Why Search Agencies Should Embrace the Adjacency of Email Marketing

Posted by davidmihm

As someone who’s spent virtually his entire career in local search, I’m by no means an early proponent of email. But in my interactions at marketing conferences, studies of industry research, and social media conversations, I get the feeling that many of my peers are even further down the adoption curve than I’ve been.

With this post, I encourage you to take a hard look at email marketing for yourselves, or an even harder look if you’ve already done so. If you’ve focused exclusively on offering SEO and SEM services to clients in the past, I hope I’ll convince you that email should be a natural and profitable complement to those offerings.

And if you’re a local business reading this post, I hope many of these points convince you to take a look at email marketing yourselves!

Making the case for email

High ROI

With a return on investment (ROI) of 44:1, marketers consistently rate email as the top-performing channel. According to Campaign Monitor, that ROI has actually increased since 2015, and it’s particularly true for B2B companies. Despite the supposed unpopularity of email among millennials, it remains far and away the most-preferred channel by which to receive communication from a business.

Just plain cheap

The fact that email’s so cheap helps the denominator of that 44:1 stat a bunch. Mailchimp is free up to 2,000 subscribers, as are MailerLite and SendinBlue, and many other providers offer plans under $ 10/month depending on your number of subscribers.

It’s also cheap in terms of time cost. Unlike social media where daily or even hourly presence performs best, email allows you to duck in and duck out as you have time.

As far as the numerator, average open rates far exceed social media reach on most platforms. And even if they don’t open, ⅓ of people report purchasing based on an email they received from a brand (!). Search provides better purchase intent, but the top-of-mind awareness and referral potential from email is unmatched.

Makes other channels more effective

Gathering customer email addresses is essential for other critical forms of local business marketing already — you need an email address to ask for a review, build lookalike audiences, and make customer intelligence solutions like FullContact most effective.

Actually offering something of value, whether that’s a discount code, loyalty program, whitepaper, or newsletter subscription, increases the odds of earning that email address for all of those purposes.

Last best option?

Frankly, the number of organic digital channels available to small businesses is shrinking. Facebook’s latest announcement signals a tough road ahead there for businesses without the budget to Boost posts, and Google’s expansion of its Local Service Ad program to verticals and locales across the United States in the next couple of years seems inevitable to me. Now is the time to start building an email program as these monetization pressures intensify.

Why agencies should offer email

Your customers know it works.

Local businesses might be more aware of email’s potency than some of the agencies that are serving them. Email consistently rates among the top three marketing channels in industry surveys by the Local Search Association, StreetFight, Clutch, and more.

At the very least, email requires barely any client education. Unlike the black box of SEO or the complexity of PPC, by and large, small businesses inherently understand email marketing. They know they should be sending emails to their customers, but many of them just aren’t yet doing it, or are doing it poorly.

It’s a concrete deliverable.

Unlike so much of the behind-the-scenes work that leads to success in SEO, clients can actually see an email campaign delivered to their inbox, as well as the results of that campaign: every major Email Service Provider tracks opens and clicks by default.

It leverages existing offerings.

I already mentioned some of the ways that email marketing complements other channels above. But it can tie in even more closely to an agency’s existing content offering: many of you are already developing full content calendars, or at the very least social content.

<pitch>(For those clients whom you’re helping with social media, their newsletter can be built using Tidings with no additional effort on your part.)</pitch>

Building email into your client content strategy can help their content reach a deeper audience, and possibly even a different audience.

It’s predictable.

Though you could argue that the Gmail and Apple Mail interface configurations are algorithms of a kind, generally speaking, email marketing is not subject to wild algorithmic changes or inexplicable ranking fluctuations.

And unlike Google’s unrealistic link building axiom that great content will naturally attract inbound links, great content actually does naturally attract more subscribers and more customers as they receive forwarded emails.

You can expand it over time.

Unlike SEO for local businesses, which generally includes relatively easy wins up front and gets progressively harder to deliver the same value over time, email marketing offers numerous opportunities to expand the scope of your engagement with a client.

Beyond fulfilling the emails themselves, there are plenty of other email-related services to offer, including managing and optimizing list sign-up, welcome emails and drip campaigns, A/B testing subject lines and content, and ongoing customer intelligence.

Tactical ingredients for success with email

Use a reputable Email Service Provider.

Running an email marketing program through Gmail or Outlook is an easy way to get your primary address blacklisted. You also won’t have access to open rate or click rate, nor an easy way to automate signups onto specific lists or segments.

Be consistent.

Setting expectations for your subscribers and then following through on those expectations is a particularly important practice for email newsletters, but also holds true for explicitly commercial emails and automated emails.

You should be generally consistent with the day on which you send weekly specials, appointment reminders, or service follow-ups. Consistency helps form a habit among your subscribers.

Consistency also applies to branding. It’s fine to A/B test subject lines and content types over time, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot from a brand perspective by designing every email you send from scratch. Leave that kind of advanced development to big brands with full in-house email teams.

The other reason to be consistent is that designing for email is really, really difficult — a lesson I learned the hard way last year prior to launching Tidings. Complex email clients like Microsoft Outlook use their own markup languages to render emails, and older email clients can’t interpret a lot of modern HTML or CSS declarations.

Choose a mobile-first template.

Make sure your layout renders well on phones, since that’s where more than 2/3 of email gets opened. Two- or three-column layouts that force pinching and zooming on mobile devices are a no-no, and at this point, most subscribers are used to scrolling a bit to see content.

As long as your template reflects your brand accurately, the content of that layout is far more important than its design. Look no further than the simple email layouts chosen by some of the most successful companies in their respective industries, including Amazon, Kayak, and Fast Company.

Pick a layout that’s proven to work on phones and stick with it.

Include an email signup button or form prominently on your website.

It’s become a best practice to include social icons in the header and/or footer of your website. But there’s an obvious icon missing from so many sites!

An email icon should be the first one in the lineup, since it’s the channel where your audience is most likely to see your content.

Also consider using Privy or Mailmunch to embed a signup banner or popover on your website with minimal code.

The specific place of newsletters

Plenty of people way smarter than me are on the newsletter bandwagon (and joined it much earlier than I did). Moz has been sending a popular “Top 10” newsletter for years, Kick Point sends an excellent weekly synopsis, and StreetFight puts out a great daily roundup, just to name a few. As a subscriber, those companies are always top-of-mind for me as thought leaders with their fingers on the pulse of digital marketing.

But newsletters work far beyond the digital marketing industry, too.

Sam Dolnick, the man in charge of the New York Times’ digital initiatives, puts a lot of stock in newsletters as a cornerstone channel, calling them “a lo-fi way to form a deep relationship with readers.”

I love that description. I think of a newsletter as a more personalized social channel. In the ideal world it’s halfway between a 1:1 email and a broadcast on Facebook or Twitter.

Granted, a newsletter may not be right for every local business, and it’s far from the only kind of email marketing you should be doing. But it’s also one of the easiest ways to get started with email marketing, and as Sam Dolnick said, an easy-to-understand way to start building relationships with customers.

For more newsletter best practices, this ancient (1992!) article actually covers print newsletters but almost all of its advice applies equally well to digital versions!

A great option or a strategic imperative?

Facebook’s ongoing reduction in organic visibility, Google’s ongoing evolution of the local SERP, and the shift to voice search will combine to create an existential threat to agencies that serve smaller-budget local businesses over the next 2–3 years.

Agencies simply can’t charge the margin to place paid ads that they can charge for organic work, particularly as Google and Facebook do a better and better job of optimizing low-budget campaigns. More ads, more Knowledge Panels, and more voice searches mean fewer organic winners at Google than ever before (though because overall search volume won’t decline, the winners will win bigger than ever).

Basic SEO blocking-and-tackling such as site architecture, title tags, and citation building will always be important services, but their impact for local businesses has declined over the past decade, due to algorithmic sophistication, increased competition, and decreased organic real estate.

To grow or even maintain your client base, it’ll be critical for you as an agency to offer additional services that are just as effective and scalable as these techniques were a decade ago.

As a concrete, high-margin, high-ROI deliverable, email should be a centerpiece of those additional services. And if it just doesn’t feel like something you’re ready to take on right now, Tidings is happy to handle your referrals :D!

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New Year, New Outlook: TopRank Marketing’s 2018 Integrated Digital Marketing Predictions

The new year is barely underway and already we’re already seeing significant shifts in digital marketing.

Facebook recently announced their decision to favor friends over brands in news feeds and YouTube has tightened the reins on what channels can be monetized. And this is just within the first few weeks of the year.

Undoubtedly, digital marketing tactics like content marketing, SEO, paid, influencer marketing and social media will all face changes in the coming year. Some of which we’ll be able to predict, and some of which we won’t.

However, today’s best marketers know that individual marketing tactics do not stand alone. Which means that integrated, “best answer” digital marketing strategies will reign supreme. That is why instead of focusing our team’s predictions on how individual tactics will evolve in 2018, we’ve uncovered how the role of each tactic will change as part of the overall digital marketing mix.

The State of Digital Marketing in 2018

Lee Odden
CEO

As we head into the heart of Q1 2018, marketers are just as overwhelmed with tactics as buyers are with content. This paradox of choice at scale incurs costs that range from dissatisfied customers to ineffective marketing programs.

With increasing demands, fewer resources and greater complexity in marketing that now includes smart speakers, VR/AR, IoT, AI and all forms of disruptive technology, marketers are looking for the universal truths that will keep them on track and effective.

In my book, Optimize, I talked about a customer centric approach to digital marketing that emphasized search, social and content. The truths about how customers engage content to make decisions outlined then are equally true in 2018 and for nearly any kind of platform.

Those content truths are: discovery, consumption and action.

Discovery: Where do buyers look for solution information? What do they say to their Echo or Google Home device? What do they search for on their phone or tablet? What sources do they subscribe to for updates on their smart watch? Of course laptop, tablet and mobile search and social media behaviors are still relevant.

Consumption: What are your buyers’ preferences for engaging with the content they find? Do they read/watch/listen on the discovery platform or save/subscribe for later? Are there preferences for experiencing or interacting with content vs. simply read/watch/listen? Images vs. videos vs. audio vs. interactive on various devices is still relevant.

Action: What triggers will inspire action? Do buyers need content personalized on the fly or are they willing to exchange contact information to be fed personalized content? What will it take to motivate share, subscribe, inquire, transact or refer? All still relevant.

Marketers in tune with truths about how customers find, engage with and take action on information will reveal whatever technology, platform, media format and experience buyers need. As part of an ongoing effort to optimize marketing with a customer focus, these truths can help architect successful marketing programs in 2018 and for years to come.

Content Will Experience a Shift in Focus

Nick Nelson
Content Strategist

There’s a distinct movement taking place in content marketing, with the focus increasingly shifting from quantity to quality. With so much volume out there, it only makes sense to spend our time creating fewer assets that will truly stand out, as opposed to larger amounts of unremarkable material. Since content is already integrated with basically every aspect of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy (or should be at least), I foresee this change in mindset applying to every corner — social, paid media, lead nurturing, data analysis, and so forth.

The Impact of Artificial Intelligence

Ashley Zeckman
Director of Agency Marketing

For years marketers have been talking about the importance of customer experience. And for years, marketers have struggled to uncover the information that makes it possible to create a stellar customer experience.

The game changer in 2018? The emergence of Artificial Intelligence.

In 2017, AI finally began to become more mainstream which allowed platforms to begin harnessing its true power for marketing. In 2018, it will become essential that marketers use data collected by AI to make smarter marketing decisions that will allow them to personalize content, create more data informed social media marketing plans and better target SEO keywords.

SEO & UX Will Overlap

Joe Manier
Digital Advertising Manager

What does UX and good design have to do with SEO? Good UX keeps people on the page when they arrive to your site. The same holds true for good copywriting. It’s a one-two punch as people’s search process involves quick scans of copy and page design as they’re determining which result will best serve them.

This is all due to RankBrain, which has been around for a while, but it’s sinking in just how important it is being the 3rd most critical ranking signal. So in 2018, look for SEO to further overlap with UX teams and copywriters as they team up to boost the two main RankBrain components of page dwell time and SERP CTRs.

The Integration of Influencers & Sales

Rachel Miller
Influencer Marketing Manager

I think influencer relations will take on an increasingly bigger role affecting not just marketing but also sales and support. Partnering with the right people gives businesses unfiltered and holistic feedback that when combined with other key data points makes planning and decision making more effective. This increase in importance will require influencer marketing tools, tactics, and practitioners to bring nothing but their A-game.

Content Will Bolster Existing Relationships

Caitlin Burgess
Senior Content Marketing Manager

From compelling ad copy to best-answer blog posts to video on social media — content is the foundation of any digital marketing strategy. Period. And I think we can all agree that won’t change anytime soon. But one thing I see on the rise for content marketing in 2018 and beyond is a refocusing on developing content that aims to bolster and grow existing client/customer relationships.

We’ve all heard the stats on just how much it costs to acquire a new customer versus keeping an existing customer, but content marketing has largely been leveraged to move prospects through the funnel and get that first sale. I think it’s high time marketers developed more robust strategies to nurture after the first check clears. After all, more often than not, B2B and B2C companies alike are more than just one product or service offering—but many of your current customers and clients may not know just what you’re capable of. So, show them.

The Ad Viewing Experience Will Have to Improve

Stephen Slater
Senior SEO & Digital Advertising Manager

Ad blocker adoption grew 30% in 2016 (numbers for 2017 aren’t out yet, but I’m sure they will show continued adoption) and even browsers are getting in on the action.

So, instead of killing display ads as a whole, I predict that this desire to block ads is going to actually help the industry and drive display ad spend. Projections show that display ad spend should grow by about $ 5 billion in 2018.

Why would people spend all of that money on display ads that will possibly be blocked by their audience? Two reasons:

  1. Targeting is drastically improving. Programmatic targeting, account based targeting, interest and affinity targeting, and retargeting are all improving and driving more qualified impressions and clicks at a much lower CPC than search ads and most social platforms (for now).
  2. Display advertising placements have to/and will stop being so awful and intrusive. Publishers that offer ad space have to do better. If they don’t they run the risk of losing traffic. In January 2017, Google penalized sites that have “intrusive interstitial ads” and Google’s amp project is already shaking up ads on mobile devices. If publishers don’t comply they run the risk of losing traffic and losing ad revenue.

So what does this all mean? Even though users will attempt to block ads the CPC, targeting, and improved ad viewing experience will allow display ads to become a bigger piece of the digital marketing mix in 2018.

Content Will Fuel Digital Marketing

Anne Leuman
Copywriter

Content marketing, if it isn’t already, will be driving the digital marketing mix in 2018. After all, the foundation of the internet and the genesis of search were both inspired by content. With this in mind, each component or tactic within the digital marketing mix will need content behind it. This includes influencer marketing programs, social media campaigns, video, events, etc. and anything else you might be adding in the year ahead. Each piece of the mix needs content to fuel it.

Instead of asking how does our content fit in the mix, we’ll be asking how the mix supports our content.

The Combination of Influence & ABM Strategies

Amy Higgins
Strategic Account Manager

The root of influencer marketing is “influence”. You add marketing to the mix, and it leads to how can someone influence a person’s buyer behavior.

I believe that in the next year, we will begin to see that signal of influence move down the funnel and into ABM strategies. Currently, influencer marketing addresses mostly top of the funnel marketing initiatives. In order for this change to happen, marketers need to look at their influencers as extensions of their teams, more community based with deeper collaboration and strategies that benefit all sides of the equation — from the customer to the company, and to the influencer. Influencer marketers will begin to use community growth and acquisition strategies in order to see the largest benefit from their network of influencers. For example, influencer exclusive events influencer newsletters, and community forums are just a few of the tactics that marketers will use when approaching influencers. After all, influencer marketing is a two-way street.

Social Media Can’t Be an Afterthought

Debbie Friez
Influencer Marketing Strategist

First of all, if you don’t have social media as an integral part of your overall digital marketing mix, you need to start now.  You can no longer afford to make social media an afterthought.

Social media will share a place at the table with the other areas of the digital marketing mix.

  • Influencer Marketing. Everyone wants to do it, but to do it effectively, you need to interact with your influencers on social media. If you are jumping into influencer marketing, you will need to step-up your social media performance.
  • Lead Generation. Looking to increase conversion rates? More marketers will utilize Facebook and LinkedIn paid offerings for driving more leads. They have a key advantage, because people like to stay on their preferred social channels.
  • Content Marketing. Successful digital marketers will utilize social media in creative ways to drive traffic to their optimized content.  
  • SEO. Looking to really drive traffic to your website? Integrating social will be necessary to get the most from you overall strategy.

Getting noticed in the digital age can be hard. Social Media is consistently offering new ideas and avenues to stand-out. Let’s see what 2018 will bring us!

What Is Your Digital Marketing Prediction for 2018?

What each of these predictions tell us is that every digital marketing tactic is essential, and has its place. But we’re beyond the point in time where integration is a want, and is now a necessity.

Which of the digital marketing predictions above do you think will have the biggest impact on your 2018 marketing strategy? Tell us in the comments section below.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2018. | New Year, New Outlook: TopRank Marketing’s 2018 Integrated Digital Marketing Predictions | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Digital Marketing News: 2018 Creative Trends, Organic Facebook Dead, YouTube Tightens Up

Creative Trends 2018

2018 Creative Trends – Shutterstock’s data and creative teams analyzed their customers’ billions of searches for images, footage, and music search and download data to discover the biggest year-over-year increases. What are the top trends? Fantasy, New Minimalism, Space, Natural Luxury, and Punchy Pastels among others. – Shutterstock

‘Organic reach on Facebook is dead’: Advertisers expect price hikes after Facebook’s feed purge. If any brands haven’t already shifted their Facebook strategy entirely to paid, then they may have to soon. Facebook is changing its news feed to prioritize what friends and family share, which will reduce the amount of content that users see from brands and publishers. Open up those wallets folks! Digiday

One in three people—2.48 billion—worldwide used a social network in 2017 – Last year, 74.7% of mobile phone internet users worldwide used their device to access social media. Where are they spending their time you ask? In 2017 nearly 594 million people worldwide used Instagram. 62.2% of all social network users (1.54 billion), went on Facebook at least once a month in 2017.  eMarketer

Majority of Consumers Want Brands to Take a Stand on Social and Political Issues, According to New Study – Most consumers want brands to weigh in on social and political issues, according to a new survey by social media management and analytics company Sprout Social entitled “Championing Change in the Age of Social Media.” Two-thirds of consumers responded that it was either “Somewhat Important” or “Very Important” for brands to take a stand on social/political issues. AdWeek

Influencer Marketing Report – A few highlights: Influencer marketing ad spend is poised to reach between $ 5 billion and $ 10 billion in 2022. The average influencer engagement rate across industry verticals is 5.7% compared to 2-3% for brands. 40% of influencers believe that overly restrictive content guidelines are one of the biggest mistakes brands and agencies make when working with them.  Business Insider

Financial institutions have a growing interest in influencer marketing – Financial services institutions are known to shy away from social media due to strict industry regulations. But a growing number of consumer-facing banks, insurance companies and personal finance apps are looking to create promotional content with individuals with large followings on social media, in order to add personality to their brands and cater to the 18- to 34-year-old cohort. Digiday

Influencer Marketing Stats and Trends (Including Petfluencers) – Collective Bias compiled statistics from B2C influencer marketing research they conducted into an infographic featuring insights on both consumer and influencer behaviors. For example, 10% of 18-24 year olds are likely to purchase a product promoted by a famous pet influencer. 86% of influencers say Pinterest is the platform of choice for food ideas. MarketingProfs

CVS Vows to Stop Altering Beauty Images in Its Marketing – We couldn’t agree more: Starting in April, CVS Health Corp said it will stop “materially” altering the beauty imagery in its marketing materials that appear in its stores and on its websites and social media channels. CVS is also asking brand partners—including Revlon, L’Oréal and Johnson & Johnson—to join the effort. Wall Street Journal

TV drives search

Google Adds AMP Testing Tool to Search Results – Google has released its most significant update to the AMP testing tool since 2016. In addition to accessing the tool at its usual destination, you can also test AMPs directly in search results. Search Engine Journal

YouTube tightens rules around what channels can be monetized – Channels will need 4,000 hours of annual viewing time and over 1,000 subscribers to make the cut to make money on their video content.  The Verge

The Brand-Content Preferences of Different Age Groups – HubSpot surveyed over 3,000 consumers 18+ to understand which types of content consumers of various ages want to see more of from brands. Over 50% want to see more videos from their favorite brands. Only 22% of consumers age 18-24 value emails from brands they support, compared with 68% of consumers age 55+. This is highly useful insight if you want to optimize for content engagement and action. MarketingProfs

More Than 1 in 3 Millennials Would Like to Go Viral – However, overall, fewer than 1 in 5 American adults would like to become viral on social media or famous on the news for a short time, according to a recent YouGov survey. Also, men (57%) desired fame more than women (48%).   MarketingCharts

On the Lighter Side:

Blockchain Bandwagon

  • Blockchain Bandwagon by Tom Fishburne
  • Google’s Algorithm Says The World Is Flat – MediaPost
  • ‘Milkshake Duck’ is a dictionary’s 2017 word of the year, and damn right – Mashable

TopRank Marketing (And Clients) In the News:

Lee Odden – The Future, Presented by LinkedIn with Help from Top Marketing Thought Leaders [Videos] – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog
Lee Odden – What Does The Future Of CX Look Like? Here Are Some Of The Most Promising Predictions – Brian Solis Blog
Congratulations to our client Masterson Staffing
– Celebrating 50 Years in Business – Masterson Staffing Blog
Congratulations to our clients LinkedIn and SAP – Both were named as a “Best Software Company in 2018” by G2 Crowd

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

We’ll see you next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also, be sure to check out the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.


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7 Influencer Marketing Trends That Will Rule 2018

Influencer Marketing Trends 2018

Influencer Marketing Trends 2018 While influencer marketing boomed in 2017, it’s been on the rise for a full decade. In fact, we first posted about it in 2008 after we attended a session at SES San Jose on social media analysis and tracking. Ten years later and influencer marketing has evolved from a rising trend into a proven marketing strategy, causing more and more B2C and B2B companies to start influencer programs of their own. As influencer marketing has gained steam, it’s earned a more dedicated spot in the digital marketing mix and become more approachable in the eyes of marketers. As our own CEO Lee Odden, a longtime advocate for influencer marketing, regularly says:

Everyone is influential about something.”

But as marketers dive deeper into the influencer marketing waters, they wonder how the tide will change and ultimately force them in a different direction. Having executed influencer marketing programs for both B2B and B2C brands for the past several years, we’ve had a front row seat to the evolution of influencer marketing. To give you a glimpse into where influencer marketing is already heading and help you stay on top of your influencer game, here are seven influencer marketing trends that are taking over 2018.

#1 – Full steam ahead for influencer marketing programs.

We touched on it briefly earlier, but as influencer marketing becomes more approachable with tools like Onalytica, Traackr, BuzzSumo, and others, it will also become more popular. For 2018, this means that more and more brands will come online with influencer marketing programs, including both B2C and B2B brands. But what does this mean for your influencer marketing strategy? It means your competition could soon be doing their own influencer marketing campaigns, making it all the more important that your campaign sets itself apart from the rest. Through unique influencer relationships, helpful insights, and new media types, you could take your influencer campaign from “first” to “best.” Or both. Both is good. Read: 20 Inspiring & Actionable Influencer Marketing Tips for The Modern Marketer

#2 – Brands are looking to be bold, loud, and different.

With more B2B and B2C brands amping up their influencer marketing, brands are thinking of new and innovative ways to differentiate their campaigns. With great content serving as the foundation for any campaign, brands are hoping to stand out by offering unique, bold, and intuitive user experiences, generating an added level of excitement and further engaging audiences. To level up our own influencer marketing user experience, we created an interactive infographic featuring 15 quotes from digital marketing influencers to generate awareness of our agency prior to the Digital Marketing Summit in Minneapolis this past summer. This not only helped engagement with our audience, but it also helped us create something that our influencers were proud to contribute to and share. Interactive Influencer eBook Example

#3 – Brand focus on business results.

At the beginning of its time, influencer marketing was all about reach and awareness. By tapping into an influencer and leveraging that relationship, you could gain the ear of an entirely new audience. Multiply that affect with the number of influencers you work with, and you have a rapidly growing audience. Influencer marketing is no longer just about audience growth, though. Brands are and will turn to influencer programs to drive conversions and engagement, too. What will that look like? From our vantage point, you’ll see an influx of influencer and brand hosted webinars, live stream Q&A’s, endorsements, and other bottom of funnel influencer content. [bctt tweet=”#InfluencerMarketing is no longer just about audience growth – @aleuman4″ username=”toprank”]

#4 – Influencers turned brand ambassadors.

What’s one thing brands are missing when it comes to influencers and their relationships? Oftentimes, it’s exclusivity. Having an influential thought leader all to yourself is a promising premise as it means you are their sole partner in your industry. Well, brands are realizing that this opportunity exists and are getting ready to establish more long-term relationships with influencers. No longer seen as a one-off campaign strategy, brands will start to reach out to influencers for more long-term partnerships. This will result in influencers adopting the role of “brand ambassador” and serve almost as an extension of your internal marketing team. To do this within your own influencer programs, you need to develop your relationships with influencers instead of just reaching out when there’s a need. For example, you can create a VIP program or hub where your influencers can come together and collaborate, share ideas, and become a bigger part of your brand. With this continued nurturing and collaboration, influencers will become more like spokespeople, representing the brand at events, in videos, and through their own content. [bctt tweet=”#Influencers will adopt the role of brand ambassador and become an extension of your internal #marketing team – @aleuman4″ username=”toprank”]

#5 – Campaigns with more money, more capabilities.

Remember when we said that influencer marketing is popular, forcing brands to up their influencer marketing game? One surefire way brands can try and elevate their campaigns is through an increased influencer marketing budget. In fact, you can bet on it. In our Influencer 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing research report, 55% of marketers reported in that they plan to increase their influencer marketing budget in the coming year. With deeper pockets, brands can invest more into developing their influencer relationships and in creating more high-quality content. For example, brands have more freedom to offer gifts to their influencers in an effort to strengthen their relationships. Plus, an increased budget allows brands to create more “expensive” content like a video series, interactive eBooks, motion graphics, and more. Read: 5 Examples of Influencer Marketing in Action Across the Full Customer Journey

#6 – Influencers are being strategic with their own brand.

As the influencer marketing bandwagon continues to roll, influencers have the ability to be more strategic in aligning themselves with different B2B and B2C brands. With more brands approaching them for their contributions, they can be more thoughtful with the partners they choose to work with and how the partnership will help them grow their personal brand and network. Because of this, your programs will need to be custom-made for the influencers you want to work with. For example, one of our clients was looking to target C-suite leaders at law firms, which lead to the creation of a customized influencer eBook campaign that featured influencers in the legal profession, and delivered extremely thoughtful and relevant to our audience. Niche Influencer eBook Examaple If there isn’t a perfect fit or relevant value that you’re bringing to the table, your ideal influencers will move on to another brand that does. The influencer has the power of choice in this scenario, so make sure to research your influencers beforehand to create a campaign they can’t say “no” to.

#7 – Influence transcends platforms.

Now that influencer marketing programs are beginning to expand in size, budget, and tone, brands are also looking to expand their programs onto new platforms and channels. This helps extend the reach of their influencer marketing programs, enabling brands to engage new audiences that were otherwise lost to them. What kinds of channels are we talking about? Periscope, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, and others come to mind as it can be challenging for brands to build up audiences on them — especially if your brand voice is more sophisticated.

Become Influencer Marketing Royalty

As you head off to execute your influencer marketing programs using the trends above, take advantage of these top influencer marketing tools to track your influencer relationships, performance, and more.

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4 Top Trends in Customer Centricity to Drive Digital Marketing Success in 2018

Consumer Trends Marketers Need to Know

Ask any digital marketer if they’ve been able to set their strategy on autopilot over the past decade, and I bet you’ll get a laugh or two—as well as an emphatic “No.” If we’ve learned anything it’s that the digital landscape is simply too fast-changing to keep the business as usual mindset.

But while the global rise of the internet, the explosion of social media, and the development of mobile technologies and other digital tools and platforms are undoubtedly “to blame” for the constant state of change we operate in—it’s really the everyday use of these innovations that requires our flexibility and attention.

Simply put, thanks to these modern essentials, our behavior, expectations and attitudes as consumers have changed—and they’ll continue to. The mobility and network access enabled by mobile phones and tablets, coupled with the incredible amount of content now available (thanks content marketers), means consumers now have the majority stake in developing their own customer journey.

In fact, last year comScore reported that users spend an average of 69% of their media time on smartphones—and other research shows that the great majority of people use the internet and mobile technologies to research products before they buy.

But what’s the next stage of evolution in consumer behavior? And how can digital marketers adapt their strategies to fit with consumers want and expect?

Below we highlight some of the consumer trends that will have (and are already having) a big impact on digital and content marketing in 2018 and beyond.

#1 – Voice-activated personal assistance will continue to shape consumer behavior.

While voice-command technology began to emerge in the early part of the century, it’s taken on new life over the past couple years thanks to the emergence of mobile personal assistants, and the birth and increasing adoption of tools like Amazon Echo, Cortana and Google Home.

To put it simply, these voice-activated technologies just make life simpler. According to Think with Google’s research, the top reasons people turn to voice-activated speakers are:

  1. It allows them to more easily multitask.
  2. It enables them to do things faster than other devices.
  3. It empowers them to instantly get answers and information.
  4. It makes their daily routine easier.

What does this mean for brands and marketers? Google says their research also shows that people welcome brands to be part of their experience, and they’re open to receiving information that’s helpful and relevant to their lifestyle.

Think With Google Stats on Personal Assistants

Image Credit: Think with Google

As a result, brands and marketers have the opportunity to explore digital advertising opportunities in this arena. But, perhaps more immediately important, optimizing for voice search is critical.

According to Gartner predictions, 30% of all web browsing sessions will be done without a screen by 2020. Some voice search optimization tactics include focusing on featured snippets, using more conversational keywords and content structure, and adding structured data markup to help search engines better understand the context of the content you’re providing.

#2 – Consumers want to experience a brand, product or service before they buy—and video is the conduit.

I think it’s safe to say that video is no longer an emerging or rising marketing trend—it’s part of the now and the future. According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs’ 2018 content marketing benchmark reports, 72% of B2B marketers and 76% of B2C marketers use pre-produced video as part of their strategies.

It’s certainly not difficult to see why video has taken off. Humans are visual creatures by nature, and as the internet, social media and technology have evolved, consumers are spending an increasing amount of time in front of the screen—elevating video as a preferred engagement medium.

But a bit of change is in the air. Consumers don’t just want engagement these days. They’re also looking for an experience—especially when it comes to products they’re interested in.

According to other research by Think with Google, video is straight up changing how people shop. In fact, in the past year, 40% of YouTube users turned to the platform to learn more about a product before they purchased it. In addition, the watch time of “Shop with me” videos—where viewers actually follow video creators as they shop—has increased a whopping 1,000% over the past two years.

YouTube Research by Consumers Statistic

Image Credit: Think with Google

Essentially, consumers are going beyond third-party review sites and word-of-mouth referrals, and looking to video content to learn the good, the bad and the ugly about the products they’re pondering. This means it’s time for B2B and B2C brands alike to elevate the stories they tell using video. Here’s what Think with Google had to say:

“Since many users aren’t going to be able to physically touch a product before they buy it, brands need to come up with creative ways to help people ‘experience’ it online. Think of ways to bring your product to life online so it stands out—like using virtual reality or augmented reality—such as L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius app that lets users virtually try on makeup.

“There’s a whole community of creators testing and evaluating products, including yours. That means users will be validating any claims you make, so make sure your product can live up to them.”


Consumers are looking for an experience – especially when it comes to products they’re interested in. #digitalmarketing #videomarketing @CaitlinMBurgess
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Read: Report: What Marketers Need to Know About the ‘State of Video Marketing’

#3 – Consumers are growing more curious—as well as more impatient.

To say the least, 2017 was an interesting year socially, environmentally, and—of course—politically. As the year unfolded, it’s no surprise that people turned to the internet and search engines to get a better understanding of what’s happening in their communities, countries, and around the world.

From Google’s perspective, the wide world of search in 2017 also unveiled new consumer behaviors. In yet another recent Think with Google piece, 2017 saw a “new super-empowered consumer” take shape.

“We found that people are more curious, more demanding, and more impatient than ever before,” the article said. “We saw evidence of this throughout 2017, and it will be critical for marketers to understand these new behaviors as they move into 2018.”

Essentially, people are getting more specific than ever in their searches—and they expect and demand useful, relevant information quickly. The takeaway for marketers here is that long-tail search term variations will expand—and perhaps even become a new normal. As a result, there’s no better time to double-down on creating—what TopRank Marketing likes to call—best-answer content.

What does best-answer content look like? In a nutshell, best-answer content is:

  1. Addressed to a specific audience
  2. Addressed to a specific query
  3. Substantial
  4. Comprehensive, addressing complimentary queries and crosslinking
  5. Not blatantly promotional

As our CEO, Lee Odden, so eloquently once said: “Stop creating content. And start making answers.”

This should’ve always been part of a marketers mission, but it will be even more critical in the years to come as search and consumer preferences evolve.

In addition, use the data and insights at your fingertips (and pursue new sources) to get a deeper understanding of audience needs, wants and attitudes, develop more holistic consumer personas, and create content and messaging that is highly-personalized. Personalization will be key for meeting consumer demand and expectations.


Stop creating content. And start making answers. – @leeodden #contentmarketing #BeTheBestAnswer
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#4 – Distrust is at an all-time high—which calls for more transparency and authenticity in marketing.

We’ve know for a while that consumers are becoming increasingly weary of advertising and brand messaging. But over the past couple years, the general state of trust across the globe has “imploded.”

The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Survey—an annual trust and credibility survey—showed the largest-ever drop in trust across the world’s four major institutions: business, government, media and NGOs.

2017 Edelman Trust Barometer

In the Executive Summary, the opening note is actually titled “The Implosion of Trust,” and it cites major social, economic and political upheaval—and rising “fake news” speculation—as the unsurprising culprits. But the good news is that Edelman’s findings also show that business is the “last retaining wall” of trust.

As a result, it’s more important than ever for brands and marketers to commit themselves to transparency and authenticity in all that they do. From embracing both positive and critical consumer feedback on public forums and social media, to losing the jargon and developing a more human voice—transparency and authenticity need to be baked into your strategy, rather than being afterthoughts.

One way to add both value, authenticity and credibility to your marketing efforts will be through the use of influencers. Influencer marketing has exploded over the past couple years, and it’s not going anywhere in 2018. Regardless of the type of content, there’s always an opportunity to include credible voices and opinions that will touch and resonate with your audience.

Read: Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2017 Plus Thoughts on 2018

The Only Constant is Change

As you move forward in 2018, now is not the time to set and forget your digital marketing strategy. On the contrary, you need to be at the ready to make meaningful change.

The fact of the matter is that consumers are playing an increasingly powerful role in their buying journey—and brands and marketers need to embrace this if they’re going to survive and thrive into the future.

Content is at the core of every digital marketing strategy. What other trends do marketers need to be on the lookout for? Read Content Conversations: Content Marketing Predictions for 2018 featuring insights from Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, Chris Brogan, Alexandra Rynne, Tim Washer, Dayna Rothman, and Chris Moody.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2018. | 4 Top Trends in Customer Centricity to Drive Digital Marketing Success in 2018 | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Digital Marketing News: What Marketers Think about AI, Autonomous Stores & GSC Adds Data

Infographic: What Marketers Really Think About Artificial Intelligence A new infographic shows 47% of marketers consider artificial intelligence (AI) to be over-hyped. In addition, 43% of marketers believe vendors overpromise and underdeliver when it comes to AI. AdWeek Can Autonomous Stores Catch On? Brick-and-mortar stores are testing out an automation model, functionally converting their stores to vending machines. These may increase convenience and service levels for some customers, but many remain doubtful that this will take off in a big way. MarTech Today Google Search Console Adds 16 Months of Data Can I get a heck yes?! Google has confirmed that Google Search Console will now be able to show 16 months of data versus the typical 90 days. This is currently available in their beta version for some users, with a larger rollout pending. The SEM Post The State of Video Marketing: Distribution, Topic, and Budget Trends Marketers are saying that social media brings them the highest ROI for digital video distribution, followed by email. In addition, 50% of respondents are transferring budgets from traditional media budgets to finance digital video and 37% are reallocating budgets from digital media. MarketingProfs Hulu Hits $ 1 Billion Ad Milestone In 2017, Hulu hit a record for video advertising revenue at $ 1 billion. They also saw a 40% rise in subscribers year-over-year in 2017 for video-on-demand and Live TV products. MediaPost Self-Driving Cars Have Landed at #CES2018, and Marketers Really Need to Pay Attention Self-driving cars are more than just a surreal future world pipe dream — they’re well on their way to becoming a real disruption to our typical interactions with transportation. Aside from the daily interaction, self-driving cars can also serve as a site for real-time marketing communications. HubSpot Forrester: Mobile will drive 69% of search ad growth by 2022 Mobile Marketer reports: “Mobile phones will drive most of the expansion in paid search ad spending, contributing an estimated 69% of the $ 19 billion in growth by 2022, according to Forrester research.” Mobile Marketer How Marketers Are Turning Your Car Into a Branded Experience Talking to your car isn’t as strange of a thought as it once was. But marketers and tech platforms are toying with the idea of taking this to the next level — providing helpful, timely information to consumers on-the-go. AdWeek Why Brands Will Go To Extremes — Lengthwise — With Digital Video In 2018 Marketing Dive reports: “In 2017, marketers spent 2x as much on online video than they did on TV ads. While standard 30-second ads aren’t going away, brands are increasingly experimenting with a wide array of video formats that push extremes length-wise.” Marketing Dive Google Is Sunsetting Adwords Review Extensions Next month, Google will be removing the text ad extensions that allow advertisers to highlight 3rd-party reviews within their ads. If you have used these extensions and want to keep the data, export it in AdWords this month. Search Engine Land New Data Reveals It’s Time to Change Your Headline Strategy New research from Buzzsumo revealed some surprising insights about headlines that play best on Facebook — including which word combinations get the most engagement, and which to avoid. Social Media Today On the Lighter Side: M&M’s debuts touchdown dance contest for Super Bowl – Mobile Marketer Billy Mann Discusses Video Humor as a Tool for Marketing – Small Biz Trends TopRank Marketing In the News: Debbie Friez – 2018 Digital Marketing Trends From 20+ Marketing Experts – Hot in Social Media Josh Nite – Annual Content Planning: How To Kickstart Filling Your Editorial Calendar – HeidiCohen.com Lee Odden – What’s Trending: Bring It On, 2018 – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Lee Odden – Social Media Experts and Influencers, to Follow in 2018 – SocialChamp Lee Odden – 5 Expert Tips To Refine Your Content Marketing Strategy For 2018 – Marketing Insider Group Lee Odden – Meet the Top 21 B2B Influencers to Watch in 2018 – B2B News Network Lee Odden – How To Research and Create Evergreen Content – BuzzSumo What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week? We’ll see you next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also check out the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Content Marketing Evolution: 5 Major Content Marketing Trends for 2018

Content Marketing Trends 2018

Do you remember upgrading from an old square TV to a high-definition model? It was an amazing leap forward in the viewing experience.

Then came 3D televisions…and no one really cared. Then even bigger screens, then curved displays, OLED, smart TVs, 3D and 4k. None of these advances have really fired up the imagination of the TV-buying public. These incremental improvements just aren’t compelling enough to inspire me to upgrade.

The same thing happened with smartphones. The iPhone’s touchscreen-only design was revolutionary, and now every modern phone is a sleek rectangle. Since then, it’s been incremental change and vanity features. I can unlock this phone with my face instead of my fingerprint? And I can turn into an animated dancing unicorn? Yawn.

Content marketing had its watershed moment a decade ago, marking a monumental shift in the way marketing works. Hard selling and SEO trickery gave way to relationship-building and bringing real value to customers. Since then, we’ve been refining the formula. We’ve added new gimmicks and made small adjustments. But marketers are long overdue for a new paradigm shift.

When you’re watching content marketing trends for this year, look deeper than the marketing equivalent of 4k and curved displays. Look for the quiet revolution that is starting to take hold—look for the fundamental changes in the way we approach content.

Here are my picks for the next major movements in content marketing.

#1 – Long-Form Content

As I’ve said before, content is moving beyond the 500-word blog post. Consumers and B2B buyers simply want more depth and value than short content can provide. Even if your 500-word post does attract significant traffic, it has an inherently short life span.

Orbitmedia’s yearly blogging survey shows that the most successful bloggers are spending more time creating longer posts. The average length of a typical blog post has risen from 808 in 2014 to 1,142 in 2017.

These longer posts are attracting more audience attention. The percentage of bloggers reporting “strong results” goes up steadily with the average word count of their posts:

Average Length of Long-Form Content

While short blog posts still can serve a marketing purpose — attracting subscribers, promoting thought leadership — the most successful will re-evaluate short-form content as the basic unit of content marketing. Ungated long-form content is vital to meeting audience expectations.

#2 – Consistency & Quality over Quantity

As marketers shift from short-form to long-form content, it’s going to get harder to maintain a daily (or multiple times daily) publishing cadence. Daily publishing has been the table stakes for blog content for years, but there’s untapped value in slowing the cadence. You know the drill: The amount of content keeps increasing, while people’s time to invest in content stays the same. If you’re challenged to keep up your daily cadence, odds are your audience is, too.

Our clients at LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions EMEA dropped to 2-3 long-form posts a week last year, and have seen their readership continue to rise. The shift inspired our blogging team to try the same experiment on the TopRank Marketing Blog in 2018. More value, less content, delivered consistently — it’s a paradigm shift from “post daily, however much you can, even if it’s 300 words.”

#3 – Influencer Marketing Ecosystems

At the least sophisticated level, influencer marketing is essentially celebrity endorsement. You pay the influencer, they promote your brand, and the relationship ends as soon as the check clears. 2017 may be remembered as the year the influencer bubble burst, as the payouts grew astronomically and high-profile influencers proved problematic.

We published Influence 2.0 in January of last year to help marketers reach the next stage of influencer marketing maturity. Sustainable influencer marketing is relationship-based, co-creation based, and provides mutual value for influencers, marketers, and audiences.

The ultimate goal is to move beyond one-off collaboration with individual influencers. It’s about creating and nurturing a community of influencers, all of whom are aware of each other’s work with the brand. This influencer ecosystem takes relationship-building to the next level, and can result in a steady stream of great content.

Check out our top influencer marketing posts of 2017, as well as more insights from Lee Odden on what’s coming in 2018.

#4 – A New Focus on ROI & Attribution

As the functions of sales and marketing increasingly overlap, marketers need to get serious about proving ROI. We’re in the revenue business just as much as our partners on the sales side, and everything we do should have measurement built in. Yes, even top-of-funnel content meant to generate awareness. Do you know the value of a visitor to your website, a subscriber to your blog, or a filled-out landing page form?

If you don’t have clear answers to the above questions, you’re not alone. According to CMI and MarketingProfs’ annual content marketing benchmarks, only 35% of marketers can accurately measure ROI. Even in the top performers, only 55% are measuring ROI consistently.

In 2018, content marketers who can properly attribute ROI and prove the value of their efforts will be more successful. So it’s time to nail down the value of your content marketing, measure it, optimize it, and give dollars-and-cents reports to the C-suite.

#5 – Strange New Formats

I used to hate the phrase “consuming content.” Okay, so I sort of still do. But my loathing for that phrase may be short-sighted. It seems simpler to say, “reading content,” but that’s still thinking in terms of print, blog posts, eBooks and infographics. Our definition of what constitutes content has already moved beyond these forms, and is going to change radically in the coming years.

Video content production soared in 2017, as marketers figured out how to cheaply produce video and we began dipping a toe into livestreaming as well. In 2018, we can expect to see more video and more strategic use of live video. Audio content is on the rise, too: Podcasts are still surging in popularity and showing no signs of slowdown. And interactive content is getting easier, too — it’s simpler to make increasingly cooler end products.

But the definition of content is about to get even wider. Chatbots will need compelling writing to bring them to life. Amazon Echo and Google Home are new platforms for completely novel types of content, such as the American Heart Association’s CPR instructions and Neil Patel’s Marketing School. Augmented reality is coming to the masses, offering new ways to tell stories and engage an audience.

The Next Evolution

Content marketing is long overdue for a radical redesign, and all signs indicate the next evolution is already in progress. What content is, what forms it can take, how we amplify and measure it — these fundamental aspects of the discipline are all up for debate. It’s up to all of us to stay flexible, stay up-to-date, and most importantly, keep listening for what our audience says they need.

What do other marketers have to say about content marketing in 2018? Read Content Conversations: Content Marketing Predictions for 2018 featuring insights from Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, Chris Brogan, Alexandra Rynne, Tim Washer, Dayna Rothman, and Chris Moody.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2018. | Content Marketing Evolution: 5 Major Content Marketing Trends for 2018 | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Digital Marketing News: The Visual Internet, Influencer Marketing Trends, Sneaky Ads

How to Keep Up With the Rise of the Visual Internet [Infographic] Online media is increasingly visual — from personal photos to branded motion graphics, gif and videos. How can you keep up with the rising need for visual content? This infographic shares tips to help you stay on top of the trend and keep your viewers engaged. MarketingProfs 10 Million People Used Facebook Live on New Year’s Eve It probably won’t come as a shock that, for most, the tradition of cozying up around an antennaed TV to watch the ball drop on NYE is behind us. Because in front of us — right in front of our faces — is Facebook Live. Ringing in 2018, Facebook Live topped their activity from the previous year’s NYE festivities, with people sharing 47% more live videos than last year.  Facebook Media Google’s Rich Results Tool Allows for Testing of Structured Data Google has a way of defining things (“Conversions” for instance) and now, they’ve defined Rich Results. “Rich Results” has been coined as a phrase to refer to rich snippets, rich cards and other “rich” additions to a website’s content. And Google’s new tool will test for all types of structured data that can be shown as rich results, pulling from sources including JSON-LD, Microdata and RDFa. The tool currently works for recipes, jobs, movies and courses, and Google plans to expand to more data types. Search Engine Journal Top Influencer Marketing Trends & Challenges of 2018 Of the influencer marketers surveyed by Linqia, 76% predict that their top challenge in 2018 will be determining the ROI of their influencer marketing programs. In addition, 52% of those same influencer marketers plan to adopt the trend of running influencer marketing programs that leverage multiple types of influencers, and 44% will use influencer content to improve the performance of other channels. MarketingProfs What Millennials Are Killing Now, And 24 Other Insights We Can Glean by Analyzing Tweets 6,000 tweets are posted every second, and anybody who’s stayed up past bedtime scrolling through the Twitterverse can attest that, yes, it can all add up to a LOT of noise. But each tweet is also a piece of data. Brandwatch has analyzed billions of those tweets, which they refer to as “live human thought,” and answered some of our most burning questions: Who was the most talked about character in Game of Thrones Season 7? Does Starbucks spell my name wrong on purpose? Brandwatch 2018 Will Be the Year Chatbot Conversations Get Real AT&T recently revealed plans to roll out a “mobile 5G” network in a dozen markets by the close of 2018. The company indicated that the network would bring 5G service to everything from mobile and VR to car AI and home TV. Not to be left out, Verizon, Sprint and T-mobile are all working towards 5G as well — all with nuanced approaches.  VentureBeat On Facebook, Viral Reach for Branded-Content Ads Eclipses Standard Ads New research from Shareablee shows that branded-content ads get twice as many organic or earned impressions as they do paid impressions on Facebook. Organic impressions for the average Facebook ad make up less that 10% of impressions from paid promotion. Creating shareable content that performs well organically — with a little help from paid promotion  is proving to be a winning combination. MarketingLand One In Ten Publishers Say They’re Not Labeling Native Advertising Two new studies from the Native Advertising Institute show that about 10% of news and magazine publishers aren’t properly labeling their online native advertising. These publishers largely cited “meeting budget demands” as their reason for doing so, even though 25% say this practice is one of the biggest threats they see to native advertising. MediaPost Snapchat May Force Users To Watch Three Seconds Of Ads Before Skipping To help increase their perceived value in the market, Snapchat is considering making their ads skippable only after the first three minutes. Currently, Snapchat users skip ads within the first second of viewing, where the industry standard for a successful ad lies around the two second mark. AdAge Six Surprising Facts About the Way We Spend Our Time with Media Believe it or not, in a world where we’re continually surrounded by media, some stats about its use can still surprise us. For example, U.S. adults spend more time listening to on-air radio than they do on social networks. eMarketer 2018 Will Be A Pivotal Year For Facebook’s Video Ambitions Mark Zuckerberg has recently proclaimed that he sees video as a “megatrend.” True to form, this trend has caused Facebook to act by placing video first across the Facebook group of apps. The platform has upped their investment in video already, but it plans to invest an additional billion dollars in 2018. Digiday On the Lighter Side: The Real Story Behind Steak-umm’s Delightfully Weird Twitter Account – AdWeek Sneaky Ads: In China, the Characters From the Show Appear in the Commercials, Too – Ad Age TopRank Marketing In The News: TopRank Marketing Blog – 109 Content Marketing Blogs to Watch in 2018 (Broken Down By Category) – SnapApp Caitlin Burgess – The Trendiest Marketing Content of 2017 – LinkedIn Lee Odden – The Most Impactful Tips from the Biggest Marketing Minds of 2017 – LeadMD Amy Higgins – A Year of Great Content in Review: 19 Best Pieces by Prowly Magazine Contributors in 2017 – Prowly Lee Odden – Lee Odden to Keynote Pubcon Florida 2018 – PubCon What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week? We’ll be back next week with more digital marketing news! Have something to share in the meantime? Tweet us @toprank or drop me a line @Tiffani_Allen.

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Search marketing to enjoy ‘late-stage renaissance,’ according to analyst firm

Privacy, brand safety and other factors will make paid search even more attractive to marketers going forward, according to Forrester Research. The post Search marketing to enjoy ‘late-stage renaissance,’ according to analyst firm 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

Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2017 Plus Thoughts on 2018

Top Influencer Marketing Posts

This year demonstrated an explosion of interest in influencer marketing bringing with it a sharp increase in attention as well as implementation successes and failures.

The mixed bag of advice for any shiny new object of marketing attention like working with influencers brings uncertainties, especially with rapid innovation, increased competition and self serving “influencer marketing experts” popping up on every digital corner.

As long time influencer content marketing practitioners, my team at TopRank Marketing has to anticipate the key questions marketers have around influencer marketing. Not only do we understand the questions, but we have delivered many of the answers in over 40 posts on the topic including B2B influencer marketing strategy, technology, influencer research and recruiting, influencer content collaboration, integration with SEO and social, influencer content promotion and performance measurement.

Working with influencers on content collaboration is something we do every day and not just for clients, but for ourselves. As a result, designing influencer content collaboration programs has become central to our B2B marketing solutions, right along with SEO, online advertising and CRO.

A BIG thanks to Ashley Zeckman, Josh Nite and Caitlin Burgess for their work on advocating best practices through their blog posts on this relatively new field for the B2B marketing industry.

Through actual experience, experiments and research, our team has advanced our approach to influencer marketing strategy, process, use of technology, measurement and best practices significantly over the past 5 years. In particular, the past 12 months has been like an accelerated Masters Degree as we’ve implemented programs for multiple Fortune 500 companies that were integrated with content marketing, SEO, social media and online advertising.

To help you ask and answer some of the important questions around influencer marketing for 2018, here’s a collection of some of our most popular blog posts on the topic.

Most popular influencer marketing posts in 2017:

influencer marketing 2.0
Influence 2.0 – The Future of Influencer Marketing Research Report 2017 – Lee Odden
To help marketers understand the major trends in influencer marketing, we partnered with influencer marketing platform Traackr to connect with enterprise level marketers and tap their experiences with influencer marketing budgeting, operations, and forecasts for the future. Brian Solis of Altimeter translated that research into an excellent guide called Influence 2.0.

Future Marketing Influential
5 Essential Insights on Influence and the Future of Customer Engagement – Lee Odden
This post distills the key messages from the Influence 2.0 report focusing on influencer marketing maturity, impact, goals, digital transformation, and integration. Expert quotes are also provided by Amanda Duncan of Microsoft, Dr. Konstanze Alex-Brown of Dell (client) and Amisha Gandhi of SAP (client).


20 Inspiring & Actionable Influencer Marketing Tips for The Modern Marketer – Ashley Zeckman
Strategy is great but most readers want tactics. That’s why this post focusing on 20 specific and actionable tips ranging from how to find influencers to how to recruit them to how to inspire them to promote the content your brand and the influencer collaborated on.


6 Influencer Marketing Lessons Marketers Can Learn from Journalists – Caitlin Burgess
In this post Caitlin draws on her experience as a Journalist to showcase the parallels to working with influencers. The advice in this post is very actionable and steps outside the usual list of tips for influencer engagement and collaboration.


Influencer Marketing: The Next Evolution – Josh Nite
This post is a liveblog by Josh of my presentation at Social Media Marketing World where I talked about what NOT to do as well as insights around the state of influencer marketing funding, the differences between B2C and B2B influencer marketing, what goals are possible when working with influencers and what areas of business are most impacted by influencer marketing.


2017 Trends for CMOs: Ignite Content Performance with Influencers – Lee Odden
As a hot topic that is also challenging for marketers to implement consistently with impact, content marketing is an area where many CMOs are looking for improvement. Enter the intersection of content and influence. This post outlines three fundamental influencer content engagement models to help senior marketing executives understand where they can have the most impact.

B2B Influencer Marketing Catch Up
B2B Marketers Are Way Behind on Influencer Marketing and Here’s the Solution – Lee Odden
One of the key insights from the Influence 2.0 study we did with Traackr and Brian Solis was the disconnect between B2B and B2C influencer marketing integration and maturity. This post outlines steps for B2B marketers to take so they can close that gap and realize the incredible potential of ongoing, integrated influencer marketing programs.

No BS Influencer Marketing
The No BS Approach to Influencer Marketing – Lee Odden
When Ann Handley asks you to do a webinar about influencer marketing for MarketingProfs, you say yes! This post outlines some of the BIG B.S. that’s being promoted around influencer marketing as well as best practices and advice based in actual experience and practice. When it comes to B2B influencer marketing, watch where you step.

Unlock Influencer Marketing ROI
The Key To Unlocking the ROI of Enterprise Influencer Marketing – Lee Odden
One of the benefits of writing for CMO.com is cross posting those articles to our own blog. This article outlines some of the strategic findings from the Influence 2.0 report we produced with Traackr and Brian Solis. Nothing gets a CMOs attention like a clear cut explanation around ROI. This post pulls out the ROI discussion from the Influence 2.0 report and highlights key insights.


Cracking the Code: 3 Steps to Building Influence with Content Marketing – Ashley Zeckman
For any company, big or small, that wants to create immediate value from working with influencers, the answer is almost always content. This post is a guidebook for a customer-focused approach to content that emphasizes collaboration with industry influencers and how to build promotable content. This post includes many of the influencer content best practices we use for our own influencer content projects at TopRank Marketing.

You many be interested to know that our overall most popular posts around influencer marketing were actually lists of influencers. Much effort is put into these types of posts and our community clearly finds them useful.

  • New 2017 List: 50 Social Media Marketing Influencers 6,2oo social shares
  • 50 Women Who Are Top Content Marketing Influencers & Speakers 2017 5,500 social shares
  • 25 Women Who Rock at Digital Marketing 5,100 social shares (in 4 days!)
  • 20 Talented Brand Marketers to Follow on LinkedIn 4,900 social shares
  • 50 Top B2B Marketing Influencers 2017 1,700 social shares

As trends go, influencer marketing or “influence marketing” isn’t going anywhere in 2018. The practice of influence in the marketing mix is only going to grow, mature and integrate. Some of the upcoming trends and changes to look forward to with influencer marketing in the coming year include:

  • Influencer marketing platform consolidation
  • Paid influencer marketplace(s) for B2B influencers
  • Increasing use of AI to improve qualitative insights about influencers, communities & forecasting performance
  • Increased platform level integration between influence platforms, content platforms and hopefully SEO data
  • Much better process and capability amongst sophisticated practitioners to tie influencer engagement with KPIs across the buyer journey including ROI
  • Growth of participation marketing – democratization of marketing content through a combination of employee advocacy, social community management, audience development, and working with internal/external influencers across the spectrum
  • Tighter guidelines from the FTC
  • Y2K level hysteria and subsequent underwhelming impact from GDPR compliance in the EU
  • More opportunists jumping on the bandwagon of influencer marketplaces with suspect popularity

For any kind of content a business creates and publishes to the world, there is an opportunity for collaboration with credible voices that have active networks interested in what those voices have to say. In many cases, far more interested than in what the brand has to say.  Greater and more relevant attention and engagement are core to the value brands can realize with ongoing influencer engagement.

What we need in the influencer marketing world is for the hype to give way to more examples of what actually works in terms of influencer engagement strategies, identification, communications, promotions and measurement. There’s not enough “walk the talk” amongst prominent voices, especially when it comes to best practices ongoing influencer relationship management.

Another major need is for faster and more qualitative tech innovation amongst the influencer marketing platforms. I for one would love to see AI used to connect the dots between public community and influencer social data and a brand’s dark data, web analytics, advertising and PR metrics to surface more effective prompts to engage influencers / communities in ways that will deliver on business results.

Influencer marketing platforms need to integrate with content marketing platforms to make workflow and influencer collaboration one with influencer CRM and reporting.  There is no greater intersection than content and influence (confluence) for brands to realize the value of influencer relationships in a way that delivers impact to the business. Platform integration will help make that combination even more powerful and scalable.

When it comes to influencer marketing and 2018, we are just getting started!

A HUGE THANK YOU to some of our top marketing and technology industry influencers that we’ve worked with in 2017!

  • Tamara McCleary
  • Shep Hyken

As we kick off 2018, the team at TopRank Marketing wishes you a very Happy New Year!


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2018. | Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2017 Plus Thoughts on 2018 | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®