Becoming a Better Marketer by Embracing Your Passions Outside the Office

How Our After-Hours Passions Elevate Us as Marketers

In the first post I ever wrote for the TopRank Marketing Blog, I reflected on the marketing lessons I’d picked up through my baseball blogging hobby. Helping build an online community at Twins Daily has instilled many important fundamentals that, I feel, make me better at my day job.

I’m always fascinated by this interplay. We spend so much of our time each week alongside our coworkers, but are often unaware of the interests and side hustles that drive them outside of the office. Those very passions can be such integral parts of who we are and how we operate.

More recently, this has been a topic of focus for our friends at LinkedIn*. In April, Jason Miller wrote a piece about following your dreams while staying committed to your career, and in June, Sean Callahan profiled a LinkedIn marketer who moonlights as a DJ.

The subject of Sean’s piece was Ish Verduzco (aka DJ Ishh), who says that spinning the turntables on weekends has helped him learn how to get in tune with online audiences as a social media marketer. Incidentally, Jason and Sean themselves are great examples of this dynamic — Jason is a rock-and-roll photographer whose creativity and energy infuse the content he produces, while Sean is the author of several children’s books with a knack for conveying information clearly and understandably.

These posts from LinkedIn inspired me to learn more about my own colleagues here at the TopRank Marketing office, and how their outside hobbies or passions help shape them professionally. So I asked around:

What activities occupy your time when you’re not at the office, and how do they help make you a more clever, curious, and courageous marketer?

Hopefully their answers will inspire other marketers to fully embrace their own passions, and think about ways in which their personal pursuits can fuel their professional success — or vice versa.

The After-Hours Passions that Elevate Our Team Members’ Marketing Skills

Improving Through Improv

Josh NiteJosh Nite, Senior Content Marketing Manager

His jokes and puns are cherished staples during the workday, and Josh puts his sharp wit to good use after it ends by participating in improv shows and competitions. He believes that these comedy performances make him a better marketer for two primary reasons.

“First, they force me to carefully consider words, how they have an effect on people, how powerful they can be. Second, they’re performed live in front of an audience, so I can see whether or not I’m making a connection. It really helps me have a mental image of the reader in mind when I’m writing content.”

Making a Habit of Being Helpful

Debbie Friez, Influencer Marketing Strategist

Debbie is very active at her church, Spirit Garage, where she applies her professional skills to help out with marketing functions.

“I serve on the marketing committee, so that has me looking for new ideas,” she says. “I subscribe to a few newsletters and I’m active in Social Media Shepherds, a group of church communicators.”

In turn, Debbie’s community work through church and other endeavors — she picks up garbage at local parks on Earth Day, participates in a book club, and serves cotton candy during street festivals, for example — helps her develop rock-solid relationships with influencers and clients.

Finding Focus on the Fairway

Anne Leuman, Content Strategist

As someone who regularly covers SEO-related topics on the TopRank Marketing Blog, Anne understands the importance of links (she recently wrote about examples of link-worthy content). And on the weekend, she likes to unwind by hitting the links.

“My No. 1 hobby outside of work is golf,” Anne says. “Golf, believe it or not, requires a great amount of imagination. If you can see a shot, you can make the shot. Playing the sport allows me to hone my imagination skills, leading to more creativity and well-thought-out content strategy.”

She also adds that the sport’s individualistic nature helps her focus on self-improvement. Bolstering your score on the golf course is all about looking inward and making the right personal tweaks, which is also true of content creation.

“Similar to working on my golf game,” she starts. “I’ll take lessons, ask for advice, or spend hours writing each day to ensure I’m above par.”  

Managing to Make a Difference

Elizabeth Williams, Account Manager

As a mother raising two young children of mixed race, Elizabeth feels strongly about doing her part to create a more accepting and fair environment for individuals of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

“As a marketer sometimes it’s hard to see that direct impact on ‘making a the world a better place’ in your day-to-day. But, it’s something I crave. Having that reason behind what we do inspires us to keep going when we’re feeling frustrated or overloaded.”

She continues: “My ‘making the world a better place’ is working toward MLK’s dream — for a world where people will not be judged by the color of their skin. In my family, we experience racism nearly every time we’re in public, whether it’s big or small.”

And so she commits much of her energy outside of work to advocating for the cause of social justice. A marketer’s understanding of how to engage and influence proves helpful in this regard.

“I love applying my knowledge of digital marketing to my activist communications,” she says.

Making Creativity is the Name of the Game

Patrick Pineda, Motion Designer

If you watched any of the awesome 8-bit videos he whipped up for our Content Marketing Combos series, you might peg Patrick as an avid video game enthusiast. But his real passion is for tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and World of Darkness.

Earlier this year, he collaborated with Anne to create a blog post around content marketing lessons from the realm of D&D, such as the value of originality, the pitfalls of corralling an audience, and the importance of customization — something that is incredibly important and top-of-mind for marketers today.

“The best Dungeon Master doesn’t just create a good story, but they also help players reach their goals,” Patrick noted.

The Rabid Researcher

Lane EllisLane Ellis, Social & Content Marketing Manager

Working remotely from northern Minnesota, Lane conducts plenty of helpful research for the team at TopRank Marketing, and his proclivities in this area are deeply ingrained.

“Since 1994 I’ve been doing family history research, including several years as one of Duluth’s few professional genealogists, which has taught me many research-related lessons that I try to apply to my social media and marketing career,” he explains.

As someone who was using the internet for research before many of us were using it at all, he’s very adept at quickly finding what he’s looking for.

Harnessing Healthy Results Like a Boss

Lee OddenLee Odden, CEO

Employees at TopRank Marketing are accustomed to the occasional week or two where Lee isn’t in the office, given the amount of traveling he does for speaking engagements around the world, but recently we’ve noticed that we’re seeing less of him — literally. The agency cofounder has been on a major health kick over the past several months, and the impact has been visibly evident in his physique.

“I’ve found diet, cardio and other exercise have direct correlations to goal-setting, discipline, quality of effort, time management, and optimization of marketing performance,” Lee explains.

In particular, he’s sees parallels in the ways success is measured for fitness and marketing. In neither case should vanity be the name of the game.

“I found it interesting not to focus on weight loss, but clothing size, energy level, and quality of life improvements since those are the real goals,” he says. “I think there are lessons there as a marketer in measuring performance. Views, shares and impressions are like sugary candy metrics that give spikes of endorphins, but don’t really reflect the real goals of leads, deals, and revenue.”

What Drives You?

At TopRank Marketing, we’re lucky to have a team with diverse interests and hobbies. Working with these folks on a daily basis, it’s easy to see they are keeping their marketing skills sharp through after-hours activities, even if that’s not necessarily the inherent rationale.

Meanwhile, staying busy and focused on other things outside of work helps us stay refreshed and rejuvenated once we arrive each morning. So, I ask you, too: What passions outside of work make you better at your job?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

How to Rally Around ROI & Prioritize Your Digital Marketing Efforts in the Face of Budget Cuts

Prioritizing After Marketing Budget Cuts

Ask any marketer if they’ve ever had to contend with the shrinking or deep cutting of their budgets, odds are you’ll get a deep sigh and a “more than once” response.

Organizations are always looking for efficiencies and ways to tighten their financial belt, and marketing departments are among the first to be placed on the chopping block because it all comes down to ROI—something many modern marketers find hard to prove

In fact, according to a recent report from Demand Gen Report and BrightFunnel, 58% of B2B organizations surveyed said their current ability to measure and analyze marketing performance “needs improvement” or worse.

So, if you’re staring down a budget reduction, don’t panic. This is the time to evaluate and prioritize your efforts so you can revamp your integrated digital marketing strategy to include a tactical mix that will not only refocus your strategy to reach your objectives, but also improve how you measure and achieve ROI.

If you’re staring down a #marketing budget reduction, don’t panic. This is the time evaluate, prioritize, and focus. – @Alexis5484 Click To Tweet

Here are four key actions you’ll want to take:

#1 – Evaluate your existing data against your goals.

While it may seem obvious, the first step is to evaluate how you’re performing against your objectives; what’s working and what’s not. However, you can’t rely solely on high-level or vanity metrics like overall traffic. In order to really dig into what’s working, you need to map each of your tactics and/or channels to closed business—and total revenue numbers if you can.

Not only will this help you focus on where to revamp and hone your strategy, but also put you in a better position to consistently measure as you move forward. So, when the next budget cut comes along, you can better prove the ROI of your marketing activities and make a stronger case for keeping your budget.

#2 – Narrow your targeting.

Every marketer knows that understanding your audience is key to developing and executing a strategy with impact. But audience characteristics, preferences, and habits—as well as the market you operate within—can change overtime. As a result, you may be wasting precious marketing dollars on the “wrong” people. So, it’s time to redefine and zero-in on who your ideal customer or buyer is and who are most likely to convert.

With the budget and resources you do have, it may be worth investing time and money in a survey or analysis of your existing client or prospects to better understand their preferences and pain points.

This will not only give you a clearer picture of what channels or tactics are working—but which may have the most potential based on who your customer is, where they’re interacting with your brand or other brands, what they’re interested in, and what moves them to a conversation.

If you’re facing #marketing budget cuts, it may be worth using the resources you do have to analyze your customers and prospects to hone in on their needs, preferences, and paint points. – @Alexis5484 Click To Tweet

#3 – Place safe bets if your data is limited.

Effective measurement is a problem that’s plagued marketers for years. As a result, you may not have all the data to inform your decision making. In this case, we’d suggest making some “safe marketing bets” based on tried-and-true tactics.

For example, email marketing. Email marketing is perhaps the oldest digital marketing tactic around, but still one of the most effective. Not only does it deliver helpful information to your clients and prospects, when segmented and constructed correctly, it helps nurture them toward the sale. In fact, three-quarters of companies say email offers “good” or “excellent” ROI.

In addition, SEO and content marketing are consistently rated by marketers as top channels with the best ROI.

That said, be careful not to stake your success on simply following what’s “always” worked. The safe bets you place should be a temporary strategic solution as you work to get better measurement and data practices in place so you can continuously optimize your strategy.

#4 – Invest in efficiency.

Efficiency isn’t about doing more in less time, but rather making the most of your time by doing the right things. As the old saying goes: Work smarter, not harder. From our perspective, there’s three core investments to consider:

1. Technology

Whether you want to optimize your workflow or automate time-consuming processes, investing in the right technology for your needs can make a major positive impact on efficiency.

2. Training

Your marketing spend is likely not the only item that took a hit. You may have also needed to cut internal resources. As a result, investing in training for the team you do have is a good play—whether you want someone to expand their skill set or level up his or her existing skills—to help your team work more efficiently and ultimately drive more ROI with less.

3. An agency partnership

Oftentimes, partnering with an agency can help you stretch your budget for maximum ROI. Rather than solely relying on your in-house team for expertise, execution, and strategy—an agency can be a robust extension. You get access to an entire team of digital marketing experts, made up of individuals with a range of skill sets—and often at a lower cost than having the equivalent depth of knowledge as internal hires.

Efficiency isn’t about doing more in less time, but rather making the most of your time by doing the right things. – @Alexis5484 Click To Tweet

Focus on the Opportunity, Not the Loss

Budget cuts are no fun. But they’re not the end of the world. After all, we marketers can be scrappy—and we live to innovate.

So, use recent or near future cuts to redefine your marketing strategy from both a tactical and measurement standpoint, and work to put better measurement in place. Hopefully, this will not only help you avoid bumps in momentum as you deal with less financial resources, but also help you get better ROI data so you can defend against future cuts.  

How can you prove the value of your content marketing efforts to your CMO? Check out our three steps to proving content marketing ROI.

A Non-Agency Guy Reflects on His First Year at TopRank Marketing

TopRank Marketing Team

Liking where you work is not an optional luxury. At least it sure shouldn’t be.

Spending 40 hours of every week at a place you dread is a tough way to go through any stretch of life. I’ve been there and I’m sure many of you have as well — especially if you work in digital marketing, which can often be a fast-paced, demanding, and stressful field.

So last year, when I decided to pursue a new professional venture, finding the right culture fit was a huge priority for me. As I started exploring the possibility of joining the TopRank Marketing team, I had some reservations; not because of anything specific to the company, but because it’s an agency.

I hadn’t work at agencies much in the past. I was familiar with the stereotypes, the paradigms, the lamentations. While confident in my skill set being very applicable in this world, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the right world for me.

Would the constant reality of client demands stifle my creativity? Would the permeating structure of workflow management systems prove suffocating? Would I be intimidated as a newbie working alongside people who’ve been in such a setting forever?

Well, as you can tell, I took the plunge. And I’m very glad I did. I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary here at TopRank Marketing and can happily say that up to this point, it has been an extremely rewarding experience, unhindered by those negative agency archetypes mentioned above.

If you’re a talented writer, strategist, SEO or analyst considering a career move, I highly recommend checking out TopRank Marketing — even if you’ve never worked in an agency. Here are five reasons I’ve felt right at home.

#1 – Business Casual

I’m not just talking about dress code. The environment here here strikes the right balance between business and casual. In the years prior to coming aboard, I’d spent time working downtown at a big corporate bank as well as at an ultra-leisurely tech startup, so I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum and didn’t love either extreme.

I know from speaking to others that certain agencies can veer a little too far in the direction of informality, with flip-flops and Monday morning mimosas and lax attendance standards. From my view, these kinds of things can quickly become distractions, preventing people from being seriously focused on their work. At TopRank Marketing, the vibe is laid back enough that it’s always comfortable and easygoing, but not so much that anyone is apt to lose sight of their duties or commitments.

#2 – Cool Clients

Working with big-league clients also helps us keep our eyes on the prize. One thing that has become quite clear to me in my time at TopRank Marketing is that we are very deliberate about the businesses we engage as an agency. There’s a strong emphasis on finding the right fits and aiming high.

Partnering with recognizable and respected enterprise companies such as Dell, LinkedIn, and SAP keeps us on our toes and challenges us to raise the bar. I’m continually impressed by the innovation and big thinking on display in these organizations.

During client meetings, I get to interact with sharp people and I find there’s a high degree of mutual respect. I haven’t personally encountered exasperations with companies that just don’t “get it,” which I hear a lot about from friends and peers working at other agencies.

#3 – Awesome Team

Not only do our clients keep me on my toes — so do my coworkers. To me, this is probably the most invigorating aspect of working at TopRank Marketing. Each day I get the chance to absorb knowledge from tremendously adept and skilled pros in various disciplines. This is by design; attracting and retaining high-caliber talent is central to our operation.

The collaborative culture enables our team to collectively reach new heights. I’m fortunate to build out my own expertise by learning from our specialists in search, SEO, strategy, analytics, design, content and more. Hopefully I’m able to impart some of my own knowledge as well. 

#4 – Growth Opportunities

Just a few months after starting here at TopRank Marketing, I was able to attend Digital Summit Minneapolis and rub shoulders with some of the industry’s biggest names as a representative of our agency. It was a cool opportunity right out of the gates, and speaks to the windows that are opened for anyone with such aspirations. I’ve also gotten to write several times for the renowned TopRank blog, providing me with a platform for visibility and brand-building in the marketing community.  

As employees we are adamantly encouraged to branch out, gain new competencies, take on speaking engagements, and become public faces for the agency if they show that initiative. There’s a very legitimate and earnest focus on personal development that I believe to be rare.

#5 – Taking Pride

It’s honestly cool to tell people where I work.

I’ve quickly learned that TopRank Marketing has a stellar rep, fueled in large part by our CEO Lee Odden, who regularly appears as a keynote speaker all around the world promoting our brand and extolling our talent. Being able to work with prestigious international clients gives me a daily feeling of impact and accomplishment. There’s also a certain thrill inherent to being on the cutting edge with so many tactics and frontiers — most notably B2B influencer marketing at the moment.

I Guess I’m an Agency Guy Now

I’m not going to say it’s easy, nor that every day is free of stress or struggle. But I’m not sure I would even want that. I will say that on those more difficult days, I always have the support and structure necessary to overcome.

I had no idea what to expect with my first real venture into the agency world, but what I’ve found at TopRank Marketing is an accommodating environment, meaningful work, amazing colleagues, clear avenues for growth, and a real sense of pride.

That pretty much covers the checklist I had coming in. If yours looks similar, and you think you’ve got a professional skill set befitting one of our openings, you should get in touch and see if TopRank Marketing might be a match for you. Even if the word “agency” makes you bristle a little bit.

I might be biased, but not without good reason.

To Gate, or Not to Gate? Answers to an Age-Old Digital Marketing Question

When Not to Gate Your Content

Modern marketers understand that quality, engaging and relevant content is at the core of any integrated digital marketing strategy. After all, in a world where consumers are increasingly self-directed in researching their options to make purchasing decisions, that quality, engaging and relevant content aids their journey and decision-making.

But let’s face it. While marketers want to inform and engage their audience, they ultimately want to generate viable leads to meet their goals and grow their respective businesses. Oftentimes, that means deciding when, where and how to gate certain content assets. In fact, perhaps one of the most common questions we get from our book of clients is: “Should I gate my content?”

The answer? It depends.

It depends on your objectives. It depends on your brand or product’s maturity in the marketplace. It depends on your content ecosystem. It depends on the “content of the content.” And it depends on your lead nurturing capabilities.

As a result, strategic decision-making is crucial, otherwise your content may never see the light of day. With that said, there are several situations where we believe gated content should be left off the table.

#1 –  When you’re looking to build brand awareness.

Simply put, if you’re hoping to get eyeballs on your content and drive traffic and on-page engagement, give your content away “for free.”

If you’re an emerging brand or part of a younger or smaller company, brand awareness is an important step in building your audience. By providing your prospects with great, accessible content throughout the funnel, you can plant seeds and strengthen your perceived value—which can pay off later.

For more established brands, you know that just because you have high visibility and a strong reputation doesn’t mean a focus on brand awareness is no longer necessary. Awareness is still key for growing your audience, staying top of mind or gaining share of voice when a new product or service is released into the wild. So, if you’re creating content with the goal of strengthening awareness at the top and middle of the funnel, leave it ungated.

Simply put, if you’re hoping to get eyeballs on your content and drive traffic and on-page engagement, give your content away “for free.” – @Alexis5484 #DigitalMarketing #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

#2 – When your brand, product or service is new to market.

This point is particularly important for startups or rising brands in a competitive marketplace.

For those pioneering a new field, you’re likely up against little to no demand for your product or service—meaning you’ve created a solution for a problem your audience doesn’t know they have yet. So, how can you expect someone to “pay” for content if they don’t know anything about your purpose, function or value?

For those rising brands in more established sectors, you’re likely competing with well-known or long-standing brands the same share of voice. And while you may be desperate for leads, providing quality, relevant content for “free” is where you should start in order to stand out.

#3 – When you don’t have quality, ungated content to bolster a gated asset.

When you gate a content asset, you’re signaling to your audience that what you’re offering is of premium value; content that requires a bit of payment to be enjoyed. So at the very least, you need to ask yourself if the content is truly valuable and worthy of that payment.

In addition, you need to make sure that your “free” content is up to par, too. Think of it this way: Your ungated content serves as an appetizer for your audience, allowing them to gauge whether their entree, a gated ask, may be worth it. So, it’s important to ensure you have a strong ecosystem of ungated content to bolster any gated content. It’s as simple as that.

It’s important to ensure you have a strong ecosystem of ungated content to bolster any gated content. – @Alexis5484 #DigitalMarketing #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

#4 – When you don’t have a thoughtful nurture strategy in place.

We’ve established that all marketers are hungry for leads and gated content helps satisfy that hunger. But once you get those new leads in, do you have a lead nurturing strategy in place to support them?

If your plan only involves a standard “thank you” email and then sending the names off to sales, you’re not ready to gate an asset. You need to put together an automated email nurture first, as well as tracking and testing, to make sure you can optimize and personalize the experience for prospects.

#5 – When you’ve co-created content with influencers.

When you co-create a piece of content or asset with influencers, you want them to be proud of the finished product and ultimately share it with their followings. However, in our experience, if that content is behind a wall they’ll be far less likely to promote it.

Why? For a couple reasons:

  1. If your influencer partnerships were unpaid, some may feel uncomfortable with you “charging” for their content and expertise—especially if it comes as a surprise at launch. Or they may feel like they deserve further compensation, which you probably haven’t budgeted for.
  2. Your influencers have more skin in the game if your content is gated. Think about it. If they’re promoting a gated asset to their followings, they’re sending the signal that this content is premium. If at the end of the day they don’t feel it’s worthy of payment, they may not share.

Now, there is a slight caveat to this. If you’ve developed an integrated influencer content campaign with multiple content types, a gated asset may be mixed in there. However, something needs to be left ungated not only to demonstrate value to your target audience, but also to make it easy for influencers to share.

Gate With Care

Gated content absolutely has a place in the digital marketing mix. But you need to be thoughtful and strategic when choosing which assets to gate—otherwise you run the risk of investing time and resources into content that stays mostly hidden.

So, as you ponder whether to gate or not to gate, consider your objectives, market position and industry, current content ecosystem, nurture strategy, and influencer partners. This will help you see the bigger picture, while also enabling you to align your objectives and expectations.

Looking for a way to build and bolster your content marketing strategy? Check out these seven steps for documenting your strategy.

What other factors do you consider when choosing to gate an asset? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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

Campaigns + Always-On Strategy = Content Marketing Harmony

Regardless of industry or niche, nearly all B2B marketers—91% to be exact—are focused on leveraging content marketing to reach, resonate and inspire audience action. But budget and resource constraints and lofty lead generation goals—not to mention increasing buyer numbness to marketing messages and the extinction of organic visibility on social media—means you have to get scrappy when designing a content marketing strategy that drives toward business goals.

Oftentimes, this leads brands and marketers to focus on content marketing campaigns to quickly generate buzz, spike awareness and foster audience engagement. However, in our experience, campaigns alone will not help you reach your short- and long-term marketing goals.

Why? They’re simply not sustainable. Campaigns create spikes in activity that can quickly die out if there’s not a significant investment in ongoing promotion—specifically paid promotion.

But does that mean it’s time to drop campaigns from your marketing mix? Absolutely not. Quite the opposite, actually.

Campaigns should be intertwined with an overall, always-on strategy to create marketing harmony and get the ultimate value out of all your efforts. Below I highlight a few reasons why.

#1 – Integration enhances your nurturing capabilities.

Content marketing aims to create multiple touchpoints with your audience whenever and wherever they’re searching—and wherever they may be in the funnel.

Campaigns can absolutely drive valuable spikes in traffic, engagement, or conversions, as well as help you target specific audiences or verticals. But you need to be able to nurture the audience you’ve built beyond the confines of the campaign—otherwise you’re not only wasting your budget, but also leaving longer-term value and opportunity on the table.

By building campaigns as part of your overall strategy, you can nurture your audience or leads more effectively, as well as enhance the buyer’s journey.

By building campaigns as part of your overall #ContentMarketingStrategy, you can nurture your audience or leads more effectively, as well as enhance the journey. – @Alexis5484 Click To Tweet

#2 – Integration helps you get the most out of your campaigns.

Campaigns are often used for promoting a new idea or product, or generating or leveraging the buzz around an industry conference, event or hot topic. But once the newness wears off or the event passes, your campaign can become stale if you fail to iterate on the content or neglected to consider how it could enhance your other efforts.

Regardless of how successful your campaign is, your work shouldn’t stop once you’ve released everything into the wild. You want the momentum to continue so you should be continually optimizing your campaign for maximum performance and longevity.

But campaign content is also the perfect repurposing candidate, helping fill your editorial calendar, find opportunities for extending the conversation, and enable you to experiment with other content forms—all while helping you keep the people, trends or topics covered in the campaign top-of-mind.

The bottom line here is that you can get more out of your campaign by thinking strategically about how the content can be refined and used again and again to drive continued success.

You can get more out of your #contentmarketing campaign by thinking strategically about how content can be refined and used again and again to drive continued success. – @Alexis5484 Click To Tweet

#3 – Integration helps you build stronger influencer relationships.

If you’re looking to add influencers to your marketing mix, a campaign featuring influencer talents and perspectives can be a great starting point. Oftentimes, an influencer campaign will feature multiple experts and content types, but it’s anchored by a big and snazzy asset—which not only gets influencers excited about what they co-created with you, but for future opportunities, too.

But the key to influencer marketing success is building lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial—not just reaching out when you have a need. Baking ongoing influencer relations into your overall content marketing strategy will help you focus on building those relationships, while also boosting your campaign efforts.

Baking ongoing #InfluencerRelations into your overall #ContentMarketingStrategy will help you focus on building those relationships, while also boosting your campaign efforts. – Alexis5484 Click To Tweet

#4 – Integration helps you create a steady drumbeat.

There’s no denying that campaigns are invaluable for generating buzz and excitement, but once the campaign has run its course that excitement and relevance will fade. By coupling your always-on program with campaigns, you have the opportunity to create a steady drumbeat of awareness and thought leadership to drive traffic, engagement, and leads, while also adding pops of variety to reinforce your brand and give your audience a little something special.

By coupling your always-on #ContentMarketing program with campaigns, you have the opportunity to create a steady drumbeat of awareness & thoughtleadership. – @Alexis5484 Click To Tweet

Strike Balance & Harmony

At the end of the day, there’s no doubt that campaigns can be wildly effective and successful. However, those results aren’t sustainable if there isn’t a larger integrated strategy backing it up. So, when it comes to developing your next campaign, think critically about how it can enhance within your overall content marketing strategy, how you can sustainably promote and repurpose content, and create harmony to get the most bang for your buck.

Looking for more B2B content marketing insights or inspiration to help you recalibrate your strategy, check out this roundup of six B2B brands using content marketing to fuel their business.

54 Artificial Intelligence Powered Marketing Tools

AI Powered Marketing Tools

The expression, “Marketers are data rich and insight poor” is more true today than ever.

Marketers all over the world are working to optimize marketing operations and effectiveness using their abundance of data. Many are turning to tools and platforms powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. AI promises to make sense of all the dark data companies are sitting on as well as structured and unstructured data online to surface insights about customer behaviors, opportunistic content and emotional triggers to inspire conversions.

In an age of too many choices, increased competition for customer attention requires every advantage to optimize for reach, engagement and conversion. Marketers are using AI to automate and optimize their marketing because that’s what it will take to meet customer appetite for personalized experiences.

  • In a study by Smart Insights, AI and Machine Learning were rated the #3 marketing activity that will make the largest commercial impact on business in 2018.
  • Another study by Salesforce found that high-performing marketing teams are more than 2 times as likely to use AI in their campaigns than under-performers.

What are marketers doing with AI? Areas of focus include advertising automation and optimization, chat bots for service and assisting in sales, and content personalization to name a few.

Chat apps and bots are increasingly being used beyond light customer service to engage customers during the sales process. In fact, 1.82 billion people worldwide are projected to use a chat app in 2018 and by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.

Make no mistake, the artificial intelligence platform market is growing fast: it’s estimated to be worth $9.88 billion by 2022.

As Josh Nite mentioned in his recent post, “This changes everything. AI is transforming digital marketing.” From A to Z and then some, here are 54 tools that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to make your marketing smarter, more efficient and effective.

Acquisio Turing – A set of 30 high frequency predictive algorithms working together to ingest search marketing campaign data across platforms. Data such as seasonality, times of day, times of week, location, positioning, ad platform, campaign and others enable the platform to self-learn and make smart bid and budget decisions in real-time. @acquisio

Acrolinx – Built on an advanced linguistic analytics engine, this software platform “reads” content and guides writers to make it better. @Acrolinx

Albert – An autonomous platform that uses AI: predictive analytics, machine learning, natural language processing and other proprietary algorithms to execute seamlessly across all channels, paid and non-paid, including email, mobile, social, search and display. @albertaimktg

Atomic Reach – Delivers a deep understanding of what makes your content perform and how to perfect it. @Atomic_Reach

Automat -AI and machine-learning technology that helps brands deliver messaging experiences that are tailor made for each individual consumer and dynamically optimizes conversion for the best results. @automat_inc

Bloomreach – An open and intelligent platform for businesses to build, extend, personalize, analyze, test and optimize their digital experiences across all channels. @bloomreachinc

Boost Linquistics – AI-powered platform for your team to drive revenue by personalizing search and browse experiences at scale and AI to improve site structure, content, and landing pages, maximizing SEO at scale and driving traffic. @boost_ling

CaliberMind – Connects, unlocks, and activates data to help high-growth B2B SaaS organizations to acquire new buyers, grow revenue, and improve the customer experience. @calibermind

CONCURED – Uses AI to analyze people’s behavior towards content at scale in order to prescribe what you should create next to maximize engagement and ROI. @concured

Conversica – AI Sales Assistant helps companies find and secure customers more quickly and efficiently by automatically contacting, engaging, qualifying and following up with leads via natural, multi-channel, two-way conversations. @myconversica

CORTEX – A social media content optimization platform for marketers and agencies to continuously improve post engagement. @meetcortex

Crayon – Market and competitive intelligence tools to track, analyze, and act on everything happening outside of the four walls of your business. @Crayon

Datorama – One Platform for all marketing data, investments, KPIs, and decisions to connect data, report across channels and campaigns, and surface the right insights instantly. @Datorama

Demandbase ABM – A comprehensive set of ABM solutions driven by artificial intelligence: platform, targeting, engagement, conversion. @Demandbase

Drift – A conversational marketing and sales platform (chatbot) that connects your business with the best leads in real-time. Like a virtual assistant for your website, Drift lets you turn any conversation into a conversion. @drift

Emarsys – Understand each contact as an individual customer and execute highly personalized campaigns at scale with AI solutions. @emarsys

FindTheRipple – The AI-driven platform supporting marketers in creating content with impact, finding untapped trends and resonating digital assets for target audiences. @findtheripple

Genie – AI-powered recommendation engine from Grey Jean Technologies that provides accurate predictions of consumer purchase behavior. @getgenie

Google Cloud AI – Build chat bots, do analysis of video, images and text. @gcpcloud

HubSpot – Content Strategy Tool helps marketers discover and validate new content ideas that perform well. @hubspot

IBM Watson – Cognitive marketing platform that provides journey pattern analysis, real-time personalization, marketing insights, weather effects and cognitive tagging. @IBMforMarketing

Idio – Demand Orchestration platform that learns from each interaction to improve engagement and accelerate demand at large B2B enterprises. Automates 1:1 engagement with target accounts, at scale & across all digital channels. @idioplatform

Intellyo – The Creator Engine leverages machine learning and data-driven analytics to automatically tell you which actions to take to build quality into your content. Features include topic research, workflow management, content quality analyzer and customizable service integrations. @intellyo

Invoca – Enables granular campaign attribution to understand why customers are calling, gain real-time intelligence about who’s calling and analyze what’s being said in conversations. @invoca

Jetlore – Artificial intelligence-powered “learning to rank” technology that helps retailers build stronger customer loyalty, higher conversions and increased revenues. @Jetlore

KYNDI – Explainable Artificial Intelligence platform for government, financial services, and healthcare with AI products that analyze massive amounts of data, making organizations and people 100X smarter, 100X faster. @kynditech

Lexalytics – Text Analytics & Survey Analysis with customizable Sentiment Analysis, Categorization & Named Entity Extraction. Platform leverages machine learning, artificial intelligence and natural language processing to allow enterprises to create custom analytics solutions to address their unique data problems. @lexalytics

LiftIgniter – Machine learning personalization recommendation and discovery engine enables every website and app to have a 1:1 “conversation” with users. @liftigniter

Lucy – Solution from Equals 3 powered by Watson. Lucy delivers insightful conclusions, refined segmentation analysis, killer marketing plans, and world-conquering media strategies. @equals3ai

Market Brew – Artificial Intelligence Platform for SEO Teams. @mktbrew

MarketMuse – AI-powered research assistant that accelerates content creation and optimization so you can win in organic search. @MarketMuseCo

Motiva AI – Learns to adapt your messaging to customers automatically and delivers better engagement, at any scale. @MotivaHQ

Nudge – Access new accounts, analyze deal risk, and measure account health – powered by relationship intelligence. @nudgeai

Onespot – Technology platform for personalizing content marketing across digital channels. @onespot

Oribi – Simplifies analytics to enable marketing and product teams to get valuable data without any help from developers. @getoribi

PaveAI – Turns Google Analytics data in actionable insights + reports with our data science AI algorithm. @paveai

Path – An intelligent messaging platform that helps businesses generate more leads, close sales faster, and improve client service. @chat_path

People.ai – Automatically capture all sales activity to drive intelligent sales management and marketing insights. @ppl_ai

Persado – AI generated language that resonates the most with any audience, segment or individual. @persado

Phrasee – Enterprise marketing solution that uses artificial intelligence to generate brand compliant marketing language on a client-to-client basis. @phrasee

Quill by Narrative Science – Powered by Advanced Natural Language Generation, Quill is an intent-driven system that automatically transforms data into Intelligent Narratives at scale, in conversational language anyone can understand. @narrativesci

Rocco – AI powered social media marketing agent that will suggest fresh content that your followers are likely to engage with. @Rocco_Ai

Salesforce Einstein – A layer of artificial intelligence that delivers predictions and recommendations based on your unique business processes and customer data. @salesforce

Sentient Ascend – A patented AI Conversion Optimization solution that mimics biological evolution, enabling it to quickly learn, adapt and react to determine the best performing design from the building blocks you provide. @sentientdai

Smartly – Facebook and Instagram advertising automation and optimization platform with machine learning. @smartlyio

SmartKai – AI-powered assistant that manages your social media marketing. @thesmartkai

Stackla – AI-powered enterprise platform to discover, manage and display the most engaging user generated visual content across all marketing touchpoints. @stackla

The Grid – Molly, a AI-powered web design platform uses machine learning combined with constraint-based design and flow-based programming to make form dynamically adapt to content. @thegrid

Unmetric – Xia provides AI powered social media marketing insights to create compelling content. @unmetric

Vestorly – Vestorly uses artificial intelligence to build personalized touch points with news, blogs, or your own content. @vestorly

Wordsmith – Solution from Automated Insights that uses natural language generation to convert data into content. @ainsights

X.ai – An artificial intelligence personal assistant who schedules meetings for users. @xdotai

Yseop – Artificial intelligence software writes and explains data in six languages using natural language generation. @YseopAI

ZetaHub – Marketing Automation powered by AI. @zetaglobal

There you have it. 50 plus tools that leverage artificial intelligence for marketing. For your convenience, I’ve made a list of all Twitter accounts on this AI Marketing Tools list here, in case you want to follow the category easily.

Whether you’re trying to get more out of existing marketing software like analytics or automate content generation or boost your ability to understand customer behavior for better personalization, there’s a tool or platform for you.

At the same time, very few of these AI powered marketing solutions are “set it and forget it”.  They still need humans for optimal performance. That’s why I like the expression “Augmented Intelligence” as a reflection of how people and technology can work together for more optimized marketing. And when it comes to marketing people, I don’t know any better than the team I get work with at TopRank Marketing.

What AI powered marketing tools did I miss? Which do you use? Please share in the comments.

4 Integrated Content Marketing Insights From the Trenches of Online Dating

Left. Left. Left. Right. Left. No, this is not an army drill. These are the swiping habits I’ve picked up from my time online dating. Done in a split second, I can swipe faster than most people can snap their fingers. If you’ve ever dabbled with dating apps or online dating, you know that these snap judgements start to become second nature.

With the average human attention span lasting just 8.25 seconds, there’s something to be said about those snap judgements. As a marketing copywriter who’s working day in and day out to woo my audience with clever prose and charming insights, it’s my job to make a great first impression on my audience. If I fail, they’re going to move on to something (or someone) else. And I don’t want my audience dating around — I’m after that exclusive kind of relationship.

However, simply writing great content won’t get the job done. You need to have multiple tactics in play from SEO to social and beyond to really woo your audience whenever and wherever they are. It’s why our own client programs at TopRank Marketing have an integrated content marketing strategy driving them. Content, while a key component, is only a piece of our formula for fueling results.

To help you elevate your content marketing efforts to “swipe-right” status and spark instant chemistry with your audience, here are a few of my tips inspired by my time on the front lines.

#1 – Looks are everything, which means visual and visually appealing content is an imperative.

In the app and online dating world, looks are everything when it comes to make a first impression. Profile pictures are your first glimpse into who your dating prospects are, and the more interesting and compelling, the more likely it is that I’ll stop and give the full profile my time. And, as you may have already guessed, the same can be said for your content when it comes to visual appeal.

If visual content isn’t a key component of your content marketing mix — from native or produced video on social to the actual structure of your content — it probably won’t do much to stop scrolling thumbs from passing over you. What kind of visual content am I talking about? A header image should always be included, but in today’s digital marketing landscape video, infographics, charts, tables, and even special formatting. Bulleted lists, article structure, broken up paragraphs, and other formatting elements give readers the impression that your content is easy to digest. A wall of text is a huge turnoff.

For images that really stand out, avoid using common stock photography — odds are, someone else has already used it for a similar topic, which rings a little too close to catfishing for my taste. Instead, go for sources that other brands avoid like Flickr’s creative commons, make your own custom image in Canva, or get out your smartphone and snap your own pic. Even better, if you have an in-house designer, take advantage of their talents to create something custom.

#2 – Your average pick-up line isn’t going to cut it on social media.

Nothing is more annoying than thinking you’ve found a good candidate only to find out their bio has a solitary ? emoji in it (this really happened, by the way). That does nothing to pull me in. Instead, it makes me immediately want to swipe left. (Is the thumbs up saying they’re a good person? Saying I’ll have a good time with them? Letting me know that they will only communicate in emojis? What does it mean?!)

Whether your audience enjoys longer form content or want you to keep it short and sweet, organic visibility is next to zero on Facebook these days, and Twitter and LinkedIn feeds move fast and have their own ways of prioritizing content.

At the most basic level, this means that perceived value, engaging messaging and visuals, proper hashtag usage, and authenticity are non-negotiables. Next, this means that paid social promotion is a new norm for achieving reach. And finally, influencers can provide a killer hook to capture attention and inspire action.

#3 – Cease and desist all SEO catfishing.

When it comes to online or app dating, catfishing is always a risk — which adds a level of skepticism in the minds of any single looking for love. If someone has a profile picture I’ve seen associated with a different name, comes across as fake, or is just crazy out of my league, I’m definitely not swiping right in an effort to avoid a catfish.

When it comes to infusing SEO into your content, the days of prioritizing the search engine above your audience are long gone. Not only are old-school tactics like keyword stuffing make for the most enticing or accurate read, you’re just asking for search engines to put a permenant swipe-left on all your content.

In addition, clickbait title tags and meta descriptions need to go to (this goes for any social promotion, too. Simply put, you need to be walk the line of honesty and intrigue with your audience, or else you’re no better than a catfish and you’re audience will bounce.

A great example of transparency and piquing interest comes from fellow TopRank Marketing employee Joshua Nite. He’s the king of injecting humor into his writing, which translates into his title meta content to pull people in from search (see picture below). Not only are his descriptions funny, but they’re also accurate to what’s on the page. And it works, too, because his posts have some of our highest organic traffic. In fact, his post, 20 Jokes Only a Marketer Could Love, had an average CTR of 11.42% in SERPs over the last 90 days.

#4 – Know your type to find perfect matches with digital advertising.

If someone’s a gym junkie, I’m swiping left. If someone’s a big football fan, I’m swiping right. Why is this? One’s my type and one isn’t. And knowing my type, I can widdle down my options and find a better match than if I was just playing a guessing game. If I give my own profile the same treatment, I can expect I am attracting a like-minded person.

Understanding who I want to attract and who I don’t, ensures that I am only receiving quality matches and gives me ammo to reach out to them with. This same practice should be applied to your paid social promotion where you can target specific audience segments with customized messages.

Before launching paid content promotion, you should know the audience segments you want to target using their job title, company size, age, location, values, and interests using your website analytics service. And if you have a Facebook Pixel on your site, you can discover even more helpful information about your audience and how to target them. Once those segments are defined, you can use solutions like LinkedIn Campaign Manager or Facebook Ads to target those individuals with personalized posts that are more relevant to them. Through targeted posts, you can feel confident that you’re attracting the right audience.

Entice the “Swipe”

When it comes to reaching, resonating, and captivating your audience, you know simply publishing a good piece of content isn’t enough. Like creating swipe-right-worthy profile, you need to go beyond a simple photo and one-sentence bio if you want to attract well-matched prospect.

Integrating a mix of interconnected tactics such as compelling visual content and content infrastructure, honest and intriguing SEO, smooth social promotion, and digital advertising that hones in on your perfect match, are key for enticing your audience.

Once you’ve gotten the “swipe,” what comes next? Captivate them with good conversation (aka: get them to stick around for all 800+ words.). For your best chance at retaining your audience, check out these pointers for consistently creating quality, engaging content.

9 Top Marketing Trends for 2018

Top Marketing Trends 2018

There is no question that 2017 was an incredible year for marketing.

What’s even better than a banner year is fresh optimism for the next. Predictions and trends for 2018 present even more opportunities for marketers that can see the signal amongst the noise.

As we continue to grow, I’ve been researching what trends are worth considering and investing in for B2B marketers. The result is the following list: Influencer Marketing, Content Experiences, Artificial Intelligence, Data, Video, Privacy Protection, Audience Development, Voice and Purpose Driven Marketing.

Influencer Marketing Grows Up

Within the realm of influence, there are big shifts towards engaging with microinfluencers, always on programs, greater accountability of influencer reach and effectiveness and an emphasis on measuring influencer marketing ROI. Marketers are also taking a more holistic view of who an influencer is, including customers, members of their community and employees.

Many marketers are shifting their focus away from big name influencers towards niche players and for good reason. Microinfluencers deliver 60% higher campaign engagement rates and those campaigns are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than those with influencers with larger followings.

Beyond niche industry influencers are the internal influencers to a company: employees. Companies are increasingly realizing the value of tapping this invaluable resource of credible influence. 90% of brands say they are either pursuing employee advocacy programs or have programs already active.

In 2018 we’ll see even more marketers transitioning from campaigns to always on engagements with influencers in a way that emphasizes mutual value. Influencers can build credibility by becoming ambassadors for the brand and the brand develops relationships with the influencer’s audience.

Ongoing engagements with influencers also help build a more authentic experience for the audience vs. one off campaigns promoting a specific product or service. Always on and ongoing influencer engagements with brands will pave the way for greater influencer marketing ROI. That said, those arrangements are only as strong as the relationships and as we all know, relationships are not automatic – they take time and investment.

Integrate Content Experiences with Influence

It is no longer enough to inform buyers, they want to feel something. Content experiences that are highly relevant, purposeful and engaging can come in many forms from video to interactive. All help engage customers intellectually and emotionally.

There is a strong connection between influencer marketing and content experiences. Amisha Ghandi, Head of Influencer Marketing at SAP (client) puts it best;

“Working with influencers to co-create content delivers mutual value. When that content is interactive, it creates an experience that is more engaging and inspires action.” @AmishaGandhi

With so many options for content, customers expect to be “info-tained” not just informed. Brands that can integrate trusted industry and internal experts with interactive and engaging content they are proud to be a part of, will be appreciated by contributing influencers just as much as they will be rewarded by customers.

Optimize with Artificial Intelligence

In a study by Smart Insights, AI and Machine Learning were rated the #3 marketing activity that will make the largest commercial impact on business in 2018.

Another study by Salesforce found that high-performing marketing teams are more than 2 times as likely to use AI in their campaigns than under-performers.

What are marketers doing with AI? Areas of focus with AI in marketing include advertising automation and optimization, chat bots for service and assisting in sales, and content personalization.

Bots for service are not new, but an increasing number of marketers are using chat apps and bots to engage customers during the sales process. In fact, 1.82 billion people worldwide are projected to use a chat app in 2018 and by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.

I don’t remember where I heard it first, but the saying “Marketers are data rich and insight poor” is more true today than ever.  Machine Learning and AI can help marketers make sense of all the “dark data” they’re sitting on as well as structured and unstructured data online to surface insights about ideal content, offers and even emotional triggers to inspire conversions.

Of course, marketers shouldn’t use AI to automate and optimize their marketing because they can, but because that’s what it will take to meet customer appetite for personalized experiences.  The increased competition for customer attention amidst the huge amount of media each consumer is confronted with each day requires every advantage to optimize for reach, engagement and conversion.

Data Informed and Inspired Marketing

Speaking of data, it has become clear that few successful marketing programs are not informed by data in ways that were not considered 10 years ago. While companies only analyze 12 percent of the data they have available, senior marketing executives are more informed about what is possible and taking action. Josh Mueller, SVP, Global Marketing at Dun & Bradstreet (client) puts it well:

“A data-inspired framework is absolutely essential for modern marketers. To implement this necessity, we’ve fully integrated our content and demand gen organizations, with shared editorial planning and KPIs across the entire customer journey. With these common insights, our teams have built a continuous feedback loop – from topic selection through performance – that ensures every piece of content we create has a purpose and is measured against that purpose.” @jmueller03

Rather than being limited to using historical campaign data to iterate future campaigns, companies are using evolved marketing automation, machine learning and dynamic personalization platforms to apply customer insights from their data to marketing in real-time. There’s a lot more of that to come in 2018.

Video Stars Are Everywhere

There’s been a substantial increase in demand and production of video by brands wishing to better engage with customers. What is catching marketers’ and customers’ attention most with video is live streaming through popular live video platforms including Facebook live, YouTube live, Instagram live, Twitter, and Periscope. According to Facebook’s stats, live videos get 3X the views than recorded videos. Video optimized for mobile experiences is also hot for marketers and customers. Mobile video ad spend alone will grow 49% to roughly $18 billion in 2018.

Everyone with a smartphone and apps is empowered to create, publish and promote video content. Video is not the plaything of B2C anymore either as more B2B companies invest in creating engaging stories through video and publishing them on LinkedIn. I think we’ll see a lot more creative video coming from B2B brands in the new year.

Privacy as Marketing and Good Business

With the increase in compromises to customer data, concern over privacy is something more marketers are tapping in to. Realizing that certain segments of customers care about privacy, some marketers are using it as a marketing attribute.

Another consideration for greater focus on privacy is the oncoming implementation of GDPR in Europe. Companies anywhere including the U.S. that market to citizens of Europe must comply or face potentially significant consequences. Compliance with GDPR requires changes in opt-in, communications and data handling that marketers must address and soon.

Not only is compliance good for customers, it is also a solid marketing message and good business.

Capture and Captivate Your Audience

Numerous studies show buyers don’t trust ads or brand communications as much as the people and sources “they know”. Brands that develop audiences and community by providing value not only create relevant context but also hedge against the increasing challenges around customer trust and privacy. Companies are also making progress towards growing their own audiences with content marketing vs. buying access to those audiences with ads.

As Robert Rose of Content Marketing Institute says,

The key trend that I’m seeing that will actually help content marketers move the needle will be a move to direct access to subscribed audiences – and the data they provide – as a means of building value for the practice of marketing. @Robert_Rose

Voice – Can You Hear Me Now?

Search queries are evolving from obscure sequences of words typed into search box on laptops to sentences either typed or spoken into a variety of devices.

In 2017 20 million units of smart speakers were sold. Voice assistants like Siri and smart speakers like Echo and Google Home are training customers to use voice in ways that marketers must adapt to. Voice accounts for 20% of searches and is expected to hit 50% by 2020.

Voice content in the form of podcasting is also seeing great growth: 68 million Americans listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. Marketers looking for ways to engage with customers in a more meaningful way are looking at podcasting as a way to do that.

Two of my favorite new podcasts are “Data Inspired” from Rishi Dave, CMO of Dun & Bradstreet (client) and the “CMO Moves” podcast by Nadine Dietz. I have no doubt many more brand and executive podcasts will launch in 2018.

Purpose and Profit

With over 80 million Millennials and over $1 trillion in spending power, consumers are increasingly factoring things like brand mission, values, and sustainability into their purchase decisions. A study by the Economist Group found that 79% of consumers prefer to purchase products from a company that operates with a social purpose. Companies must consider what their purpose means in terms of communications and marketing.

Defining purpose is an initiative we are undertaking within our own company and it’s not as easy to translate into marketing communications as you might think! But brand purpose resonates with modern buyers and more companies will be incorporating their purpose into how the brand is positioned and how they operate – including marketing.

Beyond all the tactics of chatbots, microinfluencers, livestreaming, optimizing for smart speakers and purpose driven marketing is the strategy that answers “why” and for “who”.  To inform marketing strategy, there is one universal truth for marketing: customer centricity. With a eye for optimization on customer preferences and behaviors, marketers will always have the right marketing mix.

How do you make sense of what trends to focus on? At our own company, we deliver “best answer” content marketing programs that integrate influencers, SEO, social, advertising, design and marketing performance optimization. Will optimization for voice search play a part in that mix? Sure. Do AI and machine learning have a role to play in optimizing search and social ad campaigns? How about using AI to surface insights about the best content to create and offers to make? Of course.

As a marketing agency it is tempting to chase shiny marketing objects to differentiate. To know what’s possible, we really have to. But we’re also focusing on customers and the core expertise that satisfies 95% of the performance expectations of our marketing programs. By being exceptional at very specific things consistently, we’ll be able to exceed expectations. We’ll also have room to experiment and find data that supports new and customer-centric areas for innovation.

2017 was also a record breaking year for our marketing agency, TopRank Marketing. We added 15 new amazingly talented staff and had the largest increase in client programs and new customer engagements than any year before. While we’ve seen much success with B2B influencer and content marketing programs, it is our focus on the intersection with data from SEO, social and analytics plus all new interactive design capabilities that has enabled great results and more opportunities.

What are the marketing trends you’re most focused on in 2018?