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Monthly Archives: September 2018

Pinterest Strategy: How to Get More Traffic From Pinterest

Want more visitors to your website? Wondering how Pinterest can help? To explore how to drive more traffic to your website with Pinterest, I interview Jennifer Priest. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover what works with social media marketing. In this [...]

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The Trust Trial: Could you sell an iChicken?

If Apple released an iChicken, people would be lined up and down the streets to buy it. That’s the power of BRAND. You build a brand by earning your customers’ trust. Here’s how …

The post The Trust Trial: Could you sell an iChicken? appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

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Cutting for Growth: The Journey, Season 2, Episode 2

Have you ever contemplated stopping something to ensure business growth? Then watch The Journey, Social Media Examiner’s episodic video documentary that shows you what really happens inside a growing business. Watch the Journey In episode 2, Michael Stelzner makes a decision to cut off a segment of his audience he’s been developing for years. He [...]

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Use It or Lose It: 8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Digital Marketing Budget Surplus

How to Use Your Marketing Budget Surplus

How to Use Your Marketing Budget Surplus

For all marketing leaders, effectively managing your digital marketing budget is a delicate balancing act. Spend too much too early, and you’re running ultra-lean for the balance of the year and risk falling short of your goals. Spend too little, and you’ll likely lose those dollars at year’s end—and perhaps put yourself in a position to see cuts next year if your frugalness is taken out of context.

In our experience, we often see organizations slow to spend the first nine months of the year and eager to spend in the final quarter. So, if you’ll soon find yourself in the “use it or lose it” position, absolutely use it—but be thoughtful.

How and where should you allocate those dollars? Ultimately, your overall marketing goals and strategy should be your guide. But other factors to consider are projected resource constraints, upcoming and future events you’ll be attending or hosting, planned campaigns, and internal expertise.

Regardless of the size of your dollar surplus, there are several ways to make the most of it, gain some end-of-year momentum, and set yourself up for more success in the coming year. What are they? Let’s dive in.

Ideas for Making the Most of Your Leftover Marketing Budget

#1 - Invest in a content audit.

As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden has often said: “Content isn’t king. It’s the kingdom.”

So, chances are, many of your budgetary resources have been allocated to creating top-notch content such as blogs, robust resource pages, or larger assets like eBooks or white papers. As a result, you have a lot of content.

But where are the gaps? What should be killed, kept as is, or updated? A content audit can provide answers here, allowing you to prioritize low-hanging fruit opportunities, refine your 2019 content strategy, and more.

[bctt tweet="Where are the gaps? What should be killed, kept as is, or updated? A #content audit can provide answers here. - @Alexis5484 #MarketingBudgets" username="toprank"]

Depending on the scope of the audit, (e.g  blog content only vs. full site audit) this can be one of the most cost effective uses of your budget.

#2 - Conduct a competitive audit.

There’s little doubt that you’re keeping a close eye on what your competitors are doing, but when’s the last time you took a more detailed deep dive into their activities or position in the marketplace? Better yet, have you had a chance to dig into those who are on the rise?

A competitive audit—which can be simple yet insightful (e.g. social only audit) or more robust—can refresh your view and surface insights that were not on your radar.

#3 - Experiment with new content types.

Consumer and buyer preferences are constantly evolving, especially when it comes to wanting more visual or on-demand content. With extra budget in hand, you have the opportunity to experiment with new content types that have the potential to reach your audience in new ways, And can continue to be promoted and drive results in 2019. Some content types to consider include:

  • Podcast series
  • Video interview series
  • Product explainer videos
  • How-to videos
  • Motion graphics
  • Interactive or animated content assets

An important note when it comes to podcasts: Podcasts do require a more significant investment of time, money, and resources. However, they also have the potential to be a staple offering that your audience comes back to again and again.

#4 - Build up your library of original photos.

From social media promotion to blog post header images, many marketing departments often rely on stock photo sites for their image needs. Typically, there’s either no time, no budget, no designer—or a combination of all three—to create custom imagery. So, why not use some of those extra dollars to create a library of eye-catching, unique photos to add some pizzazz to your written content?

#5 - Put paid spend behind your best content.

Whether it’s AdWords, boosted social posts, retargeting, or display, there’s always an opportunity to leverage digital advertising tactics to boost your marketing results. Your top-performing content assets are the best candidates for this approach. You know they resonate. You know they inspire. So, you know they have the best opportunity to deliver ROI in a paid setting.

[bctt tweet="Whether it’s #AdWords, boosted social posts, #retargeting, or display, there’s always an opportunity to leverage digital advertising tactics to boost your #marketing results. - @Alexis5484 #MarketingBudgets" username="toprank"]

#6 - Add new tools or subscriptions to your technology stack.

These days, I think it’s safe to say that every marketer uses tools and technology to make their jobs easier and their marketing more effective. If there’s a new one you’ve had your eye on, this is the perfect time to invest in a tool which will drive value throughout 2019.

Don’t jump right to purchase, however. Nearly every software tool offers demos, free trials, or free versions that you can try before you buy. If you find one you want to test for the long-term, many offer a on-time payment, rather than a monthly option.

#7 - Conduct original research.

Original research has a myriad of benefits. Not only does it allow you to uncover meaningful data about the pain points, attitudes, and insights of your audience, but also enables you to create a credible piece of pillar content that resonates.

Like podcasts, this certainly isn’t an initiative to take lightly. For the last two years, we’ve helped our friends at DivvyHQ compile the Content Planning Report.

So, take it from us: It’s resource and time intensive, but the reward can be big as you continue to refine each year and become sticky in the content landscape.

DivvyHQ & TopRank Marketing Content Planning Report Cover

#8 – Collaborate to co-create content with influential voices.

People trust people over brands. So, if you have extra budget, why not use that to collaborate with industry influencers or thought leaders to create credible, insightful content? This could be a series of long-form interviews or a more robust campaign with assets large and small.

Over the last two years, this type of content and program has been at the top of the end-of-year spend list for our clients for two reasons: 1) As an agency, we’ve developed relationships with experts in a range of industries and we’re experienced in making new connections. 2) Influencer content has longevity since it can be sliced and diced or rolled into larger assets, and the insights shared often stand the test of time.

Don’t Lose It

You’ve worked hard to win your marketing dollars—so make them work for you. Whether you want to build up a stockpile of ready-to-go promotional images or go big with an influencer program, you have cost-effective and extravagant options to make the most of your budget.

If you’ve found yourself on the other side of the spectrum—facing a budget cut—don’t panic. Check out this piece for tips to prioritize your marketing efforts after budget cuts.

The post Use It or Lose It: 8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Digital Marketing Budget Surplus appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Social Media Advertising: New Research for Marketers

Wondering if it still pays to advertise on social media these days? Looking for data to show you where you should be investing your ad spend? In this article, you’ll discover insights that reveal how fellow marketers are planning their social advertising and which platforms offer new opportunities for ad placement. #1: Social Ads Are [...]

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Game On: How to Power-Up Your Content Marketing Game with Insights From #CMWorld

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right. If you’re a classic gamer, you’ll recognize the Konami Code used in popular games as a way to uncover gaming cheats or special effects. And if you attended Content Marketing World last week, you’ll recognize that sequence from trying to find your way through Huntington Convention Center [...]

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Ashley Zeckman Dispels B2B Influencer Marketing Lies at CMWorld

Ashley Zeckman at CMWorld

Ashley Zeckman at CMWorld

It’s no wonder that Ashley Zeckman, Digital Strategy Director at TopRank Marketing, drew a crowd last week at Content Marketing World: she promised to debunk the prevalent myth that influencer marketing is best suited for B2C brands.

Content marketers, just like everybody else, see loads of influencers promoting consumer brands. So, why can’t some of us get over the notion that involving influencers in B2B campaigns isn’t a good fit?

Because, as Zeckman puts it, content marketing is difficult. As it stands today, only 50% of marketers believe they’re achieving their marketing goals (Smart Insights). In addition, 75% of blog posts get fewer than 10 social shares, and get zero links from other domains (Buzzsumo & Moz). What’s worse, is that 70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy (Altimeter).

But for those of you newer to the idea of using influencers for B2B, keep reading to see Zeckman’s proof that it works wonders. And as an added bonus, she debunked five other lies about B2B influencer marketing along the way.

The Difference Between B2C & B2B Influencer Marketing

Before digging in to how marketers can use influencer marketing to boost B2B results, Zeckman broke down the difference between B2B and B2C campaigns with a few examples. You’re no doubt familiar with the Marlboro Man, whose face was synonymous with a smoke. You’ve seen Kim Kardashian’s image associated with perfumes, liqueurs, and more than a few fashion labels. And, you probably remember Britney Spears’ “Got Milk?” ad.

But Zeckman points out the key difference in those B2C tactics and the new way of B2B influencer marketing:

[bctt tweet="Rather than unapologetically telling us to buy a product, #B2B influencers are collaborating around an idea. - @azeckman #InfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

5 Lies About Influencer Marketing

#1 - All Influencers Are Created Equal

When you’re looking for influencers to get involved in your B2B campaign, it’s important to know that, no, not all influencers are equal. Nor should they be used interchangeably.

The best B2B influencer campaigns, stresses Zeckman, involve multiple types of influencers, which she breaks down into five main categories below:

Categories of Influencers for B2B Marketing Campaigns

Ultimately, choosing your perfect mix all depends on your campaign objectives, Zeckman says. If you’re looking to expand your audience and get eyeballs on your content, brandividuals should be part of the mix. They’re the people with a large audience reach of their own with whom their own content resonates deeply.

[bctt tweet="Ultimately, choosing the right mix of influencers comes down to your campaign objectives. - @azeckman #InfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

If your goal is to engage a more specific audience segment, aim to include up-and-comers who resonate with your audience, and are consistently creating content that’s highly and specifically relevant to your target.

And if your main focus is to convert, don’t leave out the niche experts or customer influencers, even if they don’t have as many followers as your other influencers. They know the nitty-gritty of the subject matter, and create content that not many others can. Their relevance will make your customers feel comfortable that somebody’s been in their same shoes, and will produce the content that nudges your targets over the finish line.

#2 - Brands Should Dictate What the Influencers Say

Telling your influencers what to say can be irreversibly damaging to the level of audience trust you’ve worked hard to build. That’s why it’s so important to make sure the influencers you choose for your B2B campaign are already talking about your subject matter. That topical alignment is key, according to Zeckman, regardless of the topic itself.

Take, for example, the B2B influencer campaign that Zeckman and TopRank Marketing partnered with Prophix to create. The goal of the campaign was to increase general brand awareness for the financial software company by targeting the office of finance. To do so, our team took a close look at the office of finance, and found that the audience was in the midst of an industry shift thanks to AI, but was having trouble visualizing what that change would mean for their day-to-day.

So, the team put together an animated asset featuring AI-style audio contributions from well-aligned influencers like Chris Penn and Jennifer Warawa.

Prophix Interactive eBook Example of B2B Influencer Marketing

#3 - Influencers are Only Good For Social Promotion

It’s natural, given how wrought with influencer promotion our social media feeds can be, to assume that the main benefit of influencers is the promoting they’ll do on your social channels.

But, as Zeckman points out, we can engage influencers in a variety of collaborative ways, even making them foundational elements of the content such as audio or video interviews, or podcasts or other serialized content.

A great example of this is action is a podcast series Zeckman and the TopRank Marketing team worked on with 3M. The series involved 16 influencers across various scientific fields, including professors, teachers, astrophysicists, and chemical biologists, and was hosted by the Jayshree Seth, 3M’s Chief Science Advocate.

The podcast series beat industry benchmarks by 69% with over 7,000 downloads. Many of the influencer guests amplified, employees amplified, and live events put on by 3M (involving some of the influencers who had contributed throughout the season) also helped drive awareness.

#4 - Engaging Influencers is Just Like Buying an Ad

Because B2B influencers are collaborating around an idea rather than just peddling a product, getting them involved is rarely as simple as purchasing a media spot.

Zeckman has perfected the practice, and gives a few tips for engaging the ideal influencers for your B2B campaign. First, you’ll have to send out some signals. As a brand or agency, create content that features the individuals you’d eventually like to partner with on a campaign. The simplest way is to include them on any lists that you’re creating. TopRank Marketing, for example, recently featured people from all industries in the list the  Top 50 Content Marketing Influencers, many of whom have gone on to contribute to B2B influencer campaigns.

After you’ve started sending signals, nurture the budding relationship. Staying in touch is a great way to gain credibility with the influencer and encourage them to co-create content, amplify it, and stay in touch for future opportunities to collaborate.

Above all, says Zeckman, be thoughtful in your interactions, and show your gratitude. Bonus points if you can show your gratitude in the form of pie, as the TopRank Marketing did for the influencers who contributed to DivvyHQ’s Easy as Pie campaign.

[bctt tweet="Be thoughtful in your influencer interactions. And show some gratitude. - @azeckman #InfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

#5 - Successful Influencer Marketing Requires a Lot of Time, Budget, and Resources

Some believe the juice isn’t worth the squeeze when it comes to B2B influencer marketing, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Collaborating with the right influencers to create content is one of the most economical ways to build a successful campaign.

For one thing, the content created with influencers has great potential to be repurposed. A blog post with influencer contributions can be grown into an eBook, Slideshare, or any number of other valuable assets. Most influencers are happy to expand upon a small contribution to provide more detail where needed, and that can be filed away for future, modular use.

In addition, influencer content perfectly lends itself to curation. If you’ve worked hard enough to have a small arsenal of contributions, consider compiling them into a list and publishing them as a blog post. Quotes that hit home are easily converted to beautiful, shareable images.

And don’t forget, says Zeckman, that your the influencers you involve are individuals. They’re real people who are most often thrilled to help amplify the content to which they’ve contributed. By providing influencers with social messages and images to share at the time of campaign launch, you’ve got a head start to promoting your hard work. And the payoff is worth it; Zeckman once saw a 1,700% increase in social ad clicks for a campaign as a result.

The Truth About B2B Influencer Marketing

Don’t believe the lies. B2B brands absolutely have an opportunity to collaborate with influencers and industry thought leaders, just like B2C brands have been doing for decades. Influencers can help extend your reach, lend authority to your content, and help you build credibility with your audience.

Want more insights on influencer marketing? See what TopRank Marketing CEO had to say during his 2018 CMWorld session on solving the “confluence equation.”

What misconceptions or concerns have you heard about influencer marketing? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post Ashley Zeckman Dispels B2B Influencer Marketing Lies at CMWorld appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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4 Ways to Improve Your B2B Facebook Ads

Does your company target other businesses? Wondering how to use Facebook ads to connect with prospects? In this article, you’ll find four ways to use Facebook ads to reach B2B customers. #1: Target Specific Job Titles and Companies With Facebook Ads More than likely, you already have a good idea whom your target audience is. [...]

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LinkedIn’s Megan Golden on Building a Blockbuster Content Marketing Strategy

LinkedIn's Megan Golden at Content Marketing World

LinkedIn's Megan Golden at Content Marketing World

“The good news about being a marketer in 2018 is that we have dozens and dozens of channels to share our marketing story,” Megan Golden, group manager of LinkedIn’s* global content and social media marketing, said in the opening of her session at Content Marketing World last Thursday.

“The bad news about being a marketer in 2018 is that we have dozens and dozens of channels to share our marketing story," she added.

It’s true. We’re inundated with options for trying to reach our audiences these days, making it a challenge to narrow focus and find the right mix. But it’s safe to say that if you work in B2B, LinkedIn has to be in that mix. Hosting more than half a billion professionals, and boasting unparalleled targeting capabilities, the platform is tremendously powerful for those who know how to use it.

No one knows better than LinkedIn’s own marketers. During her presentation, Megan pulled back the curtains to provide an inside look at tactics her team has developed and refined over the years.

It starts with a nod to Disney.

Embracing the Blockbuster Model

When Megan talks about shifting to a “Blockbuster Strategy,” she’s certainly not talking about the defunct video rental chain. Instead, she’s referring to the approach used by film studios like Disney to capitalize upon their most valuable franchises. After all, effective content needs to entertain, so which better examples to follow than cherished box-office boomers like Star Wars and The Avengers?

Disney's Blockbuster Movie Schedule

Via 7 Trends in B2B Marketing: Think Like Disney and 6 Other Strategies

As the timeline above depicts, Disney’s roadmap is structured largely around sequels, spinoffs, and sagas. The volume of net-new content makes up only a fraction of the release schedule. And clearly, it’s working.

“They’re monetizing their back catalogue by understanding what’s worked,” Megan says.

Three Principles of B2B Blockbuster Content

[bctt tweet="A #B2B blockbuster #contentmarketing strategy monetizes a brand’s expertise. @Goldmegs" username="toprank"]

The content team at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has adopted this same mindset, with great success. Megan points to a trio of core tenets that guide LinkedIn’s editorial council:

  • Focus. Concentrate your effort and promotion into regularly spaced out big-rock assets rather than following a scattered, ad-hoc calendar.
  • Familiarity. Make this content recognizable by consistently releasing new iterations and tie-ins around the same themes.
  • Extensibility. Unleash this content across various channels, platforms, and formats to increase its reach and accessibility. (Think about how much revenue Disney drives through merchandise.)

LinkedIn’s marketing team applied these principles through its Sophisticated Marketer’s Sessions series, which has turned into pillar content for them. These sleekly and uniformly designed sets of guides, infographics, videos, and cheat sheets showcase the unique insights from LinkedIn’s own leading marketers around key B2B social media marketing topics like targeting, engagement, and ROI.

The Sophisticated Marketer’s Sessions exemplify the B2B blockbuster model, following the three aforementioned principles and, in turn, monetizing the brand’s expertise.

But of course, all of this is contingent on the content resonating with audiences. Disney’s model wouldn’t be so effective if not for the sensational appeal of Luke Skywalker and Iron Man. In order to execute the B2B blockbuster strategy, you need to find out what your audience loves. Doing so requires plenty of experimentation.

Megan helpfully shared some of the findings her team has surfaced through its own experiences in this regard.

Tried and True Tips for Marketing on LinkedIn

[bctt tweet="If you’re not testing, you’re literally losing money. @Goldmegs on #ContentStrategy" username="toprank"]

Film studios like Disney invest significant resources into test screenings, surveys, and research to determine what will hit home with viewers, because missing the mark is very costly. Marketers can similarly rely on audiences to direct their strategies through A/B testing, which Megan emphasizes as an essential practice.

When it comes to marketing on LinkedIn, she saved us some of the work by sharing insights gleaned from her team’s experimentation on the platform. For instance:

  • Concise, quick-hitting content outperformed lengthier posts in terms of reach and clicks
  • Calling out the audience directly in the copy drove higher conversions
  • Darker shading tended to yield stronger click-through rates than light aesthetics
  • For digital assets, the descriptor “guide” outperformed “eBook”and drove 100% higher CTRs
  • Featuring a person rather than an object drove a huge lift in conversion rate

Create Your Own B2B Blockbuster

In the immortal words of Master Yoda, “Always pass on what you have learned.” We appreciate Megan following this directive from an unforgettable Star Wars character who’s helped vault Disney’s most prized franchise into the stars.

With these insights in hand, you’ll be ready to take off with your own B2B blockbuster.

Looking for more of the best nuggets to come out of Content Marketing World 2018? Check out some of our team’s other reports from the conference:

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post LinkedIn’s Megan Golden on Building a Blockbuster Content Marketing Strategy appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Do an Instagram Giveaway: Ideas and Tips

Wondering how to run an Instagram contest? Looking for Instagram giveaway ideas you can adapt? In this article, you’ll find tips and inspiration to help you plan a successful Instagram competition that supports your marketing goals. What Are Instagram’s Rules for Contests? Instagram makes it relatively easy to run contests, compared to Facebook regulations that [...]

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