Digital Marketing News: 15 Reasons for Brand Advocacy, Email Priorities and Google TV Ads

15 Reasons Why Brand Advocacy is the Bedrock of Your Business [Infographic]
Although brand advocates are important for brand marketing – with referrals, user generated content, and positive online reviews being just a few of the benefits of brand advocacy, this infographic shows over 80% of companies are not using advocates in their marketing strategy, and 58% don’t even know who their advocates are. Social Media Today

The Email Priorities of Brand and Agency Marketers in 2017
MarketingProfs reports: “Some 30% of brand marketers say personalization is one of the top three areas of email marketing they really need to focus on in 2017, up from 22% last year; 28% say they need to focus on automated campaigns, 25% on segmentation, and 24% on measurement/analytics.” MarketingProfs

Google Sees Another Chance to Get Programmatic TV Right
In a bid reminiscent of their 2012 attempt at TV advertising, Google has again invested in offering TV ads for programmatic buying that marketers can choose as part of their digital video ad buys through their ad tech platform. Will this turn out better than their last attempt? Time will tell. Ad Age

Goodbye, Like button
Pinterest announced in a press release: “After doing a bunch of research with Pinners, we found Pinterest is easier to understand when we remove the Like button altogether.” This will not affect the functionality of the Save button, and other Likes will be retained in a new board called “Your Pinterest Likes”. Pinterest

Mobile Captures More Than Half Of All U.S. Internet Advertising Revenue For The First Time Ever, Total Digital Ad Spend Hits a Landmark $72.5 Billion in 2016
IAB reports: “Mobile advertising accounted for more than half (51%) of the record-breaking $72.5 billion spent by advertisers last year […] The total represents a 22 percent increase, up from $59.6 billion in 2015. Mobile experienced a 77 percent upswing from $20.7 billion the previous year, hitting $36.6 billion in 2016.” IAB

New: LinkedIn Launches Matched Audiences
LinkedIn is launching Matched Audiences, allowing marketers to utilize website retargeting, account targeting and contact targeting. These new tools will be available for all of LinkedIn’s ad platforms. Will this help LinkedIn ads beat out Facebook for B2B advertisers looking for more targeting? Search Engine Journal

eMarketer Releases New Programmatic Advertising Estimates
Despite controversy around programmatic advertising in recent marketing headlines, eMarketer found that nearly four of every five digital display ad dollars in the US will go to programmatic advertising this year. eMarketer

Facebook Is Testing Video Cover Images for Pages
Facebook has confirmed that they’re testing giving Pages the ability to upload videos as cover images, as you can see if you look at the Narcos Facebook page. It’s unconfirmed if and when this update will roll out network-wide. AdWeek

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more top digital marketing news! If you have something to share, sound off in the comments or Tweet it to us @toprank.

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Squashing the Influencer Marketing Buzz(words): What You Really Need to Know

On Google, there are more than 14 million results for the phrase “influencer marketing”. And within those result, most of what you’ll find are “What is Influencer Marketing?” posts (P.S. you can find one from us here). But the problem is that most of these posts have a different variation of what influencer marketing is, who needs it and what you should do. Talk about confusing!

Some of the types of definitions you’ll find include:

  • Using influencers to spread your message on your behalf.
  • A form of marketing that focuses on specific individuals.
  • Promoting services through influencers that can have an effect.
  • Incorporating influencers with a large social reach into marketing.

And while some of those definitions do describe the essence of influencer marketing, our CEO Lee Odden describes it as follows:

“Influencer Marketing is the practice of engaging internal and industry experts with active networks to help achieve measurable business goals.”

So here’s the truth: Expecting that you can simply tap the shoulder or fill the bank account of an “influencer” will not help you meet your business goals. In order to truly have an IMPACT with an influencer marketing program, it’s important to sift through the buzz and develop a program that has real intent.

Influencer marketing isn’t for everyone. If we’re being honest, influencer marketing may not be a fit for every company. While it’s true that there are experts in every field, your audience may not be particularly motivated by expert content.

Working with popular people does not make your brand popular. When starting your search for industry experts, it’s essential to align with influencers that can become an extension of your brand message and whose outlook already aligns with yours. A good mix of well-known experts or “popular influencers”, internal experts, up-and-comers and other expert types make for a well-rounded program to delight your audience.

Influencer marketing should not = compensation only. The real goal should be to develop mutually beneficial relationships with experts to co-create content that works for your audience, their audience and your mutual audience to build credibility. While it’s true that you may have to pay some influencers from time-to-time, a 100% pay-to-play model is not sustainable.

There’s more to influencer marketing than awareness. Many brands are investing hundreds, thousands or even millions of dollars into influencer driven marketing programs that are simply focused on building awareness. Now don’t get me wrong, brand awareness is essential, but expert content has a place deeper in the funnel as well. While the rules differ slightly between B2B and B2C, an integrated marketing strategy that includes influencers can be used to actually generate revenue.

Putting all the pieces together isn’t always easy. Access to influencer marketing tools and marketplaces absolutely make the process much easier. However, all the tools in the world are not a replacement for a sound strategy to incorporate influencers into your digital marketing mix. Your best chances for success are to have a dedicated team or agency help you build a strategy that is based on measurable business objectives.

My team at TopRank Marketing has actively been engaging experts to co-create content for own marketing and our client’s marketing for years. We know that the road to influencer marketing success isn’t always easy, but it is attainable and if executed strategically can create many benefits for your customers, your brand and your influencers.

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20 Awesome Healthcare Marketers to Follow on LinkedIn

Marketing is a challenging profession, full stop. But some flavors of marketing are trickier than others. Healthcare marketers have the same obstacles and issues other marketers do, and they have to contend with strict brand guidelines and stricter federal regulations.

It’s like the old saying: “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels.” These healthcare marketers may or may not know how to tango, but their hard work deserves our recognition.

Here are just a few of our favorite healthcare marketers.

Rob Birgfeld, AVP, Chief Digital Marketing Officer, Inova Health System

Rob is a talented marketer who came to the healthcare field four years ago, when he took on the CDMO role for Inova Health System. He’s a jack of all trades: From social media to blogging to product development, Rob keeps Inova’s marketing strategy sound in the short and long term.

Laura Boyd Desmeth, Director of Digital Communications, Medical City Healthcare

In the five years she has been with Medical City Healthcare, Laura has transformed their online presence, creating social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for the institution. She shares a wealth of healthcare and marketing content on her LinkedIn feed.

David Edelman, Chief Marketing Officer, Aetna

David is a LinkedIn Influencer for health care and marketing, and it’s not hard to see why. He regularly publishes insightful posts of his own on LinkedIn, while also sharing other valuable content with his thousands of followers.

Terri Ann Fredette, Director, Marketing & Communications, UC Health

Though she is a data-driven, ROI-focused marketer, Terri still brings personality and heart to her position. Check out Terri’s profile to see the clever commercials UC Health has produced under her direction.

Scott Galbari, Vice President of Marketing and Portfolio, McKesson Imaging and Workflow Solutions

Scott is the conductor of the 500-piece orchestra that is McKesson IWS, working within strict regulatory guidelines to produce compelling content for the organization’s target audience of radiologists, cardiologists, and health system leaders.

Sven Gierlinger, Chief Experience Officer, Norwell Health

Chief Experience Officers go beyond individual marketing campaigns, beyond inbound, outbound, and the funnel, to create holistic, immersive experiences for consumers. For example, check out Norwell Health’s The Return, a short film highlighting a revolutionary prosthetic for amputee swimmers.

Dan Gingiss, Head of Digital Marketing, Humana

In addition to his daily duties at Humana, Dan is an author, podcaster, and frequent publisher on LinkedIn. We listed Dan as one of our 50 Social Media Influencers to Follow, and he’s been busy developing his thought leadership since then.

Kelly Jo Golson, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Advocate Health Care

With nearly 20 years of experience in marketing, Kelly Jo has the knowhow to direct marketing for one of the Midwest’s largest integrated healthcare systems. Her passion for her work, and genuine compassion for health consumers, makes her stand out in the industry.

Elaine Leavenworth, SVP, Chief Marketing & External Affairs Officer, Abbott

Named one of PR Week’s Health Influencer 50, Elaine has made her voice heard in the industry. Follow Elaine for original content, like her recent International Women’s Day post on LinkedIn, and insightful marketing and healthcare shares.

Diane Lofgren, Chief Marketing Officer, Sharp Healthcare

In addition to her leadership role at Sharp Healthcare, Diane is the author of Women I Want to Grow Old With. Make sure to follow her on Twitter @Dianelofgren, too – she curates fascinating content on healthcare, marketing, and more.

DeAnn Aston Marshall, MHA, Senior Vice President, Chief Development and Marketing Officer, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

In her high-profile position at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, DeAnn has spearheaded creative campaigns with the potential to make real difference in the lives of sick children. On top of that, she’s a clear and compelling writer – check out this post on Millennials and social responsibility.

Dawn McAvoy, Head of Branding and Advertising, Aetna

Though a relative newcomer to healthcare marketing—she came to Aetna in 2014—Dawn has a wealth of experience in marketing leadership, with a decade of experience in management at Citi. One of her special passions is content marketing to women, bringing value and relevance to an often taken-for-granted demographic.

Roymie V. Mimbiela, Chief Experience Officer (CXO) and Associate Vice President Marketing & Communications, University of Miami Health System

Roymie’s list of accomplishments are as long as her job title. She helped transform the patient experience at University of Miami Health System. She has won multiple awards, including the 2010 Hispanic Women of Distinction Award. And she is a speaker and facilitator, presenting on healthcare marketing, business development, and more.

Mark Mistysyn, Director, Interactive Marketing & Digital Strategy, Wake Forest Baptist Health

Mark has over 20 years of experience in the industry, managing digital strategy for some of the largest hospitals in Pittsburg and North Carolina. Mark’s background in web development combines with marketing knowledge and a passion for healthcare to make him a leader in digital healthcare marketing.

Mark Alan Phillips, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, Imaging, GE Healthcare

GE has been quietly killing the social media and content marketing game, with various branches of the business enjoying success on Instagram, Facebook, and even Pinterest. Mark orchestrates the global strategy for GE Healthcare marketing, a standout in a company that is bringing great marketing to life.

Shweta Ponnappa, Senior Director, Digital Marketing, Providence Health & Services

Digital marketing is a rapidly evolving field, and Shwetta is thoroughly equipped to match the right technology with the right message. After cutting her teeth at Amazon, Shwetta moved on to Providence Health & Services, where she specializes in building and running high-quality marketing teams.

Craig Premo, Director of Marketing, Methodist Health System

Content marketing is relatively new territory for healthcare providers. Craig and his team do excellent work managing content creation and curation across social channels for the Methodist Health System. In addition to content strategy, Craig oversees marketing campaigns, web presence, SEO, and monitors brand perception for the health system.

Hijinio Reynoso, Manager, Digital Media at El Camino Hospital

In his four years with El Camino Hospital, Hijinio has achieved impressive results, including increasing the hospital’s Facebook following by over 237%. Make sure to check out his articles published on LinkedIn, including this informative guide to tracking conversions.

Amanda Todorovich, Director of Content Marketing, Cleveland Clinic

Named 2016 Content Marketer of the Year by Content Marketing Institute, Amanda is an inspiration to every content creator longing to add personality and passion to their work. For example, this piece she published last Thanksgiving – it’s got attitude to spare, but is also honest, transparent, and ultimately valuable.

Arra G. Yerganian, Chief Marketing & Branding Officer, Sutter Health

Arra is a graduate of the Harvard Business School for Executive Education and recipient of the 2016 Chief Marketing Officer Award from the International CMO club. He’s also a gifted writer with personality to spare, as evidenced in this article he published last year.

Marketing in Good Health

We all want our marketing to make a difference in people’s lives. Healthcare marketing goes one farther—good marketing of a great health product or system can literally save lives. So it’s a good thing we have these 20 marketers, and many more, on our side.

To fill out your LinkedIn feed with great marketing insights, read 20 Talented Brand Marketers to Follow on LinkedIn.

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A Day in the Life of a Content Marketing Manager at TopRank Marketing

These days, workplace culture is becoming a defining characteristic for most companies—as well as a marketing tool to retain and attract top talent. As a result, I’m often asked by industry peers and hopeful job seekers what it’s really like to work at TopRank Marketing.

The honest truth? It’s hard work. But, that’s the nature of the marketing agency beast. But at TopRank Marketing it’s also in our nature to nurture—and that’s evident in the culture we’ve built; a culture of support, understanding and teamwork to help ensure every individual and every client thrives.

Of course, things aren’t always perfect. But as author, researcher and speaker Brené Brown once said: “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”

With that said, below I dive into how I came to be part of the TopRank Marketing team, as well as give you a little glimpse into my daily life as a Content Marketing Manager.

My Journey to TopRank Marketing

Before making my debut in the digital marketing world, I was a journalist living out her days at coffee shops, city council meetings, ribbon cuttings and community gatherings. The daily grind was grueling at times, but it was also exciting.

But after about four years of keeping up with a 24-hour news cycle (and a company restructuring), I felt some work-life balance may be in order. Luckily, I was given the opportunity to enter the world of digital marketing, starting as a Digital Marketing Specialist at a small web development firm. This experience was eye-opening, challenging me to look at content differently and expand my digital skillset.

Fifteen or so months later—as I was heads down planning my wedding—TopRank Marketing came calling. While I wasn’t actively looking for a new opportunity, I was intrigued. Based on my initial research, I could see TopRank Marketing was a fast-growing, respected company—so I threw my hat into the ring.

The interview process of thorough but quick—two phone interviews, a writing test, and an in-person session with three of the company’s top leaders. Throughout this process, the thing that stood out to me the most was TopRank Marketing’s emphasis on workplace culture. While it was a given that you had to have skills and the desire/ability to grow, the people I spoke with spent a lot of time trying to learn if I could thrive in the environment.

After my day of in-person interviews, I got the offer that evening—which was just five weeks before my wedding. Stating that I needed to give proper notice to my current job and make it through my big day, TopRank Marketing was beyond understanding and let me set the start date.

After enjoying my wedding and a mini honeymoon, I joined the TopRank Marketing team Oct. 5, 2015 as a Content Marketing Lead. And after 18 months of support and learning, I’ve grown into a Content Marketing Manager role—allowing me to further spread my digital and content marketing wings.

A Day in the Life

My day typically begins with a cup of Cinnabon-flavored coffee and a pour of sugar-free vanilla creamer. (Public Service Announcement: If you haven’t had the pleasure of indulging in this delicious amazingness, put it on your bucket list. It sets the day off right.) As I sip, I dive into any emails that came in after “closing time”, check out my meeting schedule, and then jump to our project management system to take a look at what my day and the rest of the week looks like. From there, I prioritize the day’s task list based on own timeline knowledge or engage my account managers for a little help if things are looking precarious.

Once my tasks are set, it’s time to dive in. As for what I’m typically diving into, there are about five core themes on any given day:

1. Content Strategy & Execution

As a member of the content team, it stands to reason that content strategy and execution often take up a large part of my day. When it comes to my client programs, my work is not siloed to just one step in the process—I’m responsible for the entire content lifecycle, from research and concepting to writing and analyzing results.

To keep me on track, I set benchmark goals. For example, if I know that a blog post typically takes me four hours to write, my goal is to have the introduction nailed down in the first hour and the entire post completed in three and half. Then, I set it aside and let it marinate for a bit. Later, I’ll use that final 30 minutes to go over it with a fine-tooth comb, before sending it off for internal review.

2. Cross-Discipline Work Sessions

TopRank Marketing believes that an integrated digital marketing strategy is key. As a result, I’m often sitting down with my account management, social, paid or SEO mates to pick their brains about how to align content with other tactics, program goals and low-hanging opportunities.

Since there’s no assigned seating at TopRank Marketing, my neighbors are made up of paid, SEO and social experts—allowing for incredibly agility in gaining instant insight and feedback that I can use to craft the best possible content.

3. Mentoring

Since the turn of the new year, we’ve been lucky enough to add nearly a dozen talented marketers to the ranks across all disciplines. Since then, I’ve been working with some of our newest content team members to get them up to speed on client programs, provide strategic advice, and review their work and provide feedback.

While this often happens in quick one-off chats, we also have weekly one-on-one meetings. This time is often spent live editing content, identifying training opportunities, and learning how I can help them hone their skills.

4. Client Consultation

TopRank Marketing’s client portfolio is incredibly diverse—from healthcare technology to women’s fashion jewelry. As a result, each team member is tasked with gaining deep knowledge of the unique nuances of multiple industries and their respective audiences. From my perspective, this diversity is part of our secret sauce, allowing us to coach our clients with a range of insights.

When it comes to consulting on content, I go back to my journalism days and ask a lot of questions to draw out information. Based on the information I get, then I’m able to make recommendations for how to approach the content; a blog post doesn’t have to be the only solution.

5. Team Bonding

I have the privilege of working with some of the brightest, kindest and wittiest people I’ve ever met. From a quick chat while we’re brewing our third cup of Joe to deep happy hour conversations, every day I learn something new and interesting about someone I work with. (I could take this opportunity to embarrass a few folks, but I won’t.)

In addition, every other Friday the entire team gets together for a few hours of knowledge sharing—something we call Mantra. Last week we did a working session to craft awesome client case studies and to nail down step-by-step processes for some of our newer service offerings. A few weeks before that, we turned our marketing brains off for a couple hours and watched Guardians of the Galaxy.

Want to Join the TopRank Marketing Team?

The beautiful green space surrounding the TopRank Marketing offices isn’t the only thing in bloom this spring. As I mentioned above, our team is growing, too. If you think TopRank Marketing may be the place for you, check out our Careers page to see all the positions we’re hiring for.

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A Day in the Life of a Content Marketing Manager at TopRank Marketing |

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How Does Your Garden Grow? How to Create and Maintain Evergreen Content

Every good gardener knows there are two types of flowering plants: Annuals and perennials. Annuals bloom once and have to be replanted the next growing season. Perennials stick around; they continue to flower year after year.

Most blog posts are annuals. You publish them, they generate views and shares for a while, and then they basically go dormant. Readers might happen across them occasionally. But think of it this way: When was the last time you went through your favorite blog’s archives? Or clicked on a search result that was over a year old?

Rarely, though, you will find that a post has perennial appeal—what some marketers call “evergreen content.” Even though you published it in 2012, it still gets liked and shared. That’s a clear sign the content is still relevant to your audience.

Evergreen content continues to provide value without extra effort, and it can support spin-offs that fill in blanks in your editorial calendar. So it makes sense to invest some time in creating and caring for your perennials.

How to Create Evergreen Content

On one level, what content becomes evergreen is up to your audience. There will always be a blog post or two that get a surprising amount of sustained attention—posts that just happen to meet an ongoing need.

We’ll talk about how to make the most of these accidental perennials a little later. For now, though, know that it is possible to design content to have lasting value. Aim for content that is:

  • Fundamental and Timeless. Think “how to” content, frequently asked questions, guides to a subject that stays consistent over time. The opposite of newsjacking posts or posts about cutting-edge trends.
  • Take a comprehensive look at a single topic. Go deep, with links to content that explores topics of parallel interest. That kind of value is exactly what will continue to bring in readers over time.
  • Best Answer” Content. Make sure your topic is highly relevant to your audience—fundamental, timeless, substantial content that doesn’t answer someone’s burning question won’t become evergreen.
  • Highly Visible. Your blog may not be the best spot for content that’s evergreen by design. Let your accidental evergreens live there, but consider a more permanent home for your new perennials. For example, this comprehensive guide to advertising on LinkedIn has its own page on the root directory.

How to Identify Accidental Evergreens

A quick look through your site’s Google Analytics should show what content is still generating interest. Look at your traffic report to see what your top-performing posts have been in the past six months—older posts that are still in the top ten are definitely worth your attention.

It’s worth exploring what keywords your site is ranking for, too. You will likely find some unexpected rankings—blog posts that continue to bring in traffic for a specific long tail keyword. These posts hold some hidden value and are worth maintaining.

Care and Maintenance of Evergreen Content

Now that you have identified the perennials in your garden—and perhaps planted a few new ones—you can help them grow even more value:

  • Refresh Older Posts. If an outdated post is still pulling in traffic, it’s worth pulling in fresh statistics and a few new visuals to make it even more relevant. Don’t forget to change the date and note that it was edited, so readers will know it’s au courant.
  • Make a Hub. Your evergreen post can become the center of an SEO-friendly little content empire. Create new content to expand on part of the post, or address a relevant side topic. Then crosslink between the old and new.
  • Expand and Feature. Take a shorter piece that still gets traffic and expand it—turn your quick how-to into a more in-depth guide. Include visual interest, relevant statistics, and links to other resources (we call this a “power page”). Then take your new asset and give it pride of place, on its own page rather than in your blog.
  • Create a Gated Asset. Evergreen content’s popularity is your audience telling you what they want to know more about. Create an eBook or white paper that further explores the topic of your evergreen content. Then add a CTA to the original post that links to your new asset.
  • Start a Series. As soon as a movie hits big at the box office, suddenly it becomes “part one of a trilogy.” Take the same approach with a surprise evergreen hit. Make it the first in a series of posts on the topic, and link them together.
  • Find New Formats. You can repurpose evergreen content to attract an even wider audience. Make it the basis of a webinar. Turn the stats into an infographic. Discuss it on a podcast. All of these can build on the audience’s demonstrated interest in the topic.

How Green Is Your Thumb?

Evergreen content is a bonus for content marketers. Not only does it generate traffic without effort, it can serve as a starting point to drive even more value for your audience. It’s worth checking for perennials already growing in your content garden, and planting some for next season, too.

How do you repurpose evergreen content? Let me know in the comments.

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How Does Your Garden Grow? How to Create and Maintain Evergreen Content |

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Digital Marketing News: Productive Content Teams, Google Shopping & Snap to Store

30 Habits of Highly Productive Content Teams [Infographic]
A successful content team needs to work together well, despite several moving parts. What gets them there are the habits they create, like looking everywhere for content ideas and consistently handling ad-hoc content requests. Content Marketing Institute

Google is trying to turn Image Search into a shopping tool
Google is seemingly turning its image search into a shopping tool — a new feature called style ideas shows users looking for fashion merchandise what the items they select would look like with other items for sale. recode

Snapchat will tell brands how many people saw their ads, then visited their stores, restaurants
Snapchat is allowing brands to see whether the amount of people who have seen their ads translates into in-store visits. They can do this by determining when a user is using Snapchat in a store location, whether or not they’ve seen the respective ad. Marketing Land

The Most In-Demand Marketing Skills in 2017
What are the most in-demand skills for a marketer to have in 2017? Recent research shows that digital marketing, creative services and marketing operations are the top skills in terms of function. MarketingProfs

If Ads Run Next to Offensive Content, This Programmatic Platform Gives Brands Their Money Back
AdWeek reports: While brand-safety concerns on YouTube in recent weeks have given automated ad buying a black eye, MediaMath today announced a measure to make its clients feel better protected. The programmatic player is refunding brands if their ads, per a press release, “run on previously determined unsafe inventory” with a system dubbed Curated Market.” AdWeek

Local Search and Online Reviews Survey 2017
A recent study shows the importance of authentic online reviews — since 50% of consumers always look at reviews, and 70% of consumers read reviews throughout the buying cycle. ReviewTrackers

Instagram Adds ‘Collections’ to Help Organize Ideas on the Platform
Social Media Today reports: “Instagram’s adding a new option for users to save posts they like into collections so they can easily access them at a later stage. Collections are effectively an extension of the ‘Save’ tab, and may prove a useful addition for those who use the platform for shopping or planning purchases, an area which Instagram is working to build upon.” Social Media Today

Study: Pre-Roll Ads Are Least Intrusive With Best Recall
A new study shows that consumers find pre-roll ads less intrusive than other forms of advertising, and they also have the best recall on mobile devices and on desktop. MediaPost

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more top digital marketing news. If you’re dying for more in the meantime, follow @toprank or sound off in the comments.

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Boost Your Social Media Advertising Success with These 6 Pro Tips!

Social media has become an important and necessary tactic within the digital marketing strategies of companies large and small—and it’s not hard to see why. Social media is part of the fabric of our daily lives, which gives brands and marketers the opportunity to create important connections with their desired audience.

But with nearly every brand using social media—as well as frequent tweaks to platform algorithms—brands and marketers are finding it increasingly difficult to stand out using organic tactics. As a result, more are paying to play these days by investing in social advertising to drive awareness and engagement, as well as sales and other conversions. In fact, late last year Statista forecasted worldwide social advertising spend to nearly double between 2014 ($16 billion) and 2016 ($31 billion).

But like every marketing tactic, social media advertising needs strategy and deep audience knowledge in order to be effective. Below we offer a few tips and tactics that can help you hone your strategy and get more out of your social advertising efforts.

#1 – Use organic tactics to test what resonates with your followers.

Your existing audience of followers can be one of your greatest social advertising tools. These people and businesses have clicked follow or like for a reason—and they’re likely a good representation of the larger audience you’re trying to reach.

Since you’re probably already posting on a regular basis for “free”, use that as an opportunity to test out different types of content to see what resonates most. Track which posts are getting the most clicks, likes, shares or comments so you can draw some conclusions of how a similar promoted post or ad would fare when released to a larger, targeted audience.

Your existing audience can be one of your greatest #socialadvertising tools. @CaitinMBurgess
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#2 – Do your homework on how ads are sold on each platform.

Each social media platforms offers an array of ad types. As a result, if you want to keep your budget under control and get the most bang for your buck, you need to be able to choose the right format for your objective.

For example, if you’re looking to boost brand awareness, choosing a campaign based on the number of impressions—or how often your ad is shown—may be the right path. However, if you’re looking to engage a specific group of people who would benefit from your services, an engagement campaign—based on interactions such as clicks, shares, likes and comments—may be the way to go. In addition, ad text and the type of content you’re driving will also depend on the type of campaign you’re running.

#3 – Get granular with your audience and ad creative.

Select the Right Audience

Simply put, if you don’t target the right audience, it doesn’t matter how compelling your ad copy or imagery is because it won’t resonate—and then you’re wasting money.

Use the deep audience knowledge you’ve gained from your other marketing activities to create highly-specific, granular audiences to target. While this approach casts a much smaller net, you’ll likely see more success since you’re hitting a more specific audience.

In addition, don’t limit your ad to just one specific audience. Create multiple granular audiences to connect with the unique subgroups you want to reach.

For example, let’s say you’re promoting a pre-summer sale on grills. A specific audience could be urban-dwelling male and female vegetarians between the ages of 25 and 35, and another could be rural dads between the ages of 35 and 45.

Make the Creative Match

Once you have your specific audiences defined, the next step is to create unique imagery and ad copy.

To go back to our grill example, for your vegetarian audience, your imagery could show a spread of delicious seasonal veggies roasting on the grill. For your rural dads, your imagery could show a similar-aged male manning the grill while family hangs on the patio overlooking open green space.

Also, don’t limit your creative to just one version. Consider creating two or three with the same text, but different imagery—and vice versa. This will allow you to further understand what your audience finds most compelling.

Embrace Retargeting

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced the creepiness—and effectiveness—of retargeting. Retargeting, or remarketing, allows you to keep your brand top of mind for those who’ve left your website without converting. And, of course, social media platforms provide you with a great retargeting opportunity.

However, that opportunity is not limited to simply reminding your audience to check their abandoned cart or to download your new eBook. It can also help you accomplish the previous recommendations in this section. In fact, simply getting ready to retarget social visitors have its rewards.

Facebook allows you to build custom audiences based on who your current website visitors are. To get this up, you simply place a Facebook pixel within your website code to start building.

Facebook Retargeting with Custom Audiences

(Photo Credit: Facebook)

As a result, Facebook can then provide you with a wealth of information about the makeup of your audience. For instance, you may be thinking that you need to target young and hip urban dwellers. But when you take a look at your audience, you may find it’s made up of retired wealthy suburbanites.

In the end, this information can be used to create more targeted ads across all social platforms—and you’re set up for great retargeting on the most popular social platform.

#4 – Launch a test.

Now that you’ve defined your audiences, and the respective imagery and ad copy, launch a test with a small budget. The beauty of this is that you’ll be able to get pretty instant feedback on what’s working and what’s not.

In addition, consider going a step further in your test by experimenting with different ad formats. As mentioned above, each platform offers different types of ads and they should align to your ultimate objective. But it may be worth testing out the different formats (i.e., impressions, engagement or conversions) to see where the best opportunities are.

#5 – Start a campaign with multiple ads in the queue.

If you hit your target audience with the same ad over and over again, fatigue will start to set in and you could do more harm than good.

Whether you’re planning to run a campaign for one week or one month, include multiple ads within the campaign to serve your audience with multiple versions. This not only helps reduce fatigue, but again gives you the opportunity to see what’s working and what’s not so you can make tweaks or abandon ship.

Don’t hit your audience with the same ad over & over. @CaitlinMBurgess #socialmediaadvertising
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#6 – Design with mobile in mind.

With nearly 80% of social media time spent on mobile devices, creating social ads with mobile in mind is paramount.

Choose images that are easy to view on a mobile devices. In addition, if you’re attempting to drive users to a content asset on your blog or website, make sure that page provides a good user experience and is mobile friendly.

How have you achieved social media advertising success? Or where are you looking for more insight? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Is Keyword Cannibalization Hurting your SEO Performance?

Keyword cannibalization is a common issue that applies to all types of websites. To make matters worse, some marketers are not aware that their website might be facing a keyword cannibalization issue. Instead, marketers often look at a website on a page-by-page basis instead of the whole website when it comes to targeting keywords.

In fact, many websites face a keyword cannibalization issue because of historic content or a lack of a clear search strategy. It is important to identify and address a keyword cannibalization issue to maximize your search visibility and plan your future content creation.

Before explaining what keyword cannibalization is, it’s important to understand why this issue is relevant in the digital marketing industry. In today’s world, many websites are faced with historic content that still ranks for target terms. What is often forgotten is that that historic content can compete with new content being created, which leads to cannibalizing traffic or the keyword topics.

What is Keyword Cannibalization?

Keyword cannibalization is when your website has multiple pages that are mainly targeting the same core keyword and/or keyword topic. This situation often occurs due to CMS issues related to parameter pages, as well as, when the same keyword is intentionally used on multiple pages.

Unfortunately, keyword cannibalization is still occurring on multiple websites which can impact your search engine optimization (SEO) results as each page might compete with each other in search engine results pages (SERPs). There are multiple reasons why you would want to fix keyword cannibalization including:

  • Diluting authority between pages: multiple pages with the same primary keyword topic can will make it more difficult for search engines to understand what the authoritative page is.
  • Inefficient crawling and indexing of pages: Having multiple pages that are competing with each other makes search engines crawl pages that are not needed.

One of the biggest issues that keyword cannibalization causes is that search engines need to pick what the best page is for that keyword topic. In other words, that means that you are competing with yourself.

Hypothetical Keyword Cannibalization Example

To help explain keyword cannibalization example, let’s walk through a hypothetical example. This example will focus on the lack of a website’s internal structure and overall keyword targeting strategy.  

For example, let’s say you have an eCommerce website that sells lacrosse equipment (selfish plug, as I coach lacrosse and the season just started). Most eCommerce websites use parameters to filter/sort products. For this example, our lacrosse store has a page for “lacrosse heads” that shows all the lacrosse heads that we sell. We might run into a keyword cannibalization issue if we have multiple parameter pages for each manufacturer of “lacrosse heads.”

In this example, our store might have a “lacrosse heads” page with the URL of Then on the page we options to select the manufacturer, which results in a new parameter page of Essentially, that page would have the same title tag and keyword topic that could compete with the main page. A search engine would have a difficult time understanding what page is the authoritative source for “lacrosse heads.” We also will be missing out on opportunities to rank for individual manufacturer pages related to the product.

How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization

The first step to avoiding cannibalizing your keyword strategy is to use the map or audit the correct keywords to individual pages. You should have a general idea of what keywords are being targeted on each page of your website either when creating a website or auditing the existing pages. You can use Google Sheets or Excel to document the keyword strategy for each page to avoid targeting the same keyword on multiple pages.

The second step to avoiding keyword cannibalization is to use the right tools. You can use tools like Screaming Frog to analyze your website structure and any keyword commonalities in title tags, meta descriptions, heading tags, alt text, and other areas. When analyzing website structure, Screaming Frog can help visualize it with the “Tree” view (shown below). This view can make your life easier when seeing how your website is structured much more efficiently than looking at URLs.

You can also use the inlinks report within Screaming Frog to analyze your internal anchor text to target pages. By analyzing your anchor text to pages, you can make sure that you are using the correct keywords for each link to signal to search engines what the destination page is about.

Another helpful tool for avoiding keyword cannibalization is Siteliner. Siteliner is a fairly affordable option that checks your website for internal duplicate content. Internal duplicate content can be result in search engines not completely understanding what the page is actually about. Instead, focus on having one authoritative page for each keyword topic.

As we covered earlier, duplicate content can also result from content management system (CMS) issues. A CMS might use parameters to change the content for users, but the title tag and heading tags remain the same. When faced with a parameter issue, you have a couple options to resolve the issue.

The first option is to create static pages for parameter pages that have keyword topics with a good amount of search visibility. A static page will be easier to optimize for a specific keyword topic. Other options to resolve a parameter issue is to use Google Search Console to exclude the URL variations or use a canonical tag pointing to the original page.

Take a Stand Against Keyword Cannibalization

It is time to audit your website to make sure you avoid cannibalizing your search traffic. Not only does auditing your website for keyword cannibalization help avoid performance issues, but it can lead to discovering more opportunities for expanding your search footprint.

Let us know if you think your website has a keyword cannibalization issue so we can help you
get the most search traffic as possible. We can help you leverage your analytical data to discover SEO opportunities for your website.

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Is Cognitive Technology the End of Marketing As We Know It?

Cognitive Marketing

“Will artificial intelligence replace marketers in the near future?”

Loren McDonald IMB Watson MarketingThis is the compelling question posted by Loren McDonald of IBM Watson Marketing during his presentation at the recent Digital Summit conference in Los Angeles. While many marketers might consider this a provocative presentation opener, there are some blunt realities marketers need to consider if they want to remain in the field and be competitive.

Consider these stats:

  • ‘Intelligent agents’ or AI will destroy 6% of all jobs in the US by 2021. Forrester Research
  • AI could threaten up to 47% of jobs in two decades. Eric Berger, ars Technica

So what does artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning mean, anyway?

Artificial Intelligence is about the development of computers systems that are able to perform tasks that would normally require human intelligences such as visual identification speech recognition, decision-making and translating between languages. AI performs a role in many of the stems that you use everyday from using Siri on your phone, a chatbot on an ecommerce site like Staples or 1-800-Flowers or every time you use Google.

Machine learning is a subset of AI that allows computers to learn much the same way that people do, only faster and without being explicitly programmed for every task that they can complete.

“In economics, things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.” Rudi Dornbusch, German Economist

With oncoming ubiquity of AI in our everyday lives, you have to wonder where that trend will intersect with marketing. Loren considered whether marketers will be out of jobs in 10-15 years like Uber & Lyft drivers are expected to be. It’s a reasonable question to consider.

I was able to see a demo of IBM Watson’s Cognitive Technology for marketing at the World of Watson conference and there are some impressive possibilities.  Outside of considering all the ways AI and machine learning could help with extracting insight from large amounts of data and the ongoing optimization, my big takeaway from the demo was that as with all industries that change, those that adapt will survive and thrive. Those that don’t, won’t.

Things like PPC, social ads and any other kind of online advertising would be ripe for AI. Another immediate and practical example of how AI and machine learning could help marketers is email subject line writing and testing.  Loren suggested that you could use a tool like Phrasee, which can learn from your customer response metrics and then use machine learning to quantify and optimize language for you to use that will best engage your audience.

Thank about all the structured, repetitive and rules based tasks you might do on a regular basis as part of your job as a marketer. They are all open to being completed by an AI service. Not only could the be completed by a computer, but they could be done faster and with fewer errors. That could free marketers up to spend time on managing even more programs without additional staff.

Now, if you’re wondering what roles and tasks are at risk, Loren shared this list:

  • Easily repeatable
  • Data-centric
  • Tasks that improve with learning
  • Rules drive tasks
  • Reporting
  • Customer and segment analysis
  • Campaign automation
  • Media buying
  • Campaign testing

It can certainly cause some tension to think that your job might be replaced by a computer, but Loren suggested that the solution to this impending automation of what many marketers do, is to adopt a “center brain” marketing approach.

Loren says that center-brain marketing melds right brain creativity with left brain analytical thinking with technology to fuel success in a future driven by machine learning.

Traditionally, marketing has been viewed very much as “right brain” and creative. But left brain analytical marketing has been growing fast and most marketing organizations already include a mix of both.

I know within our own agency at TopRank Marketing, we’ve been using analytics and various data to optimize marketing programs for years. After attending IBMs WoW conference, I’ve been salivating over what one could do with bluemix access to Watson smarts for content recommendations, influencer analysis and finding many interesting correlations to help us provide better recommendations to clients.

As Loren mentioned in his presentation, the shift towards cognitive will be accelerated as marketing becomes more dominated by left-brain people using machine learning and artificial intelligence for marketing decisions, targeting, creative and conversion optimization. Technologies like IBM’s Watson cognitive marketing tools will help marketers deliver more relevant content and offers at the right time than humans alone ever could.

Ultimately, Lore decided the answer to the question about whether cognitive technology will be the end of marketers and marketing as we know it should be answered in terms of what’s happening with driverless cars and the notion of level 2-4 autonomy.

Level 0 – Human only
Level 1 – Cruise control
Level 2 – Tesla Autopilot
Level 3 – The car makes decisions
Level 4 – Human as back-up
Level 5 – No human involved

You can see that there will be degrees of AI implementation. It’s not an all or none situation. There will still be human powered marketing assisted with technology along with partially and fully automated marketing programs based on goals.

As pressures to scale competitive marketing programs increases alongside growing competition, it is inevitable that cognitive will become a normal part of marketing. The question is, what are your plans as an organization and as an individual to acquire the knowledge, skills and perspective to stay ahead of the game?

Do you think artificial intelligence and cognitive technology will replace part or all of your job? What are you doing to adapt?

You can connect with Loren McDonald on Twitter: @LorenMcDonald and LinkedIn.

This is the second of two posts from the Digital Summit Los Angeles conference that I’m posting this week. Be sure to take a look at the first one featuring Serena Ehrlich from BusinessWire where I summarized her advice on search and social media promotion of news release content.

Loren MdDonald, Serena Ehrlich, Lee Odden

Loren McDonald, Serena Ehrlich, Lee Odden

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Essential Search and Social Media Promotion Tips for News Content

Serena Ehrlich BusinessWire

Marketing and PR greatness must include equal parts intelligence, creativity and a focus on results. But there’s one more important ingredient necessary to help you stand out: enthusiasm.

Serena Ehrlich from BusinessWire has all of these characteristics and at the Digital Summit LA conference, she shared a cornucopia of practical advice about media relations and promotion of news content with zest and gusto.

Here are a few highlights.

Serena EhrlichIt’s common sense and supported by research that industry media is a source of news and trusted information for buyers of every kind. Consumers and journalists have changed right along with the technology used to discover, consume and engage with content.

Therefore, it’s essential that marketing and communications professionals empathize with their audience to understand their preferences and give them what they want.

Because newsrooms have shrunk and journalists are overwhelmed with bad pitches along with a news cycle that runs 24/7 it’s a challenge to stand out. But no fear,  you can really increase your chances of successful media pickups by following a few news release tips from Serena:

  • Include usable support data
  • Be interesting
  • Be relevant to target audience
  • Be catchy
  • Include quotes
  • Include multimedia

Of course, outbound media pitching isn’t the only way journalists can be exposed to your news content. Search engines and social networks can deliver thousands of additional readers that are actively looking for information that your brand has to give.

That means making sure news releases and newsroom content is optimized for the right keywords and promoted through social media. Serena suggested using Google Trends to find keywords to add to your release headlines to increase opens, which is great. You can also use tools like, Moz Keyword Explorer or if you have a Google AdWords account, their Keyword Planner. (we’ve covered press release optimization extensively here in the past in case you want to venture that way)

Serena brought up that since journalists are increasingly judged on the traffic or page view performance of the articles they write, be sure to let them know when they cover your story, that you will share what they write across your social networks. If they know you’ll help promote the article, they might be more inclined to use you for the story and again in the future.

When it comes to social media promotion, Serena stressed the importance of earning trust. How do you do that? Here are her tips:

Share smart content:
– News releases and coverage
– New ideas
– Stats and data
– Ask provocative questions
Share happy content:
– Case studies
– User generated content shares
– CSR content
– Employee life
Share negative-fix content:
– How can you solve this pain point?
– Share consequences

Social networks are where people spend their time, period. And to engage with customers, brands need to be where the customers are. To help you promote your news content where people are actually spending time, Serena shared these tips for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and YouTube:

LinkedIn Tips: Professional Competition
– Link with coworkers: Trigger LinkedIn’s algorithm by sharing updates simultaneously
– Include contact information in your release: LinkedIn promotes people mentioned in news releases
– Use LinkedIn blog opportunities to reach new audiences and drive traffic via company blog teaser
– Write content that includes the 6 Ws, you, lists, hacks, psychology, careers, talent and multimedia

Twitter Tips: Smart, Clever, First
– Format: 118-character count – include a headline, link, comments
– News content types to post on Twitter: Stats, releases, coverage
– Don’t forget to use relevant hashtags – up to 3
– Include up to 4 images, GIF or video
– Join hashtag chats
– Add Influencers to Twitter lists
– Create RT DMs groups – people you can reach out to for mutual sharing of content

Facebook Tips: Personal, Smart, Visual
– Increase Your Reach
– Facebook parses content by type
– Facebook matches word use in updates
– Use free audience targeting
– Upload video in early afternoon

Use Facebook Live for reach:
– 10 minutes in length
– Include surprise material
– Comment pinning pending

Be sure to try Facebook Notes for the SEO value

Reddit Tips: Passionate, Smart, Informed
– Reddit has a large audience with 45,000 targeted communities
– Share links to drive traffic, but be sure to participate with the Reddit community first to build relationships (don’t just dump your links)
– Only share relevant information

Instagram Tips: Fame, Recognition
– Instagram is a visual social network, so be sure to use high quality or interesting imagery
– Showcase behind the scenes, physical products, physical locations
– Highlight employee engagement

On Instagram, be sure to:
– Sign up for a business page
– Drive traffic via URL in profile or Stories
– Be descriptive
– Use hashtags (up to 30)
– Like other people’s images to increase interactivity

Pinterest Tips: Showing off + Smart
– Pinterest is the most aspirational network
– It is very focused on B2C, but there are opportunities for B2B
– Extremely high CTR

On Pinterest, be sure to:
– Fuel the smart board
– Be hyper-targeted
– Be descriptive
– Use hashtags

Snapchat Tips: Unvarnished Truth
– 71% of Snapchat users are 18-34 years old.
– Users have an average of 15 friends
– To maximize your impact on Snapchat, buy a geofilter!

On Snapchat, be sure to:
– Provide VIP/exclusive access to content
– Be highly relevant with real time discussion
– Include offers and coupons
– Consider takeovers

YouTube + BizWireTV Tips: Video News
– 33% of YouTube searches are for news
– YouTube TV is launching in 2017

On YouTube, be sure to:
– Create content for all sales funnel steps
– Determine what your audience watches in long form and shorten it
– Create a video of text content
-Try FB live to announce news
– Try
– Try Sponsorships with BizWireTV

There’s a lot to think about if you want to do well with your news content across so many social channels. Hopefully these tips are useful for your efforts at getting news content noticed by journalists through both outbound and inbound efforts.

You can connect with Serena on Twitter @Serena and on LinkedIn.

This is the second of two posts from the recent Digital Summit Los Angeles conference I attended. The first featured Loren McDonald of IBM (Is Cognitive Technology the End of Marketing As We Know It?).

Loren MdDonald, Serena Ehrlich, Lee Odden

Loren MdDonald, Serena Ehrlich, Lee Odden

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Essential Search and Social Media Promotion Tips for News Content |

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