Tag: Online Marketing


How 7 Startups Skyrocketed to Success with Content Marketing

[Editor’s Note: Please join me in welcoming Anne Leuman to TopRankBlog.com. Anne is a Copywriter that joined TopRank Marketing earlier this year and specializes in creating awesome B2B content for some of our amazing Enterprise clients.]

I’d venture to guess that you’re no stranger to content marketing. Content Marketing Institute reports that 89% of all organizations use content in their marketing efforts. But is content your main driver of growth? It might not be, and that’s okay, but we’re here to show you how successful content can be.

Take a look at startups for example. Startups are known for viral growth. To attract or keep investors, they need to grow at staggering rates. So how do they do it? A lot of them rely on content marketing. And with good reason.

There is no denying that content marketing is one of the most cost effective marketing tactics. In fact, Demand Metric reports that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates three times the leads. Yet, 52% of companies don’t have a formal content strategy.

If you’re looking to double down on your content strategy, see how these seven startups skyrocketed to success with content:

#1 – HubSpot

It’s hard to imagine HubSpot as a startup, but back in 2006 they were a fresh-faced business. And they grew on the back of quality, innovative content. They earn our #1 spot because over 75% of their generated leads come from content.

HubSpot accomplished this by offering free white papers, case studies, eBooks, and webinars, and hiding them behind a form. In order for visitors to get the free content, they had to provide their information and become a lead. In addition, HubSpot added a call to action at the bottom of every blog post. An action that tripled the amount of leads generated by their blog, according to HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe.

#2 – Blue Apron

Blue Apron, an ingredient and recipe delivery service, grew 500% in 2015. And they attributed that success to their content marketing strategies.

Blue Apron wanted to get subscribers excited about recipes before they showed up at their door, creating a more satisfying product experience. To do this, they created educational, fun cooking content including recipe histories, cooking techniques, and kitchen timesavers. With this method, they have engaged over 1.7 million Facebook fans to date.

Beyond engaging a larger audience and creating a better experience, educational content allowed Blue Apron to form more meaningful relationships with their subscribers. They became the go-to source for anything kitchen related, building trust and loyalty among their customers.

 

#3 – Mint

Content put the pressure on Mint’s competitors. When Mint, a personal finance app, started in 2007, blogging wasn’t widely adopted by companies. And if they did adopt it, they weren’t blogging often. Mint created the MintLife blog and steadily produced finance tips, videos, and news roundups. This gave Mint a competitive edge and allowed them to rank on search engines ahead of market leaders—including ranking number one for personal finance.

Oh, and this all happened before the launch of their product. With this strategy, they were able to have 20,000 subscribers before releasing their application. This allowed them to drive substantial traffic to the app on launch day. By 2009, Mint would be purchased by Intuit for $170 million. An achievement partially credited to their content strategy.

#4 – Buffer 

Buffer, one of the most widely used social media tools today, was launched with content. At first, they pitched their app to well-known blogs and media outlets, hoping they would write about the tool and gain a large audience. But the big players turned them down. This forced their founder, Leo Widrich, to try gaining an audience another way.

Leo started guest blogging. He wrote over 150 posts on social media and published them on numerous blogs. By creating guest blogging relationships, Buffer gained the audience of other blogs and grew to 100,000 users in just 10 months. Guest blogging was the strategy that gave them the most initial growth.

 

 

#5 – Design Pickle 

Imagine if your first 1,200 customers were generated solely by content. That was the case for Design Pickle and its founder Russ Perry.

Design Pickle was created to make graphic design a more convenient and available service. They started a subscription service where subscribers could receive unlimited graphic design help for one easy, flat rate.

Perry’s launch strategy centered around employing guest blogging. Russ wrote blog posts on marketing and design and posted them on affiliate blogs. Inside each post, Russ was able to offer promotions and information about his services. With this strategy, Design Pickle was able to capture their first 1,200 customers. They have now served over 100,000 project requests.

 

 

#6 – KISSmetrics

KISSmetrics, a marketing analytics platform, is one of the most popular marketing brands today. But it was a struggle to get it off the ground in 2008. Hiten Shah, co-founder of KISSmetrics, attributes their initial success to content curation and the new (at the time) microblogging platform, Twitter.

Blogging wasn’t popular when KISSmetrics was getting started—they didn’t even have one. So how did they gain an audience? They used curated content from Twitter and hashtags to reach large audiences and gain a following. Hiten says, “Sharing other marketers’ content was the perfect way to spread goodwill, promote great content, and build our own Twitter audience.” Eventually, their website was beaming with Twitter referrals. Since then, KISSmetrics has evolved to become blogging experts, with blogs accounting for over 70% of their leads and 82% of their website traffic.

#7 – Glossier 

Experts in all things beauty, Glossier started out as a beauty blog called Into The Gloss, which still exists today. But it quickly grew into something more. Known for providing great advice from real women—Into The Gloss, started by Emily Weiss—was one of the largest skincare and makeup blogs. With a passion for beauty and a captive audience, Emily decided to use her blog to launch her own beauty line.

In writing her blog, Emily already had all of the market research she needed and began producing skincare and makeup products. She then directly involved Into The Gloss’s audience in her new venture by teasing her new brand, Glossier, and documenting the process. By the time she officially launched, Glossier had 15,000 followers who didn’t even know what it was. Her stellar content and engaged audience (including 500,000 Instagram followers) allowed her blog to turn into a successful retailer.

 

 

Implementing content marketing and doing it well has the power to propel your business to success. The (former) startups above are a testament to that. Check out these 10 infographics to elevate your content marketing even further.


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Contagious Content Marketing: How to Give Your Content Viral Potential

For some marketers, going viral is the holy grail of content marketing. It’s easy to see why. You put out content, people organically start sharing it, and it takes off until you’ve racked up millions of views. Millions of brand impressions without a penny in paid promotion. You can’t blame marketers for chasing that particular dragon.

That said, it’s important to get one thing straight: “Going viral” is not a content marketing strategy. It’s a pleasant side effect that can happen with well-crafted content, yes. But the chance of virality is no substitute for well-researched, relevant content amplified to the most relevant audience through organic, paid, and influencer channels.

If you’re planning on going viral to get your content seen, you’re playing the lottery instead of investing in your brand’s future.

However, by happy coincidence, the attributes that give your content viral potential are also hallmarks of great content. Creating shareworthy content as part of your overall strategy is a great idea, whether or not you hit the viral jackpot.

Here are six ways to create great content that just might go viral, complete with examples to inspire you.

#1: Make Data Beautiful

The average person today has more data available to them than anyone has at any other point in history. It’s an ocean of facts, figures, and statistics, and most of us are drowning instead of surfing. If you can take information that’s relevant to a large audience and display it in a beautiful, functional form, you have a good chance at racking up the shares.

Example 1: Infant Sleeping Patterns

This example is from an individual rather than a brand, but it’s too good to leave out. Redditor Andrew Elliot tracked his newborn infant’s sleep patterns for the first four months of her life, then charted the data in a unique circular format. The circle represents a 24-hour clock, with midnight at the top and noon at the bottom. A spiraling line tracks the infant’s sleeping and waking cycles, blue for sleep and orange for awake, starting in the center. Each complete revolution represents a single day.

At a glance, you can see how the early days are chaotic, but by the latter revolutions, the daytime hours are mostly awake and nighttime is mostly asleep. Andrew’s data visualization hit the front page on Reddit, and is still the top rated post in /r/informationisbeautiful, with over 51,000 upvotes.

Example 2: The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People

For a more commercial example, project management software company Podio converted a blog post into an interactive visualization of how famous creative types spent their days.

Not only is the graphic beautiful and informative (and the interactivity is top-notch), it’s relevant to Podio’s potential audience. They help people organize time to be more productive, so someone with an interest in how famous creatives managed their time might also be interested in their solution.

Podio’s nifty visualization picked up over 45,000 shares on Facebook.

#2: Take a Stand

A recent survey of over 1,000 consumers sought to discover what makes people form an emotional connection with a brand. The top two reasons people connected with a brand were:

  1. I feel like they care about people like me.
  2. I feel like they are making a positive difference in the world.

If we want to make an emotional connection with our audience—and who doesn’t—it’s important to think beyond the product-pain point interaction. Content that takes a stand on an important issue covers both of the two reasons above, and definitely has viral potential.

Example 1: REI, #OptOutside

In 2015, sporting goods retailer REI created a viral marketing campaign by doing something truly unexpected: Closing its doors on the busiest retail day of the year. The brand announced that its stores would stay closed on Black Friday. Then they introduced the #optoutside campaign to encourage people to enjoy the great outdoors the day after Thanksgiving, instead of trampling people to buy a flat-screen TV.

It was a bold decision, not without backlash, and missing the day’s revenue was definitely a sacrifice for the chain. But the campaign went viral, with thousands trading the hashtag and signing up for the #optoutside movement on REI’s microsite.

REI’s stand resonated with their target audience and caught a wave of popular sentiment. The campaign is still going strong two years after the fact.

Example 2: Always, #LikeAGirl  

I’ve written about this campaign before, but it deserves a mention in any discussion of viral branded content. It’s a stellar example of how far a brand can stray from their product offering and still be hyper-relevant to their target audience.

Always sells feminine hygiene products. Therefore, their audience is women. Therefore, anything that’s relevant to women is relevant to the brand.

So Always took a firm stand on the way women are subtly demeaned in society, taking the epithet “you [do something] like a girl” and turning it into empowerment:

Always’ target audience loved the message and shared it, and the video racked up more than 64 million views. And it still makes me cry.

#3: Get Silly

One of my favorite quotes about humor in marketing comes from Tim Washer: “For those of you who think comedy won’t work for your brand, ask yourself: Will it work for your customers?”

By my estimation, 99.9% of people enjoy a good laugh. It only takes a few people to like and share your hilarious content to start it on the way to full-fledged virality. Granted, humor can be tricky—there’s tone, audience, and appropriateness to consider. But when you get it right, you can create something that’s sublimely silly and still gets your message across.

Example 1: Old Spice, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”

How do you communicate through a computer monitor the way your body wash smells? Old Spice seems to have considered the problem, and opted to punt. They built a commercial around “the man your man could smell like,” a studly muscle man who travels through a rapid-fire set of wish-fulfillment scenarios, from a shower to a boat to horseback in 30 seconds.

This video was inescapable back in 2010, with over 55 million views on YouTube, and it helped launch an entirely new creative direction for Old Spice.

Example 2: Metro Trains Melbourne, “Dumb Ways to Die”

The traditional form of railway public safety ads is to introduce a smiling couple, or a cheeky kid, then have them brutally killed in a grisly railway accident. They’re not ads meant to be enjoyed; they’re meant to scare the pants off of you.

Metro Trains Melbourne decided to trade the horror for something silly and adorable instead, and “Dumb Ways to Die” was born:

The catchy tune and cartoon mayhem earned over 100 million views on YouTube, the song landed in the Top 10 Downloads chart on iTunes, and a spinoff app got over 10 million downloads. Best of all, the content actually accomplished a purpose beyond virality: Metro Trains Melbourne says the campaign helped reduce train accidents by 30%.

#4: Warm Some Hearts

Think about consumer-produced content that goes viral. Now subtract the cute animal videos and the “hilarious injury” stuff. What’s left is heartwarming human-interest stories. Think Chewbacca Mom, or the kid who loves garbage trucks, or 95% of the stuff on Upworthy.

How can brands bring a little heartwarming human interest to the mix? Here are two of my favorite examples.

Example 1: Volkswagen, “The Fast Lane”

This viral video from Volkswagen works on two levels. First, they did a real-life publicity stunt: They installed a slide on the stairs at a busy commuter train hub and encouraged people to use it. Then they filmed people’s responses and edited together an uplifting video:

There are kids delighted to see the slide, adults a little scared of the slide, and business executives in three-piece suits taking a ride, briefcases on their laps. You can sense how much fun the stunt was for everyone involved, and if the video doesn’t make you smile, your face may be on too tight.

Example 2: American Greetings, “World’s Toughest Job”

What would you say to a job with no salary, no benefits, and 24-hour on-call demands? Would your response even be printable? That’s the question American Greetings asked unsuspecting consumers in this video. The reveal: The thankless, uncompensated job is being a mother. Watch the reactions when people figure it out, and have a hankie nearby:

The message is clear from a brand standpoint. Buy a card and send it to mom. But the human interest elevates it beyond a promotional message—as more than 27 million viewers demonstrated.

Aspire to Virality – But Don’t Ditch the Strategy

I’ll say it one more time: going viral is not a valid content marketing strategy. Viral is not a go-to amplification channel. If someone asks you to create viral content, tell them as much. And if someone promises to make something go viral for you, take that with an entire shaker of salt.

Instead of counting on going viral, take lessons from widely-shared content and use them to build content that will succeed with your target audience, whether or not it hits the zeitgeist and ends up on Ellen. Telling stories with data, taking a stand, and adding humor and human interest are all fundamental building blocks of great content marketing.

Learn more about creating a stellar content experience with our new quiz.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Contagious Content Marketing: How to Give Your Content Viral Potential | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Digital Marketing News: ROI Acronyms, Google Ranking Factors and Twitter’s New Look

The Hipster’s Guide to ROI [Infographic]
Marketing lingo has expanded and with all of the acronyms, it’s hard to decipher and differentiate combinations of letters. This infographic will show you the most common acronyms and esoteric language related to marketing ROI, giving you an explanation of what they are and why they matter. (LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog)

SEMrush Ranking Factors Study 2017
Google ranking factors constantly updates with every major algorithm change. In this report, the 12 most substantial and controversial factors (including website visits, pages per session and content) were chosen to show what impacts search results and to identify consistent patterns in the ranking mechanism that could be helpful to the SEO community. (SEMrush)

Check Out Our New Look!
Twitter has listened to the feedback from its users and have made some updates to the design. Some of the new features include: Typography has been refined to be more consistent with bolder headlines and rounded profile photos, Tweets are now updated instantly on the mobile app with replies, retweets and like counts so you can see real-time conversations and links to articles and websites now open in Safari’s viewer in iOS so you can easily access accounts on websites you’re already signed into. (Twitter Blog)

LinkedIn Adds Images in Comments, New Opportunities for Job Listings
There have been many small yet impactful new updates to LinkedIn recently, due to audience demand. One new feature is you can now add images into comments on posts within the LinkedIn platform. Another boost for LinkedIn is Google’s new tool which helps people find jobs directly through Google search, which sorts through various listings, including LinkedIn. (Social Media Today)

Instagram Stories Now Has 250 Million Daily Active Users, Heating Up Its Rivalry With Snapchat
Instagram Stories is the section of disappearing posts, which recently pulled ahead of Snapchat with an increase of 50 million users in just two months. Instagram also announced that users are now allowed to replay live video instead of it immediately disappearing. (AdWeek)

Google’s Job Listings Search is Now Open to All Job Search Sites & Developers
Google is now offering a formal path for outsiders to add job listings in Google search. Although it doesn’t have an official name, it’s part of the Google for Jobs initiative. You can also track how well your job listings are doing in Google search with a new filter in the Search Analytics report in the Google Search Console. (Search Engine Land)

Oh, How Pinteresting!
Pinterest rolled out a fresh new look for Lens, and instead of only being able to recreate your favorite restaurant dishes at home, Lens can now recognize and recommend outfit ideas including shoes, shirts, hats and other styles. The new interface and built-in tools make it easy to Lens the world around you. (Pinterest Blog)

The Most Important Skills for B2B Tech Marketers
B2B technology marketers rely on many skills for their niche market. The most important skills among Millennials, Generation Xers and Baby Boomers were soft skills, including communication and people management and writing skills. Others included digital media marketing and content marketing. (MarketingProfs)

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more top digital marketing news stories. Craving more news in the meantime? Check out TopRank Marketing on Twitter @toprank!

The post Digital Marketing News: ROI Acronyms, Google Ranking Factors and Twitter’s New Look appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Digital Marketing News: Marketing Personalization, Google Website Builder and Bing Ads

Four Steps to Unlocking the Real Power of Marketing Personalization [Infographic]
Personalization is a priority for many marketers to better reach and engage with their audience. This infographic shares statistics and 4 easy steps to create content experiences that resonate with your audience and provide valuable and personalized information. MarketingProfs

Google Releases A Website Builder for Small Businesses
A new tool called “Website”, is a single-page website builder that is free and allows small business owners to create and edit websites in minutes, either on desktop or mobile. This feature is an extension of Google My Business, meaning you have to have a complete GMB listing to use the tool. Search Engine Journal

The Most Hated Online Advertising Techniques
This is an updated study, originally conducted in 2004, to understand how consumers respond to online advertisements today. Participants were shown different types of advertisements and rated how much they liked or disliked them. The results show the most (and least) “hated” online advertisements for both mobile and desktop platforms, and some of the characteristics remained the same as the early 2000’s. Nielsen Norman Group

Data-Inspired Guides to B2B Sales & Marketing Lead Generation
Targeting the right leads at the right time is one of the biggest challenges for B2B marketers, and this report shows you insights on lead generations, how quality data can optimize demand generation programs and ways to shorten the modern sales cycle. Dun & Bradstreet

Bing Ads: Opt Out of Displaying Ads on Desktop
Advertisers can completely opt out of desktop displayed ads by now setting their bids to -100%. This is a new feature that is aimed to support mobile-only campaigns and allows advertisers to set negative bids for desktops. It will be available to all advertisers in the next few weeks, and is supported by Bing Ads Web Interface, Bing Ads Editor for Mac and Windows and Bing Ads API. Search Engine Journal

Snapchat Opens Self-Serve Ad Platform, Provides New Ad Creation Tools and Options
Advertisers can now create and purchase their own Snapchat ads via a new dashboard. You can also use Snapchat audiences, which includes lookalikes, Audience Match options and Snap Lifestyle categories which use in-app data and location-tracking to reach audiences with more relevant messaging. Lastly, the Snap Publisher tool allows advertisers to create Snap ads with pre-designed templates, which will be available in the near future. Social Media Today

Twitter is Testing a Way to Let Users Know What’s ‘Happening Now’
Twitter’s new module at the top of a user’s timeline showcase popular events that are occurring, such as sports. You can click on a card to see a timeline of tweets related to those events. This feature is still in experimentation phase, but could be launched soon. AdWeek

Introducing the LinkedIn Content Insights Quarterly: Q1 2017
These insights will appear after the close of every quarter which uses LinkedIn data to examine what content LinkedIn members are engaging with on the platform. Categories included in this report are top topics, top articles, top growth topics and advertising and engagement topics and articles. LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more top digital marketing news! Need daily news? Follow @toprank on Twitter!

The post Digital Marketing News: Marketing Personalization, Google Website Builder and Bing Ads appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Digital Marketing News: Content Is Still King, Purchases from Email, B2B Tech Influencer Marketing

Here Are 7 Reasons Why Content is Still King in 2017 [Infographic]
The way content marketing draws attention and helps build genuine relationships with the audience is what sets it apart from other marketing tactics. Smart marketers are using content marketing to approach their target audience in a more subtle way to ensure the customer needs are met while building brand credibility and trust. (Social Media Today)

What Influences Consumers to Purchase From Marketing Emails?
A recent survey conducted of 1,004 consumers who have received marketing emails in the past year reports how the different generations are influenced in their purchase decisions. Consumers are most influenced to make purchases from marketing emails by sales/discounts and brand reputation. (MarketingProfs)

The Rise of Influencer Marketing in B2B Technology
B2B marketing has definitely shifted with new challenges when it comes to influencer marketing in enterprise technology. To better understand these shifts and get actionable solutions, 10 industry experts have weighed in about implementing and scaling influencer marketing. (TraackrClick here for the Influence 2.0 study from today’s video!

See How You Stack Up With Inline Competitive Metrics
Six new metrics are available at the campaign, ad group and keyword levels in the main UI and Reports tab in Bing Ads. You can also access these reports via the Bing Ads API. Advertisers can now see how their campaigns, Ad groups and keywords stack up against the competition. (Bing Ads Blog)

Google to Stop Using Information in Gmail to Target Personalized Ads
Google announced that the enterprise version of Gmail and the consumer version will more closely align later this year. Both enterprise and consumer versions of Gmail will not be used to target personalized ads. The ads shown will be based on a user’s settings, including the option to disable personalized ads altogether. (Search Engine Journal)

New Ways to Protect Your Pinterest Account
Pinterest is rolling out a two-factor authentication to everyone in the next few weeks to add security by requiring a verification code every time you log in. You can receive the code via text message, or for added security, download Twilio’s Authy app. If the two-factor authentication is enabled, it works across your entire account on all devices. (Pinterest Blog)

Adobe Is Launching AI-Powered Voice Analytics
Adobe is adding voice analytics to the Adobe Analytics Cloud which will help people better understand how media is consumed via voice-enabled devices. You can track voice usage by intent and add specific parameters and a brand can measure top-of-funnel metrics, as well as trends and patterns at scale over time. (AdWeek)

Messenger Just Added More Fun to Your Video Chats
Facebook Messenger has added new features to video chats. You can now use animated reactions, filters, masks and effects. You can also take pictures of your one-on-one and group video chats and share them with your friends. (Facebook Newsroom)

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more top digital marketing news. For more news and expert insights, follow @toprank on Twitter!

The post Digital Marketing News: Content Is Still King, Purchases from Email, B2B Tech Influencer Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


You Know Influencers: 5 Tips to Unlock Powerful Employee Advocacy

[Editor’s Note: I am pleased to introduce you to Will Peterson, another new contributor on TopRankBlog.com. Will is an Account Manager that services many of our B2B Enterprise clients. Welcome Will!]

Don’t look now, but you’re surrounded by influencers. You may not realize it, and they may not realize it themselves, but you and everyone you work with carry an immense amount of potential influence. Read on to discover how to uncover a powerful hidden force that can add significant value to everything from your company’s social media presence all the way down to its bottom line.


Everyone is influential about something. @leeodden
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Are you in a book club? Do you share recipes with friends? Are you an avid reader and contributor of motorcycle racing forums? Anytime you’re discussing your interests with someone else, be it online or in person, you are exerting your influence on that discussion. The same goes for your employees, team members, and coworkers. Without going too much into the weeds about how to exactly define an influencer, we can safely say that your co-workers, team members, and employees each have their own sphere of influence. A look at some recent research shows that 88% of employees are personally active on at least one social media site. That means your people have people, and they are talking to them, tweeting at them, and sharing with them. So how do you encourage all that potential social influence to work for your team?

Influence the Influencers

Your employees or fellow employees are also consumers, and consumers in this day and age know how to sniff out a salesy marketing pitch. That being said, consumers trust other consumers, and according to multiple studies on trust, we know employees are seen as more credible than executives. Employee advocacy is a powerful marketing tool and encouraging your employees to speak as influencers about your company is a wonderful way to increase brand engagement. Follow these steps to capitalize on that trust and help your employees tap into their influencer power.

#1. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. Remind your employees that their positive comments about your company on social media make life better for everyone. With an improved online profile, your company will have an easier time recruiting top talent, earning top clients, and keeping top customers. Once your team realizes that they are only helping themselves, they will be more motivated to share!

One benefit of employees sharing their high opinions of our company has been TopRank Marketing being named one of the Top 100 Places to Work in Minnesota two years running. This has helped tremendously with hiring great people!

#2. All Social is Good Social

Not everyone has social media accounts on every channel. I barely touched my twitter account until I joined the team at TopRank Marketing. Now I regularly post about clients, company mentions in the news, and other marketing-related topics there and on my LinkedIn page as well. I don’t do much on Facebook however, because I’d rather keep it more personal and less professional. Don’t force your employees to use one channel over the other. If they’d rather sing your praises on Google Plus than Pinterest, encourage them to do so!

#3. The Right Tool for the Right Job

My dad always says you can do anything if you have the right tool for the right job. Make your employees lives easier and introduce them to Buffer, Hootsuite, or some other social media management tool. These can be incredible time savers and will increase the likelihood of your influencers getting the word out there more regularly. In just a few minutes each week, they can appear to be full-time social media mavens.

#4. Prevent Writers’ Block Before It Strikes

Some employees may fret that they “just wouldn’t know what to say” about their company. Not to fear, the Weekly Social Messaging Email is here! Send one email per week with some content ideas for your team to share. This could be anything from recent mentions in the news, client updates, relevant news stories for your industry, or even personal victories for your team members. The point is to get them comfortable with the process and help them build their voice on social channels so their spheres of influence hear it more often.

#5. To the Victors Go the Spoils

Track engagement of your company’s social mentions and let the team know who the biggest sharers (aka influencers) have been for the past week. Using a tool like Hootsuite Amplify, LinkedIn Elevate, or Dynamic Signal can create ease of use and make tracking a snap. Make it a challenge they want to win! Offer an extra drink at the company happy hour or a piece of company swag for the top dog each week! This kind of gamification is a great way to encourage participation among employees.

Practice Makes Perfect

Now that you know the benefits of tapping into the marketing influencers around you at work, and some of the ways to encourage them to get active on social media, get out there and make it happen. Your employees will feel good about this easy way to contribute to the success of their company.

What else can you do to influence your influencers?

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.


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Online Marketing News: The Age of Mobile, Cheetos Snackware & Twitter Expands Pre-Roll

Why Creativity Matters More in the Age of Mobile [Infographic]
Based on Facebook’s new ‘Why Creativity Matters in the Age of Mobile’ report, this infographic shows four big shifts that are driving the way that we consume media, including that consumption is no longer linear, our visual-first evolution and more. Social Media Today

Goodbye Forever, Orange Fingers — Eating Cheetos Could Get an Epic Upgrade
Cheetos and Betabrand are coming together to solve a long-time snack crisis — Cheeto fingers. The mix of brilliant understanding of the user experience from a product standpoint, and creativity in finding a resolution involving user-interaction, is an inspiration for marketers everywhere. Inc.

Expanding Pre-Roll Ads to Periscope Video
Twitter is expanding their pre-roll ads as their video viewership continues to grow. The platform is now giving publishers the opportunity to monetize content while allowing brands to advertise against that content with pre-roll ads on Periscope. Twitter

Mobile now accounts for nearly 70% of digital media time [comScore]
comScore recently released a report that shows 70% of digital media time is spent on mobile, with less than one third being consumed on desktop devices. 60% of that mobile time is spent within ads. However, while less than one third of digital time is spent on desktop, 80% of ad dollars are being spent there. Marketing Land

Introducing Pinterest Propel for successful advertising
Pinterest has announced a new program called Pinterest Propel to help train soon-to-be Pinterest advertisers from agencies and brands alike. In order to qualify for the benefits, like 30-day one-on-one phone support, advertisers must be prepared to spend $100/day or more on Pinterest ads. Pinterest

More Ways to Share with the Facebook Camera
On Tuesday, Facebook rolled out two new ways to share photos and videos: a new Snapchat-esque in-app camera that allows users to add effects and dynamic objects to their photos, and they’ve added Facebook stories to the main Facebook app. Facebook

Google AdWords Rolls Out 3 Important Upgrades to Dynamic Search Ads
Google AdWords has released three new improvements to Dynamic Search Ads. These changes include page feeds that allow advertisers to specify exact URLs within DSAs, expanded text ads and showing more relevant ads by default. Search Engine Journal

What Consumers Really Think About YouTube’s Offensive Content Problem and Its Advertisers
AdWeek recently commissioned a survey of 502 consumer respondents to show what they really think of the ongoing controversy of advertiser’s content being shown prior to offensive content: “the questionnaire shows that enough people (36 percent) view ads as endorsements by brands to cause concern among marketers. At the same time, 55.1 percent of survey participants said their opinion didn’t change about such brands.” AdWeek

What were your top news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more top online marketing news. Have something to add? Share your thoughts in the comments to Tweet to @toprank.

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Rule the Room: 5 Tips for Facilitating Meetings that Generate Results

The work world is simultaneously in love and hate with meetings – from congratulatory mugs for surviving ‘another meeting that could have been an email’ to the mandatory ‘check-in’ meetings that seem to plague event the tightest of calendars. It is generally accepted that meetings are necessary for effective work to be done. However, not all meetings lend themselves toward empowering productivity. What’s an organization to do?

It all comes down to planning. There’s a specific formula that needs to be followed in order to push attendees toward action. The outline described below is tried and true. In fact, it has saved many of my own meetings from the pits of meeting despair. If you have a plan, focus on the actions required to carry it out and clarify tasks along the way, you’ll be on the road to great results in no time. Better yet, this framework can help you empower your team to become more effective, focused and productive.

#1 – Come Prepared

Always prepare for your meetings, whether they’re internal, with a client or with a vendor. To maintain control of the room, you must be prepared to address any and all topics that may come up. First, determine what the outcome of the meeting needs to be, and assemble those items into a list of actionable talking points. Next, determine what information needs to support that list of talking points. For example, if you’re meeting to discuss next year’s marketing budget, come prepared with the results of this year’s marketing efforts, recommendations for improvement and spend allocation, and a few discussion points to keep the room engaged.

This level of preparation prior to the meeting can help you gain valuable insights into next steps as well as build your credibility within the group of meeting attendees. If you put in the work ahead of time, there is much more time for discussion and decision making in session.

#2 – Set Your Agenda

Great meetings begin with an agenda. Using the talking points described in step one, make a list of topics to be covered and a key to describe who will lead that particular discussion. Creating your agenda before the meeting allows you to determine the length of time needed and will set the tone for the people involved.

Each agenda item should be action oriented, ‘review and approve design mock up’ vs ‘design mock up’, for example, to clarify the expected outcome of each discussion. At the beginning of the meeting, review the agenda with all attendees and ask if there is anything else to add. This ensures all necessary topics are covered prior to the meeting coming to a close.

#3 – Discourage Multi-Tasking

It may seem counter-intuitive, but multi-tasking is a notorious productivity killer. The focus of all attendees is required to produce and efficient and effective meeting. Ask those attending in person to close their computers. Ask remote attendees to avoid checking email or other distractions. Ask questions that encourage interaction. The person facilitating the meeting should take notes as needed. The larger the meeting, the more opportunities for distractions, so don’t hesitate to politely rein in a wayward discussion when needed.

If closing computers isn’t possible, set your expectations right out of the gate. A simple statement like ‘For the next 30 minutes, I want us all to put our full attention toward solving this problem. Let’s focus on the task at hand and avoid multi-tasking so we can really make this meeting count.’ This will give all in attendance a shared sense of purpose and set a tone of collaboration and results-oriented problem solving right away.

#4 – Document Action Items

When you take meeting notes, be sure to document any action items that may arise. Make sure you are clear on the action needed, and then reiterate to the team after the action is discussed. For example, in a discussion about SEO, the idea of an analytics audit may come up. When it does, document the task, ‘conduct analytics audit’, and the person assigned, ‘analytics specialist’, then repeat to the room, ‘OK – I’m taking an action for our analytics specialist to conduct an analytics audit.’

When the meeting comes to a close, always end with a summary of actions. For example, you could say something like ‘Great, thanks for your time today team. I want to take a minute to run through our post meeting actions and answer any additional questions. For my team, the actions are to conduct an analytics audit…’ This gives the attendees their final marching orders on the way out the door, clarifies expectations for all involved and inspires immediate action once the meeting wraps up.

#5 – Send a Post-Meeting Summary

When the meeting concludes, always send a post-meeting summary to those who have attended. This email serves as a reminder of discussion topics as well as a documented assignment of tasks for the team involved. It’s often helpful to reference the same post-meeting email when preparing the agenda for your next meeting to keep progress moving forward.

Following this formula helps drive meetings toward an action-oriented conclusion.

Ensuring all attendees are aware of the purpose of the meeting, the desired outcome and the follow up tasks will provide a helpful framework for the meetings to follow. What are your tried and true meeting tips? Share them in the comments or Tweet to @toprank.


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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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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
The Next Evolution of Influencer Marketing: 4 Key Insights And What They Mean | http://www.toprankblog.com

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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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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Aw, Snap: Everything You Need to Know about Snapchat for Business #SMMW17 | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Aw, Snap: Everything You Need to Know about Snapchat for Business #SMMW17 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.