Invisible Content Syndrome and the Content Promotion Tactics to Cure It

Invisible Content Syndrome

Eyes fixed on his computer monitor, Jack felt perspiration form on his forehead as he waited in anticipation for the flood of visitors to the new campaign he and his team just launched.

Anticipation turned to nervousness as he looked around the room and asked, “Who’s promoting this content?”

All Jack got in return were blank stares and a bad case of Invisible Content Syndrome.

According to research by the Content Marketing Institute, 83% of B2B marketers use social networks for traffic, making it the most preferred tactic. At the same time, research from BuzzSumo reports that social sharing has dropped by 50% since 2015. With only 23% of CMOs feeling they are producing the right content and delivering it at the right time and format, lack of visibility is a disease content marketing is suffering across the industry.

The good news is that our client, “Dr. LinkedIn”, offers some cure. According to Digiday, likes and shares on LinkedIn are up more than 60% year-on-year, and LinkedIn tops just about every list including the B2B Content Marketing Report as the most effective social media platform for B2B marketers.

But what more can marketers do to cure Invisible Content Syndrome? While you consider engaging a capable marketing agency like ours for help, I’ve asked some of the top marketers in the industry for their best medicine. Here are their prescriptions:

Ann Handley
Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs (and first inductee into the Content Marketing Hall of Fame!)

Wrap your content in context wrapping paper. Your content marketing is a gift you give your audience. Or it should be. If it’s not, stop reading this article on distribution immediately and go back to create something that people want and value. (You know, like an actual good gift.)

Still here? GOOD! Gold star! You’re awesome!

Anyhoosie… share your content gifts on social channels. You know, like you’ve always done.

But now: make sure you wrap it first, using Context as your gift paper. In other words, share not just what the content is… but why it matters to you and your audience.

Your content marketing is a gift you give your audience. @marketingprofs

Why did you write it/produce it/film it/publish it? What about the topic is particularly relevant to this audience on LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebookstagram? What news item does it relate to? What’s so special about your take on it?

Wrap gifts individually for each distribution channel.

Bonus points if you do this by shooting a quick video, so that people can actually see and feel how excited you are.

I did this on LinkedIn with our announcement about our B2B Marketing Forum keynote speakers. I could have just shared the speakers and told how excited I truly am… but instead I shared why we picked them, and how excited I was about it. My excited face and googly eyes say it all.

People love nicely wrapped gifts. Because getting one is way more fun than getting a gift “wrapped” only in a shopping bag from the airport Hudson’s News, right?

Context = the best kind of content gift wrapping paper.

Andrew Davis
Andrew Davis, Keynote Speaker and Best Selling Author at Monumental Shift

Most of us write a blog post, upload our podcast, or finish editing our video, and as soon as it’s released, we promote it everywhere. We tweet it and summarize it on LinkedIn. We post it on Facebook and email it to everyone. We create an Instagram story and Snap it. In an hour our content is distributed everywhere. We vomit our content on our audience all at once.

Some of the most successful content creators see massive success when they focus less on WHERE they distribute their content and instead focus on WHEN. @DrewDavisHere

It turns out that some of the most successful content creators see massive success over a more extended period when they focus less on WHERE they distribute their content and instead focus on WHEN to distribute their content.

For example, first, send your content to your email subscribers. Now, before you post it anywhere else wait. Wait until your most loyal audience has had time to click and consume your content. (Maybe this takes 24 hours or even a couple of days.) Next, promote your content on one social channel at a time, watching the consumption rise and fall before moving on to the next channel.

The result is a much more successful content distribution and promotion strategy that builds momentum and social proof. Go ahead, give it a shot. You’ll be so glad you did.

Ursula Ringham
Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP

Social media influencers are an important ingredient in creating and promoting memorable content. As you’ve seen from industry reports, people are more opt to trust influencers than brands. But you must start by including influencers in the content creation process. Whether it’s a blog, video, podcast, or live-stream, collaborate with the influencer on the story you want to tell and how best it will resonate with their audience.

Whether it’s a blog, video, podcast, or live-stream, collaborate with influencers on the story you want to tell and how best it will resonate with their audiences. @ursularingham

Secret Tip? While the content is being created, have the influencer create anticipation about it before it even comes out, like a teaser of what’s to come. That way, their audience will be hungry for it. And that’s when the value of an influencer kicks in. They can take your promotion strategy for that piece of content to the next level with their reach across multiple social platforms.

Larry Kim
Larry Kim, CEO at MobileMonkey

When we promote MobileMonkey’s great content, we don’t “give away” the ending in its distribution and promotion. We hint at the payoff in a way that leaves the reader shouting, “Tell me more!”.

“Don’t ‘give away’ the ending in your content’s distribution and promotion. Hint at the payoff in a way that leaves the reader shouting, ‘Tell me more!” @larrykim

A secret weapon, a major loss, something personal, a traditional model turned upside down… just a hint can avoid invisible content syndrome. This isn’t revolutionary, but it’s overlooked and a constant in MobileMonkey’s campaigns.

Cathy McPhilips
Cathy McPhillips, Vice President of Marketing at Content Marketing Institute

Have a plan. You spend so much time creating epic content, so why not spend that same amount of time coming up with a plan for distribution and promotion? It can be a down and dirty spreadsheet — fill in dates, audience, messaging, and what you’re trying to achieve.

Marketers spend time creating epic content, so why not spend that same amount of time coming up with a plan for distribution and promotion? @cmcphillips

Mix up the messaging, hashtags, keywords, days, times that best suit your customers, set up UTM parameters to then analyze what’s working. Find ways that your content can help someone solve a problem. Don’t assume they’ll find you or your content without you doing legwork on your end.

Mike King
Michael King, Managing Director at iPullRank

It’s remarkable to me that brands will spend a considerable amount of money on building something, but very little on promoting it. I believe brands should take the same approach that networks do with televised content: Spend 5X what you spent to make something to promote it.

Brands should take the same approach that networks do with televised content: Spend 5X what you spent to make something to promote it. @iPullRank

The tactic that we use to drive a wealth of high value traffic is creating bite-sized relevant content pieces that we can guest post on other high traffic sites and link back to our tent pole content. Effectively, you end up borrowing traffic from sites that already have your audience. We tend to make the content asset freely available in HTML format, but with key capture points such as Wistia’s Turnstile feature, which creates a point in a video where you can’t watch any further without giving your email address.

We’ll also use Pay with a Tweet to offer the audience download versions. So, you end up creating more opportunity to capture leads and drive social sharing without completely gating your content.

Carla Johnson
Carla Johnson, Programme Director, Digital Marketing at HARBOUR.SPACE

Great content brings expertise to the table, but there’s hardly anyone who’s learned all the tough lessons themselves. To help promote content, tap into people who have solved the problem that your content helps your audience with. Get their insights, expertise and, if they’re really honest, epic fails so that your audience can get some leap-frog learning and avoid the same mistakes.

To help promote content, tap into people who have solved the problem that your content helps your audience with. @CarlaJohnson

Doing this helps make invisible content visible in two ways – it’s sure to hit sore spots and pitfalls that your audience deals with, so they’re more likely to share. And when you make it easy for the experts you’ve tapped to share the final content, you’ve added breadth, depth and credibility to it as well. People like to be a part of, and share, great advice.

Mike Stelzner
Mike Stelzner, CEO/Founder of Social Media Examiner

My secret to getting content seen is to focus on the real needs of my audience. If they are social media marketers struggling with exposure in the Facebook News Feed, you can bet I’ll be talking about that. When you hit a real need, people will share your content and talk about it.

The secret to getting content seen is to focus on the real needs of your audience: conducting studies, getting on the phone, or meeting them in person. @Mike_Stelzner

The only way to really understand the pains of your audience is to really know them. That’s where conducting studies, getting on the phone, or meeting them in person can be exceptionally valuable.

Sujan Patel
Sujan Patel, GM and Co-Founder of Web Profits

There’s one thing I do every time to ensure my content gets seen, I create a promotion plan for every content idea that I come up with. This sounds very simple and it is however it’s an extra step rarely taken by content marketers.

If I can’t come up with at least 5 ways to promote the content I want to make, than it shouldn’t be written. @sujanpatel

My rule of thumb is that if I can’t come up with at least 5 ways to promote the content than it shouldn’t be written. When you start with promotion you build content promotion into the article itself which ensures it receives maximum visibility.

It’s also important to note that content promotion takes significant time so you need to carve out time and resources for promotion. I often spend 80% of my time promoting content.

Joe Pulizzi
Joe Pulizzi, Co-Founder and Board Member at The Orange Effect Foundation, Founder at Content Marketing Institute

I call this the “Core 20” rule of promotion. In my experience, there are generally 20 people in your universe that will highly benefit from the content you create. If you do your homework correctly, those 20 individuals have loyal audiences themselves. They don’t have to have large audiences, just loyal ones.

The “Core 20” rule of promotion: Get 20 people with loyal audiences involved BEFORE you create your content. Insert their wisdom and then ask them to promote. @JoePulizzi

Get those 20 people involved BEFORE you create the content. Insert their wisdom into the text, the video, the podcast series, the event. Consider these 20 your executive committee. Keep them updated as to how your content is progressing and when it will be released. Then, ask them to do one thing. Possibly an email to their audience. A few tweets…a FB post. Email is always my favorite. In this way, you have built a content promotion team that does not just rely on your own distribution.

Get Started Promoting Your Content Today

We all know that “Build it and they will come” advice was great for the movies but not so great when it came to Jack and his less than healthy approach to content marketing. Take the advice above to heart and give content promotion some serious consideration during the planning phase of your next content marketing program.

Speaking of content planning, be sure to check out the 2018 Content Planning Report from DivvyHQ and TopRank Marketing.

Whether you partner with influencers who will help promote the content you collaborated on or take full advantage of all the opportunities available, it’s important to make content promotion an essential part of your content marketing regimen.

If you would like even more content promotion tips, here is a list of 50 content promotion tactics. Are you more into more visual content? Here’s an ebook version of this post:

A version of this post was originally published on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog


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Invisible Content Syndrome and the Content Promotion Tactics to Cure It | https://www.toprankblog.com

Invisible Content Syndrome and the Content Promotion Tactics to Cure It was posted via Internet Marketing

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How Can Marketers Create Stronger Customer Bonds? Focus on Convenience, According to Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken on Convenience MarketingSavvy digital marketers have their ears to the ground and eyes to the sky, striving to be on the cutting edge of the latest and greatest trends, tactics, strategies, and tools. After all, change comes hard and fast in this industry—especially when it comes to evolving buyer demands and expectations.

However, innovation doesn’t have to be net-new. To put a slight spin on a classic line, everything old can be new again. And that’s where convenience as a strategic digital marketing tool.

Convenience has been a core customer service principle for decades. And more often than not, convenience is a defining characteristic of customer experience and the brand as a whole. Think about what 7-Eleven did for weary travelers or time-crunched professionals. Think about what Amazon first did for avid, deal-seeking readers—and what they’re doing now for folks from all walks of life.

They disrupted the industry and created loyal followings by offering a convenient customer experience. And according to customer service and experience guru Shep Hyken, marketers can learn a thing or two from these examples—and what he calls “The Convenience Revolution.”

[bctt tweet=”What separates rockstar companies from all the rest? They’re just easier to do business with. – @Hyken #CX #ConvenienceMarketing” username=”toprank”]

For marketers, convenience isn’t just a competitive differentiator to be touted in marketing messaging—it’s also a creative lens. According to Shep, there are six convenience principles: Reducing friction, self-service, technology, subscription, delivery, and access—all of which he details in his latest book, The Convenience Revolution: How to Deliver a Customer Service Experience That Disrupts the Competition and Creates Fierce Loyalty.

Recently, Shep was gracious enough to sit down with me to explore what some of these principles and an eye on convenience can do for marketers.

Meet Shep Hyken

Customer Experience Expert Shep HykenShep’s been in the customer service and experience industry for nearly 35 years—it’s in his DNA.

“I started my first business when I was 12,” Shep recalls. “It was a birthday party magic show.”

That’s right. Shep worked his way around the local birthday party circuit performing magic tricks for oohs, awes, laughs, and a bit of cash. But his success was rooted in consistently innovating the service he was delivering.

“Writing thank you notes was the minimum,” Shep explains. “But my parents encouraged me to also ask the parents which tricks they liked the most—and drop the tricks that didn’t make the cut. So, you see, at a very young age I’m saying thank you, I’m asking how the service was, I’m gathering feedback, and I’m using that feedback to make changes—all fundamentals of customer service.”

“And this is all certainly relevant to marketers,” he adds. “Customer service experience is the new marketing; it’s the new brand.”

[bctt tweet=”#CustomerExperience is the new #marketing; it’s the new brand. – @Hyken” username=”toprank”]

Eliminating the Customer Experience Enemy

Your goal is to deliver the right information, at the right time, to the right person, on the right platform. This is the essence of convenience. You want to make it easy on your audience to get the information they need and to make a decision—and you want to enhance the journey and create a better experience for all.

How do you do this? By reducing friction. Why? Because where friction exists, frustration exists—and frustrated buyers and customers will seek out the path of least resistance.

“Reducing friction is perhaps the No. 1 opportunity for marketers,” Shep states. “It’s simple. If you don’t know your friction points, you can’t improve the customer experience and build customer loyalty.”

Where should you start?

As Shep suggests: “Map and study your customer journey, and ask yourself: What are my top customer touch points? Where is there friction? And how can I reduce that friction?”

[bctt tweet=”Where friction exists, frustration exists—and frustrated buyers and customers will seek out the path of least resistance. #Convenience #DigitalMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Strengthening Existing Customer Relationships & Attracting Prospects

The customer journey is anything but linear. We know prospective buyers and existing customers are increasingly self-directed in their quest for answers. Many turn to the internet-at-large and social media to research solutions, engage with brands, inform their decisions, and troubleshoot issues.

Marketers have the opportunity to create on-demand content that not only aids existing customers, but also engages prospects. For Shep, this falls under the convenience category of self-service.

[bctt tweet=”#Marketers have the opportunity to create on-demand #content that not only aids existing customers, but also engages prospects.” username=”toprank”]

“Salesforce is a great example of this principle in action,” he says. “They offer great explainer and how-to content online, which gives their existing customers answers at their fingertips. If customers have a question or issue, they don’t have to call support.”

Here’s an example of one of Salesforce’s How-To videos, one of many featured on their YouTube channel:

“What makes this a fantastic marketing piece is that anyone who happens to be considering their products can see this great content, allowing them to learn more about how a product works and the level of support offered,” he says.

But what about those who stop the search early and just pick up the phone? Shep says self-service content still plays a pivotal role.

“This content is a great supplement for live support,” he says. “Your team member can answer questions live, but also offer more convenient, digital solutions customers or prospects can walk away with.”

Defining Your Own Brand of Convenience

Here’s an important thing to remember, marketers: Convenience is objective. As Shep points out, what’s considered convenient for one business may simply be unacceptable for another—even within the same industry. That’s why it’s important to define your own brand of convenience—and not fall victim to what Shep calls “We Can Do It Too” Syndrome.

“Marketers need to stop placing so much emphasis on catching up or edging out their direct competitors,” he says. “Customers don’t compare you to your competitors anymore—they compare you to other positive experiences they’ve had.

“If you keep chasing what your competitors are doing, you’re always a step behind,” Shep adds. “That’s a good way to go out of business because you’re just doing what someone else is already doing.”

Aim to delight and surprise—not just satisfy—if you want to build relationships and create meaningful connections with your customers and prospects.

“Convenience is a separator between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer,” Shep says. “Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion. So, you need to figure out a way to create a lasting emotional bond.”

[bctt tweet=”Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion. So, marketers need to figure out a way to create a lasting emotional bond. – @Hyken #CX #DigitalMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Create Convenience. Create Loyalty.

Simply put, your customers and prospects want to do business with companies that make their lives easier. They want fast answers to their questions. They want service they can count on, every time. They want convenience. And they’ll pay with their budgets and loyalty.

By adding the convenience lens to your marketing efforts, you can uncover and mitigate friction points, and provide better on-demand content that fosters connections with your customers and prospects throughout their journey.

“As a marketer, you need to think it’s beyond just creating awareness, and think about creating an experience that your customers will talk about to create more awareness,” Shep shares. “The best marketing is when other people market for you.”

[bctt tweet=”The best #marketing is when other people market for you. – @Hyken” username=”toprank”]

A big thank you to Shep Hyken for sharing his expertise and insights. If you want to get ahold of his new book, it’s on pre-sale now.

How can you foster deeper connections with your customers, prospects, and audience at-large? Create content that resonates. For inspiration on how to do just that, check out our post featuring lessons in resonance from 10 content marketing experts.

How Can Marketers Create Stronger Customer Bonds? Focus on Convenience, According to Shep Hyken was posted via Internet Marketing

Optimizing Pinterest for the Buyer’s Journey

Optimizing Pinterest for the Buyer’s Journey

This is a post written by our Seattle intern, Tammy Yu. Tammy is a recent graduate from the University of Washington who majored in Informatics and is soon to be a full time Distiller. 

According to Pinterest, 72% of survey respondents said Pinterest helps them find ideas for their everyday lives, and 1 out of 2 users have made a purchase after seeing a Promoted Pin. With 200 million users monthly, Pinterest is becoming a powerful tool for ecommerce retailers to connect with their current and potential consumers. In this post, I highlight the buyer’s journey and suggest ways to optimize each step in the funnel on Pinterest: awareness, consideration, and decision.

Awareness Stage

At this stage, potential buyers become aware of a problem or opportunity. It’s the light bulb that lights up inside their heads and they realize there’s a problem. This can happen on or off the platform.

On the platform: A user came across a repin of a nice houseplant. This sparked interest in a need for a houseplant.

Off the platform: A user sees a houseplant while visiting a friend’s house. This creates a need for a houseplant.

Although we can’t account for awareness that takes place off the platform, we can account for awareness that takes place on the platform.

Think of this stage as a potential domino effect: one user who shares your pin might bring about awareness and interest in another user. To make your pins engagement-worthy, refer to the next stage, consideration, for more tips.

The awareness stage focuses on growing your reach and gaining more exposure for your pins so that the domino effect can occur.

Collaborate on group boards

Group boards are great for brands looking to gain more exposure on their pins. They’re “owned” by one Pinner, though the board shows up in the profiles of all the collaborators. As a collaborator, your pin to a group board is shown to the users that follow that board. You have the potential to gain more exposure and increase your odds of getting repinned.

Install the Pinterest “Save” button on your site

Installing a Pinterest “Save” button makes pinning images easier for a user and also your marketing/social team.

If a visitor on your site finds an item interesting, the pre-installed save button makes it easy for them to save your product and image to their Pinterest board(s). When one person saves a pin to their profile, their followers can also see the pin, potentially creating awareness in another user.

Rather than uploading a pin manually, you can pin any image on your site by using the save button. Tip: pin from your site, rather that repinning from others. According to Pinterest, it makes your pin more credible.

Consideration

At this stage, potential buyers are researching, discovering, and evaluating their options.

Furthering the houseplant example: the potential buyer searches on Pinterest for more ideas of what kind of houseplant to buy.

Pinterest users need to be able to find your pins before they can consider your products as a possible solution. Make your products relevant to the potential buyer, give them the information they need about your product, and show them how your product can solve their problem to help drive a decision — “yes, I want that product!”.

Use captivating images

High quality image

Pandora

Nothing’s worse than seeing a crappy image on a platform built on visuals. Use high quality images that grab a user’s attention.

Pinterest recommends the following for images:

  • File type: .PNG and .JPG

  • Max file size: 10 MB

  • Aspect ratio: 1.5 (truncates after 2.8 aspect ratio)

Text Overlay

IllustrationDessert

Text overlay can be a faster method to communicate a CTA (call to action) or short descriptive text with the user because it requires the user to look at only your image (which they’re most likely doing already), rather than your pin description. This would also be a good place to use your keyword research, to make the text overlay more relevant to the user. I will talk more about keyword research below!

If you decide to use text overlay, make sure the text does not interfere with the entire image or the corners, especially on top of important elements or products in the image. Doing so will interfere with visual search and results. For anyone without fancy shmancy photo editing programs, try Canva.

Conduct keyword research

Conduct keyword research to improve your targeting and increase your pins’ chances of being seen.

Visual Search

Using visual search, take a picture of whatever it is you’re pinning and see what other results come up. You can learn from other competitors or the suggested keyword terms that appear in search.

Pinterest Guided Search

Type in your keyword in the search bar and press enter. See what other search terms show up below the search bar. You can also learn from competitors and other Pinners to see what they’re using in their descriptions.

SEO best practices for Pinterest

Pinterest is a platform that relies heavily on its search abilities. Optimize your Pinterest components to ensure your profile, boards, and pins can be found in user searches. Use your keyword research here!

Profile

Business Account & Verification

If you haven’t already done so, make sure you set up a business account and “claim” your website. Business accounts give you access to Pinterest Analytics. “Claiming” your website will ensure your profile picture will show up on any pins made from your site. According to Pinterest, verified/claimed accounts will have their pins appear higher in the search results.

Profile Description & Website Link

Create a descriptive profile description to let readers know what your company is all about. Make sure to link your website on your profile as well!

Boards & Sections Names

Consider naming your boards and sections something specific and unique, yet also descriptive of the pins it entails. In a sea of boards all titled nearly the same thing, you want to stand out.

Board Descriptions

Use CTAs in descriptions to help the potential buyer understand what they can gain from looking at your board.

Pins

Headphones

Include keywords in your pin descriptions & img alt tags on website

Pin descriptions are also used as the alt tag for images on Pinterest and vice versa. As a result, a pre-populated pin description will appear when a user saves a pin from your site. When it comes to pin descriptions (and img alt tags), implement the following best practices:

  • Describe the image accurately.

  • Include keywords towards the beginning of your descriptions so that it’s more likely to appear in search results.

  • Use CTAs in descriptions to help the potential buyer understand what they can gain from looking at your pin.

  • Pinterest recommends a description of a maximum of 500 characters.

Links should go directly to the product page

Make sure to link your pins back to your site! If your pin is focused on a product, link to that specific product. Consider using Google Analytics’ URL Builder to keep track of your referring traffic source.

Show how versatile your product is

Have a product that can be used in different ways (e.g. furniture, apparel)? Post several different pins (with different images) to better capture the versatility of your product and how it can be used in different ways and for different people. This will help the potential buyer understand how the product is relevant to them, and ultimately increase your chances of conversion.

Decision

At this stage, your potential buyer has done all the research and has now made the final decision. Here, your focus is to help your buyer purchase your product, should they decide your product best fits their needs.

To continue with the houseplant example: the potential buyer has decided they want to purchase one of your houseplants.

Make purchasing your products easy as possible.

Shorten the buying process to make purchasing easy and painless.

Make use of buyable pins

Buyable Pins allow you to sell products on Pinterest. The great news for ecommerce businesses: it’s free! Buyable Pins allow users to shop and checkout directly on the platform, without having to leave.

Directly link your pin to the product page, rather than the home page.

Linking directly to your product will ensure your potential buyer can find exactly the item they were viewing on Pinterest, eliminating the need to search your website to find the product.

Make checkout as easy as possible on your site.

Although I won’t touch too much on this subject since it takes place off Pinterest, do consider the user flow of purchasing a product on your site. Think about what can be improved about this process and follow UX best practices.

Use Rich Pins

Rich Pins provide more information on the pin, in comparison to traditional non-Rich Pins. At the moment, there are four types of Rich Pins: app, product, recipe, and article. Product Rich Pins give your potential buyer all the information they need to make a purchase: pricing, availability, and a link to buy the product.

Final Thoughts

Personally, one of my biggest pain points about getting ideas from Pinterest, is how incredibly hard it is to find the original source for products. When I come across something I want to buy, I can almost never find where to actually buy the item. Pinterest has made a lot of improvements to help solve this problem through verified businesses, visual search, product/Rich Pins, and Buyable Pins. If you haven’t already, now is the time for ecommerces to market on Pinterest.

Have you already taken the steps to optimize your Pinterest profile for the buyer’s journey? Consider conducting a social media content audit to learn more about your content’s strengths and weaknesses. Want more ways to grow your ecommerce through social media? Check out our post about driving traffic to your site from Instagram.

Optimizing Pinterest for the Buyer’s Journey was posted via Internet Marketing

Digital Marketing News: Facebook’s Ad & Metric Changes, Pinterest Tops 250M Users, Google’s URL Plans, & LinkedIn’s Dynamic Ads

2018 September 14 LinkedIn News Image

LinkedIn brings Dynamic Ads into Campaign Manager platform
LinkedIn has added Dynamic Ads into its Campaign Manager platform. Templates, auto-translation, and data-mapping are among the new additions to an expanded LinkedIn (client) ad management tool. MarketingLand

Americans are changing their relationship with Facebook
A new survey from the Pew Research Center shows that 42 percent of Facebook users having taken a break from the site during the past year, one of several findings of interest to digital marketers. Pew Research Center

Google Wants to Kill the URL
Google and other tech firms are grappling with oftentimes unwieldy and increasingly dangerous URLs. Google’s Chrome browers is looking to at least alter how URLs are displayed, a move that could change how digital marketers incorporate them. Wired

Some Marketers Are Cutting Back on Third-Party Data
Certain digital marketers have pulled back from reliance on third-party data, according to new survey data from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, Deloitte, and the American Marketing Association (AMA). Browsers blocking third-party tracking data and Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica fallout are among several reasons noted for the drop in numbers. eMarketer

The new Search Console is graduating out of Beta
Google’s latest Search Console has rolled out, along with a number of other new features including a Manual Actions report and a live-testing tool. Google Webmaster Central Blog

Twitter adds audio-only broadcasting for iOS app, Periscope
Twitter has added audio-only broadcasting to users on certain versions of its platform. Users have gained the ability to record and share audio, with a rollout to remaining Twitter platforms expected over time. MarketingLand

2018 September 14 Statistics Image

Facebook advertisers can now manage where Instant Article, in-stream video ads appear
Facebook has released an update allowing advertisers to precisely control where Instant Article and in-stream video ads are displayed. Exclusion lists and publisher delivery reports are among additional new features on the social giant’s platform. MarketingLand

Pinterest passes 250 million monthly active users
Pinterest has topped the 250 million user mark. Most of them are now non-U.S. users, as the company has seen its strong growth pace hold steady. VentureBeat

Facebook Updates Ad Metrics to Combine Web, App, and Offline Purchase Data
Facebook has updated its advertising metric data, with cost-per-purchase, offline, Web, and app integration among a slew of new data available to digital marketers. Search Engine Journal

Consumers Say: Treat Us Like People, Not Numbers
A new Salesforce survey shows that 75% of millennials and GenZers expect “seamless handoffs between departments and channels, contextualized engagement based on earlier interactions,” among other revelations. MediaPost

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2018 September 14 Marketoonist Cartoon

A lighthearted look at the silo mentality by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Apple Announces New Trade-In Offer For Customers To Exchange Their Old iPhones For Absolutely Nothing — The Onion

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Content Marketing World 2018 Wrapup — BrainTrust Insights
  • Lane R. Ellis and Nick Nelson — What’s Trending: An Eventful Week — LinkedIn (client)
  • Lee Odden — Top 15 Marketing Bloggers to Keep You Informed, Interested, and Influential — Commun.it
  • Lee Odden — What were the best questions and answers from Content Marketing World? — Crystal Clear Communications
  • Lee Odden — Content Marketing World Round-Up — Meltwater
  • Lee Odden — B2B influencer marketing essentials: How to identify your influencers — B2B Marketing
  • Prophix — Adapt & Innovate – AI and the Next Evolution of Finance — Phophix (client)
  • Arm Treasure Data — How IoT Data is Reshaping the Marketing Landscape — Phophix (client)

What are some of your own top social media marketing news items this week?

Thanks for taking the time to read our weekly news, and we hope you’ll join us again next week for a new array of relevant digital marketing industry news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2018. |
Digital Marketing News: Facebook’s Ad & Metric Changes, Pinterest Tops 250M Users, Google’s URL Plans, & LinkedIn’s Dynamic Ads | https://www.toprankblog.com

Digital Marketing News: Facebook’s Ad & Metric Changes, Pinterest Tops 250M Users, Google’s URL Plans, & LinkedIn’s Dynamic Ads was posted via Internet Marketing

Use It or Lose It: 8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Digital Marketing Budget Surplus

How to Use Your Marketing Budget Surplus

How to Use Your Marketing Budget SurplusFor all marketing leaders, effectively managing your digital marketing budget is a delicate balancing act. Spend too much too early, and you’re running ultra-lean for the balance of the year and risk falling short of your goals. Spend too little, and you’ll likely lose those dollars at year’s end—and perhaps put yourself in a position to see cuts next year if your frugalness is taken out of context.

In our experience, we often see organizations slow to spend the first nine months of the year and eager to spend in the final quarter. So, if you’ll soon find yourself in the “use it or lose it” position, absolutely use it—but be thoughtful.

How and where should you allocate those dollars? Ultimately, your overall marketing goals and strategy should be your guide. But other factors to consider are projected resource constraints, upcoming and future events you’ll be attending or hosting, planned campaigns, and internal expertise.

Regardless of the size of your dollar surplus, there are several ways to make the most of it, gain some end-of-year momentum, and set yourself up for more success in the coming year. What are they? Let’s dive in.

Ideas for Making the Most of Your Leftover Marketing Budget

#1 – Invest in a content audit.

As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden has often said: “Content isn’t king. It’s the kingdom.”

So, chances are, many of your budgetary resources have been allocated to creating top-notch content such as blogs, robust resource pages, or larger assets like eBooks or white papers. As a result, you have a lot of content.

But where are the gaps? What should be killed, kept as is, or updated? A content audit can provide answers here, allowing you to prioritize low-hanging fruit opportunities, refine your 2019 content strategy, and more.

[bctt tweet=”Where are the gaps? What should be killed, kept as is, or updated? A #content audit can provide answers here. – @Alexis5484 #MarketingBudgets” username=”toprank”]

Depending on the scope of the audit, (e.g  blog content only vs. full site audit) this can be one of the most cost effective uses of your budget.

#2 – Conduct a competitive audit.

There’s little doubt that you’re keeping a close eye on what your competitors are doing, but when’s the last time you took a more detailed deep dive into their activities or position in the marketplace? Better yet, have you had a chance to dig into those who are on the rise?

A competitive audit—which can be simple yet insightful (e.g. social only audit) or more robust—can refresh your view and surface insights that were not on your radar.

#3 – Experiment with new content types.

Consumer and buyer preferences are constantly evolving, especially when it comes to wanting more visual or on-demand content. With extra budget in hand, you have the opportunity to experiment with new content types that have the potential to reach your audience in new ways, And can continue to be promoted and drive results in 2019. Some content types to consider include:

  • Podcast series
  • Video interview series
  • Product explainer videos
  • How-to videos
  • Motion graphics
  • Interactive or animated content assets

An important note when it comes to podcasts: Podcasts do require a more significant investment of time, money, and resources. However, they also have the potential to be a staple offering that your audience comes back to again and again.

#4 – Build up your library of original photos.

From social media promotion to blog post header images, many marketing departments often rely on stock photo sites for their image needs. Typically, there’s either no time, no budget, no designer—or a combination of all three—to create custom imagery. So, why not use some of those extra dollars to create a library of eye-catching, unique photos to add some pizzazz to your written content?

#5 – Put paid spend behind your best content.

Whether it’s AdWords, boosted social posts, retargeting, or display, there’s always an opportunity to leverage digital advertising tactics to boost your marketing results. Your top-performing content assets are the best candidates for this approach. You know they resonate. You know they inspire. So, you know they have the best opportunity to deliver ROI in a paid setting.

[bctt tweet=”Whether it’s #AdWords, boosted social posts, #retargeting, or display, there’s always an opportunity to leverage digital advertising tactics to boost your #marketing results. – @Alexis5484 #MarketingBudgets” username=”toprank”]

#6 – Add new tools or subscriptions to your technology stack.

These days, I think it’s safe to say that every marketer uses tools and technology to make their jobs easier and their marketing more effective. If there’s a new one you’ve had your eye on, this is the perfect time to invest in a tool which will drive value throughout 2019.

Don’t jump right to purchase, however. Nearly every software tool offers demos, free trials, or free versions that you can try before you buy. If you find one you want to test for the long-term, many offer a on-time payment, rather than a monthly option.

#7 – Conduct original research.

Original research has a myriad of benefits. Not only does it allow you to uncover meaningful data about the pain points, attitudes, and insights of your audience, but also enables you to create a credible piece of pillar content that resonates.

Like podcasts, this certainly isn’t an initiative to take lightly. For the last two years, we’ve helped our friends at DivvyHQ compile the Content Planning Report.

So, take it from us: It’s resource and time intensive, but the reward can be big as you continue to refine each year and become sticky in the content landscape.

DivvyHQ & TopRank Marketing Content Planning Report Cover

#8 – Collaborate to co-create content with influential voices.

People trust people over brands. So, if you have extra budget, why not use that to collaborate with industry influencers or thought leaders to create credible, insightful content? This could be a series of long-form interviews or a more robust campaign with assets large and small.

Over the last two years, this type of content and program has been at the top of the end-of-year spend list for our clients for two reasons: 1) As an agency, we’ve developed relationships with experts in a range of industries and we’re experienced in making new connections. 2) Influencer content has longevity since it can be sliced and diced or rolled into larger assets, and the insights shared often stand the test of time.

Don’t Lose It

You’ve worked hard to win your marketing dollars—so make them work for you. Whether you want to build up a stockpile of ready-to-go promotional images or go big with an influencer program, you have cost-effective and extravagant options to make the most of your budget.

If you’ve found yourself on the other side of the spectrum—facing a budget cut—don’t panic. Check out this piece for tips to prioritize your marketing efforts after budget cuts.

Use It or Lose It: 8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Digital Marketing Budget Surplus was posted via Internet Marketing

Game On: How to Power-Up Your Content Marketing Game with Insights From #CMWorld

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right.

If you’re a classic gamer, you’ll recognize the Konami Code used in popular games as a way to uncover gaming cheats or special effects. And if you attended Content Marketing World last week, you’ll recognize that sequence from trying to find your way through Huntington Convention Center to find your speaker sessions.

And even if you’re not a gamer and weren’t able to attend the conference this year, you’re in luck. The team at TopRank Marketing has compiled some top tips for powering up your event attendance and our coverage of stellar content marketing sessions from the biggest content marketing conference of the year.

How Team TopRank Marketing Levels Up

Attending a conference like CMWorld requires an investment. Not only is there a monetary cost for gaining access to amazing sessions, it requires an investment of time. And if you really want to get the most out of events, it’s essential that you’re planning ahead how you’ll tackle the week (which is so much more than just showing up on Day 1).

#1 – Plan Your Sessions Ahead of Time

As soon as the agenda for a conference is released, our team begins the process of identifying which sessions we will attend and live blog. Having a plan makes navigating a large conference much easier and more successful.

#2 – Provide Valuable Insights for Attendees By Speaking

Our CEO Lee Odden has spoken at every single CMWorld to date. And I had the honor of speaking there for my very first time this year. Presenting at conferences provides a great opportunity to share the expertise of your team, and connect with attendees.

If you are presenting, the quality of your content and your engagement with the audience is key for success.

Here are a couple of attendees top takeaways and feedback from our presentations:

Workshop: Rocket Science Simplified: How to Optimize, Socialize and Publicize B2B Content

Solo Session: The Confluence Equation: How Content and Influencers Drive B2B Marketing Success

Solo Session: Influencer Marketing is Only for B2C (and other lies your parents told you)

#3 – Engage on Social Media

At large events like CMWorld, attendees spend just as much time looking at their phones as they do each other. In fact, when everyone was filing out of one of the keynotes, I noticed the crowd was moving exceptionally slow. Why? They were all furiously tweeting takeaways!

When an event has a hashtag, take advantage. You’ll have access to a very engaged audience (both those attending and those participating from afar).

Often at events, Chris Penn utilizes a data algorithm to identify the most talked about and engaging individuals or brands at an event. As you can see, TopRank Marketing and Lee Odden were strong contenders at this year’s CMWorld.

Image via @cspenn

#4 – Interact IRL

For our team, one of the amazing benefits to attending events is the opportunity to interact with clients like the team’s at LinkedIn and DivvyHQ, partners, prospects and influencers. On Wednesday at CMWorld, we had the pleasure of hosting a dinner for some of our favorite marketers including Brock Stechman and Brody Dorland of DivvyHQ (client), Carla Johnson, Michael Brenner, Dave Charest, Mark Boothe, Peter Krmpotic, Eli Schwartz, Tim Washer and Jesper Laursen.

Event Coverage of Our Favorite Players

If you didn’t get to attend all of the sessions you’d planned to, or were following from home, we have a treat for you!

Below you’ll find our team’s event coverage of some of our favorite CMWorld sessions:

LinkedIn’s Megan Golden on Building a Blockbuster Content Marketing Strategy (Client)

LinkedIn's Megan Golden at Content Marketing World


A #B2B blockbuster #contentmarketing strategy monetizes a brand’s expertise. @Goldmegs #CMWorld
Click To Tweet


How Amanda Todorovich and the Cleveland Clinic Monetized Their Blog (And Why the Resulting Revenue is Just Gravy)


Content has to be interesting, valuable, and useful above all else. @amandatodo #CMWorld
Click To Tweet


Influencer & Content Marketing: Solving the Confluence Equation with Lee Odden


Influencer Marketing activates internal & industry experts with engaged networks to co-create content of mutual value and achieve measurable business goals. @leeodden #CMWorld
Click To Tweet


Andrew Davis Helps Content Marketers Grasp & Keep Audience Attention with the Curiosity Factor #CMWorld


If we are going to create better content we need to learn to consume content better. @DrewDavisHere #CMWorld
Click To Tweet


Ashley Zeckman Dispels B2B Influencer Marketing Lies at CMWorld

Ashley Zeckman at CMWorld


Rather than unapologetically telling us to buy a product, #B2B influencers are collaborating around an idea. @azeckman #InfluencerMarketing
Click To Tweet


How Twitch is Breaking New Ground In Audience Engagement 


Authentic and real-time #video can be better than immaculately produced when it comes to engaging an audience. Jane Weedon, @Twitch #CMWorld
Click To Tweet


Allen Gannett Shares His Secrets to Racking Up Millions of LinkedIn Video Views 


We’re living in an age where authenticity is key on #socialmedia. People want to hear stories from individuals. @Allen on #LinkedIn #video #CMWorld
Click To Tweet


Bonus Level: Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing

For a number of years, the TopRank Marketing team has partnered with Content Marketing Institute (CMI) to help provide helpful insights from top speakers. And this year was no exception!

Thank You For Helping Us All Level Up!

It doesn’t matter if you were a veteran speaker or first-time attendee, the beauty of an event like CMWorld is that we can all connect and learn together.

If you were lucky enough to attend this great event, what was your top takeaway? Tells us in the comments section below.


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Game On: How to Power-Up Your Content Marketing Game with Insights From #CMWorld | https://www.toprankblog.com

Game On: How to Power-Up Your Content Marketing Game with Insights From #CMWorld was posted via Internet Marketing

Ashley Zeckman Dispels B2B Influencer Marketing Lies at CMWorld

Ashley Zeckman at CMWorld

Ashley Zeckman at CMWorldIt’s no wonder that Ashley Zeckman, Digital Strategy Director at TopRank Marketing, drew a crowd last week at Content Marketing World: she promised to debunk the prevalent myth that influencer marketing is best suited for B2C brands.

Content marketers, just like everybody else, see loads of influencers promoting consumer brands. So, why can’t some of us get over the notion that involving influencers in B2B campaigns isn’t a good fit?

Because, as Zeckman puts it, content marketing is difficult. As it stands today, only 50% of marketers believe they’re achieving their marketing goals (Smart Insights). In addition, 75% of blog posts get fewer than 10 social shares, and get zero links from other domains (Buzzsumo & Moz). What’s worse, is that 70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy (Altimeter).

But for those of you newer to the idea of using influencers for B2B, keep reading to see Zeckman’s proof that it works wonders. And as an added bonus, she debunked five other lies about B2B influencer marketing along the way.

The Difference Between B2C & B2B Influencer Marketing

Before digging in to how marketers can use influencer marketing to boost B2B results, Zeckman broke down the difference between B2B and B2C campaigns with a few examples. You’re no doubt familiar with the Marlboro Man, whose face was synonymous with a smoke. You’ve seen Kim Kardashian’s image associated with perfumes, liqueurs, and more than a few fashion labels. And, you probably remember Britney Spears’ “Got Milk?” ad.

But Zeckman points out the key difference in those B2C tactics and the new way of B2B influencer marketing:

[bctt tweet=”Rather than unapologetically telling us to buy a product, #B2B influencers are collaborating around an idea. – @azeckman #InfluencerMarketing” username=”toprank”]

5 Lies About Influencer Marketing

#1 – All Influencers Are Created Equal

When you’re looking for influencers to get involved in your B2B campaign, it’s important to know that, no, not all influencers are equal. Nor should they be used interchangeably.

The best B2B influencer campaigns, stresses Zeckman, involve multiple types of influencers, which she breaks down into five main categories below:

Categories of Influencers for B2B Marketing CampaignsUltimately, choosing your perfect mix all depends on your campaign objectives, Zeckman says. If you’re looking to expand your audience and get eyeballs on your content, brandividuals should be part of the mix. They’re the people with a large audience reach of their own with whom their own content resonates deeply.

[bctt tweet=”Ultimately, choosing the right mix of influencers comes down to your campaign objectives. – @azeckman #InfluencerMarketing” username=”toprank”]

If your goal is to engage a more specific audience segment, aim to include up-and-comers who resonate with your audience, and are consistently creating content that’s highly and specifically relevant to your target.

And if your main focus is to convert, don’t leave out the niche experts or customer influencers, even if they don’t have as many followers as your other influencers. They know the nitty-gritty of the subject matter, and create content that not many others can. Their relevance will make your customers feel comfortable that somebody’s been in their same shoes, and will produce the content that nudges your targets over the finish line.

#2 – Brands Should Dictate What the Influencers Say

Telling your influencers what to say can be irreversibly damaging to the level of audience trust you’ve worked hard to build. That’s why it’s so important to make sure the influencers you choose for your B2B campaign are already talking about your subject matter. That topical alignment is key, according to Zeckman, regardless of the topic itself.

Take, for example, the B2B influencer campaign that Zeckman and TopRank Marketing partnered with Prophix to create. The goal of the campaign was to increase general brand awareness for the financial software company by targeting the office of finance. To do so, our team took a close look at the office of finance, and found that the audience was in the midst of an industry shift thanks to AI, but was having trouble visualizing what that change would mean for their day-to-day.

So, the team put together an animated asset featuring AI-style audio contributions from well-aligned influencers like Chris Penn and Jennifer Warawa.

Prophix Interactive eBook Example of B2B Influencer Marketing

#3 – Influencers are Only Good For Social Promotion

It’s natural, given how wrought with influencer promotion our social media feeds can be, to assume that the main benefit of influencers is the promoting they’ll do on your social channels.

But, as Zeckman points out, we can engage influencers in a variety of collaborative ways, even making them foundational elements of the content such as audio or video interviews, or podcasts or other serialized content.

A great example of this is action is a podcast series Zeckman and the TopRank Marketing team worked on with 3M. The series involved 16 influencers across various scientific fields, including professors, teachers, astrophysicists, and chemical biologists, and was hosted by the Jayshree Seth, 3M’s Chief Science Advocate.

The podcast series beat industry benchmarks by 69% with over 7,000 downloads. Many of the influencer guests amplified, employees amplified, and live events put on by 3M (involving some of the influencers who had contributed throughout the season) also helped drive awareness.

#4 – Engaging Influencers is Just Like Buying an Ad

Because B2B influencers are collaborating around an idea rather than just peddling a product, getting them involved is rarely as simple as purchasing a media spot.

Zeckman has perfected the practice, and gives a few tips for engaging the ideal influencers for your B2B campaign. First, you’ll have to send out some signals. As a brand or agency, create content that features the individuals you’d eventually like to partner with on a campaign. The simplest way is to include them on any lists that you’re creating. TopRank Marketing, for example, recently featured people from all industries in the list the  Top 50 Content Marketing Influencers, many of whom have gone on to contribute to B2B influencer campaigns.

After you’ve started sending signals, nurture the budding relationship. Staying in touch is a great way to gain credibility with the influencer and encourage them to co-create content, amplify it, and stay in touch for future opportunities to collaborate.

Above all, says Zeckman, be thoughtful in your interactions, and show your gratitude. Bonus points if you can show your gratitude in the form of pie, as the TopRank Marketing did for the influencers who contributed to DivvyHQ’s Easy as Pie campaign.

[bctt tweet=”Be thoughtful in your influencer interactions. And show some gratitude. – @azeckman #InfluencerMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#5 – Successful Influencer Marketing Requires a Lot of Time, Budget, and Resources

Some believe the juice isn’t worth the squeeze when it comes to B2B influencer marketing, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Collaborating with the right influencers to create content is one of the most economical ways to build a successful campaign.

For one thing, the content created with influencers has great potential to be repurposed. A blog post with influencer contributions can be grown into an eBook, Slideshare, or any number of other valuable assets. Most influencers are happy to expand upon a small contribution to provide more detail where needed, and that can be filed away for future, modular use.

In addition, influencer content perfectly lends itself to curation. If you’ve worked hard enough to have a small arsenal of contributions, consider compiling them into a list and publishing them as a blog post. Quotes that hit home are easily converted to beautiful, shareable images.

And don’t forget, says Zeckman, that your the influencers you involve are individuals. They’re real people who are most often thrilled to help amplify the content to which they’ve contributed. By providing influencers with social messages and images to share at the time of campaign launch, you’ve got a head start to promoting your hard work. And the payoff is worth it; Zeckman once saw a 1,700% increase in social ad clicks for a campaign as a result.

The Truth About B2B Influencer Marketing

Don’t believe the lies. B2B brands absolutely have an opportunity to collaborate with influencers and industry thought leaders, just like B2C brands have been doing for decades. Influencers can help extend your reach, lend authority to your content, and help you build credibility with your audience.

Want more insights on influencer marketing? See what TopRank Marketing CEO had to say during his 2018 CMWorld session on solving the “confluence equation.”

What misconceptions or concerns have you heard about influencer marketing? Tell us in the comments section below.

Ashley Zeckman Dispels B2B Influencer Marketing Lies at CMWorld was posted via Internet Marketing

2018 Distilled Creative: What we’ve learned and changing trends

Each year we write a round-up of some of the most exciting projects we’ve worked on over the past 12 months. We’ve continued to create a wide variety of content; never restricted by format. This year’s roundup includes photo stories, maps, mind maps, calendars, a long format article, picture quizzes and a one-button game.

Our successes have been through both press mentions and social engagement. One of our favourites was Advisa’s Brexit Bus which had over 1600 Twitter mentions – one being from JK Rowling herself.

It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The Sun was clearly inspired by our 25 Years of Top Flight Footy Moments (8,400 retweets). And of course, when we find a format that works, we’ve got no qualms with copying ourselves.

Image Stories

Balsam Hill – What Does the World Eat at Christmas?

Balsam Hill is one of the biggest suppliers of artificial Christmas trees in the US, and they’re certainly at the more luxury end of the niche. Christmas content makes perfect sense for them.

With this piece, we also wanted to open people’s eyes to cultural differences worldwide. We contacted over 80 freelance photographers around the world, all with different tastes, styles, religions and traditions, and asked them to photograph their Christmas dinner. It was a year in the making: we had to gather the content one Christmas to be able to launch it the next.  

The photographers took a photo of their Christmas dinner and place setting in a flat-lay style to ensure consistency. We also asked for a photo of the family sitting at the table, with the spread of food in front of them.

In the finished piece, an interactive map allows you to choose a specific country to view, or you can scroll down the article and browse. As well as photography, we included details about recipes, the symbolism of the dish and the traditions that the family enjoy together.

We received covereage from some top tier publications for this, including, The Telegraph, Business Insider and The Mail Online. 

Taking one topic and gathering a snapshot of what that means across the world had worked for us before with The View From Here which we created for a window coverings client.

Image Stories – Key takeaways

Produce timely content – Does your series hook into an event or certain time of year? 

Commission more people than you need – We hired 80 photographers, which enabled us to cherry pick the most interesting stories and photography for the final 25 (days of Christmas – see what we did there) used within the piece.

Ask freelancers for more than you need – We could have easily just asked for a photo of the dinner alone, but the family portrait added a human element to the story.

Be clear on your tie-in – Journalists will be reluctant to cover stories that are too tangential in their link to a brand.

Create highly visual assets – These give the journalist elements that are easy to write an article around – you help their article look good.

Maps

Crimson Hexagon – Bites of the Big Apple

Crimson Hexagon create tools to analyse social metrics. We used their customer insights platform to identify the most popular foods and drinks in NYC on Instagram according to hashtags.

This innovative design was created by our other designer Vicke. We did user testing on seemingly small details, such as the clock: to see whether a 24-hour or 12-hour clock was more easily understood. We ended up opting for the latter, choosing colour hues to reflect sunset, sunrise and other phases of the day.

Fortunately, the data was able to be clearly visualised thanks to the plethora of emojis out there. The final effect, with animated emojis, a rainbow of hues, and the turning clock, far surpassed the minimal build time that was required.

Maps – Key takeaways

Use open source data – Use free data sources and visualise the findings in a way that is not currently available.

Be innovative with your design decisions – The clock face movement made this piece feel original in its excecution. 

User test to inform decisions – If ever a debate starts about different ways of doing things, if possible I’ll throw a design out to user testing to settle arguments.

Picture quizzes

Bad Rhino – 25 Years of Top Flight Footy Moments

Bad Rhino is a clothing brand for plus sized men. For this brand it makes sense to comment on sport. For the 25th anniversary of the Premier League we created a picture quiz to see if people could recognise the players in the top 25 footy moments. This ended up trending on Twitter (8,400 retweets), and getting ripped off by the Sun. We used the Bad Rhino logo on the background advertising boards within the image, which was viewed 1000’s of times, improving brand sentiment.  

Having to guess 25 moments makes it just hard enough and annoying enough to complete that it drums up conversation around the harder moments depicted.

Cost effective – Picture quizzes don’t include much data, perhaps just relatively light research. Build is simple, the majority of the production costs go towards hiring an illustrator.

Work with a well known illustrator – We worked with Bill McConkey whose style is recognisable and works well for fine detail.

Make the interface simple – This quiz was specifically aimed at mass market sporting publications. Making the design as simple and bold as possible limits the barrier to playing.

Mind Maps

Just Eat – Curry Explorer

Just Eat are a take away app. To tie in with National Curry Week we fully nerded out on curry. We worked with a curry publication Curry Life to create a gigantic mind map which linked 30 curries together. The interactive helped the user to explore dishes by how hot, sweet, rich, dry, creamy, nutty or tangy they are.

We worked with a food stylist and the Just Eat team to style and photograph the curries. With food photography you need to put much less food on a smaller plate, so the individual items, e.g. a slice of lemon or a chunk of tomato are more easily visible, who knew!

Mind Maps – Takeaways

Nerd out on things – If you can create something that is a comprehensive study on something it has the ability to become a reference material or evergreen piece of content.

Tie in with a national event – Curry week gave us a hook in terms of timeliness for this piece.

Collaborate with your client – Working with the Just Eat photography studio enabled us to create content that was on brand and of a high production value.

Tool

Traveloka – Cheapest Michelin Meals

Back in 2013, we created a UK map showing the cheapest Michelin Star lunches in the UK. It was very successful at the time, so we decided to give the concept an international spin for our travel client, Traveloka.

To do this, we used the Michelin website to find the cheapest one and two star restaurants in each country covered by the Michelin guide. We kept the execution simple. A sortable table lists where you can find an à la carte or set menu lunch/dinner for as low as $2.20 in places like Singapore.

As restaurant prices and Michelin listings will inevitably change, this is the sort of piece we can update with new data – potentially gathering more coverage – each year. We only just started outreaching this piece and we already have coverage from, USA Today, Lonely Planet, Esquire, The Telegraph, MSN, Yahoo, The Standard, The Daily Mail and Harpers Bazaar, to name a few. 

Bloomingdales – The Best Day for your Big Day

Bloomingdales owns 54 department stores in the US and wanted to drive links to their wedding registry department. There are a lot of nerves surrounding weddings, ‘What will I wear?, ‘What venue should I hire?’, and most importantly the question on everyone’s lips, ‘Will it rain?’

Using open source data we were able to predict by looking at historical weather data which day was the optimal temperature to have a wedding. We focused this on the 1,000 most populous cities in the US. The tool starts with a simple text field, prompting you to input your city. Once you submit you are given a singular date that according to weather records is the optimum date to have your wedding. Hover states give more info detailing humidity, precipitation, temperature and clear skies.

If people were specifically looking for a wedding in an alternative season, e.g. Winter or Autumn these dates were also given lower down the page.

Tool – Takeaways

Make it evergreen – Once a tool like this has been made there is no reason why it can’t be updated as new data comes out, making it ever current.

Play to people’s paranoia – This sounds cold but, if you can pique someone’s interest by putting concern in their mind and then reassure them, the overriding brand sentiment will be that you were helpful.

Give one key take away – Overwhelming people with information usually means they remember nothing. We boiled this tool down to just one date, with the option to explore more.

Long Format

Simple – Side Hustle

Simple are the perfect bank for millenials, no physical stores, and tools to help you budget and save. During our ideation we stumbled across the concept of side hustles. Everyone seems to have one, especially millennials. But we wanted to drill a little deeper into the motivation behind extra work outside of the usual 9 – 5.

Google search results for ‘side hustle’ proved that interest in the topic was increasing, so we conducted a survey around the topic. The survey had both closed and open ended questions to gather both quantitative and qualitative data.

Both the type of side hustle (selling shark teeth, donating sperm and breeding fish) were strange, as well as a more unexpected reason for having one. Yes, it was for money, but also overwhelmingly to improve people’s mental wellbeing.

The page is broken up with photography, quotes, graphs, icons and animations. The key here was pulling out the most interesting findings, and turning what could have been a boring report into something easily digestible, and visually engaging.

YOOX – The Feel Good Factor

https://player.vimeo.com/video/255355951

When you make your first foray into designer fashion, you often remember the item you bought for years afterwards. It’s that personal feeling we wanted to explore for YOOX, an online fashion store.

To do this, we combined video, photography and editorial to create a long format style article. The personal stories and photography were key, so we picked a selection of dedicated fashionistas to interview about their first designer purchase.

Focusing on how the sustainable jackets, belts, and garish tracksuit bottoms made people feel gave an insight into the owners’ characters, and their lives. The feeling is certainly about the luxury of wanting not needing.

Long Format – Takeaways

Delight with animation – Visual quirks, movement, something that surprises or delights, makes content lift from the page, bringing it to life.  

Grab attention from the start – In a similar vein, a looping intro video can really help to hold attention on the page and entice people to start scrolling.

Cherry pick results – When collating information, we never put everything that we find into the piece, you must be selective with what you choose to publish, the hierarchy and how it will shape your story.

High production value matters – Invest in a good camera, producer and editor to make sure your content is polished to a high enough standard

One Button Games

Advisa – Brexit Bus

And last but not least this one button game for Advisa. Matt Round is our resident one button game expert. Advisa are a financial company so as a client it made sense for them to comment on the current state of the pound post Brexit. Some people on twitter even commented that this game was the best thing to come out of Brexit!

We received top teir coverage from, The Poke, IB Times and a person life goal of mine was achieved, when it featured on It’s nice that! Social was where this one really did us proud, with 13,400 Facebook shares, and 1600 mentions on Twitter.  

Big news says around for awhile – Even though Brexit had been a hot topic for a while, news this big has legs for a while. I think that in the doom and gloom of the UK’s bleak outlook this game managed to add a little joviality and light relief to a serious situation.

One button games – Takeaways

Tie into people’s passions – Finance is not a light hearted topic, often we are trying to create something that can entertain something quickly on one’s lunch break. Small games can do just that.

Use big news as a hook – Brexit will affect everyone the strength of the pound plummeting is shocking to see.

The details make the difference – One of my favourite visual aspects of this piece is the sound design and the bus which crumples as it crashes. These elements delight.

What have you learnt from your content recently?

As well as successes we have also had failures, we are always reassessing what it takes to make something sticky, and how to spot a good idea amongst other weaker ones. We would love to hear what is working for you, and how you go about validating your ideas.

2018 Distilled Creative: What we’ve learned and changing trends was posted via Internet Marketing

LinkedIn’s Megan Golden on Building a Blockbuster Content Marketing Strategy

LinkedIn's Megan Golden at Content Marketing World

LinkedIn's Megan Golden at Content Marketing World“The good news about being a marketer in 2018 is that we have dozens and dozens of channels to share our marketing story,” Megan Golden, group manager of LinkedIn’s* global content and social media marketing, said in the opening of her session at Content Marketing World last Thursday.

“The bad news about being a marketer in 2018 is that we have dozens and dozens of channels to share our marketing story,” she added.

It’s true. We’re inundated with options for trying to reach our audiences these days, making it a challenge to narrow focus and find the right mix. But it’s safe to say that if you work in B2B, LinkedIn has to be in that mix. Hosting more than half a billion professionals, and boasting unparalleled targeting capabilities, the platform is tremendously powerful for those who know how to use it.

No one knows better than LinkedIn’s own marketers. During her presentation, Megan pulled back the curtains to provide an inside look at tactics her team has developed and refined over the years.

It starts with a nod to Disney.

Embracing the Blockbuster Model

When Megan talks about shifting to a “Blockbuster Strategy,” she’s certainly not talking about the defunct video rental chain. Instead, she’s referring to the approach used by film studios like Disney to capitalize upon their most valuable franchises. After all, effective content needs to entertain, so which better examples to follow than cherished box-office boomers like Star Wars and The Avengers?

Disney's Blockbuster Movie ScheduleVia 7 Trends in B2B Marketing: Think Like Disney and 6 Other Strategies

As the timeline above depicts, Disney’s roadmap is structured largely around sequels, spinoffs, and sagas. The volume of net-new content makes up only a fraction of the release schedule. And clearly, it’s working.

“They’re monetizing their back catalogue by understanding what’s worked,” Megan says.

Three Principles of B2B Blockbuster Content

[bctt tweet=”A #B2B blockbuster #contentmarketing strategy monetizes a brand’s expertise. @Goldmegs” username=”toprank”]

The content team at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has adopted this same mindset, with great success. Megan points to a trio of core tenets that guide LinkedIn’s editorial council:

  • Focus. Concentrate your effort and promotion into regularly spaced out big-rock assets rather than following a scattered, ad-hoc calendar.
  • Familiarity. Make this content recognizable by consistently releasing new iterations and tie-ins around the same themes.
  • Extensibility. Unleash this content across various channels, platforms, and formats to increase its reach and accessibility. (Think about how much revenue Disney drives through merchandise.)

LinkedIn’s marketing team applied these principles through its Sophisticated Marketer’s Sessions series, which has turned into pillar content for them. These sleekly and uniformly designed sets of guides, infographics, videos, and cheat sheets showcase the unique insights from LinkedIn’s own leading marketers around key B2B social media marketing topics like targeting, engagement, and ROI.

The Sophisticated Marketer’s Sessions exemplify the B2B blockbuster model, following the three aforementioned principles and, in turn, monetizing the brand’s expertise.

But of course, all of this is contingent on the content resonating with audiences. Disney’s model wouldn’t be so effective if not for the sensational appeal of Luke Skywalker and Iron Man. In order to execute the B2B blockbuster strategy, you need to find out what your audience loves. Doing so requires plenty of experimentation.

Megan helpfully shared some of the findings her team has surfaced through its own experiences in this regard.

Tried and True Tips for Marketing on LinkedIn

[bctt tweet=”If you’re not testing, you’re literally losing money. @Goldmegs on #ContentStrategy” username=”toprank”]

Film studios like Disney invest significant resources into test screenings, surveys, and research to determine what will hit home with viewers, because missing the mark is very costly. Marketers can similarly rely on audiences to direct their strategies through A/B testing, which Megan emphasizes as an essential practice.

When it comes to marketing on LinkedIn, she saved us some of the work by sharing insights gleaned from her team’s experimentation on the platform. For instance:

  • Concise, quick-hitting content outperformed lengthier posts in terms of reach and clicks
  • Calling out the audience directly in the copy drove higher conversions
  • Darker shading tended to yield stronger click-through rates than light aesthetics
  • For digital assets, the descriptor “guide” outperformed “eBook”and drove 100% higher CTRs
  • Featuring a person rather than an object drove a huge lift in conversion rate

Create Your Own B2B Blockbuster

In the immortal words of Master Yoda, “Always pass on what you have learned.” We appreciate Megan following this directive from an unforgettable Star Wars character who’s helped vault Disney’s most prized franchise into the stars.

With these insights in hand, you’ll be ready to take off with your own B2B blockbuster.

Looking for more of the best nuggets to come out of Content Marketing World 2018? Check out some of our team’s other reports from the conference:

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

LinkedIn’s Megan Golden on Building a Blockbuster Content Marketing Strategy was posted via Internet Marketing

How Amanda Todorovich and the Cleveland Clinic Monetized Their Blog (And Why the Resulting Revenue is Just Gravy)

In a room overflowing with content marketers hungry to find out how to turn a blog audience into a monetizable asset, Amanda Todorovich delivered.

Todorovich, Content Marketing World’s 2016 Content Marketer of the Year, became Director of Content Marketing at the Cleveland Clinic in 2013, when their blog was only six months old and had roughly two hundred thousand views per month. Now, the Health Essentials blog gets six million views per month and is the number one most-viewed hospital blog.

So, how do Todorovich and her team continue to grow their blog and turn that traffic into revenue?  “You can’t think about the money first.” She stressed that trying to answer the question “what do we need to sell today?” is no way to decide what content will be most valuable for your audience.

Below are 5 steps that helped Amanda and her team grow and monetize the Health Essentials blog:

#1 – Make Your Audience Your Universe


Content has to be interesting, valuable, and useful above all else. @amandatodo #CMWorld
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Growing and monetizing a blog starts with amazing content that’s not about you, explained Todorovich. If you’re not considering the needs and wants of your audience, you won’t keep them coming back, much less be able to monetize the traffic. Providing content that’s “interesting, valuable, and useful above all else,” is a must, and requires content marketers to know and listen to their audience.

Todorovich recommends that content marketers to define the audience with as much data and detail as you can. “Make them as real as possible to your team. Give them a name. Give them a picture. What are their problems? How can you make decisions easier for them?” This important concept ran deep at #CMWorld this year, and jibes especially well with with the “Doris” callout from Ann Handley’s keynote. And no wonder the know-your-audience theme resonated; Once you you’ve made data-informed decisions about what your audience wants and can think of them as individuals with real questions, you’ll know what content will resonate and keep readers coming back. By letting their audience inform their content strategy, Todorovich grew the Health Essentials blog from 250,000 views per month to one million per month in just half a year after joining the team.

Take this example: Todorovich jokes that her team can keep track of the flu season—among other things—by their audience data. Sometime around October each year, search volume grows around influenza prevention tips, then treatment methods, then “clean-up.” Ick, right? But, you better believe that the Health Essentials blog is providing content for that audience. The flu-season breakdown that Todorovich describes may be niche, but her strategy of in-depth analysis and response is something that all of us content marketers should be providing for our audience before we even think about monetizing our blogs.

#2 – Know the Landscape

Only when Todorovich was confident that the content of the blog was becoming more and more interesting, valuable, and useful to her audience did she seriously consider options for monetizing. From her time working for a digital publisher, Todorovich knew of the three most common monetization tactics: Advertising, Syndication, and Acquisition of other publishing sources.

Todorovich confessed that the Health Essentials blog first focused on syndication “because people asked,” and that some of that syndicated content was written “in exchange for eyeballs, not money.” But with the blog’s quickly growing traffic, Todorovich recognized the biggest opportunity for monetizing the blog would lie in advertising.

And there was no shortage of obstacles to selling advertising: “We’re non-profit. Internally, nobody wanted us to advertise.” Knowing the internal and external landscape surrounding the Health Essentials blog is what allowed Todorovich find her way to monetizing it. “We weren’t going to make enough money to be profitable. The problem was perception.”

To protect the brand and address the specific needs of the Cleveland Clinic (and it’s PR and legal departments), Todorovich and her team wrote a disclaimer that is shown on every ad unit on their site. It informs the reader that the ad supports the mission of the Cleveland Clinic, and links to the full, often-updated advertising policy. Sure, the policy limits the potential of advertisers—the clinic doesn’t accept advertising from alcohol or tobacco companies, for example—but creating it was necessary in order to navigate the landscape of the healthcare industry and continue to grow trust from their readers.

The same knowledge of the hospital’s internal landscape is what led Todorovich to engage a partner to help manage the advertising rather than take it on herself. In a 50/50 revenue share partnership, Todorovich and her team provide the content while their partner manages and sells all of the advertising. Both companies allow the other to focus on strengths without pushing comfort boundaries. While content marketers may not all face the same obstacles, the emphasis that Todorovich put on the need to remain flexible enough to navigate circumstances without sacrificing the integrity of the content or brand was well-received.

#3 – Start Small and Test Often

The first advertisements that were sold on the Health Essentials blog were “just traditional display” ads, said Todorovich. “We did do a small test in google, because we feared there would be a negative reaction.” But, the audience didn’t mind the advertisements on the Health Essentials blog “probably because our content is mostly news-driven. In fact, the advertisements may have even given us more credibility as a news source,” explained Todorovich.

About slowly starting to advertise on the blog, Todorovich said, “we tested our way through it. We test everything.” There’s still some slight discomfort that arises around the monetization of the Health Essentials blog. It’s based on a fear that the ads could negatively impact the credibility they’ve worked hard to build. But reassurance comes from of the team’s own commitment:  “We will always be brand-first. Our content has not changed because of our advertising.”

#4 – Yesterday’s Score

Big goals are sexy, and especially tempting when it comes to monetization. But, warns Todorovich, they can be daunting and distracting, and less meaningful than smaller goals. Regardless, she said, “there’s no magic way to achieve goals. It takes effort and commitment to strategy.”

Strategies, of course, will vary based on industry, subject matter, objectives, and other factors in the marketing equation. What’s worked for the Health Essentials blog team is to huddle every day to ask and answer two questions: “What did we learn yesterday? And, what are we testing today?” Certainly two questions that would be helpful for any content marketing team to ask, especially as they begin to dabble in monetizing a blog.  

The “small” goal that Todorovich and the team behind the Health Essentials blog focus on? It’s not a big annual revenue goal. Simply, it’s to “beat yesterday’s score.”


Every day we should ask ourselves two questions about content: What did we learn yesterday? What are we testing today? @amandatodo #CMWorld
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#5 – The Revenue is Gravy

“If you’re interested in monetizing your blog,” Todorovich says, “focus on great content. Focus on your audience.”  With a data-based knowledge of the audience, a commitment to valuable content, a brand-first approach to navigating obstacles, and the patience to always test new ways to beat yesterday’s score, you’ll be on your way to monetizing your blog.


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How Amanda Todorovich and the Cleveland Clinic Monetized Their Blog (And Why the Resulting Revenue is Just Gravy) was posted via Internet Marketing