3 Reasons B2B Marketers Need Optimized & Influencer Activated Content

B2B content optimized influencer activated

We’ve all read the headlines about the death of organic social media and BuzzSumo’s recent report on the huge drop in social sharing reinforces the news that the free for all days of social media are coming to a close. Add to that the distrust of branded content and advertising and it’s easy to see that marketers need to rethink their approach.

If buyers are not engaging with brand social media and content, then where is their attention?

This is not a new question and the way we’ve been finding the answer is through insights about buyer preferences for solutions content: discovery, consumption and action.

The Customer Information Journey. Buyers pulling themselves through the majority of the research process for finding solutions do so with content. But where do they discover that content? What are their preferences for content types, topics and platforms for consumption? What sources do they trust? Of equal importance is what signals of credibility produce the confidence to inspire action within that content?

Customer Empathy. As B2B marketers are faced with an ever growing list of demands for content and channels, empathy with the customer experience is more important now than ever. What’s also important are the solutions for attracting, engaging and inspiring action that actually work.

Optimized And Influencer Activated Content. At TopRank Marketing we are fortunate to work with an innovative team and brave clients that trust our advice on how to optimize B2B buyer experiences. By leveraging integrated SEO, Content and Influencer programs, we’ve been able to achieve marketing performance results like 550% more leads and generating 22% of all new revenue for the year from a single integrated content program.

To help marketers make the shift from dead end social media and brand-centric content that buyers don’t trust, here are 3 reasons why now is the time for B2B brands to capitalize on content optimized for search and influence:

1. Keywords are King:

Ignoring social and brand content means paying attention to something else. It comes down to trust and credibility. At every stage of the buying cycle from awareness to consideration to purchase, buyers use search engines to find solution content.

WIth everyone on the content marketing bandwagon, many B2B marketers are so focused on creating content they’re not allocating much more than an afterthought of paid social and ads to content promotion.

With content optimized for the solutions information and keywords that buyers are looking for, B2B brands can be useful at the very moment of need. That kind of credibility is what drives confidence, engagement and action.

The challenge: Is your content optimized for specific solutions keywords? Have you done the homework to find out if those are the keywords buyers are using? That are in demand? Are you creating topical hub and spoke content for focused internal linking that drives organic search visibility?

2. Influence is Queen:

B2B marketing industry research shows buyers trust peers and experts more than advertising. Whether it’s a question to an expert in a forum or reading expert advice in an industry publication, B2B buyers seek useful information from credible sources.

B2B brands are still behind when it comes to engaging influencers to add expertise and credibility to content. Our research with Traackr and Altimeter found that only 11% of B2B companies have ongoing influencer programs vs. 48% of B2C companies. B2B content without influencer contributions is like eating a baked potato plain. Boring! Including influencer contributions to B2B content is like adding your favorite toppings (salt, butter or sour cream) to that potato.

The challenge: Who are your brand’s influencers? Who is actively evangelizing your products or services? Which influencers could really make a difference for your marketing if they were associated with your brand? What are you doing to build quality, ongoing relationships with industry experts?

3. Activate Influencers & Optimize for Search:

When content programs leverage keyword research to optimize content and use those same keywords to help identify credible industry experts to contribute to that optimized content, it creates information that is both trusted and credible.

Many B2B brands do optimize their content for customer focused keywords. Others are moving from experiments to ongoing influencer programs. B2B brands that integrate both SEO and influence create a compelling opportunity to be found when it matters and to be trusted when it matters more.

The challenge: Are you leveraging your keyword research for SEO to also find influencers that are relevant for the same topics? Are you engaging those influencers to co-create content on those topics? Are you inspiring the influencers to publish keyword rich content on their websites linking back to your brand? Are those influencers also engaged for earned media in industry publications and blogs on target topics with links back to your brand?

With an understanding of keyword demand, B2B marketers can tap into the opportunity to be the best answer for buyers with content at the very moment of need. Even better is that influencer contributions to that optimized content will give it the credibility and engagement needed to inspire action.

Here are a few steps to get started:

  1. Identify top, relevant search keywords
  2. Create hub and spoke content architecture (big topic & derivatives)
  3. Map keywords to to content
  4. Keyword optimize content + links
  5. Leverage keywords to identify & recruit relevant influencers
  6. Ask influencers keyword rich questions
  7. Incorporate influencer contributions in mapped content
  8. Encourage influencer promotion and linking to content
  9. Implement media and blogger relations using influencer content
  10. Repurpose content according to best performing keywords/influencers

You can go a lot deeper than this and there are a number of sub-steps, but this list should provide a good overview. Of course we specialize in B2B programs that integrate SEO, content and influencers, so feel free to check out our influencer content marketing case studies for inspiration.

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3 Reasons B2B Marketers Need Optimized & Influencer Activated Content | http://www.toprankblog.com

3 Reasons B2B Marketers Need Optimized & Influencer Activated Content was posted via Internet Marketing


Digital Marketing News: YouTube Beats Facebook, Twitter Verify for All, Gen Z Bailing on Social

Social Media Statistics 2018

Social Networking Platforms’ User Demographics Update 2018 –  The most widely-used social media platform in the US isn’t Facebook. It’s YouTube. This new report from Pew Research explores data from the top social networking platforms for 2018 including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp. MarketingCharts

Forrester Says Only 15% of B-to-B Marketers Are Fully Compliant With GDPR – According to results of a report released this week by Forrester, only 15 percent of b-to-b marketers are fully compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), while 18 percent are still wondering what to do. In fact, of the 66 marketing professionals surveyed in January, less than half of marketers had even even assessed all points from which they collect data. AdWeek

Why Consumers Leave E-Commerce Sites and Apps Without Purchasing – An item’s price and its shipping costs, along with not being able to find the right item are among the top ten reasons why consumers have abandoned a brand’s online shopping system, according to an Episerver report compiled from a survey of over 4,000 consumers worldwide. Ayaz Nanji of MarketingProfs takes a look at this report in his recent piece “Why Consumers Leave E-Commerce Sites and Apps Without Purchasing.” Marketingprofs

Twitter may eventually let anyone become verified – Someday Twitter may allow any user to get a verified account, If the intentions company chief executive Jack Dorsey recently made come to pass. During a recent livestream Dorsey expressed a desire to allow more Twitter users to achieve the blue checkmark giving to verified profile, as part of a goal to increase openness through the firm’s health metrics proposal. Colin Lecher explores Dorsey’s statements in his recent article in of The Verge, “Twitter may eventually let anyone become verified.” The Verge

Twitter moves to boot meme stealers and accounts that force tweets to go viral – Twitter has taken suspended the accounts of several users with hundreds of thousands and up to millions of followers in an attempt to counter so-called “tweetdecking” and other methods for gaming the firm’s current system. Adam Rosenberg takes a look in his Mashable piece, “Twitter moves to boot meme stealers and accounts that force tweets to go viral.” Mashable

Gen Z is quitting social media in droves because it makes them unhappy, study finds – Generation Z consumers may be spending less — or in some cases no — time on social media, because the platforms can make them unhappy, according to recent research from Hill Holliday, despite nearly 80 percent of participants in the study noting generally more benefits than drawbacks to social media site use. Oliver McAtee takes a closer look in Campaign US’s “Gen Z is quitting social media in droves because it makes them unhappy, study finds.” Campaign

‘An engineered feel-good factor’: Why autoplay video will persist – Autoplay video ads may be one of the industry’s biggest collective sins yet are not likely to go away anytime soon, according to a survey explored by Lucinda Southern in her recent Digiday piece “‘An engineered feel-good factor’: Why autoplay video will persist.” Digiday

Content Marketing Statistic

The 5th Wave Of Branding: Brands That ‘Do’ – The latest insight into five waves of branding first begun by emotional branding pioneer David Ogilvy are being continued and expanded in Ogilvy & Mather chief executive Miles Young’s newly-released “Ogilvy on Advertising in the Digital Age.” Joe Mandese takes a look at some of the book’s new research in MediaPost’s “The 5th Wave Of Branding: Brands That ‘Do’” MediaPost

Why So Many High-Profile Digital Transformations Fail – Harvard Business Review examines the failure of several high-profile firms to successfully implement meaningful digital transformations, laying out the lessons we can learn from strategies that didn’t pay off. Thomas H. Davenport and George Westerman explore the details in “Why So Many High-Profile Digital Transformations Fail.” Harvard Business Review

AI, Content & Search: 5 Macro Market Trends for Micro Marketing – AI-enhanced content marketing campaigns, personalization, and increased awareness of the customer journey are all pieces of today’s online selling puzzle, each explored in the new piece by Andy Betts in Search Engine Journal’s “5 Macro Market Trends In AI, Content & Search.” Search Engine Journal

Google Images update: Captions added to images, pulled from the page title tag – Google Images has moved to show captions alongside mobile search results, and Michelle Robbins of Search Engine Land takes a look here. Search Engine Land

Google search results page displays answer without any search results – Google is showing answers in the search results without showing any organic listings or ads or anything but the answer. Search Engine Roundtable

On the Lighter Side:

Welcome to the world of “micro-influencers” and “nano-influencers” – Marketoonist

Amazon Says It Has Fixed Randomly Laughing Alexa Speakers – Bloomberg

TopRank Marketing (And Clients) In the News:

Be sure to check in next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories or you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for daily news. Also, be sure to check out the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

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Digital Marketing News: YouTube Beats Facebook, Twitter Verify for All, Gen Z Bailing on Social | http://www.toprankblog.com

Digital Marketing News: YouTube Beats Facebook, Twitter Verify for All, Gen Z Bailing on Social was posted via Internet Marketing

What mathematics can teach us about email marketing?

This is a guest post from Christian Højbo Møller. Christian is educationally an economist but has spent most of his time being a marketer. Although he is specialized in SEO, he has been working with Owned Media as a discipline for many years. He is very data-driven and has an excellent head for math, which makes his view and points on email marketing specialist.

Christian, take it away.

Mathematics is a fantastic but difficult thing.

If you have ever seen the movie Moneyball, with Brad Pitt, then you must also have had the feeling that formulas, metrics and equations can explain things that we, as humans, have great difficulty unravelling ourselves.

When math is done right, it enables us to easily test out hypotheses by doing complex calculations on future scenarios – quickly.

If you are not a sabermetrician like Bill James (the man who began designing the baseball math), then don’t worry. I have done the calculations and build a calculator that will enable you to work with your own hypotheses.


Just imagine some of the scenarios explained below. They are all developed by a set of neat ideas, good thoughts and important questions, but require a complex mathematical model to truly answer.

Frequency hypotheses

How often should we email our subscribers? How much and in what should we invest our resources to get the best and most lucrative outcome from our email marketing?

Imagine this…

Today your company has a monthly budget (mostly based on employee wages and software expenses) of $1200. Based on this budget the current aim is to send out two monthly newsletters that get a 40% open rate and a 10% click rate.

Create your hypotheses

  1. Would it be better to send three monthly (worse) emails that only get 35% open rate and 8% click rate?
  2. Would it be better to increase the budget by 50% to send that one additional email?
  3. Would it be better to double the budget to simply double the number of emails (we assume that the average click rate will decrease to 9% and the web conversion rate from mail decrease to 4,5%)?
  4. Would it be better to invest $15K to automate some systems that allow the team to stay on the same budget but send three emails a month?

Note: By the term “better” I am strictly referring to “would make more money”.

I have never met or read anyone who has a way of easily answering those questions.

I built a mathematical model for calculating, testing and analysing your email marketing setup in my startup. Follow the first link to read a more thorough account of the model, or scroll to “How to use the calculator” in this post to see it in action.

Additional status quo information

This model cannot tell you how the world works. However, if you have an idea of how the world works, it can tell you which of your thoughts are the best ones!

Given this information:

  • 10.000 existing permissions
  • 800 new permissions per month
  • 1,5% increase in new permissions per month
  • Unsubscribe rate is 0,5% per email
  • A natural 1,17% per month die-rate of emails
  • 0,08% inflation per month
  • 2% alternate monthly rate (discounting rate)
  • 5% sales conversion rate from email traffic
  • Average order value of $80
  • 50% margin on product

Which of the four hypothesis we created together do you expect to be the most lucrative over the next year? Next three years? Next five years?

Even if you are a mathematical genius who can perform multiple discounted cash flows in your head in a matter of minutes, this question requires a model:

When we use the mentioned model, we can calculate the monetary outcome of each hypothesis. This is the output of the model in one year, three years and five years:


Status quo





Short-term: 1 Year






Medium-term: 3 Years






Long-term: 5 Years






In both the short- and medium- run the 2nd hypothesis, where you increase the budget to send an extra monthly email, would be the most lucrative.

However, in the long run, the 4th hypothesis, where you invest 15K today to automate the process and thereby be able to send one additional email per month, would win your company the most money.

Perform several iterative experiments

What if you combined the 2nd and 4th hypothesis and do both?

Profits in

Status quo



H2 + H4

Short: 1 Year





Medium: 3 Years





Long: 5 Years





The 2nd hypothesis is still the best in the short run, but in the medium- and long run it would be highly beneficial to execute on both the 2nd and 4th hypothesis.

Performing the one-time investment of the 4th hypothesis and the continuous increase in the monthly budget of the 2nd hypothesis would increase profits in present value* from around 98K to around 164K – a huge gain in earnings.

*Money is worth less in the future than it is today. Money can be invested and thereby yield a return. Furthermore, inflation will make money worth less every year. This aspect of financial email marketing planning (called discounting) is important, especially in the medium and long run.

How to use the calculator

You can find the calculator right here, and make your own copy by clicking “File” then “Make a copy” and save a version of the Sheet to your own Google drive.

Below you can see how the calculator works. Input current “status quo” metrics in the first column and add “changes” in the hypothesis columns and watch the numbers change as you go.

What’s the point?

The mathematical model is on point. But that alone does by no mean secure a valid test of our hypotheses. Although the math is objectively true, the inputs are subjective and biased.

Questions like, how much does our click rate drop if we only spent half the time producing a great email? Or how much would our open rate drop if we sent out commercial newsletters once a week instead of once a month?

Those are delicate and unpredictable questions. They will vary from company to company and be estimated differently from marketer to marketer.

But the real world outcome doesn’t matter in decision making. Let me explain.

If you believe that your company’s open rate will decrease by 20% from 40% to 32% if you change your newsletter frequency from 2 times a month to 4 times a month, there is a way to calculate if that outcome is desirable – before running the actual real-world experiment.

I genuinely believe, however, that validating our intuitions can be valuable.

As Henri Poincare, one of the foundation builders of chaos theory said in The Foundations of Science:

It is far better to foresee even without certainty than not to foresee at all.

Knowing and understanding the positive or negative consequences of experimenting with the different variables of email marketing like open rate, frequency or click rates can help everyone make better business decisions moving forward.

Important considerations

Discount rate

One of the main variables in a discounted cash flow is the discount rate. The discount rate is the return you expect on your investments, ROI (in this case per month).

How do you know what discount rate to use?

A good start for someone new to financial models like this one is to ask yourself “how much is our company expecting to grow this year”?

Let’s pretend the answer to that question is 30%. Remember to not simply divide this yearly growth by 12 (30%/12 = 2,5%) to get it in months. Due to compound interest, a monthly growth of 2,5% is actually a yearly growth of 35%.

To easily calculate a reasonable monthly discount rate do this: (1+[forecasted/budgeted yearly growth in decimals])^(1/12)-1

Then you would get a monthly rate of (1+0,25)^(1/12)-1 = 0,0188 = 1,88%

So a monthly growth rate of 1,88% is equal to 25% yearly growth rate.

Short-, medium- or long-term investments

How far into the future do you want to plan? There is a big discrepancy between investing for short- and long-term gains. So, you should consider what time frame makes the most sense for your company.

Furthermore, this decision should be nested on the numbers.

You might not want to lose money next year in order to make 20K more over the next 5 years. However, it would be entirely different if you had to take a short-term loss to realize an extra 500K over the next 5 years.

Hypotheses to play with

  • Would it be lucrative to invest X today to increase the permission growth from Y to Z?
  • Would it be lucrative to invest X today in automating processes that allow you to increase your email frequency by Y emails per month?
  • Would it be lucrative to ask for a budget raise of X to improve the quality of every email and thereby increase click rates by Y percent?
  • Would it be lucrative to invest X today to increase the flow of new permissions per month from Y to Z?

You can also use the model to ask a different set of questions:

  • How much does the open rate have to increase for us to break even on a budget increase?
  • How much should the amount of monthly permission increase to make it worthwhile our resources to create so-called content upgrades for these six popular blog posts?

Collecting the pieces

To sum up, I believe that forecasting, test, calculating and validating our ideas and hypotheses before we do real-life experiments is super, super valuable.

This mathematical model should hopefully empower you to think harder about the tough questions in data-driven marketing and validate you and your team’s email ideas in the future.

I highly encourage you to post any questions in the comment section below or message and connect with me on LinkedIn (Buuuh, no Twitter? No… Twitter is a sad thing in Denmark).

What mathematics can teach us about email marketing? was posted via Internet Marketing

B2B Podcasting: What, Why and How

The What, Why & How of B2B Podcasting

The What, Why & How of B2B Podcasting

Okay, B2B marketers, time for a pop quiz:

  1. Which content marketing tactic can hold an audience’s attention for a half hour or more at a time?
  2. Which tactic inspires an audience to subscribe to your content and make a regular appointment to consume it?
  3. Which tactic can help boost thought leadership, raise awareness and engage influencers in your industry?
  4. Which tactic is in the title of this blog post?

The answer, of course, is podcasting. These long-form audio programs first emerged in the early 2000s. Back then, they were a niche format for hobbyists and tech nerds (like me). But the rise of the smartphone brought podcasts to the masses. Now, there are hundreds of hours of programming available on every conceivable subject, in every genre from true crime to horror to musical.  But we haven’t hit content shock for podcasts it’s still a growing market.

If your brand is looking to boost thought leadership and reach a new audience, now is the perfect time to add a podcast to your content marketing mix. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

What Is a Podcast, Anyway?

There’s a wide variety of types of podcast out there, so it can seem tricky to find a definition that covers everything. Some are live interviews or panel discussions; some are fully scripted and produced audio plays; some are cryptic monologues about a bizarre southwestern town.  But they all share two attributes:

  1. There are multiple recordings for each title, and
  2. They’re organized in an RSS feed you can subscribe to.

Whatever genre the audio is, whatever platforms it’s available on, as long as you have multiple recordings brought together by an RSS feed, you have a podcast.

Why Should B2B Content Marketers Care about Podcasts?

The way that people consume podcasts make them an ideal channel for your high-quality content. People tend to listen while working out, driving, cooking dinner — in other words, podcasts fill sizable chunks of otherwise idle time. You wouldn’t expect someone to read your white paper or eBook during their morning commute, but they might settle in with your latest episode.

The demographics for podcast listeners are attractive for B2B marketers, too. Edison Research’s Podcast Consumer 2017 report found that:

  • 24% of people ages 18-54 listen to podcasts monthly
  • Podcast listeners are almost evenly split between men and women
  • Podcast listeners tend to be affluent, educated consumers
  • In the 25-54 demographic, monthly listening has grown year over year for the past four years

In other words, your target audience is likely spending a significant amount of time listening to podcasts already. And those who already listen to at least one podcast are likely to be on the lookout for more.

What Marketing Goals Can a B2B Podcast Serve?

Podcasts work best for the attract and engage phases of the customer journey. You can use your podcast to build brand awareness and establish thought leadership in your industry. Thoughtful, valuable content can help your brand stand out from the competition, and encourage listeners to build a relationship with the brand.

The most successful B2B podcasts tend to be in the Q&A or panel discussion style. Hosts can welcome new guests each week to share their insight. This type of format is perfect for influencer marketing: You can boost your internal subject matter experts, form relationships with influencers in the industry, even feature your potential prospects.

The Dell Luminaries* podcast is a great example of thought leadership B2B podcasting. Each episode features a guest with useful and often fascinating — thoughts to share with the audience. Some guests are internal experts at Dell, while others are influential entrepreneurs and executives from across the tech industry.

Dell Luminaries Podcast

Since podcasts have a low barrier of entry, they’re a good way to reach a niche audience, too. SAP’s recently-launched Customer Support Podcast * is a worthy example. Each episode features quotes from a wide array of influencers, internal and external.

SAP Customer Support Podcast

These podcasts succeed because they do what all great content does: deliver valuable information to a specific audience in an entertaining format.

How Do I Get Started?

It’s never been easier to launch a podcast. There are dozens of free and low-priced tools available to streamline every part of production, from recording to amplification. Here’s a quick rundown.

#1: Recording

To start recording, all you really need is a laptop and a decent-quality USB microphone. We get professional-sounding results with a Blue Yeti. For my personal podcast, I use an MXL 770. Either are more than adequate to get you started. Later you can invest in a whole sound studio’s worth of mixing boards, microphones, and accessories if you like, but start simple.

If you plan to interview guests on the show, likely you will be recording remotely over Skype, Google Hangout, or another VOIP. Don’t try to record your guest’s audio through your computer speakers or phone; have them create their own recording on their end, then edit the conversation together. We’ve been experimenting with Zencastr, which handles recording and VOIP coordination automatically, and have been pleased with the results.

For recording software, Audacity is still the best entry-level program. It’s free, has a host of useful features, and you don’t have to be a sound engineer to get great audio.

#2: Syndication

Once your audio is recorded and edited, you need a place to host the file, and an RSS feed to submit to podcast directories.  You can host the files locally and create your own RSS feed in raw html, but there are plenty of free-to-cheap platforms that can handle the grunt work. Most use an uploading interface similar to publishing on WordPress. So if you know how to upload a blog, you can create a podcast feed.

We have had good results with both Libsyn and Podbean. Both have free options and inexpensive paid plans with a few added features, and both provide stats that can help you track listenership.

Most importantly, they both will walk you through the process of listing your podcast on various directories: Google Play, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and more. That’s a crucial step in making sure your podcast is available on your audience’s preferred listening platform.

#3: Amplification

Once your podcast is published, there are a few easy ways to get the word out and start building your audience. First, activate your existing blog audience: Post a blog post for each episode with the audio embedded (Libsyn and Podbean both enable live-streaming embedded audio). Include an optimized title and meta description and a transcript or SEO-optimized introduction. And, of course, make sure to include a call to action to subscribe!

If your podcast includes influencers, create social media assets for them to share, including messaging and custom images. Share the podcast on your social channels as well, making sure to tag your influencers.

Cast Your Pods to the Wind

Podcasts are a rare type of content marketing: Interest in them is steadily growing, people go out of their way to seek out new content, and they’re relatively cheap and easy to produce. B2B marketers are constantly challenged to deliver the right content to people in the right format to earn their attention. If your target audience has a morning commute, a workout schedule, or other quiet time to fill, your podcast may be just what they’re waiting for.

Try these 10 marketing podcasts to make your own free time more productive.

*Dell and SAP are TopRank Marketing clients.

B2B Podcasting: What, Why and How was posted via Internet Marketing

4 Integrated Content Marketing Insights From the Trenches of Online Dating

Left. Left. Left. Right. Left. No, this is not an army drill. These are the swiping habits I’ve picked up from my time online dating. Done in a split second, I can swipe faster than most people can snap their fingers. If you’ve ever dabbled with dating apps or online dating, you know that these snap judgements start to become second nature.

With the average human attention span lasting just 8.25 seconds, there’s something to be said about those snap judgements. As a marketing copywriter who’s working day in and day out to woo my audience with clever prose and charming insights, it’s my job to make a great first impression on my audience. If I fail, they’re going to move on to something (or someone) else. And I don’t want my audience dating around — I’m after that exclusive kind of relationship.

However, simply writing great content won’t get the job done. You need to have multiple tactics in play from SEO to social and beyond to really woo your audience whenever and wherever they are. It’s why our own client programs at TopRank Marketing have an integrated content marketing strategy driving them. Content, while a key component, is only a piece of our formula for fueling results.

To help you elevate your content marketing efforts to “swipe-right” status and spark instant chemistry with your audience, here are a few of my tips inspired by my time on the front lines.

#1 – Looks are everything, which means visual and visually appealing content is an imperative.

In the app and online dating world, looks are everything when it comes to make a first impression. Profile pictures are your first glimpse into who your dating prospects are, and the more interesting and compelling, the more likely it is that I’ll stop and give the full profile my time. And, as you may have already guessed, the same can be said for your content when it comes to visual appeal.

If visual content isn’t a key component of your content marketing mix — from native or produced video on social to the actual structure of your content — it probably won’t do much to stop scrolling thumbs from passing over you. What kind of visual content am I talking about? A header image should always be included, but in today’s digital marketing landscape video, infographics, charts, tables, and even special formatting. Bulleted lists, article structure, broken up paragraphs, and other formatting elements give readers the impression that your content is easy to digest. A wall of text is a huge turnoff.

For images that really stand out, avoid using common stock photography — odds are, someone else has already used it for a similar topic, which rings a little too close to catfishing for my taste. Instead, go for sources that other brands avoid like Flickr’s creative commons, make your own custom image in Canva, or get out your smartphone and snap your own pic. Even better, if you have an in-house designer, take advantage of their talents to create something custom.


#2 – Your average pick-up line isn’t going to cut it on social media.

Nothing is more annoying than thinking you’ve found a good candidate only to find out their bio has a solitary ? emoji in it (this really happened, by the way). That does nothing to pull me in. Instead, it makes me immediately want to swipe left. (Is the thumbs up saying they’re a good person? Saying I’ll have a good time with them? Letting me know that they will only communicate in emojis? What does it mean?!)

Whether your audience enjoys longer form content or want you to keep it short and sweet, organic visibility is next to zero on Facebook these days, and Twitter and LinkedIn feeds move fast and have their own ways of prioritizing content.

At the most basic level, this means that perceived value, engaging messaging and visuals, proper hashtag usage, and authenticity are non-negotiables. Next, this means that paid social promotion is a new norm for achieving reach. And finally, influencers can provide a killer hook to capture attention and inspire action.

#3 – Cease and desist all SEO catfishing.

When it comes to online or app dating, catfishing is always a risk — which adds a level of skepticism in the minds of any single looking for love. If someone has a profile picture I’ve seen associated with a different name, comes across as fake, or is just crazy out of my league, I’m definitely not swiping right in an effort to avoid a catfish.

When it comes to infusing SEO into your content, the days of prioritizing the search engine above your audience are long gone. Not only are old-school tactics like keyword stuffing make for the most enticing or accurate read, you’re just asking for search engines to put a permenant swipe-left on all your content.

In addition, clickbait title tags and meta descriptions need to go to (this goes for any social promotion, too. Simply put, you need to be walk the line of honesty and intrigue with your audience, or else you’re no better than a catfish and you’re audience will bounce.

A great example of transparency and piquing interest comes from fellow TopRank Marketing employee Joshua Nite. He’s the king of injecting humor into his writing, which translates into his title meta content to pull people in from search (see picture below). Not only are his descriptions funny, but they’re also accurate to what’s on the page. And it works, too, because his posts have some of our highest organic traffic. In fact, his post, 20 Jokes Only a Marketer Could Love, had an average CTR of 11.42% in SERPs over the last 90 days.


#4 – Know your type to find perfect matches with digital advertising.

If someone’s a gym junkie, I’m swiping left. If someone’s a big football fan, I’m swiping right. Why is this? One’s my type and one isn’t. And knowing my type, I can widdle down my options and find a better match than if I was just playing a guessing game. If I give my own profile the same treatment, I can expect I am attracting a like-minded person.

Understanding who I want to attract and who I don’t, ensures that I am only receiving quality matches and gives me ammo to reach out to them with. This same practice should be applied to your paid social promotion where you can target specific audience segments with customized messages.

Before launching paid content promotion, you should know the audience segments you want to target using their job title, company size, age, location, values, and interests using your website analytics service. And if you have a Facebook Pixel on your site, you can discover even more helpful information about your audience and how to target them. Once those segments are defined, you can use solutions like LinkedIn Campaign Manager or Facebook Ads to target those individuals with personalized posts that are more relevant to them. Through targeted posts, you can feel confident that you’re attracting the right audience.


Entice the “Swipe”

When it comes to reaching, resonating, and captivating your audience, you know simply publishing a good piece of content isn’t enough. Like creating swipe-right-worthy profile, you need to go beyond a simple photo and one-sentence bio if you want to attract well-matched prospect.

Integrating a mix of interconnected tactics such as compelling visual content and content infrastructure, honest and intriguing SEO, smooth social promotion, and digital advertising that hones in on your perfect match, are key for enticing your audience.

Once you’ve gotten the “swipe,” what comes next? Captivate them with good conversation (aka: get them to stick around for all 800+ words.). For your best chance at retaining your audience, check out these pointers for consistently creating quality, engaging content.

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4 Integrated Content Marketing Insights From the Trenches of Online Dating | http://www.toprankblog.com

4 Integrated Content Marketing Insights From the Trenches of Online Dating was posted via Internet Marketing

Digital Marketing News: International Women’s Day, Google Warning, Facebook Tops YouTube

McDonald's International Women's Day

McDonald’s Flipped Its Famed Golden Arches for International Women’s Day – McDonald’s made a major play to celebrate International Women’s Day this year, taking its famed golden arches and turning them upside down across social media and at an owner-operated location in Lynwood, Calif. The effort is getting both kudos and criticism as a marketing ploy. Of course it is, but that doesn’t have to mean it’s bad, right? AdWeek

Also drawing attention to International Women’s Day: Here are two thoughtful videos from TopRank Marketing co-founder Susan Misukanis and Content Marketing Manager Christine Berres on the importance of women in the workplace and how to be the best you.

The 2017 Inc. 500 & Social Media: Finding Its Place in the Marketing Mix – LinkedIn and Facebook are reported as the most effective social media platforms while Twitter and YouTube are ranked among the least effective platforms for the Inc 500 companies. UMass Dartmouth

Analytics 360 Suite customers can now set up ‘user groups’ in Google Analytics – Individuals on internal teams at agencies and consultancies often have various levels of access to a Google Analytics account. Overseeing all those individual permissions — particularly as people come and go — is getting easier with the introduction of user groups in Google Analytics. Marketing Land

Google Engineer Issues Warning About Google Crawler – A Google engineer issued a “public service announcement” notifying web publishers that Google does not support CSS custom properties which means that Google’s crawler will not be able to render the web page properly and that can mean a lower ranking. Search Engine Journal

Google Is Helping the Pentagon Build AI for Drones – Wait, what? Anybody else think Google should stick to search and Pixel phones? The DoD partnership is to help develop AI for analyzing drone footage and quite a few Google employees are not happy about it. Gizmodo

Pew Research Social Media 2018

Facebook Tops YouTube In Branded Video Space -According to a survey by video ad-tech company Clinch, Facebook’s platform is home to some 46% of all branded video campaigns, topping YouTube, which has 41% of the campaigns. Digital News Daily

Facebook’s Testing a New Option Which Enables Brands to Mass-Send Promotions via Messenger -Facebook’s rolling out a new test of a self-serve sponsored messaging tool, which will enable brands to mass-send promotional messages to anyone who’s already initiated a conversation with them on the platform. Social Media Today

Forget Facebook? Why Marketers are Embracing Both Pinterest and Instagram – Both platforms are interest based and both Pinterest and Instagram provide a better frame of mind for shopping and let’s face it – Facebook just isn’t what it used to be. AdWeek

Forrester Calls Amazon, Voice New Search Opportunities -Findings in a new Forrester report suggest that retail brands will invest 55% more in online marketing and advertising by 2023. Publicis, Omnicom, and WPP plan to boost their ad spending with Amazon between 40% and 100% in 2018, according to Forrester, citing online reports. MediaPost

On the Lighter Side:

  • Heinz Brings in a Real Hostage Negotiator to Resolve Parent-Child Standoffs at Dinner – AdWeek
  • Amazon Says It Has Fixed Randomly Laughing Alexa Speakers – Bloomberg

TopRank Marketing and Clients In the News:

  • 3M has launched the Champions of Science podcast series (client) – 3M State of Science Survey
  • Lee Odden – 5 Expert Tips to Refine Your Content Marketing Strategy for 2018 – Marketing Insider Group
  • Lee Odden – Influencer Marketing Summary of Lee Odden at Social Media Marketing World: EAR Model – JM Internet Group
  • Lee Odden – What’s Trending: Linking Your Social Media Strategy – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog
  • Lee Odden – 20 Inspiring Digital Marketing Experts – VBout
  • Lee Odden – Top 55 Social Media Marketing Influencers to Follow in 2018 – Status Brew
  • Alex Rynne of LinkedIn (client) and Lee Odden – [Video] Millennials & Influencer Marketing: How To Organize & Optimize For B2B (client) – B2BMX
  • Lee Odden – Is less more in content marketing? A data-driven answer – Scoop.it

Be sure to check in next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories or you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for daily news. Also, be sure to check out the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

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Digital Marketing News: International Women’s Day, Google Warning, Facebook Tops YouTube | http://www.toprankblog.com

Digital Marketing News: International Women’s Day, Google Warning, Facebook Tops YouTube was posted via Internet Marketing

Content Marketers, This Is Not a Drill: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report

Content Marketing Takeaways from BuzzSumo's Content Trends ReportAWWOOOOGA! AWOOOOGA!

Content marketers, there is a content marketing emergency happening right now. This is not a drill. Please gather your belongings and exit the building in an orderly fashion. Go to your predetermined meeting spots to verify that your co-workers are safe, and start making a plan for the future.

I’m not naturally an alarmist. But there’s blood in the water. And smoke on the water. And fire in the sky. BuzzSumo just published their Content Trends for 2018 and the results aren’t pretty. After analyzing 100 million pieces of content for social sharing, social traffic referrals, and backlinks, the team has one clear takeaway: What most content marketers are doing is no longer working.

“The key takeaway from our research is that it is much harder to drive referral traffic from social networks than it used to be. Social sharing has halved over the last three years and organic reach has fallen, particularly on Facebook,” BuzzSumo’s Steve Rayson told us. “To be in the top 5 percent of shared content you needed just 343 shares in 2017. At the same time, content competition continues to increase with an ever increasing number of articles being published each week.”

So, do we assume crash position and wait for the inevitable?

Heck no! Content marketing isn’t dying; it’s evolving. We can evolve our tactics and strategy to recapture our audience’s attention. Those who hear the alarm and take action will thrive, while those who keep snoozing will go down with the ship. As Rayson told us:

“The lesson for content marketers is that you must have a content promotion or amplification strategy. You can no longer expect to publish content, share it on social and expect people to find it.”

[bctt tweet=”You must have a content promotion or amplification strategy. You can no longer expect to publish content, share it on social & expect people to find it. – @steverayson #ContentMarketingTrends” username=”toprank”]

Here’s our look at some key findings from the report, and what smart marketers will do about them.

5 Content Marketing Alarm Bells

#1 – Shares Are on the Decline

The Alarm: The median number of shares on content has declined by half since 2015. There has also been a sharp decline in viral posts with hundreds of thousands of shares, and in the effectiveness of “clickbait”-style content.

What You Can Do:. Instead of going after huge share counts, we should focus on getting shares from — you guessed it — influencers who have a relevant audience! Influencer marketing makes sure your content gets in front of the right people, and more than 8 of them at a time. Brand amplification of content isn’t enough to earn shares now — the content needs to come from people your audience already knows and trusts.

[bctt tweet=”Brand amplification of content isn’t enough to earn shares now — the content needs to come from people your audience already knows and trusts. – @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#2 – Facebook Is Just Not that Into You

The Alarm: Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but organic reach on Facebook has dramatically diminished in the past year and a half. Facebook shows no sign of reversing the trend, either. Quite the opposite; their stated goal is to have fewer (unpaid) brand messages in people’s crowded news feeds.

What You Can Do: First, start thinking of Facebook as a pay-to-play platform and adjust budget and expectations accordingly. This is also a good time to evaluate how much of your audience is actually on Facebook and actively engaging with content. The report also shows that LinkedIn* likes and shares are up more than 60% from last year — which means LinkedIn may be a better place to focus your attention.

#3 – Search Beats Social for Traffic Referrals

The Alarm: At the end of 2015, Facebook referral traffic finally rose above Google referral traffic. But Facebook’s dominance was short-lived. Now, Facebook is steadily trending down as Google continues to rise.

Graph showing social media shares versus google traffic

What happened? Google continued to get smarter about serving up relevant content, as Facebook continued to choke organic traffic from brands.

What You Can Do: The amplification model of “post on social media and ask people to click through” has been obsolete for a while now. Instead, focus on building your search equity with “best answer content” that is optimized for human beings. The more your content captures attention — page views, time on page, low bounce rate — the more search engines will serve you up at the top of the SERPs.

#4 – Backlinks Are Hard to Earn

The Alarm: As we refocus attention on search over social, we have to consider backlinks. Links to your site from reputable 3rd-party sources can be a significant ranking factor. Unfortunately, most content earns zero backlinks — 70% have no third-party links.

What You Can Do: The majority of content that attracts backlinks is high-quality research or reference content from authoritative sources. Work on building your library of stellar content, optimize it for SEO, and you can begin earning backlinks. In the meantime, your great content will help with search visibility even without the linkbuilding.

#5 – There’s More Content and Fewer People Reading It

The Alarm: Here’s the heart of the matter, the alarm bell to end all alarm bells. Content creation continues to climb, while content consumption declines. We have reached peak content. These two graphs, of content created versus pageviews on WordPress.com, say it all:

Graph showing number of wordpress posts increasing over timeGraph showing decline in views on WordPress

Notice while the volume of content rises, pageviews peaked somewhere around March of last year and are steadily declining.

What You Can Do: There are three ways you can combat content shock:

  1. Publish higher-value content at a slower cadence. Take time to deliver authoritative research or reference works rather than lighter, more shallow content.
  2. Repurpose content that drove pageviews in the past. Combine shorter posts into one big post, refresh the stats and links, and re-publish. Get the maximum equity from your existing content before you create new stuff.
  3. Capture your audience. When your high-quality content brings all the boys to the yard, make sure to CTA to your newsletter or email list. That way, you have a built-in audience not dependent on social media algorithms or search engine whims. And given how email marketing is still going gangbusters, you have a much better channel for reaching them.

[bctt tweet=”When your high-quality content brings all the boys to the yard, make sure to CTA to your newsletter or email list. @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Sound the All Clear

The way people consume content is constantly changing. Your content marketing tactics should be just as flexible. As the BuzzSumo report shows, the marketers who hang onto obsolete methods are losing audience now, and will continue to lose over time.

Interestingly, the “new” most effective tactics are those that have been steadily working the whole time, while some of us went chasing shiny objects: Create high-quality, best-answer content, leverage influencers for amplification & credibility, capture your audience and serve them engaging emails.

Need help creating best-answer content? We’re here for you.  

*LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions is a TopRank Marketing client

Content Marketers, This Is Not a Drill: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report was posted via Internet Marketing

Effecting change: How to present a recommendation

A follow-up to Effecting Change: Discovering the Technical Problem.

My first consulting success was down to pure luck. If I had been collaborating with any other client, it would’ve gone the other way. The point of contact was a woman handling digital marketing for a SaaS startup. She was a direct communicator — an all-around effective individual.

Her company had provisionally signed off on a one-month engagement. Our goal was to create a digital marketing strategy for the upcoming year. If the powers that be approved this strategy, they would extend their commitment to Distilled for a full year. We would put the plan into action together.

Now, I had prepared for this project. Even before the kickoff, I assembled all the data I could. And after, I followed up with the client team for a qualitative angle. A towering hierarchy of spreadsheets, diagrams, and summaries enumerated all the relevant facts I had collected.

In four weeks, I put together what I thought was a winning plan. It centered on a new content strategy. This content strategy would position the client as empathetic to, and inclusive of, their most likely growth market.

The deadline for delivery arrived. I sat down with the client (virtually — she preferred Skype) and revealed to her my recommendations and approach. The key to my presentation was a diagram (I preferred Visio) visualizing my strategy. I used every minute of that hour. No detail of my vision was left out.

To my lasting horror, the point of contact was unimpressed with my diagram. She didn’t criticize my recommendations or methodology. But she did tell me that she hadn’t got what she was looking for. She wanted a report — in full prose.

She even went so far as to outline the document. It was a straightforward narrative that walked through how I’d come to my conclusion. I thought: I’ve done all this research. I’ve made a recommendation. Isn’t writing this down a waste of time?

Still, I prepared everything exactly as she suggested. I delivered it to the client with low expectations of success. But something about that report worked. After brief deliberations, her company signed on for a year of work with Distilled. We coached them as they experimented with a new content strategy. Years later the company has tripled down on that content. They’ve evolved so that — unless you were there — it would be hard to see the kernel from which their strategy grew.

When that year was up, and our relationship drew to an end, I reflected on how we’d got there. Here’s that report in my left hand; here’s the mass of research in my right. I saw that it wasn’t enough that I found a solution. To change the client’s approach, I had to take her on that journey of discovery, too. I needed to show her so that she saw the problem as I saw it.

I was lucky to have a client who could help me see her point of view — to paint a clear picture for me. She clarified what she needed to understand to make things happen. I asked myself: How can I apply this lesson to my other clients?

The Effecting Change series has a shared thread: how do we convince a client to change? The last post showed how to discover a plausible alternative action. Once you have it, you must share it with the client. This post is an answer to the question:

How can I make a recommendation so that the client follows it?

We’ll introduce a simple three-step process: suggest, demonstrate, and elaborate. This method can be applied to any recommendation you make.

>> Open deck in Google Docs <<

This example deck covers a trivial technical problem — Distilled’s site links to URLs that return a 404 status code.

The client must choose to act

The point of a consulting engagement is for the client to do what they otherwise would not have done. Their action is what’s at stake. That’s the nature of the relationship — clients have the power to choose, and the consultant has the power to advise.

In general, people do what they want.

The client will only follow your advice if it reflects their own desires. There are two ways we can frame the client’s choice of action. We can ask either of these questions:

  1. Why doesn’t the client do what I say? or
  2. Why doesn’t the client want to do what I think they should?

The first option is no option at all. The client is not obligated to take orders. Framing the conversation this way is patronizing.

The second question is more to the point. If the client doesn’t want to act differently, then what we recommend will not happen.

The client may resist your solution

Let’s assume the client wants to see their problem solved. (This is not always the case!) That still does not mean they want your solution to be realized. Why not?

The act of hiring a consultant may make the client feel vulnerable. On some level, hiring an outside expert in an admission that, “I need help.” If we don’t respect that, the client won’t respect our ideas. There’s nothing morally wrong with this — it’s human nature. If we walk into a client meeting brimming with pride in our work, there is no grace in that.

The client has the right to fail

The responsibility for choosing what to do lies with the client. They have to live with the consequences of their choices, while the consultant gets to move on to the next project.

It is possible the client will make a decision you do not approve of. That’s OK. Your job is to do everything you can to help the client succeed. It is not to ensure that the client doesn’t fail.

Three steps: suggest, demonstrate, elaborate

Let’s recap. We’ve seen that our goal is to change the client’s choice of action. We understand that the client has a reason to feel vulnerable. And we accept that the client has the right to their own position.

In the face of this reality, you have one advantage to lean on. You know your advice is good. You know this because it represents what you would do in the client’s shoes. If you’re recommending something you wouldn’t truly want to see happen, that’s sad.

Under these conditions, it’s irrelevant whether the client acknowledges that your recommendation is right. They only need to see your solution the way you do. When they do, they might choose to adopt it.

How do we take the client on this journey with us? Here’s my three-step process:

  1. Suggest. Paint a clear picture of how things are.
  2. Demonstrate. Tell your audience how you react when confronted with such a picture.
  3. Elaborate. Explain why your reaction is reasonable.

Following these steps, in this order, you dramatize your response to the problem. Seeing that, the client can emulate your action. They not only hear your response, they have your response.

Let’s walk through the three steps. I’ll show how each of them gives the client the opportunity to come up with your recommendation under their own steam.

The example deck follows this pattern for a trivial technical problem.

>> Open deck in Google Docs <<

First, suggest — paint a clear picture

Start by presenting a clear picture of what is happening:

  • “Googlebot has to crawl a million thin pages to find your one thousand pages of indexable content.”
  • “Your legal team requires four weeks to approve an email campaign.”
  • “The internal time tracking system can take up to twenty seconds to switch tasks. The team reports that they avoid reporting entirely when the perceived effort outweighs the cost of inaccurate tracking.”

Peter Block says in Flawless Consulting that presenting a clear picture is about 70% of the consultant’s job. I agree. No matter how well your client understands the problem, your presence provides clarity that they did not have before. Something about what you see will be new to them — otherwise, why are you necessary?

The picture is the first opportunity for the client to begin emulating your behavior. Clarity is crucial. By posing the problem clearly, you are implicitly suggesting possible solutions.

Before you joined the conversation, the client didn’t see what they were supposed to be responding to. But once they see the real problem, they’ll spontaneously make first attempts at a solution. Someone in the room says:

  • “I see. If we make the time tracking system faster, we’ll get more accurate data,” or
  • “Those million pages result from our approach to faceted navigation. We need to rethink how we link to those pages.”

If that happens, don’t let the opportunity slip away from you. Seize those ideas and encourage them, whether or not they fit with your recommendation. After all, the client is more invested in the fix than you are! If they can commit to a solution of their own devising, so much the better.

And if there’s silence in the room — what then? By revealing the scope and nature of the problem, you may have plunged your audience into anxiety. Heads will nod as suspicions are confirmed. Gears start to turn as they grasp for a solution. They look to you for an answer. What happens next?

Next, demonstrate — offer a plausible alternative action

Maybe the client doesn’t see the solution immediately. That’s OK. We all come to the table with different experiences. Even an expert team hasn’t encountered every situation before. To share your experience with them, you must now demonstrate what you would do in their shoes.

You will not tell the audience what to do. You won’t even tell them what to think. You will model the behavior you want them to emulate. You will say, “When I am faced with a problem like this, here is what I do.”

This attitude transforms the conditions for success. If you think your job is to give the client a solution that is crystalline in its perfection, the bar you’ve set for yourself is impossibly high. It’s all or nothing. If the client rejects your solution, they reject you. Your consultation has had no value.

But when your job is to show the client how you would choose to act, that’s no longer the case. The burden lifts, your anxiety evaporates. Even if the client doesn’t follow your recommendation, you will still have contributed to the conversation.

Demonstration is the second chance for the audience to emulate your response. Seeing the picture, and what you would do about it, they may say, “Yes, I can see why you want to do this. We should do that, too.” And your work is done — skip the rest of the presentation if you like.

If the audience does not immediately accept your solution, you have entered the final stage. Prepare yourself for the utmost exertion of your empathy and discipline. Because an unease will grip the room. The audience is pensive. They fidget. Finally, someone says, “Can it be that easy?” or “Will it really require that much effort?” You may see uncertainty, denial, or mistrust. Don’t give up. You’re almost there!

Finally, elaborate — explain how you came to think this way

The audience has seen their problem, and they have seen a solution. If they have not accepted the recommendation, then they are resisting it, consciously or not.

It may be that:

  • They don’t understand. Specifically, they don’t see the link between what is wrong, and what you want to do about it.
  • They are embarrassed. The solution seems simple. Why didn’t they see it?
  • The solution is inconvenient. It comes with political challenges — maybe they have seen the answer and are in denial.

In this case, we need to elaborate on why our suggested response to the situation is not only plausible but warranted. Take the client through your thought process, all the way to its conclusion.

Preparation counts. Understand your audience before you present. When talking about a technical change, you may need to walk through methodology and rationalize your decision-making process. In other cases, the client will want to hear about how doing this will help them beat their competitors. One size does not fit all.

With that completed, you have done your job. You have suggested possible solutions by painting a clear picture of the problem. You have demonstrated an appropriate response. And you have elaborated upon this by providing further justification. The client may choose to change, or they may not, but you have done everything possible to help them succeed.

Twenty minutes or less

Now, do all of that in twenty minutes.

In the introduction to this post, I mentioned that my ill-prepared presentation took an entire hour. This was another mistake on my part. For an hour-long session, your part shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes. The client’s response to your recommendation is more important than what you recommend. The more you talk, the less you’ll hear.

A reasonable breakdown might be:

These timings include a generous allotment of time for client reactions and questions, so don’t assume you have all twenty minutes.

Note that suggestion is longer than demonstration and elaboration. By the time you get to demonstration, the audience will have anticipated your solutions. By the time you’ve thoroughly explained your demonstration, they may not even need to hear your elaboration.

For a full breakdown of how such a meeting should be scheduled, I highly recommend Flawless Consulting by Peter Block. This book gives down-to-the-minute timings (which, I admit, my suggestion here deviates from).

Practice makes permanent

I have found success by using this strategy. So have the colleagues I’ve shared it with — I’m particularly proud of some of the work Sergey Stefoglo has done. You can do this, too.

I’ve seen consultants refuse to learn from their experiences, banging their heads against a wall in frustration. Don’t let that frustration become so frequent that you assume it’s a natural condition. It isn’t. An effective, trusting relationship with a client is possible.

Practice this technique in every recommendation you give — not just the ones that count. I was lucky to find a client that gave me the feedback I needed in order to improve. You have that opportunity as well. Don’t waste it.

As for me, with all of the variables that go into a successful engagement, I still count myself lucky if a project goes well. But these days, somehow I’m feeling lucky more often.

>> Open deck in Google Docs <<


If you want to continue leveling-up your consulting skills, I have two resources to recommend.

First, Kindra Hall’s SearchLove presentations. Kindra’s teaches the power of story in every situation, and techniques for improving your storytelling ability. The skills are invaluable in painting a clear picture for your audience. Kindra has spoken at our SearchLove events, and I’ve arranged for videos of her presentations to be freely available for readers of this post. Please watch her SearchLove San Diego 2015 or SearchLove Boston 2016 performances. You’ll need to sign up for a free Distilled account to view the whole session. Here’s a teaser to motivate you:


And second, Flawless Consulting by Peter Block. This is a book with great ideas in it, but it takes some effort to parse. I’ve created an internal training course for our team to share its principles in a more structured way. For those who are willing to invest in its ideas, there is the potential for a huge payoff. I’ve been working in the suggest, demonstrate, elaborate framework for a while, but Block’s ideas on structuring meetings for action have still helped me get more out of the client when I ask them to come to the table.

Effecting change: How to present a recommendation was posted via Internet Marketing

Lee Odden Demystifies the Confluence Equation to Help Marketers Get Better Results

Influencer marketing is not a new concept. Public relations professionals, journalists and forward-thinking marketers have been executing some form of influencer marketing for decades.

While that may be the case, times have changed.

The expectation for influencer content marketing has evolved, which means consumers have higher expectations and the influencers themselves are more particular about who they partner with. However, our Influence 2.0 report with Altimeter Group and Traackr found that 57% of marketers say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities in the next 3 years.

Last week at Social Media Marketing World, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden took the stage to help marketers transition influencer marketing from something they’d like to do, to something they can execute strategically.

Interest in Influencer Marketing is on the Rise

According to Google Trends, the interest in influencer marketing has outpaced email marketing, SEO, social media marketing and content marketing.

What is Influence Really?

Often, influence is confused with simply having a large social following. According to Lee, there are five areas that make up influence:

  • Personality
  • Passion
  • Popularity
  • Persuasion
  • Power

Not every influencer (even good ones) are going to have all five nailed down. Some may have a combination of passion, persuasion and power, but don’t have the popularity. That’s why it’s essential to include different types of influencers into your content programs such as brandividuals, niche experts, internal experts, up-and-comers, customers and prospects.

Influence is the ability to affect action. @leeodden
Click To Tweet

How Can Influencer Marketing Help Solve Common Marketing Challenges?

Marketers are experiencing challenges in every stage of the buying funnel all the way from the attract stage to advocacy. Here are some ways influencer marketing can help at the different stages:


  • Reach new audiences
  • Inspire advocacy
  • Retarget influencer followers


  • Creators bring talent
  • Authenticity and voice of customer
  • Influencer and audience channel match


  • Influencers are trusted
  • Relevance increases action
  • Credibility converts


  • Community participation
  • Showcase employee influencers
  • Create info-taining utility


  • Showcase customer expertise
  • Testimonials
  • Create incentives for referrals

The people who are ignoring your ads are still engaging with peers and influencers. @leeodden
Click To Tweet

Why Empathy + Ask + Reward (repeat) = Success

To create a successful influencer marketing program, Lee suggests implementing the following three steps and then repeating to continue developing audience and influencer relationships:

Empathy: Understand customer and influencer goals

Ask: Engage influencers to collaborate

Reward: Show recognition or compensate for influencer contributions

Be thoughtful about how you ask and how you reward when working with influencers. @leeodden
Click To Tweet

How to Find the Right Influencers to Partner With

An essential key to influencer marketing success is to find the RIGHT influencers to partner with for content co-creation. Here’s how:

Topic: Determine the topic (aligned with audience needs) that you’d like influencers to contribute to.

Research: Based on the defined topic, begin searching for experts who are influential.

Validate & Refine: It’s best to use multiple tools (which pull from different sources) to validate the list you’ve created. Use tools like Onalytica, Traackr and BuzzSumo to research and correlate this information.

When you are creating content, think about which influencer you could include who might be willing to contribute and then share. @leeodden
Click To Tweet

A Maturity Model for Influencer Marketing

As with any digital marketing tactic, it’s important to know where you are now in order to understand what it takes to get to the maturity level you’d like to be. Use the sample influencer marketing maturity model below to identify where your brand lands today:

What to Do Next

If you’re ready to begin your influencer marketing journey, or just want to mature your approach, follow the three steps below:

  1. Get Expert Help: Research the market and identify who your potential influencers are. Then develop a strategy to lead your efforts.
  2. Invest in Technology: Finding the right technology (or partner that has the technology) is essential to developing and scaling a successful influencer marketing program.
  3. Activate Influencers: Begin by interviewing your internal experts, clients and existing online community. Then you can identify what works best and scale your efforts.

To see some examples of great influencer marketing in action read: How to Succeed at Great B2B Content Marketing with More Credible Content

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Lee Odden Demystifies the Confluence Equation to Help Marketers Get Better Results | http://www.toprankblog.com

Lee Odden Demystifies the Confluence Equation to Help Marketers Get Better Results was posted via Internet Marketing

Top Marketing News: Content Marketing Trends, Google Checks Your Speed & YouTube Live-Streaming Updates

Content Trends 2018: BuzzSumo Research Report
A new report for BuzzSumo shows that social sharing is down 50% year-over-year, LinkedIn is becoming a leader in social engagement and more. BuzzSumo

YouTube Adds New Live-Streaming Tools, Including Monetization Options. Social Media Today
YouTube recently added automatic english language subtitles for live-streaming videos, along with the ability to replay live-streamed videos and chat simultaneously and more.  Social Media Today

Google Releases Mobile Scorecard & Impact Calculator Tools To Illustrate Importance Of Mobile Page Speed
Google continues to reinforce the importance of mobile page speed. The search engine recently released tools to help website admins and marketers alike better understand why speed matters on mobile.  Search Engine Land

We Regret to Inform You That Vero Is Bad [Updated]
Although Vero was supposed to be the better Instagram, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in light of functionality issues that have come to the surface. Gizmodo

Making your first AMP Story: Google’s answer to Snapchat and Instagram
Google recently announced AMP Stories, a new format similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories, implemented via a new accelerated mobile pages (AMP) component. Search Engine Land

Marketing and IT Departments Need to Get In Sync to Best Capitalize on Mobile Technology
According to recent research from Adobe, technologies like augmented reality , virtual reality and artificial intelligence are poised to help accelerate the mobile evolution. AdWeek

Google Confirms “Edge Cases” When Content Theft Can Cause Negative Effects
Search Engine Journal reports: “Google has updated the search results pages by adding breadcrumbs to the top of the page. The breadcrumbs are triggered by informational search queries and are accompanied by images.” Search Engine Journal

Media Buyers: Snapchat Is Focused On Enabling Commerce In Ads
Look out Pinterest in Instagram — Snapchat is making a play for eCommerce advertisers. According to Digiday: “Snapchat is working on developing new commerce units to bolster its e-commerce offering.” Digiday

Twitter’s Rolling Out its New ‘Bookmarks’ Feature to All Users
Twitter announced that it’s rolling out its new ‘Bookmarks’ feature, which serve as an alternative to liking a Tweet you want to view later. Social Media Today

Facebook Rolls Out Job Posts To Become The Blue-collar Linkedin
Facebook is trying to compete with LinkedIn in the job market, and they’re starting with skilled workers. TechCrunch

GDPR Study Shows 65% Of Companies Unable To Comply
MediaPost reports: “Data Applications provider Solix Technologies released the results Tuesday of a survey outlining the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) readiness assessment, revealing that the majority of organizations are not prepared for May 2018 GDPR enforcement.”  MediaPost


On the Lighter Side:
Skippy Goes Smooth With Mark Ronson Soundtrack To Promote Its Creamy Peanut Butter – The Drum
Lacoste’s Iconic Crocodile Makes Room for 10 Endangered Species on Brand’s Polo Shirts – AdWeek

TopRank Marketing (And Clients) In the News:
TopRank Marketing Blog – The 50 Best Business & Marketing Blogs – Detailed
Steve Slater – Word of Mouth Marketing: How to Create a Strategy for Social Media Buzz & Skyrocket Referral Sales – BigCommerce
Rachel Miller and Lee Odden – Top Influencers to engage with ahead of the #SMMW18 conference – Onalytica
Lee Odden – Top 100 Digital Marketers 2018 – Brand24
Alex Rynne (LinkedIn) and Lee Odden – 7 Things Learned from Attending B2BMX – Cassie Ciopryna
Lee Odden – Humanizing Marketing —Takeaways from #B2BMX 2018 – Tabitha Adams
Cherwell Software – Cherwell Software wins the 2018 Killer Content Award! – Alison Munn

We’ll be back next week with more digital marketing news! If you need more in the meantime, follow @TopRank on Twitter or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Top Marketing News: Content Marketing Trends, Google Checks Your Speed & YouTube Live-Streaming Updates was posted via Internet Marketing