The Great Marketing Get-Together

State fair season brings tasty new foods-on-a-stick and a grandstand full of marketing lessons for those willing to walk the midway.

State fair season brings tasty new foods-on-a-stick and a grandstand full of marketing lessons for those willing to walk the midway.

State fair season brings tasty new foods-on-a-stick and a grandstand full of marketing lessons for those willing to walk the midway.

The Minnesota State Fair, known affectionately as the Great Minnesota Get-Together, begins tomorrow, and we’ll explore some of the wild new food concoctions on offer this year, and dig in to a bucket-of-cookies-size list of surprising things it can teach us about marketing.

The fair, which began all the way back in 1859, is one of the largest in the U.S., now often topping the 2 million attendee mark each 12-day season and offering fair-goers 322 acres of summer fun in the form of amusement rides, live music from at least four stages, art, animals, parades and more.

Marketers can gain plenty of insight from the spectacle of the Minnesota State Fair, so let’s take a food-centric look at some of the marketing lessons we can learn from the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

The Power of Anticipation On A Stick

Spiral potatoes on a stick image.

Each year fair-goers eagerly anticipate the list of new foods being released, followed by a period of speculation about how each new food will taste before the event begins, including some who even place odds on each new fair food.

Marketers have long built anticipation into campaigns, especially for organizations with popular products and services with many dedicated fans such as top car manufacturers and video game makers.

Getting your audience excited, whether it’s by building anticipation through social media, search marketing, or influencer marketing, is a time-tested tactic in many successful campaigns, and we’ll see how the sometimes over-the-top foods of the fair parallel these methods.

In our age of instant gratification and always-on answers, anticipation is sometimes overlooked as a powerful marketing element.

[bctt tweet=”“The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting.” — Andy Warhol ” username=”toprank”]

If your organization is lucky enough to already have throngs of hard-core fans, keeping them happy through clear communication about upcoming releases, teaser previews, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and other fan-pleasing methods is likely to build continued success.

[bctt tweet=”“Anticipation is sometimes more exciting than actual events.” — Ana Monnar ” username=”toprank”]

FOMO & The Power of Ever-New Fair Food

Two women with cotton candy image.

Over 30 all-new foods will premier tomorrow at The Minnesota State Fair for 2019, including:

  • Bada Bing Sandwich
  • Blueberry Key Lime Pie
  • Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites
  • Pebbles & Bam Bam Nordic Waffles
  • Peaches n’ Cream Nachos

Whether it’s one of these or the new Wingwalker Donut Flight with user-injectable flavor filling syringes, each year state fairs do an admirable job of getting mouths watering — or perplexing us with unusual concoctions — ultimately driving interest in a way that even B2B marketers can emulate and achieve success with.

Reading the list of new fair foods induces a super-size dose of Fear of Missing Out (FOMA), an emotion that marketers can play on and work to include in our own campaigns, even if they may not include chocolate coatings, tornado potatoes and other deep-fried delights.

Try not to let FOMA detract from either your marketing or your personal life, however.

[bctt tweet=”“Joy comes to us in moments — ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.” — Brené Brown @BreneBrown” username=”toprank”]

State fairs thrive by augmenting each year’s wild new foods with tried-and-true standby favorites such as corn-on-the-cob, cheese curds, and corndogs, which fair-goers have come to expect, just as many midway thrill-seekers still expect to enjoy a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl — a 1926 Minnesota invention.

Tilt-a-Whirl Carnival Ride Image

Knowing when to retire a food requires walking that fine line between getting rid of a slow seller and possibly removing mom’s favorite fair treat.

Marketers too need to consider their audiences before dropping an old marketing tactic or channel in favor of a shiny new selling method.

Conducting audience surveys can help you find out how your customers would feel if you removed an element from your organization’s systems, whether it’s a chatbot virtual assistant, an online form, or even support for a particular social media platform.

Understanding your audience’s needs and desires goes a long way towards building strong customer relationships, and one way to gain these types of insight is through researching the questions that your audience is asking, as I wrote about recently in “10 Smart Question Research Tools for B2B Marketers.”

[bctt tweet=”“Finding trends in what your current customers need can help you answer questions that your prospective customers might be asking, too.” — Jessica Best @bestofjess” username=”toprank”]

Corn Dogs & Classic Social Media Marketing

Corn dog image.

These days social media marketing is a classic tactic, a comforting corn dog of the marketing world. The specific platforms we use come and go, and their features change as frequently as the fair-goers riding the SkyRide or Octopus, yet many social tactics are bedrocks of marketing.

A sizable part of a successful social media marketing campaign is keeping track of performance benchmarks, as Joshua Nite, our Content Marketing Manager explored in detail in “Social Media Marketing Benchmarks: What Works & Where to Focus,” which was our most popular social media marketing post of 2018.

[bctt tweet=”“We should approach evolving our social media with the same data-driven, strategic rigor that applies to everything else we do.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

Over the past 15 years we’ve written a midway-full of additional helpful articles about how you can best incorporate social media marketing into your own campaigns, and some of the top recent ones are listed here, with no midway ticket coupons even required…

Blooming Onions & Podcast Marketing

Blooming onion image.

Podcasting has been among the biggest blooming marketing trends in recent years, with forecasts predicting that ad spending in the podcasting industry will top $1 billion by 2021, equal to more state fair blooming onions than you could shake a corn-dog stick at.

As one of today’s most promising marketing opportunities, podcasting has found a new way to take the simple commodity of people talking and turn it into a highly desirable and profitable digital asset, much the same as how state fair vendors take an ordinary onion and transform it into a showy explosion of deep-fried rooty tentacles.

[bctt tweet=”“Stay closer to top-of-funnel with your podcast ideas. It’s far better to educate, inspire, and entertain your audience than to try and sell them something.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

As podcasting has bloomed over the past several years, our team at TopRank Marketing has explored its’ relevant use in B2B marketing, including the following recent articles:

Deep-Fried Candy Bars & The Promise of VR/AR Interactive Marketing

Fried oreo image.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have also taken marketing by storm, similar to how deep-fried candy bars have given many the promise of a bold new future of state fair indulgences.

Dip your marketing Snickers and advertising Milky-Ways into a batter of VR and dunk them into the fryer, and read up on how interactive elements will play a bigger role in our future marketing efforts, with our recent articles here:

Cheese Curds & Search Marketing

Cheese curds image

Cheese has been around a lot longer than search engines, yet both are modern staples for most marketers and many fair-goers.

As with social media marketing, the specific tactics needed to achieve success in search and SEO are highly-specialized.

Get to the cheesy, gooey center of your search marketing learning by grabbing a bit bite of our recent posts on the subject here:

The Full Food Court of Influencer Marketing

Minnesota State Fair aerial image.

Influencer marketing is hard to pair with any single state fair delicacy, as the many benefits it offers when executed smartly are more akin to the virtually unlimited smorgasbord of flavors available in the state fair’s main food court.

Influencer marketing spending in the U.S. and Canada has seen 83 percent year-over-year growth, accompanied by second-quarter spending of $442 million, according to recent research.

Recent data also shows that micro and niche-influencers are forging stronger target audience connections and boosting long-term loyalty, and over the next 12 months, 65 percent of multinational brands plan to increase influencer marketing spending, according to the World Federation of Advertisers.

[bctt tweet=”“Whether you’re tired of or wired for “influencer marketing”, make no mistake: The growth of influence on individual and organizational effectiveness in the B2B marketing world will continue for years to come.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

In Minnesota our State Fair is considered our state’s Greatest Show on Earth, a similar theme we recently pursued as we partnered with the Content Marketing Institute to showcase the powerful and entertaining combination of influencer marketing and interactive digital assets, which you can experience here:

If you’ve never had the opportunity to experience the splendors of a state fair, we hope you’ll someday be able to visit one, and if you’re near Minnesota be sure to take in our Great Minnesota Get-Together.

I’ll leave you with a photo of this author preparing to tackle a mountain of spiral potatoes at the Minnesota State Fair in 2014.

Lane R. Ellis eating spiral potatoes at the Minnesota State Fair in 2014.

The post The Great Marketing Get-Together appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

The Great Marketing Get-Together

State fair season brings tasty new foods-on-a-stick and a grandstand full of marketing lessons for those willing to walk the midway.

State fair season brings tasty new foods-on-a-stick and a grandstand full of marketing lessons for those willing to walk the midway.

The Minnesota State Fair, known affectionately as the Great Minnesota Get-Together, begins tomorrow, and we’ll explore some of the wild new food concoctions on offer this year, and dig in to a bucket-of-cookies-size list of surprising things it can teach us about marketing.

The fair, which began all the way back in 1859, is one of the largest in the U.S., now often topping the 2 million attendee mark each 12-day season and offering fair-goers 322 acres of summer fun in the form of amusement rides, live music from at least four stages, art, animals, parades and more.

Marketers can gain plenty of insight from the spectacle of the Minnesota State Fair, so let’s take a food-centric look at some of the marketing lessons we can learn from the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

The Power of Anticipation On A Stick

Spiral potatoes on a stick image.

Each year fair-goers eagerly anticipate the list of new foods being released, followed by a period of speculation about how each new food will taste before the event begins, including some who even place odds on each new fair food.

Marketers have long built anticipation into campaigns, especially for organizations with popular products and services with many dedicated fans such as top car manufacturers and video game makers.

Getting your audience excited, whether it’s by building anticipation through social media, search marketing, or influencer marketing, is a time-tested tactic in many successful campaigns, and we’ll see how the sometimes over-the-top foods of the fair parallel these methods.

In our age of instant gratification and always-on answers, anticipation is sometimes overlooked as a powerful marketing element.

“The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting.” — Andy Warhol Click To Tweet

If your organization is lucky enough to already have throngs of hard-core fans, keeping them happy through clear communication about upcoming releases, teaser previews, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and other fan-pleasing methods is likely to build continued success.

“Anticipation is sometimes more exciting than actual events.” — Ana Monnar Click To Tweet

FOMO & The Power of Ever-New Fair Food

Two women with cotton candy image.

Over 30 all-new foods will premier tomorrow at The Minnesota State Fair for 2019, including:

  • Bada Bing Sandwich
  • Blueberry Key Lime Pie
  • Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites
  • Pebbles & Bam Bam Nordic Waffles
  • Peaches n’ Cream Nachos

Whether it’s one of these or the new Wingwalker Donut Flight with user-injectable flavor filling syringes, each year state fairs do an admirable job of getting mouths watering — or perplexing us with unusual concoctions — ultimately driving interest in a way that even B2B marketers can emulate and achieve success with.

Reading the list of new fair foods induces a super-size dose of Fear of Missing Out (FOMA), an emotion that marketers can play on and work to include in our own campaigns, even if they may not include chocolate coatings, tornado potatoes and other deep-fried delights.

Try not to let FOMA detract from either your marketing or your personal life, however.

“Joy comes to us in moments — ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.” — Brené Brown @BreneBrown Click To Tweet

State fairs thrive by augmenting each year’s wild new foods with tried-and-true standby favorites such as corn-on-the-cob, cheese curds, and corndogs, which fair-goers have come to expect, just as many midway thrill-seekers still expect to enjoy a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl — a 1926 Minnesota invention.

Tilt-a-Whirl Carnival Ride Image

Knowing when to retire a food requires walking that fine line between getting rid of a slow seller and possibly removing mom’s favorite fair treat.

Marketers too need to consider their audiences before dropping an old marketing tactic or channel in favor of a shiny new selling method.

Conducting audience surveys can help you find out how your customers would feel if you removed an element from your organization’s systems, whether it’s a chatbot virtual assistant, an online form, or even support for a particular social media platform.

Understanding your audience’s needs and desires goes a long way towards building strong customer relationships, and one way to gain these types of insight is through researching the questions that your audience is asking, as I wrote about recently in “10 Smart Question Research Tools for B2B Marketers.”

“Finding trends in what your current customers need can help you answer questions that your prospective customers might be asking, too.” — Jessica Best @bestofjess Click To Tweet

Corn Dogs & Classic Social Media Marketing

Corn dog image.

These days social media marketing is a classic tactic, a comforting corn dog of the marketing world. The specific platforms we use come and go, and their features change as frequently as the fair-goers riding the SkyRide or Octopus, yet many social tactics are bedrocks of marketing.

A sizable part of a successful social media marketing campaign is keeping track of performance benchmarks, as Joshua Nite, our Content Marketing Manager explored in detail in “Social Media Marketing Benchmarks: What Works & Where to Focus,” which was our most popular social media marketing post of 2018.

“We should approach evolving our social media with the same data-driven, strategic rigor that applies to everything else we do.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

Over the past 15 years we’ve written a midway-full of additional helpful articles about how you can best incorporate social media marketing into your own campaigns, and some of the top recent ones are listed here, with no midway ticket coupons even required…

Blooming Onions & Podcast Marketing

Blooming onion image.

Podcasting has been among the biggest blooming marketing trends in recent years, with forecasts predicting that ad spending in the podcasting industry will top $1 billion by 2021, equal to more state fair blooming onions than you could shake a corn-dog stick at.

As one of today’s most promising marketing opportunities, podcasting has found a new way to take the simple commodity of people talking and turn it into a highly desirable and profitable digital asset, much the same as how state fair vendors take an ordinary onion and transform it into a showy explosion of deep-fried rooty tentacles.

“Stay closer to top-of-funnel with your podcast ideas. It’s far better to educate, inspire, and entertain your audience than to try and sell them something.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

As podcasting has bloomed over the past several years, our team at TopRank Marketing has explored its’ relevant use in B2B marketing, including the following recent articles:

Deep-Fried Candy Bars & The Promise of VR/AR Interactive Marketing

Fried oreo image.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have also taken marketing by storm, similar to how deep-fried candy bars have given many the promise of a bold new future of state fair indulgences.

Dip your marketing Snickers and advertising Milky-Ways into a batter of VR and dunk them into the fryer, and read up on how interactive elements will play a bigger role in our future marketing efforts, with our recent articles here:

Cheese Curds & Search Marketing

Cheese curds image

Cheese has been around a lot longer than search engines, yet both are modern staples for most marketers and many fair-goers.

As with social media marketing, the specific tactics needed to achieve success in search and SEO are highly-specialized.

Get to the cheesy, gooey center of your search marketing learning by grabbing a bit bite of our recent posts on the subject here:

The Full Food Court of Influencer Marketing

Minnesota State Fair aerial image.

Influencer marketing is hard to pair with any single state fair delicacy, as the many benefits it offers when executed smartly are more akin to the virtually unlimited smorgasbord of flavors available in the state fair’s main food court.

Influencer marketing spending in the U.S. and Canada has seen 83 percent year-over-year growth, accompanied by second-quarter spending of $442 million, according to recent research.

Recent data also shows that micro and niche-influencers are forging stronger target audience connections and boosting long-term loyalty, and over the next 12 months, 65 percent of multinational brands plan to increase influencer marketing spending, according to the World Federation of Advertisers.

“Whether you’re tired of or wired for “influencer marketing”, make no mistake: The growth of influence on individual and organizational effectiveness in the B2B marketing world will continue for years to come.” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

In Minnesota our State Fair is considered our state’s Greatest Show on Earth, a similar theme we recently pursued as we partnered with the Content Marketing Institute to showcase the powerful and entertaining combination of influencer marketing and interactive digital assets, which you can experience here:

If you’ve never had the opportunity to experience the splendors of a state fair, we hope you’ll someday be able to visit one, and if you’re near Minnesota be sure to take in our Great Minnesota Get-Together.

I’ll leave you with a photo of this author preparing to tackle a mountain of spiral potatoes at the Minnesota State Fair in 2014.

Lane R. Ellis eating spiral potatoes at the Minnesota State Fair in 2014.

FAQ, HowTo, and Q&A: Using New Schema Types to Create Interactive Rich Results

Structured data (Schema markup) is a powerful tool SEOs can use to efficiently deliver the most important information on our webpages to search engines. When applied effectively across all relevant entities, Schema markup provides significant opportunities to improve a website’s SEO performance by helping search engines to better understand its content.

While Schema.org is continuously expanding and refining its documentation, Google updates its list of supported features that are eligible to be displayed as rich organic results far less frequently. When they happen, these updates are exciting because they give marketers new ways to affect how their organic listings appear in Google’s search results. To make things even more interesting, some of this year’s new Schema types offer the unique opportunity for marketers to use Schema to drive clicks to more than one page on their site through just one organic listing.

Three new Schema types worth focusing on are FAQ, HowTo, and Q&A Schema, all of which present great opportunities to improve organic search traffic with eye-catching, real estate-grabbing listing features. By strategically implementing these Schema types across eligible page content, marketers can dramatically increase their pages’ visibility in the search results for targeted keywords — especially on mobile devices.

Pro tip: When rolling out new Schema, use the Rich Results Testing Tool to see how your Schema can appear in Google’s search results. Google Search Console also offers reporting on FAQ, HowTo, and Q&A Schema along with other Schema types in its Rich Results Status Report.

FAQ Schema

According to Google, FAQ Schema can be used on any page that contains a list of questions and answers on any particular topic. That means FAQ Schema doesn’t have to be reserved only for company FAQ pages; you can create a “frequently asked questions” resource on any topic and use the Schema to indicate that the content is structured as an FAQ.

FAQ Schema is a particularly exciting new Schema type due to how much real estate it can capture in the organic listings. Marking up your FAQ content can create rich results that absolutely dominate the SERP, with the potential to take up a huge amount of vertical space compared to other listings. See the below example on mobile:

Like all Schema, the FAQ content must be a 100 percent match to the content displayed on the page, and displaying different content in your Schema than what is displayed on the page can result in a manual action. Google also requires that the content marked up with FAQ Schema is not used for advertising purposes.

Impacts on click-through rate

There is some risk involved with implementing this Schema: if the content is too informational in nature, it can create a situation where users to get the answers they need entirely within the search results. This is exactly what happened when we first rolled out FAQ Schema for one of our clients at Path Interactive — impressions to the page surged, but clicks fell just as quickly.

This conundrum led to us discover the single most exciting feature of FAQ Schema: The fact that Google supports links and other HTML within the answers. Look for opportunities within your FAQ answers to link to other relevant pages on your site, and you can use FAQ Schema to drive organic users to more than one page on your website. This is a great way to use informational content to drive users to your product or service pages.

Note that this tactic should be done within reason: The links to other pages should actually provide value to the user, and they must also be added to the page content so the Schema code is a 100 percent match with the content on the page. Check out my other detailed article on implementing FAQ Schema, which includes recommendations around tagging links in FAQ answers so you can monitor how the links are performing, and for distinguishing clicks to the FAQ links from your other organic listings.

HowTo Schema

HowTo Schema is another new Schema type that can be used to enhance articles containing instructions on “how to” do something. Like FAQ Schema, Google lays out certain content requirements about what can and can’t be marked up with HowTo Schema, including:

  • Not marking up offensive, violent or explicit content
  • The entire content of each “step” must be marked up
  • Not using HowTo markup to advertise a product
  • Including relevant images, as well as materials and tools used to complete the task
  • HowTo should not be used for Recipes, which have their own Schema

Unfortunately, unlike FAQ Schema, the text included within each HowTo step is not linkable. However, the individual steps themselves can become links to an anchor on your page that corresponds to each step in the process, if you include anchored links and images in your HowTo markup.

HowTo has two visual layouts:

Image source: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/how-to

One layout includes image thumbnails for each step in the process. With this layout, users can click on each step and be taken directly to that step on your page. Anchored (#) links also appear separately in Google Search Console, so you can track impressions and clicks to each step in your HowTo process.

Image source: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/how-to

The second HowTo layout uses accordions to display the steps.

One added benefit of HowTo Schema is its voice search potential: properly marked up HowTo content is eligible to be read aloud by Google Assistant devices. When voice searchers ask their Google Assistants for help with a task that is best answered with a “how to” guide, content marked up with HowTo Schema will be more likely to be read aloud as the answer.

Like FAQ Schema, HowTo markup presents pros and cons for marketers. Given that the rich result takes up so much space in the SERP, it’s a great way to make your listing stand out compared to competing results. However, if users can get all the information they need from your marked-up content within the search results, it may result in fewer clicks going to your website, which coincides with Google’s rise in no-click searches.

In rolling out HowTo markup, it’s important to monitor the impact the Schema has on your impressions, clicks, and rankings for the page, to make sure the Schema is producing positive results for your business. For publishers whose sites rely on ad revenue, the potential loss in click-through-rate might not be worth the enhanced appearance of HowTo markup in the search results.

Does HowTo markup earn featured snippets for “how to” queries?

Given that virtually every “How To” query generates a Featured Snippet result, I wanted to see whether there was any correlation between implementing HowTo Schema and earning Featured Snippets. I conducted an analysis of 420 URLs currently ranking in Featured Snippets for common “how to” queries, and only 3 these pages are currently using HowTo markup. While this Schema type is still relatively new, it doesn’t appear to be the case that using HowTo markup is a prerequisite for earning the Featured Snippet for “how to” queries.

Q&A Schema

Q&A Schema is another new Schema type used for pages that contain a question and a way for users to submit answers to that question. The Q&A Schema should be applied only on pages that have one question as the main focus on the page — not a variety of different questions. In its documentation, Google also distinguishes between Q&A and FAQ markup: If users are not able to add their own answers to the question, FAQ markup should be used instead.

Q&A Schema is great for forums or other online message boards where users can ask a question and the community can submit answers, such as the Moz Q&A Forum.

Google strongly recommends that Q&A Schema include a URL that links directly to each individual answer to improve user experience. As with HowTo Schema, this can be done using anchor (#) links, which can then be monitored individually in Google Search Console.

Image source: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/qapage

Blending Schema types

Another exciting new development with these new Schema types is the opportunity to blend multiple types of Schema that generate rich results on the same page. FAQ Schema in particular works as a great supplement to other Schema types, such as Product or Professional Service, which can generate stars, review counts, or other attributes in the SERP. Below is an example of how these combined Schema types can look on mobile:

If it makes sense for your content, it may be worth testing adding FAQ or HowTo markup to pages that already have other Schema types that generate rich results. It’s possible that Google will display multiple rich result types at once for certain queries, or it could change the rich appearance of your listing depending on the query. This could potentially lead to a big increase in the click-through-rate given how much space these mixed results take up in the SERP.

Note: there is no guarantee Google will always display blended Schema types the way it currently does for websites who have already done this implementation. Google is always changing how it displays rich results, so it’s important to test this on your own pages and see what Google chooses to display.

Risks involved with implementing Schema

It would be irresponsible to write about using Schema without including a warning about the potential risks involved. For one, Google maintains specific criteria about how Schema should be used, and misusing the markup (whether intentionally or not) can result in a structured data manual action. A common way this occurs is when the JSON-LD code includes information that is not visible for users on the page.

Secondly, it can be tempting to implement Schema markup without thoroughly thinking through the impact it can have on the click-through-rate of the page. It is possible that Schema markup can result in such a positive user experience within the SERP, that it can actually cause a decline in click-through-rate and less traffic to your site (as users get all the information they need within the search results). These considerations require that marketers think strategically about whether and how to implement Schema to ensure they are not only complying with Google’s guidelines but also using Schema in a way that will provide meaningful results for their websites.

Lastly, it is possible that Google will update its quality guidelines around how rich results are displayed if they find that these new Schema types are leading to spam or low-quality results.

Avoid misusing Schema, or it’s possible Google might take away these fantastic opportunities to enhance our organic listings in the future.