4 Time Management Tips for Social Media Managers

social media time management tips

It seems that a social media manager’s job is never done. It doesn’t matter what time of day or day of week you’re in, there’s always more to do. Social media moves at an astronomical pace, and it can be hard to keep up.

In fact, research has found that the top two barriers impeding adoption of social business within organizations are lack of overall strategy and competing priorities.

Raise your hand if the scenario below sounds familiar:

A Day in the Life of a Social Media Manager

6am – 12pm

  • Check company social media notifications before you even roll out of bed.
  • Quickly respond to any messages or tweets
  • Sneakily check for brand mentions as you’re stuck in traffic
  • Schedule all brand messages for the day across all social networks
  • Eat lunch at your desk while checking your personal Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn messages

1pm – 5pm

  • Research articles that are relevant to share with your brand’s online community
  • Check your company email and social media sites for new notifications
  • Respond to any brand mentions or comments
  • Identify influencers to connect with
  • Get caught up in not one but two trending topics on Twitter
  • How is it 5pm already?

6pm – Midnight

  • Review daily social media performance
  • Schedule morning social messages
  • Register for an interesting social media marketing webinar about visual content
  • Cannot function…need sleep

Making the time to execute on a comprehensive social media strategy that garners results can rattle even the most experienced marketers.  Social media marketing is flush with its own set of challenges and distractions.  Below are 4 helpful ways to help you focus and manage your social media marketing activities.

#1 – Determine Which Tactics Have the Biggest Impact

Reuters estimates that the average worker loses 2.1 hours of productivity every day to interruptions and distractions.  To avoid wasting time begin by prioritizing your week.  While it’s true that unexpected issues can come up plan for the best and the worst.  If you have 3 hours per day on average to complete tasks related to social media strategy what will you get accomplished in those 3 hours?  If you were only to have 1.5 hours per day what would you want to get accomplished?  Proper planning will lead to improved productivity and efficiency.  Also, take some time to determine what your top distractions are and eliminate them.

#2 – Optimize for Productivity

Focus on what will have the largest impact on your productivity. Determining what time of day you are most productive, and which activities are most significant will help you to stay on track.  Are you an early riser, night owl, or somewhere in between?  Creating a daily schedule and routine can significantly improve your productivity.  You will also want to keep in mind statistical data which points to the best times of day and days of the week for engaging in social media activity.

Neil Patel of Quick Sprout recently published an infographic that details some of the best times to publish on various social media platforms.

QuickSprout Best Time To Post

#3 – Tips For Better Time Management

I have often thought that I was invincible and could simultaneously focus on every task at once.  A balancing act acquired from years of having too much to do, and not enough time.  I considered multi-tasking an art form and a higher form of organization than my counterparts who only focused on one thing at a time.  I could not have been more wrong.

In recent years I’ve had to buckle down and force myself to devote all of my attention to one task at a time.  I’ve found that the quality of my work has improved and the level of my stress has decreased significantly.  Some tactics that have worked for me include:

  1. Closing my email when I’m working on social media tasks
  2. Exiting from all browser windows and tabs except for the one I need to work on
  3. Disabling chat or closing chat windows to avoid distraction
  4. Picking 15 minutes a day to indulge in activities such as checking personal social media profiles, responding to texts, or chatting with friends.
  5. Spending 30 minutes to an hour each morning reviewing emails and responding, do the same thing before leaving at the end of the day.

It is significantly easier to stick to your schedule if you are working ONLY on the tasks you have scheduled in the time allotted.

#4 – Use Social Media Tools for Better Time Management

Depending on your available time and social media content strategy, there are many tools that can help you accomplish more with less time.  Below are three different types of tools that social media marketers can use to get the most out of their time:

Content Curation Tools

Social Aggregators & Management Tools

Want more? Here’s an awesome list of 22 social media management tools

Still Feeling Overwhelmed?

In order to help you better focus on the tasks at hand ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are your top 3 social media goals and do you have a plan for reaching them?
  • How much time can you dedicate each day to using tactics to reach these goals?
  • What steps can you take to improve your focus while completing social media activities?
  • Which type of tool: curation, aggregator, or social bookmarking can you use to help save time?

Sometimes, there are just too many moving pieces for your internal team to execute on. Know when it’s time to call in reinforcements and work with the social media marketing experts to help manage your workload.

What have you found are your biggest daily distractions when trying to manage a social media marketing program?

Image via Shutterstock

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B2B Mobile Marketing for Demand Generation? Yes! Examples and Quick Tips

B2B Mobile MarketingWhen you think of mobile marketing, visions of searches for store hours, maps and getting tips from Facebook friends about good restaurants probably come to mind – all consumer focused. But what about B2B marketing and mobile?

Why mobile marketing for B2B demand generation:

In many countries, including the U.S., more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers. (Google). That means B2B demand gen content must be mobile friendly.  Also, 52% of B2B customers are using smartphones to research products for their businesses. (Forrester) so the demand is certainly there.

So which B2B companies using mobile marketing can we learn from?

Here are a few examples:

Fedex Access Mobile Magazine

ACCESS is a FedEx Corp publication available for mobile consumption through iPad, Kindle Fire and Android devices. The ACCESS mobile magazine app offers interactive features designed specifically for tablets and Android smartphones, including videos and dynamic slideshows.

Power More Dell Mobile

Power More is a Dell content platform that provides customized content to technology decision-makers optimized for mobile devices.

 (Disclosure, Dell is a TopRank Marketing client)

Gateway Emerson Mobile

Gateway to Emerson is an iPad app that is among numerous mobile apps and mobile optimized experiences launched by Emerson Electric Co.for their businesses including

Emerson Climate Technologies Apps

multiple iPhone and iPad apps for Emerson Climate Technologies.

3M Post-it® Plus App

3M’s Post-it® Plus app for iPhone and iPad enables users to capture images of their Post-it notes, share and collaborate with other business people.

To put mobile marketing to work for your own B2B demand gen programs, here are a few “quick hit” tactics to implement:

1. Optimize for Mobile: At a minimum, marketers can ensure their websites are optimized for mobile experiences. Whether the site is simply responsive and adaptable across devices, a dedicated mobile site is created or an app – B2B marketers should learn their customer’s preferences for mobile content discovery and consumption so those content experiences can be optimized.

Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Use Google’s tool.

2. Faster Mobile Content FTW! Also, make sure your demand gen content loads quickly in mobile devices or it can suffer in mobile search engine rankings. Check your website’s page load speed with this tool from Google.

3. Make video mobile ready. Video is a top content type consumed on mobile devices, 61% of B2B users watch mobile video relating to their work (IDG). But some video formats and hosting platforms only work on desktops. Make sure your B2B video content is mobile friendly for the best possible experience for your prospects.

By creating content that can be discovered, consumed and interacted with in ways your B2B buyers prefer, you can optimize your ability to attract, engage and convert more leads, deals and revenue. That sounds like a perfect opportunity for B2B marketers, don’t you think?

Top photo: Shutterstock

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What You Need to Know About Playing High Stakes Content Marketing


The game of poker is filled with many complexities, opportunities and luck of the draw. Content marketing follows a similar theme and can lead to big winnings or high losses.

If you want to be a key player in the content marketing game, it’s time to up the ante. In 2015, only 30% of B2B marketers believe that their content marketing initiatives are successful. With the overwhelming amount of content created these days, the stakes are high and competition is fierce.

What can you do to walk away from the table better off than what you started? It’s all about playing the game the right way.

Plan for the Buy-In


The buy-in is considered the minimum that is required to play a game of poker. Content marketing is only one element of your digital marketing program and should at a minimum align with the following initiatives:

  • SEO
  • Paid Search
  • Social Media
  • Influencer Marketing

Skipping any one of the elements above leaves room for your competition to be servicing your customers in ways that you cannot. The rule is, you’ve got to pay to play.

Understand Your Hand


Based on your current investment, staff and skill-level of team members, you need to determine what you have to work with. While your competitors may be creating interactive digital marketing assets that are awe inspiring, you may not be able to dive that deep at this point in time.

No matter how much you have available to invest, always ask yourself:

  • Do I have a firm grasp on who my customers are and what they care about?
  • How can I use content marketing to better service my customers?
  • What types of marketing assets will have the biggest impact on customer needs?
  • Are my digital marketing strategies optimized to create a good user experience?

Sometimes you get dealt a hand that may not be be the best, but it’s all about how you play with what you have.

Blinds & Betting Basics


To stay competitive in the digital marketing game, there are some investments that have to be made. An investment of course can be a monetary amount, resources or time.

“The best investment you can make in marketing is the quality and experience of your “product”. – Lee Odden

Invest your time and resources into:

  1. Making content buyer centric
  2. Connecting with influencers to co-create & promote brand content
  3. Creating modular content & repurposing
  4. Keeping content accountable

Avoid betting all of your “chips” in one hand and instead focus on consistently creating content that is visually stimulating, creative and filled with helpful information for your customers.

Don’t Ever Bluff


Content marketing is one game where bluffing never pays off. In fact, one of the worst things you can do as part of a content marketing program is bluff. An example of a bluff might be promising your customers a certain experience and then failing to deliver.

The user experience should always be one of the major objectives leading your strategy. User experience accounts for many things including:

  • Is your content (email or web-based) optimized for different devices?
  • Are your content assets delivering on promises made in search of social ad copy?
  • Do social messages promoting your content accurately describe what the reader will find?
  • Are marketing, sales and operations aligned to clearly describe and deliver on products/services?

Folding Some Hands is Ok


In tandem with knowing when to bet is understanding when to fold. What may start out as a great content marketing concept, can sometimes not quite meet expectations in delivery.

However, if you’re considering giving up on content marketing completely, I’d strongly urge you to reconsider. Perhaps you just can’t seem to find the right talent in-house or are struggling to determine exactly how much to invest in content marketing.

Agencies like TopRank Marketing can work with you to determine how to get the most return out of your content marketing budget. Sometimes a phased approach is needed, while other times the opportunity is ripe to move forward.

How to Get a Content Marketing Royal Flush


A royal flush is the best hand that anyone can get in a poker game. But like content marketing, it all depends on how you play the hand that you are dealt. One way to set yourself up to have the best possible outcome is to start with a comprehensive content marketing audit. Contact TopRank Marketing today to see if you have the right cards, and what you can do to ensure that you are the content marketing pot winner.

Images via ShutterStock: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5, Image 6, Image 7

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Why Content Marketing is Imperative for the Future of Public Relations

Content Marketing Public Relations

Whether you’re considering media relations, brand journalism or managing corporate communications, content has always played an essential part of effective Public Relations.

However, PR pros that don’t accelerate their ability to develop content strategy, development and measurement quickly and effectively are being left behind as the future of digital PR evolves. This is a topic I’ve advocated for the past 3 years, starting out as a warning and now a reality.

Major changes in the digital marketing and PR world have revealed how social technologies, devices and ubiquitous internet access have opened the doors for all-the-time, “everywhere” connectivity to the web.

That connectivity enables consumers and brands alike to:  Create, Consume, Publish, Interact and Transact anywhere, anytime. From tablets to smartphones to getting digital content via your car, the relationship between technology and people has had a major impact on how information is discovered, consumed and shared or acted upon.

These changes in behaviors and technology represent challenges, but especially opportunities for the public relations industry in several categories:

Who Are the Media? – It’s no secret that news media publishing models have experienced dramatic changes in the past 5 years with strong shifts to digital and new business models to meet consumer demand of real-time news and information on any device.

The ability for individuals to develop social networks and publish information to an audience that can match or exceed a traditional publication means that influencers are no longer limited to industry news publications and media. Connecting with and creating value with many niche influencers, whether they be journalists covering a specific topical beat to a passionate blogger with an engaged community, can be as impactful as a hit with a mainstream publication. Being useful with content further enhances niche influencer relations and provides more mutual value than relying on the “big media hits’ alone.

Content is the currency for building social relationships that can boost earned media.

Brands as Publishers – Companies are increasingly leveraging content marketing to boost owned media as well as the effectiveness securing earned media. Companies are hiring editors, corporate journalists and editorial staff to create a publishing environment not unlike many publications.

If you want to ensure your brand gets in the media, then become the media.

Emerging Technology and Consumer Behaviors – Consumers being connected to the web all the time from anywhere and the normalcy of sharing on the social web has allowed mainstream media to tap into their own audiences to capture and report news. Consumers are audiences but also publishers. Expectations have changed and many consumers expect not only to be informed but to participate with the news. Co-creation of content with consumers as well as industry influencers can lead to mutual satisfaction all around.

Ubiquitous connectivity has turned consumers into publishers and they expect participation.

So, what do these changes mean for public relations? Here are three key areas to consider:

1. Convergence: The roles, of PR, Marketing, Customer Service and other disciplines are increasingly integrated.

  • PR needs to cross train for skills, collaborate and integrate
  • PR can tap into other resources in an organization to reach mutual objectives
  • PR can show more value for its own efforts

With the prevalence of the social web and internet connected mobile devices, there are even more opportunities to leverage cross functional resources and skills to connect influencers and buyers alike with corporate content.

2. Become the Media: Brands are adopting publishing models in their efforts to establish better connections with customers, and to achieve a competitive advantage.

  • PR must consider it’s ability to leverage earned media as well paid, earned and shared media
  • PR is no longer a gate keeper to content, but a creator and participant in the content ecosystem
  • PR can establish credibility with other media when it it has it’s own well know media property

Media Relations can be a tough game. Journalists and increasingly, bloggers are bombarded with pitches and it’s difficult to stand out, let alone get in the door. When the end objective is exposure, awareness and influence, why rely soley on 3rd party media? Why not become the media?

Companies are investing significantly in the “brand as publisher” model with content hubs to create a web presence that satisfies consumer needs for information and allows the brand to info-tain, educate and persuade with content. Companies ranging from American Express to General Mills are so successful at this, they are able to monetize marketing editorial with outside advertisers and syndication.

3. Adapt & Optimize. Repeat. Technology and consumer behaviors are evolving quickly and the ability for businesses to attract, engage and persuade their public requires strong adaptability and a continuous effort towards optimizing PR effectiveness.

  • PR needs to continuously monitor consumer and technology trends
  • PR must develop a cycle of objective, audience, approach, tactics, measurement and refinement.
  • Continuous efforts to improve performance of how PR content is discovered, consumed and acted on will be essential

When a competitor launches a new product and gets major media coverage, a brand might decide to parody something in that message or provide a counter point and promote it through social channels as it gains momentum. Knowing people will look for more information than what’s covered in the initial story, content about the story can be optimized for search to make it the best answer and easiest for people to find.

If a business creates a substantial amount of content, there are many opportunities for repurposing to specific verticals or across horizontal publishing channels like email, social networks, blogs and byline articles.  If an organization doesn’t create a lot of content, then repurposing may serve the purpose of extending the value of resources and gain additional reach without a corresponding increase in resources.

I challenge public relations professionals to look beyond the simplicity of earned media and take a bigger picture look at how these changes and the integration of content marketing with PR can empower the role of PR to have greater and more significant impact on bottom line business goals.

Think about how content marketing can create more owned assets with which to attract, engage and inspire earned and shared media. Those same assets can work with paid media for customer acquisition objectives as well.

The only question is, what are you doing as a PR executive to adjust your strategy, skills and resources to make the move forward with content marketing?

Photo: Shutterstock

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Why Collecting Customer Information & Listening to Feedback Can Make You a Better Marketer

Collect Customer Feedback for Marketing

It can be so easy to find yourself drooling over the prospect bringing in new customers. Unfortunately, this can mean that current and previous customers are overlooked.

Current customers are a goldmine of information that can be used to draw in new customers. In 2013, Nielson found that 68% of people trust online opinions from other consumers. Did you notice that the study didn’t say that consumers trust “marketers”, instead it mentioned “other consumers”.

We often talk about executing all digital marketing tactics with customers in mind. Sometimes we fall into the trap of focusing strictly on creating customer personas (they do have their place) and deciding as a marketing team what our customers need and want.

An overlooked and seemingly simple approach is to reach out to customers, collect information and listen to feedback. Sounds simple right?

What Are Some Ways to Begin Gathering Information?

B2B and B2C businesses alike have many opportunities to stay in contact with customers. More often than not, your customers have provided some means for you to contact them, typically via email.

So in this instance, the hard part isn’t knowing how to reach them, but how to get them to respond. Below are some options for information gathering:

  • Surveys: Stick to the most necessary information needed to encourage customers to complete the survey in its entirety. Depending on the audience, a good way to encourage response is to offer some sort of reward for completing the survey.
  • Customer Feedback Forms: Often, customers may be searching on your website for answers to their questions. If you provide the option for them to complete a quick feedback form during this experience, it will be top of mind.
  • Forums: If you’re able, consider setting up a customer hub of sorts where they can ask questions and share feedback. If the forum lives on your website then you are better able to juggle responses than if the response is on any one of the social media networks that you manage.
  • Set Up Regular Temperature Checks: Sometimes you communicate with your customers on a regular basis. It’s recommended that you run a quick temperature check with these customers on a quarterly basis to determine what additional needs they may have that you are not meeting.
  • Anonymous Feedback: If the customer relationship is close, it may be hard for the customer to share feedback directly to the team. One option is to allow them to share anonymous feedback which avoids putting them on the spot.
  • Live Chat: Sometimes customers just don’t want to write a long email or chat on the phone. Live chat provides a quick option for getting answer to a question or sharing relevant feedback.

What To Do (& Not To Do) When a Customer Shares Negative Feedback Publically

Never brush negative feedback under the rug in hopes that it will go away. That’s when it really begins to rear its ugly head.

Take for example, the infamous Amy’s Baking Company that appeared on Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares a few years ago. One of the reasons that Ramsey made a visit to the California restaurant was because of interactions on Yelp like the ones below:

Amy's Baking Company Negative Yelp Review

After the show aired, things took a turn for the (even more) bizarre.  The restaurant owners Amy and Samy began taking to their Facebook page to rant about the people that alleged were “spreading hate” about their company.

Amy's Baking Company Facebook Review

Amy’s Baking Company is just one example of many companies that have lost many more customers than they gained by reacting very badly to poor reviews.

It’s true, sometimes your company may receive a review that is unsavory or upsetting. That is outside of your control. What you can control is how you react.

If possible, try to solve these issues “privately” via a direct message or contact with the customer that is having an issue. Try to take an authentic approach to each problem and make an attempt to rectify the situation.

Unfortunately, unhappy customers often make much more noise than happy ones. That’s why it’s our job as marketers to draw that information out of them.

What Should You Do With Customer Feedback?

All feedback, good and bad can help your business. Why? Because knowing who your customers are and what is important to them is what will help your business grow.

But how does it relate to marketing specifically? Customer feedback has many uses for marketers it can impact the strategies below as well as all other digital programs:

  • Content Marketing Plan: Hearing the issues and successes that your customers have had in working with you can be incredibly helpful when building your content marketing strategy. This will help determine what topics and asset types will be more impactful for attracting new customers.
  • Social Media Presence: An often overlooked component of social media marketing is the tone and voice used to communicate with your fans and followers. Interacting with your current customers and asking strategic questions about how they like to interact with brands like yours on social media can provide valuable insight into the approach you should take on social platforms.
  • Paid Search Strategies: Again, if you’re asking the right questions, the responses can affect many or all of your digital marketing strategies. If for example, you ask new customers what it was that drove them to you, or what they were searching for the moment they were ready to buy, it can help inform your approach to paid search.

Many companies have also taken steps towards instituting a client advisory board. The business can utilize insights from this board to improve marketing messaging, operations and any other department’s output.

Tools for Collecting & Monitoring Customer Feedback

Let’s face it, the more this process can be automated, the more effective we can be at collecting and analyzing the information gathered. There are tools that can be used to assist in the information collecting process, while others that can be deployed to monitor what your customers are already saying online. Below are a few helpful tools for both scenarios:

Tools for Collecting Feedback

Tools for Monitoring Feedback

What is the most useful nugget of information that you’ve ever received from a customer, and what action did you take once you received the information?

Header image via ShutterStock

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Online Marketing News: Twitter Gets Safer, Google Panda Gets Fresher, Facebook Video Gets Edited

Next Generation Commerce

How Digital Media is Shaping a New Generation of Commerce (Infographic) – Social shopping has grown significantly in the last few years. As younger generations gain purchasing power, they are reshaping the commerce market. An infographic from Acquity Group, a digital marketing agency, studies how user behaviour differs between the generations. Acquity Group

STUDY: Brands on Facebook Post More to Combat Declining Reach – Brands on Facebook posted more frequently during the first quarter of 2015 in an attempt to combat declining organic reach, while Periscope is starting to pull away from Meerkat in the live video-streaming sector, according to the latest research from Adobe Digital Index. SocialTimes

Report: 75 Percent Of Google’s Mobile Search Revenue Comes From Apple Devices – A recent analysis by Goldman Sachs estimated that Google collected about $11.8 billion on mobile search ads in 2014, with about 75 percent coming from ads on iPhones and iPads. Search Engine Land

Study Says 69% Of Brands Fail to Make The Grade – Using linguistic analytics software to measure grammar and style, Acrolinx finds most content marketing lacks quality. Marketing Land

Facebook Now the Number One Source for Political News – Study – A new study by Pew Research has found that Facebook is ‘far and away the most common source for news about government and politics’ among Millennials in the U.S. Social Media Today

Sites With Most Search Impressions Are Now HTTPS, Google Says – Gary Illyes, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, championed HTTPS as a ranking signal back August 2014 — today he celebrated a milestone for HTTPS and web security. Search Engine Journal

Instagram Opens Search Capabilities on Desktop – The company announced Monday that users can search for people, hashtags and places on Instagram.com. SocialTimes

67% Of Ad Buyers Say Original Digital Video Will Soon Rival Original TV Programming – Nine out of ten brand advertisers increased investment in digital video over the past two years, new study released by the IAB shows. Marketing Land

Google Explains How It Handles The New Top Level Domains (TLDs) – Google has published the latest on how it handles TLDs — the new ones, the old ones and the geo-specific ones. Google

Introducing the new Twitter Safety Center – In the last few months, you may have noticed some changes on Twitter designed to make your experience safer. For example, we introduced changes to our reporting mechanisms, overhauled how we review user reports and improved our block feature. In our ongoing commitment to your safety, today we’re unveiling a new Safety Center. Twitter

Facebook Launches Video Ads Creative Spotlight – Video ads are red-hot on Facebook, and the social network will showcase the best of them every month, in nine verticals, in its new Video Ads Creative Spotlight. SocialTimes

Google Panda 4.2 Is Here; Slowly Rolling Out After Waiting Almost 10 Months – Google says a Panda refresh began this weekend but will take months to fully roll out. Search Engine Land

Facebook Pages Get New, YouTube-Like Tools For Publishing & Managing Videos – Secret videos, expiration dates, custom thumbnails and a new Video Library for organizing everything are among today’s announced upgrades. Facebook

From our Online Marketing Community:

In reply to Find the Right Content Marketing Agency for a Happily Ever After, JoAnne Funch said, “Great article Brooke, love the match analogy and the importance of you choosing a good fit for yourself as a content writer!”

And Tiffany Youngren praised, “This is so true. I’m been researching good writers – this is great advice. Thanks!”

And in response to 5 Ways to Exercise & Develop Your Digital Marketing Muscles, Connor Rickett shared, “Great list of resources, and I like the way you relate it all to a fitness regimen. I often find myself swinging in and out of marketing things. I’ll get deep into it, but then it’s the first thing to go when the workload ramps up. I’ve found it’s easier if I actually force myself not to spend as much time on it when I’m in the mood, to avoid burn out. Balance, balance, balance.”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Acquity Group

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4 Tips for Building the Perfect Content Marketing Sundae


There’s almost nothing better on a hot day than a frosty ice cream (or frozen yogurt) sundae that uses quality ingredients and just the right balance of toppings. You have to be careful not to overdo it with a blast of different flavors which can cause the sundae to become muddled and headed for the trash can.

Content marketing programs often start strong with a great base, but the desire to create a quantity of content instead of focusing on the quality of ingredients can cause it to fall short.

In 2011, Gartner predicted that by 2020, 85% of of customers will manage their relationships without even talking to a human. Content marketing plays one of the biggest roles in this trend. Good content marketing enables customers to self qualify themselves for your services and begin building a connection to you, before an email, phone call or in-person meeting ever takes place.

Let’s put your sundae making skills to test and discover why you scream, I scream we all scream for quality content marketing.

#1 – The Dish: Content Strategy


What happens when you build the most delicious sundae ever and realize that the bowl, dish or vessel that you chose was flimsy or too small? Well, you have a giant mess on your hands.

Diving headfirst into a content marketing program without the proper strategy in place can also have disastrous results.

Chew on this; According to Content Marketing Institute 93% of B2B marketers are using content marketing but only 44% of them have a documented content strategy.

Before diving face first into any content program, you must explore the following elements:

  • Define your target audience: who they are, how they interact and what they care about.
  • Identify what customer problems your content will help solve.
  • Map target keywords to content topics to plan for following optimization best practices.
  • Determine which stage of the buying cycle each piece of content supports.
  • Decide which content marketing success metrics are most meaningful for your business.

#2 – Ice Cream: Creative Content Topics


Even a plain vanilla ice cream can be spiced up with a little chilli powder, salt or caramel. In the same vein, content topics that may seem mundane can be spiced up by adding the use of metaphors, storytelling and situations that your customers can relate to.

Any time you’re writing a content asset (large or small) start by focusing on what will be most useful to your audience. While your intent may be to get prospects to invest in your recruiting software platform, you need to think beyond blog content that focuses just on the benefits of recruiting software. Instead you may want to consider incorporating topics such as:

  • 5 Interview Questions You Need to Be Asking Prospective Candidates
  • How to Effectively Harness the Power of Millennial Employees
  • 3 Ways to Find Your Perfect Employee Match

While the topics above may not be directly promoting the benefits of using recruiting software in the headline, they are topics that your potential customers may be searching for when looking to hire new candidates or manage existing employees.

#3 – Syrup: Content Marketing Team


If you’ve ever mixed the wrong flavored syrup with your ice cream and toppings  raspberry ice cream can lead to time wasted and desserts thrown out.

Take the same care when selecting a team to lead your content marketing efforts. Keep in mind that your content strategists, writers and all other team members involved will be setting the tone and representing the voice of your organization.

It’s important to make sure that these teams are the perfect fit for the way that you want to communicate with customers. Properly vet each team member whether you’re utilizing internal resources or a content marketing agency.

#4 – Toppings: Content Types & Social Promotion


The options for sundae toppings are immense, as are the different content tactics you can create and the way that they are promoted.

Flavor your content marketing program with a variety of content types to keep your audience engaged and entertained. Before investing in expensive tactics like video or custom illustrations, speak with current customers to determine what types of content they like to consume.

Social messages that you create to promote your content should be engaging, concise and customized for the audience. Remember that the length and message of a Facebook message is going to differ from the way that you will promote on a platform like Twitter.

Construct Your Own Content Marketing Sundae

If you aren’t servicing your clients with great content, you can bet that at least one of your competitors will. Some of you may be hesitating because you don’t know where to start. Consider reaching out to any of your existing digital marketing connections or contact an agency like TopRank Marketing to see what options are available.

If you’ve been creating content for some time but are not experiencing success, make sure that you’ve included all of the elements above to your content marketing sundae.

What do you believe is the hardest part about creating a content marketing program that connects you with the right prospects for your business?

All images via Shutterstock: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5

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Find the Right Content Marketing Agency for a Happily Ever After

content marketing agency happily ever after

Heartfelt vows. First dances. Sparkler send-offs. Nothing says happily ever after quite like a romantic wedding. When it comes to finding “the one,” weddings beautifully illustrate the success of two people making a perfect match.

When you’re looking for love and the match is right, you just know. It might be the way your personalities meld, how you never run out of things to talk about, or the ease you feel when you’re with your Prince (or Princess) Charming.

Finding the right content marketing agency is a lot like finding your perfect match. From choosing a content partner that measures up to your dream list of qualities, to ensuring the agency really is who/what it claims to be, marketers are looking for a relationship that’s going to last. However 32% of marketers say they are challenged with finding trained content marketing professionals in 2015, which is over three times greater than the number of marketers who cited it as a problem in 2014.

You can’t just trust your content marketing efforts to anybody – it takes the right kind of partner. You’re looking for someone who will get to know you, be loyal to you, and go the extra mile for you.

As the Biebs would say, “I just need somebody to love.” Looking for a content marketing agency to love? Fall for the right one by following these 5 pieces of expert matchmaking advice:

#1 – Create Your Dream List

What type of agency is going to be the best fit for you? Know exactly what you’re looking for by sitting down and defining everything you’re looking for in your content marketing agency match.

Maybe you’re ready to take your company blog to the next level and are looking for strategic support to ensure that content speaks to your audience at the right stage in their buying cycle, and can be found for the right keywords. Perhaps you’re interested in generating leads via eBook or digital asset creation. Or maybe you’re about to launch a new product and are looking for a strategic partner to recommend the right digital tactics to promote the product launch.

If so, you’re looking for someone who:

  • Has experience writing for your industry
  • Can tie outcomes to business KPIs
  • Understands how to create a content marketing strategy
  • Knows how to optimize content for search engines
  • Responds to communication within 24 hours
  • Can write, publish, and promote the content

Whatever qualities, skills, and objectives are most important for you to find in a content marketing agency, you’ll be much more likely to find a just-right fit by creating that thorough list as a starting point.

Also consider what’s most important. Is their location a factor? Do you need a short-term or long-term partner? What about budget? Mark items that you cannot compromise on – and know which items would be a bonus if you found them in a partner.

#2 – Scope Out Your Options

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a Tinder for content marketing agencies? Set your preferences, and start swiping!

Thankfully the Internet offers a wide variety of excellent resources for finding content marketing agencies. Start with a simple Google search along the lines of the following:

Also consider who you already know. Do any of your business colleagues use agencies with whom they have a great relationship?

#3 – See What Their Friends Are Saying

Once you’ve found a couple potential matches, do your homework and snoop a little on your top contenders. Are the agency’s online reviews positive? Search client testimonials on their website to learn about stories of success, the agency’s best qualities, and what their clients love about them.

On a larger level, you want to find an agency that is well-regarded in the marketing world. Look for someone that is not only providing content marketing services, but is actively creating thought leadership through speaking engagements, publishing articles on timely topics, and sharing resources with the marketing communities. A little Googling and some social media stalking should be enough to confirm that they really have the expertise they say they have.

#4 – Look for Someone Who Makes Conversation Easy

Communication is the key to a strong and mutually beneficial relationship. When you begin to contact potential agencies, pay attention to how easy (or difficult) it is to communicate with them. From emails to phone calls to client meetings, you want to find a content marketing agency that will communicate clearly and convey important information in a way you can understand. Also, you want to make sure they will sound and look good in case your boss ever joins your meetings.

In your initial interactions with agency prospects, ensure that communication is going to be positive.

  • Do they respond to emails with professionalism?
  • Are they easy to talk to on the phone?
  • Is their expertise clear?
  • Do they speak marketing lingo?
  • Overall, are they attentive, responsive, and friendly?

#5 – Don’t Rush Into Things

Here’s where the matchmaking metaphor falls down – you won’t “date” your content marketing agency as extensively as you would finding the right person to spend your life with. However, the process for finding the right match should still be thorough. This isn’t a relationship you want to fumble!

A content marketing agency that’s a perfect match will offer exactly what you most value on your must-have list, be highly esteemed by their “friends”, and make it easy to do business with. Take your time to do the research process right and you’ll reap the rewards with the happily ever after that will follow.

Are we your happily ever after? Let’s find out! Start by telling us a little about yourself and your business when you contact TopRank Online Marketing.

Image via ShutterStock

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4 Creative Email Marketing Campaigns That Inspire Action


Email is a private experience. Unlike social media where comments are public email provides a safety zone for both B2B and B2C customers. What does that mean?

You can receive an email, and take no action. Alternatively, a personalized email may be the tipping point that determines that you will make a purchase.

According to a study from MarketingSherpa, 7 in 10 people have made purchases influenced by email marketing. Interestingly, that study also found that the vast majority that do purchase, are not just making purchases online.

While it’s true that some businesses do not fit under the in-store or “over the phone” model, many do. A well developed email campaign will solve a pain point, inspire action and make you feel connected.

Below are examples of some of the best email marketing campaigns that of this year (so far).

#1 – Sally Hogshead – Find your Fascination Advantage

Our team first heard of Sally’s fascination advantage concept when attending Copyblogger’s Authority Rainmaker conference earlier this year. If you want to determine the primary advantages that will allow you to communicate most confidently and effortlessly, all you have to do is complete a short quiz to find your type (visit: howtofascinate.com/you and use code: copyblogger).

Once you’ve completed the quiz, you receive a chart which describes your different archetypes. But it gets even better!

Based on your results, you’ll receive a series of customized emails that explain more about the advantages and disadvantages of your archetype as well as tips to help you be successful.

Sally Hogshead Email

What pain point does this campaign solve?

Sally’s campaign provides insight into better understanding where we can be most impactful as individuals how to better communicate with our team members.

Why is it awesome?

Since completing my quiz in May, I’ve received a handful of emails that are specifically geared toward my identified communication style. The email copy is concise, impactful and actionable.

What is the next step?

Now that you have a basic understanding of your own archetype and a few helpful tips on how to play to your strengths, the logical next step is to have your entire team sign up to complete the communication exercise, and gain access to the full toolkit that will help you communicate more effectively.

How can it make you feel?

It’s almost like Sally is looking out for you and sharing information to help you be better. Each time I received an email I eagerly opened it to find out what I would be learning that week.

#2 – Uber Minnesota – Ice Cream Delivery

Uber frequently sends out emails with special fare promotions, local events and information on the trips you’ve taken with them.

The email below takes an entirely different approach from the Uber norm. Uber partnered with Capital One to bring warm Minnesotans a cool summer treat.

Uber is offering $20 ice cream delivery to people who make a request on July 24 and are able to connect. Additionally, if you’re a Capital One member you have an opportunity to score a free ice cream delivery.

Uber Email

What pain point does this campaign solve?

It’s hot as blazes outside and you don’t have time to leave work and go grab a frosty frozen dessert whenever the craving strikes. They’re making it easy and ok to eat ice cream in the middle of the day by delivering it right to your location.

Why is it awesome?

This campaign has seemingly nothing to do with hailing Uber for a ride when you’re in need of transportation. However, Uber is cleverly creating a great and unique experience that will keep them top of mind the next time you’re trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B.

What is the next step?

This campaign reminds me of the frenzy created when radio DJ’s announce that they have a front row pair of tickets for an awesome band that will be awarded to the tenth caller. I predict that many of Minnesotans will be furiously trying to “get through” to collect on their ice cream prize (even though it’s not free) on July 24th.

How can it make you feel?

While you may not be interested in $20 worth of ice cream, you’ll remember “how nice” it was that Uber was willing to deliver you ice cream on a hot day.

#3 – Life Time Fitness – Workout with a Friend

Getting into an exercise routine can sometimes feel like a serious form of torture. One of the best ways to stay motivated is to exercise with a friend. If you know someone is depending on you, the chances that you’ll stick to your regimen greatly increases.

Life Time Fitness took a conversational approach to recommend that you use one of your available guest passes to workout with a friend. All you have to do is mention the email at your visit.

But wait, there’s more. If you can convince your friend to join, you both get some free Life Time Fitness swag, and 50 LT bucks that can be used on a variety of club services.

Life Time Fitness Email

What pain point does this campaign solve?

Committing to a workout routine is tough. You should consider working out with your friends to make exercising more enjoyable and stick with your program.

Why is it awesome?

The casual air with which Life Time encourages you to workout with a friend, offers you free things and enlists you to recruit new members is nothing short of genius.

What is the next step?

Bring your friends to the gym, get them hooked and have them sign up permanently. I’ve actually convinced a number of my friends to join Life Time in the past couple of years since I’ve been a member.

How can it make you feel?

This one email had me thinking about my closest friends, and which ones would be the most fun to work out with. Also, I could really use a new pink gym bag.

#4 – Adobe – How to Reach Customers on Any Screen

The subject line alone is enough to compel someone to open the email. Adobe’s campaign empathizes with every marketers need to be a better solution for their customer’s problems than their competitors.

They are sympathetic to the fact that creating a steady flow of content isn’t easy, but they can help.

Adobe Email

What pain point does this campaign solve?

Simply, helping businesses create a better user experience for their customers.

Why is it awesome?

Their customer centric approach (to the end user, not you the buyer) is brilliant. The message is focused on helping you service your customers better, which in turn leads to more customers (and more money).

What is the next step?

Download their white paper to access tips on creating a better user experience for your customers.

How can it make you feel?

Like I truly am getting a secret weapon that will give me an edge over my competitors.

Are Your Email Marketing Campaigns up to Par?

Sometimes it can be difficult to create email marketing campaigns that are optimized for the devices that your customers use, evoke creativity and inspire action. Each campaign that you create should provide value and give your customers a next step.

What are some examples of email marketing campaigns that have influenced you to make a purchasing decision?

Header image via Shutterstock

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5 Ways to Exercise & Develop Your Digital Marketing Muscles


Minnesota summers are so short that they often fly by in the blink of an eye. To make the most of the gorgeous weekend we just had, I found a bunch of active things to do. On Friday we went to the gym, Saturday consisted of Disc Golf and Sunday sent us to one of the local lakes to go paddle boarding.

I’ll admit that I’m more than a little tired, but it felt good to be so active.

The same logic can be applied to exercising your digital marketing muscles. The first couple days you might be “sore” but once you get into a routine, it’s easy sailing. The digital marketing landscape changes so quickly that the tactics that your team is deploying currently, may be vastly different in the matter of a few months.

Below are some simple exercises to keep your digital marketing muscles toned and ready for an active workweek.

1 – Make Time Everyday (even if it’s only 30 minutes)

To start, it’s important to get into a routine and start exercising a little every day.

With how quickly digital marketing is evolving, working ongoing education into your routine is a must. In order to keep up (or get ahead), it’s important that you’re paying attention to the smart work created by other marketers in your field.

Each day I make it a goal to read at least 2-3 blog posts from other marketers. Sometimes I need inspiration when I’m stuck writing a blog post, or maybe I’m just looking to see what tips these marketers have up their sleeve, either way, there are many benefits.

Some of the blogs that I work into my weekly routine include:

2 – Try Things That Are New & Sometimes Difficult

This weekend was only my second time venturing out on the lake to paddle board. I will admit, the first time was a little nerve wracking. But this time, I glided across the lake with supreme confidence and grace (or so I’d like to think).

If I hadn’t taken the chance to try something new, I would have been missing out. The same rule applies to your digital marketing knowledge.

A recent study found that 86% of buyers were looking for access to visual/interactive content on demand. Perhaps you have grand aspirations to have a video series, but just can’t seem to sit down in front of the camera and start shooting. Or maybe you’d like to try your hand at creating a new type of visual content.

Take the first step and give it your best shot. True, what you create may never see the light of day, but at least you took a step towards testing to see what does (and does not) work.

If you’re looking for some help, there are a lot of great (and free) resources available:

3 – Get a Responsibillibuddy

It’s much easier to get into an exercise routine if you have someone else to help push you, keep you honest and workout right alongside you.

When you’re training for that digital marketing marathon, you’ll want to make sure that you have other smarties by your side. You can either partner up with people you work with, or other digital marketers you know outside of work.

One way to keep everyone on track is to plan on meeting regularly (either virtually or in-person) to transfer knowledge. Another idea is to have a monthly book club revolving around digital marketing books and discuss what you learned.

4 – Have a Goal

Maybe your exercise goal is to get toned, lose a couple inches or be able to bench 25% more than you can now. Either, way – it’s important to work towards something.

Think about your digital marketing goals in the same light. What do you want to learn, execute and measure by a specific date? Determining what your goals are early on can be incredibly helpful in sticking to your routine.

For example, if you want to add co-created influencer content marketing to your program deliverables, create a plan to find out what steps need to be taken, and how you’ll “train” to get there.

5 – Remember That Results Take Time

If you don’t feel like you’re getting the results you want right away, don’t get discouraged.

Learning how to add new marketing skills to your arsenal takes time and dedication. Some weeks you’ll se a lot of progress in your increased knowledge and application, while other weeks will be a bit slower.

Keep following your learning routine and you’ll begin to see the impact that it has on the progress of your digital marketing development.

Know Your Digital Marketing Limits & Push Them

The harder you train the more knowledge you will gain. There is virtually no limit to what you can do to educate yourself on an ongoing basis. It’s all up to you.

What have you found to be the best way to work ongoing digital marketing education and training into your routine?

Image via Shutterstock

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