3 Unusual Content Marketing Approaches That Actually Work

My favorite brand on social media is Denny’s. The diner chain eschews pretty much every marketing convention, and that’s exactly why its efforts stand out so much.

The company’s online personality has been compared to that of a “chill teenager.” Its Twitter feed is filled with juvenile humor, rarely promoting the restaurant’s actual food in any serious way. I doubt many people find the image of a pancake in a shoe appetizing. The Denny’s Instagram page looks like some sort of bizarre avant garde art project.

None of this goes by the book. But Denny’s scores tremendous engagement on almost every social media channel, and has developed a cult following of sorts on the web thanks to its quirky content. This has proven to be a significant differentiator for their business.

Right now, standing out with your content marketing efforts is more challenging than ever before. If you’re trying to adhere to the established “best practices,” I have bad news: so is everybody else.

This requires outside-the-box thinking. Those who go against the grain and pursue methods that counter the mainstream are frequently being rewarded, and in some cases maybe even setting new trends for the marketing world.

To illustrate, here’s a look at three unusual content marketing tactics and companies that have applied them successfully.

Get Ultra Niche

Sure, you could water down your content in order to make it appealing to the broadest possible audience. Plenty of businesses do just that.

Or, you could narrow your core following, and orient your messaging toward them directly. Speak their language, even if it might potentially alienate some folks who fall outside of that scope.

California-based apparel retailer Nasty Gal embodies this philosophy. Marketing to strong and independent young women in the mold of its founder Sophia Amoruso (of Girlboss fame), the brand’s voice is unapologetically sassy and in-your-face — sometimes even a little profane.

This was by design from the very beginning, as Amoruso told Wall Street Journal back in 2013:

“Nasty Gal really emerged from a conversation. I’ve probably spent more time than any other brand reading every last comment. To listen to people the way you’re able to online is very powerful. I think other companies are just starting to figure that out.”

Four years later, many are still figuring it out. Or too risk-averse to boldly embrace a targeted content style that borders on esoteric. Meanwhile, Nasty Gal continues to build affinity and loyalty with its very specific, adoring audience.

Stir the Pot

Last month on this blog, Josh Nite wrote about brands taking a stand based on values. That can be a scary thing. The standard playbook calls for companies to stay neutral on social issues, so as to avoid ruffling feathers and potentially turning away customers who lean strongly in another direction. As divisive and volatile as things can be these days, this mindset is magnified.

But as Josh noted, adopting an emphatic public stance can differentiate your business, define your audience, and inspire your employees. It can strengthen your company’s relationship with customers (and draw in new ones) who share your values, and generate positive third-party coverage. In many cases these benefits will outweigh the negatives.

Recently, outdoor clothing company Patagonia made waves by blacking out its website and replacing the usual ecommerce interface with this message, in the wake of President Trump’s decision to roll back public land protections in Utah:

For several days, in the thick of the holiday season, it was a bit tricky to go and even order a jacket from Patagonia online. (You could still access their store by clicking an X up in the corner, but it wasn’t all that obvious.) That’s not a traditionally advisable business move, and probably costs the retailer some money in the short term. But ultimately, it has the potential to build brand loyalty.

Focus on One Social Media Channel Exclusively

It’s easy enough to maintain a presence on every major social media channel, especially with tools that enable you to post on all of them from one central app. Sometimes it’s as simple as copy-and-pasting the same message across different platforms, broadening your reach without a whole lot of addition effort.

The problem with this approach, however, is that it can dilute your brand and prevent you from achieving true greatness on any channel. Instead of trying to create social content that will work for every social network, why not focus on mastering just one? Determine where your customers mostly like to hang and then put all of your social media marketing effort into making that account as good as it can be.

One company that exemplifies this is White Space Studio, a creative agency in Hawaii that exhibits its design savvy through a stellar Instagram page. Sure, the company also has Facebook and Pinterest accounts, but doesn’t do much with them. And White Space doesn’t even bother with Twitter.

Does this limit their potential exposure? Perhaps. But by concentrating their attention on Instagram, they’ve built an exceptional showcase for their brand while achieving bigtime engagement.

At TopRank Marketing, we love to get weird. Get in touch with us about your content marketing and we’ll help you develop some tactics that buck the norm.


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3 Unusual Content Marketing Approaches That Actually Work was posted via Internet Marketing

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Digital Marketing News: Mobile Beats Desktop, YouTube Stories, Facebook for Kids?

Top Women Influencers in Tech

TopRank Marketing has partnered with Onalytica for the Women in Tech: Hot Topics and Influencers List for 2018. The list features influencers in the categories of Artificial Intelligence, FinTech, Blockchain, BigData, IoT, EdTech, MarTech, InsurTech, Virtual Reality, and Cyber Security. Onalytica Blog

Study: 80% Of Brands Plan To Boost Video Spending In 2018. Of course Facebook and Google dominate video advertising with Facebook accounting for 39%, and Google’s YouTube, 27% of digital video ad spend. The cost of producing targeted high-quality videos is prohibitive, and many marketers rely on agencies to create the ads. MediaPost

Facebook tests tool to make it easier for businesses to send message blasts on Messenger. Facebook is internally testing a tool called Messenger Broadcast that businesses would be able to use to send message blasts to people who had conversed with their accounts on Messenger. Of course that wouldn’t work of Messenger is down (see above).  MarketingLand

Black Friday Twitter engagements totaled nearly 785M. Black Friday-related terms and hashtags on Twitter had a total message volume of 1,982,019 and a potential reach of 27.5 billion. “potential”, ha! What’s interesting is that 63% of the messaging came from mobile devices and 37% from the web. MarketingDive

Email Generates $1.6 Billion On Cyber Monday (But Search Rocked It). Cyber Monday was the largest online sales day in history with sales increasing to $6.59 billion. Mobile continues to grow as an integral component of retail marketing, as revenue driven by smartphones reached a record $1.59 billion. Search was crowned the overall winner of the shopping bonanza with 41.7% of online sales. . MediaPost

YouTube is testing its own version of Stories. YouTube announced it’s rolling out the Community tab to all creators with more than 10,000 subscribers as well as a new feature called “reels”, which is like Instagram or Snapchat Stories. Reels allow creators to stitch together short videos shot from their mobile devices and add things like filters, music and text. Engadget

Mobile Ad Spend Surpasses Desktop Spend. Mobile is now the world’s second-largest ad medium expected to reach $98.3bn in 2017, representing almost a quarter (23%) of worldwide advertising expenditure. WARC

There are now 25M active business profiles on Instagram. It looks like my favorite network for personal use is finally growing up into the business world. Instagram also says that more than 80 percent of Instagram accounts follow a business, with 200 million users visiting a business profile every day.  TechCrunch

New Facebook App for Children Ignites Debate Among Families. While there is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as Coppa, that requires services aimed at children to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting information, how long before kids figure out how to “hack” that permission? I’m not a fan of this at all.  New York Times

CMO Ad Spend 2018

63% of B2B marketers currently buy advertising programmatically. Not only are B2B marketers combining programmatic and data to drive their ad buying and audience targeting, they’re also turning to data to drive their integrated marketing campaigns. In fact, almost 80 percent of respondents said they either use or want to use a solution that integrates ad tech and mar tech. Dun & Bradstreet (client)

Google is testing an answers carousel within the search results snippets. Even less reason to click through: Google has started testing and potentially rolling out a new feature in search that shows a carousel with a list of answers directly within the search results snippets. Search Engine Land

2018 Digital Marketing Plans Survey Summary Report. Highlights include: Social media marketing, content marketing and the marketing technology that drives these tactics, are most effective marketing tactics. The most critical challenge to the success of a digital marketing plan is data quality and 93% of digital marketing budgets will increase in 2018, with 41% increasing significantly. Ascend2

Content is the No. 1 contributor to an overall good event experience for IT buyers. Four out of five IT buyers say they are more likely to visit a booth if they have heard of, read about, or connected with an exhibitor before an event. This is why conference ebooks make so much sense! MarketingProfs

Global AR & VR revenues to grow from $4.1 billion in 2016 to $79.4 billion in 2021. ARtillry Intelligence has devised a disciplined and non-biased revenue forecast for AR & VR, segmented into their product areas: enterprise AR/VR and consumer AR/VR. From Pokémon Go to applications in manufacturing and design, it looks like the AR & VR space is coming in to its own. ARtillry

Sprout Social Acquires Social Analytics Firm Simply Measured. The social analytics market is expected to grow to $9.54 billion by 2022 and with Simply Measured full-funnel analytics, Sprout Social is certainly moving in the right direction to capitalize on that growth. Sprout Social Blog

On the Lighter Side

Facebook Messenger Went Down Globally and Everyone Freaked Out.  On Tuesday this week thousands of users reporting problems according to the Down Detector website, which logs reports of online service failures. Of course when one network is down, users flock to another to complain. In this case hundreds of users flocked to Twitter to vent their frustration. Fortune

Instagram adds content warnings for koala selfies. If you click on an offending hashtag like #koalaselfie, #lionselfie #koalahugs or #tigerpet, a new warning will pop up. “You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment,” the warning reads. CNN Tech

TopRank Marketing in the News

  • Ashley Zeckman – Why Brands Should See Ideas Everywhere (podcast) – Brand Driven Digital
  • Ashley Zeckman – Revolutionary Females in Marketing to Follow on Twitter – Devrix
  • Rachel Miller – 35+ Most Influential Women Leading B2B Marketing Technology – Data Captive Blog
  • Rachel Miller – Women in Martech: Hot Topics and Influencers List – Onalytica Blog
  • Rachel Miller & Lee Odden – Top 100 Social Media and Marketing Influencers – Digital Scouting
  • Lee Odden – 2018 Predictions on the Future of Customer Experience – Adobe CMO.com
  • Lee Odden – How to Apply Influencer Marketing Principles and Boost Your Sales – LinkedIn Sales Solutions Blog (client)
  • Lee Odden – LinkedIn Presents: The Future of Advertising Agencies (video) – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog (client)

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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Digital Marketing News: Mobile Beats Desktop, YouTube Stories, Facebook for Kids? | http://www.toprankblog.com

Digital Marketing News: Mobile Beats Desktop, YouTube Stories, Facebook for Kids? was posted via Internet Marketing

5 Outdated Content Marketing Tactics (And What to Do Instead)

Can I interest anyone in an iPhone? No, not the iPhone 8 or X. I’m talking about this bad boy:

No takers? But it has a 320X480 pixel screen, 128 Mb of RAM, and a single 2-megapixel camera! Back in 2007, this was the hottest phone on the market. People lined up in front of stores just to get their hands on one.

You get the point: State of the art quickly becomes laughably outdated. What used to thrill a consumer’s soul is now something we wouldn’t give a toddler to play with.

That kind of obsolescence isn’t limited to the tech industry, of course. The cycle from next-big-thing to the dustbin is even faster in online content. Yet many content marketers are using tactics that, while they once worked, are now as outdated as that original iPhone. What’s worse, some of us are still in the flip-phone stage.

If you’re using any of the following content marketing tactics, it’s time for an upgrade. Here’s what doesn’t work, why it doesn’t, and what you should try instead.

Ditch These Outdated Content Marketing Tactics

1. Broad and Shallow Content

Content used to be about sheer bulk rather than quality. Search engines prioritized sites that had a lot of keyword-rich (more on that later) content. Whether that content was actually useful didn’t matter. So writers churned out blog posts like they were getting paid by the word – and sometimes, we actually were.

But search engines have gotten smarter, and our content needs to get smarter, too. Pride of place in the SERP goes to content that actually serves a purpose for an audience. Shallow content gets few clicks, low time on page, and high bounce rates. All of these factors push your content down to the hinterlands of Google’s Page 2 (or lower).

What to Do Instead: Content can no longer be a commodity, churned out in a word factory. We need handcrafted artisan content. It takes longer to create, but you don’t have to make as much of it, either. Focus your resources on a few pillar pieces that deliver real value. Content that inspires readers to spend time on the page, explore further, and share with others will beat commodity content every day of the week. 

 

2. Single Keyword Stuffing

In the days of bulk content, a sure-fire way to get search engines’ attention was stuffing in keywords wherever they would fit. Keywords were stuffed in every header, every paragraph, multiple times in a sentence, and then in invisible text at the bottom of the page for good measure. It didn’t add anything useful to the content—in fact, it actively made the content worse – but it helped get eyeballs to your site.

Now, though, you’re likely to get the opposite effect from keyword stuffing. Google actively recognizes spammy keyword usage and moves that content down in the SERP.

What to Do Instead: Don’t focus on a single keyword. Start with a topic for which there is proven search demand. Then create a keyword group of similar terms, related topics, and long-tail derivatives. Use your keyword group to inform your content outline. Then, as you write your comprehensive, best-answer content, you will naturally include the relevant terms without stuffing them in. That way, you’re optimizing for humans and search engines alike.

3. Clickbait Headlines

Never has a tactic been so maligned and so effective as clickbait headlines were a few years ago. “7 of the Coolest Kazoos in the UK – Number 5 Will Shock You!” “They Said He Couldn’t Play His Kazoo at School – You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!” Sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed drove millions of views with these headlines, and marketers were quick to pick up on the trend.

The problem is, if everything is “shocking,” “mind-blowing,” or “brain-melting,” nothing is. Readers caught wise to the hyperbole and stopped clicking through. Upworthy is still around, but has a fraction of the audience. Buzzfeed is still going strong, but only because they ditched the breathless headlines and focused on great content.

What to Do Instead: Offer a clear benefit to the reader in your title. Don’t promise a life-changing, unbelievable experience – promise to meet a specific need, and make sure you fulfill that promise.

4. Focusing on Bottom of Funnel Content

One of content marketers’ biggest challenges is proving how their content contributes to a purchase decision. So it makes sense that, historically, we’ve concentrated efforts on content designed to close a deal. That is, content that’s more, “Why Our Kazoos Are the Best,” rather than “Why Kazoos Are a Vital Part of an Orchestra,” or even, “Our 10 Favorite Kazoo Players.”

It’s true that bottom of funnel content is easier to tie to revenue. But without top of funnel content, you won’t have an established audience for the bottom of funnel stuff. You can talk about how great your product is out the kazoo, but who’s going to read it?

What to Do Instead: Most of your audience is going to be in the early stages of the decision-making process. To strike the right content marketing balance, use the funnel image as your guide – create the majority of your content for top of funnel, a little less for mid-funnel, and less still for the very bottom. Then make sure each piece of content has a next step that leads the reader further down the funnel. Or kazoo.

 

5.  “Viral” Content

There’s a potent high to having a piece of content go viral. Millions of impressions, thousands of shares, maybe even local news coverage, all organic and all free – it’s definitely intoxicating. When viral videos cracked the mainstream consciousness, marketers went chasing that high. And some of us are still trying to catch it.

As I’ve said before, viral is not a content marketing strategy. It’s a pleasant but unpredictable side effect of good content, and it’s ultimately irrelevant to your goals. How many of those millions of viewers are interested in your product? And how many just want to laugh at a dog playing a kazoo?

What to Do Instead: Don’t aim your content at the broadest possible audience and hope it goes viral. Focus on your most relevant audience and make a strategic plan to reach them. We use an integrated marketing approach that includes:

  • Best-answer, comprehensive content with SEO built in
  • Influencer co-creation for amplification
  • Social media amplification
  • Paid, highly targeted advertising

Get with the Now

The original iPhone was a technological marvel in 2007. Now, you’ll find it in a museum of technology, or on eBay as a “classic collector’s item.” But you won’t find it in anyone’s hip pocket.

Make sure your marketing stays up-to-date: Ditch outdated tactics like shallow, product-focused content and upgrade to valuable, customer-focused content, strategically planned and amplified.

Need help getting to the next generation of content marketing? We’re here for you.


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5 Outdated Content Marketing Tactics (And What to Do Instead) was posted via Internet Marketing

5 Examples of Influencer Marketing in Action Across the Full Customer Journey

Influencer Marketing Customer Lifecycle

Much of what we hear about influencer marketing is centered around reach and engagement objectives. This is not unlike the early days of social media marketing programs where platform capabilities and user behaviors created a perfect storm for connection and interaction.

Fast forward to today and we’ve certainly learned that social media is not a silo of communication, but more of a universal truth when it comes to where people spend their time to discover, consume and interact with content.

Influence brings that same universal truth in terms of something that affects us all. From a marketing context, influence is the ability to affect action and since virtually every person with a phone is empowered to publish, everyone has some degree of influence.

So where does that broader view lead us when developing an influencer content marketing strategy that’s optimized to attract, engage and convert? To help answer that question and extend optimization to retention and advocacy, here are 5 states during the customer journey and how influencer marketing can play a part for better results.


“The opportunity for consumer engagement spans the entire journey and influencers can play an important role in each moment of truth.” @BrianSolis
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Attract

Contribution inspires promotion. The obvious value here is that working with influencers on content can inspire promotion of the content collaborated on. Reaching the audience of an influencer with content that is relevant and credible can be incredibly valuable for brands that want to attract hard-to-reach customers.

Follow the leader advocacy. Influencers that are advocates often inspire other influencers and customers to advocate for the brand as well. This can be architected with contests where the content with the most social engagement wins, but basic follow the leader behavior in an organic way is effective too.

Retargeting influencer interest. When followers of an influencer that the brand co-created content with match a customer profile, marketers can retarget those followers who have interacted with the influencer content with more context than a buyer simply visiting random websites.

blockchain influencers SAP
A great B2B example of an Attract approach to influencer co-creation is this interactive experience for SAP Leonardo (client).  32 influencers contributing their expertise on topics ranging from artificial intelligence to blockchain technologies. With over 1.8 million impressions and 100% influencer share rate, this content collaboration project exceeded reach expectations.

Engage

Creator talent drives interaction. In the B2C world, creators are plentiful and by creators I mean people will great media creation skills AND the charisma to attract an engaged audience. Creators can bring unique talent to the planning, creation and promotion of content that brings a fresh perspective and higher engagement to an otherwise tired marketing mix.

Authenticity drives engagement. When microinfluencers also represent the customer that a brand is working to engage, the authenticity and voice of the customer that they bring to content collaboration can result in more content interaction and sharing.

Relevance is essential in all things marketing and when the influencer’s audience and the brand channel for promotion match well, then engagement is more likely to be high.

Tom's of Maine - Mavrck
An impressive B2C Engage example would have to be Tom’s of Maine that focused on micro-influencers to create and amplify content on social channels. Results per 1,000 micro-influencers activated: 6,496 likes, shares and comments; 1.7 million friends reached, 4,270 survey responses captured. You can read the full case study on the Mavrck site.

Convert

Trust motivates. Few things motivate conversion more than trust and the essence of what makes someone influential is that their community trusts them. Therefore, trusted influencers who are involved with brand content that is mid to end of funnel focused can help increase conversions.

Familiarity brings confidence. Another thing about relevance is that influencers that have a reputation for recommending products and services have developed familiarity with their audience for that behavior. Working with a new brand and talking about a topic or a product / service (with appropriate ad disclaimers) can inspire transaction.

Credibility is believability. The more credible a brand’s content is, the more likely it is to persuade and inspire action. Influencers can bring that credibility.

Modern Digital Commerce
A B2B pilot project we implemented for Oracle included a formidable 68 page ebook called the Executive’s Handbook to Modern Digital Commerce which featured influencers including Brian Solis, Stephen Monaco, Ed Cleary, Stewart Rogers and other B2B digital experts. The credibility of this ebook produced in combination with industry experts resulted in exceeding the conversion rate goal by 260%.

Retain

Bring utility to the community. Expanding the scope of who is influential to customers and community, brands can engage with influencers to participate in their community on everything from general best practices or tips to how to get the most out of the brands’ product/service.

Employees are influential too and showcasing staff in brand content can help humanize the brand with customers.

Infotain customers to stay. Engaging creators to develop useful content that is also entertaining for customers can go a long way towards retaining those customers. These can be routine communications to announcements or updates.


I think a great B2C example of Retain focused influencer content is the recent British Airways safety video featuring famous celebrities including Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson), Gordon Ramsay, Gillian Anderson (yes, she’s British), Thandie Newton, Sir Ian McKellen and a few more. I flew BA multiple times in a short period recently and this video was definitely a watchable part of the experience for me as a customer.

Advocate

Activate advocates. Bringing it back to reach through brand advocacy, brands can expand their view of influence to customers and activate those who show brand love to support sharing the good news.

Influential customer stories are powerful. Customer testimonials alone are great. Testimonials with customers that are influential, either personally or the brand, can go a long way towards supporting advocacy efforts.

Incentivize the good news. Incentives for referrals amongst influencers can inspire advocacy, but there must be an ad disclosure if compensation has been, or could be paid for that promotion effort.


For this one, I’ll use a personal example. I am a customer of BuzzSumo and I’m also an influencer who advocates for the brand. Most of this I do organically in presentations all over the world, in articles like this, in interviews and by sharing Steve Rayson and BuzzSumo’s content through my social channels on Twitter and LinkedIn. Steve reaches out to me from time to time for quotes, to do a webinar or speak at one of his events.  I was also one of the first to cover the Brandwatch acquisition of BuzzSumo. I can’t say how much value BuzzSumo has gained from my influencer advocacy, but I’m guessing it’s very much in the black 🙂

So, instead of thinking about influencers on the day you publish that amazing content you’ve worked so hard on, consider a more strategic approach that puts influencers in a partnership position to collaborate from the start. When you map out the stages of your customer journey and the content needed to help buyers make that journey, think about how working with influencers, experts and advocates can add that special sauce to your marketing mix.

Think about how the addition of credible experts with active audience engagement can add valuable perspective, inspiration, promotion and trust for conversion to your marketing content – across the entire customer lifecycle: attract, engage, convert, retain, advocate.

Of course if you would like to explore the true benefits of when the Content Marketing World and Influencer Marketing World intersect, well, that’s what we do at TopRank Marketing. We focus mostly on B2B influencer content programs but would be happy to chat about any projects you have in mind and then point you in the right direction.


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5 Examples of Influencer Marketing in Action Across the Full Customer Journey was posted via Internet Marketing

How Employee Engagement Helps Drive the Success of Your Marketing Efforts

As our world becomes increasingly driven by digital technologies and the workforce experiences generational shifts, employee engagement is rising as a top focus area for many companies. After all, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace study, just 16% of the American workforce is “actively” engaged.

Of course, when employees aren’t engaged, they’re a flight risk. In fact, Gallup’s research also revealed that 51% of employees are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings. Furthermore, those employees who fall into the “actively disengaged” category, are almost twice as likely as engaged employees to seek new jobs. And when employees leave, that can have a big impact on your bottom line when it comes to recruiting and back-filling costs.

So, after reading all of that, you’re probably wondering: What does employee engagement have to do with marketing?

Well, marketer friends, the truth is that employee engagement has everything to do with marketing.

At the most basic level, without an army of engaged employees, your marketing efforts—whether it be recruiting top talent or fostering employee advocacy on social media—can’t reach their full potential. But on a deeper level, there are couple other important marketing benefits you could be missing out on:


Without an army of engaged employees, your #marketing efforts can’t reach their full potential. – @CaitlinMBurgess #EmployeeEngagement
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#1 – Engaged employees can be gold mines for marketing insights.

Regardless of department, every employee boasts first-hand insights into “who” your company is, what it cares about, what your customers are saying, the quality of your products or services, and what they see as the biggest value adds or opportunities.

As a result, your employees are absolute gold mines for getting insights that can help you refine and drive your marketing efforts. But in order to mine for those honest insights, employee engagement has to come front and center.

Why? Because employee engagement helps build rapport, strengthen communication and mobilize people to take a more active role. So, if employees aren’t engaged, they’ll be less likely to go the extra mile by sharing their insights with you.


Employees are absolute gold mines for getting insights that can help you refine & drive your #marketing efforts. @CaitlinMBurgess
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#2 – Engaged employees can help stretch your marketing dollars.

Marketers are often thought of the spenders within an organization, but engaged employees can help turn that notion on its head a bit. As mentioned in the section above, the insider insights that you can uncover are not only authentic and helpful, but they don’t cost you a thing—just the time and care in gathering them.

Of course, this means you can’t simply ask employees to weigh in from time to time. They need to feel like they’re valued from top to bottom within the organization, which means regular nurturing and engagement that trickles throughout the organization.


Don’t just ask employees to weigh in from time to time. Nurture them regularly. #EmployeeEngagement
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#3 – Employees can be your most powerful brand advocates.

Your employees are not only the people behind your brand, but also active consumers taking place in the marketplace, writing reviews, sharing recommendations verbally and via social media with friends and family, and researching their purchasing decisions. And they’re more than willing to share both positive and negative feedback about you online.

In fact, a couple years ago, a Weber Shandwick study found that 39% of employees had shared praise or positive comments about their employer online—and 16% had shared criticism or negative comments.

From my perspective, engaged employees are more likely to fall in the latter category. Why? Because when employees feel understood, valued and connected to something bigger than themselves, they feel pride—and pride is a reason to give praise. Furthermore, in today’s competitive talent landscape, current employees can be your best recruiters.

As a result, with a focus on employee engagement, you can unlock employee advocacy—and that’s the kind of marketing that money can’t buy.


With a focus on #EmployeeEngagement, you can unlock #EmployeeAdvocacy. @CaitlinMBurgess #marketing
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Help Kick-Start Your Company’s Employee Engagement Efforts

Employee engagement doesn’t happen overnight—nor does it happen with only the marketing department driving the initiative. Employee engagement has to be baked into your overall company culture to be successful.

So, where do you start? At the top.

Your company’s top leaders are the people who will give your employee engagement initiatives wings, helping the message and the commitment trickle down throughout the rest of the ranks.

A couple years back, TopRank Marketing leadership launched our Project Phoenix initiative as a way to actively listen and engage employees in constantly refining how we work together, as well as deliver more transparency as to business operations. As part of the initiative, employees are regularly surveyed on a variety of topics, which are then presented to the whole team for discussion and development of next steps.

From my perspective, this committment to engagement and learning has strengthened the resolve of the team members. More collaboration sessions are blossoming. More employees are feeling comfortable sharing their feelings and ideas with team members and leadership. And many people are setting personal and professional goals—with some putting down deeper roots within the organization and others spreading their wings and persuing new things.

All of this has also led to the recent launch of our Purpose Initiative, where we’re collectively digging deep to truly uncover how the company, every employee and our clients can be their best selves—so stay tuned for more on that in the future!

Also, if you’re in the mood for another example, check out Marketing Land column by Karen Steele of Marketo. In the post, she outlines the four steps her organization took to bake employee engagement into company culture, as well as the results they’ve seen.


#EmployeeEngagement has to be baked into your overall company culture to be successful. #marketing
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On the hunt for a new gig with an employer that cares about nurturing and engagement? TopRank Marketing is hiring! Check out our Careers page for open positions.


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How Employee Engagement Helps Drive the Success of Your Marketing Efforts was posted via Internet Marketing

What We Learned in November 2017: The Digital Marketing Month in a Minute

In our final roundup before Christmas, there’s plenty to talk about from all the main players in the tech and marketing industries. The hottest topic at the moment is undoubtedly net neutrality, set to affect the US but with potential repercussions much further afield.

Net neutrality argument rages on

It’s the current hot-button topic, and while the repeal of net neutrality has few supporters among consumers of the web, it’s worth looking at the issue away from the filter bubbles that social media tends to offer. The latest Moz Whiteboard Friday offers an excellent explainer, complete with SEO and digital marketing repercussions. In addition, Ben Thompson of Stratechery offers a detailed breakdown of how what’s happened so far and how things might pan out.

Read the full story (Stratechery)


The new Firefox is really fast

While still the browser of choice for many, Firefox’s share of users has been steadily declining over the last few years. However, the new version is seriously fast, for many reasons, and maker’s Mozilla will be hoping it will gain ground on the likes Google Chrome and Safari. Mozilla has also broken down just how the new version is so speedy.

Read the full story (Mozilla)


Is your company’s Slack sexist?

So many companies, Distilled included, relies on Slack for effective and innovative communication across the business. However, as it becomes a core part of everyday work life, there’s a danger it can start to show sexist tendencies. Leah Fessler explores how this happens and what you can do about it.

Read the full story (QZ)


Online news trusted more than most sources

According to a UK survey, online news is the most-trusted medium, coming second behind only TV. It is considered more trustworthy than Facebook, Twitter, radio and print. Additionally, 26% of respondents get the majority of their news from Facebook. For comparison, 45% of Americans use Facebook as a news source.

Read the full story (Britain Elects via Twitter)


Knowledge graph eats featured snippets

The prevalence of featured snippets in search has risen from about 5.5% in November 2015, to 16% in September 2017. Unsurprisingly, this has made them an enticing prospect to try and achieve for many brands. However, there has been a recent drop in searches resulting in a featured snippet. Many of these ‘lost’ featured snippets have been replaced by Knowledge Graph entries.

Read the full story (Moz)


Google to clamp down on poor AMP experiences

Having seen its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project take off, Google is now turning its attention to those using the platform in a less-than-ideal way. It is cracking down on publishers providing markedly different experiences when comparing an AMP piece of content to an equivalent non-AMP page. One particularly unwelcome practice is using AMP as a ‘teaser’ page to a piece of content.

Read the full story (Google Blog)


Crawl rates might not work as documented

It’s a commonly held belief in SEO that the crawl rate setting in Google Search Console isn’t designed to increase the rate of crawls, but rather to limit the number of crawls if it’s causing issues (like slowing down your server). Oliver Mason has done some testing on this and found that, in practice, it might not be so straightforward.

Read the full story (OHGM)


Google Assistant will help you find local home services

As more and more people get comfortable with the idea of using Google Assistant, the search engine giant is busy adding further capabilities. In the latest update, you will now be able to ask for help finding certain services, such as asking Google to find you a plumber. The tradesman and services on offer will have been prescreened by Google.

Read the full story (The Verge)


Apple hit by embarrassing security flaws

Apple recently launched the latest version of its operating system, called High Sierra. It quickly emerged that any Mac with the update could essentially be taken control of using a blank password. Apple moved quickly to patch the problem, but with that update, many users found they could no longer share files.

Read the full story (The Guardian)

Distilled News

The videos of all the talks at SearchLove London are now available. The easiest way to view them all is to sign up for a full DistilledU account. Meanwhile, tickets for both SearchLove San Diego 2018 and Boston 2018 are available, both with early bird discounts still on offer.

On the Distilled blog, senior designer Vicke Cheung has proposed a case for getting up to speed with design tool, Sketch. NYC Consultant Jeremy Gottlieb has been exploring LinkedIn’s new Demographics feature, with a few ways you can start using it, too. Finally, London analyst Anabella Repond shared her best tips for finding your search competitors.

What We Learned in November 2017: The Digital Marketing Month in a Minute was posted via Internet Marketing

How 5 B2B Brands Are Using Snapchat and Instagram Stories

B2B brands are usually slow to jump on the latest social media craze train, and with good reason. Their audience might not even be on those social media networks. For example, Snapchat was originally full of teenagers and controversy — not a great place to grow brand awareness or share thought leadership. But my, oh my, how far we’ve come.

Today, networks like Snapchat, Instagram, Messenger, and other marketing channels are becoming new breeding grounds for B2B brands. But with frequent product updates introducing new features and advertising tools, brands are often left wondering what the best approach is.

One such feature is Stories: timed pictures or video clips that users can deck-out with text, filters, or stickers to spice-up their content. And it seems like every major app is jumping on this trend with Messenger, Facebook, and most recently YouTube creating their own version of a Stories feature. However, the jury is still out on the best ways to use them.

Well, we’re here to help you figure that out. Here are five B2B brands using Snapchat and Instagram Stories and how they’re using them to their advantage.

1. Cisco

One of the best ways to connect with an audience is through shared values. Cisco is well aware of this and utilizes their Snapchat Stories to share how their company and employees are making the world a better place. And because authentic content is seen as more genuine, Cisco actually allows their employees to run the account themselves. This way, their audience can see a true glimpse into the lives of Cisco employees and how they help others.


Image credit: Cisco

2. IBM

One of the key benefits of promoted Instagram or Snapchat Stories is that they allow you to geotarget your audience and create unique geofilters. With these features, brands can serve targeted Stories and custom filters to their audience based on their location. IBM has used this to their advantage in the past by creating special filters for their industry events. IBM can then promote the filters to event attendees and followers can see updates live from the event floor — creating an easy way for IBM to send relevant content to the right audience.


Image credit: IBM

3. Google

Brand storytelling at its finest. That’s how I would describe Google’s use of Instagram Stories. With Stories, Google shares brief vignettes with narrative captions to share inspiring stories of people using their products. Watch just a few and you’ll see how they sink their teeth into you and build up anticipation, encouraging you to complete their call to action and watch the full video. It’s a really effective and meaningful way for Google to share exactly how their solutions help solve both individual and global problems.


Image credit: Google

4. GE

GE is known for being an innovative company. But can you name exactly what they do? You might be able to name a few things, but the reality is that GE does too many things to name. Because of this, GE has been using Instagram Stories to share the unique things they do all over the world. Most notably, they took us deep into a volcano to sample active lava. Each story helps paint a picture for their audience, changing their public perception from an industrial giant to a creative innovator.


Image credit: Adweek

5. Mailchimp

Mailchimp, everyone’s go-to email service provider, uses Snapchat Stories to share scenes from fun events, creative images, and funny videos. With smart brand apparel, a hip monkey named Freddie, and really cool artwork, Mailchimp has an endless supply of creative and eye-catching content to share. And while it may seem like there’s not a unifying theme behind their Stories, it actually does a great job of showing off their brand’s eclectic personality. Through witty commentary and funky images, Mailchimp has personified their brand, building strong relationships with their followers.

 


Image credit: Recruiting Social

Up Your B2B Social Game

Don’t be hesitant to take the next step for your brand’s social media marketing. For more ideas on how your B2B brand can up your social media game, check out these social media tips and examples or our guide on Snapchat for B2B brands.

Not ready to expand your social media marketing on your own? Find out how we can help by taking a look at our social media marketing services.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
How 5 B2B Brands Are Using Snapchat and Instagram Stories | http://www.toprankblog.com

How 5 B2B Brands Are Using Snapchat and Instagram Stories was posted via Internet Marketing

Why Googlebot May Be Hitting Bot Blocker URLs

Many sites use bot blockers like Distil Networks to stop scrapers from stealing their data. The challenge for SEOs is that sometimes these bot blockers are not set correctly and can prevent good bots like Googlebot and BingBot from getting to the content, which can cause serious SEO issues. Distil is pretty adamant that their service is SEO-safe, but I am not so certain about others. We recently saw a case where the http version of a big site’s homepage was sending Googlebot to a 404 URL while sending users to the https homepage, all because the bot blocker (not Distil) was not tuned correctly. Was kind of funny searching for their brand and sometimes seeing “Oops” as the first result. It wasn’t that funny for the client.

So when we see odd crawling behavior or other odd signals, we immediately start wondering if it could be the bot blocker.

This week we saw URLs like /distil_r_blocked.html?… start to show up in a client’s GSC crawl errors report under the Other tab. I immediately went into holy bot blocker Batman! mode. You definitely don’t want Googlebot hitting bot blocker URLs.

But after doing a bit of forensic research, I realized that this was actually a case of the bot blocker working properly. Viewing the error details info in GSC showed that the source of the Distil URL was coming from another domain:
Bot Blocker Googlebot SEO

It looks as though these guys tried to scrape the site, hit Distil URLs and then published them as links. So when Googlebot crawled them (why Googlebot would want to crawl these crap sites is another issue) it would hit the Distil URLs.

I am still highly suspicious of bot blockers when it comes to SEO, because of their under-the-hood nature, but next time you see Distil URLs show up in GSC, don’t panic. It may just be those crap links your site is so good at attracting.

Why Googlebot May Be Hitting Bot Blocker URLs was posted via Internet Marketing

Digital Marketing News: F500 Are Visual, LinkedIn on Top, Business of Color

The Business of Color
From golden arches to red bulls, color is fundamental to our recognition of familiar brands and color affects the way people react when they first encounter a company. Vistaprint worked with Dr. Sally Augustin of Design With Color to develop recommendations for the design of places, objects, and services that support desired cognitive, emotional, and physical experiences. Vistaprint

Study: Social Media and Blog Usage by Fortune 500 Companies in 2017. Fortune 500 companies are increasingly using visual social networks such as Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat, according to recent research conducted by Nora Ganim Barnes and Shannen Pavao at The Center for Marketing Research, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. MarketingProfs

Snapchat seeks salvation in long-form and “hands-on” AR ads. Snapchat has introduced two new forms of ads: Promoted Stories which string together multiple Snaps into a longer-form slideshows openable from a tile on the Stories page that’s shown to everyone in a given country, and Augmented Reality Trial ads that let people play with an AR version of a product overlaid on the world around them. TechCrunch

On-Page Content Continues to be Considered the Most Effective SEO Tactic. On-page content is considered to be effective by more marketers than any of the other SEO tactics outlined, whereas off-page content development and optimization is perceived to be effective by the fewest respondents (57% and 10%, respectively). Ascend2 Study via MarketingCharts

Announcing New Facebook Tools for the Creator Community. The new Facebook Creator app is a one stop shop for creators of all kinds, to help take their passions to the next level. With the app, creators can easily create original video, go live with exclusive features, and connect with their community on Facebook. Facebook Newsroom

LinkedIn continues to be the most popular social platform for Fortune 500 companies. 98% of Fortune 500 companies have set up shop on LinkedIn to tell their story, network, stimulate word of mouth and recruit. Four hundred and eighty-eight companies on the F500 list are using LinkedIn in 2017. UMass / Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research (LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client)

93% read reviews

Report: By 2019 Two-Thirds Of Global Display Ads Will Be Traded Programmatically. Programmatic ad sales are growing at an annual average rate of 21% per year, according to Publicis Groupe Zenith’s latest report, Programmatic Marketing Forecasts. This year’s estimate is $57.5 billion. MediaPost

Study: B2B Marketers Find Content Downloads Drive Conversions. Two-thirds of those polled said content downloads generated leads with the best conversion rates, more than webinar registration (45%), demo requests (37%), surveys and polls (26%) and even free trials. eMarketer

Fake-Ad Operation Used to Steal From Publishers Is Uncovered. Adform says ‘Hyphbot’ scheme created fake websites, nonhuman traffic to scam advertisers of more than $500,000 a day. Wall Street Journal

The Impact of 17 Factors on Google Search Rank. Direct website traffic is the factor that most influences how well pages rank on Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs), according to recent research from SEMRush. What were the other top factors? Find out on MarketingProfs

Facebook Will Show Americans What Russian Propaganda Posts They Read. Now you can find out which Russian propaganda pages or accounts you’ve followed and liked on Facebook, due to a request from Congress to address manipulation and meddling during the 2016 presidential election. AdAge

TopRank Marketing in the News

  • Amy Higgins – Content Marketing Conversations: Marketer Amy Higgins Demystifies Buzzwords – Flipboard
  • Debbie Friez – Facebook Hacks by Top 13 Industry Experts to Increase Fans Engagement and Activity – M&M blog
  • Steve Slater – 150 Years of the Best Holiday Campaigns: M&M’s Stumble Upon Santa – Big Commerce
  • Amy Higgins & Lee Odden – A Few ‘Kick-Start Your Career’ Tips From Top 6 Most Influential Women (Plus One Man) in Content Marketing – Prowly Magazine
  • @LeeOdden – 12 Best Twitter Accounts to Learn About Marketing – Xpand Blog
  • @LeeOdden – Top 100 Social Media People to Follow on Twitter – Revive Social

Jake Murphy
Welcome to our newest team member Jake Murphy as Graphic Designer!

Elizabeth Williams
Congratulations to Account Manager, Elizabeth Williams, on her first year anniversary with TopRank Marketing!

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 YouTube.


Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Digital Marketing News: F500 Are Visual, LinkedIn on Top, Business of Color | http://www.toprankblog.com

Digital Marketing News: F500 Are Visual, LinkedIn on Top, Business of Color was posted via Internet Marketing

One More Link for Dixon Jones

Woke up this morning to see that Dixon Jones, who runs marketing for Majestic, will be transitioning out of his role and into retirement. Majestic has long proven itself to be a top shelf (maybe even THE top shelf, but more on that later) link index tool and his contributions to the industry have been equally top tier. I’m both sad and elated at the news. Dixon has been a huge help in getting the Local SEO Ranking Factors off the ground, graciously providing us backlink data for the first ever version of the study and has been a valuable partner ever since. But it’s always a good thing when people get to pivot or scale back their careers on their own terms. Cheers Dixon, you will be sorely missed.

One More Link for Dixon Jones was posted via Internet Marketing