Tag Archive | "Marketing"

Marketing 101: What is an A/B split test?

A/B split testing is a powerful way to improve marketing and messaging performance because it enables you to make decisions about the best headline, ad copy, landing page design, offer, etc., based on actual customer behavior and not merely a marketer’s opinion. Let’s break down the process.
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Why Search Agencies Should Embrace the Adjacency of Email Marketing

Posted by davidmihm

As someone who’s spent virtually his entire career in local search, I’m by no means an early proponent of email. But in my interactions at marketing conferences, studies of industry research, and social media conversations, I get the feeling that many of my peers are even further down the adoption curve than I’ve been.

With this post, I encourage you to take a hard look at email marketing for yourselves, or an even harder look if you’ve already done so. If you’ve focused exclusively on offering SEO and SEM services to clients in the past, I hope I’ll convince you that email should be a natural and profitable complement to those offerings.

And if you’re a local business reading this post, I hope many of these points convince you to take a look at email marketing yourselves!

Making the case for email

High ROI

With a return on investment (ROI) of 44:1, marketers consistently rate email as the top-performing channel. According to Campaign Monitor, that ROI has actually increased since 2015, and it’s particularly true for B2B companies. Despite the supposed unpopularity of email among millennials, it remains far and away the most-preferred channel by which to receive communication from a business.

Just plain cheap

The fact that email’s so cheap helps the denominator of that 44:1 stat a bunch. Mailchimp is free up to 2,000 subscribers, as are MailerLite and SendinBlue, and many other providers offer plans under $ 10/month depending on your number of subscribers.

It’s also cheap in terms of time cost. Unlike social media where daily or even hourly presence performs best, email allows you to duck in and duck out as you have time.

As far as the numerator, average open rates far exceed social media reach on most platforms. And even if they don’t open, ⅓ of people report purchasing based on an email they received from a brand (!). Search provides better purchase intent, but the top-of-mind awareness and referral potential from email is unmatched.

Makes other channels more effective

Gathering customer email addresses is essential for other critical forms of local business marketing already — you need an email address to ask for a review, build lookalike audiences, and make customer intelligence solutions like FullContact most effective.

Actually offering something of value, whether that’s a discount code, loyalty program, whitepaper, or newsletter subscription, increases the odds of earning that email address for all of those purposes.

Last best option?

Frankly, the number of organic digital channels available to small businesses is shrinking. Facebook’s latest announcement signals a tough road ahead there for businesses without the budget to Boost posts, and Google’s expansion of its Local Service Ad program to verticals and locales across the United States in the next couple of years seems inevitable to me. Now is the time to start building an email program as these monetization pressures intensify.

Why agencies should offer email

Your customers know it works.

Local businesses might be more aware of email’s potency than some of the agencies that are serving them. Email consistently rates among the top three marketing channels in industry surveys by the Local Search Association, StreetFight, Clutch, and more.

At the very least, email requires barely any client education. Unlike the black box of SEO or the complexity of PPC, by and large, small businesses inherently understand email marketing. They know they should be sending emails to their customers, but many of them just aren’t yet doing it, or are doing it poorly.

It’s a concrete deliverable.

Unlike so much of the behind-the-scenes work that leads to success in SEO, clients can actually see an email campaign delivered to their inbox, as well as the results of that campaign: every major Email Service Provider tracks opens and clicks by default.

It leverages existing offerings.

I already mentioned some of the ways that email marketing complements other channels above. But it can tie in even more closely to an agency’s existing content offering: many of you are already developing full content calendars, or at the very least social content.

<pitch>(For those clients whom you’re helping with social media, their newsletter can be built using Tidings with no additional effort on your part.)</pitch>

Building email into your client content strategy can help their content reach a deeper audience, and possibly even a different audience.

It’s predictable.

Though you could argue that the Gmail and Apple Mail interface configurations are algorithms of a kind, generally speaking, email marketing is not subject to wild algorithmic changes or inexplicable ranking fluctuations.

And unlike Google’s unrealistic link building axiom that great content will naturally attract inbound links, great content actually does naturally attract more subscribers and more customers as they receive forwarded emails.

You can expand it over time.

Unlike SEO for local businesses, which generally includes relatively easy wins up front and gets progressively harder to deliver the same value over time, email marketing offers numerous opportunities to expand the scope of your engagement with a client.

Beyond fulfilling the emails themselves, there are plenty of other email-related services to offer, including managing and optimizing list sign-up, welcome emails and drip campaigns, A/B testing subject lines and content, and ongoing customer intelligence.

Tactical ingredients for success with email

Use a reputable Email Service Provider.

Running an email marketing program through Gmail or Outlook is an easy way to get your primary address blacklisted. You also won’t have access to open rate or click rate, nor an easy way to automate signups onto specific lists or segments.

Be consistent.

Setting expectations for your subscribers and then following through on those expectations is a particularly important practice for email newsletters, but also holds true for explicitly commercial emails and automated emails.

You should be generally consistent with the day on which you send weekly specials, appointment reminders, or service follow-ups. Consistency helps form a habit among your subscribers.

Consistency also applies to branding. It’s fine to A/B test subject lines and content types over time, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot from a brand perspective by designing every email you send from scratch. Leave that kind of advanced development to big brands with full in-house email teams.

The other reason to be consistent is that designing for email is really, really difficult — a lesson I learned the hard way last year prior to launching Tidings. Complex email clients like Microsoft Outlook use their own markup languages to render emails, and older email clients can’t interpret a lot of modern HTML or CSS declarations.

Choose a mobile-first template.

Make sure your layout renders well on phones, since that’s where more than 2/3 of email gets opened. Two- or three-column layouts that force pinching and zooming on mobile devices are a no-no, and at this point, most subscribers are used to scrolling a bit to see content.

As long as your template reflects your brand accurately, the content of that layout is far more important than its design. Look no further than the simple email layouts chosen by some of the most successful companies in their respective industries, including Amazon, Kayak, and Fast Company.

Pick a layout that’s proven to work on phones and stick with it.

Include an email signup button or form prominently on your website.

It’s become a best practice to include social icons in the header and/or footer of your website. But there’s an obvious icon missing from so many sites!

An email icon should be the first one in the lineup, since it’s the channel where your audience is most likely to see your content.

Also consider using Privy or Mailmunch to embed a signup banner or popover on your website with minimal code.

The specific place of newsletters

Plenty of people way smarter than me are on the newsletter bandwagon (and joined it much earlier than I did). Moz has been sending a popular “Top 10” newsletter for years, Kick Point sends an excellent weekly synopsis, and StreetFight puts out a great daily roundup, just to name a few. As a subscriber, those companies are always top-of-mind for me as thought leaders with their fingers on the pulse of digital marketing.

But newsletters work far beyond the digital marketing industry, too.

Sam Dolnick, the man in charge of the New York Times’ digital initiatives, puts a lot of stock in newsletters as a cornerstone channel, calling them “a lo-fi way to form a deep relationship with readers.”

I love that description. I think of a newsletter as a more personalized social channel. In the ideal world it’s halfway between a 1:1 email and a broadcast on Facebook or Twitter.

Granted, a newsletter may not be right for every local business, and it’s far from the only kind of email marketing you should be doing. But it’s also one of the easiest ways to get started with email marketing, and as Sam Dolnick said, an easy-to-understand way to start building relationships with customers.

For more newsletter best practices, this ancient (1992!) article actually covers print newsletters but almost all of its advice applies equally well to digital versions!

A great option or a strategic imperative?

Facebook’s ongoing reduction in organic visibility, Google’s ongoing evolution of the local SERP, and the shift to voice search will combine to create an existential threat to agencies that serve smaller-budget local businesses over the next 2–3 years.

Agencies simply can’t charge the margin to place paid ads that they can charge for organic work, particularly as Google and Facebook do a better and better job of optimizing low-budget campaigns. More ads, more Knowledge Panels, and more voice searches mean fewer organic winners at Google than ever before (though because overall search volume won’t decline, the winners will win bigger than ever).

Basic SEO blocking-and-tackling such as site architecture, title tags, and citation building will always be important services, but their impact for local businesses has declined over the past decade, due to algorithmic sophistication, increased competition, and decreased organic real estate.

To grow or even maintain your client base, it’ll be critical for you as an agency to offer additional services that are just as effective and scalable as these techniques were a decade ago.

As a concrete, high-margin, high-ROI deliverable, email should be a centerpiece of those additional services. And if it just doesn’t feel like something you’re ready to take on right now, Tidings is happy to handle your referrals :D !

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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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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2018. |
4 Top Trends in Customer Centricity to Drive Digital Marketing Success in 2018 | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Digital Marketing News: What Marketers Think about AI, Autonomous Stores & GSC Adds Data

Infographic: What Marketers Really Think About Artificial Intelligence
A new infographic shows 47% of marketers consider artificial intelligence (AI) to be over-hyped. In addition, 43% of marketers believe vendors overpromise and underdeliver when it comes to AI. AdWeek

Can Autonomous Stores Catch On?
Brick-and-mortar stores are testing out an automation model, functionally converting their stores to vending machines. These may increase convenience and service levels for some customers, but many remain doubtful that this will take off in a big way. MarTech Today

Google Search Console Adds 16 Months of Data
Can I get a heck yes?! Google has confirmed that Google Search Console will now be able to show 16 months of data versus the typical 90 days. This is currently available in their beta version for some users, with a larger rollout pending. The SEM Post

The State of Video Marketing: Distribution, Topic, and Budget Trends
Marketers are saying that social media brings them the highest ROI for digital video distribution, followed by email. In addition, 50% of respondents are transferring budgets from traditional media budgets to finance digital video and 37% are reallocating budgets from digital media. MarketingProfs

Hulu Hits $ 1 Billion Ad Milestone
In 2017, Hulu hit a record for video advertising revenue at $ 1 billion. They also saw a 40% rise in subscribers year-over-year in 2017 for video-on-demand and Live TV products. MediaPost

Self-Driving Cars Have Landed at #CES2018, and Marketers Really Need to Pay Attention
Self-driving cars are more than just a surreal future world pipe dream — they’re well on their way to becoming a real disruption to our typical interactions with transportation. Aside from the daily interaction, self-driving cars can also serve as a site for real-time marketing communications. HubSpot

Forrester: Mobile will drive 69% of search ad growth by 2022
Mobile Marketer reports: “Mobile phones will drive most of the expansion in paid search ad spending, contributing an estimated 69% of the $ 19 billion in growth by 2022, according to Forrester research.” Mobile Marketer

How Marketers Are Turning Your Car Into a Branded Experience
Talking to your car isn’t as strange of a thought as it once was. But marketers and tech platforms are toying with the idea of taking this to the next level — providing helpful, timely information to consumers on-the-go. AdWeek

Why Brands Will Go To Extremes — Lengthwise — With Digital Video In 2018
Marketing Dive reports: “In 2017, marketers spent 2x as much on online video than they did on TV ads. While standard 30-second ads aren’t going away, brands are increasingly experimenting with a wide array of video formats that push extremes length-wise.” Marketing Dive

Google Is Sunsetting Adwords Review Extensions
Next month, Google will be removing the text ad extensions that allow advertisers to highlight 3rd-party reviews within their ads. If you have used these extensions and want to keep the data, export it in AdWords this month. Search Engine Land

New Data Reveals It’s Time to Change Your Headline Strategy
New research from Buzzsumo revealed some surprising insights about headlines that play best on Facebook — including which word combinations get the most engagement, and which to avoid. Social Media Today

On the Lighter Side:
M&M’s debuts touchdown dance contest for Super Bowl – Mobile Marketer
Billy Mann Discusses Video Humor as a Tool for Marketing – Small Biz Trends

TopRank Marketing In the News:

Debbie Friez – 2018 Digital Marketing Trends From 20+ Marketing Experts – Hot in Social Media
Josh Nite – Annual Content Planning: How To Kickstart Filling Your Editorial Calendar – HeidiCohen.com
Lee Odden – What’s Trending: Bring It On, 2018 – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
Lee Odden – Social Media Experts and Influencers, to Follow in 2018 – SocialChamp
Lee Odden – 5 Expert Tips To Refine Your Content Marketing Strategy For 2018 – Marketing Insider Group
Lee Odden - Meet the Top 21 B2B Influencers to Watch in 2018 – B2B News Network
Lee Odden – How To Research and Create Evergreen Content – BuzzSumo

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

We’ll see you next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also check out the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

The post Digital Marketing News: What Marketers Think about AI, Autonomous Stores & GSC Adds Data appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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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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The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising (and Why It Matters)

Marketing is the strategy of educating customers about a company’s choices in the marketplace, who their product or service will be a good fit for, and who it won’t. Advertising is then used to take that strategy and communicate it to an audience. Read on to learn more.
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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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Digital Marketing News: Teens Over Facebook, Blockchain and Big Blue, MoonPie Roasts You

Social Commerce

Social Commerce Takes Hold. A study by PwC reports that 78% of consumers are influenced by social media when shopping online. According to Marketing Week, the “social commerce boom” is being fueled by young mobile consumers. Thirty-three percent of 18- to 24-year-olds say they would purchase items directly on Facebook, 27% on Instagram and 20% on Twitter. For 25- to 34-year-olds, the numbers decrease a bit: 30% on Facebook. For 54- to 65-years-olds, it’s 10%. MediaPost

Top 100 Social Media Trends for 2018. From Influencer Campaigns to Social Media-Friendly Designs to social media inspired dog toys, these are 100 social media trends for next year. Or are they? IRL social media filters? TrendHunter

Snapchat Looking to Publish Content on Third-Party Websites With ‘Stories Everywhere’. The word from Cheddar is that Snap is developing a new program dubbed Stories Everywhere that will allow third-party publishers to embed Snapchat content on their websites. Let’s just hope it’s not too little, too late.  Variety

The Price Of Mobile Ads Will Surge More Than 45% In 2018. Mobile programmatic pricing is about to have its hockey stick moment, set to grow more than 45% by 2019, according to a projection released by programmatic agency Goodway Group. Ad Exchanger

Data Shows Tablets Driving Highest Click-Through Rates. A new report reveals that tablet impressions drove 1.13% click-through rates that were the highest of any device in many categories such as Automotive, Consumer product Goods, Education, Financial, Food & Drink, Government, Home & Garden as well as Retail, Technology, Travel and Utilities. MediaPost

Has Teen Use of Facebook Peaked? According to Forrester Research data, Facebook is the only platform of the 6 major social networks that’s experienced a decline in usage among 12-17 year olds.  MarketingCharts

Blockchain Pumping New Life Into Old-School Companies Like IBM. Demand for blockchain, best known for supporting bitcoin, is growing so much that it will be one of the largest users of capacity next year at about 60 data centers that IBM rents out to other companies around the globe. The market for blockchain-related products and services will reach $ 7.7 billion in 2022, up from $ 242 million last year, according to researcher Markets & Markets.  Bloomberg

Love In The Inbox: Americans Are Tied To Email, Study Finds. Email is not dead! 78% of Americans expect to use email as much or more than they now do in five years, according to Inbox Report 2018. MediaPost

Artificial Intelligence

On the Lighter Side:

MoonPie is brutally roasting people who insult the snack on Twitter – Business Insider

Wendy’s social media team hosted an ‘Ask Me Anything’ forum on Reddit – LA Times

Jack in the Box Tests Munchie Meals for California Pot Smokers – AdAge

TopRank Marketing In the News:

Lee Odden – 140 of Today’s Top SEO Experts to Follow – Search Engine Journal

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

Be sure to stay tuned until next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also check out the full video summary with Tiffani and Josh on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

Happy New Year from the Team at TopRank Marketing!


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Digital Marketing News: Teens Over Facebook, Blockchain and Big Blue, MoonPie Roasts You | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Search Engine Land’s Community Corner: Local SEO survey results, a new book on influencer marketing & SEO Christmas jumpers

As we head into the slow holiday stretch, the news likewise takes a breather. Of course Google did surprise the search community this week by confirming some algo updates, starting a new webmaster video series, and moving Eric Schmidt into a non-Executive Chairman of the Board position. Elsewhere…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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Digital Marketing News: Top Ads 2017, Marketing Jobs 2018, Google Mobile First

Top 10 Most Watched Videos of 2017

The 10 Most Watched Ads on YouTube in 2017 – This impressive collection of work includes two video ads that exceeded 100 million views. Which was your favorite? Natalie Portman for Miss Dior or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson” for Apple?  AdWeek

B2B Tech Buyers More Motivated by Reliability & Ease of Use Claims Than Price. A study by Lavidge of 400 B2B decision makers in the US reports that technology buyers prefer reliability (64) over low cost (49%) when justifying purchasing decisions. MarketingCharts

The 2018 Hiring Outlook for Marketing and Advertising Jobs. 46% of marketing and advertising executives say it is somewhat challenging to find skilled workers today; 7% say it is very challenging – MarketingProfs

New IRI Report Details Value of Contextually Relevant Advertising. Marketers who instead mix in relevant context strategies can bolster sales lift and further increase return on investment (ROI) by up to 30%. Morningstar

The Advertising Media That Consumers Trust Most. Research from Clutch reports 61% of respondents trust TV/broadcast video; 58% trust print; 45%, radio/podcast; 42%, out-of-home/billboards; 41%, online; and 38%, social media. MarketingProfs

How Twitter Celebrated The Last Jedi in Style With Real-Time Billboards. Disney teamed up with Twitter to plaster fan tweets across giant billboards in real time. AdWeek

Google Mobile-First Index Rolls Out For ‘Handful Of Sites’. Webmasters will see significantly increased crawling by Smartphone Googlebot, and the snippets in the results, as well as the content on the Google cache pages, will be from the mobile version of the pages. SearchMarketing Daily

Google faces fresh EU showdown as rivals attack search giant’s response to record fine. “(Google) continues to place its shopping service at an advantage in search results.” Telegraph

B2B Mobile Ad Spend 2017

Instagram ad revenue to double to $ 10.87bn by 2019. eMarketer predicts a thirds of social media users will use Instagram by 2021 – The Drum

How Instagram’s new features will impact organic reach. The addition of follow hashtags and a Recommended for you section have favorable and unfortunate implications for brands, publishers and influencers. Here’s a rundown – DigiDay

Facebook adds Snooze button to mute annoying friends and Pages. For when you don’t want to unfriend or unfollow and just need a break. The Next Web

Facebook Will Now Punish Posts That Beg for Likes and Comments. Facebook said in a statement on Monday that it will begin clamping down on “engagement bait” across its social network starting this week. Fortune

Facebook’s Plan To Take On TV. That’s right. And for starters, in January Facebook Watch will host a live show, “Mixed Match Challenge,” produced by the WWE. MediaPost

On the Lighter Side:

Giphy’s List of the Most Popular GIFs in 2017 Is a Gift to Behold. From NFL celebrations to dancing Wonder Woman. AdWeek

Awww. Samsung and Casey Neistat Turned an Abandoned Shopping Mall Into a Winter Wonderland for Kids. Happy holidays to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee! AdWeek

TopRank Marketing in the News:

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

Be sure to stay tuned until next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also check out the full video summary with Tiffani and Josh on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.


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TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Digital Marketing News: Top Ads 2017, Marketing Jobs 2018, Google Mobile First | http://www.toprankblog.com

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