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Monthly Archives: May 2019

I Wanted to Convert on Your Landing Page, But I Couldn’t. Here’s Why.

While you’ve been following “best practices” to tune up your page, you’ve ignored the most critical factors in conversion rate optimization. Paid Search Magic's Amy Hebdon lets you know why she wouldn't say "yes" to your call-to-action. (Ouch!)

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Trust Factors: The (In)Credible Impact of B2B Influencer Marketing

How Influencer Marketing Can Help B2B Brands Build Trust

How Influencer Marketing Can Help B2B Brands Build Trust

Trust is a currency. It’s arguably the most valuable currency in today’s B2B marketing environment. And much like real money, it needs to be earned; the risks of attempting to counterfeit trust are grave.

In the first installment of our Trust Factor series, we discussed how creating best-answer content serves a long-term trust-building strategy. Today we’ll examine the ways in which partnering with influencers can provide a dramatic boost to your brand’s credibility and authority in the eyes of your audience. We’ll also share some examples of companies that are already doing this effectively, and the lessons we can draw from them.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to developing genuine trust with your customers. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take the shortest possible path, so long as you know where you’re going. Walking this road with the right influencers at your side can expedite the journey.

Coordinating Content, Co-opting Trust

In the past, we have defined influencer marketing as “the practice of engaging internal and industry experts with active networks to help achieve measurable business goals.” Building trust should be a primary goal for virtually every business, and is a helpful guiding imperative as you start building out an influencer strategy.

Sometimes, objectives tied to influencer marketing campaigns can feel ambiguous. Usually, brands are looking to gain reach and visibility with targeted audiences. But it’s not just about getting in front of those people; it’s about the perception of your company’s association with the influencers in question. It’s also about trusted voices delivering messages with expertise and credibility in a time when buyers are increasingly wary of advertising and marketing messages.

A strong influencer candidate already has trust equity built up with their (your) audience. They speak knowledgeably and persuasively on topics that align closely with your business. They’ve developed a sturdy reputation in their industry or niche that holds weight with the people who follow it.

It’s a level of credibility that can’t be matched. Data shows that an increasing number of B2B buyers trust digital content from influencers, more so than content from the brand itself. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, the three most trusted voices are “company technical experts,” “academic experts,” and “a person like yourself.” All three represent common influencer profiles.  

Edelman Trust Graphic

In large part, this resonance owes to relatability, which brings us to our next point: engaging the wrong influencers can be detrimental to what we’re trying to achieve.

How NOT to Build Trust with Influencer Marketing

The caveat here is that if you don’t do it right, influencer marketing can actually diminish trust with your audience. So before we dive into practical examples of trust-building influencer engagements, let’s outline a few things to avoid.

Don’t Prioritize Quantity Over Quality

It’s one of the most prevalent pitfalls in the influencer marketing universe: “This person has a huge following! Let’s partner with ‘em!” In fact, research from Influencer Marketing Hub for the 2019 Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report actually found that larger followings, on average, correlate with lower ROI.

The same report shows that 48% of brands are smartly treating audience relationship as the most valuable factor in working with influencers, higher than any other benefit. And while this isn’t always true, influencers with smaller (not tiny) followings can often foster more tightly knit communities, with more meaningful bonds.

Don’t look strictly at popularity when selecting influencers. As our CEO Lee Odden has written: “Relevance, resonance and reach metrics should be used for influencer identification and validation.”

[bctt tweet="Relevance, resonance and reach metrics should be used for influencer identification and validation. - @leeodden" username="toprank"]

Don’t Try to Buy Trust Equity

Influencers should always feel like their efforts in a brand partnership are worthwhile. Sometimes, it makes sense to compensate them financially, but the most fruitful deployments of this strategy tend to take shape when both sides are invested beyond a simple money exchange.

“The real goal should be to develop mutually beneficial relationships with experts to co-create content that works for your audience, their audience and your mutual audience to build credibility,” writes TopRank Marketing Senior Director of Digital Strategy Ashley Zeckman.

Internet users are becoming smarter in general. If the extent of your motivation is to simply to associate your brand name with Instagram celebrities in a pay-to-play scenario (I’m looking at you, Fyre Festival), it’ll be transparent to your audience, and is likely to do more harm than good.

Creating a mutually beneficial scenario, as Ashley referenced, means that influencers see incentive in growing their own personal brands by partnering with yours. Establishing this dynamic is key to genuine and lasting influencer relationships.

Create Something Valuable

So, you’ve recruited an influencer to join your cause. Great! Now what are you going to do together? Too often, it seems like this is a secondary concern when it should be a foremost priority.

We consistently find that the most effective influencer marketing programs involve co-creation of content, where the expert perspectives lend tangible value to something your audience wants. Given the knowledge and authority held by niche influencers, this can greatly enhance the credibility of your best-answer content, which also supports SEO efforts.

If you want to see what this looks like, I invite you to peruse some of the examples below.

Examples of Trust-Building Influencer Engagements in Action

Trust is difficult to measure. But when you’re building it successfully, the impact tends to ripple outward into other metrics, like earned media value, prospect quality, and positive brand mentions. Here are a few campaigns that delivered results thanks, in large part, to an infusion of influencer content.  

SAP SuccessFactors

Focus is an important aspect of any well conceived influencer content campaign. You want to address a direct pain point for your customers in a substantive way. SAP SuccessFactors, a provider of cloud-based human resource management software, wanted to zero in on employee health and well-being.

In partnership with our team at TopRank Marketing, SAP SuccessFactors created an eBook featuring unique insights from respected executives and leaders in the human resources space. One contributor, Chris Paine, even has “Chief HR Geek” for a title.

SuccessFactors Well-Being eBook

This collaborative influencer marketing campaign surpassed download benchmarks by 272%, and most pertinently, organic social messaging (via SAP and influencers) drove 69% of conversions.  

Cisco Champions

This program exemplifies an influencer ecosystem that is driven by mutual benefit. Through its Cisco Champions community, the company nurtures a collection of brand enthusiasts who are also industry experts and active social media participants. By participating, these influencers are able to grow their own personal brands (while tethering themselves to the “single biggest player in enterprise networking”), and they also get special access to groups, training, and new products.

Cisco Champions Community

“The program reaches a diverse audience and allows Cisco to earn the trust of the IT community with authentic and relevant content. Our community views the information as ‘for us, by us,’ ” according to Cisco’s social media marketing manager Linda Hamilton (via Influitive). That is precisely the outcome any similar initiative should aim for.

Prophix

For this highly successful influencer program, Prophix tapped TopRank Marketing to help showcase powerful influencer content in action. The series of Pro Talks interview clips align with Prophix’s model as a provider of finance software, offering practical guidance for delivering finance presentations. The angle of the topic meant that this content was oriented directly toward CFOs and other business leaders that Prophix most wanted to reach, while also helping industry leaders showcase their expertise in an impactful way to grow their own influence.

Prophix ProTalks

Presenting insights through video, with the speaker talking directly into the camera, helps enhance the trust-building qualities by simulating a face-to-face conversation with subject matter experts who embody the “trusted advisor” persona.

Supported by a mix of blog, social, and paid promotion, this campaign drove big results. An impressive 42% of viewers completed each video (7-to-9 minutes in length) and conversions exceeded the benchmark by 200%. Prophix captured multiple enterprise-level CFO leads.

Trust in Influencer Marketing

Even if trust is tough to measure, marketers are clearly seeing the value in influencer content, and trust is a key (if subtle) component of that. In the aforementioned State of Influencer Marketing report from IMH, 92% of respondents said they believe the tactic is effective and 86% plan to dedicate budget to influencer marketing activities this year.

These are further reasons to trust in influencer marketing, but I’d argue that the No. 1 driver should be the trust these strategic collaborators can imbue into your brand. By choosing the right influencers, creating mutually advantageous programs, and jointly creating content that serves your audience, you’ll be on your way to earning the kind of trust that simply cannot be bought.

Want to learn more about TopRank Marketing delivers trusted influencer marketing solutions for B2B companies? Check out our influencer marketing service page.

The post Trust Factors: The (In)Credible Impact of B2B Influencer Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Use Twitter Media Studio to Improve Your Video Marketing

Want more views for your Twitter videos? Curious how Twitter Media Studio can help optimize your video tweets? In this article, you’ll learn how to use Twitter Media Studio to improve the performance of the videos you publish on Twitter. What Is Twitter Media Studio? With Twitter Media Studio, you can improve the videos you […]

The post How to Use Twitter Media Studio to Improve Your Video Marketing appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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B2B Social Media Shakeup: 4 Developments That Have Caught Our Eye

B2B Social Media Shakeup

B2B Social Media Shakeup

Following scandal, criticism, and calls for more privacy and relevancy, social media giants are working hard to recapture their original allure as safe communities and conversation destinations.

And while platforms are ardently focused on heightening the everyday user’s experience, the movements we’ve seen so far in 2019 signals that B2B brands will still have some things to look forward to.

This is a teeny sampling of the social media headlines we saw in the first quarter of 2019 alone:

Now just 6 weeks into Q2, important announcements and shifts abound—which of course present opportunities and challenges for B2B marketers.

Below we dive into a handful of the latest and greatest changes that have caught our attention.

#1 – Twitter’s Jack Dorsey Alludes to a Potential Platform Overhaul

In April, Twitter Co-Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey sat down with Chris Anderson and Whitney Pennington Rodgers of TED for a roundtable discussion on the state of his company, with much of the discussion centering on Twitter’s conversation health and how to improve it.

As TopRank Marketing’s Senior Content Strategist Nick Nelson reported: “Some of the possible changes hinted by Dorsey are relatively minor and uncontroversial … But the bombshell of the interview came with Dorsey’s allusion to an entirely new structural underpinning for Twitter.”

Dorsey said that he believed Twitter is “best as an interest-based network,” suggesting that a shift from following accounts to following topics could be part of Twitter’s future.

While only time will tell whether Twitter actually follows through on any of its hopes and dreams for improving conversation health, even a small shift in making it easier for users to find and engage with topics they care about is good news for B2B brands and marketers.

“Brands need to be speaking the language of their customers and reaching them in the right context,” Nick wrote. “Fewer trolls and more substantive, expert content organized around topics would make the platform a stronger piece in any B2B digital marketing strategy.”

Read: The Impact of Twitter’s Proposed Shakeup on Marketers and Influencers

#2 – LinkedIn Releases New Post Reactions

In mid-April, LinkedIn announced new post reactions were starting to roll out, which would allow users to express themselves beyond the “like.” Within the last week, reactions have gone mainstream. As LinkedIn’s Cissy Chen wrote:

“You can use Celebrate to praise an accomplishment or milestone like landing a new job or speaking at an event, or Love to express deep resonance and support, like a conversation about work life balance or the impact of mentorship. Insightful can help you recognize a great point or interesting idea, while Curious lets you show your desire to learn more or react to a thought-provoking topic.”

LinkedIn Post Reactions

Image Credit: LinkedIn

This isn’t an earth shattering development by any means. I’d say it’s a natural evolution of the platform. However, it’s still great news for B2B marketers: An array of reaction options will help you better understand the impact of your posts. Naturally, this kind of qualitative data can guide your messaging strategy on the platform, helping you share content to pique interest and engagement.

The interesting thing moving forward will be whether LinkedIn refines the emotional mix. Currently, reaction options don’t allow for expressing anger, disappointment, or sadness. And as all social networks strive to bolster safe, positive spaces for communication and interaction, this could be a slippery slope.

#3 – Facebook Reveals Redesign with Privacy in Mind

Thousands of developers, creators, and entrepreneurs descended on San Jose, CA for Facebook’s 2019 F8 conference, an event dedicated to discussing the future of technology.

During his opening keynote, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed a long list of coming changes—including a redesign. But this is no run-of-the-mill refresh, rather one that “puts your communities” at the center.

Facebook Stories still appears to have a prominent top spot, but the News Feed—the product of a historic past redesign itself—will be taking a backseat to Facebook Groups and event listings.

“There are tens of millions of active groups on Facebook,” Facebook said following the first day of F8. “When people find the right one, it often becomes the most meaningful part of how they use Facebook.”

New Facebook Design

Image Credit: Facebook

Last year, we explored the growing interest in and adoption of Facebook Groups among brands. With increasing engagement as a top priority, Groups are mini-communities that can foster direct communications with prospects and customers, and build brand affinity without hard-sell marketing messages.

Today, it appears that is the future of “organic” marketing on Facebook. As our Nick Nelson so eloquently said months ago:

“Some marketers have understandably been reluctant to dive into this functionality over concerns that Facebook will change gears and renew its focus six months from now, but I believe it’s safe to say — based on the social network’s clear commitment to elevating active participation and ‘meaningful communities’ — that groups are going to be a mainstay feature going forward.”

For many B2B brands, Facebook marketing has traditionally focused more on highlighting company culture, news, and events rather than straight content promotion. But with what’s to come, it’s worth exploring whether Facebook should be more (or less) of a focus moving forward.

Read: The Question on Many Marketers’ Minds: Should My Brand Start a Facebook Group?

#4 – Instagram Announces That Anyone Will Be Able to Create Stories Filters

Instagram has been gaining prominence within B2B marketing strategies, representing an opportunity to establish a brand’s visual identity—something that can be hard to capture when physical products don’t exist.

With the launch of Instagram Stories, B2B interest in the platform reached a new level, allowing for serialized storytelling as well as the implementation of links and calls to action. Of course, augmented reality (AR) filters are a signature feature within the Stories platform—and now any developer or brand can create them through the Spark AR Studio.

Facebook's Spark VR

“Over the past year, more than 1 billion people have used AR experiences powered by Facebook’s Spark AR platform, with hundreds of millions using AR each month across Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram,” Facebook reported. “They’re expanding the language of expression, transforming the way we shop, and adding meaning to real-world objects in fun and interesting ways.”

Under the right circumstances, creating a custom filter could be an opportunity to foster awareness or engagement at a major B2B industry event, encourage advocacy among employees or help with recruiting efforts, or promote the release of a new asset or product. In addition, this could be a great influencer activation tool.

If Instagram is going to be a core focus of your B2B marketing efforts going forward, this new development for Stories is at least worth reading up on.

Read: What You Need to Know About Instagram Stories for B2B Marketing

Keeping Up with the Changing Social Media Landscape

For a steady stream of social media and digital marketing news, tune into the TopRank Marketing Blog every Friday for our weekly news roundup, featuring video commentary from Senior Content Marketing Manager Joshua Nite and Associate Director of Search & Analytics Tiffani Allen.

What social media news item has got your attention? Tell us in the comments section below.

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post B2B Social Media Shakeup: 4 Developments That Have Caught Our Eye appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Research Your Competitors’ Facebook Ads

Want to know more about your competitors’ Facebook ad campaigns? Wondering how to study their ad strategy? In this article, you’ll discover six ways to research your competitors’ Facebook advertising campaigns and discover creative ideas for your next Facebook ads. #1: Build a Facebook Ad Swipe File A swipe file is a place where you […]

The post How to Research Your Competitors’ Facebook Ads appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Facebook Marketing Declining: New Research

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore findings from the 2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report and Facebook’s new Automated Ads tool with special […]

The post Facebook Marketing Declining: New Research appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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9 YouTube stats to inform your marketing strategy in 2019

When YouTube first arrived in 2005, few likely had any idea how valuable it would become. The first video, “Me at the Zoo,” launched Read more...

This post 9 YouTube stats to inform your marketing strategy in 2019 originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Digital Marketing News: Content Pet Peeves, Facebook’s New Look, Personalization With AI & More

What's Most Annoying About Brand Content? Consumers Weigh In

Adobe’s* 2019 Brand Content Survey asked 1,000 consumers what they found the most annoying in brand content. The results showed that wordy content or poorly written content takes the cake with 39% of the vote. It’s also important to note that lack of personalization and too much personalization are both annoying pain points for consumers. Adobe


Image credit: Facebook

Video Is the Fastest Growing Type of Content on LinkedIn and Starts the Most Conversations

LinkedIn* posted a new infographic this week sharing the most surprising statistics about the platform. For example, the number of messages sent on the platform has increased 35% year over year. Plus, millions of LinkedIn members have already created video on the platform, making it the fastest growing type of content on the site. Their statistics also show that video starts the most conversations, making it a great engagement tool. LinkedIn

Nearly 75% of U.S. Internet Users Say the Cambridge Analytica Scandal Raised Privacy Concerns

Text messaging marketing company, SlickText, conducted a survey to evaluate how consumers view their privacy online after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. They found that almost three quarters of consumers were more concerned about how their information was used online after the scandal. In addition, only 32% of respondents said they’re willing to trade their personal information for greater convenience. SlickText

Facebook Is Rolling Out a Redesigned Interface

At Facebook’s F8 developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerburg announced a design overhaul for all of their applications, including saying goodbye to their traditional blue color. The new look also rearranges the home page to focus on stories and groups—something digital marketers will want to adapt to. Facebook

Artificial Intelligence Is Being Used for Personalization at Scale

A new study from Arm Treasure Data* and Forbes Insights revealed that 25% of companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) to achieve personalization at scale—and they see AI as a critical component to their personalization efforts. The study also found that 40% of respondents are seeing an increase in sales and profits thanks to personalization. Forbes Insights and Arm Treasure Data

Engaging with Followers Is the Biggest Challenge for B2B Brands on Instagram

Social Media Today hosted a Q&A session over Twitter to discover top challenges and tips for B2B brands on Instagram. Respondents highlighted engagement as a top challenge and goal on the platform. Respondents also advised other B2B digital marketers to stay true to their brand and company culture as a top Instagram tip. Social Media Today

Creative Commons Launches New Search Engine

Finding relevant, copyright-free images for your digital marketing needs just got a whole lot easier. Creative Commons just launched CC Search, a new search engine for over 300 million Creative Commons images and 19 different collections. PetaPixel

More Than Half of Organizations Could Redirect Investments Towards Customer Experience Innovations

For more signs that experience is how brands compete today and in the future, a new article from CMO.com predicts over half of all organizations will reallocate budget for experience innovations and management. To navigate this new business landscape, CMO.com recommends a single, real-time customer profile and technology that makes it possible. CMO.com

The Benefit of Experiential Marketing

Almost 75% of people who take part in a brand’s experiential marketing are more likely to purchase something from that brand. Compared to other marketing types like video, content, and audio, experiential marketing lead to greater satisfaction, engagement, and entertainment levels among participants. ClickZ

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Tom Fishburne Comic

Every digital marketer’s favorite cartoonist, Tom Fishburne, highlights the pitfalls of creative review. Marketoonist

Bringing down the bots—bot fraud losses will be down 11% this year compared to 2017. MediaPost

How seriously should digital marketers take artificial intelligence? Hint: the answer is serious. The Drum

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Solving the Experience Economy Equation — SAP (client)
  • Lee Odden — What’s Trending: No Endgame in Sight for Video Marketing — LinkedIn (client)
  • Lee Odden — How to Create Winning Co-Marketing Partnerships — Heidi Cohen
  • Debbie Friez — Connecting Ideas and People With Dell Influencers — Katana Logic

THAT’S ALL, FOLKS

From Facebook’s design overhaul to the creativity-draining review process, there were a lot of newsworthy topics to cover in digital marketing this week.

Thanks for joining us and we hope you’ll come back again next week for more of the most relevant digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for daily news stories and updates. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

*Disclosure: Arm Treasure Data, LinkedIn, and Adobe are TopRank Marketing clients

The post Digital Marketing News: Content Pet Peeves, Facebook’s New Look, Personalization With AI & More appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How Local Businesses Can Drive More Foot Traffic

Do you want to drive more foot traffic into your local business? Wondering how social media marketing can help? To explore how local businesses can drive more foot traffic, I interview Stacy Tuschl. Stacy is a local business marketing expert and owner of two performing arts studios. She’s also host of the Foot Traffic podcast […]

The post How Local Businesses Can Drive More Foot Traffic appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Less Is More: Time to Cut Content Bloat & Create Content Connections

When it comes to the craft of writing, my favorite luminary is the late William Zinsser. His book, On Writing Well, is — in my opinion — the definitive work covering its stated subject.

On Writing Well is an essential read for anyone who wants to elevate their prose. Zinsser’s primary focal area is word economy. “Look for the clutter in your writing and prune it ruthlessly,” he implores. “Be grateful for everything you can throw away. Reexamine each sentence you put on paper. Is every word doing new work?”

That last question is especially pertinent to B2B marketing writers. The reader should always be our top concern when penning copy, but in this case, the stakes are even higher. Attention is at a premium with business professionals, so wasted words are especially costly. Content bloat leads to audience abandonment.

via GIPHY

In the spirit of Mr. Zinsser, we’re offering up tips on trimming down your writing to make it more punchy and concise. And to do so, we’ll curate advice from top wordsmiths in the marketing game, with a key emphasis on overcoming the most prevalent pitfalls for today’s content creators.

3 Keys to Concise and Compelling B2B Marketing Copy

Rigid formats, giant blocks of text, and unnecessary filler words are banes of succinct writing. Here are some pointers from the experts on conquering them.

#1 - Nix Stringent Word Counts

So many writers are at the mercy of word counts, and it’s a tragedy. We’re told we need to produce at least 1,500 words, so we inject a bunch of unnecessary filler to get there. Does this serve our audience in any way? Hell no.

The conundrum is that numerous studies show higher word counts correlating with higher SERP placements. However, this is misguided thinking. Long-form content is fantastic and it’s certainly part of our mix here at TopRank Marketing, but it needs to be valuable. Don’t take my word for it; here’s what Rand Fishkin — co-founder of Moz, and one of the planet’s top authorities on SEO — has to say:

“700 more words will not help you reach your goals any more than 7 more words. Create content that helps people. Do it efficiently. Never write an ultimate guide where a single image could more powerfully convey the same value. Trust me; your audience and your bottom line will thank you.”

[bctt tweet="700 more words will not help you reach your goals any more than 7 more words. Create content that helps people. Do it efficiently. @randfish" username="toprank"]

According to SEMrush’s hierarchy of ranking factors, content length falls below time on site, pages per session, bounce rate, and backlinks in SEO importance.

In other words, if excessive wordiness is turning readers away, the number doesn’t really matter all that much. Delivering a quality experience is vastly more valuable.

To see what high-performing short-form content looks like in action, check out these examples from IFL Science, courtesy of BuzzSumo.

#2 - Use Every Bit of Space Intentionally

It might not be a writer’s first instinct, but visualization is a helpful practice. Take a step back and look at your content — how it really appears on the page. Are you making the best use of your digital real estate?

Ann Handley suggests we take a page from the lead character in Charlotte’s Web, who she says might be the best content marketer in the world:

“Think of how Charlotte was able to save a life with just [a few] words,” Handley said during a session at Content Marketing World a couple years back, as relayed by our own Caitlin Burgess. “How can we use our words more intentionally? How can we make a difference?”

[bctt tweet="How can we use our words more intentionally? How can we make a difference? @annhandley @MarketingProfs" username="toprank"]

Think of each page on the worldwide web as a finite spider web. You only have so much space, and so much thread, to get your points across. Make it count. You might not be saving the life of a radiant pig, but you will be more likely to delight and connect with your audience.

#3 - Banish Buzzword Banality

To celebrate the NCAA Tournament earlier this year, our friends and clients at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions* put together a lighthearted marketing madness bracket, calling out the most overused jargon in the profession. If you find yourself leaning too heavily on any terms listed there, you might want to rethink.

LinkedIn Marketing Buzzwords

It’s not just marketing buzzwords that drag down our copy, though. Content Marketing Institute (CMI)* recently published a rundown of 25 words and phrases to avoid.

“Stuffing your sentences and paragraphs with filler and fluff — words and phrases that add zero meaning to what you’re trying to say — is the opposite of clear writing,” author Julia McCoy writes.

Many of the items she includes are extremely common, and the types you’re likely to summon out of sheer habit and routine. For instance:

  • In order to
  • Really
  • That
  • Then
  • Just

They seem harmless on the surface, barely taking up space. But this is exactly what makes them so insidious. Most often, you can make the exact same point while deleting these words, and you’ll provide a much more crisp and efficient experience for the person on the other end.

Here’s an example: In order to write great copy, you’ll really want to avoid using words that you don’t need. If your goal is to be efficient, then it’s just the best choice.

We can pare that down to: To write great copy, you’ll want to avoid using words you don’t need. If your goal is to be efficient, it’s the best choice.

Six words removed, zero substance lost. Over the long haul, you’ll save readers a lot of time — and keep them more engaged — by adhering to this mindset.

Writing Well (Usually) Means Writing Less

To be clear, long-form writing isn’t always unnecessarily drawn out. In many cases, exploring the full breadth of a subject requires it.

Recently I wrote about the example of Backlinko’s Brian Dean, who puts together massive power pages spanning thousands of words. These posts rank and perform so well not because of their word counts, but because of what those words accomplish: they comprehensively break down important topics and provide credibility-building best-answer content for his audience. If you scan through one of these pages, you’ll find the copy is actually quite sparse in its arrangement, divvied into small chunks and broken up by plenty of visuals.

The Final Word

  1. Forget word counts — maximum or minimum. Write as much as it takes to deliver a satisfying best answer, and no more.
  2. Be mindful of space on the page. Keeping in mind that a majority of users don’t make it very far into online articles, consider leading with your most critical points, or even offering a brief summary atop each new piece of content.
  3. And before you hit publish, challenge yourself to delete every single word throughout that isn’t tied to a specific, tangible purpose. You might even consider printing out the jargon lists from LinkedIn and CMI as references for your cleaning.

The three guiding principles above might sound simple, but they don’t come naturally to even the most seasoned writers. And overthinking word economy during the drafting process can badly hamper creativity and productivity. Focus first on getting your thoughts on the page, clearly and coherently. Later, you can go back and — as Zinsser puts it — prune ruthlessly.

“Writing is hard work,” says Zinsser. “A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.”

Indeed it is. But in the immortal words of Jeff Bezos, “You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” You also earn trust, authority, and — ultimately — business. So, grab your shears and let’s get to work.

Pruning and optimizing your content can happen post-launch, too. Check out our piece on why refreshing existing content is great for your audience and results.

* Disclosure: LinkedIn and CMI are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post Less Is More: Time to Cut Content Bloat & Create Content Connections appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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