesn’t seem terribly wise.) But I have that kind of confidence in you. I hope my troubleshooting checklist is one you’ll bookmark and share to be prepared for the local ranking mysteries awaiting you and your digital marketing colleagues in 2018. Happy sleuthing!

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Daily Search Forum Recap: January 9, 2018

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today…


Search Engine Roundtable

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5 content distribution strategies for 2018

So, you’ve created tons of content, but you still aren’t gaining any traction. What gives? Columnist Sherry Bonelli explains how doing more with your existing content can help it reach its full potential.

The post 5 content distribution strategies for 2018 appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Content Marketing Evolution: 5 Major Content Marketing Trends for 2018

Content Marketing Trends 2018

Do you remember upgrading from an old square TV to a high-definition model? It was an amazing leap forward in the viewing experience.

Then came 3D televisions…and no one really cared. Then even bigger screens, then curved displays, OLED, smart TVs, 3D and 4k. None of these advances have really fired up the imagination of the TV-buying public. These incremental improvements just aren’t compelling enough to inspire me to upgrade.

The same thing happened with smartphones. The iPhone’s touchscreen-only design was revolutionary, and now every modern phone is a sleek rectangle. Since then, it’s been incremental change and vanity features. I can unlock this phone with my face instead of my fingerprint? And I can turn into an animated dancing unicorn? Yawn.

Content marketing had its watershed moment a decade ago, marking a monumental shift in the way marketing works. Hard selling and SEO trickery gave way to relationship-building and bringing real value to customers. Since then, we’ve been refining the formula. We’ve added new gimmicks and made small adjustments. But marketers are long overdue for a new paradigm shift.

When you’re watching content marketing trends for this year, look deeper than the marketing equivalent of 4k and curved displays. Look for the quiet revolution that is starting to take hold—look for the fundamental changes in the way we approach content.

Here are my picks for the next major movements in content marketing.

#1 – Long-Form Content

As I’ve said before, content is moving beyond the 500-word blog post. Consumers and B2B buyers simply want more depth and value than short content can provide. Even if your 500-word post does attract significant traffic, it has an inherently short life span.

Orbitmedia’s yearly blogging survey shows that the most successful bloggers are spending more time creating longer posts. The average length of a typical blog post has risen from 808 in 2014 to 1,142 in 2017.

These longer posts are attracting more audience attention. The percentage of bloggers reporting “strong results” goes up steadily with the average word count of their posts:

Average Length of Long-Form Content

While short blog posts still can serve a marketing purpose — attracting subscribers, promoting thought leadership — the most successful will re-evaluate short-form content as the basic unit of content marketing. Ungated long-form content is vital to meeting audience expectations.

#2 – Consistency & Quality over Quantity

As marketers shift from short-form to long-form content, it’s going to get harder to maintain a daily (or multiple times daily) publishing cadence. Daily publishing has been the table stakes for blog content for years, but there’s untapped value in slowing the cadence. You know the drill: The amount of content keeps increasing, while people’s time to invest in content stays the same. If you’re challenged to keep up your daily cadence, odds are your audience is, too.

Our clients at LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions EMEA dropped to 2-3 long-form posts a week last year, and have seen their readership continue to rise. The shift inspired our blogging team to try the same experiment on the TopRank Marketing Blog in 2018. More value, less content, delivered consistently — it’s a paradigm shift from “post daily, however much you can, even if it’s 300 words.”

#3 – Influencer Marketing Ecosystems

At the least sophisticated level, influencer marketing is essentially celebrity endorsement. You pay the influencer, they promote your brand, and the relationship ends as soon as the check clears. 2017 may be remembered as the year the influencer bubble burst, as the payouts grew astronomically and high-profile influencers proved problematic.

We published Influence 2.0 in January of last year to help marketers reach the next stage of influencer marketing maturity. Sustainable influencer marketing is relationship-based, co-creation based, and provides mutual value for influencers, marketers, and audiences.

The ultimate goal is to move beyond one-off collaboration with individual influencers. It’s about creating and nurturing a community of influencers, all of whom are aware of each other’s work with the brand. This influencer ecosystem takes relationship-building to the next level, and can result in a steady stream of great content.

Check out our top influencer marketing posts of 2017, as well as more insights from Lee Odden on what’s coming in 2018.

#4 – A New Focus on ROI & Attribution

As the functions of sales and marketing increasingly overlap, marketers need to get serious about proving ROI. We’re in the revenue business just as much as our partners on the sales side, and everything we do should have measurement built in. Yes, even top-of-funnel content meant to generate awareness. Do you know the value of a visitor to your website, a subscriber to your blog, or a filled-out landing page form?

If you don’t have clear answers to the above questions, you’re not alone. According to CMI and MarketingProfs’ annual content marketing benchmarks, only 35% of marketers can accurately measure ROI. Even in the top performers, only 55% are measuring ROI consistently.

In 2018, content marketers who can properly attribute ROI and prove the value of their efforts will be more successful. So it’s time to nail down the value of your content marketing, measure it, optimize it, and give dollars-and-cents reports to the C-suite.

#5 – Strange New Formats

I used to hate the phrase “consuming content.” Okay, so I sort of still do. But my loathing for that phrase may be short-sighted. It seems simpler to say, “reading content,” but that’s still thinking in terms of print, blog posts, eBooks and infographics. Our definition of what constitutes content has already moved beyond these forms, and is going to change radically in the coming years.

Video content production soared in 2017, as marketers figured out how to cheaply produce video and we began dipping a toe into livestreaming as well. In 2018, we can expect to see more video and more strategic use of live video. Audio content is on the rise, too: Podcasts are still surging in popularity and showing no signs of slowdown. And interactive content is getting easier, too — it’s simpler to make increasingly cooler end products.

But the definition of content is about to get even wider. Chatbots will need compelling writing to bring them to life. Amazon Echo and Google Home are new platforms for completely novel types of content, such as the American Heart Association’s CPR instructions and Neil Patel’s Marketing School. Augmented reality is coming to the masses, offering new ways to tell stories and engage an audience.

The Next Evolution

Content marketing is long overdue for a radical redesign, and all signs indicate the next evolution is already in progress. What content is, what forms it can take, how we amplify and measure it — these fundamental aspects of the discipline are all up for debate. It’s up to all of us to stay flexible, stay up-to-date, and most importantly, keep listening for what our audience says they need.

What do other marketers have to say about content marketing in 2018? Read Content Conversations: Content Marketing Predictions for 2018 featuring insights from Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, Chris Brogan, Alexandra Rynne, Tim Washer, Dayna Rothman, and Chris Moody.


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Content Marketing Evolution: 5 Major Content Marketing Trends for 2018 | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Daily Search Forum Recap: January 3, 2018

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web…


Search Engine Roundtable

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Three Killer Skills Professional Writers Need to Succeed in 2018

What brought you here today? What are you hoping to learn, be, become, do, or change by reading Copyblogger? We’ll be asking that question a lot in the coming year, but while we wait (feel free to answer in the comments below — we’d love to hear it), allow us to talk about why we
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Daily Search Forum Recap: January 2, 2018

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today…


Search Engine Roundtable

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Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2017 Plus Thoughts on 2018

Top Influencer Marketing Posts

This year demonstrated an explosion of interest in influencer marketing bringing with it a sharp increase in attention as well as implementation successes and failures.

The mixed bag of advice for any shiny new object of marketing attention like working with influencers brings uncertainties, especially with rapid innovation, increased competition and self serving “influencer marketing experts” popping up on every digital corner.

As long time influencer content marketing practitioners, my team at TopRank Marketing has to anticipate the key questions marketers have around influencer marketing. Not only do we understand the questions, but we have delivered many of the answers in over 40 posts on the topic including B2B influencer marketing strategy, technology, influencer research and recruiting, influencer content collaboration, integration with SEO and social, influencer content promotion and performance measurement.

Working with influencers on content collaboration is something we do every day and not just for clients, but for ourselves. As a result, designing influencer content collaboration programs has become central to our B2B marketing solutions, right along with SEO, online advertising and CRO.

A BIG thanks to Ashley Zeckman, Josh Nite and Caitlin Burgess for their work on advocating best practices through their blog posts on this relatively new field for the B2B marketing industry.

Through actual experience, experiments and research, our team has advanced our approach to influencer marketing strategy, process, use of technology, measurement and best practices significantly over the past 5 years. In particular, the past 12 months has been like an accelerated Masters Degree as we’ve implemented programs for multiple Fortune 500 companies that were integrated with content marketing, SEO, social media and online advertising.

To help you ask and answer some of the important questions around influencer marketing for 2018, here’s a collection of some of our most popular blog posts on the topic.

Most popular influencer marketing posts in 2017:

influencer marketing 2.0
Influence 2.0 – The Future of Influencer Marketing Research Report 2017 – Lee Odden
To help marketers understand the major trends in influencer marketing, we partnered with influencer marketing platform Traackr to connect with enterprise level marketers and tap their experiences with influencer marketing budgeting, operations, and forecasts for the future. Brian Solis of Altimeter translated that research into an excellent guide called Influence 2.0.

Future Marketing Influential
5 Essential Insights on Influence and the Future of Customer Engagement – Lee Odden
This post distills the key messages from the Influence 2.0 report focusing on influencer marketing maturity, impact, goals, digital transformation, and integration. Expert quotes are also provided by Amanda Duncan of Microsoft, Dr. Konstanze Alex-Brown of Dell (client) and Amisha Gandhi of SAP (client).


20 Inspiring & Actionable Influencer Marketing Tips for The Modern Marketer – Ashley Zeckman
Strategy is great but most readers want tactics. That’s why this post focusing on 20 specific and actionable tips ranging from how to find influencers to how to recruit them to how to inspire them to promote the content your brand and the influencer collaborated on.


6 Influencer Marketing Lessons Marketers Can Learn from Journalists – Caitlin Burgess
In this post Caitlin draws on her experience as a Journalist to showcase the parallels to working with influencers. The advice in this post is very actionable and steps outside the usual list of tips for influencer engagement and collaboration.


Influencer Marketing: The Next Evolution – Josh Nite
This post is a liveblog by Josh of my presentation at Social Media Marketing World where I talked about what NOT to do as well as insights around the state of influencer marketing funding, the differences between B2C and B2B influencer marketing, what goals are possible when working with influencers and what areas of business are most impacted by influencer marketing.


2017 Trends for CMOs: Ignite Content Performance with Influencers
 – Lee Odden
As a hot topic that is also challenging for marketers to implement consistently with impact, content marketing is an area where many CMOs are looking for improvement. Enter the intersection of content and influence. This post outlines three fundamental influencer content engagement models to help senior marketing executives understand where they can have the most impact.

B2B Influencer Marketing Catch Up
B2B Marketers Are Way Behind on Influencer Marketing and Here’s the Solution – Lee Odden
One of the key insights from the Influence 2.0 study we did with Traackr and Brian Solis was the disconnect between B2B and B2C influencer marketing integration and maturity. This post outlines steps for B2B marketers to take so they can close that gap and realize the incredible potential of ongoing, integrated influencer marketing programs.

No BS Influencer Marketing
The No BS Approach to Influencer Marketing – Lee Odden
When Ann Handley asks you to do a webinar about influencer marketing for MarketingProfs, you say yes! This post outlines some of the BIG B.S. that’s being promoted around influencer marketing as well as best practices and advice based in actual experience and practice. When it comes to B2B influencer marketing, watch where you step.

Unlock Influencer Marketing ROI
The Key To Unlocking the ROI of Enterprise Influencer Marketing – Lee Odden
One of the benefits of writing for CMO.com is cross posting those articles to our own blog. This article outlines some of the strategic findings from the Influence 2.0 report we produced with Traackr and Brian Solis. Nothing gets a CMOs attention like a clear cut explanation around ROI. This post pulls out the ROI discussion from the Influence 2.0 report and highlights key insights.


Cracking the Code: 3 Steps to Building Influence with Content Marketing
 – Ashley Zeckman
For any company, big or small, that wants to create immediate value from working with influencers, the answer is almost always content. This post is a guidebook for a customer-focused approach to content that emphasizes collaboration with industry influencers and how to build promotable content. This post includes many of the influencer content best practices we use for our own influencer content projects at TopRank Marketing.

You many be interested to know that our overall most popular posts around influencer marketing were actually lists of influencers. Much effort is put into these types of posts and our community clearly finds them useful.

As trends go, influencer marketing or “influence marketing” isn’t going anywhere in 2018. The practice of influence in the marketing mix is only going to grow, mature and integrate. Some of the upcoming trends and changes to look forward to with influencer marketing in the coming year include:

  • Influencer marketing platform consolidation
  • Paid influencer marketplace(s) for B2B influencers
  • Increasing use of AI to improve qualitative insights about influencers, communities & forecasting performance
  • Increased platform level integration between influence platforms, content platforms and hopefully SEO data
  • Much better process and capability amongst sophisticated practitioners to tie influencer engagement with KPIs across the buyer journey including ROI
  • Growth of participation marketing – democratization of marketing content through a combination of employee advocacy, social community management, audience development, and working with internal/external influencers across the spectrum
  • Tighter guidelines from the FTC
  • Y2K level hysteria and subsequent underwhelming impact from GDPR compliance in the EU
  • More opportunists jumping on the bandwagon of influencer marketplaces with suspect popularity

For any kind of content a business creates and publishes to the world, there is an opportunity for collaboration with credible voices that have active networks interested in what those voices have to say. In many cases, far more interested than in what the brand has to say.  Greater and more relevant attention and engagement are core to the value brands can realize with ongoing influencer engagement.

What we need in the influencer marketing world is for the hype to give way to more examples of what actually works in terms of influencer engagement strategies, identification, communications, promotions and measurement. There’s not enough “walk the talk” amongst prominent voices, especially when it comes to best practices ongoing influencer relationship management.

Another major need is for faster and more qualitative tech innovation amongst the influencer marketing platforms. I for one would love to see AI used to connect the dots between public community and influencer social data and a brand’s dark data, web analytics, advertising and PR metrics to surface more effective prompts to engage influencers / communities in ways that will deliver on business results.

Influencer marketing platforms need to integrate with content marketing platforms to make workflow and influencer collaboration one with influencer CRM and reporting.  There is no greater intersection than content and influence (confluence) for brands to realize the value of influencer relationships in a way that delivers impact to the business. Platform integration will help make that combination even more powerful and scalable.

When it comes to influencer marketing and 2018, we are just getting started!

A HUGE THANK YOU to some of our top marketing and technology industry influencers that we’ve worked with in 2017!

  • Tamara McCleary
  • Shep Hyken

As we kick off 2018, the team at TopRank Marketing wishes you a very Happy New Year!


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2018. |
Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2017 Plus Thoughts on 2018 | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2017 Plus Thoughts on 2018 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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