Happy Holidays from the Team at TopRank Marketing

It’s that time of year again, where here in Minnesota the snow is falling, the temperatures are dropping and hearts are warming with thankfulness and appreciation.

2017 has been a year of change, evolution and innovation for the digital marketing industry and at TopRank Marketing, we are incredibly grateful for the attention and trust that our community and clients and have put into our mutual success.

Few people ever reach a fraction of their true potential and we are dedicated to continue supporting and growing an environment where each of our clients, agency team and community can realize their true potential as marketers. As we evolve as marketing professionals, TopRank Marketing is also focused on helping the marketing industry community find clarity, confidence and purpose in the growing complexity of modern business.

There’s something magical about the holidays, but there’s no magic solution for actualizing as professionals. It takes hard work, smart work, flexibility, patience, determination, passion and most of all, teamwork. We are happy to be on that journey with our community!

Happy Holidays 2017

At TopRank Marketing I am proud to say that we have an incredible team of smart, creative and results focused professional marketers (who also have a great sense of humor!).

Along with an incredible portfolio of new clients, we’ve added 15 new team members in 2017 including designers, content strategists, search marketers, social media and influencer marketers, account management and senior management, each with minds full of optimism, ambition and talent. All of that energy is bringing us into 2018 with pride, momentum and the knowledge that we’ve barely scratched the surface of our individual and collective potential.

We are continuing to grow and hiring in many roles ranging from Account Management to Content Marketing to Digital Marketing Analyst. See our careers page for a full list.

We’ve learned many lessons in 2017 including that SEO, social media, content marketing and online advertising are not competitors to influencer marketing, but component pieces of a customer-centric, integrated approach that we call “A Best Answer Strategy”.

It has been very satisfying to see that many of our clients have evolved their marketing from core SEO, advertising and basic content creation engagements to more sophisticated and integrated “Best Answer” programs that incorporate research based strategy, data, interactive, creative, influence and more robust content and analytics. That trend toward data informed, integrated and creative content experiences will drive much of our solutions in the next 12 months.

Thank you to our readers for your trust and choosing TopRank Marketing as a source of expertise in your digital marketing journey. And most of all, thank you for being a part of our community!


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | Happy Holidays from the Team at TopRank Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Connecting the Dots from Data to Better Customer Experience

Right Message Wrong Time
I love how Tom Fishburne aka marketoonist always does a great job of showcasing marketing truths. While the focus for marketers to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time is nothing new, it’s also safe to say that we have a lot of work to do.

External Battery Charger SERP

For example, I was recently in the position of having to look for a new external battery charger. I seem to burn through these things like candy. A search on Google gave me relevant ads right on top. I clicked on a Best Buy ad and checked out the RAZORMAX Portable Power Bank.

raxormax portable power bank

It looked interesting enough and while I noticed reviews from the Best Buy site, I’m the kind of person that likes validation from 3rd party review sites. So I went back to search and looked for reviews.

portable charger review

I arrived on Tom’s Guide and what ad from Best Buy dominated the page reviewing the best portable chargers?

Best Buy 4K TV ad
An ad for Sony 4K TVs.

This seemed like a lost opportunity for Best Buy. I was hunting for something specific and leaving data trails, but the brand I was considering most wasn’t connecting those dots.

This is a scenario that extends across channels of course. As I am prone to do with tech purchases, I went to Facebook to ask my network essentially the same question I searched for on Google. I received a cornucopia of suggestions from my network of tech savvy connections. But what ads did I see?

Facebook ads

Purple mattresses and clothing ads featuring photos of guys that don’t really represent me or what I’m looking for. Of course if they were more like me, that would be scary. But I think you get the point. I was creating data crumbs of intent across channels and the dots were not being connected by the right brands when it came to my customer experience.

While brands are collecting more data than ever before, and have become more sophisticated at implementing effective campaigns on specific channels, there are disconnects in terms of meeting increasing expectations of consumers. Buyers don’t care how hard it is. They care about finding the best information that is relevant, meaningful and specific to them. Right time, right place and message.

The customer journey has evolved from what we’ve traditionally explained as a linear path (was it ever linear?) to something far more sophisticated across devices and channels. Customer expectations have evolved and are focused more on experiences as a differentiator. At the same time, the sheer volume of content being produced creates information overload.

Of course there’s no “one size fits all” customer journey, but the importance of mapping and matching content and media types to stages of the journey are more important than ever. The question is, how are brands understanding the context of these journeys to create relevant experiences?

Internet access is ubiquitous with over 50 billion connected devices expected by 2020. I’m sure some of the people reading this post are using multiple devices right now–a laptop, and phone for example. How are brands meeting the expectations of customers who have always on, everywhere access to information?

Competing with marketers’ good intentions for relevant and meaningful experiences across channels is the fact that on average, consumers in the US are consuming media for 12 hours and 7 minutes per day (eMarketer). That’s a paradox of choice at scale. At the same time, 70% of marketers are not using the insights they’re pulling from data because it’s too complex or difficult (Ensighten).

A lot of that difficulty comes from data fragmentation across tools, tactics and organizational silos. Today’s marketing mix includes more tactics than ever to meet consumers’ insatiable demands for information. Back in 2001 when Susan Misukanis started a Public Relations firm, PR and light content was it. Then we brought in SEO. And blogging. Online Advertising was added. Then Social Media, Content Marketing, Influencer Marketing and so on.

martech landscape 2017
The proliferation of marketing technology tools isn’t helping either. Infographics like the one above from Scott Brinker with over 5,000 martech tools and platforms can put marketers into shock– or “martech shock” as I like to call it. As for data, there are often silos between departments where each is creating unique data or even the same data in different contexts. Suffice it to say, data fragmentation is a problem.

So what is a solution? One of the universal truths that we’ve operated under at TopRank Marketing is about the power of information specific to customers’ that are actively searching for solutions. To be the best answer is a strategic approach to marketing that naturally empathizes with the customer journey to deliver the most relevant experiences at all the touchpoints that matter most for customers. Combined with cognitive solutions, a best answer strategy for marketing is something that can actually scale. A great start is a data-informed approach to content marketing that uses context and insights to create conversations with customers that are relevant, personalized and meaningful across channels.

You simply cannot create a best answer approach to marketing without customer insight. It’s important to ask key questions that empathize with the customer journey. Especially, “What experiences do your customers need on which channels in order to buy?” This is an essential question because when customers are seeking solutions, one of the most important jobs we have as marketers is to ensure that brand content is the best answer where ever customers are looking.

Understanding context and preferences for the customer information journey as it relates to how buyers discover solutions content is the key. Those insights about preferences for content types, topics and devices, and the triggers that motivate action, all combine to inform an effective best answer strategy.

hub spoke best answer

With those insights about content discovery, consumption preferences and triggers for action, marketers can use connected data to architect best answer content programs that are accountable to attracting the right customers, engaging them with meaningful experiences and inspiring them to take action and convert. Making sense of a best answer approach to marketing at scale means reflecting on the possible: What if you could make your marketing easier and more meaningful at the same time?

It’s been reported that customers can hit 17 touch points before they buy. Imagine if every single one those interactions delivered on your brand promise with meaningful personalization? How to be the best answer for customers with as many of those touchpoints as possible is one of the most important challenges for marketers as we move into 2018.

Ultimately, the information is there. The data is there. Customers are telling you what they want. The question is, how to connect those dots of data to understand and optimize customer experiences? Certainly, AI is part of a new era of marketing to answer that question. If you want to learn more about how AI, machine learning and cognitive solutions can help connect the dots of data for better customer experiences, keep reading.

Connecting Dots from Data to Experiences
I recorded a webinar with Michael Trapani, Product Marketing Leader at Watson Marketing on this topic where he dives a bit deeper into how marketers can connect their ecosystems with AI solutions. You can view that webinar here.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | Connecting the Dots from Data to Better Customer Experience | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

What you learn from talking with Google’s largest advertisers all day, every day

The world’s largest advertisers routinely visit the Google campus to talk strategy. Columnist Matt Lawson sits down with Google’s Chief Search Evangelist for some top insights from those meetings. The post What you learn from talking with Google’s largest advertisers all day, every day appeared…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

European press agencies push for licensing fees for their content from Google, Facebook

It remains to be seen whether European legislators and regulators will pick up the cause, but there’s a possibility that they will. The post European press agencies push for licensing fees for their content from Google, Facebook appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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Search Engine Land’s Community Corner: Dixon Jones retiring from Majestic, UK Search Awards winners & how to speak at SMX

Our weekly roundup of news, announcements and events happening throughout the search marketing industry. The post Search Engine Land’s Community Corner: Dixon Jones retiring from Majestic, UK Search Awards winners & how to speak at SMX appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Content Marketing Lessons from 4 Holiday Ad Fails

Making a great holiday ad should be simple. Start with a heartwarming message about love, peace, and goodwill. Add twinkling lights and evergreen trees and families getting warm by a fire. Then add your brand’s logo discreetly toward the bottom right. There you have it – a holiday ad that won’t offend, creep out, or annoy anyone.

It’s an easy formula, but one that a surprising number of brands mess up every year. Fortunately for us, they mess up in entertaining and educational ways. It’s almost easier to learn from a cautionary tale than a role model, so reveling in bad marketing can make you a better marketer.

These four holiday ads are certified disastrous, each in their own special way. And each has a lesson – or two – that marketers can use all year round. So prepare yourself for blasphemous meat products and yodeling cats: It’s time for some festive marketing fails.

1. Sour Sentiment from KFC

Last year, KFC created this music video, which is inexplicably three minutes long:

If you have better things to do with three minutes, the song is about how awful the holidays are, how people are annoying, how children are the absolute worst…but we can all come together because KFC is delicious.

KFC’s a notoriously “edgy” brand on social media, so it makes sense they would launch a sourball right at the heart of the holiday season. But this video leaves a worse aftertaste than their potato wedges do.

I believe comedy is great for marketing. But there are so many layers of irony and misanthropy here that it’s hard for the joke to breathe – by the time the gospel choir comes in, it’s impossible not to roll your eyes. And even if it made you chuckle all the way through, did it make you hungry for KFC?

My Content Marketing Takeaway: Humor is great for marketing. Irony less so. Snarkiness infinitely less so. Stick with humor that invites your audience into your tribe and makes them feel good.

2. Sainsbury’s Turns a War Story into a Commercial

On the complete opposite side of the irony spectrum, we have the absolute deadly earnestness of Sainsbury’s Christmas ad from 2016. After you watch the video, you’re invited to watch two different behind-the-scenes videos – they’re that proud:

The ad tells the true story of American and German troops in 1914 that called a cease-fire on Christmas Day. They sang songs together, celebrated the holiday, and then returned to trying to kill each other the next day (the video stops short of that last bit).

There’s nothing wrong with telling this story, and even nothing wrong with a brand telling it. But it’s still cringe-inducing to have that ad tagline and Sainsbury’s logo pop up at the end. It makes me feel manipulated by a brand, rather than entertained by a story.

My Content Marketing Takeaway: If your brand is approaching sensitive subject matter, keep the branding subtle. Let the content take center stage, and don’t turn a beautiful moment into a commercial.

3. Gregg Bakery’s Sausage Savior

British bakery chain Greggs stirred up controversy this year with their advent calendar announcement. The ad featured a nativity scene with a sausage roll in place of the baby Jesus. Not surprisingly, some Christians objected to the imagery. And some people thought it was hilarious. And the bakery apologized while not really apologizing.

Greggs picked up some free publicity from the stunt, of course. But none of that publicity had to do with their delicious pastries. And they’re getting eyerolls from folks who are tired of edgy brands courting controversy during the holidays. It’s a tired move.

My Content Marketing Takeaway: I’m all for drawing in your tribe, even to the extent of repelling those who aren’t your target audience, by leading with your brand’s values. Stirring up pointless controversy doesn’t tell anyone about your brand, and doesn’t make a meaningful distinction to your target audience.

4. Whatever This Is that Walmart Did

My words are my livelihood. My words are my only weapon against the world. But for this… I have no words. Just watch.

So. Yodeling cat in a Santa hat for 51 seconds: Walmart! Right?

The thing is, this ad made some kind of sense back in 2011, when it came out. It fits in with an animation trend from the late ‘00s. Today, it’s just ugly and off-putting. And, of course, even back in the day it didn’t have anything to do with Wal-Mart.

My Content Marketing Lesson: Make your marketing timeless rather than trendy, useful rather than “viral,” sensible instead of utter screaming nonsense.

Happy Holidays and Beyond

When holiday advertising works, it’s a fine example of what content marketing can be: Uplifting, entertaining, empathetic, even valuable. When too much snark, aggressive branding, pointless controversy, or cat-yodeling gets in the way – well – at least it can serve as a warning to the rest of us.

Are you already looking past the holidays to the New Year? Explore four emerging marketing channels for 2018.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | Content Marketing Lessons from 4 Holiday Ad Fails | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Content Marketing Lessons from 4 Holiday Ad Fails appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®