Three Ways Content Marketers Can Optimize Marketing Performance with Data

Optimize Content Marketing with Data

In 1984, a person saw an average 2,000 ads/day. By 2014, they saw around 5,000. (Media Dynamics)

There’s some irony to the fact that it’s due to data and information overload that consumers face on a daily basis (63gb of media per day in the US according to USC/ICT) that data has become even more important for marketers.

Successful marketing today isn’t just about creating useful content that informs buyers, it must be even easier to find in all the right places and deliver both utility and experience. Without data insights about customer preferences, it’s very difficult to deliver on that.

tami cannizzaro“Understanding how to use data to drive to the right client conversations has become the most powerful weapon in a marketer’s toolkit. Using different types of data – intent data, behavioral data, purchase data – is key to driving engagement and building a demand funnel. We use data for early stage engagement to inform our content marketing editorial calendar and campaign strategy and also to build buyer journeys by successfully converting inquires into sales conversations.”
Tami Cannizzaro – Vice President, Head of North America Marketing and Global Digital Demand Centers, CA Technologies

As for tailoring data, there are a number of factors that guide how much or little, how sophisticated or basic an approach needs to be. As an agency that primarily creates content to help B2B companies create awareness, improve engagement and drive leads/sales, our customer empathy model focuses on optimizing the relationship that prospective customers have with information during the buyer journey.

In particular, there are three key opportunities for data informed customer empathy and you can go as light or as deep as necessary. Those opportunities for optimization include:

  • Discovery – where do buyers discover resource and solution information – search, social, ads, publications, influeners and influences
  • Consumption – what are buyers preferences for content topics and types as well as devices. what experience do they expect?
  • Action – what are the intellectual and emotional triggers that will motivate them to take the next step in the journey

When brands have customer segments and even personas sorted out, you can get as specific and sophisticated as you like. If not, then it’s often more practical to phase in your approach and get deeper as you learn and complete your understanding of buyers as they discover, engage and take action with your content.

There are many ways to get started with data-informed content, including these 5 tips from Anne Leuman. Additionally, here are three high level considerations including industry research and benchmarking, private brand data and competitive data to help optimize your content marketing performance.

Industry Data for Benchmarking – One of the starting points for the use of data for improved customer engagement with content is to benchmark. Industry centric research can be useful to provide that kind of data to highlight trends and a baseline against which to guage campaign or marketing program performance. Here are a few examples:

  • Industry stats to recommend tactics. For example, to justify content marketing, a company might rely on industry research:
    – Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
    – After reading recommendations on a blog, 61% of U.S. online consumers made a purchase.
  • Industry average performance metrics can also be directional benchmarks – open rate, conversion rate, cost per lead, etc can point you in a particular direction or help create some validity towards a hypothesized goal. That said, be careful about treating industry averages as universal truths since it is your own market, customers and content metrics that you’ll want to rely on most.
  • Industry data can provide a benchmark against brand data – Companies often want to create comparisons and will use industry averages of things like conversion rates and cost per lead to do so. Closing the gaps between brand performance and an industry average is what can drive initial performance optimization.
  • Benchmarks aid in content planning – Research about common issues in a particular industry can help identify key problems to be solved for the customer and the narratives that can drive the brand’s position as a solution to those problems.

Private Data for Opportunities and Performance Optimization – While industry level research and reports represent the macro view, analytics from a brand’s own website, marketing programs, search and social media could be considered the micro view. But what kind of brand data can be useful? A few examples of brand data sources:

  • Google Analytics and other web analytics data are probably the most frequently used sources of insight for content performance optimization. Conversion reports to page reports can help identify what is working and what is not.
  • Buzzsumo social share data of your website URLs overlaid on search performance can be insightful.
  • PPC campaign data such as from Google AdWords.
  • Google search console data where you can find numerous opportunities to optimize content for better search performance.
  • Social analytics from monitoring tools like Brandwatch, Linkfluence (client), or more basic tools like SproutSocial.
  • Search Marketing insights from platforms like SEMrush, Majestic and Moz.
  • CRM data including everything from open rates, traffic, landing page conversions, what percent of leads are qualified, the sources of those leads. Platforms range from HubSpot to Marketo to ESPs like Adestra.
  • RivalIQ – The emphasis is on comparing your own social and search data to competitors with robust trending reports and alerts for spikes that can help identify opportunities in the short and long term.

Challenges with brand data. Working with internal data is not without its challenges. Not every company’s IT or analytics department is willing to provide access or there are data privacy and security protocols in place that make accessing this kind of data difficult. To get access, it’s important to have a compelling use case and executive sponsorship. Also be sure to share what’s in it for IT if they provide access.

Another challenge can be the sheer volume of data, especially from large enterprise companies with robust marketing programs that may or may not be well organized. Aggregating and organizing that data from disparate marketing technology platforms and analytics applications can be a project all on its own.

The key is to have specific goals for the use of the data tied to a business case or marketing outcome. Your informed hypothesis about how to grow company revenue can open doors to the information that can inform exactly what kinds of opportunities you can leverage to make that hypothesis a reality.

Competitive Research Data – An important opportunity to use data for more informed and optimized content marketing is competitive research. Looking at other companies in your industry can provide a useful point of comparison when your company is implementing something new or if you’re a challenger brand working to move into a leadership position in the marketplace.

Here are a few types of competitive comparisons that can be useful:

  • Broad based comparisons on things like share of voice, overall footprint, share of topic, share of influence, and comparison of advertisements. These kinds of comparisons help answer what the brand is up against and where the weaknesses and strengths for opportunities are.
  • For SEO – Competitive research on search data helps to understand the share of search in a category and where the opportunities are for keywords/topics that represent an ideal ratio of competitiveness to demand. In highly competitive categories with established, deep pocket competitors, it often pays off to target a larger mix of less popular, but highly relevant and actionable keyword clusters to drive end of funnel ROI.
  • For social media – Monitoring when competitors get spiked social activity to learn from – also to see what not to do.

You can also use competitor data to find what we call “white space” – topics where the conversation isn’t saturated yet but is still highly relevant with opportunities.

For example, our work with a client that provides Field Service Management software found their market pretty saturated with content on that topic. What they saw as an opportunity was to focus on a new expression that represented a key attribute that was important to their customers.

The result of finding the niche “white space”? A single campaign focused on creating awareness and demand around the idea of “field service engagement” including an authoritative ebook, blog posts and an industry influencer resulted in $1.5m in sales pipeline.

Data is abundant and with ubiquitous connectivity and proliferation of data creating devices, there will be no shortage of data for marketers to use. The key questions to answer are about what brands hope to achieve, what kind of data they have access to and what resources are available to collect the data, analyze for insight and then use that data to execute an improved or optimized content marketing program.

For even more insights on leveraging data for marketing, listen in to this conversation I had with Seth Bridges from RivalIQ.

What to Do with Your Old Blog Posts

Around 2005 or so, corporate blogs became the thing to do. Big players in the business world touted that such platforms could “drive swarms of traffic to your main website, generate more product sales” and even “create an additional stream of advertising income” (Entrepreneur Magazine circa 2006). With promises like that, what marketer or exec wouldn’t jump on the blog bandwagon?

Unfortunately, initial forays into branded content did not always dwell on minor issues like “quality” or “entertainment,” instead focusing on sheer bulk and, of course, all the keywords. Now we have learned better, and many corporate blogs are less prolific and offer more value. But on some sites, behind many, many “next page” clicks, this old content can still be found lurking in the background.

This active company blog still features over 900 pages of posts dating back to 2006

This situation leaves current SEOs and content teams in a bit of a pickle. What should you do if your site has excessive quantities of old blog posts? Are they okay just sitting there? Do you need to do something about them?

Why bother addressing old blog posts?

On many sites, the sheer number of pages are the biggest reason to consider improving or scaling back old content. If past content managers chose quantity over quality, heaps of old posts eventually get buried, all evergreen topics have been written about before, and it becomes increasingly harder to keep inventory of your content.

From a technical perspective, depending on the scale of the old content you’re dealing with, pruning back the number of pages that you put forward can help increase your crawl efficiency. If Google has to crawl 1,000 URLs to find 100 good pieces of content, they are going to take note and not spend as much time combing through your content in the future.

From a marketing perspective, your content represents your brand, and improving the set of content that you put forward helps shape the way customers see you as an authority in your space. Optimizing and curating your existing content can give your collection of content a clearer topical focus, makes it more easily discoverable, and ensures that it provides value for users and the business.

Zooming out for a second to look at this from a higher level: If you’ve already decided that it’s worth investing in blog content for your company, it’s worth getting the most from your existing resources and ensuring that they aren’t holding you back.

Decide what to keep: Inventory and assessment

Inventory

The first thing to do before accessing your blog posts is to make sure you know what you have. A full list of URLs and coordinating metadata is incredibly helpful in both evaluating and documenting.

Depending on the content management system that you use, obtaining this list can be as simple as exporting a database field. Alternatively, URLs can be gleaned from a combination of Google Analytics data, Webmaster Tools, and a comprehensive crawl with a tool such as Screaming Frog. This post gives a good outline of how to get the data you need from these sources.

Regardless of whether you have a list of URLs yet, it’s also good to do a full crawl of your blog to see what the linking structure looks like at this point, and how that may differ from what you see in the CMS.

Assessment

Once you know what you have, it’s time to assess the content and decide if it’s worth holding on to. When I do this, I like to ask these 5 questions:

1. Is it beneficial for users?

Content that’s beneficial for users is helpful, informative, or entertaining. It answers questions, helps them solve problems, or keeps them interested. This could be anything from a walkthrough for troubleshooting to a collection of inspirational photos.

Screenshots of old real estate articles: one is about how to select a location, and the other is about how to deal with the undead

These 5-year-old blog posts from different real estate blogs illustrate past content that still offers value to current users, and past content that may be less beneficial for a user

2. Is it beneficial for us?

Content that is beneficial to us is earning organic rankings, traffic, or backlinks, or is providing business value by helping drive conversions. Additionally, content that can help establish branding or effectively build topical authority is great to have on any site.

3. Is it good?

While this may be a bit of a subjective question to ask about any content, it’s obvious when you read content that isn’t good. This is about fundamental things such as if content doesn’t make sense, has tons of grammatical errors, is organized poorly, or doesn’t seem to have a point to it.

4. Is it relevant?

If content isn’t at least tangentially relevant to your site, industry, or customers, you should have a really good reason to keep it. If it doesn’t meet any of the former qualifications already, it probably isn’t worth holding on to.

These musings from a blog of a major hotel brand may not be the most relevant to their industry

5. Is it causing any issues?

Problematic content may include duplicate content, duplicate targeting, plagiarized text, content that is a legal liability, or any other number of issues that you probably don’t want to deal with on your site. I find that the assessment phase is a particularly good opportunity to identify posts that target the same topic, so that you can consolidate them.

Using these criteria, you can divide your old blog posts into buckets of “keep” and “don’t keep.” The “don’t keep” can be 301 redirected to either the most relevant related post or the blog homepage. Then it’s time to further address the others.

What to do with the posts you keep

So now you have a pile of “keep” posts to sort out! All the posts that made it this far have already been established to have value of some kind. Now we want to make the most of that value by improving, expanding, updating, and promoting the content.

Improve

When setting out to improve an old post that has good bones, it can be good to start with improvements on targeting and general writing and grammar. You want to make sure that your blog post has a clear point, is targeting a specific topic and terms, and is doing so in proper English (or whatever language your blog may be in).

Once the content itself is in good shape, make sure to add any technical improvements that the piece may need, such as relevant interlinking, alt text, or schema markup.

Then it’s time to make sure it’s pretty. Visual improvements such as adding line breaks, pull quotes, and imagery impact user experience and can keep people on the page longer.

Expand or update

Not all old blog posts are necessarily in poor shape, which can offer a great opportunity. Another way to get more value out of them is to repurpose or update the information that they contain to make old content fresh again. Data says that this is well worth the effort, with business bloggers that update older posts being 74% more likely to report strong results.

A few ways to expand or update a post are to explore a different take on the initial thesis, add newer data, or integrate more recent developments or changed opinions. Alternatively, you could expand on a piece of content by reinterpreting it in another medium, such as new imagery, engaging video, or even as audio content.

Promote

If you’ve invested resources in content creation and optimization, it only makes sense to try to get as many eyes as possible on the finished product. This can be done in a few different ways, such assharing and re-sharing on branded social channels, resurfacing posts to the front page of your blog, or even a bit of external promotion through outreach.

The follow-up

Once your blog has been pruned and you’re working on getting the most value out of your existing content, an important final step is to keep tabs on the effect these changes are having.

The most significant measure of success is organic organic traffic; even if your blog is designed for lead generation or other specific goals, the number of eyes on the page should have a strong correlation to the content’s success by other measures as well. For the best representation of traffic totals, I monitor organic sessions by landing page in Google Analytics.

I also like to keep an eye on organic rankings, as you can get an early glimpse of whether a piece is gaining traction around a particular topic before it’s successful enough to earn organic traffic with those terms.

Remember that regardless of what changes you’ve made, it will usually take Google a few months to sort out the relevance and rankings of the updated content. So be patient, monitor, and keep expanding, updating, and promoting!

Digital Marketing News: LinkedIn’s Company Page Update, B2B Tactics, Google’s Search Comments, & Holiday Marketing Trends

2018 November 16 News Animoto Chart Image

2018 Holiday Social Marketing Trends [Infographic]
During this year’s holiday season digital marketers will continue to find success via social media, with video being especially strong, according to data from a new Animoto trends report. Social Media Today

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Digital ad spending grew to $49.5B in the first half of 2018, according to IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s latest report showed continuing rapid growth in digital advertising spending, reaching $49.5 billion in the U.S. during the first six months of 2018, among other findings. TechCruch

LinkedIn Re-Created Its Company Pages Experience From Scratch
LinkedIn (client) has rebuilt its Company Pages from the ground up, offering a full array of new features and updates to existing tasks, and AdWeek takes an initial look. AdWeek

4 Tactics Every B2B Marketer Needs to Embrace
B2B marketing and the omnichannel buyer’s journey are examined, including the importance of a people-based approach, among other helpful tactics. destinationCRM

2019 Marketing Trends Will Be All About Data, Conversations, and Breaking Down Silos
An examination of digital marketing trends, including the need for a new balance between creativity and data, and how content marketing can become more interactive and conversational. MarTech Advisor

Google Search is adding user comments, starting with live sports
Google has continued to experiment with allowing comments within search, an addition to its Supported Knowledge Panels, potentially a portend of further implementation in the future. 9to5Google

2018 November 23 Statistics Image

Are Social Media Algorithms Working? Respondents to a Pew Research Center Study Sound Off
Data from a new study from the Pew Research Center sheds light on the effectiveness of social media algorithms, with 74 percent seeing most posted content as an unclear, inaccurate representation of society, among other findings. AdWeek

The LinkedIn Profile Photo: What an Analysis of 2,000 Images Found
Workers in 11 industries and the LinkedIn (client) profile photos they use was the focus of a recent study, offering insight into facial expressions and clothing choices on the professional network and what they typically reveal. MarketingProfs

The Best Social Media For Lead Generation
Forbes takes a look at the top social media properties for lead generation, with LinkedIn (client) at the top of the list, especially for B2B digital marketers. Forbes

The Most Expensive States to Run Search Ads In [Infographic]
SEMrush recently published a study outlining which U.S. states had the highest average cost-per-click (CPC) rates for search advertisements, with some surprising outcomes. MarketingProfs

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2018 November 23 Marketoonist Cartoon

A lighthearted look at customer experience by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

How a Teenager’s Code Spawned a $432,500 Piece of Art — Wired

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Holiday Social Media Marketing Tips from 13 Experts — Inc.
  • Lee Odden — Inspirational Quotes and Sayings from Lee Odden — EngageBay

Do you have your own favorite influencer marketing news items for the week?

Thank you for joining us, and we hope you’ll return back again next week for a new round-up 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.

What SEOs Can Learn from AdWords – Whiteboard Friday

Organic and paid search aren’t always at odds; there are times when there’s benefit in knowing how they work together. Taking the time to know the ins and outs of AdWords can improve your rankings and on-site experience. In today’s edition of Whiteboard Friday, our fabulous guest host Dana DiTomaso explains how SEOs can improve their game by taking cues from paid search in this Whiteboard Friday.

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

Video Transcription

Hi, my name is Dana DiTomaso. I’m President and Partner at Kick Point, and one of the things that we do at Kick Point is we do both SEO and paid. One of the things that’s really useful is when SEO and paid work together. But what’s even better is when SEOs can learn from paid to make their stuff better.

One of the things that is great about AdWords or Google Ads — whenever you’re watching this, it may be called one thing or the other — is that you can learn a lot from what has a high click-through rate, what performs well in paid, and paid is way faster than waiting for Google to catch up to the awesome title tags you’ve written or the new link building that you’ve done to see how it’s going to perform. So I’m going to talk about four things today that you can learn from AdWords, and really these are easy things to get into in AdWords.

Don’t be intimidated by the interface. You can probably just get in there and look at it yourself, or talk to your AdWords person. I bet they’d be really excited that you know what a callout extension is. So we’re going to start up here.

1. Negative keywords

The first thing is negative keywords. Negative keywords, obviously really important. You don’t want to show up for things that you shouldn’t be showing up for.

Often when we need to take over an AdWords account, there aren’t a lot of negative keywords. But if it’s a well-managed account, there are probably lots of negatives that have been added there over time. What you want to look at is if there’s poor word association. So in your industry, cheap, free, jobs, and then things like reviews and coupons, if these are really popular search phrases, then maybe this is something you need to create content for or you need to think about how your service is presented in your industry.

Then what you can do to change that is to see if there’s something different that you can do to present this kind of information. What are the kinds of things your business doesn’t want? Are you definitely not saying these things in the content of your website? Or is there a way that you can present the opposite opinion to what people might be searching for, for example? So think about that from a content perspective.

2. Title tags and meta descriptions

Then the next thing are title tags and meta descriptions. Title tags and meta descriptions should never be a write it once and forget it kind of thing. If you’re an on-it sort of SEO, you probably go in every once in a while and try to tweak those title tags and meta descriptions. But the problem is that sometimes there are just some that aren’t performing. So go into Google Search Console, find the title tags that have low click-through rate and high rankings, and then think about what you can do to test out new ones.

Then run an AdWords campaign and test out those title tags in the title of the ad. Test out new ad copy — that would be your meta descriptions — and see what actually brings a higher click-through rate. Then whichever one does, ta-da, that’s your new title tags and your meta descriptions. Then add those in and then watch your click-through rate increase or decrease.

Make sure to watch those rankings, because obviously title tag changes can have an impact on your rankings. But if it’s something that’s keyword rich, that’s great. I personally like playing with meta descriptions, because I feel like meta descriptions have a bigger impact on that click-through rate than title tags do, and it’s something really important to think about how are we making this unique so people want to click on us. The very best meta description I’ve ever seen in my life was for an SEO company, and they were ranking number one.

They were obviously very confident in this ranking, because it said, “The people above me paid. The people below me aren’t as good as me. Hire me for your SEO.” I’m like, “That’s a good meta description.” So what can you do to bring in especially that brand voice and your personality into those titles, into those meta descriptions and test it out with ads first and see what’s going to resonate with your audience. Don’t just think about click-through rate for these ads.

Make sure that you’re thinking about conversion rate. If you have a really long sales cycle, make sure those leads that you’re getting are good, because what you don’t want to have happen is have an ad that people click on like crazy, they convert like crazy, and then the customers are just a total trash fire. You really want to make sure you’re driving valuable business through this kind of testing. So this might be a bit more of a longer-term piece for you.

3. Word combinations

The third thing you can look at are word combinations.

So if you’re not super familiar with AdWords, you may not be familiar with the idea of broad match modifier. So in AdWords we have broad phrases that you can search for, recipes, for example, and then anything related to the word “recipe” will show up. But you could put in a phrase in quotes. You could say “chili recipes.” Then if they say, “I would like a chili recipe,” it would come up.

If it says “chili crockpot recipes,” it would not come up. Now if you had + chili + recipes, then anything with the phrase “chili recipes” would come up, which can be really useful. If you have a lot of different keyword combinations and you don’t have time for that, you can use broad match modifier to capture a lot of them. But then you have to have a good negative keyword list, speaking as an AdWords person for a second.

Now one of the things that can really come out of broad match modifier are a lot of great, new content ideas. If you look at the keywords that people had impressions from or clicks from as a result of these broad match modifier keywords, you can find the strangest phrasing that people come up with. There are lots of crazy things that people type into Google. We all know this, especially if it’s voice search and it’s obviously voice search.

One of the fun things to do is look and see if anybody has “okay Google” and then the search phrase, because they said “okay Google” twice and then Google searched “okay Google” plus the phrase. That’s always fun to pick up. But you can also pick up lots of different content ideas, and this can help you modify poorly performing content for example. Maybe you’re just not saying the thing in the way in which your audience is saying it.

AdWords gives you totally accurate data on what your customers are thinking and feeling and saying and searching. So why not use that kind of data? So definitely check out broad match modifier stuff and see what you can do to make that better.

4. Extensions

Then the fourth thing is extensions. So extensions are those little snippets that can show up under an ad.

You should always have all of the extensions loaded in, and then maybe Google picks some, maybe they won’t, but at least they’re there as an option. Now one thing that’s great are callout extensions. Those are the little site links that are like free trial, and people click on those, or find out more information or menu or whatever it might be. Now testing language in those callout extensions can help you with your call-to-action buttons.

Especially if you’re thinking about things like people want to download a white paper, well, what’s the best way to phrase that? What do you want to say for things like a submit button for your newsletter or for a contact form? Those little, tiny pieces, that are called micro-copy, what can you do by taking your highest performing callout extensions and then using those as your call-to-action copy on your website?

This is really going to improve your lead click-through rate. You’re going to improve the way people feel about you, and you’re going to have that really nice consistency between the language that you see in your advertising and the language that you have on your website, because one thing you really want to avoid as an SEO is to get into that silo where this is SEO and this is AdWords and the two of you aren’t talking to each other at all and the copy just feels completely disjointed between the paid side and the organic side.

It should all be working together. So by taking the time to understand AdWords a little bit, getting to know it, getting to know what you can do with it, and then using some of that information in your SEO work, you can improve your on-site experience as well as rankings, and your paid person is probably going to appreciate that you talked to them for a little bit.

Thanks.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Giving Thanks: What the TopRank Marketing Team is Thankful For

TopRank Marketing Gives Thanks

For centuries, Thanksgiving has been an American tradition, bringing families and friends together for a day of feasting, gratitude, and—most importantly, in my opinion—unity.

For the TopRank Marketing team, it seems that every day is Thanksgiving.

Each day, I have the privilege to see team members engaging and laughing. I see huddling and collaborating as everyone works hard to do their best work to not only drive results for our clients, but also lift themselves and other team members up. I see constant praise for good work or lending a helping hand. I see unity.

TopRank Marketing Team Gives Back

So, in the spirit of TopRank Marketing tradition, I’ve asked team members to share what they’re most thankful for in work and in life. Here’s what many had to say.

What We’re Most Thankful For

Ashley Zeckman
Senior Director of Digital Strategy

Ashley Zeckman

I feel very honored and fortunate to be a part of the TopRank Marketing family. Each day I get the opportunity to learn from this amazing group that I consider to be some of the smartest people I know. I am thankful that this team took a chance on me all those years ago and has helped me grow into what I think is literally the coolest job on the planet.

I am also incredibly thankful for the amazing influencers and experts that I’ve gotten to work with and learn from over the past few years. Thank you for everything that you do!

Lastly, I am thankful for my supportive friends, family, partner in crime Keith and my precious pets.

Josh Nite
Senior Content Marketing Manager

Josh Nite

I’m thankful for our amazing design team. They really bring the content to life. When we do working sessions together, we always end up with something better than either of us could come up with solo.

I love how they’re always exploring new ways to level up the content, like adding movement or interactive features.

Debbie Friez
Influencer Marketing Strategist

As I approach my fourth anniversary at TopRank Marketing, I am so very thankful that I went up to Lee Odden and told him I wanted to work for him at a conference! It’s been a great opportunity to collaborate with the great minds I call my colleagues and friends.

It’s also a blessing to work in an ever-changing industry that keeps me learning and growing. I appreciate the company’s dedication to professional development, so I can have time to learn and share with my clients.

I’m most thankful for amazing clients who allow us to share our expertise and elevate their campaigns.

Lastly, thank you to all my team members who allow me to bring in and display all my Santa Bears to spread some holiday cheer each season.

Lee Odden
CEO

Lee Odden

The most important and valuable part of a company in the services business are its people. I am incredibly thankful for the smart, creative and results-focused people that make up the TopRank Marketing teams including Content, Social Influence, Design, Analytics, SEO and Operations. From being adaptable to innovations in the marketplace to being transparent about capabilities, goals and opportunities, I know I can count on our team to understand both the big picture of the solutions we deliver and the tactical problem solving needed on a day to day basis for successful marketing programs. Creating an environment where our team can reach their full potential is truly a team effort and I appreciate our executives and leaders for working to make that vision a reality.

Another group of people I am thankful for are our clients. We are fortunate to work with an incredible portfolio of B2B brands that trust our insights and work with us as partners to achieve mutual success. Earning trust is one of the most important aspects of a strong relationship and I appreciate the confidence our clients put in us to improve their marketing performance and represent their brands through content driven influencer programs.

The digital marketing industry is full of inspiring, talented and genuinely good people who are equally professional as they are compassionate. I am incredibly thankful for my industry peers, too many to name here, for their leadership, support and advocacy. I am also thankful for the many industry influencers we have had the good fortune to work with in and outside of the marketing world over the past year. When our goals and values align, there is nothing we can’t accomplish together.

Jane Bartel
Account Manager

Jane Bartel

I’m thankful to be surrounded by colleagues who are natural mentors and learners. The people I get to work with every day at TopRank Marketing are happy to share their expertise with the rest of the team, and are equally as enthusiastic to absorb new ideas. The genuine, easy collaboration between teammates makes for a creative, productive, and exciting work environment.

I’m also grateful to my clients, who are all extremely motivated to succeed in their fields, who are results-driven and willing to push the boundaries by trying new tactics, and who are gracious enough to laugh at my jokes.

Annie Leuman
Content Strategist

Annie Leuman

This year has been transformational for me, to say the least. And the support and encouragement from my coworkers has helped me through it all, which I am immensely thankful for!

They’ve helped me gain confidence in front of the camera, broaden my responsibilities, adopt new ways of thinking, and acclimate to a new healthy lifestyle. They’ve pushed me to be better. And I am. Thank you, Team TopRank!

Tiffani Allen
Senior Account Manager

I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to do work I love, with amazing clients and an incredible team.

I get to learn something new every day from a team of people who are some of the smartest and most creative minds in the industry.

Lane Ellis
Social and Content Marketing Manager

Lane Ellis

2018 has been a stunningly beautiful one, with many wonderful family, friends, and events to be grateful for.

Celebrating 17 years of marriage with my amazing wife Julie Ahasay tops my thankfulness list, along with the milestone birthday I had last month, which means I’ve had the great joy of spending 50 years with my parents Konnie and Bob, and my astounding and always-inspiring 101-year-old grandma Lilly Haldorsen.

It was also a year of new beginnings, as March saw my start with the excellent team at TopRank Marketing, and the honor of getting to work with Lee Odden, who I’ve known since 2007.

I’m thankful to now be approaching 35 years of using the Internet, and the many great advances it has brought to the world since I first turned on my 300-baud modem as a 16-year-old kid in 1984.

I’m thankful to still be able to run and ski the seemingly endless beautiful trails of Duluth, and for the amazing nine-month cross-country ski season I was able to enjoy from October through June, during which I skied 140 days in a row. After every one of them, I said silent thanks to Mother Nature, to my body, my ski gear, and all the people who groom and take care of the trails.

It’s a time to reach out and give the world and its endless opportunities a warm embrace, so here’s a big virtual hug to all of you I’m lucky enough to know, lovely family and friends. Thank you.

Jack Fitzpatrick
Influencer Marketing Strategist

I am thankful to have been welcomed into the collaborative community here at TopRank Marketing. Together, we pool our specialties, interests, and experiences to drive results for our clients.

Coming into this role after time working as a freelancer, this whole “team” thing is truly awesome – I am so grateful to be a part of it.

Mike Odden
Research Analyst

I am very thankful to be able to work with the Super Team at TopRank Marketing. The fantastic leadership stressing clients needs and care for employees is phenomenal.

Also, I’m definitely blessed with a great family, with three offspring, seven grandchildren and a wonderful wife of 54 years.

Jake Murphy
Designer

Jake Murphy

I am thankful for the opportunity to work with such an inspiring team here at TopRank Marketing. Everyone here has a passion for what they do and are always eager to continue to grow.

I’m also thankful for the the amazing clients we work with who allow us push the creative boundaries.

Elizabeth Williams
Account Manager

I am so very grateful to work at TopRank Marketing, surrounded by such innovative and passionate people.

Yes, amazing digital marketing professionals, but also just truly good people and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving From the TopRank Marketing Team

As Henry Ford once said: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”

Thank you clients, influencers, followers, and team members for coming together to drive personal, professional, and brand success.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,

The TopRank Marketing Team

6 Steps for Making Delicious Meals Out of Your Content Marketing Leftovers

How to Repurpose Content Marketing Leftovers

What’s the best part about Thanksgiving?

Sorry, that was rhetorical. Clearly, there’s only one correct answer and that is: Devouring reimagined leftovers for days to come.

Hot turkey sandwiches smothered in gravy. Fried stuffing bites drizzled with cranberry sauce. Turkey a la king. Turkey noodle soup. Turkey pot pie. Turkey … everything.

Do I need to go on?

via GIPHY

For content marketers, every day can be Thanksgiving.

You have no shortage of content ingredients on-hand—from tasty influencer tidbits to assets overflowing with insight and flavor. And with a dash of new content, a cup of creative planning, and a large dollop of strategy, you can repurpose “content leftovers” into deliciously satisfying meals for your audiences, all while reducing production time and boosting efficiency, and without sacrificing taste.

Step-By-Step Cooking Instructions for Delectable Content Marketing Leftovers

#1 – Take a peek in your existing content pantry for inspiration.

From white papers and eBooks to blog posts and original or third-party research, if there’s one thing that every content marketer has in spades, it’s a fully stocked content pantry. But like any pantry, as more items get added, many delicious essentials get pushed to the back and start collecting dust.

So, throw open your content cupboard and dig into your full stock of assets for inspiration. Dive into the data to draw insight into which content items are being devoured whole, which are being picked at, and which have gone stale. All of that content—fresh or seemingly expired—has the potential to be carved into something new and fresh.

All content—fresh or seemingly expired—has the potential to be carved into something new and fresh. – @CaitlinMBurgess #ContentMarketing #ContentRepurposing Click To Tweet

Get the recipe for Repurposed Content Cobbler.

#2 – Review your guest list.

The yum-factor of any delicious leftover dish is in the “eye of the beholder”: the taste buds of your dinner guests. And that means that any good host needs to thoughtfully consider who they’re cooking for to avoid leaving a bad taste—or prevent an allergic reaction.

via GIPHY

For marketers, the success of your content hinges on your ability to create something that resonates with your audience. When a piece of content connects with a customer or buyer, it makes them feel like you get it, that you understand their point of view or struggle, that you hold the answers to their questions—and that you may be worth dining with on a regular basis.

So, before slicing and dicing or investing in new ingredients, make sure you understand who you’re inviting to dinner and what they’re hungry for.

Before slicing and dicing or investing in new ingredients, make sure you understand who you’re inviting to dinner and what they’re hungry for. – @CaitlinMBurgess #ContentMarketing #ContentRepurposing Click To Tweet

#3 – Plan your menu.

Once you’ve consulted your content pantry and finalized your guest list, it’s time to create your strategic menu. Whether you’re planning a social hour featuring light appetizers or a fancy, sit-down feast, map and document your strategy, namely your content mix (e.g. blogs, eBooks, static or interactive content, influencer content) and amplification plans (e.g. social and third-party channels; organic or paid promotion).

One tasty menu item to consider is influencer content. Whether you have a collection of influencer insights in your pantry or you’ll need to shop around, influencers can add sweet and savory flavor to bolster your story and strategy, and help with amplification.

As Ursula Ringham, SAP’s Head of Global Influencer Marketing, told me in an interview not long ago: “In marketing, story is everything. But in order to tell a compelling story, you have to be immersed. Bring empathy and understanding, bring purpose, and bring insight—the latter of which influencers can certainly help with.” 

As always, determine how you’ll track and measure performance. This will help you understand if your leftovers were love at first-bite, or could use a little extra seasoning to punch the flavor up. Also, if you’re making something from scratch—like a brand new campaign—think critically about how all of your ingredients will lend themselves to repurposing, as well as how the content you already have can add some nice flavoring.

Bring empathy and understanding, bring purpose, and bring insight—the latter of which influencers can certainly help with. – @ursularingham #InfluencerMarketing #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

#4 – Pick up missing ingredients.

The key to effectively repurposing your content marketing leftovers is adding something new to make it unique. You don’t want to simply rearrange content on the dinner plate.

One of the best ingredients you can add to your content dish is personalization, according to our own CEO, Lee Odden.

“While creative repurposing of content gives marketers many more assets for SEO, social promotions, websites, blogs, email, and advertising, it is treating repurposing as a form of personalization that can yield some of the greatest benefits,” he says. “After all, are you repurposing content for your benefit as a marketer to hit your KPIs or are you trying to provide content that’s meaningful to buyers seeking answers to help them make decisions? That simple shift in perspective can make all the difference—for your content marketing performance and for prospects.”

In addition, content curation can be a tangy new ingredient. Content curation is all about finding and sharing the best of the best content that’s out there. As Lee also says: “Pure creation is demanding. Pure automation doesn’t engage. Curating content can provide the best of both.”

For example, each week TopRank Marketing curates interesting news tidbits from around the industry to help our readers stay on top of the latest news, trends, and best practices.

TopRank Marketing Digital Marketing News Roundup

But to add a little personalization and spice, the talented Tiffani Allen and Josh Nite record a video segment featuring some of the top news items of the week.

[embedded content]

Treating #ContentRepurposing as a form of #personalization that can yield some of the greatest benefits. – @leeodden #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

#5 – Slice, dice, and spice your leftovers.

You know who you’re inviting to dinner. You’ve scoured your pantry, made your menu, and assembled your missing ingredients. Now it’s time to slice, dice, spice, and cook up your leftover dishes. It’s time to create.

The beauty here is that you’ve been able to streamline your cookline. But whipping up all the deliciousness doesn’t need to fall on one chef. Get multiple cooks in the kitchen to ensure your content is cooked evenly and with the necessary flair to delight your guests.

Certainly, you’ll be leveraging your internal subject matter experts and writers to get work done. But, of course, you can always invite a guest chef—like hiring a digital marketing agency partner—into the content creation kitchen to get some extra support or cater the entire meal.

In addition, don’t be afraid to experiment with your ingredients. Use the resources and knowledge you have, as well as your creative spirit, to do something totally different, even if it’s a little risky.

As the incomparable Ann Handley has said: “The best content creators take risks. They experiment. And they sometimes fail.”

The best content creators take risks. They experiment. And they sometimes fail. – @annhandley, @MarketingProfs #ContentCreation Click To Tweet

#6 – Reheat and feast.

Your dishes are prepared, and now it’s time to heat and serve to your audience. But now is not the time to hit publish, schedule a few social messages, and move onto the next recipe. In order to whet your audience’s appetite, consistent, well-timed, ongoing promotion is critical.

Ideally, your amplification plan was baked into your meal planning process. As Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) Vice President of Marketing, Cathy McPhillips, says: “Marketers spend time creating epic content, so why not spend that same amount of time coming up with a plan for distribution and promotion?”

But once the content rolls out, you may need to add extra salt and pepper to taste.

via GIPHY

Send an email to your list. Optimize for organic search. Syndicate your content to industry associations. Leverage paid social or paid search promotion. There are dozens of amplification tactics that can broaden your reach and results.

Marketers spend time creating epic content, so why not spend that same amount of time coming up with a plan for distribution and promotion? – @cmcphillips #ContentMarketing #ContentPromotion Click To Tweet

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

Get to the Content Repurposing Kitchen

You’re under constant pressure to create timely, quality, relevant content for your audience. But that content doesn’t have to be net-new to effectively inform, engage, and inspire audience action.

Your content pantry already has many of the ingredients you need to whip up a fancy feast that will satisfy your audience’s appetite for answers and delight their taste buds in a way that’ll have them asking for seconds.

Get started by taking inventory of your existing content assets and their performance. From there, make sure your audiences are clearly defined, so you can map refreshed content to them during the menu planning stage. Then, determine how you’ll season your dish with new insights and spins to take you into the content creation phase. Finally, once your dish has been constructed, leverage multiple amplification tactics on an ongoing basis to ensure you’re giving as many people as possible the opportunity for a taste test.

Now, who’s hungry?

via GIPHY

When done right, content repurposing is a useful marketing hack. But it most certainly shouldn’t be looked at as a shortcut. Get insight on five content marketing shortcuts you should avoid at all costs.

Announcing the 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey

It has been another year (and a half) since the last publication of the Local Search Ranking Factors, and local search continues to see significant growth and change. The biggest shift this year is happening in Google My Business signals, but we’re also seeing an increase in the importance of reviews and continued decreases in the importance of citations.

Check out the full survey!

Huge growth in Google My Business

Google has been adding features to GMB at an accelerated rate. They see the revenue potential in local, and now that they have properly divorced Google My Business from Google+, they have a clear runway to develop (and monetize) local. Here are just some of the major GMB features that have been released since the publication of the 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors:

  • Google Posts available to all GMB users
  • Google Q&A
  • Website builder
  • Services
  • Messaging
  • Videos
  • Videos in Google Posts

These features are creating shifts in the importance of factors that are driving local search today. This year has seen the most explosive growth in GMB specific factors in the history of the survey. GMB signals now make up 25% the local pack/finder pie chart.

GMB-specific features like Google Posts, Google Q&A, and image/video uploads are frequently mentioned as ranking drivers in the commentary. Many businesses are not yet investing in these aspects of local search, so these features are currently a competitive advantage. You should get on these before everyone is doing it.

Here’s your to do list:

  1. Start using Google posts NOW. At least once per week, but preferably a few times per week. Are you already pushing out posts to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter? Just use the same, lightly edited, content on Google Posts. Also, use calls to action in your posts to drive direct conversions.
  2. Seed the Google Q&A with your own questions and answers. Feed that hyper-relevant, semantically rich content to Google. Relevance FTW.
  3. Regularly upload photos and videos. (Did you know that you can upload videos to GMB now?)
  4. Make sure your profile is 100% complete. If there is an empty field in GMB, fill it. If you haven’t logged into your GMB account in a while, you might be surprised to see all the new data points you can add to your listing.

Why spend your time on these activities? Besides the potential relevance boost you’ll get from the additional content, you’re also sending valuable engagement signals. Regularly logging into your listing and providing content shows Google that you’re an active and engaged business owner that cares about your listing, and the local search experts are speculating that this is also providing ranking benefits. There’s another engagement angle here too: user engagement. Provide more content for users to engage with and they’ll spend more time on your listing clicking around and sending those helpful behavioral signals to Google.

Reviews on the rise

Review signals have also seen continued growth in importance over last year.

Review signals were 10.8% in 2015, so over the past 3 years, we’ve seen a 43% increase in the importance of review signals:

Many practitioners talked about the benefits they’re seeing from investing in reviews. I found David Mihm’s comments on reviews particularly noteworthy. When asked “What are some strategies/tactics that are working particularly well for you at the moment?”, he responded with:

“In the search results I look at regularly, I continue to see reviews playing a larger and larger role. Much as citations became table stakes over the last couple of years, reviews now appear to be on their way to becoming table stakes as well. In mid-to-large metro areas, even industries where ranking in the 3-pack used to be possible with a handful of reviews or no reviews, now feature businesses with dozens of reviews at a minimum — and many within the last few months, which speaks to the importance of a steady stream of feedback.

Whether the increased ranking is due to review volume, keywords in review content, or the increased clickthrough rate those gold stars yield, I doubt we’ll ever know for sure. I just know that for most businesses, it’s the area of local SEO I’d invest the most time and effort into getting right — and done well, should also have a much more important flywheel effect of helping you build a better business, as the guys at GatherUp have been talking about for years.”

Getting keywords in your reviews is a factor that has also risen. In the 2017 survey, this factor ranked #26 in the local pack/finder factors. It is now coming in at #14.

I know this is the Local Search Ranking Factors, and we’re talking about what drives rankings, but you know what’s better than rankings? Conversions. Yes, reviews will boost your rankings, but reviews are so much more valuable than that because a ton of positive reviews will get people to pick up the phone and call your business, and really, that’s the goal. So, if you’re not making the most of reviews yet, get on it!

A quick to do list for reviews would be:

  1. Work on getting more Google reviews (obviously). Ask every customer.
  2. Encourage keywords in the reviews by asking customers to mention the specific service or product in their review.
  3. Respond to every review. (Did you know that Google now notifies the reviewer when the owner responds?)
  4. Don’t only focus on reviews. Actively solicit direct customer feedback as well so you can mark it up in schema/JSON and get stars in the search results.
  5. Once you’re killing it on Google, diversify and get reviews on the other important review sites for your industry (but also continue to send customers to Google).

For a more in-depth discussion of review strategy, please see the blog post version of my 2018 MozCon presentation, “How to Convert Local Searchers Into Customers with Reviews.”

Meh, links

To quote Gyi Tsakalakis: “Meh, links.” All other things being equal, links continue to be a key differentiator in local search. It makes sense. Once you have a complete and active GMB listing, your citations squared away, a steady stream of reviews coming in, and solid content on your website, the next step is links. The trouble is, links are hard, but that’s also what makes them such a valuable competitive differentiator. They ARE hard, so when you get quality links they can really help to move the needle.

When asked, “What are some strategies/tactics that are working particularly well for you at the moment?” Gyi responded with:

“Meh, links. In other words, topically and locally relevant links continue to work particularly well. Not only do these links tend to improve visibility in both local packs and traditional results, they’re also particularly effective for improving targeted traffic, leads, and customers. Find ways to earn links on the sites your local audience uses. These typically include local news, community, and blog sites.”

Citations?

Let’s make something clear: citations are still very valuable and very important.

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s look at what’s been happening with citations over the past few surveys:

I think this decline is related to two things:

  1. As local search gets more complex, additional signals are being factored into the algorithm and this dilutes the value that citations used to provide. There are just more things to optimize for in local search these days.
  2. As local search gains more widespread adoption, more businesses are getting their citations consistent and built out, and so citations become less of a competitive difference maker than they were in the past.

Yes, we are seeing citations dropping in significance year after year, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need them. Quite the opposite, really. If you don’t get them, you’re going to have a bad time. Google looks to your citations to help understand how prominent your business is. A well established and popular business should be present on the most important business directories in their industry, and if it’s not, that can be a signal of lower prominence to Google.

The good news is that citations are one of the easiest items to check off your local search to do list. There are dozens of services and tools out there to help you get your business listed and accurate for only a few hundred dollars. Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Ensure your business is listed, accurate, complete, and duplicate-free on the top 10-15 most important sites in your industry (including the primary data aggregators and industry/city-specific sites).
  2. Build citations (but don’t worry about duplicates and inconsistencies) on the next top 30 to 50 sites.

Google has gotten much smarter about citation consistency than they were in the past. People worry about it much more than they need to. An incorrect or duplicate listing on an insignificant business listing site is not going to negatively impact your ability to rank.

You could keep building more citations beyond the top 50, and it won’t hurt, but the law of diminishing returns applies here. As you get deeper into the available pool of citation sites, the quality of these sites decreases, and the impact they have on your local search decreases with it. That said, I have heard from dozens of agencies that swear that “maxing out” all available citation opportunities seems to have a positive impact on their local search, so your mileage may vary. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The future of local search

One of my favorite questions in the commentary section is “Comments about where you see Google is headed in the future?” The answers here, from some of the best minds in local search, are illuminating. The three common themes I pulled from the responses are:

  1. Google will continue providing features and content so that they can provide the answers to most queries right in the search results and send less clicks to websites. Expect to see your traffic from local results to your website decline, but don’t fret. You want those calls, messages, and driving directions more than you want website traffic anyway.
  2. Google will increase their focus on behavioral signals for rankings. What better way is there to assess the real-world popularity of a business than by using signals sent by people in the real world. We can speculate that Google is using some of the following signals right now, and will continue to emphasize and evolve behavioral ranking methods:
    1. Searches for your brand name.
    2. Clicks to call your business.
    3. Requests for driving directions.
    4. Engagement with your listing.
    5. Engagement with your website.
    6. Credit card transactions.
    7. Actual human foot traffic in brick-and-mortar businesses.
  3. Google will continue monetizing local in new ways. Local Services Ads are rolling out to more and more industries and cities, ads are appearing right in local panels, and you can book appointments right from local packs. Google isn’t investing so many resources into local out of the goodness of their hearts. They want to build the ultimate resource for instant information on local services and products, and they want to use their dominant market position to take a cut of the sales.

And that does it for my summary of the survey results. A huge thank you to each of the brilliant contributors for giving their time and sharing their knowledge. Our understanding of local search is what it is because of your excellent work and contributions to our industry.

There is much more to read and learn in the actual resource itself, especially in all the comments from the contributors, so go dig into it:

Click here for the full results!

Tapping Key Takeaways from Recent Research on Fortune 500 Social Media Usage

The State of Social Media Marketing for Fortune 500 Companies

Blogs are booming. Instagram interest is on the rise. Facebook is forever fashionable. And LinkedIn continues to lead the pack.

These all reflect trends found among Fortune 500 companies on social media, according to recent research from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research.

We scoured UMass Dartmouth’s research in search of key takeaways and surprising tidbits that would intrigue and inspire B2B and B2C brands large and small. Here’s what you need to know about how the world’s largest corporations are tackling social media, plus some helpful resources to help give your social media marketing efforts a boost.

More Than Half of F500 Companies Now Have a Blog

It’s kind of amusing to see blogging grouped into this study as a social media tactic. But hey, the research comes from an academic institution, not a marketing entity, and they started conducting it 10 years ago when the lines were more blurred. In any case, there’s still plenty of integration and overlap between blogging and social media (i.e., long-form posts on LinkedIn) so the medium is definitely fair game here.

From 2017 to 2018, Dartmouth’s data finds one of the biggest year-to-year spikes in blog usage since they started tracking in 2008. The percentage of corporate blogs on company websites among Fortune 500 companies is up to 53%, rising 11 points from a year ago.

Blog Adoption by Fortune 500 Companies

If that number still seems low to you (it does to me), keep in mind the folks compiling this report aimed to include only blogs that: a) are public-facing, and b) include content that goes beyond “newsroom” type posts such as product announcements, press releases, and philanthropic involvement.

The chart above offers a compelling visualization of the firm traction that content marketing is now seeing in the high-level business world, after failing to truly take off for several years. There’s little reason to think we won’t see this proliferation power ahead at a frantic pace.

Of particular interest, to me, is the rapid decline in number of blogs that allow comments:

Fortune 500 Companies That Allow Blog Comments

This is emblematic of a real conundrum: the internet can be a nasty place. On large and well-trafficked blogs, moderating comments can prove to a be prohibitively time-consuming task. But dialogue is crucial, and preventing readers from being able to respond on corporate blogs really deters the openness and transparency brands should be striving to project.

There’s no easy solution to this dilemma, but one way to inject the voice of your audience in a controlled yet still authentic way is via strategic user-generated content. UGC not only helps you spotlight your customers and their stories, but can also help build rapport and a sense of community, all at a relatively low cost.

In general, we believe blogging is an essential digital marketing tactic for almost any business, large or small. For more insights on driving more targeted traffic to your own corporate blog, check out these recent posts:

Twitter and Facebook are Table Stakes for Top Dogs

Dartmouth reports that 455 of the 2018 F500 companies have active Twitter accounts (91%) and 445 (89%) have Facebook pages. On each, the top 10 companies are all accounted for. Commercial banks and specialty retailers are the only industry verticals with 100% representation across both channels.

It’s inexpensive to create a brand page on Facebook or Twitter, and keeping them updated requires only modest time investment, so it’s hardly surprising to see these high levels of penetration among heavy-hitters.

The great challenge, now and going forward, will be finding ways to stand out and break through on these platforms. On our blog, we make a point of keeping readers up-to-date on changing social algorithms and how marketers can gain visibility on feeds. The posts below can offer some guidance on this front:

Enterprise Instagram Adoption is Exploding

In 2013, 9% of Fortune 500 companies had an Instagram account. In 2018, that figure is up to 63%. As you can see below, the visually oriented platform has seen enormous year-to-year growth in the past half-decade:

Fortune 500 Instagram Usage

It isn’t hard to see why the corporate world is being drawn to Instagram like millennials to a group selfie – everyone’s there. Back in early 2013 the app had 100 million users; here in 2018 it just surpassed 1 billion.

With that astonishing number in mind, it feels like malpractice for any brand not to have some Instagram presence. But how can you really connect with audiences there? What are B2B brands and big companies doing successfully on this leisure-driven platform? Here are some posts that can help you see the big picture, with examples and actionable tips:

Fortune 500 Companies Are All-In on LinkedIn

While Facebook and Twitter are creeping upward, and Instagram is experiencing rapid growth, LinkedIn remains the leader in terms of F500 penetration. The Dartmouth report shows 489 of the companies (98%) with a presence on the platform, same as last year and up slightly from 97% in 2016.

Given its business-oriented context, and its audience of more than 500 million professionals, LinkedIn is clearly a no-brainer for any major company. I’m actually shocked that 100% of Fortune 500 brands aren’t linked up.  

Check out these articles for tips on tightening up your LinkedIn game:

Social Media is Big Business

Across all channels and platforms, the world’s most powerful corporations are increasingly recognizing social media marketing as a necessity rather than a nice-to-have — a trend we expect will continue into 2019.

UMass Dartmouth’s research finds that an overwhelming majority of 2018 F500 companies are present on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook; meanwhile, visually-driven networks like Instagram and YouTube are picking up steam fast in alignment with evolving user preferences.

If you want to get the full scoop on Fortune 500 social media usage, check out the full report. And if you’re hankering for more analysis of social media marketing trends in 2018, we’ve got you covered:

Learning Changes Lives: Top Insights from #MPB2B & 5 Tips for Rocking Marketing Events

The MarketingProfs B2B Forum is hands-down one of the BEST conferences you can attend as a marketer. The keynotes are inspiring, the sessions are high-quality and the vibe makes you feel at home. Ann Handley and the MarketingProfs team work incredibly hard to orchestrate this great event each year and it shows.

The team at TopRank Marketing has been attending conferences like this one for decades and has been able to hone our focus to make the most of the time and investment that are made. Below are some highlights to help you get the most bang for your buck at events.

5 Tips for Getting the Most out of Marketing Conferences

Speaking

Events like MarketingProfs B2B Forum are always looking for established marketers or up-and-coming subject matter experts to take the stage and share their learnings with attendees. This year, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden hosted a panel on the confluence equation featuring some of the top minds in B2B influencer marketing which included Konstanze Alex from Dell (client), Amisha Gandhi from SAP (client) and Luciana Moran from Dun & Bradstreet.

Having attended that session myself, I could see the room abuzz with B2B marketers taking to Twitter and their notes to absorb as much as possible from this power-panel. Here is some feedback from a couple of the session attendees:

At this year’s event, I had the honor of presenting my first solo session for MPB2B. I had a great time walking the audience through a fun, Stranger Things themed presentation that walked through 3 best practices and 3 stories for better B2B influencer marketing. Here are some of my favorite tweets covering my session:

Event Content Creation

Publishing content (in many forms) is a great way to retain and share the information you gather at these events. And let’s face it, after a few days of learning, it can be easy to forget. Whether you’re creating video, audio or static content that is long-form, short-form or in-between; content creation is a must! Below you’ll find some of our event coverage from MPB2B.

How Dell, SAP and Dun & Bradstreet Collaborate with Influencers to Scale Successful B2B Content

If the influencers you’re working with aren’t resulting in a change in behavior or actions, what’s the point? @leeodden #MPB2B Click To Tweet We have to remember that B2B buyers are consumers themselves. @Konstanze #MPB2B Click To Tweet Put people in place within your organization that are good with people to engage your influencers. @lucymoran #mpb2b Click To Tweet Companies should approach influencers as partners, not just as people they can use for marketing efforts. @AmishaGandhi #MPB2B Click To Tweet

How B2B Marketers Can Drive Growth in the Age of Assistance

If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, it’s like you took all of this effort to market your product and bring customers to the door. And the door is jammed. @GopiKallayil #MPB2B Click To Tweet

How Collaborating with Influencers can Help You Save the Day and Change the World of Marketing

We are not marketing to stock photos or personas. We are marketing to real people that care about real things. @azeckman #MPB2B Click To Tweet

How High-Impact Marketers Approach Marketing Strategy

Stop being accountable for marketing activity. Measure impact. @samanthastone #MPB2B Click To Tweet

Webinars That Wow: 5 Tips for Creating Engaging Webinars

The goal for your webinar audience is to get them to take actions. @4markb #MPB2B Click To Tweet

Host IRL Events

Many of us work in a business environment where we don’t have the opportunity to connect with our clients or partners in-person very often. Events like this one present a great opportunity to host an evening or afternoon where you can connect some of your favorite customers (and let’s face it, people) together for some great conversation.

Participate in Podcast Interviews

At marketing events, you’ll often find one or many podcasters ready to take advantage of the fact that there are a number of smart marketers on the premises and conduct podcast interviews live. This year, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden joined podcast queen Kerry O’Shea Gorgone for a sit-down interview at the event.

Be Social

When you’re surrounded by like-minded marketers, it makes for a great opportunity to connect. That can be sitting down during lunch and making new connections, or following along with the conversation on social media. For many marketing events, Chris Penn creates a visualization of the most talked about and engaging brands or people at an event. I’m happy to share that our brand, our CEO and myself were recognizable for each-day of the event because of our desire to connect and be social.

Thank You MarketingProfs!

You have outdone yourselves again. Each year the conference keeps getting better and better and we are incredibly thankful that we get to be a part of it. See you again next year in Washington DC!

If you had a chance to attend the event, PLEASE feel free to share some of your favorite moments below.

How Collaborating with Influencers Can Help You Save the Day and Change the World

Influencer marketing is a phrase on the tip of most marketer’s tongues, but many are still struggling to figure out exactly what it means in the context of their B2B business and how to implement.

At last week’s MarketingProfs B2B Forum in San Francisco, TopRank Marketing’s Ashley Zeckman took the stage to help set the influencer marketing story straight and provide insights into what it REALLY takes to develop a successful B2B influencer marketing program.

Why the Sudden Need for Influencer Marketing?

Trust in marketers has fallen. In fact, a recent study by HubSpot found that only 3% of people trust marketers (just over lobbyists and politicians). And B2B marketers specifically are facing the worst of it. MarketingProfs and CMI’s most recent report found that only 51% of B2B marketers state that their marketing is moderately successful and 61% of them still don’t have a document content strategy.

Unfortunately, many B2B marketers are still developing personas and creating content for the wrong audience. B2B buyers are just as human as B2C consumers which means it’s ESSENTIAL to partner with experts that they know and trust.

Entering the Era of Influencer Marketing

Collaborating with influencers presents an opportunity for brands to begin rebuilding trust by partnering with influential experts that their audience knows and trusts. In this post, we’ll explore three key considerations for successful influencer marketing.

3 Considerations for Better B2B Influencer Marketing

Identifying Influencer Types and Characteristics

According to Ashley, there are 5 main influencer types (each with different characteristics) that B2B brands should consider when developing a content-driven influencer program. Below we’ve included insights into the benefits of working with each influencer type:

  • Brandividual: Recognizable and increases your reach. Great for bringing in new audiences.
  • Up & Comer: Quickly gaining momentum and notoriety within their industry. Very motivated to collaborate and share.
  • Niche Expert: Very deep expertise on specific topics that resonate with your audience.
  • Internal Expert: Great for building thought leadership and trust for specific members of your brand.
  • Customers: Fits ideal customer profiles and helps your target customers see themselves in the content.

Opportunities for Influencer Engagement

Working with influencers no longer just means paying them to peddle products. Instead, there are limitless opportunities to collaborate with influencers in a meaningful way where both the influencer and the brand see the value. Here are a few options for how you can work with influencers:

Stage 1:

  • Gifting products
  • Publishing sponsored content
  • Obtaining product reviews
  • Participation in contests and giveaways

Stage 2:

  • List posts mentioning your influencers
  • Collaboration on text-based static content
  • Obtaining influencer quotes
  • Interviews

Stage 3:

  • Full campaign collaboration
  • Audio or video interviews
  • Interactive content

Stage 4:

  • Serialized content (including podcasts or videos)
  • Organized VIP influencer programs
  • Ongoing engagement (both paid and organic)

Creating a Great Influencer Experience

One of the most important and often-overlooked pieces of influencer marketing is to create a great influencer experience.

Many marketers, unfortunately, work hard to obtain influencer content, and then treat the influencer like a commodity.

Instead, we have an opportunity to be thoughtful about each and every interaction we have with an influencer. That means, creating personalized outreach that speaks to the needs of the individual and identifying opportunities to make the influencer feel valued.

Top Questions to Ask

If you’re just beginning to explore influencer marketing or have been trying to move it forward within your organization for a while, there are a few key questions to ask yourself:

  • What would it take to turn your content hurdles into influencer opportunities?
  • What is the potential impact that you could have?
  • What is the cost if you do (people, tools, resources)?
  • What is the cost if you don’t?