Wednesday, October 11, 2017

So it's been a while since posting here.  SEO and SEM is getting easier rather harder.  For example,

Links and embeds are helping to rank all over the place.  Yes I know you're watching rivals so take this and use it if you think you can keep up.

GMB url:

reviews short url:

Maps Embed code:
maps short url:

an offer you can't refuse video embed: 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Content Marketing: Make Your Content Shine with These 4 Editing Tips


A few years ago, best-selling author and wizard-ninja hybrid Seth Godin said, “content marketing is the only marketing left.” The industry took him at his word. Over the last decade, marketers have devoted ever more time and energy to creating content.

This year, 76% of B2B marketers plan to produce more content next year than this year. Only 2% plan to produce less.

As someone who creates content for a living, I find this trend encouraging. As a marketer who wants my content to be seen, the content explosion presents a challenge.

Seth expanded on his statement in an interview with Contently this year: “Real content marketing isn’t repurposed advertising; it is making something worth talking about.”

In other words, it’s not just about creating more content. Our content needs to inspire people to like, share, link to it, and come back for more. A solid content marketing strategy can ensure that your topic is relevant to your audience’s needs. But the quality of the writing is what makes it sharable.

So once you have created a rough first draft and eliminated clichés, it’s time to turn your diamond in the rough into a sparkling gem. Jewelers use four Cs evaluate the quality of a diamond. We’ll use four Cs to make sure your content is:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Coherent
  • Correct

Before you begin the process, if at all possible, put the draft away and let it breathe for a bit. You fought bravely to get it from your brain to the screen. Now a little distance can help you approach it with fresh eyes. Go ahead and take an hour, or an overnight. I’ll wait.

Ready? Let’s polish.

#1 – Make Content Clear

There are two types of clarity that will make your content easier to read. The first is structural: make sure the piece has a clear road map that pulls the reader from one paragraph to the next. Since you started writing from an outline, you should already have a solid structure. Just make sure your structure is easy for readers to follow, and that it matches the road map you lay out in the introduction.

The second type is clarity in the words you use. As someone who loves language, it’s tempting to include flowery prose meant to strike the reader to the quick with its beauty. It can also be tempting to leverage buzzwords so to growth hack the thought leadership ecosystem.

But what the audience wants is simple, direct speech that’s easy to read and process. That’s not to say you should dumb it down, of course. Just make sure your ideas are the star, not fancy words.

#2 – Make Content Concise 

You know what’s really very annoying? When someone uses a variety of multiple words when just a few would do the trick just as well.

How many extra words did you spot in the previous two sentences? You can communicate the same thought with “It’s annoying when writers are not concise.” Some content marketers think a “professional” tone means writing like they’re paid by the word. We can do better.

Here are a few words and phrases to eliminate:

  • Passive constructs: “The ball was thrown by the pitcher” vs. “The pitcher threw the ball.”
  • Intensifiers: “The building is really very ugly” vs. “The building is ugly.”
  • Weasel words: “some people say,” “most marketers know,” “a majority of people would agree…”
  • Cliché: “Are you ready to take the plunge and get started?” vs. “Let’s get started.”

#3 – Make Content Coherent

Your draft probably makes sense at a base level, unless you doze off mid-sentence and pear plastic rutabaga dog collar. Editing for coherency in this case is more about optimizing your work for the way your audience reads. Make your prose easier to read online with these steps:

  • Break up long sentences into shorter ones. Watch out for semi-colons, emdashes, and long lists of clauses separated with commas. A few long sentences per article keeps your prose from feeling choppy, but try to keep most sentences brief. And yes, I still struggle with this. Do as I say. Not as I do.
  • Break up long paragraphs. In school we learned to write five-sentence paragraphs. Online, keep it to two, or three at the most.
  • Use headers to let a reader skim before they dive in.

#4 – Make Content Correct

Now that your content is clear, concise, and coherent, you only need one final polish to make it sparkle. Make sure your grammar, usage, and style are correct.

Unfortunately, your brain will work against you on this last pass. Once it gets the gist of a sentence, it will gloss over any little mistakes. Which can lead to embarrassment once the piece is published and someone points and laughs at your “their/they’re/there” or “then/than” confusion.

You will have to trick your brain into working with you. Read the piece bottom to top, one sentence at a time. That way, you will be able to focus on the words independent of the content.

Then read the piece top to bottom, out loud (somewhere your co-workers won’t get violent). Even better, enlist a co-worker to read it to you. You will be surprised how many little corrections you’ll find when you’re hearing it instead of reading silently.

Shine on, You Crazy Diamond

Good content starts with solid content strategy to make sure your topic speaks to the audience. But to take your content from good to great, use the four Cs to polish each piece before you publish it. Keep your content clear, concise, coherent, and correct, and your audience will be compelled to share it.

What is your content pet peeve? What can an author do that makes you stop reading as soon as you see it?

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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2015. | Content Marketing: Make Your Content Shine with These 4 Editing Tips |

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Content Marketing with Virtual Conferences: Pros, Cons, Examples and Best Practices

Virtual Conferences

The Internet has created a space where meaningful conversations, connections and content creation can happen anywhere in the world. As a result, content marketing tactics have evolved to leverage all the Internet has to offer–and one of those tactics is virtual conferences.

For decades, real-world conferences have been an effective way for businesses of all kinds to attract and engage prospective customers. When done right, real-world events allow businesses to shape and spread their message through content to a captive audience, all while networking, establishing brand credibility, and moving people through the sales process.

Virtual conferences aim to do all of the same things as a real-world event, while also being more convenient, affordable and inclusive.

Since coming on the scene in 2007 -2008, virtual conferencing technology has greatly improved and a growing audience is welcoming virtual event opportunities. In fact, recent research by Content Marketing Institute shows that 25 percent of B2B marketers named virtual conferences as a top content marketing tactic for 2016.

Definition: Virtual Conference

A virtual conference is a web-based event that brings many of the content marketing elements of a real-world event to life online. From breakout sessions and networking to keynote speakers and Q and A, virtual conferences can be an easy and accessible alternative to live events.

Virtual conferences can range from simple to the extravagant, with platform providers offering a range of options to customize the look and feel of the conference space. In addition, there are often hybrid events, which combine both online-only and live conference elements.


As technology continues to evolve, it will become more and more important for businesses and organizations to connect with their audiences online. Virtual conferences uniquely combine a variety of marketing tactics such as social media promotion, video and live blogging. Here are some of the top benefits of virtual conferences as a content marketing tactic:

  • They allow companies with smaller marketing budgets to put on quality, engaging events where a mix of brand and 3rd party content can be delivered to prospective customers.
  • Virtual events can result in better leads because participant information is easily captured during the event and brands can engage attendees in real-time.
  • Many virtual events offer presentation playback at the convenience of the attendee, making it easier to consume more of the content being presented.
  • Attendees can save time and money by eliminating travel which may attract a larger audience.
  • Messaging systems within Virtual Conference platforms enable speakers or the moderators to easily push additional content out during or after the presentation such as handouts, case studies or worksheets.
  • The attendee comments within Virtual Conference platforms can be curated and published as a stand alone blog post or as part of a wrap-up post.


While virtual conferences offer a number of exceptional benefits, they’re not a one-size-fits-all marketing solution. Disadvantages of virtual conferences include:

  • Managing an online event is similar to an offline event, but online events may require investments in new technologies.
  • Online platforms can take some getting used to and may alienate part of the audience.
  • A low cost of entry and the virtual nature of the event can make it easy for attendees to leave early or not show up at all.

What the Marketing Industry Saying About Virtual Conferences

“Twice a year, I host a ginormous virtual event for my brand, GroupHigh. This online conference has generated and converted more leads than any other tactic I’ve implemented. I think these online conferences have been so successful because I spend a ton of time vetting my speakers and the topics they present on. Forward thinking, new information where marketers feel like they will be left out of the loop if they miss the event is so important to me!”
Kristen Matthews, Marketing Director at GroupHigh.

“Virtual events also allow a potentially greater breadth of customization options. The only limitation to virtual events is your own imagination. The space can be big or small; simple or elaborate. Providers have created past virtual events that look like convention centers, malls, actual physical landmarks, and locations like London or New York.”
Dave Smith, senior technology editor at Tech Insider (Source: Inc.)

Brand Examples of Virtual Conferences

From big-wig companies like Apple to smaller professional industry associations such as the Idaho Science Teachers Association, organizations of all sizes are integrating virtual conferences into their marketing strategies.

Association of College & Research Libraries

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) is an higher education association for more than 11,000 librarians and other interested individuals. Earlier this year, it held its annual conference as a hybrid event.

Virtual Conference ACRL

For those who didn’t travel to the real-world event in Seattle, live webcasts featuring real-time interaction opportunities were offered, and the sessions were run on a real-time schedule just like the live event.

STAREAST by TechWell

STAREAST by Techwell is a software testing and review conference hosted in Orlando, FL. This hybrid event allows online participants to watch keynote speakers, technical presentations and live interviews throughout the five days of the event. Below is a little peek at what the conference space looks like.

Hybrid Virtual Conference

American Marketing Association

Our very own Lee Odden recently participated in a virtual conference put on by the American Marketing Association (AMA). The event was solely held virtually, and the schedule was simple and straight-forward. Below is a look at the presentation dashboard where attendees could chat with each other, post questions to the speaker and download handouts provided.

AMA Digital Marketing Conference

Virtual Conference Best Practices

  • Treat your virtual conference with similar content goals as a real-world event. While the venue is different, the mission of the conference itself is the same: to positively connect your audience with your brand through presentation content and encourage them to take some sort of action (e.g. sign up as a new member, ask for more information on your product, etc.)
  • Planning makes perfect. Closely vet your speakers, whether internal or 3rd party, and the topics they’ll be speaking on. Communicate with them regularly leading up to the event and create a detailed event schedule so participants know what they’re getting.
  • Market it hard. Marketing any event is crucial, but remember that people aren’t buying a plane ticket to attend a virtual event. Online events require far less commitment than real-world events, so keeping your event in front of people with marketing content is important. Use email, press releases, social media, blogging and any other relevant tactic.
  • Make it easy for people to spread the word. Create shareable content such as pre-written tweets or boilerplate content for a blog post for before, during and after the event.
  • Make it visual. Visual content captures and keeps audience attention. Period.
  • Incorporate live elements. Allowing people the ability to view presentations and interact  in real-time adds major value.
  • Liveblog content. As with real-world events, presentations that occur virtually present a compelling opportunity for content creation by capturing tips, insights, quotes and statistics from the speakers for publishing on your blog. Encouraging attendees to do the same creates a multiplier effect for exposure of your conference.

Virtual Conference Software and Resources

There are a number of different virtual conferencing software platforms on the market. Many offer multiple tiers of functionality and pricing to customize the virtual event experience. Some of the most popular Virtual Conference platforms include:

  • Cisco’s WebEx
  • Adobe Connect
  • Citrix GoToMeeting
  • InterCall
  • Communique

Virtual Conference Platform Reviews

For more information on virtual conference platforms, and both offer useful reviews.

Virtual conferences will likely never replace traditional real-world events completely. After all, we’re still humans and face-to-face interaction is important. However, as technology continues to evolve and the need to create content-focused experiences for prospective buyers increases, marketing strategies need to consider solutions like virtual conferences.

Are virtual conferences going to be part of your content marketing evolution? Be sure to check out some of the resources included in this article and you may find out.

Have you experienced producing a virtual conference? How have you used virtual conferences for your content marketing?

If you liked this post, be sure to check out the content marketing tactics index page with links to over 25 posts similar to this one.

Top image: Shutterstock

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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2015. | Content Marketing with Virtual Conferences: Pros, Cons, Examples and Best Practices |

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

How to Pick the Best Content Marketing Tools for your 2016 Content Marketing Strategy


To remain competitive, brands have become increasingly focused on creating a higher quantity of content, while still striving to maintain quality. Unfortunately, the quantity and quality struggle is real for so many B2B and B2C marketers alike.

Along with finding the right people and creating a sound content strategy, there is the matter of finding the right tools to integrate with your process and help you reach your goals. With the help of Alan Belniak (Principal Social Media Manager at The MathWorks), we reviewed 12 of today’s top content marketing tools to save you the legwork.

Below you’ll find key benefits for each tool as well as the “wow factor” that is unique to their solution. As an added bonus, we also asked experts from each of these companies to share their best content marketing tip to provide you with some additional information to add to your content arsenal.

#1 – Contently

Key Benefits: This complete content marketing platform track leads, uses a visual editorial calendar to align teams around content goals and integrates into other business systems.

Wow Factor: Contently offers both a tool, and a writer marketplace to help companies find quality writers to augment their existing staff.


#2 – Curata

Key Benefits: Combines insight (analyze pipeline impact), alignment (streamline content supply chain)  and simplicity (ease of adoption).

Wow Factor: Get up and running in less than an hour with limited/no IT support; addition of CMP to existing curation tool/product makes Curata a viable all-around player.


#3 – DivvyHQ

Key Benefits: Easy to use dashboard, workflow alerts and the ability to manage multiple calendars (by content type, persona, buyer profile, etc.).

Wow Factor: Unlike many tools, DivvyHQ offers a monthly option for users that aren’t ready to make a large investment at once.


#4 – Expion

Key Benefits: Content discovery engine, employee advocator, paid optimization module, asset library/storage and performance scoring.

Wow Factor: The employee advocator module creates an entirely new distribution model for branded content in a way that can be easily tracked and managed.


#5 – GatherContent

Key Benefits: Collect, organize and prepare for approval all in one place.

Wow Factor: The automated reviews, progress indicators and built-in templates help provide a good starting point for small businesses.


#6 – Kapost

Key Benefits: A built-in workflow to manage content production, content review and publishing.

Wow Factor: Eliminate the need for time consuming planning outside of the platform with an intuitive planning calendar and distribution mechanism.


#7 – NewsCred

Key Benefits: The ability to plan, create, publish and measure from the same tool; strategy, content creation, global asset management; social listening; audience insights.

Wow Factor: A social monitoring built in to track chatter about the very content you just created.


#8 – Oracle Content Marketing

Key Benefits: Supports custom workflows and uses custom rights/roles for publishing. Plus multiple tag support, real-time content scoring, multiple content formats supported, multiple ‘publish to’ locations, integration with email to dynamically produce emails, full support of metadata tags, easy connections to popular social networks, easy dashboarding of metrics and SEO advice

Wow Factor: Because it is an Oracle product, it integrates with their other products fairly seamlessly.


#9 – Content Director

Key Benefits: Easy content curation, autoscheduling for maximum reach and metrics on a per-post level.

Wow Factor: In addition to new creation/authoring platform, there is the ability to leverage powerful curation opportunities.


#10 – Scribe Content

Key Benefits: Yields preferred audience language when searching and discussing on social networks and aids in ID-ing guest posting opportunities.

Wow Factor: There is an SEO-optimization algorithm built in and includes suggested content cross-linking for increased usability and time spent on site.


#11 – Uberflip

Key Benefits: Integrates with top-end marketing automation software like MailChimp, HubSpot, Eloqua, Marketo and Pardot.

Wow Factor: Users can turn standard PDFs into active flipbooks that include embedded videos and other interactive content.


#12 – Zerys

Key Benefits: Different levels of service depending on company needs, built in SEO tools and task management for writers.

Wow Factor: There is a user forum and community support that  actually connects you to other, real users.


Are You Prepared to Implement Content Tools?

If you aren’t producing quality content, investing in a content marketing tool can be a waste of precious resources. Part of our role as a digital marketing agency is to help our clients determine which solutions will help them reach their marketing goals and business objectives. If you need help creating a customer focused content marketing strategy or want our help creating awesome content to make your content tools worth the investment, contact us today to see how we can support your efforts.

Header image via Shutterstock

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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2015. | How to Pick the Best Content Marketing Tools for your 2016 Content Marketing Strategy |

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Navigating the Realm of Paid Advertising: Tips for Finding the Right Channels For Your Business


As the year winds down, most companies are putting the finishing touches on budgets and strategies for 2016. As a digital marketing agency, consulting with clients on matters like this is a huge part of our business. When the fiscal year winds down for most companies, we always see an influx in companies looking for consultation on where to spend their remaining marketing dollars.

“We’ve got X budget, which paid channel should we invest in?”

The answer is – there is no perfect answer. It depends heavily on the target audience and what goal you’re looking to achieve: impressions, clicks, downloads, online sales, etc. To help you determine which paid channels will work best for you business; we’ve created a snapshot of some of the options that are available today.

LinkedIn Sponsored Posts

Ideal for goals like: promoting e-books, whitepapers, demos, webinars or events, growing LinkedIn followers, or getting your name in front of key decision makers in your industry.

LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn sponsored posts are a form of native social advertising that delivers a customized advertisement in your audience’s newsfeeds that closely resembles normal posts from coworkers, peers and businesses they follow.

Advertising on LinkedIn provides businesses the unique opportunity to hyper-target their audience – down to their job title, job function, degrees or company. The most successful campaigns we’ve seen offer the audience something useful and tangible: like an e-book or a whitepaper.

It’s important to note that these campaigns are really geared for short 1-2 month flights, as target audiences can start to experience ad exhaustion, becoming “blind” to your sponsored posts.

Facebook Sponsored Posts

Ideal for goals like: driving online sales for products or services, promoting sales and events, growing your Facebook following or promoting your local business.

Facebook Advertising

Like LinkedIn sponsored posts, these advertisements closely resemble native posts from friends and family. In today’s social environment, consumers tend to shy away from overtly advertorial elements of a website. Facebook’s sponsored posts gives advertisers the ability to penetrate the highest consumed real estate on their social platform.

Facebook offers the ability to target your audience towards certain hobbies, lifestyles and interests based on users’ “likes”. This makes it ideal for advertising products like clothing, shoes, electronics and smartphone apps. With the rapid rise in video sharing on Facebook, there is also a unique opportunity to stand out from the crowd of sponsored posts with a captivating, humorous or clever video.

Sponsorships & Banner Ads

Ideal for goals like: growing brand awareness or driving traffic to your website.

The advertising industry has published some entertaining statistics surrounding the effectiveness of banner advertisements in the past few years.

  • You are 475x more likely to survive a plane crash than click on a banner ad.
  • You are 279x more likely to climb Mount Everest than click on a banner ad.

Banner Advertisement

Our eyes are trained to avoid the very center top of websites – because we know that’s where banner ads are. The blinking, the moving – we don’t even see them anymore. We also see that quality of website traffic referred from banner ads tends to be low, usually leaving the site after 1-3 seconds.

While banner ads have been given the hypothetical cold shoulder by some marketers, they still remain a heavily used advertising platform for larger companies looking to maintain visibility on industry websites and drive traffic to company websites. Utilizing enhanced targeting with programmatic ad buying for these display programs typically yields better results – but this requires a hefty investment.

Native Advertising

Ideal for goals like: building brand awareness, communicating information or amplifying content reach.

Native Advertising

Native advertising is a newer player in the digital advertising realm. Unlike traditional display network advertisements, your content is served to a network of publishing websites with the same look and feel of the native content. Native advertising content usually appears with a “Sponsored by _” or “Promoted by _” disclaimer for readers.

Native advertising offers extensive targeting capabilities and reach, and is most effective when run on a continual basis month over month. 

Paid Search

Ideal for goals like: driving traffic to high priority website pages, capturing searchers that are actively looking for a product or service and driving sales or online conversions.

Paid Search Advertising

The benefit to advertising with paid search is that your target audience is actively searching for your product or service; you’re paying to be a top result, increasing the probability that they’ll purchase from you and not your competitor.


Ideal for goals like: driving online sales or conversions and higher engagement with your brand.

Remarketing (aka retargeting) advertisements target those that have visited your website, or a specific page on your website but did not convert. These campaigns generally involve a smaller, but more qualified online audience that is much more likely to convert. Think of remarketing as a “warm call” instead of a “cold call”.

In our experience, remarketing campaigns are a no brainer – they’re a cost effective way of driving conversions and achieving higher engagement with your brand.

Which Tactic(s) Will Work Best For You?

Choosing the most effective paid channel relies heavily on your campaign’s goals and target audience.

Paid advertising campaigns are most effective when utilized as part of an integrated online marketing campaign. As the digital marketing evangelist, Avinash Kaushik, once said,

“Never let your ads write checks that your website can’t cash.”

Ensuring that your paid advertising initiative is supported by a strategic online strategy is the key to paid advertising success. Interested in learning what an integrated online marketing strategy looks like? Contact TopRank Marketing for a consultation.

Header image via Shutterstock

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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2015. | Navigating the Realm of Paid Advertising: Tips for Finding the Right Channels For Your Business |

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Online Marketing News: Google Gets AI, Twitter Hubbub, Facebook Bests YouTube

The 5 Biggest Trends Being Predicted at the End of 2015

The 5 Biggest Trends Being Predicted at the End of 2015 [INFOGRAPHIC] – It’s almost the end of the year, which means time to check in and take stock of what has happened and what is to come. This year was a big one for social and publishing, with Facebook’s Instant Articles and immersive mobile ads making it easier for brands to publish original content directly on social. Mobile and video are both considered the future of marketing, but what else can we expect? Given what we know now, what predictions can we make for what’s to come? Social Media Today

Instagram Organic Engagement Continues to Fall (Report) – The good news is that Instagram ads are now open to all brands. The bad news is that those ads may soon be the only effective way for brands to reach users. SocialTimes

Study: 29% Of Sites Face Duplicate Content Issues & 80% Aren’t Using Microdata – A new study shows that duplicate content issues still rage on, and while people are talking about Schema markup, 80% of sites haven’t implemented. Search Engine Land

Facebook Video Ads ‘Significantly’ Better Than YouTube’s: Report – While Facebook’s video ad service is still in its infancy — about 18 months old — it’s already prefered by marketers over YouTube, according to a recent study published by RBC Capital Markets in partnership with Ad Age. Ad Age

Pew Survey: Nearly Two-Thirds Of All Americans Use Social Media – At 90%, young Americans still are most likely to use social networks, but growth in use among those 65 and older is surging. Marketing Land

Study: Rich Media In Search Drives Increased Click-Through – Is ranking in the number one position a guaranteed way to earn the lion’s share of clicks from search? Columnist Nathan Safran’s research suggests rich snippets may factor in, too. Search Engine Land

Study: A Subset of Millennials, Called Gen-Narrators, Are the Most Powerful Influencers Yet – Millennials! They’re so difficult to pin down. We think they’re on Snapchat, turns out they’re not on Snapchat. They’re jaded–no, they’re idealistic. Well, this recent study, conducted by The Economist, presented here via AdWeek, says that millennials “aren’t the lazy, narcissistic, entitled, apathetic parental leeches they’re often described as.” Social Media Today



Google Turning Its Lucrative Web Search Over to AI Machines – For the past few months, a “very large fraction” of the millions of queries a second that people type into the company’s search engine have been interpreted by an artificial intelligence system, nicknamed RankBrain, said Greg Corrado, a senior research scientist with the company, outlining for the first time the emerging role of AI in search. Bloomberg Business

Introducing Twitter Brand Hub – Brand Hub helps advertisers quickly understand their brand’s share of conversation, key audiences, and trends about their brand’s conversation. This 360-degree, real-time view gives the brand the opportunity to learn, take action, and see the impact of their initiatives on Twitter. Twitter

Google To Penalize Deceptive & Sneaky Mobile Redirects – Google announced on the webmaster blog that they will now penalize, through manual actions, sneaky and unwanted mobile based redirects. Truth is, Google has always taken action on sneaky, fraudulent and unwanted redirects, but Google is now making it clear – they will do the same on the mobile front. Google

Study: Mobile Apps For Engagement, Mobile Web For Research & Comparisons – Millward Brown study shows that consumers think clearly about the differences between apps and mobile web and use them for specific reasons. Marketing Land

65% of Adults in U.S. Use Social Media (Report) – What percentage of U.S. adults do you believe uses social networking sites? According to Pew Research Center, the answer is 65. Does that seem too high, too low or just right? SocialTimes

From our Online Marketing Community:

In response to How B2B Marketers Can Use Facebook to Drive Engagement & Generate Leads, Rob Bunting said, “Good information for B2B marketers here. While engagement can be harder for B2B firms, I have also seen it can be done and agree carefully targeted Facebook ads are a good bet. Thanks for sharing Andrea’s tips Ashley.”

And Angela Drt shared, “Thanks for sharing these amazing tools, the article was short and efficient and very well organised ! I definitely agree on the fact that people love to be entertained on every social media but especially Facebook, it is becoming harder and harder for brands to share their messages because they have to be smarter each time and create shorter and shorter, funnier and funnier etc… Videos so their audience are aware of them ! I think it’s really important to have a strategy in order to be the more efficient as possible. Also thanks for sharing picmonkey I didn’t know about it so I’ll go check for sure :)”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: MDG Advertising

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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2015. | Online Marketing News: Google Gets AI, Twitter Hubbub, Facebook Bests YouTube |

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Brands Share Their Most Hair-Raising Content Marketing Horror Stories


If content marketing stories were movies, most of the ones we hear today would be romantic comedies. Brands all over the world are telling stories of how they overcame obstacles and beat the odds to make their customers fall in love with them.

While these stories are inspiring, sometimes content marketing isn’t all flowers and chocolates and happy endings. Sometimes well-intentioned marketers end up in a cabin in the woods, hearing the unmistakable roar of a chainsaw approaching.

While they’re not pleasant for any marketer to experience, content marketing horror stories can teach valuable lessons. We can learn as much from failure as we do from success–perhaps even more so.

So in honor of Halloween, we asked marketing superstars from 3M, NewsCred and Content Marketing Institute to share their most harrowing tales of content marketing gone wrong. Prepare to be edified and terrified with these 3 hair-raising content marketing horror stories.

Michael Brenner

Head of Strategy, NewsCred


My personal content marketing horror story involved a member of my team covering a competitor’s piece of research in a well-written blog post. The research was actually conducted by an independent firm but sponsored by a competitor. It was hosted on the independent firm’s landing page but heavily promoted visually by the competitive brand.

We published the article. It performed very well and was even tweeted by the VP of Sales for that solution. The VP of Marketing for the same solution saw the tweet, followed the breadcrumbs back to our competitor and suggested to me that I should be fired.

Turns out, the article drove thousands of visitors to our branded content hub. It drove hundreds of people to our solution pages and only a dozen or so to the independent firm’s landing page.

Thanks to the data, I was able to save my job and in the process showed some folks in our company the value of focusing on helping your customers, even if it means covering competitor research or mentioning them.

Carlos Abler

Leader: Content Marketing & Strategy Global eTransformation, 3M


Horror? Or tragedy? We’ll let the scholars debate about this Frankenstein’s monster. This chimera formed of terror and crushed hope, as unnatural as it was grotesque.

It was the late 2000’s; early in my career as a facilitator of enterprise content marketing transformation. It was a high-revenue subsidiary poised for greatness.

This recipe had all of the ingredients for success. I was eager to stir the pot. Enter, a marketing executive driving a three-year content maturity roadmap. Enter, a marketing architect champing at the bit to build a high-conversion editorial empire. Add a group of segment marketers partnered with knowledgeable sales staff who knew their customers well

Together we developed 4 content marketing initiatives calculated to drive $14.5 million dollars in new revenue in year one, while fixing previously broken parts of the relationship funnel. I was already sketching my acceptance speech for a chain of accolades.

And then everything went sideways.

A reorganization hit.

The division slid backward even farther than where they were when we began. And now all of these burdensome expectations regarding “content” suddenly gave content a bad name to the new leadership. They didn’t understand the role of content. Now the remaining content champions had to go underground, couldn’t ask for resources and support, had to find underhanded ways to serve content. As if practicing a crucial new pillar of marketing were something to be ashamed of.

So what’s the lesson? As you move forward in content change management, ensure that your champions are in place and that their position is stable. Anticipate and attempt to route any disruption to their focus, if you can. Otherwise, like I did, you will suffer the dual consequences of horror and tragedy.

Joe Pulizzi

Founder, Content Marketing Institute


Perhaps the biggest horror story from readers that we continually hear is targeting more than one audience at a time with a content initiative.  For example, late last year I was approached by a blog editor that worked for a large technology company.  She was frustrated that the blog wasn’t meeting their marketing objectives.  I asked her simply, “who is the audience for the blog?”  She stated that they target 18 personas.  I quickly told her I found the problem.

Even diluting your message through adding just one additional audience group will make it almost impossible for you to be relevant to both.  While you are targeting two, three or four audiences, someone out there is becoming the leading informational provider for your core audience target.

Focus is everything.

Share Your Spookiest Content Marketing Story

Okay, it’s safe to peek your head above the overs again. The horror stories are over, and we’re safe until the inevitable sequel.

Now it’s your turn to share! We’d love to hear one of your real-life content horror stories and what you learned when it was all said and done.

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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2015. | Brands Share Their Most Hair-Raising Content Marketing Horror Stories |

The post Brands Share Their Most Hair-Raising Content Marketing Horror Stories appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.