How to Choose Dynamic Images for Your Blog Posts

I’m a content writer, not a graphic designer. My job is to make the words dance, to convey useful information in an entertaining way.

As such, for a long time visuals were just an afterthought for me. Yeah, a blog needs a header image. So after I’m done writing I’ll slap something on there, check that box, and send it off to the client.

As content continues to proliferate, though, that laissez-faire approach isn’t enough. Your potential audience has far more content available to them than they’ll ever be able to read. That means they’re actively looking for reasons not to read your content. A weak—or worse, missing—visual is a perfect excuse to move to the next thing.

The right visual does more than take up space. It captures attention, creates a little mystery, invites the reader to dig into your carefully-crafted text. Good visuals are doubly important for amplification, too: Your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn shares will all include an image. The visual alone can stop the endless, half-engaged scrolling people do on social media, buying you crucial seconds to compel a click or a tap.

I challenge any and all content creators to up their image game. Let’s stop with the schlocky stock photos and give people something that’s worth their attention.

Here’s how I find scroll-stopping visuals for my blog posts.

Ditch the Schlock Stock

It’s trendy to bash Shutterstock for schlocky stock photos, but that’s like blaming Netflix for your binge-a-thon of Fuller House. There’s plenty of great content available. It’s up to you to find and choose it over the cliché stuff.

Whether you’re using Shutterstock or any other paid photo site, start by avoiding these cliché photo types:

  • Minority Report Computer Displays. Seems like every B2B blog is required to use one of these nonsensical things at least twice a week.
    businessman using futuristic computer interface
  • Stark White Offices. It’s futuristic! It’s so clean! It… looks like no place anyone has ever worked!
    people gathered in stark white office building
  • People with Arms Crossed. Do you pose for pictures like this? Does anyone? Then why are there thousands of these on stock photo sites?
    man with arms folded
  • Cupped Hands with Floating Icons. Sing it with me: “He’s got the [abstract concept of my blog post] in his hands…”
    businessperson holding floating icons in cupped hands
  • Anything in front of a Chalkboard. STAHP.
    Businessman in front of chalkboard with muscular arms drawn in

I could go on, but you get the idea. These are the hoary clichés that give stock photos a bad name. They’re not unique; they’re not authentic; they’re not visually stunning.

To avoid the stock photo blues, I tend to start my search on royalty-free sites like Pixabay, Pexels, and even Creative Commons-licensed photos on Flickr. But even if the boss demands you use an approved paid site, there’s good stuff to be found.  Here are a few ways to kick your visuals up a notch.

Make It Weird

For my blog post on mobile advertising strategy, there were plenty of obvious ways to go. Someone looking at a phone in a coffee shop, at an airport, at a concert… people look at their phones everywhere, so there are no shortage of safe options.

So of course I went with this one:

Visual Content Marketing Dog with Sunglasses and Cell Phone

Why is the dog wearing sunglasses? What type of phone has a pawprint for the unlock button? Why didn’t he use the front-facing camera for his selfie? Any one of those questions is enough to give the reader paws. Er, pause.

Make It Beautiful

Instagram is a social media network that’s almost entirely visual. It was designed for image sharing, boy howdy, do its members share. There have been over 40 billion photos posted on Instagram since it launched 7 years ago.

So it makes sense to take a few design cues from Instagram when you choose your photos. Find something beautiful, striking, and with an evocative filter. Like this image I used for my comedy in content post:

Visual Content Marketing Clown in Forest with Instagram-Style Filter 

Find a Metaphor

Get a little creative with your content, and you can get more creative with your visuals. Introduce a metaphor in your opening paragraph that will unite your content and give you more options for a header image.

For a recent content marketing tips post, I could have stuck with a generic “businessperson” or “office” header image. Instead, I added a personal note about Lego in the beginning, and found a dynamite visual that helped introduce the metaphor:

Visual Content Marketing - Colorful Assortment of Lego Bricks

Take Your Own Photos

The best way to ensure your header is original, authentic, and eye-catching is to take the photo yourself. Last year, Jason Miller held a photoshoot with his LinkedIn Marketing Solutions crew. They captured a ton of wonderful moments that the team used as header images for months:

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Team around Laptop

I love that even though this image is a parody of a stock photo, it’s undeniably original. You can see the cool art in the office. The people are actually the folks who create content for LinkedIn. The laptop is a well-loved machine with a LinkedIn sticker on it, not a pristine stainless-steel model. Unlike a stock photo, this picture actually tells you about the people behind the brand.

Even a cell-phone quality image can get the job done. When our team covers marketing events, we always take a candid photo of the presenter as the header image. My colleague Caitlin took it a step further for her Ann Handley roundup, with this adorable selfie:

Visual Content Marketing Selfie with Ann Handley

It’s genuine, it’s unexpected, and it’s a photo the reader is guaranteed to be seeing for the first time.

As with Written Content, It’s about Personality

It used to be that all B2B marketing content had to be “professional,” interpreted as “impersonal, flat, and unemotive.” Old-school stock photos are a perfect match for that kind of content. Here’s a guy in a suit standing with his arms folded. Here’s our white paper written like a software end-user license agreement.

Now we know better. Readers want content that has warmth and personality. They want to feel that another human being is communicating with them.

Visuals need to evolve in the same way. If you’re writing great content and still using stiff, stock images, you’re doing your content a disservice. Make sure your visuals are every bit as distinctive and authentic as your writing is, and you can earn your reader’s attention.

Do you love to create great content? Do you excel at eye-stopping imagery? TopRank Marketing needs you on our team.

Disclosure: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions is a TopRank Marketing client.


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How to Choose Dynamic Images for Your Blog Posts was posted via Internet Marketing

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How to Make the Switch to Content-Driven SEO #MNBlogCon

TopRank Marketing’s Joshua Nite made his debut on the speaker circuit this past weekend at the 8th annual Minnesota Blogger Conference held at Concordia University in St. Paul.

Charming the crowd with his unique brand of wit, creativity, mad content marketing expertise, and numerous “cats with hats” references, Josh delivered a The Good Place-themed presentation titled: “The Good News About Creative Content: From SEO-Driven Content to Content-Driven SEO.”

As someone who spent 12 years as a creative comedy writer for a video game called The Kingdom of Loathing, Josh said he was terrified by the concept of SEO-driven content when he made his transition into content marketing.

“The worst content to write, and the worst content for people to read, was the stuff that [search engine] robots liked to read to most,” Josh said.

But thankfully, search engines are getting smarter, using AI and machine learning to increasingly improve how they deliver the best results. As a result, content creators need to flip the script on how they craft content if they want to resonate with readers and robots. From Josh’s point of view, that means transitioning from SEO-driven content to content-driven SEO.

How? Below is Josh’s five-step framework.

#1 – Topic research.

Get started by digging deep into your target audience. Why? Because in order to craft content that resonates, you have to understand what they care about. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are they? (i.e. demographics, hobbies, interests, etc.)
  • What do they desperately need to know? (And what keywords and keywords groups are associated?)
  • Where do they hang out online? (i.e. social media)
  • Why should they care about your content? (What value can you add?)
  • How do they search for inspiration? (i.e. Google, Bing, Q&A forums, etc.)

From there, you need to identify your sweet spot. Your sweet spot is the intersection of: 1) Your brand’s expertise. 2) Your audience’s needs. 3) Your unique insights.

Finally, leverage free and paid tools such as Google auto-complete, Google Keyword Planner, Quora, Answer The Public, and BuzzSumo to understand specific keyword topics that resonate most with your audience.


To craft #content that resonates, you have to know what your audience cares about.
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#2 – Competitor research.

Simply put, in order to beat out your competition, you need to know what they’re up to. Kick off your competitive research by simply “going incognito,” Josh said.

An incognito search prevents your browser history or cache from impacting the results, giving you a more accurate picture of the search results surrounding your priority keyword topics.

After popping in your keywords, scan the results for content gaps—gaps in quality, relevant, or helpful content. As you do this, look for opportunities to expand your keywords into long-tail variations, so you can get more specific and really let your niche expertise shine.

#3 – Content creation.

Now the fun part comes. Using your topical and competitive research, outline your concepts and document your content mission (i.e. increase ranking for “X” keyword by 10 positions in one month). Then get to work on crafting your piece.

#4 – A smattering of HTML.

As you craft your content, you need to be thinking about how you’ll organize that content on-page, as well as send “click me” signals to searchers. This involves working in some of the technical on-page SEO elements. The top three that need consideration include:

  • Title tags: This is the title searchers will see in the SERPs. Keep it to 600 pixels long so it doesn’t get truncated. In addition, aim to have the primary keyword near the beginning, as long as it makes sense.
  • Header tags: Use H1 and H2 tags to organize your content to make it easy to scan for readers and robots.
  • Meta description: From Josh’s perspective, this is the most overlooked, yet crucial part of SEO infrastructure. “This is your one shot to hook users,” he said. Keep it to 160 characters or less, include your target keyword if it makes sense, and state the clear benefit.

#5 – Optimization.

You’ve spent a lot of time getting that piece of content out the door. But fight the urge to move on and never touch it again. As Josh so eloquently said, “The real work begins after you publish.”

So, keep an eye on your analytics. Is your content getting a good amount of impressions but not a ton of clicks? Consider refining the meta description a bit. Are you getting impressions and clicks, but the bounce rate is high? Your readers may feel like they’re not getting what they were promised or there’s no clear call to action to keep them on your site. So refine the meta description and craft a more compelling CTA.

Again, you poured a lot of effort into getting this content published—so don’t let that effort be wasted. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to tweak the content and the SEO elements to improve its resonance.


The real work begins after your publish. – @NiteWrites #contentmarketing
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Don’t Settle

Josh summed it all up perfectly in the final moments of his presentation:

“There’s never been a better opportunity to write great content that people actually want to read and that will get seen in search results,” Josh said. “So, go forth and be awesome. And please, please—don’t settle for writing crappy content.”


Please, please—don’t settle for writing crappy content. – @NiteWrites #contentmarketing
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What does your creative content creation process look like? Tell us in the comments section below.


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How to Make the Switch to Content-Driven SEO #MNBlogCon | http://www.toprankblog.com

How to Make the Switch to Content-Driven SEO #MNBlogCon was posted via Internet Marketing

Digital Marketing News: Twitter Happening Now, Snapchat Context Cards, LinkedIn Video Ads

LinkedIn Video Ads

Video Ads Are Finally Coming to LinkedIn (client) – When LinkedIn began allowing users to upload videos in August, video ads seemed like an inevitability, and they are now one step closer. LinkedIn announced today that it is running a closed beta test of video for sponsored content “with a limited number of advertisers.”  AdWeek

Twitter Plans To Release A Bookmarking Tool #SaveforLater. You know how you can save posts to read later in Facebook? Well, Twitter is looking to do the same thing. For all of you liking posts as a way to bookmark, you can stop that practice with this new feature. Will this mean likes will go down? Probably. BuzzFeed

New Research: The state of marketing attribution – A growing number of marketers are using attribution in all or most of their marketing efforts, according to a recent study from Econsultancy and AdRoll. However, the number of marketers acting on the insights they pull from attribution data is dwindling. Econsultancy

Snapchat Introduces “context cards” – Snapchat released ‘Context Cards’ this week, which have the potential to bolster marketing efforts for restaurants, venues and other destinations. These cards will pull in information based on the Snap’s geo-filters and map information that will lead viewers to online reviews, Uber and Lyft information and more. TechCrunch

AdWords Charges & Your Daily Budget – If you’ve been struggling to reach your advertising goals, AdWords has made some recent changes to help get you over the hump. As of October 4th, campaigns are now able to spend up to twice the average daily budget. Don’t fret about racking up the costs at the end of the month as you will not be charged more than your monthly charging limit. Google

Twitter Happening Now – Twitter is adding a “Happening Now” feature that will group tweets by event, the company announced today. The feature, which will start with sports games, is yet another way the company is seeking to highlight information on its platform outside of the traditional follow model. Buzzfeed

Social media monitor Brandwatch acquires content marketing platform BuzzSumo –  Two things that are great on their own are not often better together, but that’s exactly what the marketing industry expects from the combination of BuzzSumo and Brandwatch. TechCrunch

Connect the Dots from Data to Better Customer Experiences – Join me and Michael Trapani of IBM on October 26th for a free webinar to better understand the opportunities around creating best answer experiences with cognitive technologies. IBM Watson

Smart Speaker Commerce

NEWS NUGGETS

Infographic: YouTube has grown to 1.5 billion monthly active users – MarketingProfs

LinkedIn connects sales, marketing tools for B2B advertisers to target leads, accounts – MarTech Today

70% of Brands Work with Instagram Influencers – Research Brief

Majestic and SEMRush Combine Forces – Majestic Blog

Bing Ads Launches Automated Bid Strategy to ‘Maximize Clicks’ – Search Engine Land

As Voice Has Its Moment, Amazon, Google and Apple Are Giving Brands a Way Into the Conversation – AdWeek

New Study from D&B Shows What Frustrates B2B Buyers Most – MarketingProfs

70% of Marketers Do Not Use Anonymized Consumer Identity Data But 75% Say it Helps Campaign Optimization – MediaPost

63% of Amazon Advertisers Plan to Spend Even More Over the Next Year – AdWeek

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.


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Digital Marketing News: Twitter Happening Now, Snapchat Context Cards, LinkedIn Video Ads | http://www.toprankblog.com

Digital Marketing News: Twitter Happening Now, Snapchat Context Cards, LinkedIn Video Ads was posted via Internet Marketing

The SEO Apprentice’s Toolbox: Gearing Up for Analysis

Being new to SEO is tricky. As a niche market within a niche market there many tools and resources unfamiliar to most new professionals. And with so much to learn it is nearly impossible to start real client work without first dedicating six months exclusively to industry training. Well…that’s how it may seem at first.

While it may be intimidating, investigating real-world problems is the best way to learn SEO. It exposes you to industry terminology, introduces you to valuable resources and gets you asking the right questions.

As a fairly new Analyst at Distilled, I know from experience how difficult it can be to get started. So here’s a list of common SEO analyses and supporting tools that may help you get off on the right foot.

Reviewing on-page elements

Page elements are essential building blocks of any web page. And pages with missing or incorrect elements risk not being eligible for search traffic. So checking these is necessary for identifying optimization opportunities and tracking changes. You can always go to the HTML source code and manually identify these problems yourself, but if you’re interested in saving a bit of time and hassle, Ayima’s Google Chrome extension Page Insights is a great resource.

This neat little tool identifies on-page problems by analyzing 24 common on-page issues for the current URL and comparing them against a set of rules and parameters. It then provides a list of all issues found, grouped into four priority levels: Errors, Warnings, Notices and Page Info. Descending from most to least severe, the first 3 categories (Errors, Warnings & Notices) identify all issues that could impact organic traffic for the page in question. The last category (Page Info) provides exact information about certain elements of the page.

For every page you visit Page Insights will give a warning next to its icon, indicating how many vulnerabilities were found on the page.

Clicking on the icon gives you a drop-down listing the vulnerabilities and page information found.

What makes this tool so useful is that it also provides details about each issue, like how it can cause harm to the page and correction opportunities. In this example, we can see that this web page is missing an H1 tag, but in this case, could be corrected by adding anH1 tag around the page’s current heading (which is not coded as an H1).

In a practical setting, Page Insights is great for quickly identify common on-page issues that should be fixed to ensure best SEO practice.

Additional tools for reviewing on-page elements:

Supplemental readings:

Analyzing page performance

Measuring the load functionality and speed of a page is an important and common practice since both metrics are correlated with user experience and are highly valued by search engines. There are a handful of tools that are applicable to this task but because of its large quantity of included metrics, I recommend using WebPagetest.org.

Emulating various browsers, this site allows users to measure the performance of a web page from different locations. After sending a real-time page request, WebPagetest provides a sample of three tests containing request details, such as the complete load time, the load time breakdown of all page content, and a final image of the rendered page. There are various configuration settings and report types within this tool, but for most analyses, I have found that running a simple test and focusing on the metrics presented in the Performance Results supply ample information.

There are several metrics presented in this report, but data provided in Load Time and First Byte work great for most checks. Factoring in Google’s suggestion to have desktop load time no greater than 2 seconds and a time to first byte of 200ms or less, we can gauge whether or not a page’s speed is properly optimized.

Prioritizing page speed performance areas

Knowing if a page needs to improve its performance speed is important, but without knowing what areas need improving you can’t begin to make proper corrections. Using WebPagetest in tandem with Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a great solution for filling in this gap.

Free for use, this tool measures a page’s desktop and mobile performance to evaluate whether it has applied common performance best practices. Scored on a scale of 0-100 a page’s performance can fall into one of three categories: Good, Needs Work or Poor. However, the key feature of this tool, which makes it so useful for page speed performance analysis, is its optimization list.

Located below the review score, this list highlights details related to possible optimization areas and good optimization practices currently in place on the page. By clicking the “Show how to fix” drop down for each suggestion you will see information related to the type of optimization found, why to implement changes and specific elements to correct.

In the image above, for example, compressing two images to reduce the amount bytes that need to be loaded can improve this web page’s speed. By making this change the page could expect a reduction in image byte size by 28%.

Using WebPagetest and PageSpeed Insights together can give you a comprehensive view of a page’s speed performance and assist in identifying and executing on good optimization strategies.

Additional tools for analyzing page performance:

Supplemental readings:

Investigating rendering issues

How Googlebot (or Bingbot or MSNbot) crawls and renders a page can be completely different from what is intended, and typically occurs as a result of the crawler being blocked by a robots.txt file. If Google sees an incomplete or blank page it assumes the user is having the same experience and could affect how that page performs in the SERPs. In these instances, the Webmaster tool Fetch as Google is ideal for identifying how Google renders a page.

Located in Google Search Console, Fetch as Google allows you to test if Googlebot can access pages of a site, identify how it renders the page and determines if any resources are blocked from the crawler.

When you look up a specific URL (or domain) Fetch as Google gives you two tabs of information: fetching, which displays the HTTP response of the specified URL; and rendering, which runs all resources on the page, provides a visual comparison of what Googlebot sees against what (Google estimates) the user sees and lists all resources Googlebot was not able to acquire.

For an analysis application, the rendering tab is where you need to look. Begin by checking the rendering images to ensure both Google and the user are seeing the same thing. Next, look at the list to see what resources were unreachable by Googlebot and why. If the visual elements are not displaying a complete page and/or important page elements are being blocked from Googlebot, there is an indication that the page is experiencing some rendering issues and may perform poorly in the search engine.

Additional tools for investigating rendering issues:

Supplemental readings:

Checking backlink trends

Quality backlinks are extremely important for making a strong web page, as they indicate to search engines a page’s reliability and trustworthiness. Changes to a backlink profile could easily affect how it is ranked in the SERPs, so checking this is important for any webpage/website analysis. A testament to its importance, there are several tools dedicated to backlinks analytics. However, I have a preference for the site Ahrefs due to its comprehensive yet simple layout, which makes it great for on-the-spot research.

An SEO tool well known for its backlink reporting capabilities, Ahrefs measures several backlink performance factors and displays them in a series of dashboards and graphs. While there is plenty to review, for most analysis purposes I find the “Backlinks” metric and “New & lost backlinks” graph to be the best places to focus.

Located under the Site Explorer tab, “Backlinks” identifies the total number of backlinks pointing to a target website or URL. It also shows the quantitative changes in these links over the past 7 days with the difference represented by either a red (negative growth) or green (positive growth) subscript. In a practical setting, this information is ideal for providing quick insight into current backlink trend changes.

Under the same tab, the “New & lost backlinks” graph provides details about the total number of backlinks gained and lost by the target URL over a period of time.

The combination of these particular features works very well for common backlink analytics, such as tracking backlinks profile changes and identifying specific periods of link growth or decline.

Additional tools for checking backlink trends:

Supplemental readings:

Creating your toolbox

This is only a sample of tools you can use for your SEO analyses and there are plenty more, with their own unique strengths and capabilities, available to you. So make sure to do your research and play around to find what works.

And if you are to take away only one thing from this post, just remember that as you work to build your own personal toolbox what you choose to include should best work for your needs and the needs of your clients.

The SEO Apprentice’s Toolbox: Gearing Up for Analysis was posted via Internet Marketing

Will More Tweet Space Equal More Value for Your Twitter Audience?

Last month, Twitter made big headlines after announcing it was in the midst of testing 280-character tweets as a way to give users more room to “express” themselves. The announcement came a little more than a year after Twitter stopped including links and photos in character counts.

“We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean),” the company said in a press release on its blog. “Although this is only available to a small group right now, we want to be transparent about why we are excited to try this.”

For marketers, many may feel like Christmas has come early. Let’s face it, writing a compelling and comprehensive tweet in just 140 characters is an art — an art that seems almost impossible to master. With double the amount of space, the pressure is off and marketers can unleash their full wordsmithing talent. Um, right?

Not so fast.

Twitter’s 140-character limit has been a defining platform characteristic since its inception — and something many users are extremely partial to.

“Twitter is about brevity. It’s what makes it such a great way to see what’s happening. Tweets get right to the point with the information or thoughts that matter. That is something we will never change,” Twitter said in its release. “We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters — we felt it, too.”

While Twitter is confident that giving users more real estate will make it easier and more fun to tweet, marketers should not look at it as an opportunity to rewrite their tweeting best practices. The real opportunity here is to discover whether or not you can use that extra space to deliver more value and resonance to your audience.


Twitter’s character limit change is an opportunity to learn if you can deliver more value. #marketing
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So, once “super-sized” tweets — as The Verge so eloquently called them — come to your account, don’t throw caution to the wind right away. Start with these actions:

#1 – Audit your existing Twitter initiatives.

Take a deep dive into your analytics dashboard to get a deeper understanding of how your audience is already engaging with your tweets and taking action on them.

Of course, the basic metrics are important because they can serve as your benchmarks. But also go beyond the metrics to start categorizing what content garners the most engagement so you can draw some more meaningful insights. For example, what topics seem to fire your audience up? How long are your most effective tweets? Are images or video a part of your most successful tweets? Which tweets featuring my website content got the most clicks? What really seems to be working? What’s clearly not working?

In addition, it’s worth taking a peek at your website analytics to understand how Twitter is impacting your business. Depending on what you uncover through the Twitter dashboard, you might be able to draw some more conclusions on what tweet content has value beyond awareness and engagement.


Before adding characters, audit your current Twitter efforts. #socialmediamarketing
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#2 – Craft and launch test tweets.

Use the information you uncovered during your audit to build out and launch a test campaign featuring longer tweets. Of course, build these tweets in accordance with what you know is working best with your audience, but also give yourself some space to experiment a bit. We’d suggest running the test for at least a month to get enough data to lead into the next action.


Test longer tweets before throwing out Twitter best practices. #socialmediamarketing
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#3 – Analyze results and tweak your test.

Now it’s time to dive back into your analytics to understand how your test tweets stack up to your legacy efforts. Did you see a measurable rise or decline in engagement? What kind of engagement did you receive (i.e. increase in average comments or decrease in average retweets)? Was there a certain type of content that really benefited from that extra character room?


After you test longer tweets, analyze your results & make tweaks. #socialmediamarketing
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The Bottom Line: Value Trumps Character Count

At the end of the day, character count simply doesn’t matter if what you’re sharing has no value or resonance with your audience. Since Twitter launched, the tight character count has been a creative restraint, challenging us all to say more with less. So, while you should certainly take advantage of the extra room when it makes sense, your primary objective should always be bringing insight and value to your audience. Because when they see the value you bring to the table, they’ll reward you for it.


Your primary objective should always be to bring value to your audience. @CaitlinMBurgess
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What do you think about Twitter’s decision to double its character limit? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Will More Tweet Space Equal More Value for Your Twitter Audience? | http://www.toprankblog.com

Will More Tweet Space Equal More Value for Your Twitter Audience? was posted via Internet Marketing

Making B2B Marketing Gold: A Look Back at MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum #MPB2B

Image via MarketingProfs

To open up the 2017 MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum, Chief Content Officer Ann Handley shared a challenge for attendees to keep top of mind while at the conference (in addition to tap dancing, but more about that later):

#1 – Find Your Squad

This has been a running theme for the B2B Marketing Forum for as long as I can remember. Because the conference is capped at around 1,000 attendees, you actually have the opportunity to run into some familiar faces during the conference.

Even if you traveled to the event with members of your own team, it’s important to make the effort to meet new people, “your people”. I’ve been lucky to meet some really amazing people at conferences and continue to be in contact with many of them to this day.

We were fortunate to have a team at MPB2B that included myself, Lee Odden, Alexis Hall and Dan Rasmussen. This is a theme that resonates very well with us as we are constantly looking to add new members to our squad at TopRank Marketing in the form of new team members, industry influencers and prospective clients.

#2 – Go Outside Your Comfort Zone

It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert, there will be situations that push you outside of your comfort zone. It could be walking up and starting a conversation with someone you’ve never met, interviewing one of your marketing heros, or for me, speaking on stage at my favorite conference to a room full of smart marketers.

Often, once you do make the effort to step outside of your comfort zone you quickly find that you’re actually having fun and wish you would have taken strides sooner.

These two challenges posed by Ann Handley led our team to push ourselves at this conference and align very well with some of our core values. Below is a recap of how we found our squad, went outside our comfort zones and learned as much as we could in an action packed three days.

Celebrating Squad & Comfort Zone Queen Ann Handley

If you’re like most marketers, Ann Handley’s squad is one that you want to be a part of. Ann is a genuinely kind, warm and incredibly smart individual that I feel lucky to know. But don’t take my word for it, see what some of today’s top B2B marketers had to say:

And if I thought that I stepped out of my comfort zone at MPB2B, it didn’t even come close to Ann taking the stage and tap dancing her little heart out in front of 1,000 marketers:

Spending Time with our Squad

Marketing events present a great opportunity to spend time with the marketers that you love and respect the most. We were fortunate that many of these people were at MPB2B last week.

The first night we were lucky enough to spend some time with our squad from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (who also happen to be a TopRank Marketing client). This group of marketers are some of the most talented and driven people I know.

Thanks for the memories!

On night two, TopRank Marketing hosted a VIP event that included some of our amazing clients, friends and top influencers at the conference.

Thank you everyone for taking the time out of your slammed schedules to share some drinks, eats and conversation with our team!

Sharing Smarts with Fellow Marketers

Events present the opportunity to learn from some of the top marketing minds in the industry. And since we know not everyone was able to attend MPB2B, we set out to capture some of the top insights from the conference. Below is what we uncovered:

Why to ROI: Proving the Value of B2B Influencer Marketing

Even though B2B marketers have begun to explore influencer marketing further in recent years, they’re still struggling to prove the ROI of these efforts. In his session, TopRank Marketing’s Lee Odden shared 5 essential steps for driving ROI with B2B influencer marketing.


Look to your left and right. Those people are influential about something. @leeodden
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Everything You Need to Build a LinkedIn Marketing Tactical Plan

While the majority of marketers believe that LinkedIn is THE social media channel for business, many are struggling to implement a LinkedIn strategy that garners results. These takeaways from LinkedIn’s Alex Rynne and HubSpot’s Chris Wilson will help you get closer to success.


Don’t DO social campaigns, make every campaign social. @amrynnie
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If You Only Had $1k to Invest in Content Marketing, How Would You Spend it?

Limited budget, time and resources are a struggle that all content marketers face, no matter the size of their organization. In his presentation, GE Digital’s Chris Moody shared quick tips for advancing your content as well as a breakdown for how a limited budget of $1k could be spent for maximum impact.


There is no excuse for us not to be data driven marketers. @cnmoody
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The Netflix Experience: Create Binge-Worthy B2B Content

One of the top objectives for many brands today is to find a way to get audiences to binge on their content. But, creating binge-worthy content takes effort. See Ardath Albee’s top tips for creating content sure to keep your audience coming back for more.


Change the way a buyer thinks about a problem & they’ll look to you for more. @ardath421
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Learn How to Connect Actions to results Using Marketing Attribution

Marketing activities that aren’t tied to results make it difficult to prove value. BrightFunnel’s Dayna Rothman shows how marketers can turn the buyer journey into a science by properly leveraging data and analytics.


Always keep testing and optimizing! @dayroth
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In addition to his session covered above, Lee also participated in a panel about the convergence of ABM and Content Marketing. This panel provided great insights on how brands can reprogram organizational tactics to create a more focused, hyper-personalized approach to ABM.

On the final day of the conference, I took the stage for the first time at MPB2B to discuss scrappy B2B creativity hacks with my panelists Nick Westergaard and Andy Hunt. As this was the last session on the last day of the conference, we decided to make our session interactive and answer the audience’s most burning questions about B2B creativity.

Image via @michaelnob

Who are the 50 Top B2B Marketing Influencers From MPB2B?

B2B Marketing Influencers

As is tradition, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden gathered the marketers speaking at the B2B Marketing Forum and ran them through Traackr to see which ones ranked highest related to B2B marketing. Want to see who made the cute? Read: 50 Top B2B Marketing Influencers 2017

Coming Soon: Marketing Expert Interview Series

While at the B2B Marketing Forum, Dan Rasmussen and I had the opportunity to interview seven leading marketing experts on everything from their journey into content marketing, to what they predict as the future for content marketers.

Subscribe to our blog today to get first-access to this exciting new interview series!

Thanks for an Action-Packed Event!

Thank you to Ann and the entire team at MarketingProfs for putting on a first-class event. We can’t wait to see what next year’s conference in San Francisco holds!

If you were lucky enough to attend this great event, what was your top takeaway?


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Making B2B Marketing Gold: A Look Back at MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum #MPB2B | http://www.toprankblog.com

Making B2B Marketing Gold: A Look Back at MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum #MPB2B was posted via Internet Marketing

Content Marketing Platform BuzzSumo Acquired by Brandwatch

Brandwatch acquires BuzzSumo

It’s no mystery that I’m a big fan of BuzzSumo. I’ve been a customer since they launched and have advocated for the platform in blog posts, interviews and marketing presentations all over the world – including keynoting at the BuzzSumo ContentSEO conference in New York.

I’ve also been a fan of Brandwatch after my pal Richard Bagnall introduced me to the CEO, Giles Palmer. I’ve had a chance to spend time with Giles as well as members of the Brandwatch team at their user conference and in the Brandwatch New York office.

Today those worlds come together as Brandwatch announces their acquisition of BuzzSumo.

Steve RaysonSteve Rayson from BuzzSumo gave me the heads up earlier today, “BuzzSumo will remain as a separate product but we will leverage Brandwatch’s expertise, data and resources to improve what we do. The team and I will be staying on. I just wanted to say thanks again for all your support over the years and I look forward to working with you in future as part of the Brandwatch team.”

Giles PalmerOf course I reached out to Giles as well to ask, “Why BuzzSumo” and how Steve was persuaded to finally sell? Giles shared, “Steve and I have gotten to know each other over the last few years. I think steve saw our culture was progressive and felt that we would not destroy what he and the team had built. For my part, they’re an extraordinary team and we can help them do even greater things. It feels right.”

I can tell you this partnership feels right too. BuzzSumo is an amazing platform with an impressive user experience and capabilities. Brandwatch is easily one of the most powerful social media listening and analytics platforms around. The combination of expertise is sure to be impressive and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the two platforms make each other better. Content and Social Media make the digital marketing world go ’round.

Just in case you’re not aware, Brandwatch is an international, tier one social listening and analytics platform in use by major brands like our clients State Farm and 3M as well as Walmart and VICE.

And BuzzSumo is a “walk the talk” Swiss Army Knife of social media, influencer and content insights providing content analysis, social and influencer research. They also have the recently added Question Analyzer. Companies like BuzzFeed, TechTarget, and Rolling Stone as well as many, many agencies and in-house marketers use BuzzSumo on a daily basis, just like we do at TopRank Marketing.

Here are a few more details from the press release:

BuzzSumo will retain its branding as its team continues managing all day-to-day functions of the business. The tool’s highly successful trend identification and content discovery capabilities, along with an expansion of its content measurement offering will be enhanced with a hefty infusion of Brandwatch’s data and analytics expertise, and global business footprint.

The combination of two companies’ complementary technologies represents a formidable force in content marketing, one of the most rapidly growing marketing industries. According to Ryan Skinner, senior analyst at independent research firm Forrester Research, US companies alone spent upwards of $10 billion on content marketing in 2016*.

Brandwatch adds BuzzSumo to its social intelligence offerings alongside Analytics, its core listening product, Vizia, its revolutionary data communication platform and Audiences, the company’s influencer and audience analysis tool. Audiences itself is powered by the data and influence technology integrated as a result of Brandwatch’s successful first acquisition, PeerIndex, in December 2014.

Congratulations to Steve and BuzzSumo team as well as Giles and the Brandwatch team!

And also, three cheers to marketers with beards!

Lee Odden and Giles PalmerLee Odden and Steve Rayson

Top image credit: Brandwatch


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Content Marketing Platform BuzzSumo Acquired by Brandwatch | http://www.toprankblog.com

Content Marketing Platform BuzzSumo Acquired by Brandwatch was posted via Internet Marketing

Learn How to Connect Actions to Results Using Marketing Attribution

We’ve all been there. The big marketing campaign you spent months on just ended, it was a smashing success! Champagne was popped, there were pats on the back all around, life was good. But when the dust finally settles, you’re left staring a mountain of data square in there eyes, wondering if the marketing attribution you set up tells the real story.

Fortunately for you, during this year’s MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum, Dayna Rothman of BrightFunnel broke down how you as a savvy marketer can orchestrate the buyer journey and turn it into a science by properly leveraging data and analytics.

The “Marketing Holy Grail” is to turn the buyer journey into a science by sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time.

Consider the Typical Buyer Journey

In any well-rounded buyer journey, Dayna explained, there are several marketing touch points that the buyer will likely come in contact with. However, in most cases we track the sale or lead back to just a single touch point, such as a click from an offer email. But this doesn’t generally tell the whole story of the typical buyer journey. In most buyer journeys there are several touch points that contributed to the sale or conversion. Because of this, it is crucial that you are tracking all touch points in the buyer journey and not just one element. Doing this will allow you to truly orchestrate the buyer journey.

 

Track Metrics that matter

So now that you know you need to be tracking all elements in the buyer journey, what should you focus on first? Dayna outlined five key metrics to keep your eye on:

  1. First touch attribution—what brings people into your funnel
  2. Last-touch attribution—what converts people to become customers
  3. Multi-touch attribution—what accelerates people through your funnel
  4. Velocity—how fast a piece of content, a channel, or a campaign moves people through your funnel
  5. Full account analysis—how everything adds up in order to determine the best path to sale

By accurately tracking the above elements, you will be armed with the data that will allow you to begin to orchestrate an optimized buyer journey. Look for trends in how fast campaigns move the buyer through the funnel, the order in which content is downloaded, which channels and campaigns are most effective in each level of the funnel and even how sales activity integrates into the overall buyer journey.  It is important to note here that although elements like first touch and last touch attribution can be relatively easy to identify in programs like Google Analytics and AdWords, professional marketing attribution software, if used properly will make full attribution tracking a much more manageable task.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Mapping the buyer journey and truly measuring attribution can be a time intensive effort. So to get the most out of this initiative, be sure to:

  • Benchmark your current program performance and buyer journey so that you can effectively measure success.
  • Set a series of goals that align to your business objectives.
  • Make sure that your technology stack can account for your attribution needs.
  • Ensure that your tools are syncing properly.
  • Become a change agent within your marketing team.

4 Key Marketing Attribution Takeaways

Dayna’s presentation did a really great job of showing the amazing level of detail and insight a fully attributed marketing program can give you. Although the above recap only scratched the surface on her valuable from the day, I will leave you with my four key takeaways:

  1. The holy grail of marketing is turning the buyer journey into a science
  2. Orchestrate your customer journey by leveraging data and analytics
  3. Look at single-touch and multi-touch attribution to know what to say to your customer and when to say it
  4. Constantly keep testing and optimizing for success!

Have you cracked the code on marketing attribution for your organization? If so, how did that change your approach?

Disclosure: BrightFunnel is a TopRank Marketing client.


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Learn How to Connect Actions to Results Using Marketing Attribution was posted via Internet Marketing

Blurring the Line Between CDN and CMS

Cloudflare recently announced that they’re launching a new feature, called “Cloudflare Workers”. It provides the ability for anybody who’s using Cloudflare as a CDN to write arbitrary JavaScript (based on the standard Service Worker API), which runs on Cloudflare’s edge nodes.

In plain English, you’ll be able to write code which changes the content, headers, look, feel and behaviour of your pages via the Cloudflare CDN. You can do this without making development changes on your servers, and without having to integrate into existing site logic.

If you’re familiar with JavaScript, you can just log into Cloudflare, and start writing logic which runs on top of your server output.

Why is this helpful?

As SEOs, we frequently work with sites which need technical improvements or changes. But development queues are often slow, resources restricted, and website platforms complex to change. It’s hard to get things changed or added.

So many of us have grown comfortable with using workarounds like Google Tag Manager to implement SEO changes – like fixing broken canonical URL tags, or adding robots directives to pages – and hoping that Google respects or understand the conflicting signals we send when we mix on-page and JavaScript-based rules.

But whilst Google professes to be capable of crawling, indexing and understanding JavaScript content and websites, all of the research suggests that they get it wrong as often as they get it right.

Cloudflare’s announcement is significant because, unlike tag management platforms, the alterations are made server-side, before the page is sent to the user – Google only sees the final, altered code and content. There’s no messy JavaScript in the browser, no cloaking, and no conflicting logic.

Service workers on the edge

Cloudflare, like other CDNs, has servers all over the world. When users request a URL on your website, they’re automatically routed to the nearest geographic ‘edge node’, so that users access the site via a fast, local connection. This is pretty standard stuff.

What’s new, however, is that you can now write code which runs at those edge nodes, which allows fine-grained control over how the page is presented to the end user based on their location, or using any logic you care to specify.

With full control over the response from the CDN, it’s possible to write scripts which change title tags, alter canonical URLs, redirect the user, change HTTP headers, or which add completely new functionality; you can adapt, change, delete, build upon or build around anything in the content which is returned from the server.

It’s worth noting that other platforms, like AWS, already launched something like this in July 2017. The concept of making changes at the edge isn’t completely new, but AWS uses a different approach and technology stack.

Specifically, AWS requires users to write functions in Node.js (a common server-side JavaScript framework), using a specific and proprietary approach to how requests/responses are handled. This comes with some advantages (like being able to use some Node.js libraries) but locks you into a very specific approach.

Cloudflare’s solution is based on the Service Worker API (as opposed to Node.js), which might look like a more future-proof approach.

Service workers are the current framework of choice for progressive web apps (PWAs), managing structured markup, and playing with new/emerging formats as Google (and the wider web) moves from favouring traditional websites to embracing more app-like experiences. That makes it a good skill set to learn, to use, and potentially to recycle existing code and solutions from elsewhere in your ecosystem.

That PWAs look likely to be the next (arguably, the current) big thing means that service workers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but Node.js might just be the current flavour of the month.

Getting hands-on

Cloudflare provides a sandbox for you to test and visualise changes on any website, though it’s unclear whether this is part of their launch marketing or something which will be around for the long-term (or a component of the editor/deployment system itself).

That’s a lot of power to play with, and I was keen to explore what it looks like in practice.

It took me just a few minutes to modify one of the scripts on their announcement page to add the word ‘awesome’ (in a pleasing shade of orange) to Distilled’s homepage. You can check out the code here.

Whilst this is hugely powerful, it doesn’t come without risks and drawbacks. For a start, you’ll need to have some sharp JavaScript skills to write any rules, and you’re going to have to do it without any external supporting libraries of frameworks (like jQuery).

Service workers can be complex to work with, too. For example, all of your changes are asynchronous; they all run in parallel, at the same time. That makes things lightning fast, but it means that some complex logic which relies on specific ordering or dependencies might be challenging to write and maintain.

And with all of this, there’s also no nice WYSIWYG interface, guides or tutorials (other than general JS or service worker questions on StackOverflow). You’ll be flying by the seat of your pants, spending most of your time trying to work out why your code doesn’t work. And if you need to turn to your developers for help, you’re back at our initial problem – they’re busy, they have other priorities, and you’re fighting for resources.

A meta CMS is not a toy

As we increasingly find ourselves turning to workarounds for long development cycles, issues which “can’t be fixed”, and resolving technical challenges, it’s tempting to see solutions like Google Tag Manager and Cloudflare Workers as viable solutions.

If we can’t get the thing fixed, we can patch over it with a temporary solution which we can deploy ‘higher up the stack’ (a level ‘above’/before the CMS), and perhaps reprioritise and revisit the actual problem at a later date.

You can fix your broken redirects. You can migrate to HTTPS and HTTP/2. You can work through all those minor template errors which the development team will never get to.

But as this way of working becomes habit, it’s not unusual to find that the solutions we’re using (whether it’s Google Tag Manager, Cloudflare, or our own ODN) take on the characteristics of ‘Meta CMSs’; systems which increasingly override our templates, content and page logic, and which use CMS-like logic to determine what the end user sees.

Over time, we build up more and more rules and replacement, until we find that there’s a blurring of lines between which bits of our website and content we manage in each platform.

This creates a bunch of risks and challenges, such as:

  • What happens when the underlying code changes, or when rules conflict?
    If you’re using a tag manager or CDN to layer changes ‘on top’ of HTML code and pages, what happens when developers make changes to the underlying site logic?

    More often than not, the rules you’ve defined to layer your changes break, with potentially disastrous consequences. And when you’ve multiple rules with conflicting directives, how do you manage which ones win?

  • How do you know what does what?
    Writing rules in raw JavaScript doesn’t make for easily readable, at-a-glance understanding of what’s being altered.

    When you’ve got lots of rules or particularly complex scripts, you’ll need a logging or documentation process to provide human-friendly overviews of how all of the moving parts work and interact.

  • Who logs what’s where?
    If conflicts arise, or if you want to update or make new changes you’ll need to edit or build on top of your existing systems. But how do you know which systems – your CMS or your meta CMS – are controlling which bits of the templates, content and pages you want to modify?

    You’ve got rules and logic in multiple places, and it’s a headache keeping track.

    When the CEO asks why the page he’s looking at is broken, how do you begin to work out why, and where, things have gone wrong?

  • How do you do QA and testing?
    Unless your systems provide an easy way to preview changes, and allow you to expose testing URLs for the purposes of QA, browser testing and similar, you’ve got a system with a lot of power and very little quality control. At the moment, it doesn’t look like Cloudflare supports this.

  • How do you manage access and versioning?
    As your rules change, evolve and layer over time, you’ll need a way of managing version control, change logging, and access/permissions. It’s unclear if, or how Cloudflare will attack this at the moment, but the rest of their ecosystem is generally lacking in this regard.

  • How do you prevent accidental exposure/caching/PII etc?
    When you’ve full access to every piece of data flowing to or from the server, you can very easily do things which you probably shouldn’t – even accidentally. It doesn’t take much to accidentally store, save, or expose private user information, credit card transaction details, and other sensitive content.

    With great power comes great responsibility, and just writing-some-javascript can have unintended consequences.

In general then, relying overly on your CDN as a meta CMS feels like a risky solution. It’s good for patching over problems, but it’s going to cause operational and organisational headaches.

That’s not to say that it’s not a useful tool, though. If you’re already on Cloudflare, and you have complex challenges which you can resolve as a one-off fix using Cloudflare Workers, then it’s a great way to bypass the issue and get some easy wins.

Alternatively, if you need to execute geographically specific content, caching or redirect logic (at the closest local edge node to the user), then this is a really great tool – there are definitely use cases around geographically/legally restricted content where this is the perfect tool for the job.

Otherwise, it feels like trying to fix the problem is almost always going to be the better solution. Even if your developers are slow, you’re better off addressing the underlying issues at their source than patching on layers of (potentially unstable) fixes over the top.

Sometimes, Cloudflare Workers will be an elegant solution – more often than not, you should try to fix things the old-fashioned way.

ODN as a meta CMS

Except, there may be an exception to the rule.

If you could have all of the advantages of a meta CMS, but with provisions for avoiding all of the pitfalls I’ve identified – access and version control, intuitive interfaces, secure testing processes, and documentation – you could solve all of your technical SEO challenges overnight, and they’d stay solved.

And whilst I want to stress that I’m not a sales guy, we have a solution.

Our ‘Optimisation Delivery Network’ product (Distilled ODN for short) does all of this, with none of the disadvantages we’ve explored.

We built, and market our platform as an SEO split-testing solution (and it’s a uniquely awesome way to measure the effectiveness of on-page SEO changes at scale), but more interestingly for us, it’s essentially a grown-up meta CMS.

It works by making structured changes to pages, between the request to the server and the point where the page is delivered back to the user. It can do everything that Google Tag Manager or Cloudflare can do to your pages, headers, content and response behaviour.

And it has a friendly user interface. It’s enterprise-grade, it’s scalable, safe, and answers to all of the other challenges we’ve explored.

We have clients who rely on ODN for A/B testing their organic search traffic and pages, but many of these also use the platform to just fix stuff. Their marketing teams can log in, define rules and conditions, and fix issues which it’d typically take months (sometimes years) for development teams to address.

So whilst ODN still isn’t a perfect fix – if you’re in need of a meta CMS then something has already gone wrong upstream – it’s at least a viable, mature and sophisticated way of bypassing clunky development processes and delivering quick, tactical wins.

I expect we’ll see much more movement in the meta CMS market in the next year or so, especially as there are now multiple players in the space (including Amazon!); but how viable their products will be – if they don’t have usable interfaces and account for organisational/operational challenges – is yet to be seen.

In the meantime, you should have a play with Cloudflare’s sandbox, and if you want more firepower and a stronger safety net, get in touch with us for a Distilled ODN demo.

Blurring the Line Between CDN and CMS was posted via Internet Marketing

Everything You Need to Build a LinkedIn Marketing Tactical Plan

Over the last five years, we’ve seen an evolution in the way B2B marketers are talking about and using social media. We’ve evolved from asking “Should we be doing it?” to “Is what we are doing worth it?” to now “How do I make this really effective channel even more effective?”.

According to a recent study from Oktopost, 79% of B2B marketers believe social media is an effective marketing channel (Oktopost). And for many B2B marketers, LinkedIn is THE social media channel. In fact 43% of marketers say they’ve sourced a customer from LinkedIn (Hubspot).

But could we be doing better? Can we use LinkedIn more effectively?

To help answer that question, Alex Rynne, Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and Chris Wilson, Inbound Consultant from Hubspot, provided B2B marketers with an actionable, detailed plan to drive bigger, better performance from LinkedIn tools at last week’s B2B Marketing Forum in Boston.

Four LinkedIn Opportunities and How to Take Them

Linkedin Company & Showcase Pages

LinkedIn Company and Showcase pages are great opportunities to establish and build your company’s identity. It’s a completely free tool that allows your brand to connect professionals with your employees and your brand to share knowledge with your community.

LinkedIn Showcase pages allow you to create dedicated pages for individual brands and are another opportunity to build individual brand identity.

Objectives:

  • Brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Thought leader
  • Event Registrations

KPIs:

  • Page followers
  • Post clicks
  • Engagement
  • Comments
  • Inquiries
  • Event Registrations

What to Share:

  • Showcase your expertise with large assets like webinars and eBooks.
  • Engage with short digestible stats and quotes.
  • Illustrate industry savvy with 3rd party content. Alex shares that no one wants to talk to the person at the party that only talks about themselves. 3rd party content shows you’re on top of trends within the industry, creates opportunities for engagement with your audience and helps build influencer relationships.

LinkedIn Company and Showcase Page Action Items:

  • Post 3-4xs per day.
  • Engage with and respond to followers comments:  Don’t ignore your followers. If they take the time to engage with you, show them your appreciation and build strong engagement by responding.
  • Change your header image every 6 months: Chris compares the header image to the front door of your LinkedIn page. Make it attractive and people will want to come in.  Take advantage of the header real estate and switch it up periodically to promote to campaigns or messaging.

Publishing on LinkedIn

According to Alex, over 1 million  unique  publishers  publish  more than 130,000 posts a week on LinkedIn and 45% of LinkedIn readers are in the upper ranks of their industries (i.e. managers, VPs, CEOs, etc.). So publishing content is a great way to connect with key people in your industry and further establish your professional identity.

Objective:

  • Thought Leadership

Key Metrics:

  • Post reviews & Profile views
  • Demographics of your readers
  • Likes, comments and shares

What to Share:

Although there is no silver bullet for exactly what and how often you should publish. Alex and Chris shares examples of what tends to work best.

  1. Publish when you feel passionate. If you post when you are creatively inspired, about something you care about, this is when your work will be most likely to resonate with your audience and inspire engagement. Content about lessons learned and your professional expertise will be most relevant to your audience.  
  2. Crowdsource content. Look at the questions your audience is asking and identify their pain points. This content will undoubtedly resonate.
  3. Share relevant, timely content about events or industry news. Tap into the conversations that are already happening by posting an opinion or tips related to something current in the news.

Action Items:

  • Publish when you feel passionate (this is listed twice because it is that important).
  • Recommended bi-weekly or once a month.

LinkedIn Sponsored Content

LinkedIn Sponsored content allow you to reach a target audience of people who are not already following you.

Objectives:

  • Brand awareness
  • Lead Generation
  • Thought Leadership

Key Metrics:

  • Engagement Rate
  • Inquires
  • Impressions

Best practices:

  1. Visual is the new headline. There is so much content in the feed, make sure your content is really eye catching. If you can, move beyond stock photos and do your own photoshoot.
  2. Keep it short & sweet. Be mindful of your mobile users and make content easy to consumer.
  3. Snackable stats work wonders. Provide your audience with 3rd party validation to backup your message.
  4. Variety is the spice of life. Variety allows you to avoid creative fatigue but also see what resonates the best with your audience.

What to Share:

  • Webinars
  • Content that asks readers to participate i.e. survey, nominations
  • Statistics
  • Repurposed, straightforward content

Always be Testing:

With the amount of content clutter, testing is a great way to find out what is most likely to work with your audience and make the most out of what you are publishing. Alex and Chris recommend testing anything from word choice (i.e. eBook versus guide), content (inclusion of a stat or benefit), and images (photo or graphic).

Action Items:

  • Select a compelling visual.
  • Run 2-4 posts per week.
  • Run the test for 3 weeks, to ensure you have an actionable result.
  • Add URL tracking codes to measure post click actions (site visits and conversions)
  • Setup campaigns by audience and make sure you tailor the content to the audience (i.e. managers versus c-suite).
  • Shift budget to the audience with the highest engagement rate. Spend your money where you are going to get the most impact.

LinkedIn Sponsored InMail

LinkedIn InMail allows you to send personalized messages to the people who matter most to your business. InMail can work even better than email at reaching certain audiences.

Objectives:

  • Brand awareness
  • Lead Generation
  • Program Certification
  • Enrollment

Key Metrics

  • Open rate
  • Inquiries and leads
  • Event registration
  • Program application and brochure downloads

What to Share:

  • Webinar an industry event invitations
  • eBook launches
  • Product one sheets
  • Program demos
  • Infographics
  • Blog subscription campaigns

Action Items

  • Keep copy under 1000 characters (but AB test).
  • Use a clear CTA in the top right banner.
  • Choose a sender that is credible to your audience. If audiences have never heard of your brand before, your open rates will be lower, than if it’s from a person they know.
  • Leverage personalization. InMail allows you to add the recipient’s name or other customized information.
  • Have a hyperlink early in the body of the message.
  • Select a concise subject link.
  • Set up A/B test to learn what resonates.

Bonus Opportunity: Linkedin Conversion Tracking:

Obviously, tracking is so critical to reporting the results of your campaigns, but also to optimize and iterate for the go forward.

Chris outlines the steps for setting up LinkedIn conversion tracking:

  1. Use a Google Analytics tracking code for easy set up.
  2. Assign a Conversion value: If you don’t know this, create an estimate based on product value and close rate .
  3. Tie it all together: This way you can show clear value, nice argument for executives that you need more value.

Don’t do Social Campaigns, Make Every Campaign Social

Using a tactical plan like the one Alex and Chris shared will allow you to really harness the power of LinkedIn. Once this happen, you can truly integrate social into all of your campaigns in order to engagement with your audience and accelerate the impact of your content.

Interested in other LinkedIn related tactics? Find out everything you need to know about LinkedIn’s new native video feature.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.


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Everything You Need to Build a LinkedIn Marketing Tactical Plan | http://www.toprankblog.com

Everything You Need to Build a LinkedIn Marketing Tactical Plan was posted via Internet Marketing