Digital Marketing News: Predictive Analytics, Blockchain and Email Marketing Industry Report

Predictive Analytics: Predicting Customer Behavior to Improve ROI As marketers, we’re always trying to stay ahead of the curve. But, does that curve factor in what customers or clients are looking for? This infographic shows us how predictive analytics can help do just that. Business 2 Community IAB sets up Blockchain Working Group for advertising Does blockchain have a place in marketing? According to recent reports, blockchain is no longer only for those trading bitcoin, it can provide a highly secure and transparent way to manage funds. MarketingLand 2017 Email Marketing Industry Report Marketers are feeling overwhelmed. They don’t have the resources needed to do the marketing they’d like to do. This is evident in email marketing particularly because many marketers surveyed say email marketing drives ROI but it’s not integrated with their marketing strategy overall. Digital Marketing Depot [REPORT] The State of Social Video 2017: Marketing in a Video-First World “According to Cisco, video will make up 80% of consumer online traffic by 2020, and Mark Zuckerberg said he sees video ‘as a mega trend on the same order as mobile.’ Animoto set out to shed light on the video-first landscape.” Animoto Apple’s New Animojis Are the Latest Sign That Brands Need to Embrace Augmented Reality Tailing on the news of the release of Apple’s new iPhones, there is an exciting new development. What happens when you mix artificial intelligence and a leading technology company? You get, animojis! Apple’s version of the Snapchat’s Lens, this feature enables brands to connect with younger audiences in a meaningful way. AdWeek Email Marketing To Total $ 22.2 Billion In 2025: Study MediaPost reports: “The total dollar volume of email marketing will hit roughly $ 22.2 billion by the end of 2025, for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.60%, according to a study by Transparency Market Research. Last year, the annual total was U.S. $ 4.5 billion.” MediaPost Google Offers Olive Branch to Publishers by Relaxing Policy on Subscription Sites According to The Wall Street Journal – but not yet confirmed by Google – Google is ending their ‘First Click Free’ policy on paywall gated articles through SERPs. This could reportedly help publishers boost subscriptions. The Wall Street Journal Google Search App to Suggest Related Content Content creators rejoice! Google is reportedly now showing related content in Google searches based on what content other searchers have viewed based on their related searches. Search Engine Journal What were your top digital marketing news stories this week? We’ll be back next week with more top news! Need more in the meantime? Follow @toprank for daily updates.

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Looking at marketing automation platforms? We compare 14 vendors

Virtually every marketing automation platform provides three core capabilities: email marketing, website visitor tracking and a central marketing database. From there, vendors begin to differentiate by providing additional tools — which may be included in the base price or premium-priced…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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

6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Setting Social Media Marketing Goals

In today’s digital landscape, chances are social media is a vital piece of your marketing mix. After all, people live on social platforms these days and projections show that worldwide social media users will surpass 3 billion by 2021.

But as brands and marketers fight for visibility in crowded, “algorithm-enhanced” news feeds, how many of you are actually reaching your strategic social media marketing objectives? Better yet, how many of you can say you have well-defined, relevant and measurable goals outlined within your social strategy?

As a marketer, you know there can be no strategy without goals. Goals are the foundation of your strategy, guiding every decision and tactic that comes next. But how do you define those goals?

The truth is there’s a lot to consider such as your industry, overall business objectives, budget and resources. With that said, whether you need to start from scratch or it’s time to give your goals a refresh, here are a few questions you should be asking yourself along the way:

#1 – How does social media map to my overall marketing objectives?

Your social media marketing efforts are an integral part of your entire marketing strategy. As such, the goals you set should absolutely support what you’re trying to achieve at a high level. It’s as simple as that.


Your #socialmedia goals should absolutely map to your overall #marketing objectives.
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#2 – Who is my social audience?

You know that the foundation of any marketing initiative is understanding your audience’s pain points, motivations, interests and needs. But those defining characteristics may manifest themselves a bit differently on social media. After all, social media is a personal outlet for many, so their motivations for engaging with a brand may be different than if they received an email from you or found you via search.

As a result, in order to define your social media objectives, you need to understand why your audience is on social media and what they care about most on those platforms.

#3 – How does my audience differ across social channels?

Every social media channel offers something a little unique, which means your audience may differ from channel to channel. As a result, your goals—as well as your strategy to reach those goals—should reflect that.

#4 – What does my audience expect from me?

Let’s face it. The goals you set are going to be rooted in some type of audience action. But to inspire that action, you need to think about what your audience’s expectations are and how you’ll meet them. Is it quick and empathetic customer service? Conversation? Entertainment? Helpful information and resources?

#5 – What do I really want from my social media efforts?

Brand awareness and audience engagement are typically the top goals of any social media marketing strategy. But challenge yourself to go deeper as you define your goals. For example, if community engagement is a top priority, what does that actually look like to you? Is it likes, shares, comments, reviews, website traffic or a combination of them all?


As your define your #socialmedia goals, challenge yourself to go deeper & deeper.
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#6 – Are my goals measurable?

At the end of the day, your goals have to be measurable. How else are you going to know if you’ve actually achieved what you set out to do?

In Need of More Social Media Marketing Inspiration?

Then check out these helpful resources:

  • Does Snark = Sales? What Consumers REALLY Want from Brands on Social Media
  • 3 Important Ways Social Media Can Boost Your SEO
  • 7 Examples of eCommerce Brands Rocking Social Media Marketing

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | 6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Setting Social Media Marketing Goals | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Digital Marketing News: Better Text Ads, Lifestyle Templates & AMP for AdWords

Seven Tips for Writing Better-Performing Expanded Text Ads [Infographic] Writing text ads is a challenge – how can you be compelling enough to drive a conversion with such limited space? There are several tricks of the trade explored in this new infographic. MarketingProfs Google to Advertisers: Get Your Mobile Landing Pages Ready Google recently announced that in two weeks, AdWords advertisers can use AMP pages as landing pages for their ads. This provides a seamless user experience when searching through Google and could have implications for page rank. Search Engine Journal The print catalog era is over — but Facebook wants to revive it on your iPhone Do you miss the good old days of ordering from a catalog? Not many do. However, the lifestyle inspiration we all get from magazines is something that we haven’t been able to replicate as well with our digital ads. Facebook is trying to close that gap with their new ‘Lifestyle Templates’. Business Insider Amazon Is Opening Up Its Ads Business, and Marketers See a Big Opportunity to Shake Up Search According to AdWeek, “After testing search-based ads with agencies and brands, Kenshoo (a company that helps marketers manage search spend across platforms) is making Amazon ads readily available to all marketers through an API integration today.” AdWeek Instagram Expands Access to Branded Content Tools After months of testing, Instagram has granted access to advertisers to its Branded Content tools. These will allow advertisers simplify the process for working with creators (and vice versa). Social Media Today Google responds to Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention with AdWords tracking update The news of Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention in Safari has upset the advertising industry – but as usual, we have Google to the rescue. According to Search Engine Land, “Google has developed a new Google Analytics cookie that will be used to capture campaign and conversion data from Safari in a way that conforms with ITP.” Search Engine Land Amazon ‘1-Click’ patent expires today, get ready for faster web-wide checkout Amazon’s patent on ‘1-Click’ checkout has expired – this means that eCommerce platforms can now duplicate this functionality on their own sites. This is expected to reduce cart abandonment for shopping sites and make a more convenient user experience. Marketing Land 73% Of Broadband Consumers Want To Tightly Control Their Personal Data According to MediaPost: “A large majority (73%) of U.S. broadband consumers express a desire to keep tight control over access to their personal data, with nearly half being very concerned that someone will access the data without their permission, according to a new report by Parks Associates.” MediaPost What were your top digital marketing news stories this week? We’ll come back next week with more top digital marketing news. Have something to share? Email the newsroom or Tweet to @toprank.

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Compare 16 local marketing automation platforms

Locally targeted ad spending by US national brands will grow to $ 68.9 billion in 2018, according to BIA/Kelsey’s US Local Media Forecast. Local marketing growth is being driven by several important trends, including consumers’ increasing preference for online local information — particularly…

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

Digital Marketing Tools & Tactics: What the Trends Tell Us

Digital Marketing Trends, Tools & TacticsAs the old saying goes: the more things change, the more they stay the same — a saying that certainly has resonance across the marketing industry right now. As it stands, the top challenges many of us are facing in 2017 are, in essence, the same ones we’ve been battling for years. According to an expansive aggregation of digital marketing studies and reports from Getapp Lab, the industry’s top pain points include: lack of time, knowledge, and resources; difficulty converting leads into customers; and diminishing reach in an increasingly crowded digital environment. The analysis offers a widescreen view of the current landscape for businesses, highlighting tactics that are leading the way, solutions being embraced to overcome prevalent hurdles, and emerging technologies that hint at the direction of the marketing industry for startups and enterprises alike. With that said, below we run through some key takeaways from the roundup, as well as provide some additional insight and resources.

Don’t Sweat the Individual Techniques

Which digital marketing techniques are leading the way in 2017? Getapp shares a report from Smart Insights showing that content marketing and big data are leading the way in a preference poll, with marketing automation, mobile marketing and social media marketing not far behind. (Photo Credit: Smart Insights) Of course, none of these should really be viewed as disparate practices — rather quite the opposite. TopRank Marketing firmly believes in approaching digital marketing with an integrated strategy. For example, data ought to touch every branch of your marketing strategy. Mobile should be top-of-mind with all digital assets you produce. Automation can be integrated into almost every tactic for added efficiency. But, with that said, it comes as no surprise that content and data lead the way as prioritized techniques. As our own CEO, Lee Odden, often says: “Content isn’t king. It’s the Kingdom.” So for us, these two cornerstones speak to the fundamental essence of modern marketing: understanding your audience and reaching them with relevant, best-answer content that informs, engages and inspires action.

Mobile is a Must

In today’s digital world, I think it’s safe to say that all marketers know the importance mobile plays in their digital marketing initiatives. But when companies or agencies devise and execute their marketing strategies, it typically happens in offices stocked with powerful computers and large monitors. As such, without concerted effort, it’s difficult to gain end-user perspective. But to put it bluntly, it’s no longer an option. It’s an imperative for success. As Getapp’s report notes, mobile usage surpassed desktop a few years ago and now the gap is growing. Google’s mobile-first index punishes websites that aren’t responsive, and so do the users themselves, who are five times more likely to leave a site that hasn’t been optimized for the small screen. via GIPHY Check out our post 4 Elements of a Mobile Strategy That All Marketers Should Pay Attention To for more insight.

Tools of the Trade

Operating in this constantly shifting domain can test one’s mettle. As a marketer, you’re busy enough doing your job and servicing clients or customers; add in a perpetual need to adapt as trends evolve, and nobody could be blamed for feeling overwhelmed. The good news it that we live in an age of accessible tools for everything. The Getapp Lab report helpfully lists several solutions across categories such as Hootsuite for social media management, HubSpot for marketing automation and MailChimp for email marketing. So, if you’re struggling with any of the three core challenges mentioned at the outset — lacking resources, conversion gridlock and dwindling reach — it’s worth investigating how new or additional tools might aid your efforts and enable you get more out of existing assets. If you’re looking for a little help, check out our post on 100+ Digital Marketing Tools to Help You Become A More Effective Marketer.

Other Nuggets Worth Noting

Among the many digital marketing trends in the Getapp report, here are a few others that caught our eyes:

  • Segmented email campaigns have a 14.3% higher open rate than non-segmented campaigns. Are you still relying on spray-and-pray? (Source: MailChimp)
  • Twenty eight percent of marketers consider video to be a key channel for driving growth. I’d wager this figure will at least double within the next year or two. (Source: GetResponse)
  • Technical SEO is important, but 72% of marketers still say relevant content creation is their most effective draw for search traffic. (Source: HubSpot)

Future Fix

In wrapping up its snapshot of where digital marketing stands in 2017, Getapp’s aggregated report concludes with a look ahead, highlighting three frontiers that are distinctly visible on the horizon: artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality and virtual reality. While they’re still in relatively youthful stages, these technologies open new possibilities surrounding automated customer service (chatbots!), interactive or experiential marketing (glasses and headsets), gamification and more. For example, when it comes to AI search engine developments at Google, our own Kevin Cotch, SEO Manager, said it best: “Artificial intelligence will change, and has been, changing how search marketers should be optimizing websites [and content],” he says. “We have a lot of opportunity to focus on aspects that will provide a better experience for our users than traditional tactics like optimizing the metadata of a page. Of course, those metrics will still hold some relevance to search engines, but we can instead focus on what really matters to users.” Check out our post, Back to the Future: 5 Marketing Predictions That Were Right on the Money, to get a look at where we’ve been, where we’re going and gain hopefully gain some insights that will allow you to put some of the recurring challenges you’re facing to bed for good. Interested in reading the entire report from GetApp Lab, check it out here. Right now, what are your biggest marketing obstacles and favorite tools for overcoming them? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

How to Measure Influencer Marketing Campaigns: 5 Analytical Approaches

Are you working with social media influencers? Wondering how to track the results of your influencer campaigns? In this article, you’ll discover how to determine the effectiveness of your influencer campaigns based on marketing goals. #1: Establish Campaign Reach via Followers, Post Impressions, and Referral Traffic Reach is an essential ROI element for any influencer […]

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

Our Top 11 Content Marketing Takeaways from #CMWorld 2017

Last week, thousands of marketers from all over the world descended on the Rock N’ Roll capital of the world, Cleveland, OH, for the seventh annual Content Marketing World Conference and Expo.

Featuring more than 130 speakers, keynotes and panelists, dozens of different tracks, and a whole lot of orange, the four-day event was exciting and inspiring. And the TopRank Marketing team was out in full-force, providing live coverage, learning from some of the best in the business, dancing to 80s classics and making new connections.

While it’s nearly impossible to distill all the inspiring insights we collected during the event into this one post, we’re going to try. Below we share a handful of insights that really resonated with our team.

#1 – Shoot for resonance — not reach.

Content marketing was born out of the need to satisfy our audience’s thirst for knowledge and to satisfy their questions. But with so much content out there these days — it’s more important than ever to ensure your strategy is hyperfocused on who you audience is, what they need from you, and what will truly resonate — not just reach — your audience.

During his keynote address on opening day, Jay Acunzo, creator and host of Unthinkable.fm, encouraged the room to start thinking ourselves — not just rely on industry best practices — and have a renewed focus on creating content that makes meaningful connections with our audience.

“When we pay more attention to the customer than to the industry, then the customer will pay more attention to us,” Acunzo stated. “[We need to] stop focusing on reach and start focusing on resonance.”


Stop focusing on reach & start focusing on resonance. – @jayacunzo #CMWorld
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#2 – All you need is less.

It’s certainly no secret that we’re living in a world of content abundance. But if we want to create content that really resonates and makes our audience feel something, we need to remember that less is more, according to prolific writer, marketer and speaker Ann Handley.

Using the classic E.B. White novel, Charlotte’s Web, Handley declared the title character the best content marketer in the world. Using just four phrases — Some pig, terrific, radiant and humble — Charlotte was not only able to save little Wilbur’s life, but also make Farmer Zuckerman believe and feel he had something special.

“Think of how Charlotte was able to save a life with just [a few] words,” Handley challenged her audience. “How can we use our words more intentionally? How can we make a difference?”

The bottom line? You don’t need more content. You need better content. Content that helps your audience see, feel, taste, hear and touch the story you’re telling.


How can we use our words more intentionally to make a difference with our content? @annhandley #CMWorld
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#3 – Stories are all around you — and mostly right under your nose.

Marketers often feel they don’t have the time, budget or resources to effectively create compelling, story-driven content. But, according to GE’s Chief Marketing Officer Linda Boff, inspiration is closer than you may think.

As Boff imparted her experience and knowledge onto the crowd during her keynote address, one of her most compelling slides simply said: “Stories are right under your nose — we just might need to change the lense every now and then.”

So, leverage the people, resources and data that you do have to iterate on how you tell your story and come up with new ideas.


Stories are right under your nose. – @lindaboff #CMWorld
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#4 – Give everyone a seat at the content marketing table.

Quality content is the foundation of every marketing strategy. And while you may think the success of your content marketing initiatives rests in the capable and creative hands of your marketing team members, you may be missing out on a big internal opportunity.

According to Jillian Hillard, the Director of Brand and Product Marketing for Electrolux Home Care and SDA, North America, getting the content marketing buy-in of key players from multiple departments can give your strategy wings.

“Everyone needs to have a seat at the table in the beginning,” Hillard said. “This creates community of openness, trust, camaraderie, support and gets everyone excited about the new journey.”

Some of the departments — or characters as Hillard said — that need your consideration could be: product development, sales, finance and customer service.

“Once your organization [as a whole] sees the value, then content marketing becomes contagious,” she said.


Once your org sees the value, then #contentmarketing becomes contagious. – @JillianHillard
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#5 – Design video content to hold attention.

Video content marketing has gone from the next big thing to the current big thing. Brands that pump out a ton of text-based content are now flooding the attention marketplace with video. And just as we had to learn how to make content work for marketing, we’re all still figuring out how to make effective marketing video. That’s where the incomparable Andrew Davis, an author and in-demand speaker, provided some insight.

While we like to think our audience will click play and hang on to the end where our CTA lives, we know they bail early. So, our goal needs to be to occupy their interest and their desire to know over time. And to put it simply, it’s not lack of attention span that causes our audience to bail or become disinterested. It’s the lack of content designed to hold attention.


We earn attention by satiating the audience's desire to know over time. @DrewDavisHere #CMWorld
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#6 – Influencer marketing success is built on relationships.

Influencer marketing is booming — and it’s not hard to see why. Influencers add insight, credibility and authority to content, as well as help spread your message to new and larger audiences.

But as TopRank Marketing’s own CEO, Lee Odden, said during his presentation on enterprise influencer marketing: “There are a lot of cowboys out there. … A lot of people are just shooting from the hip when it comes to influencer marketing.”

As a result, if you want to create a dynamic influencer program, your strategy needs to have the perfect balances of great content and strong influencer relationships.

“The stronger your relation and community, the stronger the amplification of the content will be,” he said.


Stronger #influencer relationships = stronger the #content amplification. – @leeodden #CMWorld
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#7 – Content should focus on the why — not the what.

During her session, Lisa Mattson, Director of Marketing & Communications for Jordan Vineyard & Winery, shared how their video-centric strategy is winning over their audience. But one insight bomb that she dropped goes beyond video:

Simply put, it all comes down to storytelling. You need a compelling narrative that’s hyper-focused on why your organization does what it does if you want to connect with and engage your audience.


People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. – @lisamattsonwine #CMWorld
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#8 – Prioritize work to guard against burn-out.

As Workfront’s Heather Hurst and Nordstrom’s Erica Gunn put it: It’s time to stop killing your content team. Your copywriters likely have a full plate and asking them to do more with less won’t work for long. So, if you want to keep your team happy and productive, you need to find a balance between what’s urgent and what’s important.

A project management system like Workfront can absolutely help ease this burden, but it’s also essential to make time for unplanned work. Hurst and Gunn suggested planning for approximately 60% of your team’s tasks so you have 40% wiggle room.


Budget time for unplanned work. – @heatherbhurst & Erica Gunn #CMWorld
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#9 – Stop telling your audience how amazing you are.

As comedian and marketer Tim Washer told the room during his session, when we use amazing words over and over again, they have the amazing ability to lose their amazing meaning. So, if you want to create video that is full of joy for your viewer, you need to stop telling people your company is amazing. Rather, you should start telling them stories and let them reach their own conclusion.


Stop telling people your company is amazing. Tell them stories & let them reach their own…
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#10 – Make culture your ‘North Star.’

According to adidas’ Frank Thomas, the digital world is so complex and volatile that our go-to tools for audience identification are no longer sufficient. Personas, scenarios, observed past behavior — they all change as fast as we can construct them.

So, instead of trying to become what an ever-changing audience wants, why not make culture your north star? According to Thomas, if you’re able to define what your brand stands for and you can become a beacon to your most valuable audience.


Instead of trying to become what your audience wants, make culture your North Star. – @framatho #CMWorld
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#11 – Data-driven content isn’t about the facts and figures.

Data. Data. Data. It’s safe to say all marketers agree that data provides the necessary insight to help us optimize content performance, personalize content and prove business value. But the thing is: data in a vacuum isn’t insightful or helpful. In the end, it’s not about the facts and figures themselves; it’s about how we shape that data into compelling stories.

According to Analytics Advocate at Google, Adam Singer, that’s where data visualization can come in pretty handy. Singer recommended “storyboarding” your visualizations before you even pull the data in. Nail down who you’re talking to, what questions you’re answering, and the story you’re telling before you create a single chart.


Storyboard your visualizations before pulling in data. – @AdamSinger #CMWorld #datavisualization
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Share Your Top #CMWorld Takeaways

If you were one of the thousands of content marketers in attendance, we invite you to share some of your favorite moments, insights and takeaways, too. Share them with us in the comments section below.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | Our Top 11 Content Marketing Takeaways from #CMWorld 2017 | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Stop the Marketing Killjoy: 5 Ways You’re Turning off Audiences with Bad Video

It might only be 1pm in the afternoon, but it’s five o’clock somewhere – a perfect time for a great dry martini.

Research “how to make the perfect dry martini”, and you’ll get over 1,560,000 results. Ask a content marketer “how to tell a good story”, and you’ll get about the same quality of results — except when you ask the fabulous Tim Washer. Like the perfect dry martini, Tim’s strategy for how to tell a good story is simple, neat, and well…perfect.

In his session at Content Marketing World, Tim not only shared how improv can help your B2B marketing, but he shared the five ways you can kill the joy in your videos.

What are his simple rules of how to stop the marketing killjoy?

5 Ways to Kill the Joy in Your Videos

#1 – Death by the Committee

Everytime I think about asking a committee for agree on a single answer, all I envision is that scene from Monty Python of the Knights Who Say “Ni!”. With every question you ask that the they don’t like, the committee responds with an answer you can’t understand – “Ni!”.

In order to find the joy again, keep your committee small. Also, make sure to not set an expectation that they are approving the entire video script. Instead, give them a short list of concepts to approve.

For example, imagine if the entire script for Van Damme’s ‘Epic Split’ Volvo Ad would have been asked for committee approval. We wouldn’t have this:

#2 – Death by the Explanation

As marketers, we sometimes forget to trust our audience. This causes us to feel the need to explain everything. We add in a lot of transitions or talk about items than our audience can easily figure out for themselves based on the imagery shared in the video.

Once you start explaining, you lose your audience.

#3 – Death by Talking About Yourself

We forget that we have customers or clients and talk all about our products or services. This is a sure fire way to kill the joy in your videos. And it must be stopped.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place to talk about the product. However, when you look outside the product and look directly at the customer’s pain of why they need the product or service, you hit their emotional center. This is a great place to find empathy, which creates understanding and a common bond.

Meaning > messaging.  Don’t change how people talk; change how they think.

#4 – Death by the Entire Story

We all have that one friend who tells the story of their latest vacation from beginning to very end. And somewhere between the story of their flight being delayed and them returning home to a dirty house, we miss the part about them meeting the love of their life at the hole-in-the-wall restaurant they happened to walk into on a rainy day in Paris.

When telling a story, share one point at a time and move forward. You can always expand on that point in other videos.

#5 – Death by Superlatives

When we use amazing words over and over again, they have the amazing ability to lose their amazing meaning. What’s the amazing-freaking point?

Stop telling people that your company is amazing. Instead, start telling them stories and let them reach their own conclusion.

For example, Tim used to work at Accenture. They thought they were unique until Deloitte came out with very similar messaging.

As videos become more of your marketing repertoire, don’t forget to help your audience find the joy in your story.

Bring Joy with Video Marketing

In the end, video is a means of which many people consume content but a bad video doesn’t make for a great experience. Focus your efforts on creating a great story that helps to solve the problems of your audience (in the same way you would with any other piece of content) and connects them to the content in a meaningful way.

What types of videos have you found to be most successful for your B2B marketing efforts?


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | Stop the Marketing Killjoy: 5 Ways You’re Turning off Audiences with Bad Video | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Make Your Audience a Community: Put Culture at the Core of Your Content Marketing Strategy

Frank Thomas of adidas

Frank Thomas of adidas Jean Giraudoux once said, “The secret to success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” It’s a funny indictment of how to take exactly the wrong approach to authenticity. But too often, brands and marketers miss the sarcasm. We target an audience, then carefully cultivate an image to appeal to them. We create the appearance of a culture that matches theirs. And then we’re surprised when our target audience sees right through it. What if we stopped trying to fake sincerity and turned the whole process inside out? Instead of crafting a culture to match an audience, why not attract the audience that matches your culture? In his presentation at Content Marketing World, adidas’ Frank Thomas shared how the athletic wear company defines their culture and broadcasts it to their potential audience. Frank and his team created Gameplan A, a content hub that expresses the company’s culture. The twist is that the site is for internal and external messaging–same channels, same content. They’re not crafting an image, they’re broadcasting their identity. The content on Gameplan A clearly says, “This is what we are like. If you’re like us, this is your community, too.” That approach makes it easier for people to connect and form a lasting relationship with the brand. Here’s how adidas puts culture at the core of their content marketing strategy.

Culture Is Content Marketing’s North Star

According to Frank, the digital world is so complex and volatile that our go-to tools for audience identification are no longer sufficient. Personas, scenarios, observed past behavior–they all change as fast as we can construct them. Instead of trying to become what an ever-changing audience wants, Frank says, make culture your north star. Define what your brand stands for and you can become a beacon to your most valuable audience. Frank identified four crucial components of a brand’s culture:

  • Values. What ethical notions form the foundation of the brand?
  • Ideas. What unique ideas arise from these values?
  • Convictions. What beliefs drive the brand’s actions?
  • Behaviors. How does the brand express these convictions, ideas, and values?

Added together, your values, ideas, convictions and behaviors form your identity. Once your identity is established, you can move from product marketing to culture marketing. As Frank said, “We’re not selling shoes. We’re communicating on behalf of the brand, building trust in our target audience.” Gameplan A aims to build a community of like-minded people, including employees, potential recruitment candidates, but also consumers who might become advocates for the brand. The brand’s culture, expressed through Gameplan A’s content, acts as a beacon for those who share the brand’s values.

How to Express Your Culture Through Content Marketing

When you filter content through the lens of your brand’s culture, you can form stronger, more valuable connections with your audience. Frank explained how his team uses Gameplan A to promote adidas’ culture: #1: Align Internal and External Messaging According to Frank, it’s crucial to start by engaging your employees. Make sure they understand your culture and believe it’s sincere. Then employees can help spread the message to your audience in a more authentic way. When your internal and external messaging share the same culture, you can have a meaningful exchange of ideas with your community: Your audience can actually bring value to your continued cultural evolution.   #2: Find Your Uniqueness and Focus In Sports are adidas’ primary focus. But they’re not just addressing people who love sports–that’s too large a segment to create a meaningful connection with. So they refined their audience segment further, zeroing in on people who are creative, collaborative, and confident: Entrepreneurs and drivers of change. Then they further focused in on those who are actively trying to make a difference, continually self-improving, striving for the new. This process of segmentation, refinement, and focus can help you find the audience most aligned with your brand’s culture. That is, the audience most relevant and receptive to your messaging.   #3: Make Your Personality Shine Once you establish your brand’s culture, don’t hide it on your “About” page. Apply your cultural filter to every piece of content you create. For Gameplan A, Frank created a culture guide that creators can follow to make sure each piece of content meets their cultural DNA. The guide outlines what Frank calls “Mega Themes,” the key topics of interest where their expertise intersects with audience needs. Any new content must address one of these themes to be considered for publication.   #4: Commit Yourself for the Long Haul It takes time to build a culture-driven brand, to build a community with content that expresses your brand identity. So it’s vital to set expectations and allocate resources accordingly. Prepare your team for a marathon, not a sprint, before you step onto the track.   #5: Involve Your Role Models The people who inspire your brand’s culture can make powerful collaborators for co-creating content. Gameplan A curates content from their heroes, and works with them to create original content. But it’s not just about working with influencers–some of your most inspiring role models are right in your community. Gameplan A offers their community the chance to suggest topics, ask questions, recommend content, and even submit proposals for drafting content to be published on the hub.

Keeping It Extra Real

To start building your community of like-minded individuals–your most relevant audience–don’t try to fake sincerity. Start by firmly establishing your brand’s culture. Document the values, ideas, convictions and behaviors that define your identity. Then make that culture the guiding light of your content marketing strategy. When your culture is genuine, shared throughout the organization, and expressed in all you do, you won’t have to chase your most valued audience: They’ll be drawn to you.

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®