Blog

How to Choose Dynamic Images for Your Blog Posts

I’m a content writer, not a graphic designer. My job is to make the words dance, to convey useful information in an entertaining way.

As such, for a long time visuals were just an afterthought for me. Yeah, a blog needs a header image. So after I’m done writing I’ll slap something on there, check that box, and send it off to the client.

As content continues to proliferate, though, that laissez-faire approach isn’t enough. Your potential audience has far more content available to them than they’ll ever be able to read. That means they’re actively looking for reasons not to read your content. A weak-or worse, missing-visual is a perfect excuse to move to the next thing.

The right visual does more than take up space. It captures attention, creates a little mystery, invites the reader to dig into your carefully-crafted text. Good visuals are doubly important for amplification, too: Your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn shares will all include an image. The visual alone can stop the endless, half-engaged scrolling people do on social media, buying you crucial seconds to compel a click or a tap.

I challenge any and all content creators to up their image game. Let’s stop with the schlocky stock photos and give people something that’s worth their attention.

Here’s how I find scroll-stopping visuals for my blog posts.

Ditch the Schlock Stock

It’s trendy to bash Shutterstock for schlocky stock photos, but that’s like blaming Netflix for your binge-a-thon of Fuller House. There’s plenty of great content available. It’s up to you to find and choose it over the clich stuff.

Whether you’re using Shutterstock or any other paid photo site, start by avoiding these clich photo types:

  • Minority Report Computer Displays. Seems like every B2B blog is required to use one of these nonsensical things at least twice a week.

    businessman using futuristic computer interface

  • Stark White Offices. It’s futuristic! It’s so clean! It looks like no place anyone has ever worked!

    people gathered in stark white office building

  • People with Arms Crossed. Do you pose for pictures like this? Does anyone? Then why are there thousands of these on stock photo sites?

    man with arms folded

  • Cupped Hands with Floating Icons. Sing it with me: He’s got the [abstract concept of my blog post] in his hands

    businessperson holding floating icons in cupped hands

  • Anything in front of a Chalkboard.STAHP.

    Businessman in front of chalkboard with muscular arms drawn in

I could go on, but you get the idea. These are the hoary clichs that give stock photos a bad name. They’re not unique; they’re not authentic; they’re not visually stunning.

To avoid the stock photo blues, I tend to start my search on royalty-free sites like Pixabay, Pexels, and even Creative Commons-licensed photos on Flickr. But even if the boss demands you use an approved paid site, there’s good stuff to be found. Here are a few ways to kick your visuals up a notch.

Make It Weird

For my blog post on mobile advertising strategy, there were plenty of obvious ways to go. Someone looking at a phone in a coffee shop, at an airport, at a concert people look at their phones everywhere, so there are no shortage of safe options.

So of course I went with this one:

Visual Content Marketing Dog with Sunglasses and Cell Phone

Why is the dog wearing sunglasses? What type of phone has a pawprint for the unlock button? Why didn’t he use the front-facing camera for his selfie? Any one of those questions is enough to give the reader paws. Er, pause.

Make It Beautiful

Instagram is a social media network that’s almost entirely visual. It was designed for image sharing, boy howdy, do its members share. There have been over 40 billion photos posted on Instagram since it launched 7 years ago.

So it makes sense to take a few design cues from Instagram when you choose your photos. Find something beautiful, striking, and with an evocative filter. Like this image I used for my comedy in content post:

Visual Content Marketing Clown in Forest with Instagram-Style Filter

Find a Metaphor

Get a little creative with your content, and you can get more creative with your visuals. Introduce a metaphor in your opening paragraph that will unite your content and give you more options for a header image.

For a recent content marketing tips post, I could have stuck with a generic businessperson or office header image. Instead, I added a personal note about Lego in the beginning, and found a dynamite visual that helped introduce the metaphor:

Visual Content Marketing - Colorful Assortment of Lego Bricks

Take Your Own Photos

The best way to ensure your header is original, authentic, and eye-catching is to take the photo yourself. Last year, Jason Miller held a photoshoot with his LinkedIn Marketing Solutions crew. They captured a ton of wonderful moments that the team used as header images for months:

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Team around Laptop

I love that even though this image is a parody of a stock photo, it’s undeniably original. You can see the cool art in the office. The people are actually the folks who create content for LinkedIn. The laptop is a well-loved machine with a LinkedIn sticker on it, not a pristine stainless-steel model. Unlike a stock photo, this picture actually tells you about the people behind the brand.

Even a cell-phone quality image can get the job done. When our team covers marketing events, we always take a candid photo of the presenter as the header image. My colleague Caitlin took it a step further for her Ann Handley roundup, with this adorable selfie:

Visual Content Marketing Selfie with Ann Handley

It’s genuine, it’s unexpected, and it’s a photo the reader is guaranteed to be seeing for the first time.

As with Written Content, It’s about Personality

It used to be that all B2B marketing content had to be professional, interpreted as impersonal, flat, and unemotive. Old-school stock photos are a perfect match for that kind of content. Here’s a guy in a suit standing with his arms folded. Here’s our white paper written like a software end-user license agreement.

Now we know better. Readers want content that has warmth and personality. They want to feel that another human being is communicating with them.

Visuals need to evolve in the same way. If you’re writing great content and still using stiff, stock images, you’re doing your content a disservice. Make sure your visuals are every bit as distinctive and authentic as your writing is, and you can earn your reader’s attention.

Do you love to create great content? Do you excel at eye-stopping imagery? TopRank Marketing needs you on our team.

Disclosure: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions is a TopRank Marketing client.


Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank Online Marketing Newsletter.

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank, 2017. |

How to Choose Dynamic Images for Your Blog Posts | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post How to Choose Dynamic Images for Your Blog Posts appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank.

Advertisements

How to Make the Switch to Content-Driven SEO #MNBlogCon

TopRank Marketing’s Joshua Nite made his debut on the speaker circuit this past weekend at the 8th annual Minnesota Blogger Conference held at Concordia University in St. Paul.

Charming the crowd with his unique brand of wit, creativity, mad content marketing expertise, and numerous cats with hats references, Josh delivered a The Good Place-themed presentation titled: The Good News About Creative Content: From SEO-Driven Content to Content-Driven SEO.

As someone who spent 12 years as a creative comedy writer for a video game called The Kingdom of Loathing, Josh said he was terrified by the concept of SEO-driven content when he made his transition into content marketing.

The worst content to write, and the worst content for people to read, was the stuff that [search engine] robots liked to read to most, Josh said.

But thankfully, search engines are getting smarter, using AI and machine learning to increasingly improve how they deliver the best results. As a result, content creators need to flip the script on how they craft content if they want to resonate with readers and robots. From Josh’s point of view, that means transitioning from SEO-driven content to content-driven SEO.

How? Below is Josh’s five-step framework.

#1 Topic research.

Get started by digging deep into your target audience. Why? Because in order to craft content that resonates, you have to understand what they care about. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are they? (i.e. demographics, hobbies, interests, etc.)
  • What do they desperately need to know? (And what keywords and keywords groups are associated?)
  • Where do they hang out online? (i.e. social media)
  • Why should they care about your content? (What value can you add?)
  • How do they search for inspiration? (i.e. Google, Bing, Q&A forums, etc.)

From there, you need to identify your sweet spot. Your sweet spot is the intersection of: 1) Your brand’s expertise. 2) Your audience’s needs. 3) Your unique insights.

Finally, leverage free and paid tools such as Google auto-complete, Google Keyword Planner, Quora, Answer The Public, and BuzzSumo to understand specific keyword topics that resonate most with your audience.


To craft #content that resonates, you have to know what your audience cares about.

Click To Tweet


#2 Competitor research.

Simply put, in order to beat out your competition, you need to know what they’re up to. Kick off your competitive research by simply going incognito, Josh said.

An incognito search prevents your browser history or cache from impacting the results, giving you a more accurate picture of the search results surrounding your priority keyword topics.

After popping in your keywords, scan the results for content gaps-gaps in quality, relevant, or helpful content. As you do this, look for opportunities to expand your keywords into long-tail variations, so you can get more specific and really let your niche expertise shine.

#3 Content creation.

Now the fun part comes. Using your topical and competitive research, outline your concepts and document your content mission (i.e. increase ranking for X keyword by 10 positions in one month). Then get to work on crafting your piece.

#4 A smattering of HTML.

As you craft your content, you need to be thinking about how you’ll organize that content on-page, as well as send click me signals to searchers. This involves working in some of the technical on-page SEO elements. The top three that need consideration include:

  • Title tags: This is the title searchers will see in the SERPs. Keep it to 600 pixels long so it doesn’t get truncated. In addition, aim to have the primary keyword near the beginning, as long as it makes sense.
  • Header tags: Use H1 and H2 tags to organize your content to make it easy to scan for readers and robots.
  • Meta description: From Josh’s perspective, this is the most overlooked, yet crucial part of SEO infrastructure. This is your one shot to hook users, he said. Keep it to 160 characters or less, include your target keyword if it makes sense, and state the clear benefit.

#5 Optimization.

You’ve spent a lot of time getting that piece of content out the door. But fight the urge to move on and never touch it again. As Josh so eloquently said, The real work begins after you publish.

So, keep an eye on your analytics. Is your content getting a good amount of impressions but not a ton of clicks? Consider refining the meta description a bit. Are you getting impressions and clicks, but the bounce rate is high? Your readers may feel like they’re not getting what they were promised or there’s no clear call to action to keep them on your site. So refine the meta description and craft a more compelling CTA.

Again, you poured a lot of effort into getting this content published-so don’t let that effort be wasted. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to tweak the content and the SEO elements to improve its resonance.


The real work begins after your publish. – @NiteWrites #contentmarketing

Click To Tweet


Don’t Settle

Josh summed it all up perfectly in the final moments of his presentation:

There’s never been a better opportunity to write great content that people actually want to read and that will get seen in search results, Josh said. So, go forth and be awesome. And please, please-don’t settle for writing crappy content.


Please, please-don’t settle for writing crappy content. – @NiteWrites #contentmarketing

Click To Tweet


What does your creative content creation process look like? Tell us in the comments section below.


Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank Online Marketing Newsletter.

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank, 2017. |

How to Make the Switch to Content-Driven SEO #MNBlogCon | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post How to Make the Switch to Content-Driven SEO #MNBlogCon appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank.

Digital Marketing News: Twitter Happening Now, Snapchat Context Cards, LinkedIn Video Ads

LinkedIn Video Ads

Video Ads Are Finally Coming to LinkedIn (client) When LinkedIn began allowing users to upload videos in August, video ads seemed like an inevitability, and they are now one step closer. LinkedIn announced today that it is running a closed beta test of video for sponsored content with a limited number of advertisers.AdWeek

Twitter Plans To Release A Bookmarking Tool #SaveforLater. You know how you can save posts to read later in Facebook? Well, Twitter is looking to do the same thing. For all of you liking posts as a way to bookmark, you can stop that practice with this new feature. Will this mean likes will go down? Probably. BuzzFeed

New Research: The state of marketing attribution A growing number of marketers are using attribution in all or most of their marketing efforts, according to a recent study from Econsultancy and AdRoll. However, the number of marketers acting on the insights they pull from attribution data is dwindling. Econsultancy

Snapchat Introduces context cards Snapchat released ‘Context Cards’ this week, which have the potential to bolster marketing efforts for restaurants, venues and other destinations. These cards will pull in information based on the Snap’s geo-filters and map information that will lead viewers to online reviews, Uber and Lyft information and more. TechCrunch

AdWords Charges & Your Daily Budget If you’ve been struggling to reach your advertising goals, AdWords has made some recent changes to help get you over the hump. As of October 4th, campaigns are now able to spend up to twice the average daily budget. Don’t fret about racking up the costs at the end of the month as you will not be charged more than your monthly charging limit.Google

Twitter Happening Now Twitter is adding a Happening Now feature that will group tweets by event, the company announced today. The feature, which will start with sports games, is yet another way the company is seeking to highlight information on its platform outside of the traditional follow model. Buzzfeed

Social media monitor Brandwatch acquires content marketing platform BuzzSumo Two things that are great on their own are not often better together, but that’s exactly what the marketing industry expects from the combination of BuzzSumo and Brandwatch. TechCrunch

Connect the Dots from Data to Better Customer Experiences Join me and Michael Trapani of IBM on October 26th for a free webinar to better understand the opportunities around creating best answer experiences with cognitive technologies. IBM Watson

Smart Speaker Commerce

NEWS NUGGETS

Infographic: YouTube has grown to 1.5 billion monthly active users MarketingProfs

LinkedIn connects sales, marketing tools for B2B advertisers to target leads, accounts MarTech Today

70% of Brands Work with Instagram Influencers Research Brief

Majestic and SEMRush Combine Forces Majestic Blog

Bing Ads Launches Automated Bid Strategy to ‘Maximize Clicks’ Search Engine Land

As Voice Has Its Moment, Amazon, Google and Apple Are Giving Brands a Way Into the Conversation AdWeek

New Study from D&B Shows What Frustrates B2B Buyers Most MarketingProfs

70% of Marketers Do Not Use Anonymized Consumer Identity Data But 75% Say it Helps Campaign Optimization MediaPost

63% of Amazon Advertisers Plan to Spend Even More Over the Next Year AdWeek

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

Be sure to stay tuned until next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also check out the full video summary with Tiffani and Josh on YouTube.


Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank Online Marketing Newsletter.

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank, 2017. |

Digital Marketing News: Twitter Happening Now, Snapchat Context Cards, LinkedIn Video Ads | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Digital Marketing News: Twitter Happening Now, Snapchat Context Cards, LinkedIn Video Ads appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank.

Will More Tweet Space Equal More Value for Your Twitter Audience?

Last month, Twitter made big headlines after announcing it was in the midst of testing 280-character tweets as a way to give users more room to express themselves. The announcement came a little more than a year after Twitter stopped including links and photos in character counts.

We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean), the company said in a press release on its blog. Although this is only available to a small group right now, we want to be transparent about why we are excited to try this.

For marketers, many may feel like Christmas has come early. Let’s face it, writing a compelling and comprehensive tweet in just 140 characters is an art – an art that seems almost impossible to master. With double the amount of space, the pressure is off and marketers can unleash their full wordsmithing talent. Um, right?

Not so fast.

Twitter’s 140-character limit has been a defining platform characteristic since its inception – and something many users are extremely partial to.

Twitter is about brevity. It’s what makes it such a great way to see what’s happening. Tweets get right to the point with the information or thoughts that matter. That is something we will never change, Twitter said in its release. We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters – we felt it, too.

While Twitter is confident that giving users more real estate will make it easier and more fun to tweet, marketers should not look at it as an opportunity to rewrite their tweeting best practices. The real opportunity here is to discover whether or not you can use that extra space to deliver more value and resonance to your audience.


Twitter’s character limit change is an opportunity to learn if you can deliver more value. #marketing

Click To Tweet


So, once super-sized tweets – as The Verge so eloquently called them – come to your account, don’t throw caution to the wind right away. Start with these actions:

#1 Audit your existing Twitter initiatives.

Take a deep dive into your analytics dashboard to get a deeper understanding of how your audience is already engaging with your tweets and taking action on them.

Of course, the basic metrics are important because they can serve as your benchmarks. But also go beyond the metrics to start categorizing what content garners the most engagement so you can draw some more meaningful insights. For example, what topics seem to fire your audience up? How long are your most effective tweets? Are images or video a part of your most successful tweets? Which tweets featuring my website content got the most clicks? What really seems to be working? What’s clearly not working?

In addition, it’s worth taking a peek at your website analytics to understand how Twitter is impacting your business. Depending on what you uncover through the Twitter dashboard, you might be able to draw some more conclusions on what tweet content has value beyond awareness and engagement.


Before adding characters, audit your current Twitter efforts. #socialmediamarketing

Click To Tweet


#2 Craft and launch test tweets.

Use the information you uncovered during your audit to build out and launch a test campaign featuring longer tweets. Of course, build these tweets in accordance with what you know is working best with your audience, but also give yourself some space to experiment a bit. We’d suggest running the test for at least a month to get enough data to lead into the next action.


Test longer tweets before throwing out Twitter best practices. #socialmediamarketing

Click To Tweet


#3 Analyze results and tweak your test.

Now it’s time to dive back into your analytics to understand how your test tweets stack up to your legacy efforts. Did you see a measurable rise or decline in engagement? What kind of engagement did you receive (i.e. increase in average comments or decrease in average retweets)? Was there a certain type of content that really benefited from that extra character room?


After you test longer tweets, analyze your results & make tweaks. #socialmediamarketing

Click To Tweet


The Bottom Line: Value Trumps Character Count

At the end of the day, character count simply doesn’t matter if what you’re sharing has no value or resonance with your audience. Since Twitter launched, the tight character count has been a creative restraint, challenging us all to say more with less. So, while you should certainly take advantage of the extra room when it makes sense, your primary objective should always be bringing insight and value to your audience. Because when they see the value you bring to the table, they’ll reward you for it.


Your primary objective should always be to bring value to your audience. @CaitlinMBurgess

Click To Tweet


What do you think about Twitter’s decision to double its character limit? Tell us in the comments section below.


Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank Online Marketing Newsletter.

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank, 2017. |

Will More Tweet Space Equal More Value for Your Twitter Audience? | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Will More Tweet Space Equal More Value for Your Twitter Audience? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank.

Making B2B Marketing Gold: A Look Back at MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum #MPB2B

Image via MarketingProfs

To open up the 2017 MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum, Chief Content Officer Ann Handley shared a challenge for attendees to keep top of mind while at the conference (in addition to tap dancing, but more about that later):

#1 Find Your Squad

This has been a running theme for the B2B Marketing Forum for as long as I can remember. Because the conference is capped at around 1,000 attendees, you actually have the opportunity to run into some familiar faces during the conference.

Even if you traveled to the event with members of your own team, it’s important to make the effort to meet new people, your people. I’ve been lucky to meet some really amazing people at conferences and continue to be in contact with many of them to this day.

We were fortunate to have a team at MPB2B that included myself, Lee Odden, Alexis Hall and Dan Rasmussen. This is a theme that resonates very well with us as we are constantly looking to add new members to our squad at TopRank Marketing in the form of new team members, industry influencers and prospective clients.

#2 Go Outside Your Comfort Zone

It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert, there will be situations that push you outside of your comfort zone. It could be walking up and starting a conversation with someone you’ve never met, interviewing one of your marketing heros, or for me, speaking on stage at my favorite conference to a room full of smart marketers.

Often, once you do make the effort to step outside of your comfort zone you quickly find that you’re actually having fun and wish you would have taken strides sooner.

These two challenges posed by Ann Handley led our team to push ourselves at this conference and align very well with some of our core values. Below is a recap of how we found our squad, went outside our comfort zones and learned as much as we could in an action packed three days.

Celebrating Squad & Comfort Zone Queen Ann Handley

If you’re like most marketers, Ann Handley’s squad is one that you want to be a part of. Ann is a genuinely kind, warm and incredibly smart individual that I feel lucky to know. But don’t take my word for it, see what some of today’s top B2B marketers had to say:

And if I thought that I stepped out of my comfort zone at MPB2B, it didn’t even come close to Ann taking the stage and tap dancing her little heart out in front of 1,000 marketers:

Spending Time with our Squad

Marketing events present a great opportunity to spend time with the marketers that you love and respect the most. We were fortunate that many of these people were at MPB2B last week.

The first night we were lucky enough to spend some time with our squad from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (who also happen to be a TopRank Marketing client). This group of marketers are some of the most talented and driven people I know.

Thanks for the memories!

On night two, TopRank Marketing hosted a VIP event that included some of our amazing clients, friends and top influencers at the conference.

Thank you everyone for taking the time out of your slammed schedules to share some drinks, eats and conversation with our team!

Sharing Smarts with Fellow Marketers

Events present the opportunity to learn from some of the top marketing minds in the industry. And since we know not everyone was able to attend MPB2B, we set out to capture some of the top insights from the conference. Below is what we uncovered:

Why to ROI: Proving the Value of B2B Influencer Marketing

Even though B2B marketers have begun to explore influencer marketing further in recent years, they’re still struggling to prove the ROI of these efforts. In his session, TopRank Marketing’s Lee Odden shared 5 essential steps for driving ROI with B2B influencer marketing.


Look to your left and right. Those people are influential about something. @leeodden

Click To Tweet


Everything You Need to Build a LinkedIn Marketing Tactical Plan

While the majority of marketers believe that LinkedIn is THE social media channel for business, many are struggling to implement a LinkedIn strategy that garners results. These takeaways from LinkedIn’s Alex Rynne and HubSpot’s Chris Wilson will help you get closer to success.


Don’t DO social campaigns, make every campaign social. @amrynnie

Click To Tweet


If You Only Had $1k to Invest in Content Marketing, How Would You Spend it?

Limited budget, time and resources are a struggle that all content marketers face, no matter the size of their organization. In his presentation, GE Digital’s Chris Moody shared quick tips for advancing your content as well as a breakdown for how a limited budget of $1k could be spent for maximum impact.


There is no excuse for us not to be data driven marketers. @cnmoody

Click To Tweet


The Netflix Experience: Create Binge-Worthy B2B Content

One of the top objectives for many brands today is to find a way to get audiences to binge on their content. But, creating binge-worthy content takes effort. See Ardath Albee’s top tips for creating content sure to keep your audience coming back for more.


Change the way a buyer thinks about a problem & they’ll look to you for more. @ardath421

Click To Tweet


Learn How to Connect Actions to results Using Marketing Attribution

Marketing activities that aren’t tied to results make it difficult to prove value. BrightFunnel’s Dayna Rothman shows how marketers can turn the buyer journey into a science by properly leveraging data and analytics.


Always keep testing and optimizing! @dayroth

Click To Tweet


In addition to his session covered above, Lee also participated in a panel about the convergence of ABM and Content Marketing. This panel provided great insights on how brands can reprogram organizational tactics to create a more focused, hyper-personalized approach to ABM.

On the final day of the conference, I took the stage for the first time at MPB2B to discuss scrappy B2B creativity hacks with my panelists Nick Westergaard and Andy Hunt. As this was the last session on the last day of the conference, we decided to make our session interactive and answer the audience’s most burning questions about B2B creativity.

Image via @michaelnob

Who are the 50 Top B2B Marketing Influencers From MPB2B?

B2B Marketing Influencers

As is tradition, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden gathered the marketers speaking at the B2B Marketing Forum and ran them through Traackr to see which ones ranked highest related to B2B marketing. Want to see who made the cute? Read: 50 Top B2B Marketing Influencers 2017

Coming Soon: Marketing Expert Interview Series

While at the B2B Marketing Forum, Dan Rasmussen and I had the opportunity to interview seven leading marketing experts on everything from their journey into content marketing, to what they predict as the future for content marketers.

Subscribe to our blog today to get first-access to this exciting new interview series!

Thanks for an Action-Packed Event!

Thank you to Ann and the entire team at MarketingProfs for putting on a first-class event. We can’t wait to see what next year’s conference in San Francisco holds!

If you were lucky enough to attend this great event, what was your top takeaway?


Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank Online Marketing Newsletter.

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank, 2017. |

Making B2B Marketing Gold: A Look Back at MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum #MPB2B | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Making B2B Marketing Gold: A Look Back at MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum #MPB2B appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank.

Content Marketing Platform BuzzSumo Acquired by Brandwatch

Brandwatch acquires BuzzSumo

It’s no mystery that I’m a big fan of BuzzSumo. I’ve been a customer since they launched and have advocated for the platform in blog posts, interviews and marketing presentations all over the world including keynoting at the BuzzSumo ContentSEO conference in New York.

I’ve also been a fan of Brandwatch after my pal Richard Bagnall introduced me to the CEO, Giles Palmer. I’ve had a chance to spend time with Giles as well as members of the Brandwatch team at their user conference and in the Brandwatch New York office.

Today those worlds come together as Brandwatch announces their acquisition of BuzzSumo.

Steve RaysonSteve Rayson from BuzzSumo gave me the heads up earlier today, BuzzSumo will remain as a separate product but we will leverage Brandwatch’s expertise, data and resources to improve what we do. The team and I will be staying on. I just wanted to say thanks again for all your support over the years and I look forward to working with you in future as part of the Brandwatch team.

Giles PalmerOf course I reached out to Giles as well to ask, Why BuzzSumo and how Steve was persuaded to finally sell? Giles shared, Steve and I have gotten to know each other over the last few years. I think steve saw our culture was progressive and felt that we would not destroy what he and the team had built. For my part, they’re an extraordinary team and we can help them do even greater things. It feels right.

I can tell you this partnership feels right too. BuzzSumo is an amazing platform with an impressive user experience and capabilities. Brandwatch is easily one of the most powerful social media listening and analytics platforms around. The combination of expertise is sure to be impressive and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the two platforms make each other better. Content and Social Media make the digital marketing world go ’round.

Just in case you’re not aware, Brandwatch is an international, tier one social listening and analytics platform in use by major brands like our clients State Farm and 3M as well as Walmart and VICE.

And BuzzSumo is a walk the talkSwiss Army Knife of social media, influencer and content insights providing content analysis, social and influencer research. They also have the recently added Question Analyzer. Companies like BuzzFeed, TechTarget, and Rolling Stone as well as many, many agencies and in-house marketers use BuzzSumo on a daily basis, just like we do at TopRank Marketing.

Here are a few more details from the press release:

BuzzSumo will retain its branding as its team continues managing all day-to-day functions of the business. The tool’s highly successful trend identification and content discovery capabilities, along with an expansion of its content measurement offering will be enhanced with a hefty infusion of Brandwatch’s data and analytics expertise, and global business footprint.

The combination of two companies’ complementary technologies represents a formidable force in content marketing, one of the most rapidly growing marketing industries. According to Ryan Skinner, senior analyst at independent research firm Forrester Research, US companies alone spent upwards of $10 billion on content marketing in 2016*.

Brandwatch adds BuzzSumo to its social intelligence offerings alongside Analytics, its core listening product, Vizia, its revolutionary data communication platform and Audiences, the company’s influencer and audience analysis tool. Audiences itself is powered by the data and influence technology integrated as a result of Brandwatch’s successful first acquisition, PeerIndex, in December 2014.

Congratulations to Steve and BuzzSumo team as well as Giles and the Brandwatch team!

And also, three cheers to marketers with beards!

Lee Odden and Giles Palmer Lee Odden and Steve Rayson

Top image credit: Brandwatch


Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank Online Marketing Newsletter.

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank, 2017. |

Content Marketing Platform BuzzSumo Acquired by Brandwatch | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Content Marketing Platform BuzzSumo Acquired by Brandwatch appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank.

If You Only Had $1k to Invest in Content Marketing, How Would You Spend it?

Budget is always top of mind for content marketers, but especially this time of year. In order to get even close to the budget that you want or need, you have to justify the spend.

Unfortunately, we’ve been ineffective at content for a while. But the question is, can we change the narrative?

In his presentation last week at the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum, GE Digital’s Chris Moody gave the audience insights into why we’re ineffective, and what we can do to improve, without having to spend a significant amount of money.

Where Are We Failing?

While approach and hurdles will vary from brand to brand, there are three key reasons that content marketing isn’t working today. Below are three stats that paint a very clear picture of where we’re going wrong:

  • Only 37% of marketers have a documented content strategy. (Content Marketing Institute & MarketingProfs)
  • Unfortunately, 82% of enterprise marketers have no centralized view of the customer. (Forrester)
  • 65% of CMO’s can’t measure ROI for digital marketing. (Forrester)

Why Are We Failing?

The problem with many content marketing teams today is that they are not obsessed with business performance. We’re focusing on KPIs instead of outcomes and often have a hard time tracking and mapping content success.

5 Quick Tips for Advancing Your Content Marketing

Change can be tricky and it’s important to make small incremental changes that set your team up to be successful. Below are a few quick tips that Chris offered in session. Instead of feeling like you need to make all of these changes right away, pick a couple and get started.

#1 Define your mission. Your mission should be a guiding force for your approach to content and all other facets of your marketing strategy.

#2 Institute the one word challenge. When you think of companies like Apple and Volvo, you immediately know what they stand for in one single word. Challenge your team to attempt the same with your brand.

#3 Stop chasing the next big thing. One of marketer’s biggest challenges today is the fact that we are constantly distracted. Instead of focusing on content quantity, direct your attention to content impact.

#4 Determine your top goal. While there may be a plethora of business objectives you’re trying to achieve through marketing, pick one goal and divert your attention to helping your team achieve whatever that is.

#5 Use insights to drive approach. Too often, content teams put a significant amount of effort into planning for, creating and launching their content. Then it’s never touched again. Immediately after launching your content, begin monitoring the performance and start talking about what worked, what didn’t and what you’ll change going forward.

How Does GE’s Chris Moody Think You Should Spend Your $1,000?

Finally, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for; how should you spend your $1,000 budget?

While there are literally a thousand ways you could spend your budget, Chris recommended the following:

$300 on Video

It’s no surprise that video content is in high-demand from customers. However, venturing into a new medium can sometimes seem like a very overwhelming undertaking.

While you can invest a lot in equipment, there are some great low-cost options today (including your smartphone). A good place to start is by spending your budget on editing video. You’d be amazed at what some good editing can do to turn a basic video into a masterpiece.

$100 Each on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter

You’ll never know what works until you test it. By investing a small amount in social advertising and boosting posts on top social networks, you’ll be able to identify what does (and does not) resonate with your audience on each platform. When setting up your social advertising, be sure to:

  • Start measuring traffic
  • Narrow your target audience to under 10k (small as possible)
  • Copy your customers
  • Target news feeds
  • Set a low daily budget
  • Use a call to action and social proof
  • Measure and gather insights

$400 Repeating What Works

After you initial investment of $600, you should have a rough idea of what tactics are working. Based on that data, invest your remaining budget into the tactics that performed best.

View Your Constraints as Opportunities

There will always be brands with larger budgets and more resources. Instead of lamenting about what you don’t have, focus on what you do. A great idea doesn’t cost a dime and there is no replacement for testing. If you’re ready to call in the experts, see if our content marketing services might be a fit for your brand.

What do you see as your biggest opportunity for getting more from your content marketing budget?


Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank Online Marketing Newsletter.

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank, 2017. |

If You Only Had $1k to Invest in Content Marketing, How Would You Spend it? | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post If You Only Had $1k to Invest in Content Marketing, How Would You Spend it? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank.

Digital Marketing News: The Perfect Sales Page, YouTube Changes & Instagram Polls

How to Write a Persuasive Sales Page (Even If You Hate Selling) [Infographic]

Selling doesn’t have to be ‘sleazy’ — it can be helpful, timely and informative. This infographic shows exactly how to perfect your website’s sales page to be informative, helpful, and not at all creepy to your intended buyers. MarketingProfs

YouTube Changes Rules Regarding Videos With External Links

YouTube is restricting which accounts are able to add external links at the end of videos. The new requirements are that the user is a member of the YouTube Partner Program and your channel must have 10,000 total public views (or more). Search Engine Journal

Instagram Adds Polls in Stories, New Creative Tools

Instagram is adding a new way for users to conduct polls using a sticker option that allows users to ask a question within their Instagram Stories and see results from followers as they engage with the polls. Social Media Today

Google releases a variety of Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) updates

This week, Google announced several AMP technical updates. Updates include scrolling animations, responsive sidebar, native video analytics and support, improved client ID information and fluid-ad support for publishers. Search Engine Land

YouTube Advertising: New Research and Insights for Marketers

Considering advertising on YouTube but unsure of best practices and next steps? This roundup of news and insights from Social Media Examiner shows four key insights and takeaways to help you get started or optimize your current program. Social Media Examiner

LinkedIn to launch Talent Insights, a new analytics tool, as it dives deeper into data

TechCrunch reports: “LinkedIn Talent Insights, a self-service, big data analytics product that will let recruiters make deeper queries into statistics for hiring and employment, based on LinkedIn data. Talent Insights is being announced in a closed beta today at the company’s Talent Connect event, with a full launch in 2018.” TechCrunch

Snapchat rolls out Sponsored 3D World Lenses, bringing its AR format to advertisers

Snapchat has released its latest AR ad format. Now advertisers can create their own versions of Snapchat’s 3D World Lenses. This will allow users to augment videos shot with their device’s rear facing cameras with animated 3D objects. Marketing Land

80% of Instagram Users Voluntarily Connect With a Brand on the Platform

According to Instagram’s COO, Marne Levine, 80% of users connect to a business voluntarily. She said: “Shrinking the distance between businesses and customers and bringing you closer to the things that matter to you is really something that we’re focused on. AdWeek

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more news! Have something to share? Tweet to @toprank or @Tiffani_Allen, or shoot a message over to the newsroom.

The post Digital Marketing News: The Perfect Sales Page, YouTube Changes & Instagram Polls appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank.

Must-See Sessions & Top Tips for Finding Your Squad at #MPB2B

For some people the happiest place on earth is Disneyland, for me, it’s the annual MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum in Boston.

Last week, I ran a poll on Twitter to see what people were looking forward to most at the B2B Marketing Forum, and while many are interested in learning new B2B tactics and meeting other smart marketers (smarketers?), the vast majority are excited to see what Ann Handley has in store for this year’s conference.

There are two things that make this conference one of my favorites:

  1. The content is amazing.
  2. The people are amazing.

This is my third year attending MPB2B and my first year speaking, so I’d like to think that I’ve gotten the lay of the land by now. So, to help you out, I’ve compiled a list of must-see sessions (so you’re not scrambling for the next three days) and some top tips for finding your squad at this great event.

Must-See Sessions at MPB2B

Ardath Albee

CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist, Marketing Interactions

How to Create Binge-Worthy Content Experiences that Move Buyers to Buy

We all know that more content is being created than ever and many of us struggle to keep our increase our content engagement. Ardath Albee’s session promises to deliver on the secret of getting yours buyers to binge on your content, by connecting the dots and showing them the value of swift immersion.

Jon Miller

CEO & Co-Founder, Engagio

The Secret Sauce for Account Based Marketing

If you’re wondering how industry leaders are practicing ABM, what works and what doesn’t, this is the session for you. Jon Miller’s session will give you the inside scoop of how ABM works at Engagio and how you can orchestrate programs that get results.

Lee Odden

CEO, TopRank Marketing

From Why to ROI: B2B Influencer Marketing Case Studies for Success

How can B2B brands put influence to work in their marketing? Through three case studies, Lee Odden will demonstrate influencer strategy best practices and how to measure performance to satisfy both the why and the ROI of working with B2B influencers.

What You Know About Content Marketing-FoGetAboutIT-This Is ABM

On this panel, Lee Odden, Joe Chernov, Meagan French and Justin Gray will discuss the role of content through the lens of ABM. The conversation will also explore how hyper-personalized, value-driven content and sales offers completely reframe your outbound strategies and tactics.

Chris Moody

Content Marketing Leader, GE Digital

Content Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

You must show the value of your content marketing, in order to gain more budget and grow the success of your program

If you can spare 45 minutes and $1,000 to spend on content marketing, walk away from Chris Moody’s session with documented content strategy and an action plan for content success that you can start today.

Alex Rynne

Content Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

Your LinkedIn Marketing Tactical Plan

If you are looking for an actionable plan for driving brand awareness and revenue on Linkedin, then don’t miss Alex Rynne’s Thursday session. Based on the results of dozens of A/B tests, find out what type of content performs best across LinkedIn Company Pages, Sponsored Content and InMail and how to run your own A/B tests to ensure your content is as relevant as possible to your target audience.

And walk away with a one-page plan to outline key metrics and determine the success of your LinkedIn plan.

Dayna Rothman

VP Marketing & Sales Development, BrightFunnel

Connecting Your Customer Journey to See More Success

In her session, Dayna Rothman will explain how to use measurement to optimize each stage of the buyer’s journey, make informed marketing decisions, and better understand what’s working-and what’s not. You’ll learn how your marketing team can utilize existing campaign data to dig deeper into performance and make intelligent decisions that will positively impact future pipeline and revenue.

Tim Washer

Creative Director, Cisco

Stop Boring Content with Comedy Writing Secrets

Join Tim Washer Friday morning for a lively session to help you hack the secrets of comedy writers to create content which is never boring. You will learn how to identify the common causes of dull content and tap into tactics for generating tons of creative ideas quickly.

Avoid corporate creativity deathtraps and use this session to spark creativity within your corporate team.

Ashley Zeckman

Director of Agency Marketing, TopRank Marketing

Scrappy B2B Creativity Hacks

What kind of marketer would I be if I didn’t encourage you to attend my own session? I will be taking the stage with Nick Westergaard and Andy Hunt to engage in an eye-opening discussion that will show you how you can leverage the latest content marketing tools to build your brand and grow your business without breaking the bank. In short, you’ll learn how to be scrappy.

Top Tips for Finding Your Squad

MarketingProfs has done an amazing job of connecting attendees to each other. And how could they not with an amazing Chief Content Officer like Ann Handley at the helm?

Getting the most out of a conference isn’t always about the content (although that’s important), it’s about meeting other like-minded marketers that you can connect with and learn from.

Below are three of my tips for finding your squad at an event like MPB2B:

#1 Attend Social Events

I will be the first to tell you that being super social isn’t always easy. So while it may be tempting to sit in your room and fire of emails, peel yourself away from the comfy bed and make your way to one of the many social events surrounding the conference. These events offer a great opportunity to make new friends in a relaxed setting and learn a little bit more about what they do and why they are here. To help you out, here are a couple ice breakers:

  • What are you looking forward to most at this conference?
  • Have you attended before or is this your first time? (the marketer’s equivalent of do you come here often?)

#2 Make New Friends in Session & at Lunch

While it can be tempting to sit with people you already know during sessions and lunch, don’t.

Instead, sit in a random row or at a random table and start a conversation with someone you don’t know. I have met some great people by plopping myself down at a table where I didn’t know a soul.

#3 See Who’s Interacting Online

It’s amazing to think about the number of people you meet virtually, but have not met in real life. Events like MPB2B are a great opportunity to take those online conversations offline. See who is interacting on platforms like Twitter (or the event app) and set a designated time and place to meet.

What Are You Looking Forward to Most at MPB2B?

So now that you have some insights into what I’m looking forward to most, I’d like to know: what do you consider must-see sessions at MPB2B?


Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank Online Marketing Newsletter.

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank, 2017. |

Must-See Sessions & Top Tips for Finding Your Squad at #MPB2B | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Must-See Sessions & Top Tips for Finding Your Squad at #MPB2B appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank.

50 B2B Marketing Influencers Speaking at #mpb2b

B2B Marketing Influencers

It’s October and you know what that means? Its B2B Marketing influencer speaker list time again.

One of my all-time favorite conferences is MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston and for the past few years I’ve had some fun listing out a top list of speakers ranked by influence around the topic of B2B marketing.

As usual, I used the influencer marketing platform Traackr to import the list of speakers from #mpb2b 2017 and rank them according to a combination of topical resonance and relevance as well as network reach related to b2b marketing. Of course, use of their platform in this way is like 1% of what Traackr can do. I imagine they cringe every time I use their robust tool for such a simple list but hey, they provide me with access and I use the tool as I see fit.

To clarify, my agency TopRank Marketing is also a paying customer of the Traackr platform for clients, where it is used in support of B2B influencer marketing programs for brands like SAP, BMC Software, McKesson and others in ways that are more in line with the platform’s capabilities.

B2B Marketing influencers network

This is a legit list that recognizes people creating content around B2B marketing that resonates with their social following. At the same time, sometimes people take lists a little bit too seriously, so let’s have a little fun here and there with some special awards.

First, here are some compelling stats about the people on this year’s list:

  • 40% are women
  • 14 are CEOs
  • 4 are CMOs
  • 6 are named Chris
  • 12 have beards

And the Khaleesi of Content Award goes to:

Ann Handley@marketingprofs

Chief Content Officer

MarketingProfs

Here’s the 49 additional B2B marketing speakers that came up in the search for influencers:

Pam Didner @pamdidner

Senior Marketing Consultant, Author, Speaker

Relentless Pursuit

Michael Brenner @BrennerMichael

CEO

Marketing Insider Group

Winner of the nicest guy you’ll ever meet in marketing award

Lee Odden @leeodden

CEO

TopRank Marketing

Winner of the Puts himself in his own list award actually, it’s legit

Ardath Albee @ardath421

CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist

Marketing Interactions

Katie Martell @KatieMartell

Marketing Consultant

Katie Martell, On-Demand Marketing

Winner of I will always remember the marching band at B2B Forum award

Christopher Penn @cspenn

Vice President of Marketing Technology

SHIFT Communications

Winner of the You think you know AI? I AM AI! award

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone @KerryGorgone

Director of Product Strategy, Training

MarketingProfs

Jon Miller @jonmiller

CEO and Co-Founder

Engagio

Winner of rocket scientist marketer AND serial entrepreneur award

Doug Kessler @dougkessler

Creative Director & Co-Founder

Velocity Partners

Winner of the I swear and people love me for it award

Carlos Hidalgo @cahidalgo

Founder & CEO

VisumCx

Joe Pulizzi @JoePulizzi

Founder

Content Marketing Institute

AlsoCo-Founder & Board Member, The Orange Effect Foundation

Winner of I’m doing whatever I want from now on award

Mark Schaefer @markwschaefer

Keynote speaker

Schaefer Marketing Solutions

Pawan Deshpande @TweetsFromPawan

CEO

Curata

Ashley Zeckman @azeckman

Director of Agency Marketing

TopRank Marketing

Mary Ellen Slayter @RepCapital

Owner

Rep Cap

James Thomas @jthomas_44

CMO

Allocadia Software

Chris Chariton @cchariton

Senior Director, Marketing & Business Development

GTM

Samantha Stone @samanthastone

Founder & CMO

The Marketing Advisory Network

Stephan Hovnanian @stephanhov

Content Solutions Architect

Bambu by Sprout Social

Raviv Turner @ravivturner

Co-Founder & CEO

CaliberMind

Heidi Cohen @heidicohen

Chief Content Officer

Actionable Marketing Guide

Tim Washer @timwasher

Creative Director, SP Marketing

Cisco

Winner of deadpan everyman funnyman award

Justin Gray @Jgraymatter

CEO

LeadMD

Nancy Harhut @nharhut

Chief Creative Officer

Nancy Harhut & Associates

Andrea Fryrear @AndreaFryrear

President and Lead Trainer

AgileSherpas

Tamsen Webster @tamadear

Founder and CEO, Strategic Speaking

Winner of I’m on the same list as Tom award

You Mon Tsang @youmon

Founder and CEO

ChurnZero

Bob Meindl @BobMeindl

Director, Marketing

Cisco

Mitch Joel @mitchjoel

President

Mirum Agency

Winner of best looking bald man dressed in black award

Bill Sebald @billsebald

Founder / Partner / SEO

Greenlane Search Marketing

Dayna Rothman @dayroth

VP Marketing & Sales Development

BrightFunnel

Winner of coolest tattoos on a marketer award.

Chris Arrendale @Arrendale

CEO & Principal Deliverability Consultant

Inbox Pros

Chris B Wilson @DrSocialMedia

Inbound Consultant

HubSpot

Chris Marr @chrismarr101

Founder & Director

Content Marketing Academy

Winner of the best accent, ever award

Ahava Leibtag @ahaval

President

Aha Media Group

Derreck Kayongo @DerreckKayongo

CEO

Center for Civil and Human Rights

Jessica LaHaie @JessieLaHaie

Influencer Relations Coordinator

TechSmith Corporation

Brian G. Peters @Brian_G_Peters

Digital Marketing Strategist

Buffer

Michelle Huff @michelle_huff

Chief Marketing Officer

Act-On Software, Inc.

Meagan French @mkfrench

Founder and President

Lotus Growth

Tom Webster @webby2001

Vice President, Strategy and Marketing

Edison Research

Winner of I’m on the same list as Tamsen and she’s kicking my butt award

Scott Monty @ScottMonty

CEO & Co-Managing Partner

Brain+Trust Partners

Jason Hsiao @jason_hsiao

President & Co-Founder

Animoto

David Berkowitz @dberkowitz

Chief Strategy Officer

Sysomos

Alison Levine @Levine_Alison

Executive Producer – The Glass Ceiling, Follow Your Dream

Chris Goward @chrisgoward

Founder & CEO

WiderFunnel Marketing Optimization

Matt Childs @MattyChilds

Director of Digital Marketing Sales, North America

Brightcove

Melissa Case @startabuzz

Corporate Blog Manager

Citrix

Joe Chernov

Joe Chernov @jchernov

CMO

InsightSquared

Winner of most epic beard on a CMO award

If you’re a conference organizer looking for influential speakers on all topics around B2B marketing, then this list might be a good reference for your 2018 planning.

And if you’re attending MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston this week, there’s an entire schedule of talented marketers enlisted to share their B2B knowledge bombs on you including this fine group.

Why to ROI B2B Influencer Marketing

TopRank Marketing will be participating in the B2B Forum with Alexis Hall and Dan Rasmussen attending. Ashley Zeckman and I will also be involved with multiple presentations including:

We hope to see you there! If not, be sure to follow us on the conference hashtag #mpb2b and @toprank.


Email Newsletter

Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the

TopRank Online Marketing Newsletter.

Online Marketing Blog – TopRank, 2017. |

50 B2B Marketing Influencers Speaking at #mpb2b | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post 50 B2B Marketing Influencers Speaking at #mpb2b appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank.