Online Marketing News: Critical Personalization, Social Strategy Research & Marketers on Reddit



Why Creating a Personal Online Experience for Your Visitors Is Critical [Infographic]

Did you know that 87% of companies that have implemented web personalization have seen an increased return in key metrics? There is certainly a strong case to create a personal experience for visitors to your website or blog. This handy infographic explains why one size doesn’t always fit all. MarketingProfs

What 51 Million Pieces of Content Say About Your Social Media Marketing Strategy [NEW RESEARCH]

TrackMaven analyses “the social media content from over 40,000 companies across 130 major industries on four major social networks -Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn – to provide businesses with relevant benchmarks for social media audience size, posting frequency, and engagement at an industry-specific level” in this new report. TrackMaven

Reddit Intros New Ad Offering, ‘Grows Up’ and Says It Can Be as Big as Facebook

Reddit announced that they’re allowing marketers to sponsor user posts on the popular social platform. AdAge reports “On August 4, Reddit will debut a new ad offering called Promoted User Posts, which will give marketers the ability to sponsor user generated posts on Reddit’s platform.” While the benefits to the users are unclear, this could make huge headway for influencer marketers and consumer brands trying to reach a tough-to-reach audience. AdAge

Google launches imported call conversions

Google is now allowing advertisers using their AdWords platform to import call data, so they can better attribute leads and revenue driven by their ads and connect that to their return on ad spend. This has been available in a rudimentary form previously, but this new ability will step up visibility into ROI and user behavior. ClickZ

Spotify Is Now Letting Brands Target Listeners Worldwide via Their Playlists

Last week, Spotify announced that the music streaming service will be offering programmatic advertising to its user base for marketers, with targeting based on demographics like age, gender, location and listening habits like playlist and genres. AdWeek

37 percent of US marketers struggle with creating the most efficient marketing mix across channels to drive results.

Google rolls out expanded text ads, device bid adjustments & responsive ads for native in AdWords

According to Search Engine Land, “Google has officially launched expanded text ads. The extra-long ads with double headlines began rolling out across devices Tuesday morning.” Google is also now allowing advertisers to start setting base bid adjustments by device, and announced the upcoming responsive display ads that will be served across the GDN. Search Engine Land

Facebook Reports Seeing 2 Billion Searches Daily

MediaPost reports that on Wwednesday, Mark Zuckerberg said that on Facebook, “people are doing more than 2 billion searches a day between looking up people, businesses, and other things that they care about … One of the big growing use cases that we’re investing a lot in is looking up the content in the ecosystem, and that is an area that we’re very excited about, which helps people find more content.” MediaPost

ACSI report: Customer satisfaction increases for e-business despite dips in social media

The American Customer Satisfaction Index has released their findings on how social media, search engines and news websites have impacted consumer perceptions of e-businesses. While satisfaction with e-businesses is continuing to improve, satisfaction on social media — attributed in part to the rise of social customer service — has dropped. Marketing Land

Financial Times: People find mobile ads ‘intrusive’ and ‘distracting’

Financial Times released findings from a study of 1,300 readers, of which Digiday reports: “Half of respondents to a survey the FT conducted with Quantcast said mobile ads are more intrusive than desktop, although 37 percent of them said they’d be more influenced if the mobile ads they saw were more creative.” Digiday

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

I’ll be back in two weeks with more digital marketing news! The lovely and talented Ashley Zeckman will be filling my spot on camera and on the blog next week with the latest and greatest in the world of digital marketing.

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What Does ‘Mobile-Friendly Content’ Really Mean?


If you’re a 90’s kid, you likely have fond memories of Saved by the Bell and its star, precocious Ferris Bueller type Zack Morris.

You could tell Zack was unique among the students at Bayside High. For one thing, he could stop time and address the camera directly. But more importantly, he had a cellular phone. Sure, it was the size (and probably weight) of a brick. But it wasn’t connected to a landline! That big rubberized antenna didn’t connect with a corded receiver nearby-it pulled connectivity out of thin air. Magical.

Fast forward to today, and kids who were born after Saved by the Bell went off the air are now entering the workforce. If they met Zack Morris, they would probably make fun of his hair, his clothes, and his giant phone.

Image via YouTube.

Image via YouTube

Mobile phones aren’t reserved for cool kids with time-stopping powers anymore. Whether we’re old, young, or middle-aged and trapped in a nostalgia loop, smartphones are our constant companions.

It’s high time for marketers to catch up with this reality. Over a year ago-an eternity in Internet time-Google announced that more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers. That fact has led Google to include mobile friendliness as part of its ranking algorithm. They know more people are on mobile than ever before. And they are invested in providing a better experience for mobile users.

Being on Google’s good side isn’t the only advantage to being mobile friendly, though. The only reason Google prioritizes mobile friendliness is that it’s what users want. That is, it’s what your audience wants.

So, how is your mobile experience? Sure, you already have responsive design, but is your content actually optimized for people to consume it on a mobile device? Or is reading your site more like trying to catch Pokémon on Zack Morris’ phone?

Here’s how to make different types of content more mobile-friendly.

Optimize Video Content

Video is the rising star of mobile content. Thirty-five percent of viewers watched more video last year than they did the previous year. And 36% said they watched videos that last five minutes or longer every day.

If you want your audience to spend their precious data allotment on your video, it’s important to make sure the experience is a pleasant one:

  • Use a service that automatically optimizes the tech stuff. Don’t fiddle with bitrates and compression on your own. Go third-party with YouTube or Vimeo for a seamless user experience. If you want to host your own video, use Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming. It can adjust the video quality on the fly to match bandwidth capability, just like Netflix does.
  • Make sure text is readable. Mobile screens are small. Even the big ones are small. Don’t make your viewer squint to see the fine print.
  • Make it make sense without audio. Eighty-five percent of video on Facebook is played without sound. And even if your viewer has their headphones in, odds are they’re in an environment that makes listening difficult. Try watching the video on mute to make sure it still gets your points across.

Optimize Images

Load times are a major factor in someone engaging with your content or bouncing back to the search results. So it’s important that your content gets in front of them fast. At the same time, though, visual interest is another major factor in staying versus bouncing. So you have to have both a responsive site and one with visual appeal. To do that, make sure your images will load fast and look great:

  • Create images in a pre-optimized format. Use a tool like Canva to create images the right size and resolution for social media and email.
  • Use smart compression. You can compress .jpg files a bit without compromising their appearance. But too much compression leads to ugliness. Tinyjpg is a neat tool that compresses by reducing the color depth in ways invisible to the human eye. It’s downright spooky.
  • Use a tool for responsive resizing. If you have web development wizards on your side, they can help with responsive resizing from the server side. If you have to go it alone, a service like ly Display can do the heavy lifting.

Optimize Text Content

Yes, Virginia, people do still read text on mobile. It’s not all videos and images and virtual-reality roller coasters. But they’re reading for shorter periods of time and with much greater potential for distraction. So a wall of text will be even less effective than it is on a laptop screen. Here’s how to guide a reader through your text content without losing them:

  • Serve content in snack-friendly chunks. Think short sentences and short paragraphs, broken up by visual assets, video, embedded content from Vine, Instagram, or Snapchat, or at least white space.
  • Use headers for navigation. Make sure readers can skim the post and get a good idea of what you’re talking about. Think of the headers as the “trailer” to entice people to take in the whole post.
  • Include the main points in your conclusion. If your article starts to look like a time commitment, mobile readers might just swipe to the bottom and see how it wraps up. Make sure the relevant points and call to action are waiting for them.

Mobile Friendly is People Friendly

Regardless of where they encounter your content, you want your audience to have a positive experience reading or watching it. So make sure your brand is putting its best face forward for the 50% who will encounter you first on mobile. Give them responsive video content that makes sense even if their headphones are off. Make sure your images look great, display properly, and load quickly. And make sure your text is snackable, navigable, and skimmable.

What are your top tips for creating mobile-friendly content? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

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What Does ‘Mobile-Friendly Content’ Really Mean? |

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Find Success By Putting Your Digital Advertising to the A/B Test


Testing different variations is one of the quickest ways to learn, and Digital Advertising is no exception. When you begin talking about A/B testing, many of us get nervous and all sorts of possible catastrophes begin swimming around in our heads.

But the truth is, advertising is a quickly evolving tactic, and in order to gain momentum, testing has become a necessity. Whether your advertising is social, display, native or search, the key to better results and return on investment is testing.

To help you navigate the sometimes-confusing world of digital advertising testing, we’ve provided some helpful resources below.

What is A/B Testing?

An A/B Test is simply a test between two variants, a control and a variation, or as Google likes to call it, an experiment. Examples might include creating two different:

  • Landing Pages
  • Assets
  • Ads

How to Approach an A/B Split

An A/B split needs to be shown to the exact same audience, during the same times of day, same days of the week and in the same areas in order for you to have a firm grasp on which variation is truly performing better.

It’s important to have a firm grasp on your data set or audience so that you can split the information and create an equitable ad deliver. You’ll find that most platforms have options for testing including, Google AdWords, Analytics Experiments, Optimizely and Unbounce.

Considerations for Length & Time of Testing

In order to measure success, you need to make sure you’re giving you tests enough time to run. We typically recommend running tests at a minimum of 2 weeks with most tests running for 1 month.


How much data is required for you to have statistically significant results? If your program sees low volumes (clicks, impressions, conversions), you need to run longer tests. If you have a high volume account you can call tests much faster.


If you have drastic peaks and lows due to seasonality, I suggest finding the middle ground for testing. I never recommend testing during a seasonal low unless you dealing with a high volume account.

Day of Week/Month Activity

Make sure that both groups have equal coverage during your peak days and weeks. Again, try to avoid running tests during your low periods, especially if you see significant swings in CTR and conv. rates.

It’s also essential to make sure that your test is going to have impact. Sometimes slight copy variations and image changes aren’t going to tell you much. You want to make sure the variant has a very clear goal and hypothesis. For example, by changing a button from “Download” to “Get My Guide”, I’m hoping to see a 10% lift in conversions.

What Types of Digital Advertising A/B Tests Should You Try?

When we implement digital advertising tests, they are directly tied to helping to meet program goals. Depending on the goals for your digital advertising program, we recommend launching the following types of tests:

Message Testing:

Test your messaging simple ad variations such as:

  • Length of Message
  • Promotional based Messaging vs. Informational Based Message vs. Benefit Messaging
  • Various Ad Extensions

Changing a single word within your message normally doesn’t lead to strong insights so make sure there is substantial change.

Below you’ll find a couple of examples where we have tested different messaging tactics for significant engagement improvements.

Promotional Based Text Ads Driving Significantly Higher CTR’s Than Benefit Messaging:

Chronic Care Management

Benefit Based Text Ad Driving Significantly Higher CTR’s Than Information Messaging:

Sales Training

Landing Page Element Testing

Testing different elements on your landing pages can lead to surprising results. Whether it’s the layout, form fields or buttons, it’s always important to experiment.

Below you’ll see a simple button label change driving a major improvement in lead volume!

Get eGuide

Imagery Testing

For social posts, display channel and landing pages, it is always good to test a couple of contrasting images, themes and concepts.

Especially if you have multiple audience personas, you’ll want to know what type of visuals and graphics resonate best with your audience. Do you need to be straighter forward, does humor resonate with your audience, and does your audience like to see the product? Are certain concepts better for social than display? You’ll discover these answers via testing.

Here’s an example of a test we ran for a social campaign. #FuranceFail had a humorous twist that resonated much better with our social audience.


Make Informed Testing Decisions

Again, make sure you’re testing has purpose, a hypothesis and a goal. If you’ve put serious thought into your A/B tests you won’t be disappointed. While the outcome may not have been desired, now you know and knowledge is power.

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8 Social Media Marketing Hacks to Boost Engagement


When it comes to effectively and meaningfully reaching your audience, I think it’s pretty safe to say that all marketers understand the important role social media plays in that quest. Not only does your audience seem to live on social networks-posting vacation selfies and checking into newly opened restaurants-but they also rely on them for information, entertainment and engagement.

As a result, social media marketing has become a necessary tool for meeting your audience where they are. And it’s all about creating a connection with your audience by encouraging them to engage with you and the quality, informative and entertaining content that you share.

Unfortunately, inspiring that consistent and meaningful engagement can be challenging at times, am I right?

First of all, you’re competing hard for your audience’s attention. I mean, everyone is on social media these days. According to the Content Marketing Institute and MarketProfs 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends-North America reports, 90% of B2C and 93% of B2B marketers say that social media is the most used content marketing tactic, outside of blogs. In addition, you may not have a social strategy in place or are working with limited resources, which can hinder your ability to maintain a consistent social presence.

But the good news is that there’s several things you can do to give engagement a nice little boost. And the great news is that anyone can do them-and that’s why we’re calling them hacks.

So, without further ado, here are eight easy hacks that can lend your social media marketing strategy a hand and boost audience engagement.

#1 – Ask interesting and creative questions to get a conversation going.

One of the best ways to engage your audience, is to simply ask them to do so by posing thought provoking, interesting or creative questions. To get the best reach and to catch their eye, include a video or image with your question.

ModCloth is a popular women’s clothing brand that offers vintage-inspired clothing and accessories for every body. They do a great job of showcasing their brand, while also encouraging audience engagement through questions. This Instagram post is sweet and simple. Going up just a week ago, it already boasts over 6,700 likes and 67 comments.

modcloth instagram

#2 – Conduct polls.

Polls are any easy and effective way to generate engagement because they don’t require a lot of effort to participate in. They’re also a fabulous way to get new information about your audience.

For example, TopRank Marketing’s CEO Lee Odden conducts a weekly Twitter poll to engage his followers, as well as mine for interesting insights.

#3 – Tag and mention commenters, sharers or those you’ve collaborated with.

Tagging or mentioning other people or brands in your posts can lend credibility to your post, as well as notify those your tagging that they’re being talked about and compel them to share with their audience.

If you’re sharing content that could include multiple tags or mentions, don’t go too overboard and try to fit them all in. This doesn’t create a good user experience for your audience, nor does it give the people or brands you’re mentioning enough credit. Instead create multiple, unique posts that are more personal and schedule them out over a few days.

#4 – Use hashtags.

This one may seem like a no-brainer to some, but it’s definitely still worth mentioning. Hashtags help people find your social content, so including them where they’re relevant is a must.

To find relevant hashtags, search social media networks natively or take a look at databases such as Hashatit or Also, do some research on hashtag best practices for each social network, as they often vary.

#5 – Use compelling images and video.

It’s been said before and I’ll say it again: humans are visual creatures. In fact, research shows that an estimated 90% of the information that comes to our brains is visual. So, using interesting images and videos as part of your social media marketing strategy will get people to stop and look or watch.

Take advantage of opportunities to give your audience a sneak peek at new products or events. These types of posts often do well because you’re inviting your audience to be a part of something unique.

# 6 – Use current events to spark timely engagement.

Interesting events and news items are never in short supply. Use them in a relevant way to spark conversation and encourage people to share their thoughts.

Take a look at the trending news topics sections on Twitter and Facebook to see what people are talking about. Google News is also a helpful spot to find interesting topics.

# 7 – Launch a cool contest.

While social media contests are a common engagement tactic, you can’t argue their effectiveness when done right. Create a contest that is unique and easy for people to participate in.

As an example, Welter Heating, a family-owned HVAC company to put on a social media trivia contest, with the prize being a set of four front row tickets to an upcoming baseball game. The goal was to drive social awareness and engagement, as well as website traffic.

Ray Welter Heating Contest

In the end, we saw a 166% increase in overall website traffic as compared to the same period the previous year.

If a contest makes sense for your brand, make sure that you abide by specific contest rules that are outlined by the different social networks to avoid any penalties.

#8 – Utilize social media management and engagement tools.

While the above seven hacks are easy and effective, they can only reach their full potential if you’re consistently posting and engaged in what’s happening on your pages. Social media management and engagement tools can be easily integrated into your daily routine. They typically give you a place to schedule your posts and also help you keep up on social activity, so you can respond quickly and keep conversations going.

There are a number of tools-both free and for a fee-out there. Some of those include: Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Sprinklr, Spredfast and Buffer. Choose the one that best matches with your budget, goals and the networks you’re using.

All in all, there are dozens and dozens of things you can do to more effectively engage your audience. Hopefully, these hacks provide you with a place to start building your engagement efforts. Just remember, social media is all about building that relationship. So, be consistent, be creative and be compelling.

What are some of the social media marketing hacks that you use to boost engagement? Tell us in the comments section below.

Disclosure: Welter Heating is a TopRank Marketing client. 

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Content Marketing World Keynote Interview: Stephanie Losee, Visa

Stephanie Losee

The digital world is often a small world. For example, when working with Dell on an influencer content program I met Dell’s Managing Editor at the time who seemed to be a cocktail of sophistication, intelligence and just a lovely person. She reminded me very much of Rebecca Lieb, another force of nature in the content marketing world. Why does this make digital a small world? Despite being based on two different coasts, they’re great friends!

This serendipitous content sage is none other than Stephanie Losee, who is now Head of Content at Visa, Corporate Communications. Along with many others, I’ve learned many important insights from Stephanie and I can’t wait to see her keynote panel at Content Marketing World in September.

In anticipation of CMWorld 2016, I reached out to Stephanie to catch up on her new role and get her current perspectives on the world of content. In this interview she discusses the most important changes in content marketing, a content report card for brands, predictions, career advice, and insight into more cross-functional content marketing success.

Oh, and she also has thoughts on what will be the ruin of Snapchat.

I’m thrilled with what I get to do every day.

You’ve had an amazing journey in your career from PC Magazine and Fortune to years later when we met while you were at Dell and now you are at Visa. When it comes to content and marketing what has stayed the same?  What has changed the most?

What has stayed the same is that brands need journalists, period. They used to need them at publications for media coverage, to tell their stories, to get the word out. Now they need them in-house, to craft and push out content that is worth their customers’ precious time.

What has changed is everything else. It’s dizzying to think of the career I imagined for myself as a baby editor at PC Mag and a tech writer at Fortune versus the life I have now. Other journalists mourn, but frankly, I’m thrilled with what I get to do every day.

What does your role as Head of Content at Visa entail? What does your day look like? What do you like best?

I learned that my favorite thing is intrapreneurship, and that’s the opportunity I have here at Visa. They’ve engaged in a variety of editorial content marketing efforts in the past, such as a financial inclusion content partnership with The Guardian, but for all intents and purposes I’m here to launch an integrated content strategy across the org.

Every day since Day 1 has been different, but then again I just passed my 100th so I’m not even close to the point where I could establish anything resembling a routine.

Brands now have the freedom to speak to their audiences directly.

One of my favorite quotes from you is, “Brands no longer need to rely exclusively on traditional publications to create content to gather audiences for advertisers. Rather, brands now have the freedom to speak to their audiences directly.” What is your report card for companies overall when it comes to creating their own audiences with content vs. relying so much on advertising in publications?

The ones that are doing it well are doing it astonishingly well. I wouldn’t say that they are creating their own audiences so much as reaching their audiences wherever they are spending time and driving clicks back to their own domains where there is more content and of course opportunities for conversion.

In the case of Visa, our traffic on is very high-millions upon millions of visits a year-but visitors are on a fact-finding mission that can be a misfire, since they’re often hunting for cards and we don’t issue cards. My remit is to take those visitors and serve them so well that they have a reason to return.

As for advertising, I learned at POLITICO that although laypeople rue banner ads, there are a lot more types of digital advertising that still work than we think. Sponsoring Playbook, for example, is a very effective strategy for organizations that want one of the most influential audiences in the world to see their messaging.

That being said, I’m still amazed when I’m on various websites and have to X out of interruptive digital advertising. Why? Do they really think any of us is enjoying it? Getting anything out of it? Are they?

What do you think are some of the fundamental obstacles companies face when trying to actually execute on a content strategy? What are possible solutions to those challenges?

To us, it’s not early days in content marketing. Not in the least. But to many brands it’s a mystery. I think they often make an inadequate commitment, or hire the wrong person – someone who isn’t experienced or senior enough. Or they think they need a head of digital when they need a managing editor, or vice versa. It’s hard to get right if you haven’t done it before.

With content strategy, hire a change-maker who loves what they do.

More than with many other functions, with a content strategy all it really takes is one person. Hire a change-maker who loves what they do. Who knows how to make a lot with a little, and then who will take a growing budget and use it to create next-gen brand journalism that makes news on its own merits and converts viewers into customers.

Let’s say you meet someone new to a senior content role at a company and they’re asking you for baseline change management advice in that new role. What do you tell them?

I have this conversation a lot. I think that a new hire offers fresh eyes, and that’s an easy way to provide early value. Oftentimes current staffers are serving internal stakeholders at the expense of their external audiences, and for obvious reasons.

It’s important to flip the equation. What kind of content are external audiences expecting when they visit your owned channels, both content and social? What would benefit them? Ask for data about visitors and use it to inform your first few moves. Use existing staffers and resources and get to an always-on strategy that puts customers’ needs first as fast as you can. It’s very impactful.

Any career advice for those coming up from content creation to strategy and management roles?

Most content marketing aspirants I know are using LinkedIn and Glassdoor to identify existing openings and apply for them, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the best approach.

At this stage, the roles are rarely one-size-fits-all. Most successful roles are a fit on an entirely different level that often requires candidates to identify a company where their strengths and passions make the most sense and then get in, rising into roles that are created for them as their skills build.

What are you looking forward most to at Content Marketing World?

Canoodling with my far-flung content marketing peeps, in particular friends from the Danish Native Advertising Institute Jesper Laursen and Pontus Staunstrup, as well as the gang at the cutting-edge Slovenian agency PM (poslovni mediji) including Nenad Senic, Igor Savic and Primoz Inkret.

Rebecca Lieb and I joke that we are each other’s conference wives because even though she is in NYC and I’m in SF, we see each other more on the road at content marketing conferences than we do at either of our homes. And I miss Michael Brenner-I haven’t seen him since he launched Marketing Insider Group. So thank you Joe for the family reunion!

Content Marketing Tom Fishburne

Content Marketers love to create content about content marketing . What are some of your most trusted sources of information around content and marketing to stay smart, current and inspired?

I read a ridiculous amount of content about content, and yet I always feel behind. I wouldn’t know where to start. I trust Michael Brenner and Rebecca Lieb and try not to miss anything they publish. Contently and Newscred have terrific blogs. Of course Joe Pulizzi/CMI and you.

I have a number of Google Alerts that fill my inbox daily and I have a hard time deleting them without opening them and reading at least 3 articles.

In 5 years, VR, AR, MR and some other R will be ubiquitous.

Any predictions about what the state of content marketing will be in 5 years? Is the death of text really a thing?

I can’t imagine text could die. It doesn’t make sense. We are a distracted bunch. In what universe are we going to give up the act of reading one thing while sitting in public and listening to something else-a presentation, a discussion, a conference? Even when I bump into a story that comes from a TV news station or NPR, I always scroll down to read the article. I watch a lot of videos and I listen to a number of podcasts, but these are situational behaviors.

In 5 years, VR, AR, MR and some other R will be ubiquitous. Everyone keeps telling me I’m wrong but I don’t know why they would think otherwise. [Stephanie answered these questions just prior to the explosion of Pokemon Go.]

Once commerce comes into it, we’ll be living a mixed existence that will make our obsession with our smartphones seem like a minor distraction. Perhaps naysayers are imagining us wearing giant black things on our heads and they can’t picture it. But the technology will be far more elegant.

Show how your content can solve their problem. Do nothing that doesn’t amount to a brick in the house you want to build.

At Content Marketing World you’re going to be on a keynote panel, “Content Marketing and Change Management – Making It Real‘ with Kathy Sterio, CMO at GE. Can you share a tip for how companies can be more strategic and cross-functional in their content efforts?

Show them how your content can solve their problem. Offer them some of your budget. Lower the bar. Make it easy. Play nice. And do it all with a three-year plan in mind. Do nothing that doesn’t amount to a brick in the house you want to build. Brick by brick my citizens, brick by brick.


Last, let’s play a little social network word association. After each platform, share the first word or short reaction that comes to mind.

  • Facebook – Home. I live there. But I hate what their algorithms do to reduce the richness of my feed.
  • Vine – I should think about it more than I do
  • LinkedIn – Is it snarky of me to wish it were more elegant, more beautiful, more engaging, more functional? It’s a vital component of any good content strategy.
  • Periscope – Trying to figure out if it will survive Facebook Live
  • Twitter – Please add features fast. Why haven’t they already?
  • Google+ –  Male. So, not even a little bit.
  • Snapchat –  Kids. Mine are devoted. I’m afraid the oldsters will ruin it, me included.
  • YouTube –  Thank God for you. Makes the world go round.
  • Instagram –  I wish I were a power user but I keep posting my pics on FB instead. I’ll get there eventually.
  • Flickr –  Core to getting my job done back at Dell
  • Pinterest –  My personal bulletin board, but I don’t interact much with other people’s content
  • MySpace – Ancient history

Stephanie Losee is the head of content at Visa. Her previous two roles were head of brand content at POLITICO, where she launched their custom content studio, and Managing Editor of Dell, where she directed Dell’s editorial content strategy and formalized Dell’s role as a brand publisher. The Holmes Report named her one of the Top 25 Innovators of 2015. She is a former writer at Fortune and editor at PC Magazine.

Follow Stephanie on Twitter at: @slosee

Content Marketing World

Better yet, be sure you register for Content Marketing World, which is happening September 6-9 in Cleveland. CMWorld is where you can learn from Stephanie plus over 200 speakers right along with over 4,000 other attendees from over 500 different companies. Along with Stephanie, you can connect with a Who’s Who list of content marketing experts from major brands, agencies and vendors.

On a personal note, I have attended and presented at every CMWorld conference since it was founded and there’s good reason why this is the largest content marketing conference in the world. If your work comes anywhere near content marketing and communications, CMWorld is a must-attend event.

I hope to see you there!

Be sure to watch for the next in our series of CMWorld keynote speaker interviews coming next week!

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Online Marketing News: Millennial Psychology, Influencer Misconceptions & SEO Issues



The Psychology of Successfully Marketing to Millennials [Infographic]

Marketing to Millennials can be a unique challenge. The University of Southern California found that “the younger demographic values authenticity and their peers’ opinions. Consider that 84 percent of millennials say that user generated content influences what they buy. Plus, 82 percent are comfortable enough with brands to interact directly with them.” PR Daily

Dispelling Common Influencer Marketing Misconceptions (Report)

Influencer marketing is a broad topic with many facets and interpretations. As with any complicated concept, there will be misconceptions. When it comes to influencer marketing, TapInfluence found the most common misconceptions are it’s too manual, it can’t be measured, and it’s for big brands only. SocialTimes

SEMrush Study: 11 Most Common On-Site SEO Issues

A new study from SEMrush audited 450 million web pages to determine the most common technical SEO issues online. They found that 50% of websites face duplicate content issues, 45% have missing alt attributes, and 35% suffer from broken internal links. SEMrush

CMO Survey: Which Emerging Technology Will Transform the Customer Experience?

A recent survey from CMO council and SAP Hybris found that 61% of CMOs think that of all emerging technologies, big data-driven engagements, like smart recommendations, will have the biggest impact on their organization and the customer experience. That was followed by 37% who said the internet of things, and 15% who said augmented reality. MarketingProfs

MTV Debuts ‘Gaze-Activated’ VR Experience for ‘Teen Wolf’ at Comic-Con

As you may have predicted from the rise in augmented reality and virtual reality in popularity with marketers over the last year, the shift to making that popularity tangible has begun. At Comic-Con, MTV debuted a gaze-activated virtual reality experience designed to promote the show “Teen Wolf” and engage existing fans at the large convention. AdAge


Branded Content Scores Better Than Pre-Roll

According to MediaPost, “Nielsen analysis says branded content generated an average of 86% brand recall among viewers, compared with 65% from the pre-roll ad.” Branded content also garnered a lift in perceptions vs. pre-roll video, according to the report. MediaPost

New Google ranking study shows links are incredibly important to the ranking algorithm

A new study from Stone Temple Consulting found that “there is a “near-perfect correlation” between ranking highly in Google and the links pointing to that page. This study aggregated the count of links by ranking position for the top 50 results across 6,000 search results pages, and it showed a near-perfect correlation between links and ranking.” Search Engine Land

Hootsuite Announces High Profile Content Integrations

On Tuesday, Hootsuite announced new integrations with leading content sources, including Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive and WebDAM.Digital assets stored in any of those sources can now be accessed through the Hootsuite dashboard. Direct Marketing News

Facebook Announces New Options for Live – Both for Viewers and Broadcasters

Facebook has announced three new features to help boost their live video streaming: The option to go live in full screen mode, the ability to stream for up to four hours per session, and the ability for viewers and broadcasters to hide comments and reactions on videos. Social Media Today

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

I’ll be back next week with more online marketing news! If you have something to share, send your thoughts in the comments or Tweet me @Tiffani_Allen or @toprank!

The post Online Marketing News: Millennial Psychology, Influencer Misconceptions & SEO Issues appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Should You or Shouldn’t You: 3 Ways to Tell if Influencer Marketing is Right for Your Brand


Reaching and connecting with customers in a meaningful way has become incredibly challenging. There I said it.

It’s no wonder with the sheer number of  flash-in-the-pan marketing practices have somehow made their way into brands large and small only to leave marketing teams throwing their hands up in frustration. The amount of knowledge and data that we have access to today really is incredibly. Unfortunately, it can be hard to filter out the sage advice from that which is better left undiscovered.

It wasn’t so long ago that everyone started saying: “brands need to be on social!”, so companies jumped at the chance and signed up for every social platform available (even those that didn’t make sense). Then, when people said: “we need content!”, it led to a huge boost in the amount of content created and even today 76% of marketers plan to create more content this year than the year before.

While it can be tempting to jump at the opportunity dig your teeth into every new tactics because well, everyone else is doing it, it’s important to take a step back and consider whether it is the right fit for your customers, for your brand and for your message.

Influencer marketing is no exception. When implemented correctly, a content driven influencer marketing program help accomplish everything from building awareness to developing trust with current and potential customers.

If any of the following pains sound like what you’re experiencing, then chances are influencer marketing might be a welcome addition to your marketing strategy.

Budgets Aren’t What They Used to Be

Most marketers today are being tasked to do more with less. The hefty ad and marketing budgets aren’t what they used to be (even at larger companies). In addition to having less to spend, marketers have been tasked with amping up the creativity and improving results.

Instead of feeling frustrated with smaller staff and budgets, the current state of affairs presents an opportunity for marketers to get creative.

Co-creating content with influencers enables brands to align with like-minded individuals and extend their reach significantly. Do keep in mind that depending on your industry or the type of influencers you’re working with, there may be some cost associated with partnering. However, partnering with influencers has to potential to reap rewards that far outweigh the cost of other marketing initiatives.

Content Isn’t Resonating with Your Audience

If you’re like most marketers, your team spends countless hours poring over data to identify the content that is resonating best with your target audience. You may notice that you have some breakout content, but in all, your audience doesn’t seem to be very engaged with the message.

If it doesn’t catch their attention they don’t read it. If they don’t read it then they’re definitely not sharing it. By incorporating a combination of curated and original content from influencers into long and short-form content, you’re able to add signals of credibility and up the “Interesting factor” of what might otherwise be a dull article, eBook or white paper.

Adding influencers that can empathize with your customers will help them see themselves in your content and create a stronger connection with your brand.

Your Buyers Don’t Like Being Sold To

Let’s face it, who does? When you feel like a company’s only interest is in getting you to buy their product or service, it’s a turn off. And as we know, all of the research clearly states that people buy from people that they feel like they know and can trust.

If your goal is to create value for your customers (as it should be), then the inclusion of influencers into your content can help build authority, credibility and trust which can in-turn lead to sales. If you collaborate with top tier influencers then those people are essentially endorsing your brand as one that is credible and trustworthy.

Influencers are a powerful tool and when incorporated appropriately, they allow brands to focus on adding value for customers all while encouraging more engagement.

Could Influencers & Content Be a Winning Combination for You?

Influencer content programs aren’t a magic bullet or replacement for an integrated digital marketing strategy. However, knowing when and where to add influencers to your content mix can be an incredibly effective way of providing value for customers and potential customers.

We’d love to hear what some of your content challenges have been and help you determine if adding influencers might help!


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Now Hear This: 10 Digital Marketing Podcasts to Educate and Entertain


How much time out of your life do you sacrifice to your commute? It’s amazing how quickly it adds up.

If you drive/bike/bus just 30 minutes each way, that’s five hours a week. Do that 50 weeks out of the year, and it’s 250 hours, more than six full work weeks. Yeesh.

Now, I don’t mean to bum you out. Just pointing out an opportunity. Most of us spend hours a week trapped in one form of conveyance or another. Why not use that time to continue your marketing education with a good podcast?

For those not in the know, podcasts are recorded shows (usually audio only, though some have a video component) posted on the Internet to stream or download. Think of it like an audio blog. You can usually tune in on the show’s website, or subscribe on a service like iTunes, Google Music, or Stitcher. I recommend the latter option-the apps can put all your subscriptions in one place, and remember what episode you’re on and where you left off. Most importantly, they put the whole shebang on your phone, where you can listen via Bluetooth, headphones, or Bluetooth headphones.

There are hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there, on every imaginable topic. Which means there are hundreds of podcasts just for marketers. Here are a few to get you started (in random order):

10 Digital Marketing Podcasts to Take You to the Next Level

#1 – The Social Media Marketing Podcast

Topics Covered: Mostly social media marketing, with a little general digital marketing thrown in.

Sample Guests: Lee Odden, Nick Westergaard, Brian Clark

Episode Length: ~45 minutes

Social Media Examiner has established itself as an amazing resource for all things social. Their blog posts are always intensely tactical, useful how-to guides for whatever topic they’re tackling. I’m pleased to report the podcast is a worthy extension of the brand. Every Friday, host Michael Stelzner takes on a new topic, always with an expert guest to lend a hand.


#2 – The Marketing Book Podcast

Topics Covered: Interviews with authors of marketing books.

Sample Guests: David Spark, Jonah Berger, Carlos Hidalgo

Episode Length: 30-60 minutes

If you’re looking for marketing books to read, or for an expanded take on the ones you’ve already been through, this podcast has you covered. Host Douglas Burdett interviews a new marketing book author each episode. You get an inside view of the author’s process and their take on marketing, and frequently get recommendations for additional reading material, too.


#3 – Six Pixels of Separation

Topics Covered: Digital marketing, advertising, social media marketing

Sample Guests: Maria Konnikova, Nancy Duarte

Episode Length: 60 minutes

SPOS (as it’s called) is hosted by Mirum’s Mitch Joel. Joel was an early adopter in the podcast game; they’re up to 523 weekly episodes and counting. Mitch and his guests cover hot marketing topics, pick an app of the week, and even include some recommended music for you to enjoy.


#4 – PNR with This Old Marketing Podcast

Topics Covered: Content marketing, social media marketing

Sample Guests: Just the two hosts

Episode Length: 60 minutes

“PNR” stands for Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose, the brain trust behind the Content Marketing Institute. These guys have a decade of experience with content marketing, and they’re both learned scholars about the tactic’s historical roots. What’s more, they’re both entertaining performers with great chemistry together. And they answer listener questions! What’s not to like?

#5 – The BeanCast

Topics Covered: Advertising, digital marketing, current events

Sample Guests: Mitch Joel, Amber MacArthur

Episode Length: 60 minutes

Each of the 400+ episodes of the BeanCast is a lively, irreverent roundtable discussion with a different panel every time. Host Bob Knorpp keeps things light and keeps the conversation moving. If you can handle the occasional bit of crude humor, the BeanCast is a great way to stay up-to-date on marketing news while laughing your face off.


#6 – The Sophisticated Marketer’s Podcast

Topics Covered: Digital marketing, B2B marketing, content marketing

Sample Guests: Joe Pulizzi, Tim Washer, Sally Hogshead

Episode Length: 30-45 minutes

The original rock ‘n’ roll marketer Jason Miller of LinkedIn Marketing hosts this year-old podcast, drawing on a deep bench of talented marketers for insightful interviews. Jason knows how to have fun and keep things light, but never fails to elicit serious insights from his guests. Right now it looks like they’re on a bit of a hiatus while Jason settles into his new role at LinkedIn UK, but there are plenty of back episodes to keep you going until he returns.


#7 – Social Pros Podcast

Topics Covered: Social media marketing

Sample Guests: Gary Vaynerchuk, Carlos Gil, Jonah Berger

Episode Length: ~45 minutes

Like the Sophisticated Marketer’s Podcast, this one features industry veterans-in this case, Jay Baer and Salesforce’s Adam Brown-who have a hefty rolodex of smart marketers to tap as guests. If your role involves social media at all, this is a must-listen.


#8 – Growth Byte

Topics Covered: Startup marketing, growth hacking

Sample Guests: N/A

Episode Length: 2-3 minutes

This daily podcast is unique: It’s short, and it doesn’t feature noteworthy guests or lively discussion. Instead, the team at Growth Hacker TV picks one article from the blogosphere every day and summarizes it in a quick but thorough way. It’s perfect for those fortunate enough to work from home-you can listen on the way from your bed to your office.


#9 – The Marketing Companion Podcast

Topics Covered: marketing trends, advertising, social media marketing

Sample Guests: N/A

Episode Length: ~30 minutes

Hosts Mark Schaefer and Tom Webster describe their show as “The World’s Most Entertaining Marketing Podcast.” I’ll leave that to the listener to judge. But there’s no denying Mark and Tom put on a good show. They’re funny, they’re insightful, and at 30 minutes an episode they always leave you wanting more.


#10 – Copyblogger FM

Topics Covered: Copywriting, email marketing, CRO

Sample Guests: Clark Buckner, Sally Hogshead

Episode Length: 25-30 minutes

Copyblogger’s Sonia Simone has industry cred to share. She’s put in her time and she knows her stuff. On this podcast, she alternates solid how-to episodes with thought leader interviews. All of‘s podcasts are excellently produced and eminently worth your time, but this one is my personal favorite on the platform.

…And your bonus non-marketing (but fascinating) podcast:

 #11 – Invisibilia

Topics Covered: The invisible forces that shape our thoughts and interactions with the world and each other.

Sample Guests: A blind man who can ride a bike, a woman who can feel other people’s pain.

Episode Length: 45 minutes

It’s important for marketers to be aware of the wider world outside our bubble. For that purpose, I recommend Invisibilia. Hosts LuLu Miller, Alix Spiegel, and Hanna Rosin explore the invisible ways society, the environment, and our own bodies affect our decisions. It’s a podcast that will challenge what you know about influence, free will, and much more. It may not be a marketing podcast, per se, but it’s great for forcing your brain out of well-established ruts.

These are my picks for podcasts to make you a better marketer on your morning commute. What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Disclosure: LinkedIn Marketing is a TopRank Marketing client.

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Going Native: Tips & Examples for Effectively Incorporating Native Video Into Your Social Strategy


These days, it’s pretty safe to say that all marketers understand that video is an increasingly important marketing tool for capturing audience attention, showing value and encouraging engagement across the digital universe. In fact, 87% of online marketers use video content, according to an infographic from Hyperfine Media.

However, when it comes to promoting that video content on social media, marketers often ask users to click a link to a website, blog or another outside platform to watch, rather than just giving them the content outright. But as social media platforms improve their video shooting, editing and uploading capabilities, many brands and marketers are going native with their video content.

What is Native Video?

When looking at it in the context of social media, native video is any video content that is created in or directly uploaded to a social media platform, which then auto-plays with the news feed. Native video is perhaps most recognizable on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Why should your brand consider native video? How do you get started? Below I aim to answer those questions and more, as well as provide you with some insights for incorporating native video and examples of native video in action.

Why Brands Should Consider Native Video

#1 – Native video boosts engagement.

Successful social media marketing requires creating a connection with your audience by providing them with content that educates, entertains, and encourages interaction and engagement. Since native video content lives on your social media page, you’re eliminating a barrier to that interaction and keeping people engaged with your brand in that very moment-rather than sending them to another space.

In addition, if your native video content hits the right spot, it will inspire shares and expand your reach beyond your current following.

#2 – Native video has a leg up on third-party embeds.

At least when it comes to native video on Facebook, the social media platform’s algorithm seems to favor native over embedded video content. Last year, Search Engine Journal took a look at native video content versus YouTube content on Facebook and found that native content reaches two times more people-and, as mentioned above, native video content receives way more engagement.

Search Engine Journal YouTube Native Video

(Image Credit: Search Engine Journal)

#3 – Native video can help further the brand-customer relationship.

When you give your audience compelling native video content-with no strings attached and no extra clicks needed for them to enjoy-you’re showing users that you’re not just looking for a sale, but to give them something of value. This approach can help build brand awareness and trust that is the foundation for the brand-customer relationship.

Examples of Native Video on Action

#1 – TopRank Marketing & DivvyHQ

Earlier this year, TopRank Marketing partnered with DivvyHQ to create the Easy-as-Pie Guide to Content Planning eBook, which featured three recipes for improving content planning and effectiveness. As part of the project, we created a motion graphic video to tease all the great stuff in the eBook. The video was uploaded to YouTube and web content, but was uploaded it natively to Facebook.

For TopRank Marketing’s Facebook channel, we saw a almost 2000% more views for the native video than the one that was uploaded to YouTube.

#2 – Tasty

Tasty videos have become a staple in many Facebook feeds and cause many users to stop, watch, drool and save the recipes to make later.

What makes these videos so compelling is the fact that they do their job without relying on sound. When a video auto-plays in a news feed, they’re usually muted until you click on the video. Below is one of Tasty’s latest Facebook posts. Check out the engagement data on it!

#3 – FamilySearch

FamilySearch is the world’s largest genealogy organization, providing family history lovers with the ability to preserve and discover their family’s past. They boast huge followings on their social networks not only because they provide a quality service, but they also work to engage their audience-and native video is a part of their strategy.

Here’s an example of a recent Twitter post promoting their efforts to get 72,000 people to index and save world history records in just 72 hours.


In addition, a motion graphic video posted natively to their Facebook page has nearly 11,000 views, 476 likes and 165 shares after being posted about a month ago.;

#4 – Great Big Story

Great Big Story is a CNN-funded startup that produces original videos on off-beat topics that aim to engage young audiences. A recent blog post by NewsWhip dove into the company’s native video strategy, featuring insights from Great Big Story’s Director of Audience Intelligence Khalil Jetha.

One key part of their strategy is customizing the experience for each of its channels-Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube and their own website. Below is one of their most recent native Facebook posts. When I found it, it was just two hours old and already had nearly 460,000 views.

Tips for Incorporating Native Video into Your Social Strategy

#1 – Use your text wisely.

While native videos will auto-play in the news feed, you’ll need to add a little flavor and context to what you’re showing people in the post itself. Be creative and compelling, and try to keep it short and sweet.

#2 – Customize content for your audience.

In NewsWhip’s article, Jetha stresses the need to understand your audience and the platform you’re using.

Figuring out out who your audience is, and why they’re interacting with you on that platform is more important than creating one unified brand strategy across every single social network,” he said. “When I say that, I mean that you can’t expect to repurpose one piece of content the exact same way and put it up on different networks.

#3 – Create something that speaks for itself.

As I mentioned in my comments about Tasty’s native video posts, in most cases sound doesn’t happen unless the video is clicked on. Work to create something that doesn’t need sound to give it meaning and understanding.

#4 – Experiment with live video options.

Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live, as well as Instagram, provide brands with the opportunity to give their audiences native video content that’s a little more raw and authentic. This kind of video content can be great for giving your followers a sneak peek of a new product or special event you’re attending.

#5 – Make native video a part of of your overall social media (digital marketing) strategy.

Tossing up a native video every now and then won’t give you the results you’re looking for. Use your audience personas and data you’ve collected for each social media platform and decide where native video would make sense. Then work it into your overall strategy like you would any other piece of content.

#6 – Don’t force it.

It’s true that users are hungry for video content, but that doesn’t mean you need to burn your current strategy to the ground and rebuild it with native video. Whether or not native video is right for your brand is ultimately going to depend on who your audience is and what resonates with them, as well as what your overall marketing and business objectives are.

Are you using native video as a social media marketing tactic? What have your results been? Tell us in the comments section below.

Disclosure: FamilySearch was a TopRank Marketing client at the time this campaign was launched.

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Learn How to Master Your Content Marketing Supply & Demand


Marketers who are far smarter than I am have talked a lot about “content shock.” The idea is that content creators keep churning out more and more content, but readers have the same limited time and attention to consume it. It’s simple supply and demand: Supply increases, demand stays the same, and content gets devalued.

It’s definitely true that there is more content out there than ever before. And over 75% of B2B and B2C marketers plan to create more this year than they did last year. So the amount of content will only increase over time.

The question, though, is whether the rules of supply and demand apply to all content equally.

To answer that question, let’s look at a similar problem facing a different industry: mobile gaming. There are thousands of free-to-play mobile games on the market. There are dozens more being added every day. There are already far more than anyone could play in a single lifetime. As with marketing content, each game is competing for the same limited amount of audience attention.

In an environment that crowded, it seems like no one in their right mind would sink massive amounts of resources into a new game. What could such a game really be worth to a business in 2016?

If you’re Nintendo, the answer is $7.5 billion. That’s the value added to the company’s stock after one week of Pokémon Go. Hundreds of thousands of people are playing it. News organizations can’t stop talking about it. It’s a genuine runaway hit. Nintendo came into the crowded market and made its own space.

It turns out that the law of supply and demand doesn’t apply universally for mobile games. And the same is true for content.

Because, here’s the deal: there has never been a demand for “content.”

Branded Content Marketoonist

Content Is Not a Commodity

There is no demand for content, because that would imply content is a commodity. You can say there is a rise or fall in demand for something like, say, soybeans. One bean is pretty much identical to another. You either want them or you don’t.

When we say supply far outstrips demand for content, that statement only applies to content created and treated like a commodity. Soybean content. Featureless. Interchangeable. Bland. Of questionable purpose.

Think of it this way: If we are truly at peak content, why are people still using search engines? There’s more content out there than people can read in a lifetime. There’s no room for new content. So why are people still looking?

The problem isn’t that we’re somehow supplying too much of what our audience demands. They’re not satiated. They’re not gorged on so much useful content that they couldn’t eat another bite.

The problem is that we fail to supply what our audience demands. And when they ignore what they never asked for, we say, “There’s just too much content out there. They must be full.”

What Audiences Demand Instead of Content

We’re not allowed to shrug our shoulders and give up on creating content. We need to find out what our audience actually needs and address it. We need to create content that has its own built-in demand.

So what are people actually saying when we hear, “I want content?” Here are a few possibilities:

“Help me understand this.”

Create content that fills a knowledge gap and demonstrates your brand’s thought leadership. Rand Fishkin (my favorite marketer with a Star Wars name) and the crew on the Moz blog are champions at this kind of content. They regularly explain highly technical stuff in a way even I can understand it, like in this recent Whiteboard Friday video:

“Help me do this.”

Create content that walks through a complicated process step-by-step, or gives tips to improve the reader’s life in a specific way. Neil Patel is a stone-cold master at this type of content. His how-to guides go deep into every aspect of the topic he’s tackling, with visual aids and examples galore. His topics range from nuts-and-bolts technical stuff to more intangible topics like, “How to Ethically Use Your Customer’s Pain as a Powerful Marketing Tactic.”

“Help me be a better version of myself.”

Create content that inspires and affects your audience’s life beyond just their interaction with your product. Content that takes a stand, that seeks to make the world a better place. My go-to example for inspirational content is the Always: Like a Girl campaign. Its message is individual and societal, relevant to the products they sell, but completely devoid of sales-y content. It always makes me tear up a little.

“Help me make a purchase decision.”

Yes, there is demand for bottom-of-funnel content, just not as much for the other categories. So it’s important to create content for it; just don’t make it your only focus.

Find Out What Your Specific Audience Needs

To avoid adding to the vast warehouses of soybean content out there, find out what ways your audience is asking for help.

Social media, and the internet at large, give you a closer connection to your audience than ever before. So before you talk, listen:

  1. Check Google Keywords and search autocomplete
  2. Use com to get questions your brand can answer
  3. Sample the conversation in LinkedIn and Facebook groups for your target audience
  4. Read high-performing content from competitors. See how you can do it better, and look for topics that don’t have enough coverage

Content Can Be King or Commodity – It’s About Strategy

It’s true there is a glut of content out there. So it’s important to listen to what your audience demands, create accordingly, and promote strategically.

That’s the only way to get beat the economics of content supply and demand-produce the kind of content that can’t be measured in bulk.

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