What Are Hashtags Really For? #Confused #Blessed #NoFilter

What Are Hashtags Really For?

What Are Hashtags Really For?

In late 2014, the hashtag #WhyIStayed was trending on Twitter. Frozen pizza slinger DiGiorno, known for being snarky and clever on social media, wanted to join the fun:

DiGiorno Hashtag Social Media Marketing Fail

There was just one problem: #WhyIStayed started in response to a video of domestic abuse. Women used the hashtag to tell their own story of abuse and talk about the societal pressures that led them to stay with their abusers.

At best, DiGiorno looked clueless. At worst, it looked like they were making light of a very serious issue. All they wanted was a little brand visibility…and they got it, but not in the way they were hoping.

Hashtags are an integral part of Twitter and Instagram (and Facebook, to a much lesser extent). As such, they should be part of our social media marketing on each platform. But as DiGiorno and many other brands have shown, it’s not enough to look at the trending tags and hop on board. Marketers need to understand what hashtags are for and how our audience is using them before we jump in.

Here are the #fundamentals you need to avoid invisibility or embarrassment with hashtags.

#History

Hashtags started as a feature on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channels back in 1988, when the internet still ran on steam turbine power. The “#” in front of channel meant that it was available for users across the internet, not just on a local area network.

Twenty years later, IRC fans who were early Twitter adopters proposed using the symbol to help classify common topics or groups. Twitter itself didn’t officially recognize hashtags for two more years. In 2009, the site started automatically hyperlinking hashtags to search results.

Facebook added hashtags in 2013, but they don’t see as much use on the platform. By contrast, Facebook-owned Instagram practically runs on hashtags. It’s not unusual to see a post with a four-word captioned followed by a paragraph of tags: #NoFilter #WokeUpLikeThis #BeachLife #SanDiego #ChihuahuaLove. Clicking any of the tags leads to a custom feed of images with the same tag, much like Twitter’s search functionality works.

#WhatHashtagsAreNot

Hashtags began as a way to categorize information for future searchers, much like the category or topic tags on a blog. In that case, using the right hashtags is more like SEO than anything else; it’s all about making sure your message comes up for the right query.

But hashtags aren’t really for search anymore. Hardly anyone is going to the search box on Twitter or Instagram and putting in a keyword to pull up a specific hashtag.

Hashtags are not really for marketers to boost their brand or their content, either. We can strategically use hashtags for that purpose, but we must remember that’s an off-label use. It’s important to tread lightly on using hashtags promotionally – as DiGiorno and many others can attest.

If it’s not about search or self-promotion, how should marketers think about hashtags? Or, better question, how does your audience think about hashtags?

Odds are, though, your audience doesn’t actively think about why they use or interact with a specific tag. There’s an innate understanding that makes some tags look “right” or “natural,” while others feel “forced” or “commercial.”

The best way I can think of to express that innate understanding is:

#HashtagsAreAConversation

Social media feeds move fast. Hashtags are a way for users to block out space to have a conversation. “We’re telling this type of story in here.” “We’re sharing this type of picture in here.” Using a specific existing hashtag should come with the knowledge that you’re entering someone else’s conversation space.

The social media manager at DiGiorno likely wouldn’t go up to a group of people talking about a sad and serious topic in hushed tones and shout, “PIZZA!” But that’s exactly what they did on Twitter.

So before you jump into a conversation, make sure that:

  • You understand what’s being discussed
  • Your brand has (and should have) a position on the topic
  • You have something relevant to contribute

When you’re making your own hashtags, keep in mind that you’re starting a conversation. You can’t control who contributes to that conversation and what they might add to it.

For example, in 2012 McDonald’s used the hashtag #McDStories in a tweet, seemingly inviting users to share their own special memories of the chain. Instead, they got stories about food poisoning, diabetes, heart attacks, and animal cruelty.

It turns out McDonald’s had intended to use the tag to promote stories from employees and others affiliated with the brand. But they accidentally started a much wider conversation. With a little forethought, the mess could have been avoided.

So, when creating your own hashtag, keep in mind:

  • Who are you talking to?
  • What are you trying to say?
  • How else could your hashtag be interpreted?
  • What other conversations might it start?

#GeneralHashtagTips

Good hashtaggery starts with understanding that hashtags are a conversation. From there, the optimum tactics for using hashtags vary from platform to platform. The good folks at Buffer have an in-depth guide that touches on each of the major social media sites.

Here are some simple tips that I recommend to supplement Buffer’s advice:

  • Use hashtags sparingly on Twitter; no more than 2 per post, preferably just one
  • Don’t use tags on paid tweets. They’re proven to dilute your CTA
  • Go nuts on Instagram; 11 hashtags is the optimal number
  • Don’t bother tagging on Facebook. Research shows your post will do better without them
  • Use CamelCase to keep longer tags legible (Remember the “susanalbumparty” debacle?)

#HashWithCare

Hashtags started as a tagging tool for search. Today, they’re used to create a space for conversations, group people with similar interests, and fill Instagram feeds with puppies. To be most successful with your hashtags, respect conversations that exist already, and be cautious about the conversations you start.

Need to #LevelUp your social media marketing? TopRank Marketing can help.

The post What Are Hashtags Really For? #Confused #Blessed #NoFilter appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Death of Facebook Organic Reach = New Opportunities for Influencer Marketing

Facebook Zero Influencers

Earlier this month, marketers were shocked to learn that Facebook would be making more major changes to its News Feed, effectively bringing brand and publisher organic reach to zero by prioritizing high engagement content from family, friends and groups.

In a formal statement posted on his own Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg said:

“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.”

“But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other. … Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook.”

While the announcement seemed to be the final nail in the organic News Feed coffin, the death of organic reach on Facebook has been a long time coming. Back in April 2015, Facebook announced it was updating News Feeds to strike a better balance between friends, public figures, publishers, businesses and community organizations. Then in late June 2016, Facebook said it would be making further refinements to ensure users don’t miss updates from their friends and families.

Now, after an intense year of political and social upheaval – not to mention the emergence of the fake news engine and the Russian advertising scandal – it’s no surprise that Facebook is re-examining things yet again.

But What Does It All Mean for Marketers?

Naturally, disappointed marketers all over the world are wondering how this change will truly impact their social marketing efforts. From our perspective, the change:

  • Ends the organic reach of the News Feed and increases the importance of adding pay-to-play to your marketing mix – something that will likely require a bigger budget.
  • Bolsters the importance of channel diversification.
  • Makes it more important than ever for you to zero in on who your audience is and what motivates them, so you can share content and create an environment that will pique interest and engagement.
  • Means Instagram will more than likely follow suit in the near future.

The Influencer Implication

Since Zuckerberg’s announcement, there’s been one implication in particular that’s captivated our attention. The way we see it, the value of influencer engagement on Facebook will increase even more.

Our CEO, Lee Odden, has long been an evangelist for working with influencers, believing that influencers can help brands bypass several obstacles. AdBlocking, for example, is in use on over 600 million devices, costing business over $22 billion in ad revenue, according to PageFair. Working with credible influencers who are trusted amongst an audience allows brands to bypass the adblocking obstacle and better connect with buyers.

Lee has also talked about other challenges such as distrust of brand advertising. In fact, 69% of consumers don’t trust ads, according to research by Ipsos Connect. And yet another obstacle is information overload. Americans are confronted with an average of 63GB of media on a daily basis (USC/ICTM).

All of these obstacles, according to Lee, are addressed by working with industry influencers. The virtual elimination of organic News Feed visibility for brands and publishers on Facebook is no different and marketers would be smart to think about how influencer engagement can keep organic Facebook visibility alive.

So, to sum it all up: Now that the organic News Feed is effectively dead, new life is being given to influencer marketing opportunities. Here are a few key considerations:

#1 – If you’re not in the influencer marketing game yet, you can no longer afford to wait.

Last year, we saw influencer marketing explode – becoming one of the most talked about topics among marketers and arguably our most-requested digital marketing services among both B2B and B2C clients. In addition, our own research shows that 57% of marketers say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities in the next three years.

This quote from Lee sums it up well:

“For any kind of content a business creates and publishes to the world, there is an opportunity for collaboration with credible voices that have active networks interested in what those voices have to say. In many cases, [audiences are] far more interested [in an influencer’s insights] than in what the brand has to say.”

With Facebook reducing branded content and elevating content from individuals, there’s no better time to invest in influencers – which can have an impact across all social platforms.


With #Facebook reducing branded content and elevating content from individuals, there’s no better time to invest in influencers. #influencermarketing

Click To Tweet


#2 – Influencers now hold more power than ever to more strategically align themselves with brands of their choice.

Influencer marketing was already poised to be big in 2018, but this change to Facebook’s platform will absolutely spur more brands and businesses to dip their toe into the water. As a result, influencers will see an uptick in requests, giving them more power to be very choosy about which brands they lend their time, insights and audience to.


Influencers have more power to be very choosy about the brand they lend their time, insights and audience to. #influencermarketing

Click To Tweet


#3 – Influencer nurturing will be more important than ever.

As illustrated by the previous two points, the Facebook change will lead to an increased adoption of influencer marketing, giving influencers more options. So it’s no surprise that it’ll be time to double-down on your commitment to influencer nurturing.

Now, we’ve always said that when it comes to building relationships and rapport with influencers, it’s critical that you put the time and effort into nurturing – rather than simply reaching out when you have a need. There has to be shared value.

But I think most marketers would admit that they have significant room for improvement in this area – and there’s no time like the present to recommit yourself.


With #Facebook’s recent algorithm change, it’s time to double-down on your commitment to nurturing your influencers. #influencermarketing

Click To Tweet


Capitalize on the Opportunity

Let’s face it. This “major change” to Facebook’s platform isn’t the first and it certainly won’t be the last. As a result, now is the time to fully capitalize on the opportunity by better working with industry influencers. Now is the time to refocus on connecting with your audience – and influencers can help you do just that by adding authenticity, credibility, unique insights and new eyeballs to your content.

What else is in store for influencer marketing in 2018? Check out these rising influencer marketing trends that you need to pay attention to.

What do you think about the latest Facebook News Feed algorithm change? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Digital Marketing News: Instagram Gifs, Google AutoML, App Spend hits 86 Billion

Gif Stickers

Image source: Instagram

Instagram Adds Gifs to Stories and, Yes, It’s a Direct Shot at Snapchat. Instagram announced users can now add GIF stickers to all photos and videos uploaded to Stories with more than 100,000 moving stickers to choose from, as well as see which movable images are trending. Does this remind anyone of the annoying days of Angelfire and MySpace? AdAge

App Spending Topped $86 Billion In 2017. Around the world, smartphone-carrying consumers downloaded more than 175 billion apps last year, on which they spent over $86 billion according to the latest annual report from App Annie.  MediaPost

Google and Salesforce unveil first elements of partnership. At Dreamforce in 2017 Google and Salesforce announced a partnership and are now revealing the first part including Google Analytics 360 users being able to import data from the Salesforce CRM tool such as leads and opportunities. This allows companies using Google’s analytics products to mix and match data between the two systems. TechCrunch

Google Pitches AI Image-Detection Tool to Lure Cloud Clients. Google is introducing a new product called Cloud AutoML that enables data-center customers to automatically generate machine-learning models – computing systems that can crunch and parse huge swaths of information. Google is starting with vision, allowing companies to classify images more effectively, but plans to release the tool for analyzing text, speech and video. Bloomberg

The Google Speed Update: Page speed will become a ranking factor in mobile search. Starting in July 2018, Google will finally use mobile page speed as a ranking in their mobile search results. Google today announced a new ranking algorithm called the “Speed Update” that is designed for mobile search. It will only impact a small percentage of queries involving pages that “deliver the slowest experience to users”. Search Engine Land

Amazon’s ad business is growing faster than Google’s and Facebook’s, although the duopoly still dominates. Google and Facebook combined still represent more than half of the U.S. advertising market, but Amazon’s ad business, while just 2.5 percent, is growing faster than both of them. Digiday

Digital Marketing Statistic

Google Giveth and Google Taketh Away: Winners & Losers of 2017. What do Netflix, ebates.com and thesun.co.uk have in common? They’re among the top 100 domains that enjoyed rich rewards in 2017. Which domains took the biggest hits in search Visibility? Find out in this new report from Searchmetrics

More than 90,000 sites now use ads.txt, up from 3,500 in September. Launched by the Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab in May, ads.txt is a text file that publishers host on their web servers that lists all the companies authorized to sell their inventory. Because ads.txt allows buyers to check the validity of the sellers they purchase from, it should help buyers avoid spoofed domains and arbitraged inventory. Digiday

On the Lighter Side:

Old Spice’s ‘Sweat Mop Boys’ Are Here to Deodorize College Basketball. AdWeek

Cheetos Invents ‘Dance Craze’ To Promote USA Curling, New Cheddar Curls. MediaPost

TopRank Marketing (And Clients) In the News:

Rishi Dave (client) the CMO of Dun & Bradstreet, talks marketing technology in this podcast – Echo Junction

Jason Miller of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions on Marketing Smarts [Podcast] Create a Content Strategy That Rocks – MarketingProfs

Lee Odden to keynote Pubcon Florida – Pubcon Blog

Lee Odden – How to recruit influencers – Inventis

Lee Odden – What is content intelligence? How data-driven marketers will dominate – Hawkeye

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

We’ll see you next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also, be sure to check out the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.


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How to Prove the Value of Content Marketing to Your CMO in 3 Easy Steps

Content Marketing Value

“ROI” can be a blurry idea in the world of content marketing. With often hard-to-measure costs and returns, content marketing ROI or value isn’t always crystal clear. Dealing in metrics like pageviews, time-on-page, organic impressions, and others aren’t always directly translatable into business revenue, which – let’s face it – is what your bosses really care about.

Even though only 8% of content marketers consider themselves successful in tracking content marketing ROI, we all know that content marketing is incredibly valuable. As our CEO Lee Odden has said for a long time:

“Content is the reason search engines exist and it’s the cornerstone of what people share on the social web. A quantity of quality content that answers readers’ questions in a useful and entertaining way serves everything from demand generation to lead generation.”

But how can you prove it with evidence that your chief marketing officer (CMO) or content director actually cares about?

Content is the foundation of everything we do here at TopRank Marketing. And our clients deserve and expect us to be able to connect our content marketing services to tangible business benefits. In just three easy steps, we can help you make that same connection and prove the value of your content marketing up the ladder.

Step 1: Identify Your Content Marketing Goals

As a marketer, you’re no doubt aware that you need to set a measurable goal before launching campaigns, but just because you know you should, doesn’t mean it always happens. Without setting a measurable goal, one could argue that your content marketing didn’t accomplish anything of real business value.

To set your goals, take a look at the current state of things to understand opportunities and what’s working well. Is there a dip in organic traffic that you hope to recover? Do you aim to increase conversions and marketing qualified leads (MQLs)? If you’re not sure where to start, review your current website performance in Google Analytics or in Google Search Console to identify potential KPIs.

As an example, if you notice in Google Search Console that your top performing organic search pages have a low click through rate (CTR), your goal may be to increase your CTR by 1% in 30 days. Keep in mind that when looking at goals and KPIs, it’s important not to lock yourself into just one metric. As our own digital marketing analyst, Allysia Kveberg, points out that:

“Sometimes marketing campaigns work a little differently than you expect, and that isn’t necessarily a negative thing.”

So, even if you’re driving results that aren’t directly tied to your goals, there might be a different marketing success lying in a related KPI that can help you sell value up the food chain.

Once you have your goals and KPIs locked down, you can now measure your content’s performance against them in real-time.


Without setting a measurable goal, one could argue that your #contentmarketing didn’t accomplish anything of real business value.

Click To Tweet


Step 2: Measure Content Performance More Effectively

You know you need to measure content performance so you can see how you’re progressing towards your objectives. But how can you do it more effectively and efficiently? Depending on your goals, there are usually three areas of focus you’ll want to measure: awareness, engagement, and conversions. Or in other words, the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel.

Brand Awareness

For measuring your brand awareness, you’ll need to track social shares, impressions, mentions, and overall website traffic from first-time visitors. For our own campaigns, we like using tools like BuzzSumo to see the traction our content is getting on social media.

Another component to awareness, is search visibility. To see if you’re gaining more organic impressions, rankings, or clicks, log into Google Search Console. It’ll take some digging to see the new keywords you may be ranking for and to identify new positions, but it’s worth the extra work to see how your content is impacting your organic traffic.

Audience Engagement

If you’re looking to develop your connection with your audience, improve trust and retention, or promote your thought leadership, you’ll want to track your audience’s engagement with your content. Engagement metrics to measure are time on page, blog pageviews, bounce rates, pages visited per session, or number of return visitors.

Often referred to as “vanity metrics,” this data can still provide you with valuable insight when looking at the numbers in the context of content. For example, an average session duration of 10 minutes overall is nice to have, but it doesn’t tell you anything about why people stayed so long. By looking at the average session duration for individual webpages, however, you can start to identify common characteristics that people stick around for.

You can drill down on these metrics for each webpage in your Google Analytics account in the “Site Content” section of the “Behavior” menu, as pictured below.

Snapshot of TopRank Marketing Google Analytics

Conversions

Conversions are all about content marketing results that have the power to drive revenue. This means form fills, conversions, MQLs, or a growing subscription base. To track most of these items, you’ll want to have your website set up with conversion or event tracking. We like using Google Tag Manager to identify and track these events as they happen. Then, to really see how our content impacts conversions, we’ll also see how many form fills or conversions happened after interacting with a piece of content.

After you’ve identified your metrics and how to track them, take a look at the data as is to set your benchmarks for each metric. Going forward on a monthly basis, make sure to document or export the data you’re seeing to see if you’re meeting or exceeding the benchmarks you’ve set. This makes it easier to see trends and wins now and later when you’re putting together your report.

When tracking these items, you’ll also want to record which pieces of content are your high performers at each stage of the funnel or customer journey. This will give you the information you need to determine the types of content that move people from top to bottom.

Step 3: Educate Your CMO

Your CMO is probably more concerned about things of business value like sales, savings, or retention over blog sessions or time on page. As Joe Pulizzi, CEO of Content Marketing Institute, shared with us:

“Skip analytics reports for your CMO.”

But to translate your performance into real business value, takes some work.

Perhaps the best place to start is in conversions. How many MQLs and form fills has your content marketing generated? Are you filling the sales pipeline with qualified prospects? Once you have that number, you can use your sales team’s closure rate and average deal size to determine the potential revenue for each lead you generated. This gives your bosses a dollar amount they can easily understand and appreciate.

The value of brand awareness and audience engagement is a little harder to determine as they don’t “directly” influence purchasing decisions. But if you have been tracking your customer journey and marketing funnel, you can show your CMO how that funnel is filling up and how content helps attract and move people from stage to stage.

Below is an illustration of some of the metrics that you should consider highlighting at each stage and in the most business-tangible way possible.

Attract, Engage, Convert Model

In addition, you can compare your social shares, likes, and mentions to that of your competitors. If you come out on top, this proves that your content marketing gives you greater visibility over your competition.

Bullet-Proof Evidence

To present your CMO with hard evidence that speaks for itself, you need to:

  • Set relevant, measurable goals and KPIs
  • Track your progress throughout the funnel
  • Translate your findings into the results your CMO cares about

If you follow the steps above, you’ll have no problem proving that content marketing is a valuable, revenue-driving tactic. For more ways to impress your CMO with real business results, use these content marketing measurement and ROI tips from brand marketing experts at Kraft and 3M.


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New Year, New Outlook: TopRank Marketing’s 2018 Integrated Digital Marketing Predictions

The new year is barely underway and already we’re already seeing significant shifts in digital marketing.

Facebook recently announced their decision to favor friends over brands in news feeds and YouTube has tightened the reins on what channels can be monetized. And this is just within the first few weeks of the year.

Undoubtedly, digital marketing tactics like content marketing, SEO, paid, influencer marketing and social media will all face changes in the coming year. Some of which we’ll be able to predict, and some of which we won’t.

However, today’s best marketers know that individual marketing tactics do not stand alone. Which means that integrated, “best answer” digital marketing strategies will reign supreme. That is why instead of focusing our team’s predictions on how individual tactics will evolve in 2018, we’ve uncovered how the role of each tactic will change as part of the overall digital marketing mix.

The State of Digital Marketing in 2018

Lee Odden

CEO

As we head into the heart of Q1 2018, marketers are just as overwhelmed with tactics as buyers are with content. This paradox of choice at scale incurs costs that range from dissatisfied customers to ineffective marketing programs.

With increasing demands, fewer resources and greater complexity in marketing that now includes smart speakers, VR/AR, IoT, AI and all forms of disruptive technology, marketers are looking for the universal truths that will keep them on track and effective.

In my book, Optimize, I talked about a customer centric approach to digital marketing that emphasized search, social and content. The truths about how customers engage content to make decisions outlined then are equally true in 2018 and for nearly any kind of platform.

Those content truths are: discovery, consumption and action.

Discovery: Where do buyers look for solution information? What do they say to their Echo or Google Home device? What do they search for on their phone or tablet? What sources do they subscribe to for updates on their smart watch? Of course laptop, tablet and mobile search and social media behaviors are still relevant.

Consumption: What are your buyers’ preferences for engaging with the content they find? Do they read/watch/listen on the discovery platform or save/subscribe for later? Are there preferences for experiencing or interacting with content vs. simply read/watch/listen? Images vs. videos vs. audio vs. interactive on various devices is still relevant.

Action: What triggers will inspire action? Do buyers need content personalized on the fly or are they willing to exchange contact information to be fed personalized content? What will it take to motivate share, subscribe, inquire, transact or refer? All still relevant.

Marketers in tune with truths about how customers find, engage with and take action on information will reveal whatever technology, platform, media format and experience buyers need. As part of an ongoing effort to optimize marketing with a customer focus, these truths can help architect successful marketing programs in 2018 and for years to come.

Content Will Experience a Shift in Focus

Nick Nelson

Content Strategist

There’s a distinct movement taking place in content marketing, with the focus increasingly shifting from quantity to quality. With so much volume out there, it only makes sense to spend our time creating fewer assets that will truly stand out, as opposed to larger amounts of unremarkable material. Since content is already integrated with basically every aspect of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy (or should be at least), I foresee this change in mindset applying to every corner – social, paid media, lead nurturing, data analysis, and so forth.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence

Ashley Zeckman

Director of Agency Marketing

For years marketers have been talking about the importance of customer experience. And for years, marketers have struggled to uncover the information that makes it possible to create a stellar customer experience.

The game changer in 2018? The emergence of Artificial Intelligence.

In 2017, AI finally began to become more mainstream which allowed platforms to begin harnessing its true power for marketing. In 2018, it will become essential that marketers use data collected by AI to make smarter marketing decisions that will allow them to personalize content, create more data informed social media marketing plans and better target SEO keywords.

SEO & UX Will Overlap

Joe Manier

Digital Advertising Manager

What does UX and good design have to do with SEO? Good UX keeps people on the page when they arrive to your site. The same holds true for good copywriting. It’s a one-two punch as people’s search process involves quick scans of copy and page design as they’re determining which result will best serve them.

This is all due to RankBrain, which has been around for a while, but it’s sinking in just how important it is being the 3rd most critical ranking signal. So in 2018, look for SEO to further overlap with UX teams and copywriters as they team up to boost the two main RankBrain components of page dwell time and SERP CTRs.

The Integration of Influencers & Sales

Rachel Miller

Influencer Marketing Manager

I think influencer relations will take on an increasingly bigger role affecting not just marketing but also sales and support. Partnering with the right people gives businesses unfiltered and holistic feedback that when combined with other key data points makes planning and decision making more effective. This increase in importance will require influencer marketing tools, tactics, and practitioners to bring nothing but their A-game.

Content Will Bolster Existing Relationships

Caitlin Burgess

Senior Content Marketing Manager

From compelling ad copy to best-answer blog posts to video on social media – content is the foundation of any digital marketing strategy. Period. And I think we can all agree that won’t change anytime soon. But one thing I see on the rise for content marketing in 2018 and beyond is a refocusing on developing content that aims to bolster and grow existing client/customer relationships.

We’ve all heard the stats on just how much it costs to acquire a new customer versus keeping an existing customer, but content marketing has largely been leveraged to move prospects through the funnel and get that first sale. I think it’s high time marketers developed more robust strategies to nurture after the first check clears. After all, more often than not, B2B and B2C companies alike are more than just one product or service offering-but many of your current customers and clients may not know just what you’re capable of. So, show them.

The Ad Viewing Experience Will Have to Improve

Stephen Slater

Senior SEO & Digital Advertising Manager

Ad blocker adoption grew 30% in 2016 (numbers for 2017 aren’t out yet, but I’m sure they will show continued adoption) and even browsers are getting in on the action.

So, instead of killing display ads as a whole, I predict that this desire to block ads is going to actually help the industry and drive display ad spend. Projections show that display ad spend should grow by about $5 billion in 2018.

Why would people spend all of that money on display ads that will possibly be blocked by their audience? Two reasons:

  1. Targeting is drastically improving. Programmatic targeting, account based targeting, interest and affinity targeting, and retargeting are all improving and driving more qualified impressions and clicks at a much lower CPC than search ads and most social platforms (for now).
  2. Display advertising placements have to/and will stop being so awful and intrusive. Publishers that offer ad space have to do better. If they don’t they run the risk of losing traffic. In January 2017, Google penalized sites that have “intrusive interstitial ads” and Google’s amp project is already shaking up ads on mobile devices. If publishers don’t comply they run the risk of losing traffic and losing ad revenue.

So what does this all mean? Even though users will attempt to block ads the CPC, targeting, and improved ad viewing experience will allow display ads to become a bigger piece of the digital marketing mix in 2018.

Content Will Fuel Digital Marketing

Anne Leuman

Copywriter

Content marketing, if it isn’t already, will be driving the digital marketing mix in 2018. After all, the foundation of the internet and the genesis of search were both inspired by content. With this in mind, each component or tactic within the digital marketing mix will need content behind it. This includes influencer marketing programs, social media campaigns, video, events, etc. and anything else you might be adding in the year ahead. Each piece of the mix needs content to fuel it.

Instead of asking how does our content fit in the mix, we’ll be asking how the mix supports our content.

The Combination of Influence & ABM Strategies

Amy Higgins

Strategic Account Manager

The root of influencer marketing is “influence”. You add marketing to the mix, and it leads to how can someone influence a person’s buyer behavior.

I believe that in the next year, we will begin to see that signal of influence move down the funnel and into ABM strategies. Currently, influencer marketing addresses mostly top of the funnel marketing initiatives. In order for this change to happen, marketers need to look at their influencers as extensions of their teams, more community based with deeper collaboration and strategies that benefit all sides of the equation – from the customer to the company, and to the influencer. Influencer marketers will begin to use community growth and acquisition strategies in order to see the largest benefit from their network of influencers. For example, influencer exclusive events influencer newsletters, and community forums are just a few of the tactics that marketers will use when approaching influencers. After all, influencer marketing is a two-way street.

Social Media Can’t Be an Afterthought

Debbie Friez

Influencer Marketing Strategist

First of all, if you don’t have social media as an integral part of your overall digital marketing mix, you need to start now.  You can no longer afford to make social media an afterthought.

Social media will share a place at the table with the other areas of the digital marketing mix.

  • Influencer Marketing. Everyone wants to do it, but to do it effectively, you need to interact with your influencers on social media. If you are jumping into influencer marketing, you will need to step-up your social media performance.
  • Lead Generation. Looking to increase conversion rates? More marketers will utilize Facebook and LinkedIn paid offerings for driving more leads. They have a key advantage, because people like to stay on their preferred social channels.
  • Content Marketing. Successful digital marketers will utilize social media in creative ways to drive traffic to their optimized content.  
  • SEO. Looking to really drive traffic to your website? Integrating social will be necessary to get the most from you overall strategy.

Getting noticed in the digital age can be hard. Social Media is consistently offering new ideas and avenues to stand-out. Let’s see what 2018 will bring us!

What Is Your Digital Marketing Prediction for 2018?

What each of these predictions tell us is that every digital marketing tactic is essential, and has its place. But we’re beyond the point in time where integration is a want, and is now a necessity.

Which of the digital marketing predictions above do you think will have the biggest impact on your 2018 marketing strategy? Tell us in the comments section below.


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New Year, New Outlook: TopRank Marketing’s 2018 Integrated Digital Marketing Predictions | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Digital Marketing News: 2018 Creative Trends, Organic Facebook Dead, YouTube Tightens Up

Creative Trends 2018

2018 Creative Trends – Shutterstock’s data and creative teams analyzed their customers’ billions of searches for images, footage, and music search and download data to discover the biggest year-over-year increases. What are the top trends? Fantasy, New Minimalism, Space, Natural Luxury, and Punchy Pastels among others. – Shutterstock

‘Organic reach on Facebook is dead’: Advertisers expect price hikes after Facebook’s feed purge. If any brands haven’t already shifted their Facebook strategy entirely to paid, then they may have to soon. Facebook is changing its news feed to prioritize what friends and family share, which will reduce the amount of content that users see from brands and publishers. Open up those wallets folks! Digiday

One in three people-2.48 billion-worldwide used a social network in 2017 – Last year, 74.7% of mobile phone internet users worldwide used their device to access social media. Where are they spending their time you ask? In 2017 nearly 594 million people worldwide used Instagram. 62.2% of all social network users (1.54 billion), went on Facebook at least once a month in 2017.  eMarketer

Majority of Consumers Want Brands to Take a Stand on Social and Political Issues, According to New Study – Most consumers want brands to weigh in on social and political issues, according to a new survey by social media management and analytics company Sprout Social entitled “Championing Change in the Age of Social Media.” Two-thirds of consumers responded that it was either “Somewhat Important” or “Very Important” for brands to take a stand on social/political issues. AdWeek

Influencer Marketing Report – A few highlights: Influencer marketing ad spend is poised to reach between $5 billion and $10 billion in 2022. The average influencer engagement rate across industry verticals is 5.7% compared to 2-3% for brands. 40% of influencers believe that overly restrictive content guidelines are one of the biggest mistakes brands and agencies make when working with them.  Business Insider

Financial institutions have a growing interest in influencer marketing – Financial services institutions are known to shy away from social media due to strict industry regulations. But a growing number of consumer-facing banks, insurance companies and personal finance apps are looking to create promotional content with individuals with large followings on social media, in order to add personality to their brands and cater to the 18- to 34-year-old cohort. Digiday

Influencer Marketing Stats and Trends (Including Petfluencers) – Collective Bias compiled statistics from B2C influencer marketing research they conducted into an infographic featuring insights on both consumer and influencer behaviors. For example, 10% of 18-24 year olds are likely to purchase a product promoted by a famous pet influencer. 86% of influencers say Pinterest is the platform of choice for food ideas. MarketingProfs

CVS Vows to Stop Altering Beauty Images in Its Marketing – We couldn’t agree more: Starting in April, CVS Health Corp said it will stop “materially” altering the beauty imagery in its marketing materials that appear in its stores and on its websites and social media channels. CVS is also asking brand partners-including Revlon, L’Oréal and Johnson & Johnson-to join the effort. Wall Street Journal

TV drives search

Google Adds AMP Testing Tool to Search Results – Google has released its most significant update to the AMP testing tool since 2016. In addition to accessing the tool at its usual destination, you can also test AMPs directly in search results. Search Engine Journal

YouTube tightens rules around what channels can be monetized – Channels will need 4,000 hours of annual viewing time and over 1,000 subscribers to make the cut to make money on their video content.  The Verge

The Brand-Content Preferences of Different Age Groups – HubSpot surveyed over 3,000 consumers 18+ to understand which types of content consumers of various ages want to see more of from brands. Over 50% want to see more videos from their favorite brands. Only 22% of consumers age 18-24 value emails from brands they support, compared with 68% of consumers age 55+. This is highly useful insight if you want to optimize for content engagement and action. MarketingProfs

More Than 1 in 3 Millennials Would Like to Go Viral – However, overall, fewer than 1 in 5 American adults would like to become viral on social media or famous on the news for a short time, according to a recent YouGov survey. Also, men (57%) desired fame more than women (48%).   MarketingCharts

On the Lighter Side:

Blockchain Bandwagon

  • Blockchain Bandwagon by Tom Fishburne
  • Google’s Algorithm Says The World Is Flat – MediaPost

  • ‘Milkshake Duck’ is a dictionary’s 2017 word of the year, and damn right – Mashable

TopRank Marketing (And Clients) In the News:

Lee Odden – The Future, Presented by LinkedIn with Help from Top Marketing Thought Leaders [Videos] – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog

Lee Odden – What Does The Future Of CX Look Like? Here Are Some Of The Most Promising Predictions – Brian Solis Blog

Congratulations to our client Masterson Staffing – Celebrating 50 Years in Business – Masterson Staffing Blog

Congratulations to our clients LinkedIn and SAP – Both were named as a “Best Software Company in 2018” by G2 Crowd

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

We’ll see you next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also, be sure to check out the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.


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7 Influencer Marketing Trends That Will Rule 2018

Influencer Marketing Trends 2018

Influencer Marketing Trends 2018

While influencer marketing boomed in 2017, it’s been on the rise for a full decade. In fact, we first posted about it in 2008 after we attended a session at SES San Jose on social media analysis and tracking. Ten years later and influencer marketing has evolved from a rising trend into a proven marketing strategy, causing more and more B2C and B2B companies to start influencer programs of their own.

As influencer marketing has gained steam, it’s earned a more dedicated spot in the digital marketing mix and become more approachable in the eyes of marketers. As our own CEO Lee Odden, a longtime advocate for influencer marketing, regularly says:

Everyone is influential about something.”

But as marketers dive deeper into the influencer marketing waters, they wonder how the tide will change and ultimately force them in a different direction.

Having executed influencer marketing programs for both B2B and B2C brands for the past several years, we’ve had a front row seat to the evolution of influencer marketing. To give you a glimpse into where influencer marketing is already heading and help you stay on top of your influencer game, here are seven influencer marketing trends that are taking over 2018.

#1 – Full steam ahead for influencer marketing programs.

We touched on it briefly earlier, but as influencer marketing becomes more approachable with tools like Onalytica, Traackr, BuzzSumo, and others, it will also become more popular. For 2018, this means that more and more brands will come online with influencer marketing programs, including both B2C and B2B brands.

But what does this mean for your influencer marketing strategy?

It means your competition could soon be doing their own influencer marketing campaigns, making it all the more important that your campaign sets itself apart from the rest. Through unique influencer relationships, helpful insights, and new media types, you could take your influencer campaign from “first” to “best.” Or both. Both is good.

Read: 20 Inspiring & Actionable Influencer Marketing Tips for The Modern Marketer

#2 – Brands are looking to be bold, loud, and different.

With more B2B and B2C brands amping up their influencer marketing, brands are thinking of new and innovative ways to differentiate their campaigns. With great content serving as the foundation for any campaign, brands are hoping to stand out by offering unique, bold, and intuitive user experiences, generating an added level of excitement and further engaging audiences.

To level up our own influencer marketing user experience, we created an interactive infographic featuring 15 quotes from digital marketing influencers to generate awareness of our agency prior to the Digital Marketing Summit in Minneapolis this past summer.

This not only helped engagement with our audience, but it also helped us create something that our influencers were proud to contribute to and share.

Interactive Influencer eBook Example

#3 – Brand focus on business results.

At the beginning of its time, influencer marketing was all about reach and awareness. By tapping into an influencer and leveraging that relationship, you could gain the ear of an entirely new audience. Multiply that affect with the number of influencers you work with, and you have a rapidly growing audience.

Influencer marketing is no longer just about audience growth, though. Brands are and will turn to influencer programs to drive conversions and engagement, too. What will that look like? From our vantage point, you’ll see an influx of influencer and brand hosted webinars, live stream Q&A’s, endorsements, and other bottom of funnel influencer content.

[bctt tweet=”#InfluencerMarketing is no longer just about audience growth – @aleuman4″ username=”toprank”]

#4 – Influencers turned brand ambassadors.

What’s one thing brands are missing when it comes to influencers and their relationships? Oftentimes, it’s exclusivity. Having an influential thought leader all to yourself is a promising premise as it means you are their sole partner in your industry. Well, brands are realizing that this opportunity exists and are getting ready to establish more long-term relationships with influencers.

No longer seen as a one-off campaign strategy, brands will start to reach out to influencers for more long-term partnerships. This will result in influencers adopting the role of “brand ambassador” and serve almost as an extension of your internal marketing team.

To do this within your own influencer programs, you need to develop your relationships with influencers instead of just reaching out when there’s a need. For example, you can create a VIP program or hub where your influencers can come together and collaborate, share ideas, and become a bigger part of your brand. With this continued nurturing and collaboration, influencers will become more like spokespeople, representing the brand at events, in videos, and through their own content.

[bctt tweet=”#Influencers will adopt the role of brand ambassador and become an extension of your internal #marketing team – @aleuman4″ username=”toprank”]

#5 – Campaigns with more money, more capabilities.

Remember when we said that influencer marketing is popular, forcing brands to up their influencer marketing game? One surefire way brands can try and elevate their campaigns is through an increased influencer marketing budget. In fact, you can bet on it. In our Influencer 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing research report, 55% of marketers reported in that they plan to increase their influencer marketing budget in the coming year.

With deeper pockets, brands can invest more into developing their influencer relationships and in creating more high-quality content. For example, brands have more freedom to offer gifts to their influencers in an effort to strengthen their relationships. Plus, an increased budget allows brands to create more “expensive” content like a video series, interactive eBooks, motion graphics, and more.

Read: 5 Examples of Influencer Marketing in Action Across the Full Customer Journey

#6 – Influencers are being strategic with their own brand.

As the influencer marketing bandwagon continues to roll, influencers have the ability to be more strategic in aligning themselves with different B2B and B2C brands. With more brands approaching them for their contributions, they can be more thoughtful with the partners they choose to work with and how the partnership will help them grow their personal brand and network.

Because of this, your programs will need to be custom-made for the influencers you want to work with. For example, one of our clients was looking to target C-suite leaders at law firms, which lead to the creation of a customized influencer eBook campaign that featured influencers in the legal profession, and delivered extremely thoughtful and relevant to our audience.

Niche Influencer eBook Examaple

If there isn’t a perfect fit or relevant value that you’re bringing to the table, your ideal influencers will move on to another brand that does. The influencer has the power of choice in this scenario, so make sure to research your influencers beforehand to create a campaign they can’t say “no” to.

#7 – Influence transcends platforms.

Now that influencer marketing programs are beginning to expand in size, budget, and tone, brands are also looking to expand their programs onto new platforms and channels. This helps extend the reach of their influencer marketing programs, enabling brands to engage new audiences that were otherwise lost to them.

What kinds of channels are we talking about? Periscope, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and others come to mind as it can be challenging for brands to build up audiences on them – especially if your brand voice is more sophisticated.

Become Influencer Marketing Royalty

As you head off to execute your influencer marketing programs using the trends above, take advantage of these top influencer marketing tools to track your influencer relationships, performance, and more.

The post 7 Influencer Marketing Trends That Will Rule 2018 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

4 Top Trends in Customer Centricity to Drive Digital Marketing Success in 2018

Consumer Trends Marketers Need to Know

Ask any digital marketer if they’ve been able to set their strategy on autopilot over the past decade, and I bet you’ll get a laugh or two-as well as an emphatic “No.” If we’ve learned anything it’s that the digital landscape is simply too fast-changing to keep the business as usual mindset.

But while the global rise of the internet, the explosion of social media, and the development of mobile technologies and other digital tools and platforms are undoubtedly “to blame” for the constant state of change we operate in-it’s really the everyday use of these innovations that requires our flexibility and attention.

Simply put, thanks to these modern essentials, our behavior, expectations and attitudes as consumers have changed-and they’ll continue to. The mobility and network access enabled by mobile phones and tablets, coupled with the incredible amount of content now available (thanks content marketers), means consumers now have the majority stake in developing their own customer journey.

In fact, last year comScore reported that users spend an average of 69% of their media time on smartphones-and other research shows that the great majority of people use the internet and mobile technologies to research products before they buy.

But what’s the next stage of evolution in consumer behavior? And how can digital marketers adapt their strategies to fit with consumers want and expect?

Below we highlight some of the consumer trends that will have (and are already having) a big impact on digital and content marketing in 2018 and beyond.

#1 – Voice-activated personal assistance will continue to shape consumer behavior.

While voice-command technology began to emerge in the early part of the century, it’s taken on new life over the past couple years thanks to the emergence of mobile personal assistants, and the birth and increasing adoption of tools like Amazon Echo, Cortana and Google Home.

To put it simply, these voice-activated technologies just make life simpler. According to Think with Google’s research, the top reasons people turn to voice-activated speakers are:

  1. It allows them to more easily multitask.
  2. It enables them to do things faster than other devices.
  3. It empowers them to instantly get answers and information.
  4. It makes their daily routine easier.

What does this mean for brands and marketers? Google says their research also shows that people welcome brands to be part of their experience, and they’re open to receiving information that’s helpful and relevant to their lifestyle.

Think With Google Stats on Personal Assistants

Image Credit: Think with Google

As a result, brands and marketers have the opportunity to explore digital advertising opportunities in this arena. But, perhaps more immediately important, optimizing for voice search is critical.

According to Gartner predictions, 30% of all web browsing sessions will be done without a screen by 2020. Some voice search optimization tactics include focusing on featured snippets, using more conversational keywords and content structure, and adding structured data markup to help search engines better understand the context of the content you’re providing.

#2 – Consumers want to experience a brand, product or service before they buy-and video is the conduit.

I think it’s safe to say that video is no longer an emerging or rising marketing trend-it’s part of the now and the future. According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs’ 2018 content marketing benchmark reports, 72% of B2B marketers and 76% of B2C marketers use pre-produced video as part of their strategies.

It’s certainly not difficult to see why video has taken off. Humans are visual creatures by nature, and as the internet, social media and technology have evolved, consumers are spending an increasing amount of time in front of the screen-elevating video as a preferred engagement medium.

But a bit of change is in the air. Consumers don’t just want engagement these days. They’re also looking for an experience-especially when it comes to products they’re interested in.

According to other research by Think with Google, video is straight up changing how people shop. In fact, in the past year, 40% of YouTube users turned to the platform to learn more about a product before they purchased it. In addition, the watch time of “Shop with me” videos-where viewers actually follow video creators as they shop-has increased a whopping 1,000% over the past two years.

YouTube Research by Consumers Statistic

Image Credit: Think with Google

Essentially, consumers are going beyond third-party review sites and word-of-mouth referrals, and looking to video content to learn the good, the bad and the ugly about the products they’re pondering. This means it’s time for B2B and B2C brands alike to elevate the stories they tell using video. Here’s what Think with Google had to say:

“Since many users aren’t going to be able to physically touch a product before they buy it, brands need to come up with creative ways to help people ‘experience’ it online. Think of ways to bring your product to life online so it stands out-like using virtual reality or augmented reality-such as L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius app that lets users virtually try on makeup.

“There’s a whole community of creators testing and evaluating products, including yours. That means users will be validating any claims you make, so make sure your product can live up to them.”


Consumers are looking for an experience – especially when it comes to products they’re interested in. #digitalmarketing #videomarketing @CaitlinMBurgess

Click To Tweet


Read: Report: What Marketers Need to Know About the ‘State of Video Marketing’

#3 – Consumers are growing more curious-as well as more impatient.

To say the least, 2017 was an interesting year socially, environmentally, and-of course-politically. As the year unfolded, it’s no surprise that people turned to the internet and search engines to get a better understanding of what’s happening in their communities, countries, and around the world.

From Google’s perspective, the wide world of search in 2017 also unveiled new consumer behaviors. In yet another recent Think with Google piece, 2017 saw a “new super-empowered consumer” take shape.

“We found that people are more curious, more demanding, and more impatient than ever before,” the article said. “We saw evidence of this throughout 2017, and it will be critical for marketers to understand these new behaviors as they move into 2018.”

Essentially, people are getting more specific than ever in their searches-and they expect and demand useful, relevant information quickly. The takeaway for marketers here is that long-tail search term variations will expand-and perhaps even become a new normal. As a result, there’s no better time to double-down on creating-what TopRank Marketing likes to call-best-answer content.

What does best-answer content look like? In a nutshell, best-answer content is:

  1. Addressed to a specific audience
  2. Addressed to a specific query
  3. Substantial
  4. Comprehensive, addressing complimentary queries and crosslinking
  5. Not blatantly promotional

As our CEO, Lee Odden, so eloquently once said: “Stop creating content. And start making answers.”

This should’ve always been part of a marketers mission, but it will be even more critical in the years to come as search and consumer preferences evolve.

In addition, use the data and insights at your fingertips (and pursue new sources) to get a deeper understanding of audience needs, wants and attitudes, develop more holistic consumer personas, and create content and messaging that is highly-personalized. Personalization will be key for meeting consumer demand and expectations.


Stop creating content. And start making answers. – @leeodden #contentmarketing #BeTheBestAnswer

Click To Tweet


#4 – Distrust is at an all-time high-which calls for more transparency and authenticity in marketing.

We’ve know for a while that consumers are becoming increasingly weary of advertising and brand messaging. But over the past couple years, the general state of trust across the globe has “imploded.”

The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Survey-an annual trust and credibility survey-showed the largest-ever drop in trust across the world’s four major institutions: business, government, media and NGOs.

2017 Edelman Trust Barometer

In the Executive Summary, the opening note is actually titled “The Implosion of Trust,” and it cites major social, economic and political upheaval-and rising “fake news” speculation-as the unsurprising culprits. But the good news is that Edelman’s findings also show that business is the “last retaining wall” of trust.

As a result, it’s more important than ever for brands and marketers to commit themselves to transparency and authenticity in all that they do. From embracing both positive and critical consumer feedback on public forums and social media, to losing the jargon and developing a more human voice-transparency and authenticity need to be baked into your strategy, rather than being afterthoughts.

One way to add both value, authenticity and credibility to your marketing efforts will be through the use of influencers. Influencer marketing has exploded over the past couple years, and it’s not going anywhere in 2018. Regardless of the type of content, there’s always an opportunity to include credible voices and opinions that will touch and resonate with your audience.

Read: Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2017 Plus Thoughts on 2018

The Only Constant is Change

As you move forward in 2018, now is not the time to set and forget your digital marketing strategy. On the contrary, you need to be at the ready to make meaningful change.

The fact of the matter is that consumers are playing an increasingly powerful role in their buying journey-and brands and marketers need to embrace this if they’re going to survive and thrive into the future.

Content is at the core of every digital marketing strategy. What other trends do marketers need to be on the lookout for? Read Content Conversations: Content Marketing Predictions for 2018 featuring insights from Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, Chris Brogan, Alexandra Rynne, Tim Washer, Dayna Rothman, and Chris Moody.


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Digital Marketing News: What Marketers Think about AI, Autonomous Stores & GSC Adds Data

Infographic: What Marketers Really Think About Artificial Intelligence

A new infographic shows 47% of marketers consider artificial intelligence (AI) to be over-hyped. In addition, 43% of marketers believe vendors overpromise and underdeliver when it comes to AI. AdWeek

Can Autonomous Stores Catch On?

Brick-and-mortar stores are testing out an automation model, functionally converting their stores to vending machines. These may increase convenience and service levels for some customers, but many remain doubtful that this will take off in a big way. MarTech Today

Google Search Console Adds 16 Months of Data

Can I get a heck yes?! Google has confirmed that Google Search Console will now be able to show 16 months of data versus the typical 90 days. This is currently available in their beta version for some users, with a larger rollout pending. The SEM Post

The State of Video Marketing: Distribution, Topic, and Budget Trends

Marketers are saying that social media brings them the highest ROI for digital video distribution, followed by email. In addition, 50% of respondents are transferring budgets from traditional media budgets to finance digital video and 37% are reallocating budgets from digital media. MarketingProfs

Hulu Hits $1 Billion Ad Milestone

In 2017, Hulu hit a record for video advertising revenue at $1 billion. They also saw a 40% rise in subscribers year-over-year in 2017 for video-on-demand and Live TV products. MediaPost

Self-Driving Cars Have Landed at #CES2018, and Marketers Really Need to Pay Attention

Self-driving cars are more than just a surreal future world pipe dream – they’re well on their way to becoming a real disruption to our typical interactions with transportation. Aside from the daily interaction, self-driving cars can also serve as a site for real-time marketing communications. HubSpot

Forrester: Mobile will drive 69% of search ad growth by 2022

Mobile Marketer reports: “Mobile phones will drive most of the expansion in paid search ad spending, contributing an estimated 69% of the $19 billion in growth by 2022, according to Forrester research.” Mobile Marketer

How Marketers Are Turning Your Car Into a Branded Experience

Talking to your car isn’t as strange of a thought as it once was. But marketers and tech platforms are toying with the idea of taking this to the next level – providing helpful, timely information to consumers on-the-go. AdWeek

Why Brands Will Go To Extremes – Lengthwise – With Digital Video In 2018

Marketing Dive reports: “In 2017, marketers spent 2x as much on online video than they did on TV ads. While standard 30-second ads aren’t going away, brands are increasingly experimenting with a wide array of video formats that push extremes length-wise.” Marketing Dive

Google Is Sunsetting Adwords Review Extensions

Next month, Google will be removing the text ad extensions that allow advertisers to highlight 3rd-party reviews within their ads. If you have used these extensions and want to keep the data, export it in AdWords this month. Search Engine Land

New Data Reveals It’s Time to Change Your Headline Strategy

New research from Buzzsumo revealed some surprising insights about headlines that play best on Facebook – including which word combinations get the most engagement, and which to avoid. Social Media Today

On the Lighter Side:

M&M’s debuts touchdown dance contest for Super Bowl – Mobile Marketer

Billy Mann Discusses Video Humor as a Tool for Marketing – Small Biz Trends

TopRank Marketing In the News:

Debbie Friez – 2018 Digital Marketing Trends From 20+ Marketing Experts – Hot in Social Media

Josh Nite – Annual Content Planning: How To Kickstart Filling Your Editorial Calendar – HeidiCohen.com

Lee Odden – What’s Trending: Bring It On, 2018 – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

Lee Odden – Social Media Experts and Influencers, to Follow in 2018 – SocialChamp

Lee Odden – 5 Expert Tips To Refine Your Content Marketing Strategy For 2018 – Marketing Insider Group

Lee Odden – Meet the Top 21 B2B Influencers to Watch in 2018 – B2B News Network

Lee Odden – How To Research and Create Evergreen Content – BuzzSumo

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

We’ll see you next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also check out the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

The post Digital Marketing News: What Marketers Think about AI, Autonomous Stores & GSC Adds Data appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

How to Become a Better Data-Informed Content Marketer

Data-Informed Content Marketing Tips

Data-Informed Content Marketing Tips

As a 21st century marketer, you already know that data is an important player in the content marketing game. Data helps us understand who our audience is, what they care about, and how our content impacts their decisions. It helps us connect all the dots – and continue to find new dots as attitudes, needs, and preferences change.

But is your content marketing strategy taking advantage of all of the data you have at your disposal? Or is some data left on the cutting room floor?

As TopRank Marketing’s own Lee Odden recently wrote on the topic of data-informed content marketing:

“When it comes to content, creators are traditionally more art than science, and using data to guide editorial planning is still not an advanced skill for many companies.”

Not too long ago, Forrester reported that companies only use 12% of the data they have at their disposal. The remaining 88% of data is wasted and left unused. But imagine how much more effective your content marketing efforts would be if you upped that percentage even a few points – let alone to 100%.

With that said, we want to help you up your data gleaning skills and get the most out of your search, social, and behavioral data. Below are our top tips for becoming a better data-informed content marketer and really boost your content performance.

#1 – Create a segmented content pipeline.

Odds are, you already track your customers, the pages they visit, how long they stay, and the actions they take on your site. After all, it’s Content Marketing 101 to track your audience and their behavior, but this doesn’t paint a complete picture of your content and how it’s performing. To get a complete, 360-degree picture, you need to analyze the types of content you’re creating and draw some conclusions about performance.

Start breaking down your content by bucketing your pieces by length, stage of the funnel, topic, keyword, and other categories that could influence audiences. You can typically find this information in your content management system (CMS), content marketing platform (CMP), or your editorial calendar.

At TopRank Marketing, we’ve developed our own dashboard that integrates with various data sources such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, as well as pulls in our own categories and details to help us segment and analyze how our own content, as well as the content within our client programs, is performing. Here’s a little peek at how we segment:

Content Segmentation Example

Once your content has been segmented, it’s not only easier to see what types of content perform best, but also when they reach their peak performance and with whom. If a pattern starts to emerge, you can then fill up your content pipeline with items that can replicate that same success.

[bctt tweet=”Use the #data at your fingertips to create a segmented content pipeline. – @aleuman4 #contentmarketing” username=”toprank”]

#2 – Monitor social activity and engagement.

Of the world’s 3.7 billion internet users, 2.7 billion of them are active social media users, according to We Are Social. That’s roughly 35% of the world’s population logging onto social media to discover trending content and share messages with their networks.

With that in mind, using social media to distribute your content is a no-brainer. Plus, social networks make it easy for your to track your content’s social engagement through likes, retweets, shares, mentions, replies, etc. But your own social media profiles and posts aren’t the only thing you should be monitoring if you want to create a more data-informed content strategy.

Because social is such an important marketing channel, your competition and industry thought leaders will be on social as well. Monitoring their profiles and content, as well as your own, using tools like BuzzSumo or Follwerwonk can help you discover what types of content is really resonating and identify gaps in your own content plan.

BuzzSumo Example Data-Informed Content Marketing

It’s also a good idea to take a look at your top followers and customers on social to see what types of content they like and share with their own followers. With this data in hand, you can create content that is more suited to their interests, increasing your social engagement.

Read: 12 Industry-Specific Opportunities for Boosting Social Media Engagement

#3 – Refine and create new audience segments.

How are your current audience segments built? More often than not, they’re bucketed based off of demographic data. But your audiences are more than their age, location, or gender. They’re real people with real interests that you can use to your marketing advantage. You just have to find them first.

Deliver more relevant content to your customers by further drilling down your audience segments beyond what Google Analytics’ Audience Overview provides. For example, after performing a deep dive into your Google Analytics, social, email, and transactional data, you can perform new segmentation based on where each person is in the funnel, the types of content they’ve engaged in, what they’ve purchased, shared, etc.

Your audiences should never be set in stone, either. People change over time and your audience segments should, too. With new audience segments formed with specific criteria, you have more opportunities to create content tailored just for them, improving your engagement rate.

[bctt tweet=”Your audiences are more than their age, location, or gender. – @aleuman4 #contentmarketing #data” username=”toprank”]

#4 – Use behavioral data to find what’s valuable.

When creating a nurture campaign or onboarding experience, it’s tempting to throw everything in your arsenal at your audience. This way they have everything they need to know to make a decision, right? The problem with this approach is that “everything” probably isn’t relevant to them.

To really get a sense for what matters to each of your audience segments, take a look at your customers’ past behaviors and actions. In analyzing your past campaigns, is there a common touchpoint where customers dropped out or converted? If so, it’s your job to determine what contributed to or influenced this behavior. Was it the content, timing, or cadence? This practice will help you identify what your audience finds valuable and allow you to create campaigns that only present relevant and helpful information.

Read: 6 Best Practices for Nurturing B2B Marketing Qualified Leads

#5 – Repurpose and redeploy what didn’t work.

Failure is really just a masked opportunity. Part of being a data-informed marketer is taking information from what worked and what didn’t. If something failed to engage an audience or drive conversions, that is an opportunity to rework and improve – not throw something away and start fresh. Repurposing your content is not only sustainable, but it also has the chance to improve your reach, engagement, completed calls to action, and more.

Instead of scraping content that might have flopped or didn’t get the social engagement you were aiming for, dig deeper into the data to find what part of your content didn’t work. If no one clicked on your content to begin with, fixing the problem could be as simple as updating your promotional messages (e.g. emails, social messages, etc.) or meta description and title tags. Alternatively, if readers are exiting your content early, you may need to add more meat to your content to pique their interest and keep them reading longer.

The bottom line is that there is no such thing as bad results – even a “bad” result can tell you an awful lot about what’s happening with your content.

[bctt tweet=”Failure is really just a masked opportunity. –  @aleuman4 #contentmarketing #data” username=”toprank”]

Eliminate Your Content Outliers

By using the advice above, you can begin to create an effective content marketing strategy that works and weed out the practices that don’t. Get a jump start on removing those bad habits by removing these five outdated content marketing tactics from your playbook.

The post How to Become a Better Data-Informed Content Marketer appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.