6 Ways to Celebrate the Holiday Season in Your Social Media Marketing


“On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact midpoint, everybody stops, and turns, and hugs, as if to say ‘Well done. Well done, everyone! We’re halfway out of the dark.’” -Doctor Who

Last night, I drove home from work in the dark. I hadn’t stayed late putting the finishing touches on another devastatingly brilliant blog post. It was just that, after the long Thanksgiving weekend, the darkness has finally caught up with the end of the work day. And there’s plenty more dark to go before the days get longer.

On the bright side, that means the holiday season is here. There are at least four major holidays and plenty of minor ones to go around.

All this festivity offers us unique chances to make a connection with potential customers. ‘Tis the season for savvy social media marketing.

You don’t have to drape your Facebook page in tinsel or string lights on your Twitter feed to catch the holiday spirit. In fact, the bigger, tackier celebrations are less likely to feel authentic, and more likely to alienate those who don’t celebrate a particular holiday.

It’s better to celebrate the holidays on social media the same way you do everything: With your audience’s needs and wants firmly in mind.

Here are a few ideas for getting your brand into the spirit.

#1: Go Behind the Scenes

Your audience always wants to see the people behind the brand. During the holidays, those who are celebrating will enjoy seeing others celebrating, too. Snap candid shots of decorated desks, bedecked halls, and your annual office party.

Collect memorable holiday stories and favorite recipes from your co-workers, too, and share them with festive holiday portraits. Ugly sweaters and santa hats are optional, but encouraged.

#2: Encourage Your Audience to Share Holiday Photos

During the holiday season, most people’s thoughts turn to happy childhood memories. We recall the warm glow of the menorah, or waking up early to see the presents under the tree–these memories are indelible. For kids born in the 70s and 80s, these precious moments were captured in pictures that look pre-Instagrammed.

Encourage your audience to share their favorite memories and photos with your brand. Create a branded hashtag you can use on Instagram to collect cool retro holiday photos and the stories that go with them.

#3: Shine Light on a Worthy Cause

One of the most powerful ways your brand can get noticed this season is to turn the spotlight away from the brand. Instead, highlight a charity that your brand can support, and offer a way for your customers to lend their support, too.

British retail chain John Lewis came up with a great way to support a good cause last year. Their annual holiday ad campaign centered on helping lonely senior citizens. On the campaign’s landing page, customers could watch a heartstring-tugging video and donate to the charity.

#4: Focus on What Your Customers Need

This time of year consumers are drowning in a flood of holiday-related advertising. Everything from $500 cell phones to $40,000 cars are positioned as perfect holiday gifts. Every retail outlet is playing some variation of Christmas music non-stop.

It seems brands desperately want to put their customers in a holiday buying mood. But that’s not what customers want. They want ways to deal with stress, or help finding the perfect gift, or a moment of silent reflection. B2B companies want help making their budget for next year, closing out 2016, making sure their customers feel appreciated.

Take some time to think about what special wants and needs your specific audience has this time of year. Better yet, ask a few of them. You could end up creating some powerful, useful content instead of more holiday dazzle. For example, last year on this blog we created an online retailer’s checklist to help our audience.

#5: Sum up the Year

Not every consumer spins a dreidel or stuffs stockings this time of year. But the vast majority do celebrate the New Year. It’s a time to look ahead and to reflect over the past year.

If Christmas carols or Kwanzaa lights don’t suit your brand voice, New Year’s is still a safe bet. Take the opportunity to tell your current and potential customers about your brand’s year. Let them know how the company grew, what you learned, and most importantly how you are planning on treating them even better in 2017.

#6: Highlight What Unites Us

This season is about more than lighting candles and giving gifts. It’s a celebration, as the quote up top reminds us, of being alive, being together, and being halfway out of the dark. Your brand can celebrate these ideals–family, togetherness, love–without committing to a single holiday in particular. Instead of singling out a specific group, you can remind everyone we’re all in the same group. Regardless of race, creed, gender, or political leaning, we can all agree Nick Offerman is a national treasure:

Click here to view the embedded video.

What is your brand doing to make the holidays special for your customers? Let me know in the comments.

Stay tuned for pictures from TopRank Marketing’s upcoming ugly sweater and cookie bake-off events. Sound like fun? We’re hiring.

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We Answer the Top 5 Questions People Have About Content Marketing


As marketers, it’s our job to know our audience. To understand their pain points. To empathize. To provide them with the answers or solutions they’re looking for.

So how do we do all these things? One way is through content marketing.

Over the past few years, content marketing has been increasingly embraced by marketers. In fact, this year 88% of B2B marketers and 76% of B2C marketers said they used content marketing, according to the 2016 Benchmark, Budgets & Trends-North America reports from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

But there are still a lot people out there who are searching for some of the content marketing basics.

Our team recently dug into content marketing related keywords and keyword categories, as well as related SERPs and our own data, to identify what people really want to know about content marketing. As a result, we identified five common questions users have about content marketing-and we’ve answered them all below.

Let’s dive in.

#1 – What is Content Marketing?

Simply put, content marketing is a strategic marketing technique that aligns business and consumer information needs with relevant content.

At TopRank Marketing, we believe in an integrated approach to content marketing, using multiple content marketing tactics to help our clients be the best answer for their customers, wherever and whenever they’re searching.

Wherever your customers are looking, be present, useful and “info-taining.” @leeodden

Click To Tweet

From blogging and social media to infographics and eBooks, content marketing is most effective when you employ a variety of tactics to consistently inform, persuade and build rapport with your customers-without trying to sell them something outright.

For a deeper dive into this topic, check out our post What is Content Marketing? Definition, Examples & Resources for Learning More.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Content Marketing Institute‘s (CMI) own resource on what content marketing is. Find that resource here.

#2 – What is a Content Marketing Strategy? (And Why Do I Need One?)

A content marketing strategy provides the answers to the why, who and how a content marketing program will help you achieve your business objectives. It’s your infrastructure. Your game plan. Your roadmap.

Without a strategy in place, you’re throwing content out there and hoping it sticks. With a strategy in place, you’re able to plan, produce, promote and measure the effectiveness of your content, and use that information to propel your efforts forward.

Get more on this topic by checking out our post What is a Content Marketing Strategy (And Why Do I Need One?).

“Build an audience first and define products and services second.” @joepulizzi

Click To Tweet

#3 – How Do I Create a Content Marketing Strategy?

Your content marketing strategy is your foundation and it should be uniquely tailored to your brand and audience. Here are some best practices to get you started on creating your content marketing strategy:

  • Identify who your target audience is and their paint points. This will allow you to come up with valuable and relevant content concepts, and address the needs of your audience.
  • Define your objectives. (e.g. more brand awareness, increasing site traffic, increasing conversions, newsletter signups, etc.)
  • Identify the content marketing tactics you plan to use in your strategy. (e.g. blogging, PPC, webinars, social media, etc.)
  • Identify the social channels your plan to use to engage with your audience. Ask yourself: What channels does your audience use the most? What content do they respond to the best?
  • Define how you will measure results. (What metrics and tools will you use to see if what you’re doing is working?)

Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue. @DrewDavisHere

Click To Tweet


#4 – Why Content Marketing?

In today’s digital world, buyers are self-directed. Research indicates that 71% of B2B buyers get their information online. Content marketing is a way to satisfy your customers’ quest for answers and arm them with the information they need to make decisions. Content marketing also creates signals across the web that build credibility, authority and rapport with your audience, along with many SEO benefits.

In addition, research shows that content marketing is typically more cost-effective than other forms of advertising or marketing, can drive higher conversion rates and increases audience engagement.

If your content marketing is encouraging engagement, that’s a sign of relevance. @JasonMillerCA

Click To Tweet


#5 – How Do I Do Content Marketing?

Content marketing is not just one tactical technique-it involves using a myriad of techniques within your strategy to drive toward your goals. We call this an integrated content marketing approach. Below are just some of the content marketing tactics that you can use:

  • Blogging
  • Co-creating content with industry influencers and thought leaders
  • eBooks
  • Social media
  • Podcasts
  • Newsletters
  • Email marketing
  • Content curation

Writing is thinking. And for us as marketers, good writing is good marketing. @marketingprofs

Click To Tweet

For more information on all of these tactics, as well as more than 20 others, check out our post: Content Marketing – Tactics and Best Practices. Here we offer pros, cons, best practices, industry expert insights, examples and resources for 30 content marketing tactics.


What other questions do you have about content marketing? Ask them in the comments section below!

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10 Kick-Ass Cyber Monday & Holiday Deals for Digital Marketers


Digital marketers everywhere-especially our friends in the B2C marketing world-have spent the last weeks and months perfecting their marketing strategies for the holiday season. Now that the most wonderful time of the year is officially here, we want to make sure our fellow marketers don’t miss out on deals that can help them perfect their craft.

So, in the spirit of the holiday season, we’ve put together this handy list of Cyber Monday and holiday deals that any marketer would absolutely love to scoop up. From books and conference tickets to free tool trials, you’ll find a variety of great deals.

Digital Advertising

#1- $100 Bing Advertising Credit

Bing Ads Cyber Monday Deal

Depending on your product or business, Bing Ads could be a great way to drive traffic, sales and ROI. If you’re ready to dabble in Bing Ads, the holiday season may be a good time to do it, as the search engine is offering a $100 advertising credit through Jan. 15, 2017.

Get the deal.

Tools, Software & Web Services

# 2 – Free SEMRush Trials (PRO or GURU)

SEMRush Cyber Monday Deal

SEMRush is an incredible tool that can help you conduct SEO and PPC keyword research and track digital marketing efforts, among other things. If you’re thinking about signing on for this tool, now is the time to do it.

Until Nov. 30, 2016, you can get a free one month trial of the PRO plan, which is priced at $69.95 a month. In addition, a free 14-day trial for the GURU plan, priced at $149.95 a month, is also available through Dec. 11, 2016.

Sign up for the PRO deal.

Sign up for the GURU deal.

#3 – 20% of Everything on Yoast.com

Yoast Cyber Monday Deal

Yoast, notably known for its SEO plugins for WordPress, is offering 20% off everything on its website on Cyber Monday.

Browse offerings here.

#4 – Up to 40% Off GetResponse for Life

GetResponse Cyber Monday Deal

GetResponse is an all-in-one online marketing platform that allows you to create and deliver emails, host webinars, and build, publish and host landing pages, as well as marketing automation.

Currently, the software provider is offering 15% off all plans. But there is also a 12- and 24-month pre-pay discount for EMAIL, PRO or MAX that is up to 40%.

Get more details here.

#5 – 50% off Envato Market Website Tools

Envato Market Cyber Monday Deal

Envato Market offers more than 9 million digital products to design and build beautiful websites. On Cyber Monday, the company is offering 50% off of over 500 different items, including web templates and themes, video and stock footage, and graphic templates. The sale will last until 2 p.m. Dec. 1, 2016.

Browse all sale items here.

#6 – Over 60% of BlueHost Plans

Bluehost Cyber Monday Deal

In the market for a new hosting service? BlueHost might be worth your consideration, especially now that they’re offering over 60% off on their web hosting services. The discount applies to the first term and goes to the regular rate upon renewal.

Check out the deal and the different plans available here.

Professional Development

#7 – $520 off Social Media Marketing World Tickets

SMMW Cyber Monday Deal

The next Social Media Marketing World event is set for beautiful, sunny San Diego, CA-and you could get a huge discount on your ticket. The event is offering 100 tickets at $520 discount until Dec. 2, 2016 or until they’re sold out. The normal price of the ticket is $1,597, so you’re getting about a 33% discount.

Register for SMMW here.


There are a number of fantastic and inspiring digital marketing books that any marketer would love this holiday season. Below are a few of our favorites. (And you can bet that Amazon will be a great place to get them for a great deal on Cyber Monday).

#8 – Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

In this book from marketing veteran (and one of TopRank Marketing’s favorite marketers), Ann Handley, you’ll find some inspiration for writing better content and being a sport in the content marketing world.

Find the book on Amazon.

#9 – X: The Experience When Business Meets Design by Brian Solis

Book by Brian Solis

In this book, bestselling author and experienced marketer Brian Solis shares why great products are no longer good enough to win with customers and why creative marketing and delightful customer service too are not enough to succeed.

Find the book on Amazon.

#10 – Optimize by Lee Odden

Optimize book by Lee Odden

If you didn’t know, TopRank Marketing’s very own CEO Lee Odden is also an author. Optimize, his debut book, was designed to give readers a practical approach to integrating search and social media optimization with content marketing to boost relevance, visibility, and customer engagement.

Find the book on Amazon.

What other Cyber Monday and holiday deals have you found for marketers? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Online Marketing News: Retail Holiday Social, Instagram Live & Online Shopping Accelerates



Retailers Will Get 30% More Social Messages This Holiday Season [Report]

What do customers expect from brands this holiday season? 38.8% are looking to brands to spread holiday cheer, followed by 19.5% who are looking for updates on promotions. In addition to looking to brands to help them make purchasing decisions, about 33% of survey respondents said they’re likely to post about a gift on social media. The takeaway? It’s time to spread that holiday cheer on social — before and after the holiday. Sprout Social

Instagram Launches Live Video on Instagram Stories: Here’s All You Need to Know

As part of the now seemingly ‘official’ war between Facebook and Snapchat, Facebook owned Instagram has released live video on Instagram stories. That’s not all — Instagram also announced the release of disappearing photos and videos from groups and friends. Buffer

Online And Mobile Shopping See Seasonal Acceleration

The holiday season this year will be a big one for online retailers, according to a recent round of predictions. Shoppers are planning their online purchases in advance, and in great numbers — 77% of shoppers plan to avoid physical stores this holiday season. Online retailers, take heed: Release your online holiday promotions early, and make sure your team is prepared. MediaPost

Moz beefs up Moz Local with new features, distribution and automation

Moz local users will be thrilled with this week’s news. Moz has announced some awesome new features of their Local suite, including Google My Business automated sync, listing alerts, reputation monitoring/management, expanded distribution via NavAds and improved SEO metrics. Search Engine Land

LinkedIn Rolls Out Audience Insights

LinkedIn (client) has announced the launch of audience insights on their mobile app, while desktop audience insights are following close behind. SocialTimes reports: “Tapping on the “Me” on users’ content in the LinkedIn mobile app will bring up real-time insights on who has read their posts, what companies they work for, their job titles, their locations and how they discovered users’ content.” SocialTimes


Reap the Benefits of the Most Wonderful Time of the Year All Year Long [Infographic]

The holiday season, as we all know, is the most wonderful time of the year for marketers and consumers alike. Then, along comes January to spoil the fun. But it doesn’t have to. This infographic shows how to keep that holiday cheer — and results — going all year long. Marketo

Facebook launches a unified inbox for businesses on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram

In response to one of their most frequent requests — to combine inboxes to make it easier for brands to reply quickly — Facebook has combined inboxes for Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Instagram to help brands more effectively and efficiently manage their direct messaging. TechCrunch

Mobile Apps Capture Consumer Attention 37 Minutes a Day – Up 20% From the Beginning of 2016

A recent report from Opera Mediaworks found that mobile app use duration is on the rise, even since the beginning of this year. This time is reportedly taken from other viewing activities, like TV programming. This report is packed full of app engagement related information. Opera Mediaworks

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more online marketing news. Have something to share? Tweet to @toprank or @Tiffani_Allen, or leave a note in the comments.

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12 Reasons The TopRank Marketing Team is Thankful for Our Clients


Today is Thanksgiving and for many people around the nation, that means gathering with friends and family to give thanks for the things that they have, and the things they’ve learned.

This year, our team at TopRank Marketing would like to shine a light on some of our clients and give thanks for the many ways that they have inspired and guided our team over the years.

We are incredibly honored and thankful to work with such an amazing group of clients. To celebrate these great people, I’ve reached out to some of our team to share what they are thankful for and have learned from our rockstar clients.

Lee Odden – CEO


I am thankful for our clients, who have placed their trust in our agency team to deliver thoughtful, creative and effective marketing programs. Our clients are our partners in success and without them, we have no business.

Our agency has had a great year and more importantly, created the groundwork for even better growth in the years to come. I am very thankful for the teamwork that has helped make our clients successful and the increasing levels of marketing sophistication and passion for learning that exists amongst our group of professionals. I also appreciate that functions like operations and marketing can be effective whether I am meeting with prospective clients in another country or in the next room.

Last, I am also thankful for an agency management team that works as hard and smart as anyone I know. They quickly adapt to changes in ourbusiness and the industry and help their teams do the same, all with a focus on client success!

Alexis Hall – Director of Client Accounts


I’m consistently impressed with how much our clients know about their current and target customers. The depth of insight that they are able to provide is incredibly useful and allows our team to focus on creating marketing strategies that are tailored specifically for that audience.

Kevin Kotch – SEO Analyst


It is hard to say that I’ve learned just one thing from a client that I’m thankful for. In their own way, each client teaches me how to become a better marketer. However, the team at Sisal Rugs did teach me that a pug can be an awesome taco too.

Leila de la Fuente – Account Manager


I learned that we shouldn’t be scared to deploy B2C tactics for B2B clients. Behind all businesses are people, it’s all in how you approach it! I’m thankful for a new perspective.

Josh Nite – Content Marketing Lead


LinkedIn Marketing Solutions in general, and Jason Miller in particular, taught me that it was okay to show personality in content. I was timid about adding that flair when I first started, but am a lot bolder about it now.

Amie Krone – Operations Manager


I’m thankful for learning the answer is never ‘no’. If you’re creative, determined and willing to put in effort, there is always another way.

Knute Sands – Content Marketing Manager


I am thankful for our clients who are willing to take risks, trust our team and try innovative marketing tactics. Even “best practices” fail from time to time, which means we are constantly tweaking our tactics to get the best results. Trust is a big part of this process.

Ashley Zeckman – Director of Agency Marketing


I am thankful for clients that put their trust in our team, but expect amazing work in return. Having both our internal leadership team and our client teams constantly raising the bar helps all of us strive to be better each day. Knowing that many of our clients consider us partners instead of just vendors allows us to have the easy and the hard conversations, both of which positively impact our ability to deliver great results!

Julia Ramos – SEO Copywriter


I’ve learned that integration cannot stop at the agency level. It takes effective communication and collaboration within the agency-client relationship to realize the full potential of both the information we share and the tactics we recommend.

Caitlin Burgess – Content Marketing Lead


I’m thankful that our clients are passionate about what we do together, which has showed me that passion is a key ingredient in maintaining a great agency-client relationship and driving results.

Tiffani Allen – Account Manager


I’ve learned that sometimes it’s best to disregard conventional wisdom and go for a totally out of the box solution to even a common marketing quandary – especially when it scares you a little bit.

Evan Prokop – Digital Marketing Manager


I’m thankful to our clients for challenging me to be constantly innovating, learning and evolving. Our clients are from a wide variety of industries, but the commonality is that they all come to TopRank expecting great results, and finding ways to help them get there keeps my days interesting.

Have A Wonderful Holiday!

No matter where you are or what you’re doing, we’d like to wish you a happy thanksgiving. Take this time to love the ones you’re with, appreciate what you have and celebrate what this year has brought.

If there is anyone in your professional life that has inspired you, we’d love to hear more about it in the comments!

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Is Bing A Thing? The Answer: It Depends


It’s no surprise that Google is the most popular search engine in the world. In fact, according to NetMarketShare, it owns over 75% of the desktop search engine market share and over 94% of mobile/tablet search engine market share.

Desktop Search Engine Market Share - October 2016

Desktop Search Engine Market Share – October 2016


Mobile/Tablet Search Engine Market Share - October 2016

Mobile/Tablet Search Engine Market Share – October 2016

And it’s stats like these that have SEO and digital marketing professionals everywhere focusing solely on Google, when looking to improve organic search visibility. Why focus on optimizing for Bing, or Yahoo, or AOL, when they take up such a small piece of our search pie?

So when we’re asked the question, “Is Bing a Thing?” we’re quick to dismiss the need for optimization focused on Bing’s ranking algorithm; but the truth is, the answer should be “It depends.”

Understanding Bing’s Role in Your Audience’s Search World

The first place to start is your website analytics.

Just yesterday, we saw our client’s Bing traffic hit an all-time high – now accounting for over 5% of the traffic to their site and over 10% of their revenue. What does this tell us? That visitors that find their site through a Bing search are more likely to convert than those on other sources of traffic. In this case, we may want to consider optimizing the website for Bing, where applicable.

What differences in search algorithms do Bing and Google have? According articles from HubSpot and Ignite Visibility, here are a few:

  • Bing favors factually relevant results over socially relevant sites
  • Bing places more weight on only websites with official domain names like .gov or .edu
  • Bing places more emphasis on social media signals
  • Bing still considers keywords used in page title, meta tags, and meta keyword field

What’s important to realize is that every site’s audience is different, and their search preferences are different too. Take a look at your website’s organic search traffic sources over the past 12 months. If you’re seeing that month-over-month, Bing’s piece of the search pie is increasing, then it’s time to consider taking steps to optimize your site to meet Bing’s ranking factors as well as Google’s.

The Future of Bing

In the first quarter of 2016, the comScore released news of Bing’s growing market share. The data showed that as Bing gained a few points of market share, Google lost a few. Sources like SEOChat and SearchEngineJournal theorized on the possible continued growth of Bing this year, with new contracts and acquisitions in the works to improve capabilities and accessibility.

So, as 2016 comes to a close, do these theories hold up? Comment below to let us know if you’ve experienced a notable change in search engine market share in your own analytics.



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Online Marketing News: ‘Tis Pinterest Season, Self-Serve InMail and Nutella Spreads Happiness



Holiday Marketing Campaigns: ‘Tis the Season for Pinterest [Infographic]

MarketingProfs reports: “People on Pinterest tend to spend twice as much as the general public, and 67% of them will be using Pinterest to plan for holiday purchases.” Learn more from this holiday spirited infographic from Pinterest. MarketingProfs

LinkedIn Sponsored InMail goes self-serve

LinkedIn (client) has opened up their Sponsored InMail ad solution to be run through LinkedIn Campaign Manager. Previously, this solution was only available to marketers with an account representative to execute these campaigns. Marketers can now self-service Sponsored InMail, targeting users by location, industry, title, and more. ClickZ

How Nutella’s First Branded Content Series Will Spread Happiness

Nutella is spreading the happiness in their new documentary series ‘Spread the Happy,’ featuring ‘real people and real stories.’ AdWeek reports: “The release of the series is timed to the holiday season. There are four episodes total with a new one released each week on the brand’s YouTube channel.” Is this a new face for content marketing? Time will tell. AdWeek

More Than One-Half of Consumers Prefer Social Customer Service (Report)

According to a recent report, 54% of consumers prefer to access customer service through social media or SMS messaging. This is a continuation of the trend of social-first customer service. As we’ve seen, social connections bring about brand advocacy, with 46.7% of consumers saying that personal responses from brands strengthen their brand loyalty. Social Times

Instagram Stories get better with new features

While Instagram stories were once rumored to be a duplication of Snapchat’s stories, they’ve found a surprising way to differentiate their service. Instagram stories are now allowing links for verified accounts, mentions and Boomerang — their unique video loop. Marketing Land


Google, Facebook Move to Punish Fake News Sites With Ad Rules

Bloomberg reports: “On Monday, Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it’s implementing a new policy that pulls its popular advertising tool from websites that run ‘misrepresentative content’ although it stopped short of banning fake news from its pages. Facebook clarified existing rules that it won’t integrate or display ads in apps or sites that are illegal, misleading or deceptive.” Bloomberg Technology

Google expands AMP, as it presents a friendly face to publishers

Google is expanding AMP — Accelerated Mobile Pages — to include AMP for Ads, extending to native and video ads. Google is reportedly doing this as it’s a tough time for publishers, and the company wants to help secure their financial future through the open web. Data released seems to back up that assertion, as most of the publishers they surveyed, 80% or more, have higher visibility and click through rates. Digiday

Facebook Reports More Measurement Glitches

Ad Age reports that on Wednesday, Facebook “said in a new blog post that it had given marketers and publishers faulty numbers in a few other spots, inflating how many people visited their Pages and how long they spent reading Instant Articles.” Coming out after the platforms’s recent bout with faulty email metrics, this is causing some concern among social advertisers. Ad Age

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back soon with more online marketing news! Have something to share? Leave your thoughts in the comments or Tweet to @toprank.

The post Online Marketing News: ‘Tis Pinterest Season, Self-Serve InMail and Nutella Spreads Happiness appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Artificial Intelligence is Here: 5 Brands Implementing AI

Artificial Intelligence Marketing

To most people, artificial intelligence (AI) is represented in terms of robots with human-like similarities. Today’s reality is that of AI powering technologies and driving companies to complete tasks and make things easier. Companies are using AI more than ever, even for tasks that you may not consider.

To understand how AI impacts your business, it’s important to understand exactly what artificial intelligence is. According to Merriam Webster artificial intelligence is, “an area of computer science that deals with giving machines the ability to seem like they have human intelligence.” These machines allow technologies to seem like they have a human element while improving the efficiency and consistency of the company.

Below are five companies that leverage an artificial intelligence system to provide a better user experience for each user.

Google – Machine Learning Algorithm


As mentioned in a previous post on the impact of artificial intelligence, Google is using artificial intelligence to help their algorithms understand and learn. Google can use AI to make the results more accurate for each user, which provides a better use experience. Google has always been focused on providing the best result for each user.

Besides using artificial intelligence for their algorithms, Google is using the technology for the self-driving cars too. The goal of self-driving cars will be able to analyze the road ahead of it and make decisions in advance by learning from past experiences. The more experiences the self-driving cars encounter the more it can learn to make sure the people riding in the car are protected.

Lastly, like Siri from Apple, Google uses AI to help power its own personal assistant on smartphones. Google will use the technology to learn about certain locations a person typically goes to or eats at. Google also pulls in information from events and emails to show people the information they might want to see as quickly as possible. Google’s personal assistant over time while learn more about the user to help them find the information they are looking for as quickly as possible.


Rare Carat – Kayak of Diamonds


Rare Carat is a website that calls itself the “Kayak of Diamonds.” Rare Carat uses the IBM Watson technology to compare the price of diamonds across various online retailers. The technology allows users to find diamonds at the right price without feeling like they are paying too much if they happened to go to a traditional brick and mortar jeweler. Besides using the technology to find the best diamond, Rare Carat is looking into more AI options that would walk a user through the entire process, much like what you would find in the store. That AI technology would would act like a representative that would answer questions and concerns while someone is making the purchase.


Under Armor – Personal Fitness Advice


Under Armor leveraged IBM Watson to create a health-tracking app call “Record.” Record is an app that will track and analyze workouts, sleep data, and nutrition, while also importing data from other fitness tracking apps. The biggest benefit of the fitness-tracking app is the ability to provide personalized recommendations for nutrition and training advice. By using AI, the app will change the way people can seek fitness advice by basically getting a personal trainer experience without going to the gym.


Wayblazer – Language recognition API


Wayblazer, like many other companies, leverages the IBM Watson technology for the travel industry. Wayblazer focuses on the language recognition API to analyze cues and triggers from the traveler’s search to yield personalized hotel recommendations. The AI technology will allow personalized experiences to each user which can lead encourage them to select the right hotel without extensive research.


Spotify – Finding the best music


Like other music and video streaming services, Spotify uses AI and deep learning to provide recommendations on similar music that users will enjoy. The application monitors the listening preferences and inserts them into a learning algorithm to make the song recommendations. You can see the deep learning being used with the Discover Weekly playlists that show related music based off of preferences. Also, Spotify has been showing suggested songs based on the type of music a user listens to more frequently. This use of AI may not be as advanced as other companies but it still uses predictive analytics and AI algorithms to learn about each user, enhancing the product.

Artificial Intelligence to the Rescue

Artificial intelligence is already pushing companies in the right direction to creating the best user experience. The tools and technologies that are being driven by AI will only increase. Artificial intelligence can help companies become more efficient and create more technologies to help each individual user.

Ask Yourself: Is there an opportunity to leverage AI in your business to help your customers?

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5 Interesting Insights from Buffer’s The State of Social 2016 Report



What does the social media landscape look like in 2017? What networks are going to help me drive awareness, conversation and conversions? What types of content will have the most impact on my audience? Is Snapchat a good investment?

As we near the end of 2016, these are likely just a few of the questions being asked by marketers everywhere. While I’d love to say there’s a magical crystal ball with all the answers out there, we all know that nothing is permanent or sure-fire when it comes to social media. But we do have some data and insights that can help.

In it’s The State of Social 2016 report, Buffer surveyed more than 1,200 B2B and B2C marketers to better understand how they’re currently using social media and where they plan to go in 2017. Those who participated work for companies of all sizes and across a variety of industries.

Below we offer a few key takeaways from the report as well as some tips for using those insights to guide your social media marketing efforts in the coming year.

#1 – Now is the time to invest in video.

Humans are highly visual beings, so it’s certainly no surprise that online video content is becoming a favorite source of information and entertainment across the digital landscape. As a result, marketers want to create more video content, but they often don’t have the time, resources or cash to do so. In fact, according to Buffer’s report 83% of marketers said they’d create more video if they didn’t have resource limitations. In addition, 30% said they would like to focus more on Facebook video in 2017.

With that said, now may be to the time to determine if video is right for your brand and audience, and aligns with your overall business goals, particularly when it comes to Facebook.

“Right now, video is hot and is standing out in the Facebook News Feed. But that won’t always be the way,” Buffer said. “As video creeps up in popularity and more and more brands and individuals are sharing it, it’ll be harder to get noticed. Eventually, brands may have to pay for video reach, just as many do already for sponsored posts and ads.”

As for the content of your videos, some options to consider are customer or client testimonials, product demos or how-to videos. At TopRank Marketing, each week we create an industry news roundup post that features a video of our team members discussing the latest happenings. Below is a recent example.

Check out these resources for more video ideas:

#2 – Facebook is still a leading social platform for marketers.

Despite Facebook’s changes to its News Feed algorithm to favor content from users’ friends and family, and a general decline in organic visibility, marketers are not abandoning the platform. According to Buffer’s report, 93% of marketers still use Facebook for their business and 91% have dabbled with Facebook ads.

Whether you’re relying only on organic reach or paying to play, you need to find a way to get your content to stand out. A great first step is digging into your website analytics and Facebook Insights to uncover the types of posts that are really resonating with your audience. Look at the kinds of posts that are driving the most traffic to your website, as well as those that are garnering the most engagement on your page. Use that information to tweak your content plan, as well as your messaging.

Check out these resources to help boost your Facebook efforts:

#3 – Google+ is losing steam.

According to the report, marketers are beginning to abandon Google+, with 27% saying they’ll be using it less in 2017. For many of us, this may not be that surprising. While it showed a ton of promise when it launched five or so years ago, some of us have found it’s hard to get the engagement and ROI necessary to justify the efforts.

So, if you’re planning on jumping ship and putting your efforts elsewhere in 2017, you certainly won’t be alone. But, don’t let this statistic make the decision for you. Google+ still may be worth your time and effort. Read Buffer’s 5 Surprising Reasons To Reconsider Google+ (That You Can Act On Today) before you pull the plug.

#4 – Social media can be a powerful customer support tool.

Social media is an amazing tool for building brand awareness and encouraging engagement, but most aren’t harnessing the power it has as a customer service and support tool. According to Buffer’s report, just 21% of respondents said customer support was a reason for using social media.

The bottom line? Using social media to provide customer service is a huge opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competitors, engage in meaningful interactions and grow the one-on-one relationships with your customers.

But, from my perspective, the caveat here is that you’ll have to be prepared for public displays of negative feedback. As I wrote in another recent TopRank Marketing post:

“Every brand and business dreams of complete customer satisfaction, but that’s rarely the case. Things happen and social media is often an easy place for your customers to air their grievances. While it can be scary to allow mistakes to be visible for the whole social media world to see, use any negative feedback as an opportunity to show humility, understanding and your drive to take care of your customers.”

#5 – The struggle to drive website traffic, generate leads and measure ROI on social is real.

Many marketers are struggling to inspire measurable action from their social media audiences. According to the report, 58% of marketers say driving traffic to their website is one of their biggest challenges, followed by lead generation (49%) and defining ROI and measurement (42%).

How do you overcome these challenges? First of all, make sure you have a detailed and documented social media marketing strategy. A documented strategy will help you plan and execute your efforts, and provides a foundation that can be refined as you analyze the data coming in.

Check out these posts to get more insights on social media strategy and inspiring audience action:

Read the full The State of Social 2016 report.

What something you’ll be adding or dropping from your social media marketing strategy in 2017? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post 5 Interesting Insights from Buffer’s The State of Social 2016 Report appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

50 Influential Women in Digital Marketing: North Stars & Rising Stars


Having people that we can look to for guidance and inspiration is an incredibly important part of our professional development. In this post, I would like to shine a light on some incredibly talented and inspirational women that are making moves and serving as a shining examples for other digital marketers.

To create this list of inspirational women in digital marketing, we pulled 25 of the top brand marketers from our list last year (our North Stars), and asked each of them to nominate someone (our Rising Stars) that they thought were deserving of having a light shone on their awesome work.

In addition to featuring insights about these savvy digital marketers, we asked each of our North Stars to share their inspiration for their own work, and asked what inspired them about their Rising Star nominations.

The list is in no particular order as each of these women is number 1 in their own right. Please join me in congratulating each of these exceptional women for the work that they do.

Amanda Batista


Senior Manager, Demand Gen Programs, Oracle


Bio: Amanda’s background as a content marketing practitioner supports Oracle Marketing Cloud’s demand gen initiatives specific to driving engagement with the media/adtech persona. Amanda works collaboratively with content, product, and other marketing teams to develop Oracle Marketing Cloud’s global integrated demand strategies, and to support emerging markets.

Amanda’s Inspiration: I feel privileged to work in the marketing technology space during an exciting time of innovation and collaboration. The Oracle Marketing Cloud is a continually evolving organization focused on fueling the best in Modern Marketing practice. The nature of the work environment fosters learning through collaborative planning and execution, and provides great opportunities to interface with and apply the latest innovations in technology. Personally I am motivated and inspired by my daughter, Estelle, to whom I wish to convey the same encouragement and drive that my mother did for me – to chase exciting opportunities that help you facilitate living the life you love.

Amanda Maksymiw


Content Marketing Director, Fuze


Why Amanda is a Rising Star: Amanda has done incredibly creative and successful work over the many years we’ve known each other. In each role she’d held, and in her current role, she focuses on creating audience-first content and messaging that fuels a successful marketing engine. Amanda is smart, tenacious, and aims to expand her marketing horizons with professional and personal growth opportunities. I admire her work and her professional spirit!

Laura Fitton


Inbound Marketing Evangelist, HubSpot


Bio: Laura is not only well accomplished, but she has a warm and engaging presence. She founded the first Twitter for Business consultancy in 2008 and is highly sought after for speaking on the topic of social media and Twitter specifically.

Laura’s Inspiration: Since a huge portion of my time is spent working on our annual industry event INBOUND, I have to say the looks on the faces of guests as they move around the BCEC for four days every year. Watching nearly 18,000 people come together and have their minds blown wide open is incredibly powerful and motivating.

Juliana Nicholson


Marketing Manager, HubSpot


Why Juliana is a Rising Star: HubSpot’s blessed with an abundance of up and coming marketing talent, but Juliana has really blown me away this year in three ways. Her raw diligence (she’s one of the hardest working marketers I know), her versatility, and her powerhouse stage presence mean she’s already punching above her weight class, and I can’t wait to follow her career as it continues.

Suzanne Doughty


Social Media Program Manager, Dell


Bio: Suzanne  takes an in-depth, hands-on approach to global social business strategy. She has experience in digital marketing, social media, content strategy and marketing communications.

Suzanne’s Inspiration: Think of any time you’ve been your best self at work – it’s always to meet a new challenge or solve an interesting problem. A huge challenge this year in our company was integrating Dell and EMC into a cohesive whole, without missing a beat, and without losing our main focus, which is people – customers, partners, team members. So it’s all about stepping out of your comfort zone, in both big ways and small, and working towards a common goal, with both new and familiar people.

Amy Heiss


Director of Social Media Activation , Dell


Why Amy is a Rising Star: Amy leads a team that is the social heartbeat of Dell. Her award-winning Social Media and Communities University team trains thousands of team members on social media best practices. That’s huge but it’s only step 1. Her team then empowers employees to be savvy advocates with tools, news and info, and continuing ed to keep the social engine running smoothly. Bottom line: If you see a Dell team member adding value in the world of social, you can trace those roots back to Amy and her team.

Jeannine Rossignol


Vice President, Marketing for Xerox HR Services, Xerox Services


Bio: Jeannine has spent nearly 20 years of her career at Xerox. She worked her way up from Manager, Product Marketing to the Vice President of Marketing for Large Enterprise Organizations. She is also a highly sought after speaker on the topic of content marketing.

Jeannine’s Inspiration: To say that I love my work as a marketer is an understatement.  The transition we’ve been making as marketers over the past few years has been exciting to be a part of, especially in the B2B space. We’ve stopped talking to corporations, and started talking to people (decision makers) about the things they value most. And it’s amazing! I’m also lucky to have amazing co-workers, partners and peers surrounding me that I’m able to draw inspiration from and learn from. We aren’t in the marketing world alone and for that I’m grateful.

Becky Dziedzic


Internal and Executive Communications Director, Xerox


Why Becky is a Rising Star: Becky simply lights up any room she enters. Her energy, humor and marketing fearlessness is so refreshing. It’s nearly impossible to leave a meeting with Becky without a smile on your face and a handful of fresh new ideas. She’s an incredibly talented communicator, gifted writer and authentic storyteller. Her mind is always firing on all cylinders and she finds creative and innovative ways to implement campaigns using the latest marketing trends. She helps others look good and sound good. The time has come for her to get a little of the marketing limelight and receive recognition for her amazing dedication and support to all around her.

Alex Hisaka


Head of Content Marketing, LinkedIn


Bio: Alex’s passion for copywriting has offered here many experiences from PayPal to Salesforce, and now her current position at LinkedIn. Throughout her career, Alex has developed a unique skill set that encompasses content marketing, copywriting, design, SEO and social marketing.

Alex’s Inspiration: I’m grateful to work a company with so many brilliant, collaborative, and kind people. Their support and leadership have shaped the person that I am today and the person I aspire to be tomorrow.”

Vidya Subramanian


Head of North American Demand Generation, Sales Solutions, LinkedIn

Find Vidya on LinkedIn

Why Vidya is a Rising Star: I can’t imagine where our demand generation team would be without Vidya’s diligent leadership over the past years. Her passion, drive and expertise have been invaluable, and I’m honored to work alongside such an amazing woman.

Melanie Mitchell


RVP/Head of Central Region, Strategic Search, Microsoft


Bio: Melanie is a sought-after public speaker who has presented at search and public relations conferences around the world. In addition to her leadership role at Microsoft, she authored a popular series of eBooks on marketing and SEO on FT Press.

Melanie’s Inspiration:  My motivation and inspiration is a formula made up of three things:

  •       People (brainstorming, creativity, diversity, learning, developing)
  •       Mastery (continuous growth, stretch goals), and
  •       Purpose (serving a greater vision)

I have followed this formula in every role of my career as it continuously motivates me to achieve even greater goals for myself as well as my teams.

Emily Hutchinson


Sr. Manager, Paid Media, DeVry University

Find Emily on LinkedIn

What Emily is a Rising Star: I am impressed by Emily’s ability to always find the “yes” in the “no”, her drive to constantly learn in our ever changing industry, her ability to build relationships/connect with people and her unstoppable motivation to drive towards outcomes. I know when she is given a target, she will crush it. Additionally, her passion for digital is infectious as she knows how to tell a great story that connects all of the dots along the cross-platform path to purchase. Not only is she impressive in her results, but she is a pleasure to be around!

Alison Herzog


Marketing Director, Global Social Business & Digital Strategy, Dell


Bio: Alison’s focus at Dell is on creating customer experiences that are mapped to business impact, scalability and innovation. Currently, she is leading the social business integration between Dell and EMC (the largest tech deal in history).

Alison’s Inspiration: People are amazing. They are simple and complex creatures all at the same time. In digital, I get to leverage my focus and strengths around people and numbers so that at the end of the day, our customers get what they need and feel valued, and simultaneously the business grows in key performance areas. It never gets boring because it’s constantly evolving, just like people and technology.

Lucy Moran


Vice President, Content & Demand Generation, Dun & Bradstreet


Why Lucy is a Rising Star: Lucy deep dives into whatever problem is presented and always comes out on the other side, having transformed that space into an strength. She is phenom in digital when it comes to branding, lead gen, and content marketing.

Amber Naslund


Senior Vice President of Client Strategy, Sysomos


Bio: Amber’s 15+ years of professional expertise makes her a force to be reckoned with. She has successfully run multimillion-dollar fundraising campaigns, built and led executive communication and professional services teams, and launched and grown international brands.

Amber’s Inspiration: The “lightbulb moments” when companies move from grappling with digital transformation to embracing it, and you start to see huge strides made in everything from company culture to innovation and ideation to more traditional marketing once digital takes a prominent seat at the table. Teaching and inspiring people to push beyond their comfort zone and realize success from it never, ever gets old.

Kary Delaria


Social Media Manager, Allianz Life


Why Kary is a Rising Star: Kary isn’t so much a “rising star”, she’s more what I’d call an unsung industry veteran who never seems to be in the spotlight but is always doing really great work for her company in a traditionally challenging industry (healthcare).

Amanda Brinkman


Chief Brand & Communications Officer, Deluxe


Bio: Amanda is a veteran in the industry with a gift for the “big idea” that can turn a brand around. In 2015, Amanda and her team launched the “Small Business Revolution” campaign for Deluxe, using documentary film and photosets to document small businesses across the country and raise awareness of Deluxe’s small business offerings.

Amanda’s Inspiration: I am so inspired by my team and how important passion is to your work. What started as just an idea became a reality only because of the league of people who rallied around me and made it possible with their own touches of expertise. I am also moved that we, as marketers, can do work that truly matters and can help real people. I believe all brands are possible of finding a true purpose and using digital platforms to organically spread good through positive and inspiring movements.

Jamie Millard


Executive Director, Pollen


Why Jamie is a Rising Star: Jamie is a force…Pollen was founded in a belief that every connection begins with a story, and the platform centers around featuring the remarkable stories that make up a community through media-rich, nonfiction narrative.

Laura Howe (Kimball)


Manager, Reduced Risk Products Communities Development, Philip Morris International


Bio: Laura is passionate about online communities and has over 10 years of experience creating consumer advocacy programs and social media campaigns. She works hard to turn fans into advocates, and lift brands through the voices and actions of their most passionate consumers.

Laura’s Inspiration: I have the rare opportunity to be the direct connection between the consumer and the brand/company I work for. I get to have real-time conversations and discover their deeply personal relationship that they have with the product. Understanding what motivates them inspires me to create programs that benefit both the community and the brand.

Madeline Moy


Senior Community Manager, Starbucks


Why Madeline is a Rising Star: Madeline is one of the smartest digital brand marketers I know. Her work is dedicated to creatively engaging audiences through digital and is grounded in creating human connection and community. Prior to her work at Starbucks, she built and ran digital marketing programs for the Microsoft stores, Seattle Art Museum, and built the social media program at United Way of King County. She lives and breathes digital and is someone who everyone should know.  

Lisa Grimm


Associate Director, Social Media, Whole Foods Market


Bio: Lisa is an integrated marketing communications leader with a passion for building relationships between brands and customers through the combination of technology and communications. She has many specialities including digital strategy, social media strategy and community management.

Lisa’s Inspiration: I started my career in the service industry and have always thrived on creating an optimal customer experience. I love social because there’s a fluid feedback loop-it presents new and emerging ways to connect with people to deliver a superior experience. I can see where and how I should communicate upfront by listening to a group of people, and how that needs to evolve along the way based on emotional responses. This provides endless inspiration for what’s next.

Kaitlyn Cox


Manager, it bed Activation, Sleep Number by Select Comfort


Why Kaitlyn is a Rising Star:  I met Kaitlyn through an informational interview six years ago while I was at Mall of America. I was so impressed by her curiosity and smarts that I suggested to a colleague that she consider her for a PR internship. She did in fact become our intern, absolutely KILLED IT and has since gone on to crush everything she does. Kaitlyn looks at things holistically and is highly collaborative. She begins solving any marketing challenge by asking the right questions, culling insights and aligning those to a strategy and creative solve. She is lovely and I’m so grateful to know this incredible woman.

Lauren Vargas


Chief Marketing Technologist, Aetna


Bio: Lauren was recently named one of the top 25 social business leaders by The Economist Intelligence Unit. In addition to leading social media and community development for Aetna, she serves as an assistant teacher at Harvard, helping foster online student communities.

Lauren’s Inspiration: I am never satisfied. While this can definitely be a weakness, I prefer to think it a strength. If I do not know something, I stop at nothing to research or surround myself with people who have answers or insights to share. Looking for new ways to communicate old ideas for fresh execution drives me to get up each morning and begin again.

Shelley Bernstein


Chief Experience Officer, The Barnes Foundation


Why Shelley is a Rising Star: I have followed Shelley as she forged a path for digital marketing exploration for cultural institutions beginning at The Brooklyn Museum. Shelley does not wait for others to lead. She pushes the boundaries of what is technically and cultural possible without breaking the spirit of either.

Shannon Paul


Vice President, Social Media, Fifth Third Bank


Bio: Shannon has over 7 years of experience leading social media marketing strategies for highly regulated industries. Her experience encompasses both B2B and B2C strategy, content marketing, web analytics and more.

Shannon’s Inspiration: I have a great team that helps me stay motivated and inspired. I think the banking industry is a really exciting place to be as well in terms of the pace of change that technology is having on the industry and the ability to have a positive impact on how people think about and manage their money. I also really love to learn new things, and since social is a place that continues to evolve, there is always an opportunity to grow and adapt to change.

Julie Niesen Gosdin


Vertical Content Marketing Leader, Zebra Technologies


Why Julie is a Rising Star: I met Julie shortly after relocating to Cincinnati where she and I both live. She’s a true expert in digital marketing and storytelling on several fronts. She knows her stuff from a technology trend perspective, and she continues to contribute to the local food scene through her writing on local news site WCPO and winemedinemecincinnati.com.

Kate (Dickman) Porter


Senior Social Media Program Manager, Office Depot


Bio: Kate saw the Internet’s potential for marketing early on, creating her first digital marketing business from her dorm room in college. She is a firm believer in the power of social media to connect consumers to brands.

Kate’s Inspiration: What inspires me and motivates me is the fact that the work that I do is always evolving and never gets stale.  The ability to continuously learn is existent and there’s never a shortage of fantastically smart people to partner with and learn from.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of an industry that is always keeping me on my toes.

Kara Hendrick


Digital Marketing Manager, Velcro Companies


Why Kara is a Rising Star: Kara is super smart, witty and creative.  I’ve really enjoyed hearing her thoughts and ideas on digital marketing and think she’s a force to be reckoned with.  She’s absolutely a rising star in digital and I’m excited to see all of the future initiatives and successes she’ll be a part of.

Corinne Kovalsky


Vice President, Global Public Relations, Raytheon


Bio: Corinne won a 2015 Bronze Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America for her work with Raytheon. She is a trusted advisor to Raytheon’s senior executives, and works to build relationships with stakeholders through proactive media and public relations, and content marketing.

Corinne’s Inspiration: I have the opportunity to lead a great team and mentor a number of young professionals who will help redefine communications during their careers. I work with really smart people and get to hone my craft on a daily basis. I have the opportunity to learn from executives who believe in the value of communications as a business differentiator, whether they are inside or outside of the function.

Stephanie Schierholz


Press Secretary, NASA


Why Stephanie’s a Rising Star: At the moment, Stephanie is on a special assignment serving as press secretary to the NASA Administrator. Stephanie is an authentic and passionate advocate for space on all of her social channels. She has built a tremendous network, that she continues to nurture, from her earlier role as social media manager for NASA. I got to know Stephanie when she worked for me at Raytheon. Her creativity and steadfast commitment led to a number of firsts for our brand, particularly on Twitter.

LaSandra Brill


Head of Digital Planning and Analytics, NVIDIA


Bio: LaSandra’s experience includes delivering digital marketing plans for both paid and organic tactics. She is known for delivering one of the top social media strategies in Cisco’s history in her time as the head of Social Media Marketing.

LaSandra’s Inspiration: As far as what motivates me, I love digital marketing because of all of the new capabilities that the data driven world enables. We can personalize our conversations to be more relevant and timely than ever before. The possibilities seem endless and the ability to perfect the right message to the right person at the right time is exciting to strive for in every campaign.  

Anthea S. Louie


Sr. Director, Digital Business & Marketing Leader, Symantec

Find Anthea on LinkedIn

Why Anthea is a Rising Star: Anthea runs the Digital Business for the Website Security business unit at Symantec. This is largely an online business and Anthea manages a team of nearly 100 people analyzing data and making data driven decisions in digital to drive the business forward.

Barbara Young


Senior Manager, Global Paid Search Advertising, Oracle


Bio: Barbara discovered the importance of online marketing when she built her own business, expanding her knowledge until she assumed a leadership role at Oracle. She brings considerable technological knowhow to inbound marketing, leading a team of content specialists, developers, and programmers to get results.

Barbara’s Inspiration: As a Digital marketer I have a genuine curiosity to learn about the behavior of customers. I am driven to use both technology and creativity to help connect & engage customers to achieve their goals.

Katie Russ


Digital Marketing Manager, Pacifica Host Hotels


Why Katie is a Rising Star: Katie is a young Marketing professional, organized, detailed, and her personality makes working with her so much fun. Her desire to contribute in ways that make things happen is what makes her successful.

Courtney Colwell


Director of Content Marketing , American Express


Bio: Courtney works hard to help brands build and engage with their audiences across many formats, channels and industries. Her expertise lies in her ability to translate a brand mission, audience needs and business goals into compelling content that drives results.

Courtney’s Inspiration: What I love about content marketing is that I get to exercise both sides of my brain. I get to be creative and tell stories but also dig into analytics to determine what’s working and what’s not. Plus, there’s so much change and innovation, I’m constantly inspired.

Lindsay Mueller


Senior Wellness Editor, Mind Body Green


Why Lindsay is a Rising Star: Lindsay is a talented editor and content marketer who really takes a customer-first approach in thinking about creating content people actually want.

Jennifer Heyman


Vice President, Digital & Social Media, Wells Fargo


Bio: A seasoned Gen X’er, Jennifer Heyman is in her fourth year as VP of Wells Fargo leading the social media conversation across seven platforms. She leads a global team and marvels constantly at how fans and consumers are changing the landscape of personalized and real –time communication with today’s brands.

Jennifer’s Inspiration: I  thrive on the vibrancy of connection and how unique perspectives communicated through omni channel, real time marketing, are shaping the brand approach to serving their customers. I draw inspiration from the very local interactions with customers and consumers and spend most of my time delving into social media conversations to learn about fans personal passions and pain points. These insights help me to innovative in my work and to guide my team to deliver personalized and heartfelt social media conversation.

Aneta Hall


VP, Innovation Strategist, Wells Fargo


Why Aneta is a Rising Star: A year ago, Aneta began a new career path with Wells Fargo leading marketing and strategy work with a specific focus on innovation within financial services. Her secret sauce is her passion for the story and creating a compelling and unique way to deliver it to Wells Fargo customers and the general public. Aneta’s approach is honest, inquisitive and fresh – three things key to success for any leader in brand marketing.

Marcia Hansen


Global Digital Marketing Strategist, Intel


Bio: Marcia is a self-described “avid reader, walker, and lifelong learner.” In her six years with Intel, she has helped create award-winning campaigns, including 2014’s Make It Wearable Challenge, for which she won an Intel Achievement Award.

Marcia’s Inspiration: I am inspired by leaders who actively promote teamwork and diverse perspectives. I am motivated every day to communicate better, faster or more efficiently than the day before.

Laura-Ann Mitchell


Digital Marketing Manager, Intel

Find Laura on LinkedIn

Why Laura is a Rising Star: Laura is a smart and kind woman leading the charge managing our intel.com strategy and presence. She also has mad SEO expertise.

Jill Renslow


SVP Business Development | Marketing, Mall of America


Bio: Jill is a strong leader who brings vision and innovation to her role at Mall of America. Her initiatives to make the mall more than a shopping destination include a recent campaign that created an indoor snowfall in the mall when patrons tweeted the hashtag #twizzard.

Jill’s Inspiration: I have an extremely talented team and have the benefit of working with a brand that houses endless content (i.e. retail, dining, trends, gifts, events, entertainment, etc.).  We work collaboratively to create memorable experiences for our guests and use innovative tools and strategies to remain relevant and meaningful. We stay tuned into the retail and entertainment industry trends and find inspiration from other industries and influences.  We enjoy the opportunity to engage with new challenges and gather consumer feedback so that we can continually learn, refine, test and re-launch our ideas!

Emily Shannon


Director of Digital, Mall of America


Why Emily is a Rising Star: Emily leads our digital and social efforts at MOA.  I hired her just over three years ago and have been thrilled with her enthusiasm and drive to explore new opportunities.  She continues to grow as a female business leader in our organization as well as the industry, and I thoroughly enjoy her innovative thinking and supportive efforts to build new creative partnerships and activations aligned with our digital roadmap.  

Karen Thomas-Smith


Chief Marketing Officer, Ciox Health


Bio: Karen is an inspirational leader committed to nurturing talent and building long-term collaborative relationships across silos. Under her supervision, Optum’s “Game Changer” campaign generated nearly $5 million in new business, winning a 2015 Killer Content Award.

Karen’s Inspiration: We all know that healthcare needs to be moved forward. The work that we do on a daily basis has the potential to aide in creating a healthier healthcare system, which ultimately will lead to a healthier nation. Being a part of that change inspires me daily.

Leslie Cozatt


Director of Marketing, Provider – Thought Leadership & Content Strategy, Optum


Why Leslie is a Rising Star: Leslie has been consistent in providing outstanding thought leadership in the population health space, which can really impact healthcare.

Jen Erickson


Director of Digital Marketing, DocuSign

Find Jen on LinkedIn

Bio: Jen has been in her leadership role at DocuSign just over one year, after five years with Oracle. She specializes in campaign globalization and international marketing, supervising digital campaigns across verticals.

Jen’s Inspiration: I’m inspired by the amazing leaders I’ve had the luck to work with  throughout my career- a great mentor / leader makes coming to work every day enjoyable when you have the freedom to be creative. On that same note- I am also very excited about the insane [and slightly overwhelming] growth of marketing technology and adtech. We now have endless ways of reaching people creatively in their digital / mobile lives!

Caitlin Angeloff


Director of Marketing, Northern Europe, DocuSign


Why Caitlin is a Rising Star: Caitlin isn’t a rising star, she’s already a star. She is truly a social

media guru. She’s previously owned her own social media agency and is now running the show at DocuSign. Now that we’re all mobile-addicted, she’s at the center of everything brand marketing is focused on.

Debbie Barney


VP, Integrated Marketing, Hitachi Data Systems


Bio: Debbie is a dedicated marketing leader focused on building and motivating high-performance marketing teams. She currently oversees every aspect of the Hitachi Data Systems demand generation chain.

Debbie’s Inspiration: I get energized by making others successful. In the world of B2B marketing, that means connecting our customers with new ways to solve problems, add greater value and contribute to their organizations. I believe it’s my job to help inform, educate and enable them in that process – and I love both the creative and analytical components of doing that.

Kerri Vogel


Director, Marketing Programs & Operations, Americas, Hitachi Data Systems


Why Kerri is a Rising Star: Kerri is a passionate and incredibly talented marketer who considers every detail of the customer creation process and pushes me and my team to get better every day. Her knowledge and commitment has been transformational to the Americas Marketing function at Hitachi Data Systems, resulting in a 437% Y/Y increase in MQLs in our most recent quarter.

Lauren Salazar


Director of Social Media, Weight Watchers


Bio: Lauren uses the same personal touch with the community management at Weight Watchers that she does with her own Twitter account. She does a great job of creating a true engagement by finding a way to really connect and relate to her audience.

Lauren’s Inspiration: I am constantly challenged in a good way by the power of Social Media as a medium. Reaching people in the places where they have some of their most intimate moments – where you see a baby photo for the first time, announce an engagement, reconnect with an old friend – and staying relevant, engaging and on message in those moments is a bar social marketers are constantly setting ourselves up to achieve.  At our best, this is as authentic, emotionally resonant and agile a marketing channel as it gets, and that is inspiring to work on in a daily capacity.

Amy Schuster


Consumer Marketing Director, truTV, Turner


Why Amy is a Rising Star: Amy, a vet of Comedy Central and Oxygen who is now doing amazing things over at TruTv, is the total package of brand strategy and multi-platform marketing for this generation. She’s developing breakthrough campaigns across on-air, digital, and experiential for hilarious new shows like Those Who Can’t, Impractical Jokers, and Billy on the Street, and I especially love the recent work she’s doing with social video and at festivals like developing a massive  block party at Comic Con 2016.

Keep Shining Bright!

A special thank you to our North Stars for not only sharing their inspiration, but helping share their nominations for some of today’s top Rising Stars in digital marketing. You are all an inspiration for women and men around the world looking to have an impact with their digital marketing efforts.

Disclosure: LinkedIn, Oracle and Dell are TopRank Marketing clients.

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50 Influential Women in Digital Marketing: North Stars & Rising Stars | http://www.toprankblog.com

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