Digital Marketing News: Twitter’s Bot Detox Fallout, Google’s Mobile Thumbs-Up, & Millennial’s Top Social IQ Factors

July 20, 2018 Digital Marketing News Google Image From SEL

July 20, 2018 Digital Marketing News Google Image From SELReport: Google’s mobile search results now show image thumbnails 45% of the time
Mobile Google users see image thumbnails in nearly half the search results shown, according to new report data. Should marketers consider placing greater importance on thumb images? Search Engine Land

Twitter’s bot purge welcomed by agency execs
Twitter recently deleted millions of spam and inactive accounts in an effort to improve the platform. Does the move increase credibility among marketers and influencers? DigiDay

Report: Social media sentiment not predictive of offline brand outcomes
New research looks into online and offline brand conversations and their effect on consumer sentiment, plus the motivations that drive them. Marketing Land

EU digital chief urges lawmakers to ease tough copyright stand
The European Union’s top digital advisor has asked E.U. lawmakers to relax stringent proposed copyright reforms. A look at warding off potential losses in creative technology industries by re-visiting rules for the digital age. Reuters

Millennials Want Brands With Values, But, Really, A Good Deal More
New report data reveals what millennials admire in brands, and takes a look at a variety of the social IQ factors that drive the demographic. MediaPost

Facebook says ‘tens of thousands’ of people opt in to take its user surveys every week
Facebook has said that each week tens of thousands of users fill out feedback surveys offered by the platform. What can marketers learn from how Facebook gathers and uses survey feedback? Marketing Land

July 20, 2018 Digital Marketing News Statistics Image‘Father of modern marketing’ Philip Kotler on avoiding brand decay and preparing for disruption
Long-time marketing author Philip Kotler, sometimes called the father of modern marketing, has shared new thoughts about brand decay, disruption, and how satisfying needs better than anyone else is still as relevant as ever. Marketing Week

Facebook testing AR ads in the News Feed & new tool to help brands create video ads
Facebook is trialing augmented reality (A.R.) news-feed ads, and has announced that mobile video ads are also getting several new features. Marketing Land

Data shows people want serious long-form content — and brands need to take note
New research data reveals that many are craving weightier content, and how marketers are successfully battling today’s massive competition for engagement. The Next Web

Survey: Google, Facebook most influential
New survey data shows the continuing power of advertising on Facebook and Google. The digital ad trends report also offers up online consumer trends data sets. BizReport

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Tom Fishburne July 20 Cartoon

A lighthearted look at vanity metrics by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

How Kit Kat managed to turn a viral tweet into a branded proposal — The Drum

Redheads finally get recognition with ginger emoji — The Next Web

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Forward-Thinking B2B Marketers Partner With Influencers To Create Cross-Channel, Long-Term Campaigns — Demand Gen Report
  • Ashley Zeckman and Lee Odden — How To Improve Content Amplification On The Cheap: Network — Heidi Cohen
  • Lee Odden — Amp Up Your Marketing with this Summer Reading List — Christina Giordano
  • Lee Odden — Tips to Take Your Social Media Business from Part Time to Full Time
    Andrea Vahl
  • Alexis Hall — Apply These 10 Cool Techniques to Increase Sales and Marketing ROI for your Small Business — Small Business Trends

What are some of your top influencer marketing news items for this week?

Thanks for reading, and we hope you’ll return next week for the latest digital marketing news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

Digital Marketing News: Twitter’s Bot Detox Fallout, Google’s Mobile Thumbs-Up, & Millennial’s Top Social IQ Factors was posted via Internet Marketing

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Google Still Has A Lot of Work To Do When It Comes To Location…

One of the perks of international travel is getting to see what the SERPs really look like in other countries. Check out this query for “Sams Club”* I did while in Barcelona yesterday:

Sams Club Barcelona

So Google thinks the “Barcelona” line of Sam’s Club furniture is relevant to me simply because I am in Barcelona. Note my query never specified location. Google just knows there’s a page called “Barcelona” which matches the name of city I am in. If had been in Helsinki and Sam’s had a line of much-needed Helsinki Bullshit Deflectors, it probably would have shown those.

The challenge is that Google often is not clear if a search query has local intent (we have talked a lot about this in our presentations on our Local SEO Ranking Factors Study). Google often is not sure if the searcher wants a document (aka “a web page”) relevant to a location or a document relevant to a word/phrase, entity or whatever. For another good example, see this post on Near Me SEO.

From the above result you can see that Google thinks there could be some local intent to the search (likely because Sam’s has retail locations) so it is showing me the Barcelona pages in the sitelinks. Had it been 100% confident, it likely would have shown the Barcelona URL as the top result (like a store page).

These results are not catastrophes but they could cause some confusion and possible abandonment for less-savvy clickers. They are not what I would call “good for users.” They do illustrate how tricky location can be for an algorithm.

My advice to retailers and any other sites with issues like these is to make it super clear which pages contain relevant location information by using structured markup. You could even link from the Barcelona product pages to the Barcelona store page with the anchor text=”Barcelona”. If Sam’s actually had a Barcelona location, that would make it more likely to appear in these results above the product pages. In extreme cases you may also consider either noindexing these URLs or using the Google Search Console Remove URL tool to get rid of these unwanted results.

This is an edge-case to be sure, but when you are operating at international brand scale, a few thousand edge cases can add up.

*A much-beloved LSG client

Google Still Has A Lot of Work To Do When It Comes To Location… was posted via Internet Marketing

New Distilled ODN features including SEO friendly URLs for enterprise platforms

If you’re a regular reader of our content, you’ve probably come across our ODN platform which enables both SEO A/B testing and more agile changes to large and enterprise sites.

Earlier this year, we had a quarter where we deployed our platform to two Fortune 100 companies’ sites and to the website of one of the largest private companies in the UK. I’ve written before about the ways that split testing is changing consulting but what we’ve found in these enterprise environments is that we are getting radically different results by adding agility to the mix. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out that sometimes, being able to get stuff done is a differentiator in the enterprise. My research showed that the average SEO at a big company has been waiting over six months for their highest priority technical change and doesn’t anticipate seeing it deployed for at least another six months. Indeed 40+% have been waiting over a year!

It’s been very rewarding to attack this problem directly: our core values have always been skewed towards getting things done above simply identifying what needs to be done. Now we are hearing from our customers things like: the ability to make changes to local store pages has been one of our most successful initiatives this year, we’re up 10% and seeing the impact on footfall (that was from a Fortune 100 company – and +10% is pretty visible and meaningful in that kind of environment).

We have new functionality in the ODN

As part of improving our platform’s value in these kind of situations, we are just finishing up a series of enhancements that will be rolled up into a launch we have internally called REQMOD.

The key things this will enable us to do via the ODN platform are:

  1. Move pages individually or en masse (e.g. to serve content on SEO friendly URLs without parameters and redirect the old pages)
  2. Move sub-domain content into sub-folders
  3. Enable easy SEO A/B testing of full page redesigns

Key benefit #1: Moving pages or folders of content

We often come across enterprise-scale sites built on technologies that rely heavily on parameters. It’s really common to see, for example, e-commerce sites built 5+ years ago with no keywords in the URLs at all and often multiple query-string parameters (e.g. /store/product?id=product_id&style=style_id). In fact, there are myriad ways that URLs can be less-than-perfect for users and search engines.

In general, it’s easy to fix this on small or personal sites. A bit of .htaccess fiddling, some rewriting and a redirect or two is all it takes. The complexity (and what’s at stake) is much greater on enterprise platforms.

Having spoken to a bunch of large sites who’d buy a solution to just this problem, we figured it was a great thing to build into our platform since we have all the moving pieces. So – with this release, our platform:

  • Returns the correct page content on a request for the new (“pretty”) URL exactly as if the origin server was configured to serve it for that request
  • Returns 301 redirects at the individual page level for all the old URLs to the new pretty ones

This feature also makes it easy to create new pages by pulling in the outline of a page you want to base your new page on and updating key information (title / meta information, body content) without having to recreate menus, footers etc. It works in a very similar way to moving a page, but with no associated 301.

Key benefit #2: Move sub-domains to sub-folders

Despite the official line coming out of Google, we know that this is still important:

(The difference between the carefully-worded technical correctness of official Google statements and what happens in the real world is something that’s well-worth being aware of. If you haven’t dug deep into it, I recommend this whiteboard Friday on precisely this topic and history and background here [video for DistilledU subscribers]).

The point being, in the real world, this is something you might well want to do.

It can be tricky though: often sub-domains are created because they run different software stacks and / or use different servers, or even because they point at fully external hosted services. It can be hard or impossible to integrate them into your core web servers and so sometimes the only way to host them from a sub-folder is via technology like the ODN that deploys into the web server stack.

In a similar way to the way that the new features enable the ODN to move pages from one path to another, we can also modify the request to origin to go to a different server entirely, enabling us to move sub-domains into sub-folders, for example:

As per Rand’s tweet above, many sites have seen significant benefit from this kind of change, and deploying our stack will make it super easy to manage.

Key benefit #3: A/B test complete redesigns

Everyone who has ever had to release a major redesign of a bunch of pages that get significant organic search traffic has worried about the potential impact the redesign will have – and rightly so. There are a ton of horror stories about this kind of change going wrong. Some parts are avoidable with diligent processes – there are horror stories of brands moving to entirely JS-rendered content that flummoxes search engines for example, that could be avoided with SEO input to the new design – but some parts remain inevitably nerve-wracking.

When you redesign a page, you almost inevitably change its HTML, and it’s virtually impossible to tell in advance how Google will view it. Even further: in a world where usage signals play a role, it’s clear that it’s only on launch that you’re going to begin getting the feedback loop from new design to users’ response to it to Google’s response to that.

So. Your nerves are wracked. Now what?

Well – the new tech enables to make it easy to roll out the new design to just a small percentage of pages, and so as long as you have enough pages and enough traffic, you can run an A/B test to see how they perform in the search results. This is different to the kind of testing you can do with CRO / UX testing tools as it’s visible to the search engines and specifically designed to measure the impact on search performance.

The first test like this that we ran for a customer was strongly negative. I mean, strongly negative. We knew that this customer liked the new design and wanted to deploy it, but getting this insight about its impact on traffic and revenue enabled an iterative approach to understand what still needed to be tweaked and user-tested and then tested again for search impact before pushing the button to roll it out across the site section.

Much like the sub-domain example above, this piece of functionality can work by routing requests just for the variant pages to a new server while routing the control pages to the existing origin server. Alternatively, depending on your setup and configuration, another option is for our platform to inject a header into the request for variant pages (e.g. x-split-test: variant) and to have the origin server respond with the new template when that is present, and the old template when it’s not.

Get in touch if you want to see the ODN in action

If you work on a site that is suffering from an inability to make these kinds of changes (tidy up URLs, move pages or site sections, transfer content from a sub-domain to a sub-folder and more) then get in touch to see a demo of our platform in action.

Similarly, if you have a redesign of a large site section coming up, and you’re nervous about the impact on organic performance of deploying a totally new template across hundreds or thousands of pages then you should check out our ability to split-test at the template level and see how it performs on a smaller number of pages before you hit the big scary button.

New Distilled ODN features including SEO friendly URLs for enterprise platforms was posted via Internet Marketing

The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game

How Facebook Stories Will Change Social Media Marketing

How Facebook Stories Will Change Social Media Marketing“You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount.”

This scathing remark, delivered by actor Jesse Eisenberg while portraying Mark Zuckerberg amidst a heated deposition in the 2010 film The Social Network, has a certain pertinence today with regards to the company Zuckerberg founded back in 2004.

As Facebook’s news feed algorithm becomes increasingly restricting for brands and publishers, many of us are finding it difficult to capture even the minimum amount of our audience’s attention on the platform.

The search for elusive reach on the world’s largest social media channel has led some marketers to explore Facebook Groups as a way to stay visible with users. But it appears the more critical frontier may be Facebook Stories, a feature that is rapidly on the rise and — according to the company’s own top execs — represents the future of connection on Facebook.

[bctt tweet=”#FacebookStories — according to the company’s own top execs — represents the future of connection on #Facebook. #SocialMediaMarketing” username=”toprank”]

A Primer on Facebook Stories

The Social Network, referenced earlier, is a biographical drama depicting the inception of Facebook and the power struggles that took place. The film was extremely well received, earning eight Oscar nominations and winning three: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Film Editing.

Certain people portrayed in the movie have criticized its inaccuracies (it wasn’t exactly kind to Mr. Zuckerberg, as the opening quote in this post illustrates), and writer Aaron Sorkin doesn’t deny playing loose with the facts.

“I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth,” he told New York Magazine. “I want it to be to storytelling.”

A reputed screenwriter, Sorkin understands the power of stories, which have an ability to hook and captivate audiences in a way few other styles of communication can hope to match. This dynamic is undoubtedly driving the growth of “Stories” — series of images and videos played in succession, perfectly suited for mobile screens — across all social media platforms.

This chart via Block Party’s report, Beyond the News Feed: Why Stories Are Becoming the New Face of Social Media, visualizes the unmistakable trend well:

Facebook Stories Usage TrendInterestingly, Snapchat — which largely sparked the popularity of this format when its “My Story” feature launched in 2014 — has remained stagnant while other players have gained fast traction. You can definitely count Facebook among them.

Originally rolled out on mobile in 2017, Facebook Stories made their way to desktop earlier this year and the feature now boasts 150 million daily active users. Like the versions on Instagram and Snapchat, this content is ephemeral — Facebook Stories and all of their comments disappear after 24 hours. But the convention itself is here to stay.

“We expect Stories are on track to overtake posts in feeds as the most common way that people share across all social apps,” said Zuckerberg (the real one, not the Eisenberg character) during a fourth-quarter earnings conference call.

This sentiment is shared by Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, who laid out a more specific and imminent timeline at the company’s annual conference in early May:

The increase in the Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.

Needless to say, this is a story marketers need to be tracking.

The Other Side of the Story

Okay, so we know that Stories are quickly becoming a mainstream method for sharing content on social media, and we know that Facebook is making a firm commitment to the format. What does all this mean to us as marketers?

Add to Your Facebook StoryThis is definitely a tool that companies can use, if they are so inclined. You have the ability to post them from your brand page, and (at least for now) it may increase your content’s odds of getting noticed. Relatively speaking, this feature isn’t being used all that much, and Facebook’s clear emphasis on growing it means that Stories are carving prime real estate above the news feed.

Some view this as the next great social media marketing opportunity on the platform. Earlier this year, Bud Torcom wrote in a piece at Forbes that Facebook Stories are “like California’s mines and creeks before the 1849 gold rush.” He sees this format transforming campaigns through experimentation, experiential marketing, influencer integration, and visual pizzazz.

Michelle Cyca sees similar potential, as she wrote on the HootSuite blog, calling Stories “a way to reconnect with users who aren’t seeing your content in their Newsfeed the same way” and calling out examples of campaigns that drove lifts in awareness by incorporating the tactic.

The idea of added organic reach is enticing (if fleeting, knowing that the onset of ads will turn this — like all Facebook marketing initiatives — into a pay-to-play space), but what really intrigues me about Stories is the almost infinite grounds for creativity.

Facebook Stories Examples
Facebook Stories Examples from ModCloth and Mashable.

It’s a very cool method for visual storytelling. It’s a low-barrier entry point for social video (no one is expecting premium production quality on these). And it presents an accessible avenue for toying with emerging technologies — most notably, augmented reality, which is being strongly integrated into Facebook Stories in another step down the road Snapchat has paved.

[bctt tweet=”The idea of added organic reach is enticing, but what really intrigues me about #FacebookStories is the almost infinite grounds for creativity. – @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Where Does the Story Go Next?

“You don’t even know what the thing is yet. How big it can get, how far it can go. This is no time to take your chips down.”

This advice — delivered to Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg by Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker in The Social Network — referred to Zuck’s budding Facebook venture, but could just as easily apply to any social media marketer eyeing Stories as a way to connect with their audience.

The downside is minimal. What have you got to lose? A little time and effort, perhaps. The possible benefits are extensive however. These include:

  • Prioritized placement on user feeds
  • Engaging bite-sized video content
  • Powerful visual storytelling for brands
  • Ability to experiment with new content styles and emerging tech like AR
  • Gaining familiarity with a format that could well represent the future of social marketing

More than anything, though, Facebook Stories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention — maybe even more than the minimum amount.

[bctt tweet=”#FacebookStories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention — maybe even more than the minimum amount. – @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing” username=”toprank”]

And since brands generally aren’t tapping into this functionality as of yet, early adopters can jump ahead of the curve and beat their competition to the punch. If there’s one primary takeaway from Facebook’s story (as reflected in The Social Network), it’s the tremendous business value in being first. Just ask the Winklevoss twins.

At TopRank Marketing, we’re all about helping companies tell their stories through a wide variety of digital channels and tactics. Give us a shout if you’d like to hear more.

What are you thoughts on the future of Facebook stories? Tell us in the comments section below.

The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game was posted via Internet Marketing

What Does ‘Quality’ Really Mean in Content Marketing?

Quality in Content Marketing

Quality in Content MarketingHave you heard the good news about quality content? It’s the latest innovation that’s sweeping the nation. It’s going to revolutionize your content marketing efforts. If your current strategy is to crank out crappy content, then quality content is going to blow your KPIs away!

Okay, sarcasm aside: Every content marketer knows their content needs to be good to be effective. We call it “quality,” or “value,” or “usefulness.” But all of these traits can vary widely depending on your audience. For example, conventional wisdom might say that 500-word blog posts don’t connect with readers. But that word count may be just the right length for the people you want to reach.

So, when we get into the specifics, quality is relative and highly subjective. But it’s possible to define quality content marketing in a more universal way:

Quality content demonstrates to your audience that you are listening to them.

It’s that simple. Well, one step further:

Quality content demonstrates that you’re listening and you care.

We often think about what action we want readers to take. That’s a valid question; in fact, it’s the foundation of content marketing strategy. But for quality content we need to consider the flip side: How will the reader’s life be better after reading this content? Or, to really boil it down: What’s in it for them?

That’s the essence of quality content. And here’s how you can make sure your content passes the test. First, at the broadest level, there are two minimum requirements for quality:

All Content Marketing Should Be …

#1: Hyper-Relevant

We talk a lot about best answer content at TopRank Marketing, content that:

  • Serves a proven search need
  • Addresses a customer’s burning questions
  • Is substantial and comprehensive

Basically, it means that you’re putting in time and effort into researching your audience, what they need and how they’re searching for it. Then you’re crafting content that acknowledges that search and makes a genuine attempt to give them exactly what they’re looking for.

#2: Non-Promotional

It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. Quality content has to be non-promotional. Now, some brands take this advice to heart, but create content that’s still promotional, just with a thin veneer of solving a problem. They’ll publish a “10 Ways to Be Better at X,” but each way just leads to their solution. That’s a cheat.

Real customer-centered content gives away valuable information that people can use even if they never buy from you.  For example, here’s Quicksprout’s “Advanced Guide to Content Marketing.” It’s massive. It’s ungated. Only a tiny fraction of it is related to the solutions they sell.

Advanced Guide to Content Marketing ExampleOf course, your content mix should include some bottom-of-funnel content that will show how your brand solves a problem. But the majority of your content should focus on the reader.

[bctt tweet=”It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. – @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

So, quality content demonstrates to your reader that you’re listening and care about them. It does this by being hyper-relevant and non-promotional. It’s a good working definition, but still a little vague. Here are five ways you can approach content to guarantee quality:

Five Ways to Create Quality Content

#1: Tell a Story

Humans are storytelling animals. We’re wired to process narratives, to get pleasure from a good tale and retain the information within it. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. Tell a story that shows your reader you understand what their world is like. Tell a story that shows you understand what they wish their world was like. Even better, make them (or someone very much like them) the star of the story.

[bctt tweet=”We’re wired to process narratives. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. – @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Read: Be Honest Like Abe: How Content Marketers Can Build Trust Through Storytelling

#2: Show Vulnerability

One of the quickest ways to make an emotional connection is to reveal your own shortcomings. Everyone has moments of failure; they’re what makes us human. Use your brand’s failings, and the lessons learned from them, to connect with the reader and help them improve.

The Buffer team is great at the kind of honest, meaningful discussion I’m talking about here. Their “5 Times We Failed at Diversity Big Time (and How We Fixed It)” is a good starting example.

Buffer Quality Content Example

#3: Help Them Look Smart at Work

What do most working people have in common, regardless of industry, function or seniority level? We all want to look good in front of our boss. If you are the boss, you want to look good in front of shareholders. Everyone can benefit from a little competitive edge, a tip or a trick or a bit of wisdom they can pull out at the next meeting.

#4: Help Make Their Job Easier

Another thing all working people have in common is that we would prefer to not work so hard. Anything that can help us get the job done quicker, with less effort, without sacrificing quality, is incredibly valuable. Keep that idea in mind when writing checklists, tools and tips, or how-to posts. It’s not just “here’s how you do this,” it’s “here’s how you do this better, regardless of your current skill level.”

#5: Help Them Improve Themselves

Your audience’s lives are bigger than their interaction with your brand. They’re bigger than the pain points your brand has the expertise to solve. If you can reach out to the broader sphere of their life experience, you can bring quality in new and unexpected ways.

This piece from LinkedIn’s* Jason Miller, “How to Survive a Mid-Career Crisis in Marketing,” is a stellar example. It’s a guide that’s not really about marketing at all; it’s about finding your true voice and pursuing passion. Bonus: Notice that the piece tells a story and shows vulnerability, too.

LinkedIn Quality Content Example

Quality Is Job One

Have you ever said to anyone, “I consumed some quality content the other day?” I sincerely hope not. Instead, you likely said, “I saw the greatest article,” or “Check out this cool video.” When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise.

That’s the only type of content we should be in the business of making. Not just because it gets better results — it does, but that’s only part of the equation. When we create quality content, that means the work we do is useful, valuable, and meaningful. Personally, I wouldn’t waste my time doing otherwise.

[bctt tweet=”When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise. – @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Create content that connects. Check out these 10 powerful lessons in resonance from some of the industry’s top marketing minds.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

What Does ‘Quality’ Really Mean in Content Marketing? was posted via Internet Marketing

Digital Marketing News: Google’s New Ad Tools, Facebook’s Snoozefest, and LinkedIn’s QR Code Refresh

Facebook's New Custom Snooze Tool

Google leans more on algorithms for ads as critics highlight risks
Google has unveiled a slew of new ad-buying tools that incorporate machine learning, and expanded availability of a utility for running the best text-based search result ads. What will the new ad tools announced Tuesday offer for digital marketers? Reuters

Facebook Adds Keyword ‘Snooze’ Option to Help User Avoid Spoilers
Facebook has launched a new feature allowing users to hide certain words, effectively snoozing them for 30 days. How might marketers be affected? Social Media Today

Google’s New Speed Update Works On Gradual Scale; Small Improvements Matter
Google has shared information about its latest search algorithm update, which has a greater focus on site load speed that takes into account even the smallest increased efficiencies. SEO Roundtable

500px Nukes 1M+ Creative Commons Photos
Popular image hosting firm 500px has removed access to over a million Creative Commons photos, as part of its move urging marketers to instead use Getty Images and VCG. PetaPixel

Google announces Google Marketing Platform Partners program
Google announced the consolidation of its marketing partner program, with individuals, companies, and sales partners on a new approved-training list. Marketing Land

Internet mainstay StumbleUpon shuts its doors
One-time Internet mainstay StumbleUpon has finally shuttered its 16-year-old service, while the site’s founders simultaneously launched a new content aggregation site, Mix. Fast Company

July 13, 2018 Statistics Images

Instagram Releases New Guide to Creating and Uploading IGTV Content
Instagram has put out a new video tip and content-creation guide for digital marketers looking to use the company’s recently-released IGTV long-form video platform. Social Media Today

LinkedIn adds QR codes to make sharing your profile easier
LinkedIn (client) has implemented QR-code-based profile sharing to make it easier for users to swap links via apps, websites, lanyards, and other means, a move that comes in conjunction with the company’s recent major language translation feature. Engadget

Instagram is testing a persistent Stories bar that follows you down the feed
Instagram has bumped up the on-screen visibility of its Stories bar with the test of a version that keeps following users as they scroll through their feeds. Will marketers find it helpful or annoying? The Verge

“I Was Devastated”: The Man Who Created the World Wide Web Has Some Regrets
“Get out your broomstick,” was among Web-creator Tim Berners-Lee insights as he offered up his latest thoughts on the future of the Internet. Vanity Fair

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Tom Fishburne July 13 Cartoon

A lighthearted look at innovation dreamers, realists, and spoilers by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Punk Algorithm Tells You What’s Not Trending — The Hard Times

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — The Top 5 Content Marketers and What You Can Learn From Them — Entrepreneur
  • Lee Odden — 10 Common Reasons Why Influencer Marketing Campaigns Fail
    Social Media Today
  • Lee Odden — Influencers and Media Partners: How to amplify the reach of content — Orbit Media

What are some of your top content marketing news items for this week?

Thanks for reading, and we hope you’ll return next week for another round-up of the latest digital marketing news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.


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Digital Marketing News: Google’s New Ad Tools, Facebook’s Snoozefest, and LinkedIn’s QR Code Refresh | http://www.toprankblog.com

Digital Marketing News: Google’s New Ad Tools, Facebook’s Snoozefest, and LinkedIn’s QR Code Refresh was posted via Internet Marketing

UX: what is it and why does it matter?

Why are we talking about UX?

Put simply, UX is important in every part of our daily lives, probably more than most of us even notice. Let’s walk through an example.  

The 2000 U.S presidential election was extremely contentious. Here are the results:

Pay attention to the highlighted “Electoral vote” and “Popular vote” statistics. In the United States, the president wins by getting a majority of electoral college votes. Each of the 50 states has a number of electoral college votes and whichever candidate wins your state gets all of the electoral college votes from your state. The election that year came down to the state of Florida and its electoral college votes. George Bush won the state by 537 votes out of almost six million votes. Crazy!

It gets even more interesting. Here is what a ballot looked like in a county in Florida that year:

If you were voting for George Bush, which button would you press? The answer is the button marked with an A. Easy.

What would you press if you were voting for Al Gore? Well, he is second on the list so you would press the second button labeled B. Wrong. Pressing B would send your vote to the Reform candidate Pat Buchanan. If you wanted to vote for Gore, you would need to press the button labeled C. If you are confused, so were many voters in Florida.

The small margin of victory and this confusing ballot lead to a recount of votes and a U.S Supreme Court decision.

This is a clear example of poor UX. The design choices for the ballot lead to confusion and error and impacted the result of a U.S election.

Why does any of this matter for SEO? Let’s talk about it.

How does this matter for SEO?  

In one phrase: Machine Learning.

Machine learning algorithms are taking over SEO. Google still uses traditional SEO signals (links, keywords) but machine learning adds another layer to their algorithm.

Google uses traditional SEO signals to show initial results but then uses machine learning to iterate on those results based on user feedback. If Google displays a page, a user clicks and lands on that page, the user then immediately bounces back to the SERP, Google’s machine learning algorithms will know not to display the result.

When a user does not engage with a page, that sends a very clear signal to Google. This is why UX has become crucial if you want your site to rank.

Is UX hard to measure? It sure is. We at Distilled have been talking about this for years.

Here is an article that explains our approach to quantifying UX and quality signals. Google has human testers who go onto sites and manually rate them on quality and UX. Our survey emulates Google’s human testing and gives us information on UX related issues.

How else can you know that UX is a problem for your site? Think about how many of the following issues your site can relate to:

  • You have done a full technical audit and there is nothing (or very few) technical issues with your site
  • You are not hit by any manual penalty
  • Your site decreased in rank (and traffic) around the same time Google announced quality updates
  • Your domain authority is relatively high compared to your competitors and your backlink profile is in a good place

If all or most of the above sounds familiar to you and your site does not rank competitively in its space, UX is a huge potential opportunity.

UX has several components and as Google’s algorithms continue to advance, sites who take care to emphasize UX will reap the benefits in the SERPs.

Whether or not you are designing a ballot for a presidential election or making a site to sell t-shirts, UX matters.

Ok, UX is important. I get that. I still don’t know what it is and what I can do?

You

What is UX?

The phrases UX and UX Design get thrown around a lot. Often, if a website or app does not look visually appealing, people say “that site has bad UX.” But what is UX and what does it really mean?

UX is composed of seven key factors:

  • Useful
  • Usable  
  • Findable
  • Credible
  • Desirable
  • Accessible
  • Valuable

Useful

This is simple. Is your product / website useful? If you have a website, then the question you need to ask yourself is “is my website promoting a product or service people want?”

It is important to note that “useful” is certainly in the eye of the beholder.  Your website can be promoting products or services that provide non-practical benefits such as PPC. What matters most is that your target audience finds it useful.

Usable

Can users utilize your website or product effectively and efficiently? If not, then you may lose out to competitors. In a world where websites are increasing and attention spans are decreasing, if your site is not easy to use, your competitors will reap the benefits.

Findable

Can users find your product? In the case of websites, is the information and content easy to find? This about Wikipedia. As soon as you land on the page, you know exactly where the content is and what to expect. In the vase of a Wikipedia biography, the first sentence usually contains the pronunciation of the persons name. The right corner usually has a box with a picture as well as info on birth dates, education, and profession. It doesn’t matter who the person is, if you go on Wikipedia and look at the biography you will be able to find the information you are looking for.

Credible

“Fool me one time, shame on you, fool me twice can’t put the blame on you” – J.Cole

Web users have no patience for sites that are not credible. For a product, it should do the job but also last a long time. For a website, the information provided should be accurate and fit for whatever brought the user to the page. Even search engines have gotten into the credibility game by delivering benefits to sites that are HTTPS vs HTTP.

Desirable

Do people want your product? Do people brag about using your product or site? Think about cars. A Toyota and a Mercedes are both great cars. If given either for free, which would you choose?

Desirability is all about branding, design and aesthetics. This is not to say that sites that lack in these areas will not perform well. But if a user can access the same information from a more desirable website, they will undoubtedly choose to do so.

Your local newspaper and news outlets such as the New York Times and the Guardian probably cover similar issues when it comes to major world events. Which outlet do you read?  

Accessible

Accessibility often gets overlooked, but it is crucial. Accessible products and sites are those that can be used by an audience of a wide range of abilities.

Accessibility needs can be those with physical or learning impairments. This crucial area of UX gets overlooked due to judgements made that disabled individuals do not make up a big percentage of the market. However, the US census estimates that nearly 20% of Americans have a disability. This number is expected to be even higher in developing nations.

Accessibility is so important that Google has created documentation to help webmasters make their sites more accessible.

Value

Value is what encompasses all of the other principles mentioned. Users will find your product or service valuable if it is useful, usable, findable, credible, desirable, and accessible, then users will see value in your product or site. If your site does not provide value, then it will not get users.

Thanks for taking the time to read. If you have any thoughts or questions feel free to reach out to me in the comments below or via the Distilled Twitter account.

UX: what is it and why does it matter? was posted via Internet Marketing

CMWorld Interview: Getting the Full Story from Gartner’s Heather Pemberton Levy

While digging through data and market research, it can be easy to get lost in the numbers. But when assessing these insights, what really matters is the stories they tell.

This is a key point of emphasis for Gartner, and specifically its Smarter with Gartner content platform, which adds context and substance to trends surfaced by the research firm’s findings.

So it is quite fitting that Heather Pemberton Levy, who helps guide Gartner’s strategic direction as VP of Content Marketing, champions the “Story Comes First” method. This concept served as a framework for her 2016 book, Brand, Meet Story: How to Create Engaging Content to Win Business and Influence Your Audience, and will also be in play during her workshop at Content Marketing World, entitled “From 0 to 60: Building a Mature B2B Content Marketing Organization.”

We talk frequently on our blog about the crucial importance of storytelling — recently we discussed its impact as a trust-building tool — so we’re definitely on board with letting relatable narratives lead the way in content. We are eager to hear how Pemberton Levy and her team have woven this directive, and other elements, into the process of building Gartner’s highly-trafficked content hub from the ground up.

While we wait for her September session, we did have a chance to ask Pemberton Levy for her views on some important content marketing topics. Here’s what she had to say about flipping the traditional marketing model, the value of “version 0.5,” lessons learned from writing a mommy blog, and more.

What does your role as Vice President of Content Marketing at Gartner entail? What are your main areas of focus and key priorities?

I lead content marketing for global marketing campaigns and the Smarter with Gartner and Gartner.com platforms. Gartner equips business leaders across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size, with the insights, advice and tools to achieve their top priorities. I manage a global team of contributors who create original content for all major business categories in the form of articles, infographics, eBooks, and videos based on Gartner’s proprietary insights.

My main area of focus is to ensure that our content is valuable to senior business leaders while meeting our key marketing priorities to attract prospects, engage and nurture them through the buyer’s journey. This involves continuously evolving our editorial and platform strategies, working with stakeholders throughout the organization, and evangelizing content marketing within the broader corporate marketing function.

You created the “Story Comes First” method. How does this flip the conventional marketing model and why is it important?

The Story Comes First method creates a structure for creating content that always begins with a story your reader can identify with and uses this moment to bridge their point of view with your brand’s unique selling point. Many marketers still talk about their products and services in terms of what they can do for their audience rather than what the audience cares about, why that’s important and how their solution can help solve the problem. Stories have the power to engage prospects with an emotional hook that endears them to a brand more successfully than standard marketing copy.


Stories have the power to engage prospects with an emotional hook that endears them to a brand more successfully than standard marketing copy. @heathrpemberton #CMWorld
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How has social media changed the game for brand storytelling?

Brands are no longer dependent on publicity with traditional media to influence target audiences. Social media gave brands their own “subscriber lists,” effectively giving them their own distribution channels for content marketing.

You’ll be presenting at CMWorld on building a mature B2B content marketing organization. What, from your view, are the hallmarks of maturity on this front?

In my three years building a content marketing organization with my colleagues at Gartner, my views have evolved on what signals content marketing maturity in a complex global organization.

First, if you dig into your analytics, the data may tell a different story than what you see on the first page of your dashboard report. It’s not easy to get the right analytics so it’s important to constantly lobby for good data and pay attention to it.

Second, what people do with your content may be different than what you intended. If you’re willing to listen to the data, it will be necessary, at times, to upend your strategy and head in a new direction.


What people do with your content may be different than what you intended. @heathrpemberton #CMWorld
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Which content marketing metrics and KPIs do you think are most critical to growth?

Rather than list specific KPIs, which is a longer discussion that I will cover in the workshop, I’ll note that it’s important to be crystal clear what you are measuring and why. Our content marketing strategy centers around three key objectives and we have specific KPIs and related metrics for each objective. Everyone on my team is measured based on these objectives and KPIs. This is the best way to work towards the right priorities for the organization.

What are some shortcuts you’ve identified in your career when it comes to striving toward content marketing maturity?

One of the hallmarks of Gartner corporate strategy is to “get to version 0.5 and then test” and improve from there. This philosophy has allowed us to be agile and put new ideas into the marketplace quickly to learn what works. It’s how Smarter With Gartner was built and we constantly remind ourselves that when we are planning a new strategic direction, it’s best to find a way to do something quickly with low impact on resources first and build it out further based on data from our audience.

Looking back, is there a particular moment or juncture in your career that you view as transformative? What takeaways could other marketers learn and apply?

I wrote a mommy blog for four years that helped me learn how to tell stories and use dialog – all of which I brought to my content marketing career. The experience reminded me that I am an editor and publisher at heart and helped me find wants to create content, eventually for brands.

My takeaway for other content marketers is to read and write what you love for recreation or as a hobby and bring the best of what you see across genres to your own work. You never know how it will fit but it’s important to stay exposed to the masters of our craft.


Read and write what you love for recreation or as a hobby and bring the best of what you see across genres to your own work.@heathrpemberton #CMWorld
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Which speaker presentations are you looking forward to most at Content Marketing World 2018?

I’m looking forward to the sessions on creating video since the format takes time and resources to make standout content. I’m also excited for the keynotes by Amber Guild of The New York Times Company and, of course, Tina Fey.

Story Comes First. What’s Next?

We’ll find out when Pemberton Levy takes the stage in Cleveland. In the meantime, we recommend tapping into illuminating insights from her and many other content marketing leaders in The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing:


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CMWorld Interview: Getting the Full Story from Gartner’s Heather Pemberton Levy was posted via Internet Marketing

The Power of Social Media Polls: The Drill-Down on 3 Platforms + 5 General Best Practices

The Power of Social Media Polls for Marketing

The Power of Social Media Polls for MarketingLet’s take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to 2007.

The world was a different place. Rihanna’s “Umbrella” (ella, ella) dominated the Billboard Charts. Scorsese’s masterpiece The Departed won Best Picture. Facebook was only a year removed from opening its membership to the general public, and Twitter was a fledgling startup, still looking to gain traction.

But even then, online polls were already emerging as an intriguing tool for digital marketers. On this blog, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden penned a post about the relatively nascent tactic, which could be utilized through a modest WordPress plugin.

“If you want to know what your users are thinking,” Lee wrote. “Just ask them.”

It’s a simple premise, and one that hasn’t changed over the past decade, although the tools at our disposal have evolved considerably. Today, audience polls are integrated features on most major social media networks.

As marketers seek new ways to drive engagement and gather data, the allure of social media polls is obvious.

Let’s take a look at how polls work on each platform, what kind of value they can provide, and how to get the most out of them.

The Polling Details

Twitter Polls

Users on Twitter could informally run polls in the platform’s early days — by manually tracking responses, hashtags, or retweets — but the official Twitter polls feature was launched in 2015. This made it easy to create sleek, interactive, customized polls with two (and later up to four) options.

Lee frequently runs polls like this one on Twitter to gauge the opinions of his followers on various subjects:

What Makes Twitter Polls Engaging

Staying in line with the overall appeal of Twitter, polls are extremely easy to participate in — one quick click of the mouse or tap of the mobile screen.

How to Get Twitter Polls Right

Knowing that the platform is built around quick-scrolling and bite-sized content, you’ll want to to ensure these polls are light on text, and eye-catching. Maybe include a couple of emojis, like HootSuite does here:

Instagram Polls

In 2017, Instagram rolled out its own polling convention, which became a part of its Stories feature. Instagram polls are added in the form of interactive stickers with two options that you can drag-and-drop on visual content you’ve created.

As is the nature of the platform, polls will usually pertain to the content of the post in question. (“Which color shirt do you like better?” or – in the example below via the company’s official announcement post – “Which donut should I eat?”)

Example of Instagram Stories Poll(*Extremely Homer Simpson voice* Mmm, donuts…)

What Makes Instagram Polls Engaging

This is an excellent avenue for quickly gathering feedback around something people can see right in front of them. And you’ll have many options for making them stand out aesthetically.

How to Get Instagram Polls Right

If you have a sizable and engaged Instagram following, you could enlist your audience to help guide a decision (a la M&Ms). Customers might be more attached to what you’re doing if they feel like they played even a small part in directing it.

You may also try using polls for more general topics or market research – Instagram does have an enormous and active user base, after all – but the way it’s set up doesn’t lend itself to such applications as well as the other platforms mentioned here.

Facebook Polls

Very shortly after polls were introduced for Instagram last year, parent company Facebook released its own version for members and page administrators. Like Instagram, it only offers two response fields (presently), but does have some nice features like the ability to include images and gifs. Businesses might consider trying out more robust third-party apps Polls for Pages.

Example of Facebook PollsWhat Makes Facebook Polls Engaging

Driving engagement on Facebook, as a publisher, has become very challenging. You likely know this already. Polls can be helpful in this regard.

A study by BuzzSumo found that questions rank as the most engaging types of posts on Facebook. Partially because of this, Neil Patel has argued that “a well-designed Facebook poll is one of the most powerful Facebook marketing tools today’s social media marketers have available to them.”

How to Get Facebook Polls Right

You’re competing with content from friends and family members in highly personalized feeds, so you’ll want a poll that stands out and bears considerable relevance to your audience. Take advantage of the ability to use images or moving graphics for voting options.

While polls can be more impactful than a standard text-based update, your organic reach will still be somewhat limited by Facebook’s suppressive algorithm unless you really catch some viral traction or pay to boost the post.

What About Other Platforms?

As of now, these are the only three social networks with built-in polls. LinkedIn used to have a Group polls feature, but retired it in 2014 (much to the chagrin of B2B marketers). Snapchat and Pinterest have never offered polls.

Best Practices for Social Media Polls

In the sections above we mentioned some distinctions and pointers specific to each platform. But at a higher level, here are a few recommendations for marketers looking to use social media polls.

#1 – Pique Your Audience’s Interest

One thing I really like about the poll features on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram is the immediate incentive factor for participants. Voting on a poll allows you to instantly see real-time results. I know there have been plenty of times where I’ve come across one on my feed and clicked because I was very curious to see what the general consensus was.

Keep this irresistibility factor in mind as you create poll questions and response options.

#2 – Use Polls as a Springboard for Content

Let’s be honest: this isn’t exactly a scientific survey method, and the data obtained through social media polls isn’t going to be substantial enough to draw serious conclusions. However, you can still leverage the results in interesting ways.

In May, Search Engine Journal ran the following Twitter poll:

Then, they used the results (and responses) for an article on the topic. It was, transparently, just a sampling of feedback from random followers, but still made for a good read. Using the poll question as the post title also happens to be a savvy SEO move in this case, since it’s exactly the query a business owner might type into Google.

You can also simply poll your audience to ask earnestly what kind of content they want from you, as Slack* did here:

#3 – Choose a Fitting Platform for Each Poll

Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. Make sure your polls align with them. Instagram and Facebook will only work for A/B type questions, which can be limiting. Twitter provides more of a multi-choice format but you can’t incorporate images or video into the voting options. And of course, each channel has its own distinct audience profile.   

#4 – Think Strategically

In many cases, the objective for a running a poll will simply be to attract attention and boost engagement. Nothing wrong with that. But you can also think bigger and tie it to other goals. For example, you could run a Facebook poll with a trivia question, prompting voters to visit your website and find the answer.

Think big and, when possible, tie your poll to a larger strategy.

#5 – Follow Up on Results

Granted, it doesn’t take a ton of effort to vote in a social media poll, but users are still taking an action and you should make it worth their while in some way. One method is to create content around the tabulations, as mentioned earlier.

But even following up with later posts remarking on the results, or inviting further thoughts, will show that it you’re not just tossing out throwaway questions for the heck of it. It will signal that you’re genuinely engaged with what your audience has to say and that you want to hear more.

What’s Your Poll Position?

Now that you know a little more about social media polls and how they work on each platform, where do you stand? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Let us know below (and, hey, we’d love it if you gave us a follow on Twitter while you’re at it).

Interested in finding other ways to increase your social media reach and engagement? Check out these recent posts from our blog:

The Power of Social Media Polls: The Drill-Down on 3 Platforms + 5 General Best Practices was posted via Internet Marketing