6 Scary Good Tips to Take Your Content Marketing ‘Beyond the Grave’

Save Your Content Marketing Campaign from the Digital Graveyard

After conjuring all the budget, talent, and creativity you can muster, the moment you release your content marketing campaign into the digital wild is devilishly satisfying. All your hard work comes alive right before your very eyes, and that’s certainly cause for celebration.

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But after the campaign lives its best life, what will its fate be?

Oftentimes, all that spooktastic work is retired to the content marketing graveyard. However, with the right mix of will and witchcraft, your campaigns can be saved from the digital depths of darkness and be given new life.

How? Below we offer several frightfully fantastic tips to take your content marketing campaign well beyond the grave.

#1 – Consult your book of spells before going into the wild.

Campaigns create spine-tingling spikes in activity. But that excitement can quickly die out if there’s not significant investment in ongoing organic and paid promotion—or if it falls flat for your target audience.

As a result, early-on in the campaign planning process you should consult your documented book of spells—your documented content marketing strategy—to ensure your campaign can contribute to delivering value and insight to your audience and drive toward your objectives.

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As Robert Rose, Chief Troublemaker at The Content Advisory, told us earlier this year:

“As part of the creation process, we have to ask how every piece of content we create delivers value to our audience first, and us second. It is an approach that will never fail.”

As you consult your spell book, some questions to ask yourself include:

  • Will this campaign deliver value to my audience now and in the future?
  • Will this campaign help me achieve my overarching marketing goals?
  • How will I amplify campaign content long-term?
  • How will this campaign content lend itself to other marketing efforts going forward?
  • What tactical considerations do I need to consider to extend the life of this campaign?

Read: Better Together: Why Your Content Marketing Campaigns & Always-On Programs Should Work Together

#2 – Identify when, where, and how you’ll spin your web of amplification.

Sometimes, there’s no substitute for the tried-and-true. I mean, everybody knows that garlic is a powerful vampire repellent, right? So, when it comes to maximizing the visibility of your content marketing campaigns, you need to think on-site and offsite. For the former, consider cross-linking as an SEO fundamental. For the later, remember that cross-channel amplification is a must.

By creating a plan of cross-linking attack, you can ensure that your campaign content is relevantly represented within existing site content—and that the anchor text supports optimization for search.

A good place to start is conducting a mini content audit on your keyword topic area of choice. This will allow you to identify top performing content your campaign can help bolster, as well as potential gaps that your campaign can fill in the blanks for.

When it comes to developing your amplification plan, remember that it’s not just about social media. Certainly, that can be your starting point, but there are dozens of other tactics to include in your strategy securing third-party editorials or links, writing guest posts for industry blogs, email marketing, and so on.

By creating a plan of cross-linking attack, you can ensure that your campaign content is relevantly represented within existing site content—and that the anchor text supports optimization for search. #ContentMarketing #SEO Click To Tweet

Read: 50 Content Promotion Tactics to Help Your Great Content Get Amazing Exposure

#3 – Infect the minds of your audience with stunning visual CTAs.

Humans are visual creatures by nature. And perhaps one of the best ways to enchant your audience is through the use of infectious visual CTAs across your channels—particularly on your website.

Let’s start with social: Your social media amplification plan should absolutely include visual content and messaging that intrigues and inspires your audience to take action. And to breath new life into the campaign, take the time to refresh the creative.

When it comes to your website, our advice is scary simple: Attractive and compelling imagery can and should be used on relevant, high-traffic pages to capture the minds of the visitors you’ve already enticed to come to the site.

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They’ve already made it to your site, so make the most of it. If you’ve followed the previous tip, identifying some of the right pages will be streamlined.

#4 – Perfect the creature you’ve created.

Whether your initial campaign results are great or grisly, the beauty of digital and content marketing is the ability to optimize on the fly.

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Is some of your organic social messaging falling flat? Dig into native analytics to see which messages are resonating and look for themes. Then take what you’ve learned to create a new round of messaging to release.

Did you work with influencers and want to unleash more reach? Make sure you’ve made it incredibly easy for them to share by providing pre-written messages and graphics. If you’ve done that, follow up with some initial results—and another round of pre-written messaging—to renew excitement.

Are you gaining traction in organic search for derivatives of your target keyword? Consider tweaking the on-page and technical SEO content where it makes sense to help widen your search umbrella.

The big takeaway here? Always be monitoring results and looking for hair-raising opportunities.

Always be monitoring your #contentmarketing campaign results and looking for hair-raising opportunities. @CaitlinMBurgess Click To Tweet

#5 – Resurrect creativity by repurposing content for different audiences.

Campaign content—especially if it includes the unique perspectives and tips of influencers—is a frighteningly fabulous candidate for repurposing. From white papers and eBooks to blog posts and original or third-party research, all of that robust and niche content has the potential to be carved into something new.

For TopRank Marketing’s CEO Lee Odden, microcontent is a ghoulish treat.

“Snackable content can often be managed and repurposed like ingredients to create a main course,” Lee says. “On their own, short form content like quotes, tips, and statistics are useful for social network shares and as added credibility to blog posts, eBooks, and articles.”

Read: A Tasty, Strategic Addition to the Content Marketing Table: ‘Repurposed Content Cobbler’

Snackable content can often be managed and repurposed like ingredients to create a main course. @leeodden #ContentMarketing #repurposing Click To Tweet

#6 – Use paid hocus pocus to get extra lift.

In today’s gravely competitive market, pay-to-play digital marketing tactics have become a spellbinding part of the digital marketing mix, especially when it comes to making a splash with a campaign.

If you’re struggling to get traction on your PPC or paid social efforts, start by looking at your keywords and/or messaging and how they relate to the content you’re promoting. Quality, relevant content is the foundation of digital advertising. As our own Annie Leuman points out, “There’s content behind every SERP.” And the same is true for any marketing channel. From there, consider how and where you’re targeting, and implement tweaks.

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If a campaign is already exceeding objectives and expectations, consider pushing the limits a bit by experimenting with different paid tactics. For example, if you’ve had great success with LinkedIn, consider building a similar audience on Twitter. Or add more budget and expand your audience on the channels that are already working.

Rise Your Content Marketing Campaigns From the Dead

If you’re about to embark on a new campaign initiative, take time to figure out how your new treat will fit in your bag of tricks. In addition, whether you’re mid-campaign or want to resurrect something ancient, embrace tactics such as cross-linking and ongoing optimization that have delightfully haunted the profession for years. Finally, get creative with repurposing and paid tactics to extend the life of your campaign.

It takes will, work, and a bit of witchcraft, but your content marketing campaigns can escape the grave. No content marketing campaign is beyond saving. So, get to work—and you’ll see who has the last cackle.

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Don’t let the untapped potential of your content marketing campaigns haunt you. Cure invisible content syndrome with these tips and insights from some of the industry’s leading marketers.

20 More Dumb Jokes for Smart Marketers

Dumb Marketing Jokes

A great pun is like a great digital marketing campaign: If you do it right, it will stick with people until they’re compelled to share it — even the simplest ones require a level of sophistication to make and to appreciate.

Every marketer I know is incredibly smart — whether it’s my team at TopRank Marketing, the influencers and thought leaders we work with, or the folks I’ve met at marketing conventions. Marketers are sharp, detail-oriented, intellectually rigorous, and susceptible to flattery.

So, if you’re a smart digital or content marketer, take a break from your challenging, rewarding work and enjoy these jokes. And remember: If your colleagues don’t laugh, they’re just not as sophisticated as you.

20 Dumb Jokes for Smart Marketers

1. Q: Why did Dracula add the Creature from the Black Lagoon to his marketing team?
A: A-COUNT based marketing…at scale!

2. I made a joke about organic reach on Facebook… nobody got it.

3. My marketer friend quit and started a bakery. I tried to walk in the door and this big swatch of fabric popped up and blocked my way! I backed up; it disappeared. I walked forward, big cloth thing in the way again!

“Hey,” I shouted at my friend, “I can’t get in!”

“Oh, sorry,” she says, “You have to click on the banner to accept cookies.”

4. I hired an earthworm, a centipede and a millipede to do my email marketing. They’re really good at segmentation.

5. I’ve been retweeted a couple times by Altimeter Group — but I take little Solis in that fact.

6. I’m doing content marketing for a cheese company. We’re creating blog posts and a few grated assets.

That Was a Gouda Joke Meme

7. I like to run all my AB tests in reverse after the first round. I call it AB/BA testing. It’s great, but only works if your target audience are dancing queens, young and sweet, only 17.

8. I have this marketer friend who still believes in last-touch attribution. He just opened a brick-and-mortar store. He says his highest-performing sales rep is the counter in front of the cash register.

9. Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Documented content marketing strategy!
Documented content marketing strategy who?
I’m not surprised you didn’t recognize me… Joe Pulizzi was right.

10. I nicknamed my cat “The Vast Majority of Social Media,” because he doesn’t like me, follow me, or share anything.

11. And I nicknamed my dog “Number of Twitter Followers,” because he doesn’t pay the bills but he makes me feel important.

Woof, That Joke Was Ruff Meme

12. How many CRO experts does it take to change a light bulb?
100 the first time, 98 the second time, 93 the third time, 104 the fourth time, 25 the fifth time….

13. I handed Scott Brinker my iPhone and he scratched it! Then he picked up my tablet and scratched it, too! He even put a dent in my Google Home! I said, “Scott, what are you doing?” He said, “What I do best: mar tech!”

14. Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Brand standards!
Brand standards who?
Sorry, knock-knock jokes don’t fit our mission and purpose statement. Could you tell this as a light bulb joke instead?

15. I’ve lined up Scooby-Doo, Rin Tin Tin, and Lassie for my latest eBook. I call it influencer barketing. We don’t have signed contracts, but we shook on it.

16. Have you heard about the tech startup trying to disrupt honey marketing? They go on and on about the  “authenticity” of their bees and their “next-generation bleeding-edge hive.” If you ask me, it’s all buzzwords.

17. I’m trying to get in shape, so every time I schedule a post on social media, I do ten push-ups. I’m already getting Buffer.

18. So a social media marketer lost his job and went to work on a farm. He worked hard, but had one weird quirk: every morning, he would do a belly flop into the hog trough! After a few days, the farmer had enough.

“You city folks sure are strange,” the farmer said. “Why are you always floppin’ headfirst into the pig slop?”

“Sorry, force of habit,” the social media marketer replied. “I’m trying to make an impression in your feed.”

19. Jokes about amplification are only funny if everyone gets them.

20. Hey, pirate marketer, do you have trouble proving that your campaigns generate revenue?
“Arr! Oh, aye.”

Parrots, The Original Retweeters Meme

Great Marketing Is No Joke

I said up top that great puns and great marketing campaigns have a lot in common. Here’s one important difference: A joke is a single discrete unit, meant to score a laugh and then vanish so the next joke can hit. Marketing campaigns work best when they’re an always-on, sustained effort that builds a relationship.

So, you should use creativity, humor and even wordplay in your marketing. But don’t just toss out individual jokes and expect them to do the heavy lifting.

For example, I wrote ten puns just last week for a client, hoping at least one of them would go viral.

Unfortunately…

No pun in ten did.

Ready for more laughs? Fear not. We got ’em.

B2B Influencer Marketing Interview: Martin Jones, Cox Communications

Martin Jones

I’ve known Martin Jones casually through marketing conferences for several years. Martin occupies that unique position of being someone who manages influencer marketing programs for his brand and is also an influencer himself.

In fact, it is through an influencer engagement for IBM that both Martin and I were involved with that I had a chance to get to know him in earnest. His climb at Cox Communications is a classic American success story and at the same time, Martin is incredibly humble and one of the nicest people in the industry.

In this interview, Martin shares his journey into working with influencers, tips on identifying, recruiting and managing relationships with influencers as well as insights on measurement and his thoughts towards the future.

What brought you to the world of Influencer Marketing?

It happened a bit by accident. I was part of a new product launch in Phoenix, Arizona. We thought it would be fun to have a tweetup, get a few people together at an event we were having at a Diamondbacks baseball game, and have everyone share the experience via Twitter.

I connected with Aaron Kilby who started and runs #MediaChat, and things took off from there. He helped get the word out, and between us, we invited 45 local people who were all active on Twitter and social media. As it turns out, almost everyone showed up, and we could not have picked a better city or group of people.

We knew that night that this was a special group, but I didn’t realize at the time, what an amazing pool of talent and influence we had gathered. I just knew that everything clicked and to this day, it is still probably my favorite event. Included that night were

And many others. The day after the event we looked at the results, and I was hooked.

How is influencer marketing different for B2B than B2C?

I some ways, I don’t know that it is different. At its core, influencer marketing is neither B2B or B2C, it’s personal. It’s about the personal connection an influencer has with each member of their audience or network. No one arrives to work as a consumer and then takes on the buyer persona or characteristics of a brand. They’re still a consumer, and they are influenced and make purchase decisions much as they would as a consumer.

Technically speaking, however; there are clear differences. For example; B2B or B2C will play an essential role in determining where to focus the efforts of influencers. For B2C, I may be all in on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. But for a B2B campaign, I will want to focus more on LinkedIn, online industry or trade articles, or contributions to influential business blogs.

B2C marketers look for influencers based on popularity and reach, whereas B2B marketers focus more on experts, authority and thought leadership. @martinjonesaz

Additionally, there are many instances where a B2C marketer will look for an influencer based on popularity and reach, whereas a B2B marketer will tend to focus more on experts, authority and thought leadership in a specific niche or industry.

What are 2-3 of the main benefits of collaborating with influencers for B2B companies?

A few of the primary benefits of collaborating with influencers is to overcome evolving shifts in marketing that is making it increasingly difficult for brands to reach consumers.

For example, adoption of ad blockers is soaring and traditional banner ads have become ineffective. Organic reach for brands on social media hovers around 1-2%, and consumers trust in brand advertising is at an all-time low.

For B2B marketers striving to reach targeted audiences, influencer marketing, when done right, can yield significant results over many traditional marketing tactics. @martinjonesaz

On the other hand, influencers connect with a much more targeted audience than banner ads have in quite some time. Ad blockers do not impact influencers and their content still has significant social media reach. Trust from an influencer’s audience typically runs somewhere north of 90%.

For B2B marketers striving to reach targeted audiences, influencer marketing, when done right, can yield significant results over many traditional marketing tactics.

What tips can you share about being more effective about influencer identification, qualification & recruitment?

Take your time and do the research. Selection of the right influencers for your campaign will be one of the single most significant factors in its success or failure. It’s easy to get excited about a big name or an influencer with a large following, but neither of those will necessarily translate to your ultimate goal of delivering results to your organization.

A good influencer is one that can activate their audience, regardless of if it’s an audience of 10 or 10,000. @martinjonesaz

Influencers should have a proven track record of getting their audience to take action; whether that is social engagement, making a purchase or simply re-evaluating their opinion or point of view. A good influencer is one that can activate their audience, regardless of if it’s an audience of 10 or 10,000.

Determine the goals or KPI’s of your campaign first. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, change public perception, boost traffic to your website, increase social following, grow sales, or establish trust and thought leadership? The goal of your campaign should determine the pool of influencers you will evaluate.

Do they have brand references? Evaluate their previous work and feedback from other brands. If they cannot document their ability to influence and activate their audience or cannot demonstrate they have previously delivered similar KPI’s, keep searching.

What characteristics make for a successful influencer / B2B brand relationship?

At the top of the list is whether the influencer is a good “cultural fit” for your brand or organization. In the eyes of consumers the influencers you select and work with will, in many ways, become an extension of your brand.

This is another area where research is critical. Due diligence in researching the potential influencers’ social media history will reveal a lot about their personality, style, character and more. You want to ensure that the influencer will in no way put your brand’s reputation at risk.

Influencers that align with your company’s goals, objectives, and values will advance your organization in many ways beyond a marketing campaign. @martinjonesaz

There is much more to a successful relationship than the dollar value and reach. Influencers that align with your company’s goals, objectives, and values will advance your organization in many ways beyond a marketing campaign.

What advice can you share about measuring success with influencer marketing?

Unfortunately, measurement is never one size fits all. It needs to be customized to meet specific campaign or organizational goals. The best advice I can give on measuring success with influencer marketing is to establish the goals of your influencer program or campaign before you do anything else. This will guide you on the tactics, influencer selection process, and key metrics to monitor. Once you have a clear picture of your objectives, KPI’s can be set to ensure alignment and affirm expectations for your influencers.

Speaking of technologies, any favorite tools or platforms you can share?

First, is one that is has been my favorite for some time. Buzzsumo.

Buzzsumo’s influencer feature is one of the best when it comes to researching top writers, bloggers, and publishers by specific keywords and topics. This makes it ideal for my work as it simplifies researching influencers (and topics) across many diverse business verticals.

One of the great advantages of Buzzsumo is that it also uncovers influencers that you will not find via any other method, as they are not “ranked” or registered as influencers in a traditional sense. They don’t appear on lists of the top 100 influencers of this or that, they don’t have 200,000 followers, and they tend to fly just under the radar, but they consistently create incredible content that is highly shared and influences their niche or industry.

Buzzsumo displays the number of shares per article, retweet ratio, page authority and more. It’s easy to use and can help someone quickly and accurately identify influencers for almost any topic, niche or industry.

Another, Sparktoro/Sparkscore is relatively new, and although the actual influencer tool won’t be available until next year, based on what is available now, and details of what’s they’re building, it’s safe to safe it will quickly become very popular. It was created by Rand Fishkin and is in many ways what I think marketers had hoped Klout would be. The Fake Follower Audit, Trend Feed, and Twitter Research tools that are featured on the current site are great and provide a glimpse of what’s coming.

How do you think influencer marketing will have evolved in the next year or two? What will it look like in 2020?

Artificial intelligence will play an increasingly important role over the next year or two. Currently, influencer identification and selection are somewhat subjective, require a great deal of manual research and are not without risk of research and results being impacted by fake engagement and social bots.

Artificial intelligence will play an increasingly important role (with influencer marketing) over the next year or two. @martinjonesaz

AI will go a long way in not only removing the risk but also significantly increasing the ability to surface and identify specific influencers for a brand, product, or service – evaluate their reach and performance, and determine a fair market price for their service.

Thank you Martin!

If you would like to learn even more about influencer marketing for B2B companies, I will be moderating a panel at MarketingProfs B2B Forum November 13-15th in San Francisco featuring Amisha Gandhi from SAP Ariba, Dr Konstanze Alex from Dell, and Luciana Moran from Dun & Bradstreet – three people at the top of their marketing game working with influencers.

Here are the details:

B2B Forum 2018
The Confluence Equation: How Content & Influencers Drive B2B Marketing Success

Content and influencer marketing are hot topics for B2B marketers all over the world as two of the most promising strategies for attracting, engaging and converting ideal customers. What many marketers don’t realize is how collaborating with influencers can create even more credible, relevant, and optimized experiences for target accounts. Join moderator Lee Odden and an expert panel of B2B brand influencer marketing executives from SAP Ariba, Dell, and Dun & Bradstreet to learn how working with influencers and their communities can help scale quality B2B content that gets results. You’ll learn:

  • The variety of benefits from B2B influencer collaboration
  • How major B2B brands plan, implement and measure influencer content
  • About processes and technologies that support influencer marketing success

We’re compiling this series of interviews into an ebook which you can only get at the conference. We hope to see you there!

Building Links with Great Content – Natural Syndication Networks

The debate is over and the results are clear: the best way to improve domain authority is to generate large numbers of earned links from high-authority publishers.

Getting these links is not possible via:

  • Link exchanges
  • Buying links
  • Private Blog Networks, or PBNs
  • Comment links
  • Paid native content or sponsored posts
  • Any other method you may have encountered

There is no shortcut. The only way to earn these links is by creating content that is so interesting, relevant, and newsworthy to a publisher’s audience that the publisher will want to write about that content themselves.

Success, then, is predicated on doing three things extremely well:

  1. Developing newsworthy content (typically meaning that content is data-driven)
  2. Understanding who to pitch for the best opportunity at success and natural syndication
  3. Writing and sending pitches effectively

We’ve covered point 1 and point 3 on other Moz posts. Today, we are going to do a deep dive into point 2 and investigate methods for understanding and choosing the best possible places to pitch your content. Specifically, we will reveal the hidden news syndication networks that can mean the difference between generating less than a handful or thousands of links from your data-driven content.

Understanding News Syndication Networks

Not all news publishers are the same. Some publishers behave as hubs, or influencers, generating the stories and content that is then “picked up” and written about by other publishers covering the same or similar beats.

Some of the top hubs should be obvious to anyone: CNN, The New York Times, BBC, or Reuters, for instance. Their size, brand authority, and ability to break news make them go-to sources for the origination of news and some of the most common places journalists and writers from other publications go to for story ideas. If your content gets picked up by any of these sites, it’s almost certain that you will enjoy widespread syndication of your story to nearly everywhere that could be interested without any intervention on your part.

Unfortunately, outside of the biggest players, it’s often unclear which other sites also enjoy “Hub Status,” acting as a source for much of the news writing that happens around any specific topic or beat.

At Fractl, our experience pitching top publishers has given us a deep intuition of which domains are likely to be our best bet for the syndication potential of content we create on behalf of our clients, but we wanted to go a step further and put data to the question. Which publishers really act as the biggest hubs of content distribution?

To get a better handle on this question, we took a look at the link networks of the top 400 most trafficked American publishers online. We then utilized Gephi, a powerful network visualization tool to make sense of this massive web of links. Below is a visualization of that network.

An interactive version is available here.

Before explaining further, let’s detail how the visualization works:

  • Each colored circle is called a node. A node represents one publisher/website
  • Node size is related to Domain Authority. The larger the node, the more domain authority it has.
  • The lines between the nodes are called edges, and represent the links between each publisher.
  • The strength of the edges/links corresponds to the total number of links from one publisher to another. The more links from one publisher to another, the stronger the edge, and the more “pull” exerted between those two nodes toward each other.
  • You can think of the visualization almost like an epic game of tug of war, where nodes with similar link networks end up clustering near each other.
  • The colors of the nodes are determined by a “Modularity” algorithm that looks at the overall similarity of link networks, comparing all nodes to each other. Nodes with the same color exhibit the most similarity. The modularity algorithm implemented in Gephi looks for the nodes that are more densely connected together than to the rest of the network

Once visualized, important takeaways that can be realized include the following:

  1. The most “central” nodes, or the ones appearing near the center of the graph, are the ones that enjoy links from the widest variety of sites. Naturally, the big boys like Reuters, CNN and the NYTimes are located at the center, with large volumes of links incoming from all over.
  2. Tight clusters are publishers that link to each other very often, which creates a strong attractive force and keeps them close together. Publishers like these are often either owned by the same parent company or have built-in automatic link syndication relationships. A good example is the Gawker Network (at the 10PM position). The closeness of nodes in this network is the result of heavy interlinking and story syndication, along with the effects of site-wide links shared between them. A similar cluster appears at the 7PM position with the major NBC-owned publishers (NBC.com, MSNBC.com, Today.com, etc.). Nearby, we also see large NBC-owned regional publishers, indicating heavy story syndication also to these regional owned properties.
  3. Non-obvious similarities between the publishers can also be gleaned. For instance, notice how FoxNews.com and TMZ.com are very closely grouped, sharing very similar link profiles and also linking to each other extensively. Another interesting cluster to note is the Buzzfeed/Vice cluster. Notice their centrality lies somewhere between serious news and lifestyle, with linkages extending out into both.
  4. Sites that cover similar themes/beats are often located close to each other in the visualization. We can see top-tier lifestyle publishers clustered around the 1PM position. News publishers clustered near other news publishers with similar political leanings. Notice the closeness of Politico, Salon, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post. Similarly, notice the proximity of Breitbart, The Daily Caller, and BizPacReview. These relationships hint at hidden biases and relationships in how these publishers pick up each other’s stories.

A More Global Perspective

Last year, a fascinating project by Kalev Leetaru at Forbes looked at the dynamics Google News publishers in the US and around the world. The project leveraged GDelt’s massive news article dataset, and visualized the network with Gephi, similarly to the above network discussed in the previous paragraph.

This visualization differs in that the link network was built looking only at in-context links, whereas the visualization featured in the previous paragraph looked at all links. This is perhaps an even more accurate view of news syndication networks because it better parses out site-wide links, navigation links, and other non-context links that impact the graph. Additionally, this graph was generated using more than 121 million articles from nearly every country in the world, containing almost three-quarters of a billion individual links. It represents one of the most accurate pictures of the dynamics of the global news landscape ever assembled.

Edge weights were determined by the total number of links from each node to each other node. The more links, the stronger the edge. Node sizes were calculated using Pagerank in this case instead of Domain Authority, though they are similar metrics.

Using this visualization, Mr. Leetaru was able to infer some incredibly interesting and potentially powerful relationships that have implications for anyone who pitches mainstream publishers. Some of the most important include:

  1. In the center of the graph, we see a very large cluster. This cluster can be thought of as essentially the “Global Media Core,” as Mr. Leetaru puts it. Green nodes represent American outlets. This, as with the previous example, shows the frequency with which these primary news outlets interlink and cover each other’s stories, as well as how much less frequently they cite sources from smaller publications or local and regional outlets.
  2. Interestingly, CNN seems to play a unique role in the dissemination to local and regional news. Note the many links from CNN to the blue cluster on the far right. Mr. Leetaru speculates this could be the result of other major outlets like the NYTimes and the Washington Post using paywalls. This point is important for anyone who pitches content. Paywalls should be something taken into consideration, as they could potentially significantly reduce syndication elsewhere.
  3. The NPR cluster is another fascinating one, suggesting that there is heavy interlinking between NPR-related stories and also between NPR and the Washington Post and NYTimes. Getting a pickup on NPR’s main site could result in syndication to many of its affiliates. NYTimes or Washington Post pickups could also have a similar effect due to this interlinking.
  4. For those looking for international syndication, there are some other interesting standouts. Sites like NYYibada.com cover news in the US. They are involved with Chinese language publications, but also have versions in other languages, including English. Sites like this might not seem to be good pitch targets, but could likely be pitched successfully given their coverage of many of the same stories as US-based English language publications.
  5. The blue and pink clusters at the bottom of the graph are outlets from the Russian and Ukrainian press, respectively. You will notice that while the vast majority of their linking is self-contained, there seem to be three bridges to international press, specifically via the BBC, Reuters, and AP. This suggests getting pickups at these outlets could result in much broader international syndication, at least in Eastern Europe and Russia.
  6. Additionally, the overall lack of deep interlinking between publications of different languages suggests that it is quite difficult to get English stories picked up internationally.
  7. Sites like ZDnet.com have foreign language counterparts, and often translate their stories for their international properties. Sites like these offer unique opportunities for link syndication into mostly isolated islands of foreign publications that would be difficult to reach otherwise.

I would encourage readers to explore this interactive more. Isolating individual publications can give deep insight into what syndication potential might be possible for any story covered. Of course, many factors impact how a story spreads through these networks. As a general rule, the broader the syndication network, the more opportunities that exist.

Link Syndication in Practice

Over our 6 years in business, Fractl has executed more than 1,500 content marketing campaigns, promoted using high-touch, one-to-one outreach to major publications. Below are two views of content syndication we have seen as a result of our content production and promotion work.

Let’s first look just at a single campaign.

Recently, Fractl scored a big win for our client Signs.com with our “Branded in Memory” campaign, which was a fun and visual look at how well people remember brand logos. We had the crowd attempt to recreate well-known brand logos from memory, and completed data analysis to understand more deeply which brands seem to have the best overall recall.

As a result of strategic pitching, the high public appeal, and the overall “coolness” factor of the project, it was picked up widely by many mainstream publications, and enjoyed extensive syndication.

Here is what that syndication looked like in network graph form over time:

If you are interested in seeing and exploring the full graph, you can access the interactive by clicking on the gif above, or clicking here. As with previous examples, node size is related to domain authority.

A few important things to note:

  • The orange cluster of nodes surrounding the central node are links directly to the landing page on Signs.com.
  • Several pickups resulted in nodes (publications) that themselves generated many numbers of links pointing at the story they wrote about the Signs.com project. The blue cluster at the 8PM position is a great example. In this case it was a pickup from BoredPanda.com.
  • Nodes that do not link to Signs.com are secondary syndications. They pass link value through the node that links to Signs.com, and represent an opportunity for link reclamation. Fractl follows up on all of these opportunities in an attempt to turn these secondary syndications into do-follow links pointing directly at our client’s domain.
  • An animated view gives an interesting insight into the pace of link accumulation both to the primary story on Signs.com, but also to the nodes that garnered their own secondary syndications. The GIF represents a full year of pickups. As we found in my previous Moz post examining link acquisition over time, roughly 50% of the links were acquired in the first month, and the other 50% over the next 11 months.

Now, let’s take a look at what syndication networks look like when aggregated across roughly 3 months worth of Fractl client campaigns (not fully comprehensive):

If you are interested in exploring this in more depth, click here or the above image for the interactive. As with previous examples, node size is related to domain authority.

A few important things to note:

  1. The brown cluster near the center labeled “placements” are links pointing back directly to the landing pages on our clients’ sites. Many/most of these links were the result of pitches to writers and editors at those publications, and not as a result of natural syndication.
  2. We can see many major hubs with their own attached orbits of linking nodes. At 9PM, we see entrepreneur.com, at 12PM we see CNBC.com, 10PM we see USAToday, etc.
  3. Publications with large numbers of linking nodes surrounding them are examples of prime pitching targets, given how syndications link back to stories on those publications appear in this aggregate view.

Putting it All Together

New data tools are enabling the ability to more deeply understand how the universe of news publications and the larger “blogosphere” operate dynamically. Network visualization tools in particular can be put to use to yield otherwise impossible insights about the relationships between publications and how content is distributed and syndicated through these networks.

The best part is that creating visualizations with your own data is very straightforward. For instance, the link graphs of Fractl content examples, along with the first overarching view of news networks, was built using backlink exports from SEMrush. Additionally, third party resources such as Gdelt offer tools and datasets that are virtually unexplored, providing opportunity for deep understanding that can convey significant advantages for those looking to optimize their content promotion and syndication process.

Digital Marketing News: Google’s Branded Search Reporting, Bing Connects With LinkedIn, & Facebook’s New Ad Dashboard

2018 October 26 SEMrush News Image

23 Metrics to Measure Content Marketing Success [Infographic]
SEMrush takes a look at nearly two dozen metrics for measuring success in content marketing, by way of a new infographic looking at engagement and other factors. Social Media Today

[embedded content]

Google My Business Insights adds branded search reporting
Google has added new features to its Google My Business Insights dashboard, allowing more robust analytics filtering, among other additions. Search Engine Land

Facebook Launches New Dashboard to Better Track Facebook Ad Performance
Facebook announced an update to its Attribution dashboard, with an array of feature additions aimed at making it easier to track ad performance. Leaving beta status, the new reports offer a variety of customer journey insights. Social Media Today

Bing Announces LinkedIn Profile Targeting for Bing Ads
Microsoft’s Bing has announced that its Bing Ads has been updated to include LinkedIn (client) profile targeting. The new features offer expanded reach for text and dynamic search ads, among other new beta release additions. Search Engine Journal

YouTube CEO: EU Legislation ‘Threatens To Shut Down’ Millions Of Creators
YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcick has recently written that European Union copyright legislation would put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk, and potentially shut down millions of creators. MediaPost

Google Local Services Ads Receive 13% of All SERP Clicks [STUDY]
According to recent study data, Google Local Services ads make up nearly 14 percent of all search engine results page clicks, and play a role in organic results, among other findings. Search Engine Journal

2018 October 26 Statistics Image

YouTube now counts ‘engagement’ for YouTube for action ads at 10 seconds, not 30
YouTube has decreased the amount of watch time required to count as an engagement, the video giant announced recently, along with several other attribution points related to conversions. Marketing Land

‘Inherently thumb stopping’: Engagement-thirsty marketers try out Facebook 3D photos
A look at how Facebook’s recently-launched 3D-like photos are being used by digital marketers and brands. Digiday

Teens use Instagram more than Snapchat, report says
Instagram is the most popular social platform among teens, edging out Snapchat in new report data released by Piper Jaffray. Snapchat is teens’ favorite, however, according to the new report. Mashable

We Analyzed 60,000+ Reddit Posts From the Top 150 Subreddits (New Research)
A new analysis takes a close look at Reddit and its increasing use among digital marketers, with some surprising findings. Foundation

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2018 October 26 Marketoonist Cartoon

A lighthearted look at digital transformation by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Man Does Incredibly Well At Slot Machine Demo Embedded In Ad — The Onion

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Joshua Nite — 10 Tips and Tools for Bringing Your Business into 2019 — Small Business Trends
  • Lee Odden — Embrace the binge! How to help your partners keep their buyers’ attention — IMS360
  • DivvyHQ — Tips from Andrew Davis on Leveling Up Content with the Loyalty Loop
    DivvyHQ (client)

What are some of your own favorite content marketing news items for the week?

Thanks for joining us, and we hope you’ll return again next week for a new group of the most relevant digital marketing industry news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

Log File Analysis 101 – Whiteboard Friday

Log file analysis can provide some of the most detailed insights about what Googlebot is doing on your site, but it can be an intimidating subject. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Britney Muller breaks down log file analysis to make it a little more accessible to SEOs everywhere.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going over all things log file analysis, which is so incredibly important because it really tells you the ins and outs of what Googlebot is doing on your sites.

So I’m going to walk you through the three primary areas, the first being the types of logs that you might see from a particular site, what that looks like, what that information means. The second being how to analyze that data and how to get insights, and then the third being how to use that to optimize your pages and your site.

For a primer on what log file analysis is and its application in SEO, check out our article: How to Use Server Log Analysis for Technical SEO

1. Types

So let’s get right into it. There are three primary types of logs, the primary one being Apache. But you’ll also see W3C, elastic load balancing, which you might see a lot with things like Kibana. But you also will likely come across some custom log files. So for those larger sites, that’s not uncommon. I know Moz has a custom log file system. Fastly is a custom type setup. So just be aware that those are out there.

Log data

So what are you going to see in these logs? The data that comes in is primarily in these colored ones here.

So you will hopefully for sure see:

  • the request server IP;
  • the timestamp, meaning the date and time that this request was made;
  • the URL requested, so what page are they visiting;
  • the HTTP status code, was it a 200, did it resolve, was it a 301 redirect;
  • the user agent, and so for us SEOs we’re just looking at those user agents’ Googlebot.

So log files traditionally house all data, all visits from individuals and traffic, but we want to analyze the Googlebot traffic. Method (Get/Post), and then time taken, client IP, and the referrer are sometimes included. So what this looks like, it’s kind of like glibbery gloop.

It’s a word I just made up, and it just looks like that. It’s just like bleh. What is that? It looks crazy. It’s a new language. But essentially you’ll likely see that IP, so that red IP address, that timestamp, which will commonly look like that, that method (get/post), which I don’t completely understand or necessarily need to use in some of the analysis, but it’s good to be aware of all these things, the URL requested, that status code, all of these things here.

2. Analyzing

So what are you going to do with that data? How do we use it? So there’s a number of tools that are really great for doing some of the heavy lifting for you. Screaming Frog Log File Analyzer is great. I’ve used it a lot. I really, really like it. But you have to have your log files in a specific type of format for them to use it.

Splunk is also a great resource. Sumo Logic and I know there’s a bunch of others. If you’re working with really large sites, like I have in the past, you’re going to run into problems here because it’s not going to be in a common log file. So what you can do is to manually do some of this yourself, which I know sounds a little bit crazy.

Manual Excel analysis

But hang in there. Trust me, it’s fun and super interesting. So what I’ve done in the past is I will import a CSV log file into Excel, and I will use the Text Import Wizard and you can basically delineate what the separators are for this craziness. So whether it be a space or a comma or a quote, you can sort of break those up so that each of those live within their own columns. I wouldn’t worry about having extra blank columns, but you can separate those. From there, what you would do is just create pivot tables. So I can link to a resource on how you can easily do that.

Top pages

But essentially what you can look at in Excel is: Okay, what are the top pages that Googlebot hits by frequency? What are those top pages by the number of times it’s requested?

Top folders

You can also look at the top folder requests, which is really interesting and really important. On top of that, you can also look into: What are the most common Googlebot types that are hitting your site? Is it Googlebot mobile? Is it Googlebot images? Are they hitting the correct resources? Super important. You can also do a pivot table with status codes and look at that. I like to apply some of these purple things to the top pages and top folders reports. So now you’re getting some insights into: Okay, how did some of these top pages resolve? What are the top folders looking like?

You can also do that for Googlebot IPs. This is the best hack I have found with log file analysis. I will create a pivot table just with Googlebot IPs, this right here. So I will usually get, sometimes it’s a bunch of them, but I’ll get all the unique ones, and I can go to terminal on your computer, on most standard computers.

I tried to draw it. It looks like that. But all you do is you type in “host” and then you put in that IP address. You can do it on your terminal with this IP address, and you will see it resolve as a Google.com. That verifies that it’s indeed a Googlebot and not some other crawler spoofing Google. So that’s something that these tools tend to automatically take care of, but there are ways to do it manually too, which is just good to be aware of.

3. Optimize pages and crawl budget

All right, so how do you optimize for this data and really start to enhance your crawl budget? When I say “crawl budget,” it primarily is just meaning the number of times that Googlebot is coming to your site and the number of pages that they typically crawl. So what is that with? What does that crawl budget look like, and how can you make it more efficient?

  • Server error awareness: So server error awareness is a really important one. It’s good to keep an eye on an increase in 500 errors on some of your pages.
  • 404s: Valid? Referrer?: Another thing to take a look at is all the 400s that Googlebot is finding. It’s so important to see: Okay, is that 400 request, is it a valid 400? Does that page not exist? Or is it a page that should exist and no longer does, but you could maybe fix? If there is an error there or if it shouldn’t be there, what is the referrer? How is Googlebot finding that, and how can you start to clean some of those things up?
  • Isolate 301s and fix frequently hit 301 chains: 301s, so a lot of questions about 301s in these log files. The best trick that I’ve sort of discovered, and I know other people have discovered, is to isolate and fix the most frequently hit 301 chains. So you can do that in a pivot table. It’s actually a lot easier to do this when you have kind of paired it up with crawl data, because now you have some more insights into that chain. What you can do is you can look at the most frequently hit 301s and see: Are there any easy, quick fixes for that chain? Is there something you can remove and quickly resolve to just be like a one hop or a two hop?
  • Mobile first: You can keep an eye on mobile first. If your site has gone mobile first, you can dig into that, into the logs and evaluate what that looks like. Interestingly, the Googlebot is still going to look like this compatible Googlebot 2.0. However, it’s going to have all of the mobile implications in the parentheses before it. So I’m sure these tools can automatically know that. But if you’re doing some of the stuff manually, it’s good to be aware of what that looks like.
  • Missed content: So what’s really important is to take a look at: What’s Googlebot finding and crawling, and what are they just completely missing? So the easiest way to do that is to cross-compare with your site map. It’s a really great way to take a look at what might be missed and why and how can you maybe reprioritize that data in the site map or integrate it into navigation if at all possible.
  • Compare frequency of hits to traffic: This was an awesome tip I got on Twitter, and I can’t remember who said it. They said compare frequency of Googlebot hits to traffic. I thought that was brilliant, because one, not only do you see a potential correlation, but you can also see where you might want to increase crawl traffic or crawls on a specific, high-traffic page. Really interesting to kind of take a look at that.
  • URL parameters: Take a look at if Googlebot is hitting any URLs with the parameter strings. You don’t want that. It’s typically just duplicate content or something that can be assigned in Google Search Console with the parameter section. So any e-commerce out there, definitely check that out and kind of get that all straightened out.
  • Evaluate days, weeks, months: You can evaluate days, weeks, and months that it’s hit. So is there a spike every Wednesday? Is there a spike every month? It’s kind of interesting to know, not totally critical.
  • Evaluate speed and external resources: You can evaluate the speed of the requests and if there’s any external resources that can potentially be cleaned up and speed up the crawling process a bit.
  • Optimize navigation and internal links: You also want to optimize that navigation, like I said earlier, and use that meta no index.
  • Meta noindex and robots.txt disallow: So if there are things that you don’t want in the index and if there are things that you don’t want to be crawled from your robots.txt, you can add all those things and start to help some of this stuff out as well.

Reevaluate

Lastly, it’s really helpful to connect the crawl data with some of this data. So if you’re using something like Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl, they allow these integrations with different server log files, and it gives you more insight. From there, you just want to reevaluate. So you want to kind of continue this cycle over and over again.

You want to look at what’s going on, have some of your efforts worked, is it being cleaned up, and go from there. So I hope this helps. I know it was a lot, but I want it to be sort of a broad overview of log file analysis. I look forward to all of your questions and comments below. I will see you again soon on another Whiteboard Friday. Thanks.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

5 Powerful Messaging Tactics For 2019 And Beyond From Marketing Experts

Powerful redwood tree forest image.

Welcome to the third installment in our multi-part “Collective Wisdom” series of content marketing strategy articles. In this Pubcon-themed episode, you’ll learn powerful methods for creating engaging and bookmark-worthy messaging, featuring insight from some of the world’s top digital marketers who spoke at Pubcon Pro Las Vegas 2018.

Previously in “How to Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts By Planning Ahead,” we looked at implementing a smart and robust content planning strategy, while “The Art Of Crafting More Powerful Content: 5 Top Tactics from the Experts” began exploring five of the most fundamental content creation methods.

Now it’s time to focus on five additional smart tactics for creating engaging and powerful messaging to help you create a successful content marketing campaign.

Crafting Powerful Messaging — Pubcon Style

As we began exploring previously, smart content crafting is one of the most important steps on a successful content marketing journey, because it’s the centerpiece of what you present — and using the right messaging in your content is also a step you don’t want to skip over.

Insight 1: Use The Right Tone For Dopamine-Inducing Messaging

Woman looking excitedly at phone message image.

The content we create should ideally be the type that creates dopamine in our brains, to get us truly excited and make us want to seek out more.

It’s the type of powerful brand messaging that Mindset Digital Founder Debra Jasper espouses, which she detailed in her recent Pubcon keynote presentation.

It’s never been harder to differentiate your content from the vast digital sea of messages bombarding us from every angle thousands of times every day, yet that’s exactly what we should strive to do, by incorporating smart planning, careful message crafting, and savvy promotion.

When I first connected to the Internet in 1984, it was commonly said that the entire volume of new content created online over the past 24 hours could be downloaded at 300-baud in a relatively small text file easily saved to either an 8” or 5.25” floppy disk, with plenty of room to spare.

This year, by contrast, Cisco has estimated that by 2021 in just one second 105 terabytes will be transferred globally online — including a million minutes worth of video content.

Take heed, as it’s against this daunting backdrop of information overload and mega-competition that your messaging needs to stand out, but don’t worry, as your target audience will likely represent only a small fraction of worldwide Internet traffic, and we’ll look at how to focus on the micro-moments that you can more easily control.

Jasper encourages the use of the SOS methodology for the most effective messaging:

  • Short
  • Organized
  • Skimmable

No matter your intended audience, including the important “what,” “why,” and “now what” elements should also be included near the beginning of any messaging, in a world where today’s professional typically has only an eight-second attention span.

“Today’s clients and colleagues have an eight second attention span. Eight seconds. To break through the noise, you must communicate with more power, clarity and impact.” — Debra Jasper @DebraJasper Click To Tweet

Insight 2: Use Clarity In Your Messaging

Woman with outstretched arms on a clear day image.

What can we learn about content creation from some of the latest research into artificial intelligence, voice search, and chatbots?

Microsoft Senior Manager of Global Engagement Purna Virji sees presenting clear and concise messages as vital both for today’s content marketing and bots, as she explored in “How to Optimize Customer Experience with AI – Top Tips from Microsoft’s Purna Virji” at Pubcon.

Our messaging should include elements of all four of Purna’s principles of conversational design:

  • Clarity
  • Compassion
  • Character
  • Correction

Combine these to write for the ear, not the eye, Purna suggests, and ask yourself if your messaging reflects the way you would talk to someone in person.

“When it comes to optimizing the customer experience, design for conversation from the start. Remember, the most important thing for the user is convenience.” — Purna Virji @purnavirji Click To Tweet

Insight 3: Understand Personalization to Know Your Audience

Scott Monty Pubcon keynote image, photo by Lane R. Ellis

Learning how to make smart decisions for personalizing your content messaging is one of the the specialties of former Head of Social for Ford, Scott Monty, who shared his insight into the area recently during Pubcon in his “Top Brand Personalization Secrets From Scott Monty at #Pubcon 2018” presentation.

Doing due diligence to know your audience will help you create meaningful messages, and the kinds of emotional stories that appeal to your intended viewers.

However, personalized messages don’t need to be lengthy to be truly impactful, as Scott pointed out when he shared the story of Ernest Hemingway’s famous $10 bet to achieve a meaningful story in six words or less.

“For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” won the bet — powerful emotions from just a few words, and while we can’t all be Hemingways, using the right language and tone for our intended audience can help make your messaging successful.

“Customers want experiences that are more about them and their needs. To increase customer retention, marketers can use date to deliver on more personal experiences.” — Scott Monty @scottmonty Click To Tweet

Our CEO Lee Odden took a detailed look at when short-form content is appropriate, and when it’s better to choose the long-form, in his “Power Pages and Best Answer Content: Should You Go Long or Short Form?

“When it comes to long vs. short form content, the lesson to learn is to avoid just checking off boxes that say you need to write 2,000 words to satisfy Google,” Lee said.

“Know your customers well enough through data to create a best-answer content strategy and content mix that is relevant, optimized for discovery, useful and actionable,” Lee added.

Insight 4: Better Messaging Through Collaboration & Credibility

Hands holding gears and cogs image.

For at least six years Lee has also identified “being the best answer” for your audience as imperative, a message he explored recently at Pubcon, as our own Tiffani Allen explores in “5 Secrets for Growing Influence in Marketing: Key Takeaways from Lee Odden at #Pubcon Pro.”

“By building internal credibility, activating customers, creating a content collaboration ecosystem and working with influencers, marketing can improve credibility, influence and trust.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

Businesses using influencer marketing with an eye towards relationships can use content co-creation and messaging to grow those relationships, Lee pointed out, adding that when an influencer relationship grow stronger, the content is bound to become better and drive further involvement from the influencer.

Insight 5: Focus On The Most-Desired Messaging Outcomes

It’s also important to make it easy for your audience to engage with your messaging and ultimately to have them turn into conversions, with the kind of content that they’ll want to return to again and again over time.

Neuromarketing author and Pubcon speaker Roger Dooley recently explored the importance of reducing friction for your audience, as Tiffani looks at more closely in “Reduce Friction, Increase Loyalty: Key Insights from Roger Dooley at #Pubcon Pro.”

“Want a higher conversion rate and customer loyalty? Make it easier to do business with you. Reducing friction in every interaction is the path to getting and keeping more customers.” — Roger Dooley @rogerdooley Click To Tweet

By minimizing what he calls cognitive friction, through the use of simple and easy-to-read fonts, brief copy, and an easy-to-read design, our messaging can be highly successful, Roger has explained.

From Messaging To Promotion — The Journey’s Just Begun

By using clarity, the right tone, personalization, the power of collaboration and credibility, and striving for dopamine-inducing messaging, you can ensure that you’ve got the necessary elements for powerful content messaging.

These aren’t the only tactics you can use in your messaging tool bag, however, and next up in our “Collective Wisdom” series we’ll examine even more, and move on to the art of content promotion.

In the meantime you can learn more about content marketing, influencer marketing, and more by catching us at these upcoming conferences:

  • ITSMA Marketing Vision 2018 on November 7 in Cambridge, MA. — “Influence the Influencers – How B2B technology companies can build brand awareness with content and influence”
  • MarketingProfs 2018 Marketing B2B Forum on November 15 in San Francisco — “The Confluence Equation: How Content & Influencers Drive B2B Marketing Success”

From Basic to Advanced, the B2B Influencer Marketing Software You Need to Succeed

B2B influencer marketing software

A hot topic for every marketer today is working with influencers. But how do you find the right influencers? How do you manage those relationships and how do you scale programs?

Basically, what tools do you need when it comes to B2B influencer marketing?

Here is a collection of social media and influencer marketing tools you might find useful whether you’re a B2B or a B2C marketer. But definitely if you work in B2B.

Outside of the promotional tools you might use for the content marketing that goes along with most influencer marketing programs, there are three general areas of opportunity to scale with technology when it comes to working with influencers.

1- Identification, qualification and recruiting

Finding the right influencers based on social data among other sources is much easier with a tool made for that purpose. Followers can be faked so digging in to more details to validate influencers is just as important. Finally, collecting enough information to initiate a relevant and personalized recruiting effort is made much easier with certain tools.

2- Monitoring and engagement

Once you’ve identified and engaged with a group of influencers, it’s essential for your sanity that you use tools to monitor their social media activity and get alerts for opportunities to engage. Maintaining relationships with B2B influencers in between campaigns is key if you want to keep the brand love alive.

3- Measurement and reporting

How you measure depends on your goals but being able to track shared URLs and report their reach, engagement and contribution to conversion is essential. Measuring the influencer’s activity is important and so is measuring the impact of the influencer on their network as well as that network’s impact on their networks. Then you can wrap it all up in a nice report.

As far as types of influencer marketing tools, there are many. To simplify, I’ll say there are two general categories for B2B (specialty and platforms) and I’ll include a few examples for each. This is not a comprehensive list, but a collection of tools that I have often used.

Speciality Influencer Marketing Tools:

To identify influencers, you can use:

  • Followerwonk – Twitter specific search
  • BuzzSumo – Twitter specific, but there are also options to find blog post authors by topic and the social share popularity of their content
  • Keyhole – For tracking keywords, hashtags and Twitter or Instagram handles. Also gives you the most influential individuals for a keyword or hashtag
  • Brandwatch Audiences – Twitter specific search with advanced query options and filters
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator – For business professionals, there is no better tool than LinkedIn. Sales Navigator offers many more search and tracking options.

To monitor and engage influencers, you can try:

  • Nimble – Full featured and low cost influencer CRM platform
  • Linkfluence Radarly – Full social media monitoring solution (client)
  • Agorapulse – For social media monitoring and management
  • Zoho Social – For social media monitoring and management
  • Talkwalker – Full social media monitoring solution
  • Brand24 – Full social media monitoring solution
  • Mention – Full social media monitoring solution

Influencer Marketing measurement: While many of the tools above offer some element of tracking and reporting, here are some additional options for measuring social influencers and influencer marketing efforts:

Influencer Marketing Platforms

For some companies, a single solution is a better fit and for that, there are three comprehensive influencer marketing platforms I am most familiar with that are particularly effective for B2B:

Traackr – From finding and validating to monitoring and engaging to tracking and reporting, this platform does it all and with stye. A great user experience makes it easy to use all aspects of this platform yourself or you can get help from their professional services.

Onalytica – Offers robust influencer identification, engagement and measurement capabilities. Some of the features you can use as you like and others require professional services. One unique feature is the ability to upload content for analysis which then makes influencer recommendations based on the content.

GroupHigh – A full influencer marketing platform that focuses on bloggers which can be quite helpful for finding and engaging with B2B influencers as well as reporting on when those bloggers mention your brand.

Of course a tool or technology is only as effective as the expertise of the person using it. If you’re looking for that kind of expertise with B2B influencer marketing, my team at TopRank Marketing is here to help. We’ve been helping major B2B brands like LinkedIn, SAP, Dell, Oracle, GE Digital, 3M, Treasure Data, Prophix, DivvyHQ and Content Marketing Institute succeed with content marketing programs and we can help you too.

A version of this post originally published on LinkedIn.

Can You Still Use Infographics to Build Links?

Content link building: Are infographics still the highest ROI format?

Fun fact: the first article to appear online proclaiming that “infographics are dead” appeared in 2011. Yet, here we are.

For those of you looking for a quick answer to this strategy-defining question, infographics aren’t as popular as they were between 2014 and 2015. Although they were the best format for generating links, popular publications aren’t using them as often as they used to, as evidenced in this research. However, they are still being used daily and gaining amazing placements and links for their creators — and the data shows, they are already more popular in 2018 than they were in 2013.

However, if there’s one format you want to be working with, use surveys.

Note: I am at the mercy of the publication I’ve reviewed as to what constitutes their definition of an infographic in order to get this data at scale. However, throughout my research, this would typically include a relatively long text- and data-heavy visualization of a specific topic.

The truth is that infographics are still one of the most-used formats for building links and brand awareness, and from my outreach experiences, with good reason. Good static visuals or illustrations (as we now call them to avoid the industry-self-inflicted shame) are often rich in content with engaging visuals that are extremely easy for journalists to write about and embed, something to which anyone who’s tried sending an iframe to a journalist will attest.

That’s why infographics have been going strong for over a decade, and will continue to for years to come.

My methodology

Prophecies aside, I wanted to take a look into the data and discover whether or not infographics are a dying art and if journalists are still posting them as often as they used to. I believe the best way to determine this is by taking a look at what journalists are publishing and mapping that over time.

Not only did I look at how often infographics are being used, but I also measured them against other content formats typically used for building links and brand awareness. If infographics are no longer the best format for content-based link building, I wanted to find out what was. I’ve often used interactives, surveys, and photographic content, like most people producing story-driven creatives, so I focused on those as my formats for comparison.

Internally, you can learn a ton by cross-referencing this sort of data (or data from any key publication clients or stakeholders have tasked you with) with your own data highlighting where you’re seeing most of your successes and identifying which formats and topics are your strengths or weaknesses. You can quickly then measure up against those key target publications and know if your strongest format/topic is one they favor most, or if you might need to rethink a particular process to get featured.

I chose to take a look at Entrepreneur.com as a base for this study, so anyone working with B2B or B2C content, whether in-house or agency-side, will probably get the most use out of this (especially because I scraped the names of journalists publishing this content — shh! DM me for it. Feels a little wrong to publish that openly!).

Disclaimer: There were two methods of retrieving this data that I worked through, each with their own limitations. After speaking with fellow digital PR expert, Danny Lynch, I settled on using Screaming Frog and custom extraction using XPath. Therefore, I am limited to what the crawl could find, which still included over 70,000 article URLs, but any orphaned or removed pages wouldn’t be possible to crawl and aren’t included.

The research

Here’s how many infographics have been featured as part of an article on Entrepreneur.com over the years:

As we’ve not yet finished 2018 (3 months to go at the time this data was pulled), we can estimate the final usage will be in the 380 region, putting it not far from the totals of 2017 and 2016. Impressive stuff in comparison to years gone by.

However, there’s a key unknown here. Is the post-2014/15 drop-off due to lack of outreach? Is it a case of content creators simply deciding infographics were no longer the preferred format to cover topics and build links for clients, as they were a few years ago?

Both my past experiences agency-side and my gut feeling would be that content creators are moving away from it as a core format for link building. Not only would this directly impact the frequency they are published, but it would also impact the investment creators place in producing infographics, and in an environment where infographics need to improve to survive, that would only lead to less features.

Another important data point I wanted to look at was the amount of content being published overall. Without this info, there would be no way of knowing if, with content quality improving all the time, journalists were spending a significantly more time on posts than they had previously while publishing at diminishing rates. To this end, I looked at how much content Entrepreneur.com published each year over the same timeframe:

Although the data shows some differences, the graphs are pretty similar. However, it gets really interesting when we divide the number of infographics by the number of articles in total to find out how many infographics exist per article:

There we have it. The golden years of infographics were certainly 2013 and 2014, but they’ve been riding a wave of consistency since 2015, comprising a higher percentage of overall articles that link builders would have only dreamed of in 2012, when they were way more in fashion.

In fact, by breaking down the number of infographics vs overall content published, there’s a 105% increase in the number of articles that have featured an infographic in 2018 compared to 2012.

Infographics compared to other creative formats

With all this in mind, I still wanted to uncover the fascination with moving away from infographics as a medium of creative storytelling and link building. Is it an obsession with building and using new formats because we’re bored, or is it because other formats provide a better link building ROI?

The next question I wanted to answer was: “How are other content types performing and how do they compare?” Here’s the answer:

Again, using figures publisher-side, we can see that the number of posts that feature infographics is consistently higher than the number of features for interactives and photographic content. Surveys have more recently taken the mantle, but all content types have taken a dip since 2015. However, there’s no clear signal there that we should be moving away from infographics just yet.

In fact, when pitting infographics against all of the other content types (comparing the total number of features), apart from 2013 and 2014 when infographics wiped the floor with everything, there’s no signal to suggest that we need to ditch them:

Year

Infographics vs Interactives

Infographics vs Photography

Infographics vs Surveys

2011

-75%

-67%

-90%

2012

-14%

-14%

-65%

2013

251%

376%

51%

2014

367%

377%

47%

2015

256%

196%

1%

2016

186%

133%

-40%

2017

195%

226%

-31%

2018

180%

160%

-42%

This is pretty surprising stuff in an age where we’re obsessed with interactives and “hero” pieces for link building campaigns.

Surveys are perhaps the surprise package here, having seen the same rise that infographics had through 2012 and 2013, now out-performing all other content types consistently over the last two years.

When I cross-reference to find the number of surveys being used per article, we can see that in every year since 2013 their usage has been increasingly steadily. In 2018, they’re being used more often per article than infographics were, even in their prime:

Surveys are one of the “smaller” creative campaigns I’ve offered in my career. It’s a format I’m gravitating more towards because of their speed and potential for headlines. Critically, they’re also cheaper to produce, both in terms of research and production, allowing me to not only create more of them per campaign, but also target news-jacking topics and build links more quickly compared to other production-heavy pieces.

I think, conclusively, this data shows that for a solid ROI when links are the metric, infographics are still competitive and viable. Surveys will serve you best, but be careful if you’re using the majority of your budget on an interactive or photographic piece. Although the rewards can still be there, it’s a risk.

The link building potential of our link building

For one last dive into the numbers, I wanted to see how different content formats perform for publishers, which could provide powerful insight when deciding which type of content to produce. Although we have no way of knowing when we do our outreach which KPIs different journalists are working towards, if we know the formats that perform best for them (even if they don’t know it), we can help their content perform by proxy — which also serves the performance of our content by funneling increased equity.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to extract a comment count or number of social shares per post, which I thought would be an interesting insight to review engagement, so I focused on linking root domains to discover if there is any difference in a publisher’s ability to build links based on the formats they cover, and if that could lead to an increase in link equity coming our way.

Here’s the average number of links from different domains for each post featuring a different content type received:

Impressively, infographics and surveys continue to hold up really well. Not only are they the content types that the publisher features more often, they are also the content types that build them the most links.

Using these formats to pitch with not only increases the chances that a publisher’s post will rank more competitively in your content’s topic area (and put your brand at the center of the conversation), it’s also important for your link building activity because it highlights the potential link equity flowing to your features and, therefore, how much ends up on your domain.

This gives you the potential to rank (directly and indirectly) for a variety of phrases centered around your topic. It also gives your domain/target page and topically associated pages a better chance of ranking themselves — at least where links play their part in the algorithm.

Ultimately, and to echo what I mentioned in my intro-summary, surveys have become the best format for building links. I’d love to know how many are pitched, but the fact they generate the most links for our linkers is huge, and if you are doing content-based link building with SEO-centric KPIs, they give you the best shot at maximizing equity and therefore ranking potential.

Infographics certainly still seem to have a huge part in the conversation. Only move away from them if there’s proof in your data. Otherwise, you could be missing out for no reason.

That’s me, guys. I really hope this data and process is interesting for everyone, and I’d love to hear if you’ve found or had experiences that lead to different conclusions.

Pubcon Pro 2018 Search Marketing Conference Wrap-up

Chris Boggs, Barry Schwartz, Lee Odden, Brett Tabke, and Lane R. Ellis at Pubcon Las Vegas 2018

For those in the know and that go beyond clickbait headlines, Search Marketing delivers an incredible punch to a marketing mix. But it takes work, especially when you consider the hundreds of factors that go into ranking decisions for every one of the billion plus queries that Google tries to answer each month.

Part of that work is staying on top of search engine optimization and advertising best practices. For that, several members of the TopRank Marketing team recently attended the Pubcon Pro conference in Las Vegas.

After essentially getting my start in public speaking as a marketer at Pubcon many years ago, I have returned to the search marketing industry with my third speaking appearance in a row at a Pubcon event in the past 12 months.

Even more of a Pubcon veteran than myself, is Lane Ellis, Social Media and Content Marketing Manger for TopRank Marketing. Lane worked at Pubcon for 10 years before joining our team and with his return to Pubcon as an attendee, he was on hand at the event making sure we covered the conference through our social channels and with many, many photos as seen in this post.

Also representing the TopRank Marketing banner was Tiffani Allen, Senior Account Manger. Tiffani did a fantastic job live blogging, social sharing and engaging other attendees as a representative of the TopRank Marketing brand.

Tiffani Allen, Lee Odden, and Lane R. Ellis at Pubcon Las Vegas 2018

Together, Lane and Tiffani covered multiple sessions through live blogging which you can read below:

Scott Monty Speaking at Pubcon Photo by Lane R. Ellis
Top Brand Personalization Secrets From Scott Monty – Lane

Ben Morss of Google at Pubcon Las Vegas 2018
4 Reasons to Get AMP’d Up About Google AMP with Google’s Ben Morss – Tiffani

Roger Dooley at Pubcon Las Vegas 2018
Reduce Friction, Increase Loyalty: Key Insights from Roger Dooley – Tiffani

Microsoft's Purna Virji at Pubcon Las Vegas 2018 Photo by Lane R. Ellis
How to Optimize Customer Experience with AI – Top Tips from Microsoft’s Purna Virji – Lane

Lee Odden speaking at Pubcon Pro Las Vegas 2018 Photo by Lane R. Ellis
5 Secrets for Growing Influence in Marketing: Key Takeaways from Lee Odden – Tiffani

Joe Pulizzi at Pubcon 2018 Photo by Lane R. Ellis
Joe Pulizzi Shares What it Takes to be a Content Brand – Tiffani

Debra Jasper Pubcon Las Vegas 2018 Keynote Photo By Lane R. Ellis
You Have 8 Seconds – GO! Brand Trust Secrets With Debra Jasper – Lane

As mentioned above, Lane, Tiffani and I were actively sharing our observations of the Pubcon Pro experience through our personal and agency social channels. That effort seems to have paid off with @toprank showing up all three days as a brand “most talked about” according to Christopher Penn‘s analysis:

US Search Awards 2018
Another great moment from Pubcon Pro was attending the US Search Awards. Much thanks and appreciation to Olga Andrienko from the award-winning SEO software platform SEMrush for inviting me. It was great to see so many talented companies win including Bill Hunt for his brilliant work with Absolut and to Barry Schwartz for Search Personality of the Year. Of course SEMrush won best SEO software platform too – congratulations all!

Beyond attending sessions, live blogging and social sharing, we also produced at mini-conference ebook featuring 10 of the keynote and main stage speakers which has had thousands of views:

Pubcon Pro

And last, but not least, I gave one of those main stage presentations on how marketers can grow more trust and influence in marketing.

Marketing Influence Pubcon

Overall it was a great event and a welcome refresher on all things search marketing related from data informed content to link building to the role of bots and personalization.

Thank you Brett Tabke and the Pubcon team for continuing the tradition of quality content at the world’s oldest search marketing conference!

Pubcon Audience