How Social Media Can Drive Success on Your Content Marketing Roadtrip

road-trip-social-media-content-marketing

 

I think most marketers would agree that social media and content marketing compliment each other nicely. Need proof? Recent research has found that 93% of B2B marketers list social media as one of their top five content marketing tactics.

I like to think of social media as the vehicle that drives your content where you want it to go. But as social media continues to evolve, it’s important to remember that we’re not driving down a one-way street. Social media presents more opportunities than just a dissemination platform. It can also be used as a means for engaging your online community, publishing and targeting specific content and building brand awareness.

So how do we leverage social media in a way that drives our content marketing efforts forward? Well, as a person and marketer who’s taken a few road trips in her day, I can tell you that ensuring that the social media marketing and content marketing wheels are aligned is essential. Here are some best practices and tips to ensure you’re ready to roll.

Map Your Route

Anyone who sets out on a road trip maps out the route to their end destination So when it comes to using social media to amp up your content marketing efforts, create a social media content plan to act as your roadmap.

To get started, ask yourself the following questions.

  • What do I want my followers to know about my brand? (What niche do I serve?)
  • What are my customers’ pain points?
  • How can I provide something of value? How can I empathize with my audience?
  • What type of content does my audience consume on social? (Generally speaking, How-to and List posts are wildly successful.)
  • What social platforms should i be a part of? (Where is my target audience? Do I need to be on every platform?)
  • What kind of results do I want? (Increased social traffic to my blog? More followers?)
  • How will I measure results? (Engagement metrics? Social traffic to the website?)

Understanding who your audience is and how they use social media will help you create a content plan that provides the type and style of content that will resonate.

To learn a little bit more about social media strategy, read: Roadmap to Social Media Marketing Strategy.

Use the Right Fuel

Filling up with the right fuel ensures your vehicle doesn’t break down a mile down the road. So when it comes to social media as a content marketing tactic, make sure you’re engaging your audience with the right kind of content at the right time.

Use the analytics available on social platforms to see what kind of content is driving the most engagement (likes, shares, link clicks and comments) and when your content is getting the most engagement. This will allow you to tailor your content to that specific social audience and drive engagement.

Also, keep track of trending topics. Trending topics present opportunities for you to become part of the conversation and create timely content that showcases your expertise or product offerings. For example, Hollywood’s biggest night–the Academy Awards–was held Sunday, Feb. 28. A few days before, TopRank Marketing published a best practices article titled: Is Your Digital Marketing Strategy Red Carpet Worthy?

Stop for Directions

If you get a little lost or just want to make sure you’re going the right way, use social media to tap your audience for insights and content ideas.

One excellent way to gain insights is through creating a poll. For example, each week TopRank Marketing asks its Twitter followers to weigh in on a marketing related topic. Not only does this foster engagement, but it also helps us understand our audience better. The information we collected can also be used in future content pieces–that we know our social audience will care about.

Find the Right Radio Station

Having the proper tunage is a must-have for any lengthy road trip. The right music sets the mood and makes it impossible for you to stop singing along. Similarly, optimizing content for social channels ensures your message is easily received, understood and shareable.

For example, optimize images to fit with the optimal dimensions for each social network. HubSpot offers the ultimate cheat sheet on sizing images.

And in addition to photos, consider repurposing existing content to republish on social. For example, you could transform how-to blog post and into an easily shareable infographic. Or consider republishing long-form content on LinkedIn Publisher. (Note: If you do decide to republish a long-form post, make it unique. Don’t just copy and paste. You don’t want to spread duplicate content around.)

Do you need to make a pit stop and ask for directions? TopRank Marketing can certainly provide them. Get in touch with us today.

What are your best practices for blending your social media and content marketing efforts? Tell us in the comments section below.

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The Different Types of Renewable Energy Solutions



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Renewable energy is generated from natural sources and sustainable replenished constantly. Different technologies are used to create energy and help a lot in improving efficiency in homes and ensure that family health is given the best. The energy reduces reliance on fossil fuels common, slows global warming, which has become a very serious problem and also improves air quality. The fact is that the use of renewable energies, it is possible for people to enjoy the incentives and government grants and you can be among those who get to enjoy incentives.

A sustainable future can be built when the parties involved, including investors, companies, communities, politicians and even farmers to work together to protect environmental values ​​such as water quality and habitat quality. The market has many renewable energy products that can be used to find energy solutions that are better for the world in general. The energy is obtained from various natural sources and include the following.

Solar Energy – Solar energy has become very reliable and some portable radios available today rely on power to operate. It is also widely used to light homes and power devices and machines. The best thing about this energy is that it’s cheap and inexhaustible.

Wind energy – Another great form of renewable energy, and in addition to being reliable, which is free of contamination. Windy areas can enjoy an incredible energy solution that can be used in a variety of ways.

Biogas energy – is very popular among farmers because it uses animal manure generated and therefore reduces pollution. Many households depend on this energy for electricity and heating through conversion of animal waste in the cleaning of flue gases can actually be used for cooking as well.

Geothermal energy – this energy is based on reservoirs of hot water and steam that naturally occur on the surface of the earth. It has great potential as an energy source that is renewable. Energy is widely used for the production of electricity providing reliable solutions easily to any environment.

hydro – energy is obtained from the water in motion and becomes the largest source when it comes to renewable electricity in a number of countries. However, it is important to remember that even if the water is still a renewable resource, the rivers do not fall into this category of renewable resources.

Offshore energy – This is the energy from tides, waves and winds that are common around the edges. All of them have great potential and can be developed to improve the quality of life while protecting the natural source of ocean resources were.

The use of different forms of renewable energy, you can improve your life. There are so many green products, you can choose and installed to change the way you enjoy your life. There are so many companies now offer these products, but you should ensure that you simply professionals who provide high quality products and installation services.

5 Common Writing Clichés to Avoid for Better Content Marketing

blogging clichesEvery piece of content we produce as marketers makes an implicit promise to our audience. From beginning to end, each asset that is researched, created and published should be interesting, relevant, help solve a current pain point. The content will be informative, easy to read and provide value.

We must honor that promise to hold the reader’s attention and provide them with useful information. As Copyblogger founder Brian Clark says, “A great headline mixed with a lame opening is like inviting someone into your house, only to slam the door in their face as they approach.” Once you slam the door in a reader’s face, they’re not going to accept future invitations.

Our goal should be to create content that holds the door open, invites the reader in, and serves them tea and cakes. They should be better off because of the time they entrusted to us. We must be ever vigilant against bland, empty, awkward or confusing writing. Avoiding the following clichés can help your content make good on its promise to be worth the reader’s time.

#1 – The 30,000 Foot Introduction

In high school, well-meaning teachers told us introductions should start wide and then narrow down to our topic. So we went all the way up to 30,000 feet to get the big, really big picture. We wrote, “Waste disposal has historically been a huge problem in the world, and it continues to this day.” Or, “Most scientists agree that electricity is important.” Sometimes, years later, it can be difficult to shake the urge to start with a bird’s-eye view.

Why It’s Less Effective: 30,000 Foot introductions are so broad that they fail to introduce the reader to your specific topic. They also tend to be full of information the reader already knows, which is less likely to inspire them to keep reading.

What to Do Instead: When you realize you’ve written 30,000 foot introductions, start by writing a second paragraph to actually introduce the article. Many times, you can just delete the original paragraph and go with the more detailed introduction.

If you’re having trouble introducing a topic without going up to 30,000 feet, create specificity and 3rd party credibility by adding a statistic or quote.

#2 – We All Know That…

The “we all know” or “as [members of a group], we all know” construction usually pops up when a writer is trying to empathize with the readers. While the intention may be good, execution can read a little clumsy.

Why It’s Less Effective: If we all know it, then the reader knows it, too. If the reader knows it, they may feel like we’re wasting their time. When you need to state the obvious in a post, it’s better to find an angle that adds something extra to what “we all know.”

What to Do Instead: As with the 30,000 Feet Introduction, use a quote or a statistic. Instead of, “we all know that content marketing is important,” go for, “as Michael Brenner says, ‘Content is the atomic particle of all marketing across paid, owned, and earned channels.’” Now you’ve made your point, given new information, and added credibility to your piece.

Or, you can just eliminate the “We All Know” and make your statement to sound more authoritative: “Content marketing is a vital piece of any marketing mix.”

#3 – In This Article, I Will…

Here’s another holdover from our five-paragraph-essay days. It’s a hard habit to break, because it seems like the easiest way to transition into the body of your content. It previews the structure of the article and moves you to your first subheading.

Why It’s Less Effective: A good introduction casts a spell on the reader, compelling them to keep reading. “In this article, I will…” is an awkward transition that breaks the spell. Even worse, it puts the focus on you, the author, instead of the reader.

What to Do Instead: Ask the reader to do what you want them to do: Read on. “Read on to learn X, Y, and Z.” Or make it inspirational: “You can do x, y, and z. Here’s how.” Or, “doing [these/the following] five things can help you accomplish X.” Show the reader what’s in it for them and they’ll be more likely to keep reading.

#4 – Rhetorical Questions

Who doesn’t love rhetorical questions? They seem like a great tool for getting your reader to ponder the topic you’re discussing. But should you avoid them? And how can you? (Sorry, last one, I promise).

Why They’re Less Effective: When I write a rhetorical question, I imagine my reader leaning forward, eyes wide in childlike wonderment, saying, “Golly gee, mister, how CAN I write better content?” I’m trying to create drama, but really I’m underestimating the reader’s intelligence.

People who take the time to read a blog post are smart (take you, for example. You’re reading this post, and I have no doubt you’re startlingly intelligent). Rhetorical questions invite your audience to come up with a different answer than the one you’re leading to, which can derail the point you’re trying to make.

What to Do Instead: The antidote for this one is easy: Turn your questions into statements. Instead of, “How can you avoid clichéd writing?” say “It’s important to avoid clichéd writing. You can ditch clichés by…” As a general rule, unless you’re inviting readers to actually respond to your question, make it a statement.

#5 – Alphabet Soup

My wife is a middle-school teacher. We have a game where we string together as many acronyms from our respective professions as we can. So I’ll say, “With a little CRO, you can tweak your CTA to increase the CTR of your PPC, getting a better ROI on your CPC.” And she’ll say, “The kid with the IEP clearly had ODD, but his FSP didn’t modify his CBA.” And we laugh. Oh, how we laugh. But the alphabet soup is less funny when you’re trying to glean information from an article.

Why It’s Less Effective: Acronyms aren’t universal. The same three or four letters can mean something radically different—or nothing at all—to a reader, depending on their background. Take the two alphabet-soup sentences above: some readers will get one and not the other, and many won’t understand either sentence.

What to Do Instead: First, keep your audience in mind. If they’re not marketers, avoid marketing jargon and acronyms entirely. Then make sure to spell out the first instance of an acronym, like “with a little conversion rate optimization (CRO)…”

It can’t hurt to spell out even the most obvious acronyms. Most readers know that ROI means return on investment, but you may have a French reader who thinks you’re shouting about a king (you see, in French “Le Roi” is the King, and…never mind). If you find you’re introducing three acronyms in a single sentence and spelling them all out is getting awkward, that’s a good indication you should break the sentence up.

Read Critically for Better Writing

Writing engaging content is a learned skill, like playing the violin or juggling live turtles. Or doing both at the same time, if you’re an overachiever. Avoiding these five clichés will help you write content your audience will enjoy reading. But these five are just the tip of the iceberg (which is also a cliché, if you’re counting). So continue honing your skills by writing, of course, but also by reading with a critical eye. When you go through your daily blog and news site crawl, look for overused phrases, convoluted sentences, and anything else that seems out-of-place.

What clichés do you struggle with in your writing? How do you keep your content fresh and relevant? Let me know in the comments.

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7 Ideas for Keeping Your Brand’s Content Marketing Fresh & Relevant

vegetable dish

Have you ever opened the fridge and realized that all of the produce that you painstakingly picked out at the farmers market had gone bad? Maybe there were a few items that were salvageable but the rest had to be tossed. You wouldn’t want to serve your guests a rotten ratatouille would you?

Today’s content marketers should be using only the freshest of ingredients (tactics) to keep their audience engaged and coming back for seconds.

Keeping an online audience engaged is getting harder and harder. They are constantly bombarded with an overwhelming amount of content which makes it very difficult to hold their attention. In fact, the Statistic Brain Research Institute found that the average attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds and only 4% of page views on the internet last longer than 10 minutes. Remember that blog post it took you 3 hours to write? Chances are your customers are speed reading and moving on.

However, there are steps that you can take to keep your content marketing fresh, interesting and innovative for your audience. In today’s market, Content marketing can take on many different forms and be published on a variety of platforms. The possibilities are nearly limitless.

Below are some of the ideas for how you can keep your content marketing program fresh and delicious. Bon apetite!

#1 – Study the Works of Other “Chefs”

Today’s foodies love everything from Indian street food, to fine French dining. What has become even more popular over the past few years is the concept of food fusion, which takes notes from different types of cuisines and mashes them together to produce the best possible dishes.

In order to create these tasty recipes, chefs had to go outside of their base knowledge of a particular cuisine and incorporate ideas from other cultures.

It can be easy to fall into a routine of strictly following what other marketers in your industry are doing to help determine your content marketing strategy.

Instead, look for innovative ideas that are outside of your industry and may not even be a part of marketing. For example, take a look at your personal email inbox, is there anything that caught your eye as a consumer or that you found to be an interesting concept? Use these ideas that you find in other industries to fuel your content marketing ideas.

#2 – Ditch the Recipe Book & Try Something New

Some of my best dishes have come from throwing together ingredients that I thought went well together. Other times I have been left with an inedible goopy mess. But at least I knew not to do it again.

Believe it or not, failure can be a good thing. Why? Because if you failed, that means that you made an attempt. One of the worst things you can do as a marketer is to remain stagnant and keep executing on the same old safe, tried and true digital marketing tactics.

Now that doesn’t mean that you should just go chasing after any idea. You should still be mindful of your approach and determine what it is that you expect to get out of it.

#3 – Mother Sauces Require Key Ingredients

You can’t make a bechamel sauce without butter and a hollandaise without lemon just isn’t quite right. While there are variations of these mother sauces, there are core ingredients that bring them together and make your tastebuds sing.

One of the most overlooked opportunities for marketing is combining your different digital teams (either internal or external). The convergence of search, social and content is not a new concept. However, there is a big difference between creating an integrated digital marketing strategy, and getting your different teams together to collaborate.

It doesn’t matter if you have a large team, a small team or are working with an outside digital marketing agency, there is always an opportunity to collaborate. This approach will help each team understand what it is that the other is working on and can lead to some creative brainstorming for content marketing solutions.

#4 – Small Touches Create a Better Diner Experience

Personally, I eat just as much with my eyes as I do with my mouth. There is almost no replacement for a beautiful plate of food that tastes equally delicious. The perfect combination of ambiance, a beautiful table, good parking and alluring food can create a truly epic dining experience.

Similarly, you should always use content marketing to create a good customer experience.

This means:

  • Create Content for Need: Does your content marketing program help solve a business problem or meet a customer need?
  • Optimize for Device: Can your customers access your website, blog and any other assets both on desktop and a mobile device?
  • Incorporate Storytelling: Connect customers to your content by incorporating storytelling into your strategy.

#5 – Do Your Customers Like Their Steak Rare, Medium or Well Done?

Let’s pretend that you went out to the nicest steak restaurant in town and everyone in your party ordered a nice juicy steak. Now imagine that the server assumed that everyone at the table wanted their steak well done without asking? Chances are, there would be some pretty unhappy people at the table.

Many companies are afraid of asking current customers simple questions about the helpfulness of their content. There is the fear of negative feedback or that the customer will decide that they no longer want to do business with you.

Instead of being fearful, consider this an opportunity to improve your marketing program by better providing your customers what they need. They’ll also appreciate your willingness to hear what they have to say. Ultimately, this temperature check will tell you what you’re doing well (and need to do more of) as well as opportunities for improvement for content.

You can either contact customers directly and ask them or survey your community at large through email, social media or other means.

#6 – Add Your Own Flair

Part of what makes celebrity chefs so great is that you get to experience “what they’re really like” simply by tuning in to the Food Network or Cooking channel. In all fairness, their cooking chops is largely what got them to where they are today, but their personalities are what have made them celebrities.

Few brands are able to inject the proper amount of personality and authority into their content marketing. Often, brands are fearful of towing the line and offending the audience. Always err on the side of professionalism but don’t be afraid to use humor, personality and wit where appropriate.

Another option is to provide your audience with a “behind the scenes” look at your organization. This can be accomplished through “candid” videos, images shared on social media and contributions from team members from across the organization on their experience working with the company.

#7 – Throw Spaghetti at the Wall & See What Sticks

While you want your noodles al-dente, crunchy just won’t cut it. Sometimes the only way to tell if they’re good is to throw them at the wall and see if they stick.

The same can be said for creative content marketing brainstorms. It’s better to throw in a bunch of ideas and see which ones end up sticking.

To keep your content marketing fresh, consider adding some impromptu brainstorming sessions when needed. Consider inviting team members outside of the marketing department for a fresh set of eyes, ears and brains.

Provide the team an overview of what you’re hoping to accomplish as well as any relevant information about the target audience. Then, set them loose. Truthfully, you won’t use every idea that is concocted during your session, but there is always something useful that comes out of a brainstorm. Even if it’s just inspiration.

Are You Hungry to Innovate Your Content Marketing Program?

I don’t know about you, but this blog post is making me incredibly hungry. If you’re stuck in a content marketing rut, hopefully this post has helped you think of some different ways that you can innovate your marketing, without getting egg on your face.

What have you found to be the best way to get your creative content marketing juices flowing?

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Using Solar Power in Your Home



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Residential solar power is becoming an attractive option for many people. They can use the sun’s energy to operate various devices and to heat their homes. It is also earth-friendly and economical way to bring the power in your home. Solar energy can help reduce external energy consumption by 50-70 percent. There are several different ways you can use solar energy in your home, which may include the use of solar panels and solar thermal systems to produce electricity.

Once you have installed solar power in your home, you can use water heated by solar energy to produce hot water and heat your home. There will be a collector mounted on an elevated area, such as the roof, and is used to absorb thermal energy from the sun. Often increases the heat and stores the resulting hot water. This heat can be piped through radiators to heat the house and provide hot water. Besides reducing your electricity bills, it can add value to your home if you decide to sell your home.

The main reason why many people are using residential solar power is helping to reduce the cost of their utility bills. Depending on the type of solar system used in a dozen years, the solar panels can pay for themselves. The Department of Energy United States hopes that by 2020, solar energy will become common place in homes. They also expect to see the normal cut energy consumption by seventy percent in that time.

The solar electric panel is the technology used in solar power, which uses photons to produce electricity. Solar electric panels, known as photovoltaic panels (PV) can be installed in a variety of ways, such as:

• Free standing rigid sheets

• Adjust your ceiling

• peel and stick laminate

How dependent are installed ceiling. The captured energy is converted into electricity through a modified grid system. It has an installed meter that reads the amount of solar energy used in your home compared to normal electricity used. The meter will then subtract the power of solar energy is used and what is left is then applied to your electric bill.

Most solar energy systems that are used are also able to store some of the energy they generate so if there is a surplus of energy can be used at a later time. Besides using the stored energy to generate rooms hot water and heat, it can also supply for other electronic equipment and light your home. The main cost of solar energy is the cost of installing the system and solar panels.

Engage More Customers By Becoming a Content Marketing Sommelier

content marketing sommelia

A sommelier is known for having extensive knowledge about wines, and how to complement the sensory experience of each type with perfect food pairings. Many train for years in hopes of finally becoming a Master Sommelier.

When embarking on a content marketing initiative, it’s important to know how to maximize the sensory experience of your content. A Master Content Marketing Sommelier knows what will best engage their customers, be it a complex, full-bodied blog post or a light, crisp infographic.

Demand Metric found that content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing but costs 62% less. This means marketers have a ripe opportunity to create content that expertly meets the needs of their audience.

Below are 6 tips to help you become a sommelier of content marketing.

#1 – Balance: The level of harmony between acidity, tannins, fruit, oak, and other elements in a wine; a perceived quality that is more individual than scientific.

wine balance

Content marketing can be a great tool for lead nurturing if implemented correctly. Successful content will harmoniously create value for your audience and move them toward a purchasing decision.

First and foremost, it is essential that your content offer useful and relevant information for your audience. If your message doesn’t help them solve their problem or meet a current need, they’ll move on to someone who does.

However, that does not mean there isn’t an opportunity to incorporate a call to action, where it makes sense. In fact, many marketers are leaving leads on the table by offering a piece of content without asking for contact information in exchange for the download.

Another often overlooked opportunity is adding calls to action within your blog post. This can be as simple as asking a question that helps your reader internalize the information and engage with your content by sharing their opinion. As long as you achieve balance between your promotional element and the value you add for the reader, you’ll create a pleasant experience.

#2 – Blend: The process whereby two or more grape varieties are combined after separate fermentation; common blends include Cotes de Rhone and red and white Bordeaux.

wine blend

Content marketing should not be a stand-alone program within digital marketing. In order to truly be masterful, it must be combined with other digital marketing efforts such as:

  • SEO
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Paid Search & Social Media Advertising
  • Conversion Optimization
  • Website Analytics

Just as a good blended wine combines the strengths of each vintage to enhance the flavor experience, a good marketing blend puts the different elements of marketing to work to amplify your message.

#3 – Legs: A term used to describe how wine sticks to the inside of a wineglass after drinking or swirling.

wine legs

Even if your customers aren’t ready to buy right now, you want to remain top of mind when they are ready to make the leap. So the question is; how can you create stickiness with your content marketing?

One simple way is to create a consistent posting schedule. If you continue to offer relevant information and sound advice on a consistent basis, your customers will come back to you when they have another need.

#4- Table Wine: A term used to describe wines of between 10 and 14 percent alcohol; in Europe, table wines are those that are made outside of regulated regions or by unapproved methods.

Table Wine Image

If you are an avid wine drinker (like myself) then you know that you’re typically better off skipping the table wine or house wine. It’s usually the cheaper option, but it’s definitely made for quantity rather than quality.

When it comes to your content marketing, you’re better off doing a few things very well, than trying to do too much and falling short. Prioritize your content marketing for impact and form an understanding of what you can handle in-house, what may need to be outsourced and what needs cut from your plan. A few high-quality pieces of content are more valuable in the long-run than high-quantity “table wine” content.

# 5 – Yield: The amount of grapes harvested in a particular year.

Yield Vineyard

The vintner who fails to measure their vineyard’s yield and adjust their plans accordingly won’t be in business for long. If you don’t measure the yield of your content marketing, it will be difficult to see how it is performing and what you can do better. As with any sales or marketing program, you must:

  • Determine your critical measurements based on business goals
  • Define both short and long-term goals
  • Tie performance back to leads and sales metrics

There is no replacement for content marketing measurement and it should always remain top of mind when deploying new tactics. For each piece of content you create, make sure to ask yourself: Does this align with my objectives, and what do I hope to achieve?

#6 – Pruning: The annual vineyard chore of trimming back plants from the previous harvest.

pruning vines

Vintners prune their plants to enable them to grow and thrive. Once you’ve given your content marketing time to mature, it’s time to go back and decide where to “prune” your program. You may find that your audience responds really well to long-form blog content but does not care much for video, for example.

Take the time to find which tactics are performing the best and weed out those that are not effective. A little strategic pruning can make sure that you focus on creating the content that resonates most with your audience.

Pour Yourself a Nice Crisp Glass of Content Marketing

Understanding what makes a successful content marketing strategy can be as tricky as mastering the appreciation of fine wine. Both take practice, dedication and attention to detail. What have you found is your biggest challenge in creating successful content marketing that inspires action?

All definitions are courtesy of WineEnthusiast

Photos via Shutterstock: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh


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5 Impactful Digital Marketing Takeaways from MNSearch Summit

MNSearch-Summit-2015

In order to be an effective digital marketer, it’s imperative that you understand the role that search plays in all of your marketing initiatives. The search landscape is quickly evolving and sometimes what you need is a helping hand from some industry experts to set you down the path to success.

Amazingly, that is just what we experienced at this years MNSearch Summit. Alexis Hall, Evan Prokop, Joel Carlson, Kat Steiner and I took a leap across the river into St. Paul Minnesota for a day filled with actionable information that can be used to improve any digital marketing program.

If you were not able to attend, or maybe didn’t get to see all of the sessions that you would have liked, we’ve provided a helpful roundup of 5 of the takeaways that we believed were most impactful for digital marketers.

ahall

Team Member: Alexis Hall

Session: The Data-Driven Content Marketer – Sean Callahan, LinkedIn

The statement exemplifies the pain marketers have been feeling for over 75 years. Imaging the glory days of a 1950s Don Draper, when advertising was based on gut feel, seeing into the soul of the customer. Some things worked and some things didn’t.  The problem was – it was very difficult to tell which was which.

As savvy content marketers today, we certainly know more about performance than the 1950s ad man, but many of us still feel a gap when it comes to measuring content. We are ready to move beyond page views and social shares to find out if our content is really working.

Enter – big data. It’s no surprise that the amount of data is ramping up:

  • 5 Quintillion bytes of data created every day across the globe
  • 90% of existing data has been created in the last 2 years
  • 90% of buyer journey completed by the time a prospect reaches out to a salesperson

Throughout his presentation, Sean provided examples of companies like Netflix, Google, Zendesk and many more that are using data to guide their content marketing strategy.

He explained that one approach to creating relevant content is the Big Rock Approach, when one big piece of content in a period feeds other content marketing efforts.

The Big Rock Approach follows these steps:

  1. Start with keyword research: Find out what your customers asking and where that intersects with your business.
  2. Repurpose content like leftover turkey: Use tactics such as slide presentations, blogs, infographics, webinars and videos. Then drive your audience back to a gated piece of content to drive conversions.
  3. Use turkey slides to fuel your content hubs: Examples would include:
    1. Company pages
    2. Sponsored updates
    3. LinkedIn Groups
    4. SlideShare

When you are able to merge a data driven approach with truly relevant content then you can make your marketing really meaningful.

ksteiner

Team Member: Kat Steiner

Session: How to Win with the Unexpected in PPC – John Gagnon, Bing

In his session, Bing Ads Evangelist John Gagnon offered sound advice to help marketers look at solving problems in unique ways.

There were three strategies that John discussed including voice search, brand term bidding and offsite tagging. All of which can be used to help companies stay competitive with their online properties in the current digital landscape.

Voice Search

According to Gagnon, the increase in the use of voice search will alter how marketers strategize on behalf of their clients. Currently, 25% of inquiries come from a voice search. It is essential that steps are taken to target this specific audience segment.

The use of voice search is different from a typed inquiry in the following ways:

  • A searcher is mobile, so the results will change accordingly
  • A searcher is looking for local results
  • The search inquiry is shaped in a more conversational format

Brand Term Bidding

When looking to attract traffic for branded search, companies still need to utilize paid search opportunities in addition to organic strategies. By bidding on the highly visible paid space, companies can ensure less clicks go to their competitors.

Brand term bidding gives marketers control of what landing page a visitor arrives on. By maintaining visibility in the paid space for branded terms, a marketer can influence the first impression a visitor has when they arrive on their website.

Offsite Tagging

When looking for remarketing opportunities, marketers can utilize the websites of relevant business partners to gain insights. Marketers can tag the site of the business partner to see how visitors are interacting, then start collecting information to build out the audience and report on their behavior. Once relevant audience members are identified, these individuals can be retargeted at a later date.

azeckman

Team Member: Ashley Zeckman

Session: Email Marketing Trends, Tactics & Opportunities for Search Marketers – Loren McDonald, Silverpop

Loren McDonald provided some great insight into email marketing trends, as well as the convergence of email marketing and search. What stuck with me the most from his session was the opportunity for email marketing and search teams to work together, and the fact that most simply aren’t.

Below is some of the low hanging fruit that Loren mentioned in his presentation:

  1. Landing Pages: You can build a dynamic email based on the search terms that consumers used to get to your landing page.
  2. Lead Scoring: If marketing automation is being used, begin incorporating keywords into lead scoring. Keywords can be scaled higher or lower based on what was used to drive the consumer to your website.
  3. Keyword Driven Email Content: There is also an opportunity to incorporate the keywords used in search results to drive the content of your email campaigns.

eprokop

Team Member: Evan Prokop

Session: How we Can Tell a Compelling Story with our Google Analytics Data – Jeff Sauer, Jeffalytics

There are many steps involved in collecting, cleaning and categorizing data in a way that makes it prime for storytelling. Jeff Sauer provided many actionable tips in his presentation to help marketers get more from their Google Analytics data. When it comes down to it, how can marketers use data to tell a compelling story?

In order for data to be valuable, it needs to tell a story. “Traffic is up 50% over last month” doesn’t say much, but “referral traffic from the ebook campaign we launched last month helped to drive a 50% increase in total website traffic, 20% increase in soft leads and 10% increase in revenue compared to the previous month” tells a much more compelling story.

A good web analytics story not only summarizes the current situation, it leads to actionable next steps. Taking the example above, a logical and actionable next step would be to allocate additional budget to the content marketing team to concept and launch additional ebook campaigns.

That’s the kind of story that drives business decisions and leads to results, and that’s what all digital marketers should be striving for from their web analytics.

jcarlson

Team Member: Joel Carlson

Session: The Power of Real-Time Content For Any Organization – Bob Stanke, Minnesota Timberwolves

The ability to respond to a story in real-time is an incredibly difficult task. In fact, AdWeek reported that only 4% of marketers are able to create content for breaking news in real-time.

Bob Stanke opened up his session by reminding the crowd of the heart wrenching story of the Chilean miners that were stuck underground for two months in 2010. He also highlighted that Oakley quickly jumped into action and provided the miners with sunglasses to help their eyes adjust once they were finally freed. This seemingly small investment and goodwill move on Oakley’s part led to an approximately $41 million return for the company.

In his position at the Minnesota Timberwolves, Stanke and his team have to be able to respond quickly and effectively to breaking news. Below are some of the ways that they are able to set their team up for success:

Real-Time Content the Timberwolves Way

  • Conduct weekly content meetings
  • Include representatives from over 7 different departments
  • Discuss various what-if scenarios
  • Give attention to crossing storylines (Ex. Does a current player live or did they live in an area that was just hit by a disaster)
  • Focus on human-interest topics as they relate to the organization
  • Discuss ways to use exclusive content and how will it be distributed

A Behind-the-Scenes Snapshot of #MNSummit

MNSearch-Summit-Collage

The speakers at MNSearch Summit covered email marketing, PPC, using data for storytelling and so much more. Which tip above most closely aligned with your current digital marketing needs?

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Online Marketing client.

Header Image: Shutterstock


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Joe Pulizzi (The Godfather) Discusses the Content Marketing Revolution #CMWorld

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Without anyone accusing me of exaggerating, I can safely say that Joe Pulizzi is a bona fide content marketing visionary. Joe started using the term “content marketing” in 2001, long before the rest of the industry caught on to its potential. In the past decade and a half, Joe has firmly established his thought leadership in the field, earning the nickname “The Godfather of Content Marketing.”

In 2007, Joe founded the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), which has grown into a vital resource for thousands of marketers worldwide. In addition to building a massive hub of marketing resources, classes, and training programs, CMI produces Content Marketing World, the world’s largest content marketing event.

I recently sat down with Joe for a sneak preview of his keynote address at the 2015 Content Marketing World. Read on for Joe’s thoughts on how content marketing is evolving, the strategies that led to CMI’s success, and how to become an “octopus of content love.”

If you focus on a subscriber approach to audience development, you can go deeper with your content and emphasize value.

Without giving too much away from your keynote, what are 3 exciting evolutions for content marketing that you see on the horizon?

  1. I’m really interested in the merger and acquisition scene. It’s going to hit people like a big surprise, especially in B2B. Particularly in tech, companies will see content factories already built and those will be attractive acquisitions when considering the time it takes to build.
  1. Only 30% of marketers have subscription growth as a key metric. It speaks to where we are with content marketing. The notion that we need to build content for the buyer’s journey and different stages has been overblown. It’s easier to simplify that idea and just become an ongoing guide and resource and we touch the customer with value – every day, every week. They’re going to create their own buyer’s journey anyways. If you focus on a subscriber approach to audience development, you can go deeper with your content and emphasize value. Instead of focusing on 57 segments and 5 stages, create an incredible experience for your customers and you’ll have an amazing outcome. Simplify and create more value.
  1. I’m excited about the field of journalism again. Marketers are bringing in professional journalists that have a nose for stories. The media business model is broken, but media itself is flourishing. There’s never been lower barriers to entry and easier ways for customers to access it. The more journalists in marketing, the better. If they want to tell great stories and have funding to do so, the opportunity is there.

Digital publishing has become more popular because we can, and not for the right reasons.

Based on your recent report at CMI, it appears that B2B and B2C marketers alike are continuing to struggle with measurement of content marketing activities. What do you believe are the biggest barriers to either collecting the data or focusing on the right metrics?

The clear majority of marketers have no documented content marketing strategy. If we can start with documenting the why, the business goal and audience, then you can begin to develop an action and execution plan that includes measurement. Digital publishing has become more popular because we can, and not for the right reasons.

People implementing content marketing do so because they’re told to, without understanding why. Content marketers need to ask the right questions relevant to achieving business goals.

We want to be an octopus of content love to provide them with options.

What are the biggest challenges that your own company faces when it comes to content creation, promotion and measurement?

Choosing the right activities – there are so many things we could do. Our key metric to everything is based on subscribers. I’m focused on creating a unique story that subscribers can’t get anywhere else. I’m focused on looking at subscribers and how we can improve.

Those people that engage with at least 3 different types of content, they are way more likely to attend CMI or buy something from us. We want to be an octopus of content love to provide them with options. The more we can do that the more positive results we’ll see.

Brands with huge budgets are struggling because they are so campaign focused.

What is the single most important thing you’ve learned in your journey from publishing to becoming the “Godfather of Content Marketing”?

If you build a loyal audience over time, you can sell them whatever you want. Focus on a content niche relevant to an area of business that you’re focused on, and develop an audience. As you build that audience, you can figure out what best to sell to your community.

Brands with huge budgets are struggling because they are so campaign focused.

There’s convergence – media companies are becoming product and product companies are becoming media companies. Soon you won’t be able to tell the difference.

What Content Marketing mix is CMI currently experiencing the most success with?

The podcast has been a pleasant surprise with a consistent flow of sponsorship that’s growing. In person events that I and Robert Rose speak at. The masterclass series of small workshops in different cities across the U.S. have been successful for driving registrations to the CMWorld event.

We have one person in charge of Internal content curation and repurposing that drives subscribers.

Do you believe that email marketing is dead or still very much alive? Why?

Not at all. It’s the most important thing we do. It’s harder to cut through the clutter but if you do, you get the lion’s share of attention.

Ready to Up Your Content Marketing Game?

Be sure to reserve your space at Content Marketing World for thought-provoking presentations from Joe and over 200 other luminaries in the content marketing industry.

Get a preview of Content Marketing World’s blockbuster lineup with Measuring Your Content Marketing Box Office Success, featuring advice from industry thought leaders Michael Brenner, Julie Fleischer, and of course, Joe Pulizzi.

Access All Three eBooks On-Demand

CMWorld 2015 eBooks

If you missed the premiere of any one of the eBooks in our triple feature, you are in luck! You can access all three of them anytime, anywhere. Select the links below, grab some Junior Mints and dig in.

The Big Picture of Content Marketing Strategy

Making Content Marketing the Star of Your Marketing

Measuring Content Marketing Box Office Success


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How to Create Oscar-Worthy Content Marketing: Ann Handley of MarketingProfs #CMWorld

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My pal Ann Handley has made it her life’s work to, in her words, “wage war on mediocrity in content.” Her best-selling book, Everybody Writes, is a practical guide to writing the kind of content that truly engages an audience.

As the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs (the world’s first Chief Content Officer, in fact), Ann advocates quality over quantity in all of her content ventures. She also spreads the gospel of good content at speaking engagements around the world, including the upcoming Content Marketing World conference September 8-11 in Cleveland.

To get a sneak preview of Ann’s Content Marketing World presentation, Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight For Sore Eyes, I did my best to catch up with her during some pretty crazy travels. Along the way, she shared her journey on learning to write compelling content, the role of technology in content marketing, and the death of the marketing funnel.

My mission is always to make the complicated way simpler.

As the CCO of MarketingProfs, best-selling author, keynote speaker, lover of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and the most influential woman in Social Media (according to Forbes), when you look back on your journey throughout your career what are three things you never lost focus on that helped you get to where you are today?

  1. When I was in journalism school, my professor Charlie Ball used to tell me, “Remember: No one has to read this.” That perspective changed my writing from self-indulgent (all about me) to reader-centric (all about the audience). It’s been invaluable as a content-centric marketer and blogger and (frankly) as a person.

(Side note to parents — of either a human, dog, cat, ferret, lizard, llama, or otherwise: Parenting reaffirms this idea. Because nothing is about you. Ever again. And I say that in the best possible way.)

  1. Charlie also told me: “No one will complain that you made things too simple to understand.” Life is complicated. Business is messy. “Solutions” are multi-faceted. If I’m being honest, most things in life confuse me. My mission is always to make the complicated way simpler.
  1. Finally: Deliver. Seth Godin calls this: Ship.

When I was in high school, the Pope visited Boston. I went to Catholic high school, where I was the editor of the school paper. I told the school I’d cover it for us. (The nuns were thrilled!)

But then I changed my mind, and I blew off the Pope’s visit to go hang out with my local public school friends. And when I got home that day, my Mom was unusually annoyed at me. I didn’t understand why — who cares? The Pope’s visit was all over the news anyway.

And my mom said, lips pursed and on the verge of losing it, “Because you had a responsibility to your position, and you ignored it for your own pleasure.”

At the time, I thought she was being ridiculously prissy. (I still feel bad to this day about my eye roll in response.)

But now, I get it. I said I’d do something, and then I didn’t. That’s not cool.

How I internalize that now: If you say you’ll do something, do it. Your word is more important than you might imagine it is.

You can’t code creativity. And you can’t program publishing. And quality definitely trumps quantity.

Your session at Content Marketing World will focus on helping marketers nail the basics of creating good content. What do you anticipate are the primary challenges for marketers today in creating quality content versus a quantity of content?

I’ve been thinking lately about technology. Because increasingly it’s heralded as the savior (or legitimizer?) of marketing.

Robots can write your posts. Tools can optimize them. Solutions can amplify them.

Awesome. I heart technology. I built my career on it, too.

But guess what? Technology is only as good as our story.

You can’t code creativity. And you can’t program publishing. And quality definitely trumps quantity. Always has. Always will.

Your story is the thing that sets your apart. So the question is: What’s your story? And how do you tell it?

There’s a growing rumbling in the marketing industry about the death of the funnel. Yea or nay?

The funnel was never a funnel. It’s always been an ecosystem, because the people who buy (the people at the end of the “funnel”) have always had the capacity to influence the decision of others. Social tools and technology make that information way more accessible, is all.

Which makes your sales and marketing efforts like the song that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friend, to quote Lamb Chop. (Is this the first time Shari Lewis has been quoted in a marketing context?)

What are your favorite examples of B2B or B2C brands that are creating great content for marketing?

B2B

B2C

Nonprofit

Government

  • This was a failed attempt, because the candidate didn’t get elected. But I believe it was groundbreaking storytelling in political marketing – The Best Political Ad Ever

What’s ordinary to you isn’t often ordinary to others.

Incorporating storytelling into content marketing has always been a big focus of yours. What advice would you give to marketers to help uncover these stories, even if they think they might not have any worth sharing?

Every company has a story to tell, if you look at the world from your customer’s point of view. The designer Michael Wolff says, “What already exists is an inspiration.”

Train yourself to look at things differently. What’s ordinary to you isn’t often ordinary to others.

What is the best piece of marketing advice that you’ve ever received personally?

“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” — Tom Fishburne (Marketoonist.com)

He didn’t say it to me personally — although he’s a friend, so he probably would if I asked him to. Regardless, I’ve internalized it as if he did. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I think of it every day.

Content Marketing World attendees, you are my people.

What do you like best about attending and speaking at Content Marketing World?

Content Marketing World attendees, you are my people. It’s not quite like being with family — but there’s a similar feel of a kind of posse.

“Community” is one of those words that’s overplayed in marketing. But CMW (and a few other select marketing events throughout the year) embody it for me.

Thanks, Ann!

Ready to Create Oscar-Caliber Content Marketing?

Reserve your space at Content Marketing World 2015 for inspiring and informative presentations from 200 superstars of marketing.

For a sneak preview of Ann and 13 other marketing matinee idols’ presentations, grab your popcorn and settle in with our new eBook, Making Content Marketing the Star of Your Marketing.

Stay Tuned For the Thrilling, Final Chapter in Our Triple Content Marketing Feature!

CMWorld 2015 eBooks

On June 22, we will premiere the final chapter in our content marketing triple feature: Measuring Your Content Marketing Box Office Success. Featuring content marketing stars such as Joe Pulizzi, Andrew Davis, Michael Brenner and many more, you’ll be able to connect the content marketing performance dots with the strategy and tactics shared in the first two eBooks.


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13 Experts Discuss Making Content Marketing the Star of Your Marketing

CMW-The-Star-of-Your-Marketing-eBook

“Personality is the glitter that sends your little gleam across the footlights and the orchestra pit into that big black space where the audience is.” –Mae West

We may not know the names of actors like Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson and Jon Heder if it were not for their breakout roles in movies like Rocky, Mad Max and Napoleon Dynamite. Not only did these movies serve as a launching pad for major acting careers, but they also have something else in common. They were all low budget films that ended up being a phenomenal success.

In the same vein, many marketers are searching for a way to make content marketing the star of their digital marketing programs. Content marketing provides an excellent opportunity for marketers to tell their organization’s story with the personality and authenticity that engages an audience. Many times, though, marketers struggle to find a voice that expresses the brand, and the personality ends up on the cutting room floor.

To help you make your content marketing a box-office success, we proudly present the second eBook in our triple feature, Making Content Marketing the Star of Your Marketing. This feature combines the silver-screen glamour of old Hollywood with up-to-the-minute advice from some of the top names in the content marketing industry. Each of these marketing superstars will be presenting at Content Marketing World 2015 in September, but you can get a sneak preview now.

In this feature, you’ll discover strategies for:

  • Creating compelling content
  • Aligning content with your audience’s needs
  • Bringing B2C personality to B2B marketing
  • Publishing and promoting your content

Movies like The Godfather: Part II and Toy Story 2 prove that sometimes, the sequel is just as good as the original. Here are just a few memorable quotes from our second feature, in handy tweetable form:

AH0615

Ann Handley – MarketingProfs

“Be a content marketing star: Create quality content, find your brand voice & share results.” @annhandley tweet this

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Jeffrey Rohrs – Salesforce

“Scene stealing content marketing is sales activated, marketing promoted, optimized & reported.” @jkrohrs tweet this

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Juntae DeLane – University of Southern California

“To be a star in search, content marketers MUST consider SEO when developing content.” @juntaedelane tweet this

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Justin Levy – Citrix

“Always focus on measuring & communicating the business value of the content you’re creating.” @justinlevy tweet this

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Jay Acunzo – NextView Ventures

“For star-making content, use a content marketing wheel “hub & spoke” for publishing & promotion.” @Jay_zo  tweet this

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Amy Higgins – Zendesk

“Before publishing content, follow a launch plan checklist to make sure you haven’t left out steps.” @amywhiggins tweet this

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Mark Wilson – Blackberry

“Good content marketing will appeal to customers’ rational & emotional sides.” Mark Wilson @BlackBerry tweet this

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Mitch Joel – Mirum

“In order for content marketing to be effective, distribution must be king. And queen.” @mitchjoel tweet this

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Amanda Todorovich – Cleveland Clinic

“Earn support for content marketing resources by sharing metrics & data with stakeholders.” @amandatodo tweet this

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Maggie Burke – EMC Corporation

“To capture audience attention, combine real people, compelling stories & quality video content.” @maggieemctv tweet this

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Doug Kessler – Velocity

“Content marketers anthem: I promise to serve my audience with remarkable & strategic content!” @dougkessler tweet this

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Arnie Kuenn – Vertical Measures

“For content success, create content that people are searching for, measure & explain the value.” @arniek tweet this

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Ken Wincko – PR Newswire

“Successful content needs to be the 3 C’s: Credible, Compelling & Consistent.” @KenWincko tweet this

Catch the Full Feature Below:

CMWorld 2015 eBooks

If you missed the first featured eBook in this series on Content Marketing Strategy, you can view it on-demand now on SlideShare.

Also, remember to prepare yourself for the thrilling conclusion to this triple feature of content marketing awesome with, Measuring Your Content Marketing Box Office Success, coming June 22nd to computer or mobile phone screen near you (or in your pocket).

Be sure to visit the Content Marketing World website to learn more about the conference and reserve your seat for the big show.


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