Month: April 2017


Image Map Support in HTML Email

An image map is an image that contains areas that map to distinct links. Image maps are largely considered antiquated on the web since there are more suitable techniques available and it comes with a host of downsides. However, support for image maps is surprisingly good among the major email clients.

What is an Image Map?

An image map is an image that is linked to a map of areas within the image specified by coordinates and a link. Clicking within the areas within the image will take the user to the associated link.

The code for the above image map (example on codepen) that contains a clickable rectangle and triangle looks like this:



 Square
 Triangle

There are three types of shapes for image maps: rect (rectangle), circle and poly (polygon).

You’d normally need a tool to generate the coordinates such as Dreamweaver or an online service like this.

Support for Image Maps in Email Clients

From my tests, all the major email clients support image maps. Yes, even Microsoft Outlook! Other clients that I’ve tested that works with image maps include, iOS, Apple Mail, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Outlook.com, AOL and the Samsung Android client.

Downsides of Image Maps

With all the utility of image maps, there are some distinct drawbacks that you should consider should you decide to use them.

Lack of alt text support.

When an image is blocked by the client, all you see is a single alt text of the image and not the individual links.

Does not work with responsive images.

Since the coordinates are hard coded, you cannot have images that scale to the width of its container as this will cause the coordinates to drift. Images must have fixed width and height dimensions.

Potential confusion in Gmail and Outlook.com.

In Gmail and Outlook.com, the link pointer (hand) will appear even when the user hovers the cursor over areas that are not defined by the image map. Clicking on these areas will highlight the image in its own window and can potentially confuse users which areas contain actual links.

Breaks when iOS and Gmail Android App autoscales images

If the image is autoscaled by the client, the coordinates of the image map will be off. A simple fix is to wrap the image within a table and this will fix this problem.

Link tracking may not work in some ESPs

Some email service providers won’t track clicks if the link is embedded in an image map.

And finally there seems to be a bug in Apple Mail that if the image map is the last piece of content in an email, it loses its links. Granted this situation is highly unlikely, but may come in handy during testing.

Take Away

Contrary to popular belief, image map support in email clients is pretty robust. If you decide to incorporate image maps in your campaigns however, you should definitely consider its many shortcomings before you embark.

Don’t Guess, Test!

At Email on Acid, testing is at the core of our mission. After you’ve finished setting up the perfect design for your campaign, ensure the email looks fantastic in EVERY inbox. Because every client renders your HTML differently, it’s critical to test your email across the most popular clients and devices.

Try us free for 7 days and get unlimited access to email, image and spam testing to ensure you get delivered and look good doing it!


B2B Marketers Are Way Behind on Influencer Marketing and Here’s the Solution

B2B Influencer Marketing Catch Up

Influencer Marketing is a hot topic, but what is really working, what isn’t and what are the future trends for marketers? Those are the questions we set out to answer in the research report: Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing.

With analysis from Brian Solis of Altimeter and a research partnership between Traackr and my agency TopRank Marketing, enterprise marketers in North America and Europe were asked about the role of influence including ranking their influencer marketing maturity level.

31% of B2C marketers reported that they are experimenting with influencer marketing and 48% are running ongoing programs. This is in contrast to B2B marketers where a greater number (49%) were still experimenting and only 11% were running ongoing influencer programs.

Why does this mean B2B marketers are behind?

Within B2B marketing, the role of content during the customer journey is clear. Self directed business buyers are pulling themselves through most of the sales journey before ever contacting sales.

How are they doing it? With content.

While content continues to drive customer attraction, engagement and conversion, buyers have become numb to brand messages and advertising, going so far as to install ad blocking software at an increasing rate. Information overload and distrust of push marketing has buyers relying on peers, experts and industry influencers more than ever.

When B2B brands collaborate on content with credible outside voices that have active networks, it results in information with greater relevance, credibility and reach.

The connection between influence and content is very strong amongst enterprise marketers we surveyed. According to the study, 80% of marketers cited the biggest impact from working with influencers as content marketing. With the demand and usefulness of content marketing within B2B, there is tremendous opportunity for B2B marketers to improve their ability to integrate influence more strategically.

While most B2B marketers appreciate the opportunity with content and influencers, many are too inwardly focused. Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs offers this advice:

“Make Your Customer The Hero of Your Story. Paradoxically, your “story” is not about you—it’s about what you do for others. That’s a subtle shift, but an important one, because it installs your customer at the very heart of your marketing. It’s customer-centric versus corporate-centric.” @annhandley

Customer centricity is essential for effective B2B content marketing and working with industry influencers to co-create content adds a customer voice and authenticity that many marketers miss.

What is holding B2B marketers back from achieving more success working with influencers? There are three key issues:

1. Working with famous and friends, not influential people.

Social network size and self appointed influencer status does not equal the ability to affect a change of thinking or inspire action amongst buyers. Many B2B marketers are swayed by brandividuals into thinking that popularity alone will move the needle on buying cycle marketing metrics. Awareness is great, but without engagement and conversion as well, what is the point?

2. Viewing influencers as advertising.

People understand new things in terms of what they already know and this is no different in how many B2B marketers approach working with influencers. Advertising is a familiar model and B2B marketers that expect influencer collaboration to produce the same performance at the same consistency as an advertising channel, will inevitably be disappointed.

3. Short term, commoditized, disconnected collaboration.

The most significant disconnect of all is the “one off” approach where marketers engage influencers at random without any effort to maintain a relationship or understand what the influencer wants out of the the collaboration.

To take full advantage of a more strategic approach to influencer content, there are three engagement scenarios B2B marketers should consider:

Influencer Microcontent

Short form content is easier for influencers to contribute and serves as a nice appetizer for the brand community in advance of more substantial collaborations. Pull quotes, tips and social message-length comments are also great moments of opportunity to establish influencer relationships and to maintain positive interactions in between larger projects.

Influencer Campaigns

Strategically planned, implemented and connected influencer content campaigns provide participating influencers an opportunity to make more substantial contributions of their expertise and thought leadership to the shared brand and influencer community. The key to influencer content campaigns is that there is a guiding narrative and directive for relationship growth that provides direction for continued and evolved influencer engagement, not one-off or stand alone projects with only short term goals.

Influencer Community

A dedicated group of influencers as part of a brand VIP program provides advocates and industry experts a platform for collaboration in a variety of ways. A more formal engagement with influencers helps identify their affinity for shared values with the brand as well as what the common interests and goals of their mutual communities.

Many B2B marketers still experimenting with influencer marketing may touch on these three engagement scenarios, but are not often implementing strategically or long term. To do so, requires both a strategy and technology.

In the Influence 2.0 report, 71% of enterprise marketers view their influencer marketing as strategic or highly strategic and yet, only 24% of overall marketers are running ongoing influencer programs allocating just 10% of overall marketing budget. The awareness of a bigger picture view and integration exists with most enterprise level marketers, they just need to invest in a strategy and resources, including technology, so they can realize the benefits of an approach that is long term and scaleable.

When it comes to technology that supports more scalable, long term and integrated influencer marketing, Jason Miller, Global Content Marketing Leader at LinkedIn agrees: “I am a major advocate for making all of our jobs easier as marketers and it’s time we put the technology to work for us. Having a tool such as Traackr in your arsenal can help tie influencer marketing back to overall business goals and prove the marketing value to your CMO; that’s a very good thing.”

What is the Future of Influence for Enterprise organizations?
57% of marketers in our study say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities in the next 3 years compared to only 5% claiming full integration today. As more B2B marketers evolve from influencer marketing experimentation to a more strategic approach that emphasizes relationships, common goals and the ability to manage and scale with technology, the more they will realize the benefits of integration across all marketing functions.

Influencer 2.0 Cover

You can download the full report, Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing here: http://influencermarketingreport.com

Of course you can get help with influencer content strategies from the some of the best in the business at TopRank Marketing.

A version of this article originally appeared on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog.


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B2B Marketers Are Way Behind on Influencer Marketing and Here’s the Solution | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Superheroes of Social Media: Your Must-See Guide to #SMMW17

In a past life, I was a minor internet celebrity. One big perk to that dubious career was being a vendor at San Diego Comic Con for seven straight years. Our little indie booth saw visits from superheroes and celebrities alike. Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, DC & Marvel Comics: It’s truly a nerdy paradise.

Now I’m headed back to the convention center for a different kind of meetup: Social Media Marketing World 2017. I’m expecting fewer costumed superheroes (although with the right pair of glasses I could pull off a Seth Godin costume). But there will be plenty of astonishing and amazing marketers to meet.

These folks may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound—though I hear Ann Handley has an impressive long jump—but when it comes to getting results on social media, they’re nothing short of heroic.

Here are five social media superheroes I’m excited to see at Social Media Marketing World, and a quick rundown of their sessions.

#1: Carlos Gil

The Marketer: Carlos is an influencer, sought-after public speaker, social media strategist and Snapchat expert. He’s currently the Head of Global Social Media for BMC Software. Carlos’ YouTube Channel is an entertaining, informative mix of personal anecdote and professional insight.

The Session: Snapchat Strategies for Marketing Your Business, March 23, 2:00-2:45pm

For many businesses—especially in the B2B space—Snapchat is something of an enigma. Besides applying funny filters to our CEO’s headshots, what’s the marketing potential? Where’s the ROI? Carlos’ session promises to teach “how to grow your Snapchat account, strategies for content creation, tips for working with influencers including examples from notable brands and measuring the $ ROI of your marketing efforts. You will also discover how to use Spectacles for content creation and how to balance Instagram vs. Snapchat to engage your community.”

Secret Superhero Identity: The Flash

There’s only one superhero who matches up with the man who created “The Hustle Diaries.”

#2: Ann Handley

The Marketer: Ann is a personal hero of mine, as she should be for anyone in content creation. She is waging a war on boring content, fighting for truth, justice, and personality. As the Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, Ann practices what she preaches, curating and creating a treasure trove of instructional content. Think you’re not in the content creation business? Think again: As the title of her bestselling book points out: Everybody Writes.

The Session: How to Create Breakthrough Written Marketing Content, March 23, 11:30am-12:15pm

When visual is the new headline, video is the new blog post, and orange is the new black, do we really need to focus on the written word? Absolutely. Ann says, “Even in our social media-driven world, good writing still matters. Now more than ever. Good writing can move your marketing from mediocre to remarkable. From boring to brilliant.” Ann’s writing is always compelling, and her session is bound to be indispensable for marketers of every stripe.

Secret Superhero Identity: Oracle

From her tiny writing house, Ann keeps marketers informed and masterminds a content empire.

#3: Lee Odden

The Marketer: Lee is the CEO of TopRank Marketing, author of the bestselling book Optimize, and a speaker at marketing conferences around the world. Lee is a pioneer in integrated marketing, influencer marketing, and participation marketing, keeping steadily ahead of the curve as TopRank Marketing grows.

The Session: Future of Influencer Marketing: Strategies and Trends March 24, 10:15-11:00am

Influencer marketing has the potential to generate amazing results for influencers, marketers, and audiences alike. But most of us are still trying to define what exactly influencer marketing means, its potential and best practices. This session focuses on the habits of successful marketers to identify trends to embrace and obstacles to avoid, based on Influence 2.0, TopRank Marketing’s research with Altimeter and Traackr.

Secret Superhero Identity: Professor X

He’s built a team of super-powered marketers and seems to have the ability to read his audience’s minds.

#4: Koka Sexton

The Marketer: Koka is the Godfather of Social Selling, the strategic use of social media for sales enablement and acceleration. After a meteoric rise through the ranks at LinkedIn, he is currently the Global Industry Principal of Social Selling at Hootsuite. Koka’s ability to bridge the divide between sales and marketing demonstrates his deep understanding of what social means to business.

The Session: How to Turn LinkedIn Into a Funnel for New Leads, March 24, 11:15m-12:00pm

Koka has unique insight into winning strategies on LinkedIn, as the only LinkedIn Influencer who has ever worked at the company. Expect deep-level insights from someone who helped shape the platform into the B2B powerhouse it is today.

Secret Superhero Identity: Iron Man

He’s a sales and marketing machine with charisma to spare.

#5: Mari Smith

The Marketer: Known as the “Facebook Queen,” Mari has a decade of experience as a social media consultant and trainer. She’s an international keynote speaker and has shared the stage with luminaries like Sir Richard Branson, Ariana Huffington, and Guy Kawasaki. The numbers speak for themselves: Mari has over 650 thousand followers on Facebook alone, and over 1.5 million across social channels.

The Session: How to Improve Your Facebook Marketing ROI, March 23, 10:30-11:15am

Of the 60 million businesses who have a Facebook Page, less than a tenth are actively advertising, and even fewer are seeing positive ROI from their efforts. Many businesses gave up on earning organic reach on the platform as Facebook placed emphasis on paid promotion. Mari’s session promises to teach “specific content marketing secrets, savvy engagement tactics, and cleverly allocated paid promotion,” to “improve your organic reach by properly integrating strategic paid efforts.”

Secret Superhero Identity: Ms. Marvel

She’s a high-flying, high-visibility marketer who can still deliver a knockout for her clients.

Marketers, Assemble!

If you’re headed to Social Media Marketing World, keep an eye out for me and Ashley Zeckman. Feel free to stop by and say hello any time you see the gleam off the top of my head. If you can’t make it follow along on Twitter at @TopRank, @LeeOdden, @NiteWrites and @azeckman.

What sessions are you most excited to attend? Let me know in the comments.


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Online Marketing News: Millennial Micro Influencers, Apple Clips, Facebook Seasons

Infographic: Who Is the Millennial Female Micro Influencer?
Who is a millennial female micro influencer? How does she compare to your average social media user? She tends to have a larger following with more engagement, and posts about topics like travel, fashion and health and fitness. This infographic sums up who this person is and what her followers and habits are like. AdWeek

Apple introduces Clips: the fun, new way to create expressive videos on iOS
This week, Apple introduced Clips — a new way to create expressive videos out of music, photos, video clips and more. These Clips also feature interactive titles that are based on your voice, and are easily posted directly to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo or a variety of other platforms. Apple

New: Save Your Live Video to Your Phone
Late last week, Instagram announced the newest addition to its live videos – users can now save their live videos directly to their devices. However, these saved videos will not retain comments, number of views or interaction data. Instagram

52% Say Majority of Their Business Marketing Activity Is Digital [DATA]
Search Engine Journal reports: “According to a survey sent out to Search Engine Journal’s Twitter audience, 52% say majority of the overall marketing activity for their business is digital.” Does this mean that brands are straying away from traditional advertising in favor of digital? According to a recent study by AdRoll, 65% of marketing decision makers spent more than half of their marketing budget on digital marketing. Search Engine Journal

Facebook rolls out seasonal greetings at the top of the News Feed
Facebook’s Goodwill team — the same folks that brought us Friend’s Day videos — have rolled out new animated media to announce the change of the season. In the northern hemisphere, users will see images of birds and flowers. In the southern hemisphere, users will see falling leaves. TechCrunch

New: LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences will target ads based on people’s web browsing, email addresses
According to Marketing Land, “Later this year LinkedIn will once again let businesses target the people who visit their websites with ads on the Microsoft-owned, business-centric social network. On top of re-adding website retargeting — which is already offered by Facebook, Google, Twitter and Pinterest — LinkedIn will also enable business to target ads based on people’s email addresses, as its aforementioned rivals already do.” Marketing Land

How Much Instagram Influencers Charge to Post Sponsored Content
MarketingProfs reports: “Influencers charge $271, on average, to share a sponsored post on Instagram […] Modeling influencers charge the most ($434, on average) per sponsored Instagram post. Music influencers charge the least ($201, on average). Modeling influencers also tend to have the largest audiences (141,563 followers, on average), and music influencers tend to have the smallest (26,403).” MarketingProfs

Google Admits Brand Safety Is a Global Problem
Prompted by recent events in the UK, where a media group paused all of its clients’ display spending due to ads appearing next to questionable and/or unsafe content through Google’s ad network, Google is reevaluating their practices around unsafe advertising. However, advertisers must also call themselves into account and ensure they understand where and how their ads are being placed. For brands to maintain safety, everyone needs to be watching. Ad Age

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

I’ll be back next week with more online marketing news. If you have something to share, sound off in the comments or Tweet to @toprank.

The post Online Marketing News: Millennial Micro Influencers, Apple Clips, Facebook Seasons appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Creating Breakthrough Content: There Ain’t No Magic Feather #SMMW17

If you want to write amazing content like Ann Handley, don’t be a Dumbo.

Dumbo was convinced he could only fly while holding a “magic feather.” When he lost the feather mid-flight, he plummeted toward the ground. It wasn’t until he believed he could fly without the feather that he was able to take off again.

Too many would-be content creators are searching for their magic feather–the book, online course, or perfect antique typewriter that will make them a writer. And while they search, they can’t or won’t write.

So Ann began her session at Social Media Marketing World by asking us all to recite a pledge out loud:

“I don’t believe in unicorns, fairies, or Santa. There is no magic feather.”

Despite the slander against Mr. Claus (who I have on good authority is very real), it’s a crucial first step. You have to know that good writing is a learned skill, not something magically bestowed on those with the right talisman.

You can do it. You can get better at it.

Here are Ann Handley’s five tips for writing “ludicrously spectacular” content.

#1: It Starts with Not Writing

At least half of the writing process doesn’t look anything like writing. Now, you may be thinking, “frequently what I’m doing while I’m supposed to be writing is not writing.” That’s not quite what Ann means, though.

“Not writing” means being in idea-gathering mode all the time, when you’re out in the world, bingeing on Netflix, or just daydreaming at work. Writers should gather ideas like squirrels gather nuts–always on the lookout, never passing one up, and stashing them where we can get at them later.

The difference between a productive writing session and a frustrating hour staring at a blank screen is having a stash of ideas to go through. Whether you keep them in a notebook, or a service like Evernote or OneNote, commit to hoarding at least five ideas a day.

When you’re ready to write, snag an idea from your stash and, as Ann puts it, “explore the daylights out of it.” Use tools like BloomBerry, Board Reader, and Buzzsumo to see how people are talking about the idea, so you can develop your own approach.

#2: Write an Ugly First Draft

When you do start to write your first draft, silence your inner critic and focus on getting the words from your brain to the screen. Know that you will revise the work at least once–probably more–before you publish. It’s incredibly freeing to accept that your first draft will be bad.  As Ann puts it, “You can’t write well without first writing spectacularly badly.”

That first draft doesn’t have to be a fully-fleshed out draft, either. It could be a list of points you want to cover, a really informal summary of the piece, or even something you dictate into your phone. The point is to give yourself something you can build on. It’s a giant leap from nothing to something–anything you do after that first leap will be easier. So whatever it takes to get something on the page, go for it.

After you finish your ugly first draft, let it rest for a while. Give your brain a little time off and let the piece sit. You’ll be better equipped to edit if you have some distance.

#3: Screw & Do

It’s not as salacious as it sounds: first, identify the ‘screw,’ the one key point for your reader that your whole piece revolves around. Second, do the editing you need to get to the screw as quickly and compellingly as possible.

How do you find your screw? Develop pathological empathy for your reader. Ann recommends the “so what?” process. Start with the statement you want to make, then imagine your reader shouting “SO WHAT?” Keep asking “SO WHAT?” and refining your message, and you will find the purest version of what you want to say, expressed in terms of benefit to the reader.

For the editing process, start with a self-edit by chainsaw. Ann says, “make every paragraph earn its keep.” In the first pass you’re trying to carve out huge chunks of writing that, while they may be very pretty or witty, aren’t serving your screw. Seek to create momentum for the reader by cutting out the junk that slows them down.

Then break it down to the sentence level. Edit with your scalpel, making sure each sentence is earning its keep. Edit for voice–when you read it out loud, does it sound like a person with a point of view wrote it? As Ann says, “If the label fell off, would they know it’s you?”

After the content is in fighting trim, then you can edit for grammar, formatting, all the small stuff. But the grammar should be the last consideration. There’s no point in repainting a condemned house. Get it structurally sound first.

#4: Write a Killer First Line

“Your reader is always looking for reasons NOT to read,” Ann says. You know it’s true–we’re always looking for the next distraction. A boring first line does your reader a favor; it gives them permission to move on.

Your first line needs to captivate the reader. Always lead with something that can capture attention. It could be a funny line, a wild statistic, or even just a strong point of view. Don’t be afraid to evoke an emotion, whether it’s amusement, wonder, or even fear.

#5: It’s All about the Voice

Your voice–or brand voice–can be a major differentiator in a sea of same-y content. Your voice should express:

  • Who you are
  • Why you do what you do
  • What you are like to deal with

Which means, of course, you need to know the answer to these questions before you start.

Marketers are often encouraged to ask, “If your brand were a person, would you want to hang out with it?” When you’re writing brand content, you’re asking people to hang out with your brand. Not every brand needs to be the life of the party, but your voice should communicate why your brand is a worthy companion.

Take the Spectacular Writing Pledge

Even in the age of infographics and videos, good writing and great content excel. From landing pages to blog posts, eBooks to ad copy, let’s pledge to create ludicrously spectacular content.

Feel free to stand up wherever you are and repeat out loud Ann Handley’s pledge:

“I will collect & hoard 5 ideas a day. I will not hit backspace while writing a first draft. I will not go straight from writing to publishing. I will have pathological empathy for the reader. I will not sound like everyone else. And there ain’t no magic feather!”

And if you do stand up and say it out loud, please take a video and tag Ann @MarketingProfs when you post it.

The post Creating Breakthrough Content: There Ain’t No Magic Feather #SMMW17 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Aw, Snap: Everything You Need to Know about Snapchat for Business #SMMW17


“Social media evolution is inevitable. All you can do is evolve along with it.” – @carlosgil83
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Snapchat is a platform seemingly designed to confuse people of a certain age. Let’s say those of us who were high school age or older when Bill Clinton was president. If you’re in that demographic, you probably didn’t immediately “get” Snapchat’s minimalist UI and self-destructing messages.

Even if you’re one of the hip kids snapping away at home, it can be hard to see the business value of the platform.

But among the emoji and the rainbow vomiting there’s a huge potential audience. Brands with the right content and strategy are already enjoying success. If your target audience matches the platform’s demographics, it’s time to dive in.

At his Social Media Marketing World session, BMC’s Head of Global Social Media Carlos Gil made a compelling case for Snapchat as a marketing tool, and offered tactics for engaging on the platform.

Who’s on Snapchat

There are over 300 million monthly users on Snapchat. The vast majority are between 18 and 34 years old. 77% are over 18, and 24% are in the 25-34 bracket.

It’s a much smaller audience than, say, Facebook, but it’s a major player for millennials. 41% of all millennials in the United States are on the platform.

If your audience includes millennials and Gen Z, Snapchat is most likely a good fit for your business. If you’re hitting an older demographic, Carlos says, that doesn’t automatically count you out. It’s still worth doing a little research to see if your particular Gen X or Boomer audience is on the platform. Even B2B businesses can find an audience on Snapchat.

Brands Are Seeing Amazing Success on Snapchat

Carlos didn’t pull any punches in his assessment of the platform’s potential: One of his slides read simply “Snapchat is a legit marketing channel.”

Take Gatorade’s Super Bowl lens, for example. The lens added football-style eyeblack to people’s faces and simulate the celebratory Gatorade dousing at the end of the game. More people saw Gatorade’s branded lens than saw the Super Bowl itself–and for a fraction of the cost of a 30-second ad.

How to Build a Following on Snapchat

It takes work and engaging, fun content to get people to follow your brand, Carlos says. If you’re just starting out, it makes sense to experiment with geofilters first. People don’t have to follow your brand to see geofilters–they pop up based on location. Use geofilters to build brand presence, reach local users, even amplify tradeshow presence and community events.

To build your audience, start by leveraging your existing social media channels. Make sure your Twitter and Facebook followers can easily connect on Snapchat from their preferred platform. You can also run Facebook and Instagram ads that are targeted at Snapchat users. Just add “likes Snapchat” to your targeting criteria before running a campaign, and use creative that includes your Snapcode and handle.

Influencer content is huge on Snapchat as well. After you have started building a following, look to influencers in your vertical to co-create content and do channel takeovers.

Content that Engages on Snapchat

Unlike every other channel, Snapchat users want quality content that is fun, creative, and/or educational.

Okay, like every other channel, Snapchat content should be fun, creative, and/or educational. The difference is Snapchat is more informal and a whole lot shorter–you’re looking to build stories that are 2-3 minutes long, and each segment is just 10 seconds.

Carlos suggests keeping it extra real: Use the platform to go behind the scenes, feature the employees that make your business work, highlight your corporate culture. If you have a physical product to sell, think product story, not sales pitch.

Carlos used Nike as an example. If they’re launching a new shoe line, their Story will show people playing basketball in the shoes, not someone highlighting the shoe’s selling points.

Most importantly, keep your content fresh and updated often. Stories only last 24 hours, so constant refreshing is vital to keeping your audience entertained.

Keys to Converting from Snapchat

According to Carlos, marketing on Snapchat isn’t all about brand awareness fun and games. It’s definitely possible to inspire action and track results. Here are Carlos’ top tips for conversion and measurement:

  • Keep stories brief and include a very direct CTA
  • Offer followers exclusive VIP offers and flash sales
  • Use tracking URLs for every link out of Snapchat

It’s All Snappening

If your target audience includes millennials and Gen Zers, Snapchat is worth exploring. Start with the best practices you use for all of your social content creation–keep it authentic, entertaining, and educational. Then embrace the unique qualities of the platform. Go for informal, person-to-person content that humanizes your brand. Take your audience behind the scenes, let them meet your people and see what you’re about.

As Carlos says, “The key word in social media is ‘social.’” That’s true on every social media platform, but even more so on Snapchat.

Is your business using Snapchat? What questions do you still have about the platform? Let me know in the comments.


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The Next Evolution of Influencer Marketing: 4 Key Insights And What They Mean

We marketers love to chase shiny objects. It’s part of the constant drive to experiment, optimize, and improve. Any new tactic that looks promising is going to attract our attention.

During his presentation last week at Social Media Marketing World, Lee Odden offered proof of just how shiny influencer marketing is: It can potentially return $9.60 for every dollar invested. Campaigns that include influencers have shown a 10x increase in conversion rates. And those customers who convert stick around–influencer campaigns tend to achieve a 37% increase in retention.

Clearly, influencer marketing deserves the buzz it’s been getting. But most marketers are just getting started. There’s plenty of activity, but not much strategy. It takes a concentrated, strategic, sustained effort to fully realize the benefits.

Earlier this year, Toprank Marketing released Influencer 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing. Lee offered four key insights from the report, and what each means for marketers looking to take their influencer marketing to the next level.

What Is Influence? What Is Influencer Marketing?

Before we get into insights and best practices, it’s important to define terms. Lee defines influence like this:


Influence is the ability to effect action. Fans, friends, and followers are meaningless unless the…
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That definition alone should change the way you approach influencer marketing. It’s not about chasing the most famous person…it’s about the person who best can move their audience.

Here’s how Lee defines influencer marketing:

“Influencer marketing develops relationships with internal and industry experts with active networks to co-create content that helps drive mutual value and measurable business goals.

There’s a lot to unpack in that sentence. First, influencer marketing means developing relationships, not isolated pieces of content or campaigns. Second, look for influencers in your company as well as outside of it. Third, you’re looking to create mutual value, value beyond compensation. Finally, influencer marketing can and should serve measurable business goals.

What Not to Do for Effective Influencer Marketing

Based on the definition above, avoid the following five missteps to greatly increase your effectiveness:

  1. One-Off Campaigns: Don’t activate influencers, have them contribute, then abandon them and start all over next time. Aim for sustainable relationships.
  2. Focusing on Celebrities: They may have a huge audience, but celebrities are hard to reach, expensive to activate, and their audience may not be the most relevant for you.
  3. Using Influencer Marketing for Ads Only: Our agency co-creates content with influencers–eBooks, blog posts, video. This type of content lets influencers go beyond endorsing your product or service to create something of real value.
  4. Only Doing Pay-to-Play: We’re not saying “never pay influencers.” But when you’re building relationships and co-creating cool stuff, you can have genuine mutual value without exchanging cash.
  5. Only Measuring Social Metrics: You can measure the business value of influencer marketing, not just engagement and brand lift. Start your program with these goals in mind and build tracking in.

Four Key Influencer Marketing Insights (And What to Do with Them)

Influence 2.0 draws on the expertise of noted industry analyst Brian Solis, as well as over 100 experts from brands like Microsoft, Adobe, and SAP. Lee dove deep into the data to present these insights and the best practices they suggest.

Insight #1: Influencer Marketing Is Underfunded

On average, companies have just 10% of their marketing budget allocated to influencer marketing. Half of the companies analyzed are investing less than $100,000 per year–which is a small slice of the pie for enterprise-level organizations.

As interest in influencer marketing grows, however, the budgets are starting to grow. 55% plan on spending more money in the coming year. 70% of companies who already have an influencer marketing platform in place plan to increase their budgets.

What to Do: It’s important to understand the opportunity for return on investment, Lee said. Think of what it will cost to implement a program versus the cost of losing access to the top influencers in your industry when the competition gets their first.

Think about implementing programs, not projects. Long-term relationships create the most value for your spend.

Insight #2: B2B is behind B2C

Fifty-five percent of B2C companies have an ongoing and integrated influencer marketing program. Only 15% of B2B marketers could say the same. Overall, 49% of B2B marketers say they’re still in the experimentation phase.

What to do: B2B influencer marketing is a different animal than B2C. You’re not likely to get ahead by paying Youtube stars to pose with your cloud-based network solution.

Start by engaging expert help to research the market, identify influencers, and develop a plan tied to ROI.

It also makes sense to invest in technology. It’s hard to start a sustainable program with a spreadsheet. Influencer marketing platforms can help you identify, qualify, and engage with influencers, as well as help with measurement and optimization.

To kick off your program, start by activating your clients. Start with people who already advocate for your company, invite them to co-create content, and scale up the content that performs best.

Insight 3: The Top Influencer Marketing Goals

Brand advocacy and awareness were at the top of respondents’ minds, with 94% and 92% respectively saying these were the top goals. 88% said reaching new audience was a top goal as well.

Sales conversion and lead generation were still in the top ten, but trailed with 74% and 67%. These results demonstrate that any marketers aren’t aware of influencer marketing’s potential for lower-funnel goals.

What to Do: Keep ROI-proving business goals in mind when designing your program. Make sure to align brand and influencer goals, too–when you have alignment with influencers, it’s easier to inspire organic participation.

Insight #4: Areas Most Impacted by Influencer Marketing

When we asked in which areas has influencer marketing made the biggest difference for marketers, 80% of respondents said content marketing, and 75% said social media marketing. These two are definitely the biggest opportunities; in fact, Lee said companies who aren’t using influencers in these areas are at a disadvantage.

What to Do: Social media and content marketing are the baseline. Beyond that, make your program more sophisticated by integrating it across the organization. Look for internal influencers in your marketing, PR, customer success, community management, and HR departments. Externally, look to industry thought leaders, your own customers, and journalists to round out your program.

Three Levels of Influencer Engagement

It’s easy to get started with influencer marketing. From the first stage, you can gradually grow your efforts to a sustained long-term program built on strong relationships. Lee identified three levels of influencer engagement. These are additive, not exclusive–we currently use all three at TopRank Marketing.

  1. Microcontent: Short-form content used as a “seasoning” for brand-created content. Think quotes, tips, and insights from influencers added to your brand assets. Microcontent can include influencer outreach or simply be curated from external sources.
  2. Campaigns: A campaign includes longer-form contributions directly from the influencer, like an interview for an eBook. You’re asking the influencer to co-create content, which you can repurpose–eBook to blog post to social media images with quotes, for example.
  3. Community: The ultimate goal for a sustainable program is a dedicated group of influencers that contribute a variety of short and long form content for brand communications. These are people who have relationships with your brand and your people, who co-create content motivated by shared goals to realize mutual value.

Everyone Is Influential

As Lee says, everyone is influential about something. Regardless of your industry, it’s high time to find and activate the people who can make a difference with your audience. Make an investment, make a commitment, and start building relationships that can lead to a long-lasting program.

For the full report from TopRank Marketing, Traackr, and Altimeter Group, read Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing.


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The Next Evolution of Influencer Marketing: 4 Key Insights And What They Mean | http://www.toprankblog.com

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The Queen of Facebook Tells All on Generating Facebook Marketing ROI

True to form, Mari Smith kicked off her presentation at Social Media Marketing World last week by sharing her full bio in the form of emojis and poking fun at her own mixed accent which immediately put the packed room at ease. When someone with experience like Mari takes the stage, you perk up and get ready to have a deluge of knowledge dropped on you in a short amount of time.

Her session (which seemed like mere seconds) was packed with helpful information and actionable insights that marketers can begin implementing on Facebook now. Below are some of the actionable highlights from Mari’s session. 


Caring is scalable. You can care about a lot of people. – @MariSmith
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#1 – It’s Time to Rethink…Everything

One of the biggest issues that Mari has seen with social media marketing is that many brands (even large ones) are siloing their social efforts. Often, brands will have an organic social and paid social team that do not collaborate at all.

But the question we should be asking is: What if we were to implement social media company wide?


Social media is not just a business experience, it’s an emotional experience. @MariSmith
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All businesses (no matter their size) have an opportunity to delight their customers by providing a great experience.

#2 – The Facebook Algorithm Struggle

Facebook makes an average of $6 billion in ad revenue per quarter and is quickly ‘running out’ of ad space to show users in-stream.

Because both paid and organic Facebook reach are becoming more difficult, it’s important that brands focus on what they really want to get out of it. Some examples might include:

  • Growing fans (Likes)
  • Getting exposure in the News Feed
  • Optimizing reach (paid & organic)

#3 – The Power of Video

According to Mari, Facebook is moving in the direction of television and tv advertising. In fact, they are following a model similar to Netflix or Hulu where they’re trying to encourage users to binge watch Facebook videos.  

Video ads that perform well are ones that empathize with the audience and tell a great story. A prime example is the video below from Chatbooks which is an ad that Mari originally saw as an organic post from a friend that shared it. Just let that marinate for a second. Facebook users are sharing video ads.

Characteristics of great video ads:

  • Quality from the first frame
  • Authentic
  • High energy
  • Entertaining
  • Evoke emotion
  • Personable and relatable
  • Useful to the audience
  • Designed to be played with the sound off
    • Add lower third highlights
    • Add captions

In June of 2016, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s Vice President for EMEA predicted that Facebook will probably be all video in the next five years. However, a recent study by Buffer found that video is largely underutilized on Facebook. Even though video gets 3x’s the engagement of other posts.

Mari’s Pro Tip: It’s Hip to Be Square
Even with Facebook’s addition of portrait and landscape video, square video still reigns supreme. In fact, square videos receive almost 30% more views, more shares and has almost a 70% higher view completion rate.

The team that manages the Jane Goodall Institute Facebook page ran an A/B test of landscape versus square videos and experienced a significant increase in the number of views, shares and likes on the square video.

 

#4 – Real-Time Shopping

The ability to shop for items in real-time has been talked about for years. But now, it’s finally real. Amazon for example has incorporated a camera into their mobile app that allows users to hover over an item in the wild and receive suggestions for a similar product from Amazon in mere seconds. Even as an avid Amazon shopper, I wasn’t aware of this feature until Mari shared an example on stage. Below is a test that I ran by scanning a photo of my watch:

Recently, Facebook partnered with Shopify to develop a similar approach where users can purchase items in real-time while watching a video. It’s unclear as to when this feature will be available to all users but the fact that it exists offers many exciting opportunities for marketers.

 

What Does the Future Hold?

The evolution of Facebook’s approach for brands is beginning to cover many opportunities for the modern marketer. Just imagine the ability to provide real-time customer service via messenger. The good news is that the possibility of providing that service isn’t far off.

What other updates would you like to see Facebook make for marketers?


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Supercharge Your Marketing at Digital Summit Los Angeles #DSLA

DSLA 2017

DSLA 2017

Coming off the supercharged sun, surf and sand themed social media extravaganza of SMMW17 in San Diego last week, I am now literally sitting on a beach.

Beach Costa Rica

Here on the West coast of Costa Rica, with the waves crashing, birds singing their songs in the trees and the distant sounds of kids laughing as they play in the sand, it’s a great time to reflect and look forward.

Before I completely check out of the digital world for the week, except for an occasional photo on Instagram of course, I wanted to share some of the things I’m looking forward to most at my next conference April 4-5: Digital Summit Los Angeles.

Last month was my first Digital Summit experience in Phoenix. DSPHX was an event of firsts for me: meeting the force of nature that is Beverly Jackson plus the legend and co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak. I also had a chance to see several really impressive speakers for the first time including Mack Fogelson and Eric Yale. I was impressed!

I can imagine Digital Summit Los Angeles being a great experience too.

DSLA Keynote Speakers

The speaker list for DSLA is an amazing collection of thought leaders including Woz and Beverly, industry experts like Michael King, Jim Boykin and Michael Barber and a huge group brand and publisher speakers from companies that include: Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Adobe, Forbes, IBM, The Economist, BET Network, Inc Magazine, Wells Fargo, GE Digital, BMC Software, BusinessWire and MIT.

Over more than 40 sessions, the topics covered include everything from data informed marketing to visual storytelling and purpose driven marketing to content marketing with influencers.

Of course, I’m a fan of that last topic since it is what the focus of my closing keynote presentation will be about: How to Supercharge Your Content with Influencer Marketing.

Supercharge Your Content with Influencer Marketing

Confluence rules. Content Marketing with Influencers is an area of deep focus for me that I’ve been experimenting with for many years and that our agency has been implementing for clients that range from a $180Bn Fortune 5 company to mid-market companies like ClickSoftware to small companies like Pandora Mall of America.

The fundamental message of my keynote presentation is that marketing with content is harder than ever and if your company doesn’t do something to break through information overload and distrust of brand content, you’ll lose the ability to attract and engage customers.

The solution is a content marketing framework for strategically engaging with influencers to increase content quality, quantity, reach and engagement across the customer journey. At the same time, I’ll talk about how to build relationships with internal, industry and community influencers to increase advocacy.

Influencer 2.0 Cover

To back up the best practices, I’ll share trends and insights our influencer marketing research that we partnered with Influencer Relationships Marketing platform, Traackr, on. Brian Solis of Altimeter analyzed the findings and wrote up an impressive research report, Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing that attendees will be able to see.

The Influence 2.0 report delivers crucial findings and covers important insights about the maturity of influencer marketing within large enterprise companies, budgets, top goals and areas within the organization that are most impacted. Brian also shares the intersection of influencer relations with customer experience and digital transformation. If that wasn’t enough, he includes a 10 step framework for implementing an influence 2.0 approach.

My keynotes are “inspractical” = Inspiration + Tactical. Overall, I’ll touch on the best parts of the research report, include trends, best practices and share successful B2B and B2C examples of influencer driven programs to inspire attendees going forward.

If you’re a marketer in Southern California, this is a can’t miss event!

Skirball Cultural Center Los Angeles

Event Details:
Digital Summit Los Angeles
April 4-5, 2017
Skirball Cultural Center
Registration, Agenda, Speakers and full conference information here.

The post Supercharge Your Marketing at Digital Summit Los Angeles #DSLA appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Behind the Marketing Curtain: An Interview with Influencer Marketing Wiz Amisha Gandhi, SAP

From emerging social media channels to the rise of artificial intelligence, the exciting cyclone of change often drops us marketers into unfamiliar territory—and we have to find our way home.

Thankfully, the marketing industry is flush with talented marketers leading the way, and we often look to them for tactical insights to navigate the winding road and avoid fields of deceiving poppies. However, in our thirst more knowledge, we often don’t get to see who these leaders are in full living color.

To bridge the gap between person and marketer, we’re kicking off an exciting new “Behind the Curtain” interview series—which, if you haven’t guessed, is inspired by Dorothy Gale and the classic film, The Wizard of Oz.

In this series, we’ll take a peek behind the curtain to get know some marketing industry wizards on a more personal level, as well as gain insights that can help other marketers use their brains, hearts, courage and creativity to improve their marketing efforts and drive business value in the changing digital landscape.

Our first featured marketer is the brilliant and incredibly nice Amisha Gandhi, Head of Influencer Marketing at SAP.

Enjoy!

The Woman Behind the Curtain

Amisha was born in Bombay, India, grew up in New York, and now lives in San Francisco.

“New York is my Kansas,” Amisha said. “I’m definitely a New Yorker at heart—which is probably where most of my personality comes from.”

But Amisha didn’t always plan on being a marketer. Actually, Amisha studied both theater and biology/pre-med.

“One [degree] was for me and the other was for my parents,” she said. “I’ve always loved theater, and I think that’s where I honed the artistic part of my brain … which I definitely get to bring into marketing, especially influencer marketing.”

Amisha is also a working mom and avid traveler.

“I love to travel,” she said. “But wherever I go, I like to be a local—to be immersed in a different world and see it from a local perspective. When my son is older, I want to go to the Galapagos Islands.”

She’s also a huge Sci-Fi fan. Among some of her favorite films and TV shows are Blade Runner, Star Wars (leaving out Episodes 1, 2 and 3, of course), and Battlestar Galactica.

Battlestar Galactica is an all-time favorite,” she said. “It’s such a great story.”

Some of her other favorite flicks are Casablanca and anything by Alfred Hitchcock.

Following Her Yellow Brick Road

Amisha has had an interesting career path, starting her professional career working in a research lab for a pharmaceutical company.

“I really didn’t like it, so I quit my job and actually got a temp job as a data entry clerk at MCI,” she said.

Since then, Amisha has worked at startups, PR agencies such as Burson-Marsteller, and been a consultant to companies such as Accenture, Google, Merrill Lynch, GAP, HP and Time-Warner. Today, she’s well-known for bringing her mix of social media, communications and marketing skills together for creative campaigns and elevating executives profiles such as former CIO of SAP, Oliver Bussmann. She joined SAP team in 2010.

What was your Twister event? What moment or event put you on a path to a career in marketing?

While I working at a company that produced local market books, CitySearch.com—an online city guide and community—wanted a partnership. And I thought that was a really cool concept, and just in passing I mentioned that I’d love to work there, and ended up getting an interview.

After the interview, I showed up constantly. I brought the sales team doughnuts one day. Another day I stopped by with thank you notes. Finally, they just said “OK. Come on in and join our team. The other guy wants this job, but you want it more.”

It was a startup at the time, and when you work at a startup you wear many hats. I had a variety of jobs there and learned about marketing, sales operations, advertising, editorial, even movie promotions—you name it. But that’s how I got my start.

Dorothy found dear friends in the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Tinman on her journey down the yellow brick road. Who are some of the people who’ve helped or inspired you during your career?

I have been so fortunate in my career to have worked managers, mentors and clients who’ve pushed me, guided me and inspired me.

While working at a political PR firm, I worked with an incredible PR executive named Barbara French, who taught me so much about storytelling.

Barbara was always pushing me to find that “so what” story. To this day, I still think about that. How do you tell stories that really excite and engage people? How do you find that really compelling, juicy story that people want to know about, read about or even care about? What’s the so what?

Also, one of my clients while working there was Kamala Harris—who is now Sen. Kamala Harris. Back then she was working in the city attorney’s office. She was trying to change the world, and it was so inspiring to watch.

Some others that I have to mention are Jim Dever and Penny Delgadillo Valencia here at SAP, who are great leaders and without whose support I would not have been able to build out the influencer marketing program.

It takes a community to help you build your career. I believe in nurturing talent and I’ve found it fulfilling to give back, especially to those who are early in their careers here at SAP.


It takes a community to help you build your career. I believe in nurturing talent. – @AmishaGandhi
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Meeting the Wizard

At TopRank Marketing we believe in taking a smart, creative and results-focused approach in everything we do for our clients, as well as our own personal growth. Amisha is someone who certainly exemplifies these qualities in her work as an influencer marketing wizard, being a source of insight and inspiration in the field.

Good witch or bad witch? What’s a bad influencer outreach habit marketers should drop?

I think one of the worst habits is approaching influencers with a “What can you do for me?” attitude. Instead you should be approaching them with a “What can I do for you?” mentality.

If they’re a good influencer, everyone is hitting them up. So you have to be coming from a place that offers real value—and I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about personal and business value.

Influencers are trying to raise issues. They’re working to bring awareness around topics that are important to them. They’re not just there to sell your product. I’m interested in building mutually beneficial relationships for the long-term.


Influencers are not just there to sell your product. – @AmishaGandhi #influencermarketing
Click To Tweet


The Wicked Witch was defeated with a just pail of water. What’s one effective influencer marketing tactic that marketers often overlook?

I think that marketers often overlook the fact that you’re building something together with influencers. Collaboration is key, so I collaborate a lot.

Pick their brain. Ask them what value they see. Ask them what they think their audience wants to see. Ask them if they’ll help you build something amazing. When you treat them as a partner, rather than a participant, you’ll be able to create something more effective and meaningful.


Treat influencers like partners, not participants. – @AmishaGandhi #influencermarketing
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Dorothy’s ruby slippers were the key to achieving her end goal of returning home. What are a few tools you believe are key for influencer marketing success?

You should absolutely have a good influencer identification tool; it’s worth the investment. We use Traackr, and that not only helps with identification, but also tracking and measurement—which is important for seeing your results beyond social media activity.

We also use VoiceStorm for the employee advocacy, and Sprinklr for social media amplification. Of course, not everyone has the resources to invest in these tools, but there are some good free tools like FollowerWonk, Klout and Hootsuite.

In the end, it’s all about being able to tie all your efforts together to show success and how that contributed to real business value—which is kind of like clicking your heels and getting you home.

What’s one thing you would ask the all-powerful marketing wizard for? (More budget, more resources, better data?)

I’m always looking for ways to drive and find better data. The better the marketing insights we have, the better our results will be. So, I’d ask the marketing wizard for a tool that can bring together influencer data, insights, identification, tracking and measurement linking it back to sales—something that can bring all the external tools together.


The better the #marketing insights we have, the better our results will be. – @AmishaGandhi
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We’re Off to Meet More Wizards

I’d like to sincerely thank Amisha for taking the time to open up about who she is, where she comes from and how she approaches influencer marketing. Thank you, Amisha.

Of course, TopRank Marketing’s journey to Emerald City is just getting started. In the coming weeks, we’ll be bringing you more exclusive interviews and insights from industry wizards to add some smarts, heart and nerve to your marketing efforts.

Stay tuned for our next installment!

What would you ask the all-powerful marketing wizard for? Tell us in the comments section below.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Behind the Marketing Curtain: An Interview with Influencer Marketing Wiz Amisha Gandhi, SAP | http://www.toprankblog.com

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