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Becoming a Better Marketer by Embracing Your Passions Outside the Office

How Our After-Hours Passions Elevate Us as Marketers

How Our After-Hours Passions Elevate Us as Marketers In the first post I ever wrote for the TopRank Marketing Blog, I reflected on the marketing lessons I’d picked up through my baseball blogging hobby. Helping build an online community at Twins Daily has instilled many important fundamentals that, I feel, make me better at my day job. I’m always fascinated by this interplay. We spend so much of our time each week alongside our coworkers, but are often unaware of the interests and side hustles that drive them outside of the office. Those very passions can be such integral parts of who we are and how we operate. More recently, this has been a topic of focus for our friends at LinkedIn*. In April, Jason Miller wrote a piece about following your dreams while staying committed to your career, and in June, Sean Callahan profiled a LinkedIn marketer who moonlights as a DJ. The subject of Sean’s piece was Ish Verduzco (aka DJ Ishh), who says that spinning the turntables on weekends has helped him learn how to get in tune with online audiences as a social media marketer. Incidentally, Jason and Sean themselves are great examples of this dynamic — Jason is a rock-and-roll photographer whose creativity and energy infuse the content he produces, while Sean is the author of several children’s books with a knack for conveying information clearly and understandably. These posts from LinkedIn inspired me to learn more about my own colleagues here at the TopRank Marketing office, and how their outside hobbies or passions help shape them professionally. So I asked around: What activities occupy your time when you’re not at the office, and how do they help make you a more clever, curious, and courageous marketer? Hopefully their answers will inspire other marketers to fully embrace their own passions, and think about ways in which their personal pursuits can fuel their professional success — or vice versa.

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

Improving Through Improv

Josh NiteJosh Nite, Senior Content Marketing Manager His jokes and puns are cherished staples during the workday, and Josh puts his sharp wit to good use after it ends by participating in improv shows and competitions. He believes that these comedy performances make him a better marketer for two primary reasons. “First, they force me to carefully consider words, how they have an effect on people, how powerful they can be. Second, they’re performed live in front of an audience, so I can see whether or not I’m making a connection. It really helps me have a mental image of the reader in mind when I’m writing content.”

Making a Habit of Being Helpful

Debbie Friez, Influencer Marketing Strategist Debbie is very active at her church, Spirit Garage, where she applies her professional skills to help out with marketing functions. “I serve on the marketing committee, so that has me looking for new ideas,” she says. “I subscribe to a few newsletters and I’m active in Social Media Shepherds, a group of church communicators.” In turn, Debbie’s community work through church and other endeavors — she picks up garbage at local parks on Earth Day, participates in a book club, and serves cotton candy during street festivals, for example — helps her develop rock-solid relationships with influencers and clients.

Finding Focus on the Fairway

Anne Leuman, Content Strategist As someone who regularly covers SEO-related topics on the TopRank Marketing Blog, Anne understands the importance of links (she recently wrote about examples of link-worthy content). And on the weekend, she likes to unwind by hitting the links. “My No. 1 hobby outside of work is golf,” Anne says. “Golf, believe it or not, requires a great amount of imagination. If you can see a shot, you can make the shot. Playing the sport allows me to hone my imagination skills, leading to more creativity and well-thought-out content strategy.” She also adds that the sport’s individualistic nature helps her focus on self-improvement. Bolstering your score on the golf course is all about looking inward and making the right personal tweaks, which is also true of content creation. “Similar to working on my golf game,” she starts. “I’ll take lessons, ask for advice, or spend hours writing each day to ensure I’m above par.”  

Managing to Make a Difference

Elizabeth Williams, Account Manager As a mother raising two young children of mixed race, Elizabeth feels strongly about doing her part to create a more accepting and fair environment for individuals of all ethnicities and backgrounds. “As a marketer sometimes it’s hard to see that direct impact on ‘making a the world a better place’ in your day-to-day. But, it’s something I crave. Having that reason behind what we do inspires us to keep going when we’re feeling frustrated or overloaded.” She continues: “My ‘making the world a better place’ is working toward MLK’s dream — for a world where people will not be judged by the color of their skin. In my family, we experience racism nearly every time we’re in public, whether it’s big or small.” And so she commits much of her energy outside of work to advocating for the cause of social justice. A marketer’s understanding of how to engage and influence proves helpful in this regard. “I love applying my knowledge of digital marketing to my activist communications,” she says.

Making Creativity is the Name of the Game

Patrick Pineda, Motion Designer If you watched any of the awesome 8-bit videos he whipped up for our Content Marketing Combos series, you might peg Patrick as an avid video game enthusiast. But his real passion is for tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and World of Darkness. Earlier this year, he collaborated with Anne to create a blog post around content marketing lessons from the realm of D&D, such as the value of originality, the pitfalls of corralling an audience, and the importance of customization — something that is incredibly important and top-of-mind for marketers today. “The best Dungeon Master doesn’t just create a good story, but they also help players reach their goals,” Patrick noted.

The Rabid Researcher

Lane EllisLane Ellis, Social & Content Marketing Manager Working remotely from northern Minnesota, Lane conducts plenty of helpful research for the team at TopRank Marketing, and his proclivities in this area are deeply ingrained. “Since 1994 I’ve been doing family history research, including several years as one of Duluth’s few professional genealogists, which has taught me many research-related lessons that I try to apply to my social media and marketing career,” he explains. As someone who was using the internet for research before many of us were using it at all, he’s very adept at quickly finding what he’s looking for.

Harnessing Healthy Results Like a Boss

Lee OddenLee Odden, CEO Employees at TopRank Marketing are accustomed to the occasional week or two where Lee isn’t in the office, given the amount of traveling he does for speaking engagements around the world, but recently we’ve noticed that we’re seeing less of him — literally. The agency cofounder has been on a major health kick over the past several months, and the impact has been visibly evident in his physique. “I’ve found diet, cardio and other exercise have direct correlations to goal-setting, discipline, quality of effort, time management, and optimization of marketing performance,” Lee explains. In particular, he’s sees parallels in the ways success is measured for fitness and marketing. In neither case should vanity be the name of the game. “I found it interesting not to focus on weight loss, but clothing size, energy level, and quality of life improvements since those are the real goals,” he says. “I think there are lessons there as a marketer in measuring performance. Views, shares and impressions are like sugary candy metrics that give spikes of endorphins, but don’t really reflect the real goals of leads, deals, and revenue.”

What Drives You?

At TopRank Marketing, we’re lucky to have a team with diverse interests and hobbies. Working with these folks on a daily basis, it’s easy to see they are keeping their marketing skills sharp through after-hours activities, even if that’s not necessarily the inherent rationale. Meanwhile, staying busy and focused on other things outside of work helps us stay refreshed and rejuvenated once we arrive each morning. So, I ask you, too: What passions outside of work make you better at your job? Let us know in the comments section below. Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Becoming a Better Marketer by Embracing Your Passions Outside the Office appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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The Art Of Crafting More Powerful Content: 5 Top Tactics from the Experts

Craftsperson working and creating.

Welcome to the second piece in our new multi-part “Collective Wisdom” series of content marketing strategy articles, where you’ll learn proven methods taking you from the beginning of the content planning cycle to its final post-publication conclusion, and featuring insight from some of the world’s most respected and successful digital marketers.

Previously in “How to Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts By Planning Ahead,” we looked at implementing a smart and robust content planning strategy. Now it’s time to take a look at the intrinsically important content creation stage of any successful content marketing campaign.

Crafting Powerful Content

As we’ll explore, skillfully crafting content is one of the most important steps on a successful content marketing journey. After all, content is the centerpiece you present to the digital world — so let’s examine some of the strongest tactics to incorporate in your next campaign.

[bctt tweet="“Crafting content is a mélange in which you wear the varied hats of artist, air traffic controller, plumber, magician, statistician, salesman, marketer, and librarian.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis" username="toprank"]

Tactic 1: Incorporate Appropriate, Effective, and Engaging Visuals

Cinematographe Lumiere Monoco Postal Stamp

Should you use visual elements in your content? Here’s a hint: Yes!

Today’s marketing draws heavily on the use of interesting and compelling images and other visual content to both draw people in and clearly illustrate messages.

It’s no surprise that marketers use more visuals of all types — images, animated GIFs, videos, in-content playable games, and others — than ever before. Over time, a barrage of studies have shown their superior ability for us to remember them. Compared to plain text copy, which by some calculations has only about 10% recall after three days, some 65% of visual content stays in our memories after the same period of time, according to Dr. John Medina’s “Brain Rules” and other studies.

Furthermore, according to HubSpot research, visual content is over 40 times more likely to be shared on social platforms, and brands have become increasingly creative in using techniques including animated GIFs, such as the good examples shown in “10 brands using beautifully creative GIFs right now.”

Videos, graphic presentations, charts and other data visualizations, animated GIFs, stock photos, fine art photos, screenshots, scans, and experimental imagery should all be considered and used to fill your specific content needs. The trick is knowing what to use and where to incorporate it, and understanding your audience helps narrow down the most appropriate and effective visuals for any particular piece of content.

[bctt tweet="“You've got seconds to grab your audience's attention and only minutes to keep it.” — Dr. John Medina @BrainRulesBooks" username="toprank"]

TopRank Marketing Senior Content Marketing Manager Joshua Nite has looked into the importance of choosing dynamic and compelling images to include in written content campaigns, as he deftly explains in “How to Choose Dynamic Images for Your Blog Posts.”

[bctt tweet="“The right visual does more than take up space. It captures attention, creates a little mystery, invites the reader to dig into your carefully-crafted text.” — Josh Nite @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

Aside from its use in blog posts, great imagery’s power of engagement carries over into the realm of content promotion.

Josh Nite

“Good visuals are doubly important for amplification, too: Your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn shares will all include an image,” Josh noted.

Knowing your intended audience and where they’re most likely to encounter a link to the shiny new content on your website is an important factor in choosing which visual elements will have the greatest pull and engagement.

For example, if your audience is clicking on a link to your new blog post or other content primarily on Reddit, the imagery and overall experience those people expect and find engaging is usually quite different than what someone finding your content on LinkedIn in looking for.

Use authoritative research on user experience to guide the visual imagery you choose, including the latest statistics on these elements, such as those Jeff Bullas has compiled in his “15 Visual Content Marketing Statistics That’ll Blow Your Mind.”

[bctt tweet="“People will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” — Jeff Bullas @jeffbullas" username="toprank"]

Tactic 2: Make it Easy For Readers to Share Your Content in the Ways They Prefer

Share Scrabble Tiles Image

You can have plenty of winning content in place, but without intuitive and expected methods in place to share your carefully-crafted work, it will likely remain largely a content island unto itself — a phenomena Lee Odden calls Invisible Content Syndrome.

Every audience has their own preferred means of sharing the things they find and love online. So, part of your content creation process should be to see that these methods are fully implemented, whether its as simple as having easily-found social sharing buttons and functionality, offering click-to-tweet messaging, or as advanced as using automatic copying of shortened and trackable URLs.

Heidi Cohen, Chief Content Officer at Actionable Marketing Guide, has gathered together some of her favorite ways of giving readers a variety of ways to share content, in “7 Ways to Get Extra Mileage From Your Blog Posts.”

[bctt tweet="“It’s eye candy that attracts readers by making it easy for them to get the meaning of your post quickly.” — Heidi Cohen @heidicohen" username="toprank"]

Heidi Cohen

More content than ever is including click-to-tweet functionality, as it provides a useful way for readers to quickly and easily share key takeaways or especially insightful quotes, however, it may not be right for your content if your audience is not generally using Twitter.

Tactic 3: Harness the Power of Gamification

Gamification Blueprint Image

Interactive content and entertaining game-based or game-like content, including elements such as quizzes, polls, and surveys, are a proven way to boost engagement and content stickiness, raising time-on-page rates as fast as racking up a high score.

According to data from DemandGen, 91% of B2B buyers prefer interactive and visual content, which should come as no great surprise considering that such content stands out and is often a sign of well-thought-out content strategy.

Caitlin Burgess

Live-streaming platform Twitch has grown to become the twelfth most-visited site in the U.S. according to Alexa data, and its 15-million-plus daily users have helped bring active audience participation into the mainstream, as our own content strategist Nick Nelson detailed recently in his fascinating “How Twitch is Breaking New Ground In Audience Engagement #CMWorld.”

Our own Caitlin Burgess recently examined the power of interactive content in “Interactive Content Marketing: Why B2B Marketers Should Take Their Content from Boring to Bold,” a helpful deep-dive into not only why this form of content creates such strong engagement, but how to best use it in your content marketing campaigns.

[bctt tweet="“The real opportunity with #interactivecontent doesn’t lay in the interactivity itself. The real value creation is in the excitement or connection that you can make with your audience.” — Caitlin Burgess @CaitlinMBurgess" username="toprank"]

Or, as Liraz Rahmin Postan noted in her look at gamification for Outbrain: “As content marketers, it’s so important to keep your audience engaged and motivated to keep going. Fun, game-based and interactive content does this really well.”

Gamification can include video, as our team did ahead of this year’s Content Marketing World conference, with retro 8-bit videos featuring event speakers:

TopRank Marketing digital strategy director Ashley Zeckman shows the entire series of video in “Ready Player One: Top CMWorld Speakers Dish Go-To Classic Content Marketing Combos.”

Tactic 4: Run With Traditional On-Page SEO Tactics

Colorful SEO Dartboard Image

Crafting content wouldn’t be complete without using longstanding, tried-and-true SEO tactics such as basic metadata, some of which are so fundamental that they should always be used. Some of the same metadata elements I first used in 1993 during the pre-Google days are still wise to incorporate, including the ubiquitous-but-important HTML title and description tags.

Eighty-two percent of marketing influencers say that the effectiveness of SEO is generally increasing, according to MarketingProfs and Octos statistics.

Our own CEO, Lee Odden, explores some of these fundamental SEO questions in his “Power Pages and Best Answer Content: Should You Go Long or Short Form?” In addition, SparkToro’s Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz, also takes a look at just what SEO means today in his helpful piece “What Does It Mean to "Write for SEO" in 2018?

[bctt tweet="“There's no reason you have to use this old-school junk methodology that became like pseudoscience in the SEO world and had a recent revival. You should be using words & phrases that Google has related to a particular keyword.” — @randfish" username="toprank"]

Rand Fishkin Image

SEO is so ingrained in the structure of the web that it’s been surprising to hear it being given the last rites by some in the industry.

However, from our perspective, SEO is not only still a viable tactic, but also necessary — you just need to put the time into thoughtfully analyzing the data so you can pull actionable insights.

[bctt tweet="“Every marketer has access to this data. It’s time to analyze it and use it to inform your content strategy to create customized, relevant, and insightful content that is more valuable to your target audience.” — @annieleuman" username="toprank"]

Tactic 5: Creativity Is Key For Making Best-Answer Content That Stands Out

Paul Klee Image

No matter how many technical tricks or contraptions you use in a content marketing campaign, the road will be a long uphill one if you don’t present creative and useful information that fills a need for your audience.

Being the best answer is the key tenet of Lee’s “Be the Best Answer: 5 Steps to Grow Influence for Your Brand,” which shows how creating or co-creating relevant and credible content is a vitally important step in a successful digital marketing campaign.

[bctt tweet="“Influence plays an important role in a ‘Best Answer’ marketing strategy.” — Lee Odden @leeodden" username="toprank"]

The best content creation involves both art and creativity, as comic author Scott Adams once summed up by pointing out that, “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep,” or as artist Paul Klee said, “One eye sees, the other feels.”

The greater the creativity you and your team have, the more of an an edge you can have on the competition, and creative content draws audiences in, entertains, and when done well, enlightens. It’s one of the main ways to differentiate your content.

Tying It All Together — What Next?

Tying The Strings Together Image

By incorporating appropriate, effective, and engaging visuals, making sharing easy, harnessing the power of gamification, using fundamental SEO tactics, and offering best-answer content, your content marketing will include the elements that give your strategy a much better chance at success.

These aren’t the only elements you’ll want to include in your content crafting tool bag, however, and next up we’ll take a close look at another group of important content creation tactics as we continue our “Collective Wisdom” series.

In the meantime learn more by catching us at an upcoming conference or webinar, including these four:

  • Pubcon Las Vegas 2018 on October 17 in Las Vegas — “5 Secrets to Growing Influence in Marketing”
  • ITSMA Marketing Vision 2018 on November 7 in Cambridge, MA. — “Influence the Influencers – How B2B technology companies can build brand awareness with content and influence ”
  • MarketingProfs 2018 Marketing B2B Forum on November 15 in San Francisco — “The Confluence Equation: How Content & Influencers Drive B2B Marketing Success”

The post The Art Of Crafting More Powerful Content: 5 Top Tactics from the Experts appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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