Content Marketing Lessons from 4 Holiday Ad Fails

Making a great holiday ad should be simple. Start with a heartwarming message about love, peace, and goodwill. Add twinkling lights and evergreen trees and families getting warm by a fire. Then add your brand’s logo discreetly toward the bottom right. There you have it – a holiday ad that won’t offend, creep out, or annoy anyone.

It’s an easy formula, but one that a surprising number of brands mess up every year. Fortunately for us, they mess up in entertaining and educational ways. It’s almost easier to learn from a cautionary tale than a role model, so reveling in bad marketing can make you a better marketer.

These four holiday ads are certified disastrous, each in their own special way. And each has a lesson – or two – that marketers can use all year round. So prepare yourself for blasphemous meat products and yodeling cats: It’s time for some festive marketing fails.

1. Sour Sentiment from KFC

Last year, KFC created this music video, which is inexplicably three minutes long:
If you have better things to do with three minutes, the song is about how awful the holidays are, how people are annoying, how children are the absolute worst…but we can all come together because KFC is delicious.

KFC’s a notoriously “edgy” brand on social media, so it makes sense they would launch a sourball right at the heart of the holiday season. But this video leaves a worse aftertaste than their potato wedges do.

I believe comedy is great for marketing. But there are so many layers of irony and misanthropy here that it’s hard for the joke to breathe – by the time the gospel choir comes in, it’s impossible not to roll your eyes. And even if it made you chuckle all the way through, did it make you hungry for KFC?

My Content Marketing Takeaway: Humor is great for marketing. Irony less so. Snarkiness infinitely less so. Stick with humor that invites your audience into your tribe and makes them feel good.

2. Sainsbury’s Turns a War Story into a Commercial

On the complete opposite side of the irony spectrum, we have the absolute deadly earnestness of Sainsbury’s Christmas ad from 2016. After you watch the video, you’re invited to watch two different behind-the-scenes videos – they’re that proud:
The ad tells the true story of American and German troops in 1914 that called a cease-fire on Christmas Day. They sang songs together, celebrated the holiday, and then returned to trying to kill each other the next day (the video stops short of that last bit).

There’s nothing wrong with telling this story, and even nothing wrong with a brand telling it. But it’s still cringe-inducing to have that ad tagline and Sainsbury’s logo pop up at the end. It makes me feel manipulated by a brand, rather than entertained by a story.

My Content Marketing Takeaway: If your brand is approaching sensitive subject matter, keep the branding subtle. Let the content take center stage, and don’t turn a beautiful moment into a commercial.

3. Gregg Bakery’s Sausage Savior

British bakery chain Greggs stirred up controversy this year with their advent calendar announcement. The ad featured a nativity scene with a sausage roll in place of the baby Jesus. Not surprisingly, some Christians objected to the imagery. And some people thought it was hilarious. And the bakery apologized while not really apologizing.

Greggs picked up some free publicity from the stunt, of course. But none of that publicity had to do with their delicious pastries. And they’re getting eyerolls from folks who are tired of edgy brands courting controversy during the holidays. It’s a tired move.

My Content Marketing Takeaway: I’m all for drawing in your tribe, even to the extent of repelling those who aren’t your target audience, by leading with your brand’s values. Stirring up pointless controversy doesn’t tell anyone about your brand, and doesn’t make a meaningful distinction to your target audience.

4. Whatever This Is that Walmart Did

My words are my livelihood. My words are my only weapon against the world. But for this… I have no words. Just watch.
So. Yodeling cat in a Santa hat for 51 seconds: Walmart! Right?

The thing is, this ad made some kind of sense back in 2011, when it came out. It fits in with an animation trend from the late ‘00s. Today, it’s just ugly and off-putting. And, of course, even back in the day it didn’t have anything to do with Wal-Mart.

My Content Marketing Lesson: Make your marketing timeless rather than trendy, useful rather than “viral,” sensible instead of utter screaming nonsense.

Happy Holidays and Beyond

When holiday advertising works, it’s a fine example of what content marketing can be: Uplifting, entertaining, empathetic, even valuable. When too much snark, aggressive branding, pointless controversy, or cat-yodeling gets in the way – well – at least it can serve as a warning to the rest of us.

Are you already looking past the holidays to the New Year? Explore four emerging marketing channels for 2018.


Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Content Marketing Lessons from 4 Holiday Ad Fails | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Content Marketing Lessons from 4 Holiday Ad Fails appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Content Conversations: How to Hit the Ground Running in 2018

We are in the final stretch of 2017 which means 2018 will be here before we know it. And unfortunately, Q2 will be here in the blink of an eye.

All too often we spend weeks or even months creating a content strategy, and quickly find that by the middle of March, we’ve already abandon our best laid plans. Instead, we should be spending our efforts developing a plan that is tied to a core group of objectives that we can reference as soon as it feels like things may be getting off track.

It’s no surprise that one of the key themes for content marketing in the coming year is working harder to tie marketing activities to objectives and measuring TRUE content impact.

To help you figure out how to start 2018 off with a bang, we bring you part 2 of Content Conversations. Last week we tapped into our content experts for insights into top lessons learned in 2017. This week we take a dive into essential steps to help you hit the ground running with content in 2018.

Always Think of Your Audience First

Sounds easy enough right? You’d think so. But unfortunately, many brands are still creating very brand and product centric content.

Instead, focus on creating content that answers the top questions that your audience is asking. If you don’t know what those questions are, speak with your customers and use tools like Answer the Public to determine demand.

Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

“If your content isn’t of value to your audience, then it’s not effective.” @annhandley tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What are the top three pain points that our product/solution/service solves for our customers?
  • Which of my current content appears to be resonanting best with our target audience?
  • What does an ideal customer look like?

Simplify & Focus on Content Impact

Regardless of resources and budget, content marketers want to do it all. Often, we become spread too thin because we’re trying to focus on too many channels and too many tactics.

Let data be your guide for determining where to focus in 2018. Use this information to decide which channels and tactics are performing and fully invest your time and effort in the coming year into these data-driven and focused approaches for maximum impact.

Joe Pulizzi
Author & Keynote Speaker

“Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.” @joepulizzi tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • Would our content benefit from an audit?
  • Which tactics do we know perform best for our brand?

Tie Content Marketing to Revenue

Let’s face it, there are a lot of marketers secure in their positions that are not at all responsible for the performance of their marketing. Because content objectives can sometimes appear “fuzzy”, many marketers are not moving the needle in the right direction.

It doesn’t matter if your content budget is large or small, it’s important to tie all tactics and activities to a desired outcome. Now that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for testing and creativity which is essential for standing out against the competition.

Chris Brogan
CEO, Owner Media Group

“The biggest companies in the world want more passionate people, not spreadsheet watchers.” @chrisbrogan tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • Have we identified the true performance and value of our content marketing activities?
  • Are we all holding each other accountable to marketing performance?

Create Content Benchmarks

How will you ever know where you’re going unless you understand where you’ve been? Instead of setting arbitrary performance content goals, review performance of previous campaigns or tactics to create a benchmark.

Also, once content has gone live, be sure to review what worked (and what didn’t) so that you can optimize the performance going forward. Content is not a “set it and forget it” tactic so it’s important to edit to improve marketing performance.

Alexandra Rynne
Content Marketing Manager – Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn

“Look back at how your content has performed and optimize your approach.” @amrynnie tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What similar content have you published that can be used as a benchmark for future content?
  • What are reasonable goals for improving content performance?

Be Creative & Experiment

It’s time for content marketers to begin pushing boundaries. Instead of focusing on getting the content published, take a look at what has been created and what is planned to determine if it is a piece of art, or something anyone could make.

Depending on the size of your organization, you may not have a dedicated creative or design staff. Spend time finding outside freelancers or agencies that can help turn your content from good to mind blowing.

Tim Washer
Writer & Producer, Cisco

“Content goals that are clear are publishing deadline and budget, but many can’t tell if they’ve created something meaningful.” @timwasher tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What is one test or bet that you can make early in the year on a creative piece of content?
  • What budget can you set aside for experimenting with super creative content?

Determine Your Measurement Strategy

Content success looks different for every brand. Defining your goals for content in different funnels of the buying cycle are critical to content success.

Every piece of content that you create and publish should be directly tied to goals and should be relentlessly measured against those goals.

Dayna Rothman
VP of Marketing & Sales Development, BrightFunnel

“Have goals in place for every piece of content you create.” @dayroth tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What are the most important KPIs for our brand that content should be measured against?
  • What tools do we have/need in order to effectively measure content?

Understand the Waterfall

As you know, digital marketing is a multi-touch process. The vast majority of time, prospects don’t convert into customers just from reading a single blog post.

Plan for the different stages of the customer journey to make sure that you have compelling (or even personalized) content for each stage of their vetting process.

Chris Moody
Content Marketing Leader, GE Digital

“Everything you do as a marketer, can be anchored into something that is actual ROI.” @cnmoody tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • Do we know what the typical customer journey looks like for our brand?
  • Do we have anchor content at each stage to keep moving them through the funnel?

How Do You Plan to Hit the Ground Running in 2018?

The verdict is in and 2018 appears to be the year that marketers MUST focus on content measurement outside of basic KPIs. The marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive so it’s essential to define your content measurement strategy by the end of the year in order to remain relevant.

What advice do you have for other content marketers to hit the ground running in 2018?

Disclosure: BrightFunnel & LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing clients.


Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Content Conversations: How to Hit the Ground Running in 2018 | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Content Conversations: How to Hit the Ground Running in 2018 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

12 Industry-Specific Opportunities for Boosting Social Media Engagement

In the ever-changing social media landscape, we marketers are often on the prowl for meaningful data and insights to understand what works, what doesn’t and where our opportunities may lie. As a result, we often turn to industry research and studies, which often feature benchmarks that help us better internalize our own metrics and understand how we stack up to the competition.

While most studies offer incredibly insightful and useful information, one component may be missing: industry context.

Earlier this year, Rival IQ released its 2017 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report, featuring unique benchmark data for six different industries: Media, Higher Education, Non-profits, Food & Beverage, Fashion and Health & Beauty.

Why is context so important? As Rival IQ so eloquently said:

Key performance indicators like engagement rate, the number of clicks on a social post, or hashtag engagement rates tells a lot about what is happening as a result of activities. But it says nothing regarding whether the efforts are successful, failing, or where to focus on closing those gaps. Why? Because benchmarks are relative. … It’s easy to compare against the best, we all know those brands. That comparison often proves worthless. Comparing yourself to only the best and biggest brands is a disservice to the work your team has invested in social media.

As we near the end of the year, you’re undoubtedly preparing your 2018 social media marketing strategy. Below I share some of the report’s industry-specific opportunities for upping social engagement that deserve your consideration.

Media

Opportunity #1: Use more video on Facebook and Twitter.

According to the study, media companies boast the highest number of posts per day on Facebook and Twitter, but also the lowest engagement rates at .12% and .015%, respectively.

Social Engagement for Media Companies

Coming from a journalism background, this certainly didn’t surprise me. As the news happens, media organizations use social media to spread the word—and even a slow news day produces plenty of shareable fodder. But most of that shared content are links to on-site content, which requires the user to take another step to consume the content.

As a result, media companies have the opportunity to not only draw more eyeballs in, but keep them there longer by incorporating more video into their social media strategy.  

Opportunity #2: Invest in Instagram.

This finding is pretty straight forward. According to the report, Instagram gets the least amount of love on a daily basis, with the average post per day being just .8. However, the engagement rate on Instagram is exponentially higher at 1.25%, signaling that Instagram audiences are ripe for more content.

Non-profits

Opportunity #1: Repurpose Facebook videos for Twitter.

According to the report, non-profits are “owning” native video, but they may not be utilizing it effectively across all its social channels. But as you can see from the graphs below, video is much more prevalent on Facebook than on Twitter, but engagement in that type of content is high on both platforms.

Facebook Engagement Metrics Nonprofits

Twitter Engagement Metrics for Nonprofits

Based on the findings, Rival IQ suggested repurposing Facebook video content (or perhaps going native) for Twitter to help up engagement rates.

Opportunity #2: Leverage high-performing hashtags.

Like the media industry, non-profits have some opportunity with Instagram. According to the report, by just increasing posts per day by .2 (one more post every five days) non-profits could see a lift in engagement. Furthermore, using trending and high-performing hashtags (and related subject matter) such as #VeteransDay in their posts could lend a boost, too.

Higher Education

Opportunity #1: Up the number of status updates on Facebook.

According to the report, colleges and universities boast some of the highest engagement rates compared to the other industries in the study.

Social Engagement for Media Companies

But what’s most interesting is that simple status updates do almost as well as video and photos. As a result, Rival IQ suggests that higher education organizations could up the number of status updates on Facebook and still receive great engagement.

Opportunity #2: Add visual elements to tweets.

While visuals aren’t necessarily an essential for higher education Facebook audiences, they’re a big opportunity for Twitter audiences. As you can see in the graph below, tweets with videos or photos have a significantly higher engagement rate.

INSERT GRAPH

Fashion

Opportunity #1: Incorporate more video across social channels.

Social posts featuring images are the most common type of posts among fashion brands, and while they get the most engagement, video is a close second—but less posts contain videos.

As the power of video becomes increasingly evident, fashion brands may want to incorporate more into their social strategy to drive more overall engagement.

Opportunity #2: Re-evaluate hashtags to make sure they are relevant to the audience.

According to the report, the top hashtags that fashion brands are currently using only provide slightly higher engagement compared to the other industries studied. Some of those top hashtags include a mix of holiday, lifestyle and fashion-related hashtags.

Top Hashtags for Fashion Brands

As a result, it may be worth it to go more industry-specific and focus on those fashion-related hashtags to be more relevant and boost engagement.

Health & Beauty

Opportunity #1: Focus on photos.

Video is undoubtedly an engagement driver and opportunity for most industries, but according to the report, that’s where the health and beauty industry differs. In fact, photos trump video in engagement on Facebook and Twitter for health and beauty companies.

Facebook Engagement Rates for Health and Beauty Brands

Twitter Engagement Rates for Health & Beauty

This signals that health and beauty brands should double-down on the creation of quality, compelling photos for use across their social channels.

Opportunity #2: Use industry-related hashtags.

When it comes to Instagram, Rival IQ’s study found that industry-related hashtags such as #moisturizer or #healthyskin—rather than just top-performing or trending hashtags like #ValentinesDay—get high engagement rates.

Food & Beverage

Opportunity #1: Invest in compelling imagery for use across channels.

Photos are the most common type of social posts for food and beverage companies—and for good reason as they drive high engagement. As a result, food and beverage brands should absolutely be investing in high-quality, compelling imagery that will resonate with their audience.

Food & Beverage Industry Social Engagement Rates

Opportunity #2: Get on the Twitter bandwagon.

According to the report, food and beverage companies are rocking it on Twitter, significantly outperforming other industries. So, if you’ve been wondering whether Twitter is worth the investment, it may be a good time to incorporate Twitter into your strategy.

Read the full Rival IQ report here.

The Bottom-Line

Simply put, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for fostering engagement on social media. While many industries have the same high-level opportunities for adding video, producing quality images and refining hashtagging strategies, there are nuances and caveats that are industry-unique.

So, as you work to refine your strategy today, tomorrow and beyond, do so with your unique industry and audience at the forefront of your mind. However, don’t neglect the great things happening outside your industry bubble. After all, a little inspiration can go a long way.

Looking for a little of that inspiration? Check out our post What All Marketers Can Learn from Fast Food Giants Crushing Twitter.

Have some insight to lend on this subject? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
12 Industry-Specific Opportunities for Boosting Social Media Engagement | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post 12 Industry-Specific Opportunities for Boosting Social Media Engagement appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

4 Emerging Marketing Channels You Should Adopt in 2018

Regardless of whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, your audience is always on the move. With changing devices, interests, and behaviors it’s increasingly difficult to stay in front of your target audience. As the saying goes, ‘a moving target is harder to hit.’

To increase our chances of hitting our targets, we often weave several channels into our marketing strategy, putting our brand in front of more potential leads. However, in today’s digital landscape, it can feel like new platforms and social networks pop up daily leaving you to wonder if you need to change up your strategy.

Below, we gathered our top five emerging digital marketing channels to help you decide which channels are worth focusing on and stay top of mind with your target audience. Read on to learn how you can adopt them into your 2018 marketing plan.

1. Messaging Apps

Messaging apps are now 20% bigger than social networks, creating new pathways where you can target your audience. This includes messaging apps like WhatsApp, Slack, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger. Facebook Messenger alone is on the phones of over 1.2 billion people and with mobile now accounting for 57% of internet traffic, it’s important for your brand to be visible on the mobile apps your audience uses.

Through strategic advertising and integrated chatbots, your brand can attract and support more customers through messaging apps. For example, you can send sponsored, personalized messages to people who have messaged your brand in the past to start a dialogue. Then, with well-designed and thoughtful bot, you can automate the conversations and interactions your brand has with your audience to draw them closer to converting.

2. Medium

With 91% of B2B marketers stating that they use content marketing, odds are you already create noteworthy content for your brand. Medium, a publishing platform where people “read and write things that matter,” allows you to distribute that content with an engaged and thoughtful audience. And through Medium’s priority on quality content, the size of your audience doesn’t affect the virality of what you have to say, which differs from how other publishing sites and networks work.

As a platform for individuals and their opinions, Medium is a place for your brand’s thought leaders to share their progressive ideas. Instead of publishing content as a business, ask your brand’s top minds to post content that is thought provoking, yet relevant to your industry or business. With over 126 million website visits to date and growing, Medium’s active users will highlight and interact with your content, increasing the visibility of your content on the platform.

3. Reddit

Boasted as “The Front Page of the Internet”, Reddit provides another unique opportunity for brands to engage new, active audiences. With over 250 million users to date, Reddit allows users to create, share, and discuss online content and vote on their submissions. This has resulted in an active, loyal, and engaged community full of user-generated content. In fact, after 1.69 billion website visitors to date, Reddit has an average site visit duration of over 10 minutes.

Get started with Reddit by selecting a few subreddits (i.e. threads dedicated to specific topics) that are appropriate for you to share your content in. You can also try out Reddit’s advertising features which allow you to sponsor a post to the front page of a subreddit. And if you’re feeling extra brave, you can host an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, which allows you to have a Q&A session with Reddit’s community. Be warned, however: posting on Reddit can be a bit like walking through a minefield—you never know what you’re going to get.

4. YouTube

Video accounts for 74% of all internet traffic, meaning your audience spends a majority of their time online watching a video. While YouTube has been around for over a decade, it still hasn’t made it into many marketing strategies with only 30% of B2B marketers believing video will be critical to their content marketing. Today, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and second most visited site, making it a prime place to distribute video content and engage audiences.

While producing your own video may seem daunting, video creation has never been more accessible through new SaaS offerings and sophisticated phone cameras. Plus, your videos don’t need to be overly complicated. Showcase your company’s thought leaders through one on one interviews, live streamed Q&A’s, or webinars. In addition, you can create in-depth tutorials that walk your audience through difficult problems, highlighting your expertise and educating your audience. For more ideas on the types of videos you can create, see how seven brands are using long-form video content to connect with audiences.

Mix Up Your Content Marketing Game

Finding the right content marketing mix that successfully engages the right people isn’t an exact science. For more tips and ideas on how to find that perfect balance, check out these content marketing mix tips.


Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
4 Emerging Marketing Channels You Should Adopt in 2018 | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post 4 Emerging Marketing Channels You Should Adopt in 2018 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Tech & ABM, Top Search Ranking Factors and 2017 Consumer Trends

How New Tech Trends Can Amplify Your Marketing Strategy [Animated Infographic]
How can technology help your account based marketing be more efficient and more personal? This infographic answers that question and more about marketing technology trends, AI and machine learning. MarketingProfs

Top 17 Organic Search Ranking Factors [STUDY]
A new study from SEMRush shows the top search ranking factors for 2017. These factors heavily favor engagement and quality of content – with factors like bounce rate, time on page and direct visits dominating the top of the list. Having the appropriate keywords in the title, meta description and page content were near the bottom. Search Engine Journal

No One Trusts Social Media, but They’ll Keep Using It Anyway [New Data]
Distrust for social media is on the rise, with close to half of survey respondents saying that Google, Facebook and Twitter are ‘untrustworthy.’ However, despite the distrust, few plan to stop using social networks and Google. HubSpot

Study Finds Sharp Drop in Time Spent on Facebook
eMarketer reports: “Facebook users in the US spent more time with the platform than users of any other social network, 18 hours, 24 minutes. But that was a significant drop from the 32 hours, 43 minutes recorded by Verto Analytics a year ago.” eMarketer

2017 Consumer Trends Report
What do US consumers care about in 2017? In this new study, social media data shines some light onto what topics of conversation are most prevalent and what conversations are emerging. Crimson Hexagon

The State of E-Commerce in Fast-Moving Consumer Goods [Infographic]
According to MarketingProfs, this infographic “offers insights into the current state of e-commerce in FMCG, also known as CPG (consumer packaged goods), as well as why e-commerce is no longer just an option for FMCG (it’s a must-have) and which verticals have seen the most growth.”  MarketingProfs

Facebook debuts web-based VR experiences within standard News Feed
Facebook has recently released examples of brands who have developed VR apps with which users can interact in the Facebook News Feed and mobile app. Facebook is calling them “360 experiences”. MarketingLand

Google AdWords Editor updates to support budget type option for video ads & more
Google has announced even more updates to their AdWords Editor program. These updates will support new features like Gmail asset-based ads, video extensions and a new budget type option for video ads. Search Engine Land

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more digital marketing news. Have something to share? Tweet to @toprank!

The post Digital Marketing News: Tech & ABM, Top Search Ranking Factors and 2017 Consumer Trends appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

The TopRank Marketing Team Reflects & Gives Thanks

Today is a day that has become a cornerstone of American tradition and many of you are preparing for a day of fun and feasting with your love ones.

Every family has their own Thanksgiving traditions. For many families, you spend the day cooking, eating, conversing and eating some more. Others (like myself) take a more non-traditional approach and host a Friendsgiving with no turkey (don’t worry, there is prime rib).

The team at TopRank Marketing has our own Thanksgiving tradition which includes asking our team members to share thanks on a specific topic each year. Last year we shared why we were thankful for our clients and the year before we focused on why we were thankful for our team members.

This year, we decided to focus on what we are most thankful for in our career and what we’ve learned in our time at TopRank Marketing.

So sit back, put on your stretchy pants and take a moment to digest what some of our team members are most thankful for this year.

Steve Slater
Digital Advertising Manager

I’m thankful to have a career that is constantly changing and challenging me to change with it. I’m thankful to be at TopRank Marketing because it’s a company where open feedback and communication is valued. It’s also a company where personal growth and collaboration is baked into the culture.

Lee Odden
CEO

I am incredibly thankful to work in an industry where curiosity, passion, creativity and a focus on marketing results can be rewarded in so many ways. Not only do I have the opportunity to gain digital marketing knowledge working with first class clients and an amazing team at our agency, but I get to share their success stories at marketing conferences all over the world.

Josh Nite
Content Marketing Manager

TopRank Marketing has been a career rebirth for me. In two years I learned more than I did in a decade at my old job. I’m so thankful for leadership that cares about nurturing talent, and for the incredibly smart team I work with. Everyone is so generous with their knowledge, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Myrle Croasdale
Copywriter

I am thankful to be part of a team that is leading in the digital marketing arena. The TopRank Marketing team intentionally works to stay ahead of emerging trends to deliver concrete results for clients. It great to be part of such a dynamic team.

Mike Odden
Research Analyst

As working at TopRank Marketing is my second career ( I thought in public schools for 31 years ) I feel very  blessed to have the opportunity. To see TopRank  Marketing grow and to be part of this team of super professionals is fantastic!

Caitlin Burgess
Senior Content Marketing Manager

I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work and grow with so many amazing, talented people. Thanks to the support and nurturing I’ve received, I’ve cultivated great friendships and had the opportunity to grow and refine many areas of my marketing skillset. So, a big thank you to every TopRank Marketing team member. I couldn’t do what I do without you.

Debbie Friez
Social Media Lead

I am thankful for the opportunity to learn from the great minds at TopRank Marketing every day. When you work with creative intelligent people you can’t help but cultivate new ideas and push to do better work. I’m really looking forward to the new opportunities 2018 will bring!

Elizabeth Williams
Account Manager

I feel so wonderfully blessed to have the opportunity to work at TopRank Marketing. I am thankful to be surrounded by such outstanding, industry-leading digital marketing professionals. I love to learn alongside and from the expertise of my team as we take on big challenges and drive results for our clients. I can’t wait to see how we can continue to grow and improve in 2018.

Ashley Zeckman (That’s Me!)
Director of Agency Marketing

Where do I start? I am incredibly thankful for the various mentors and teammates that I have had throughout the years. Without these people who have helped guide me, I would know far less than I do today.

My time at TopRank Marketing especially has been filled with opportunities that I feel incredibly lucky to have. Lee our CEO has been a fantastic mentor and has bestowed an incredible amount of knowledge on me related to all things digital marketing, but especially around the topics of content marketing and influencers. The team members that I have the opportunity to work with every day are some of the top in their field and I am fortunate to learn something new each day. I would also like to thank the amazing people who have given me a chance and helped me step outside of my comfort zone to get up in front of audiences and speak on topics relating to content and influencers including Ann Handley and Nick Westergaard (you guys are amazing!).

Rachel Miller
Influencer Marketing Manager

I am thankful for the opportunity to meet and learn from so many top minds. I am truly grateful that my role allows me to build relationships and learn new skills on an almost a daily basis.

Amy Higgins
Account Manager

I’m thankful for the relationships that I have built with my clients. 

Together, we have launched amazing, thought provoking campaigns — ones that exceed audience expectations and engage interesting conversations with a ton of thought leaders in the market.

Nick Nelson
Content Strategist

I know this response will sound cliché, but it is amazing to do work that you genuinely enjoy, and are passionate about.

I’ve been writing relentlessly since the days when I’d print out a neighborhood newspaper as a 9-year-old and deliver it to doorsteps around the block (“The Daily Mouse,” we named it). I’m beyond grateful to now have a career in which I get to write creatively on a regular basis, helping clients articulate their brand narratives and reach people in unique new ways.

I know from my own past experience, and from conversations with many others, that it’s not exactly common to have a job you wake up and look forward to each day. That isn’t lost on me, and never will be as long as I’m lucky enough to be doing what I do.

Anne Leuman
Copywriter

I am thankful for all of my awesome TopRank Marketing coworkers who afford me the opportunity to learn from them each and every day. They truly put the “top” in TopRank (for the record, they also put the “prank” in TopRank).

Katie Uphus
Vice President of Operations

I am thankful for the opportunity to join the TopRank Marketing team and help set them up for growth and greater success!

Have a Safe, Happy & (Somewhat)Healthy Thanksgiving

Thank you to our amazing clients, influencers and followers for everything that you do. Without all of you, we literally wouldn’t be here.

Whatever your plans are for the long weekend, we hope that you set aside some time to relax and unwind. You’ve earned it.

Happy Thanksgiving!
The Team at TopRank Marketing


Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
The TopRank Marketing Team Reflects & Gives Thanks | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post The TopRank Marketing Team Reflects & Gives Thanks appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Values in Marketing: How Taking a Stand Boosts Your Business

What do Home Depot, Ikea, Dillard’s and REI have in common?

They all will be closed for Thanksgiving this year, joined by dozens more major retailers. REI in particular will remain closed through Black Friday as well. On some of the biggest shopping days in the U.S., these retail giants are encouraging potential customers to stay home.

On the surface, it seems like a risky move. At worst, these brands risk losing customers to competitors, and at best they’re out a substantial chunk of sales revenue.

But major players in the industry don’t get that way by giving away money. They know that leading with their values is good for business. They saw Black Friday slowly encroach into Thanksgiving, and chose to support the idea that the holiday should be a day of rest, not a marathon of bargain-hunting.

As an early adopter, REI serves as a case study to the business power of leading with your values. The sporting goods retailer stayed closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday in 2015, branding the initiative the Opt Outside campaign. The message was simple: Instead of shopping, go out and get in touch with nature. It was a potent idea, perfectly consistent with the brand’s core values. And the gamble paid off: REI saw a 9.3% increase in revenue, a 7% increase in store sales, and a 23% increase in digital sales for 2015.

It’s not just about choosing to close your business on a particular day, of course. It’s about broadcasting your brand’s values, and showing the courage of your convictions by following through on them. Consumers tend to favor that kind of boldness.

Here’s why leading with your brand’s values can be a boost to your marketing.

Differentiate Your Business

In the always-on digital world, a lot of the key differentiators brands used to rely on cease to matter. The hardware store downtown is open an hour later, so you shop there. The bank down the street always has extra tellers and shorter lines, so you choose to bank there. The local supermarket has the best deals on produce, so get your apples and bananas there.

Price and convenience are getting harder to compete on. One of the few remaining differentiators is what a brand stands for. TOMS shoes, Dove, Always and adidas are just a few brands using culture as a content marketing strategy. And the strategy is paying off – a recent study from Cone Communications found that 87% of consumers use values as a guide for making purchase decisions.

Define Your Audience

Some brands focus on pulling in the largest audience possible. To avoid turning off any potential customers, they avoid making controversial statements – and eventually statements of any kind. The problem is, “inoffensive” can quickly turn into “bland.” Sure, no one hates a bland brand. But no one loves them, either. And the worst part is, the majority of people that might be turned off by a brand’s values were likely never going to be customers in the first place.

When you lead with your values, you may turn away some people. But the trade-off is energizing the people who share your values, inspiring brand loyalty and ambassadorship. Starbucks is a perfect example of this phenomenon. When they announced they would hire 10,000 refugees, some people boycotted the brand. But a far larger group became more loyal, resulting in a net win for the company.

Inspire Your Employees

The people who work for your organization are the single largest underutilized marketing force you have. On average, employees tend to have ten times the connections on social media than the brand they work for. And people are more likely to trust messaging that comes from other people rather than a brand’s social accounts.

If you can inspire your employees to be brand ambassadors, you can be more credible to your existing audience and reach vast untapped audiences as well. Leading with your values is one way to give employees that inspiration. Communicate your brand values internally to make sure everyone shares the vision, then encourage employees to post on social media when they see those values in action.

Go Against the Flow

When some retailers started opening earlier and earlier on Black Friday – eventually cutting into Thanksgiving itself – most businesses followed suit. But a special few had the courage to lead with their values, buck the trend, and start a counter-movement, and their efforts have paid off. That kind of values-based marketing has proven to be a powerful differentiator, helping businesses find new audiences and inspire their employees to be brand ambassadors.

Whether you spend your weekend shopping or relaxing with family, come back to work Monday ready to put your brand’s values in action. Because values-driven, purpose-led marketing is something we all can be thankful for.

What’s your favorite story of a brand taking a values-driven stand? Let me know in the comments.


Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Values in Marketing: How Taking a Stand Boosts Your Business | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Values in Marketing: How Taking a Stand Boosts Your Business appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Content Conversations: Top Content Marketing Lessons Learned in 2017

One of the best ways to improve your skills as a content marketer is to learn from the successes and failures of other marketers. And as we near the end of 2017, many marketers are reflecting on what has (and hasn’t) worked in the past year and looking to what this means for content goals and plans for the coming year.

It doesn’t matter if you are a team of one or a team of one hundred, outside insights can be incredibly valuable for improving your approach to content marketing.

Since we know you’re likely busy working, wrapping up 2017 and planning for 2018, we’re here to help. Recently we had the chance to sit down (or stand up?) for some great content conversations with some of today’s top marketers.

Below you’ll find their top content lessons learned in 2017 as well as how you can apply these insights to your own content marketing approach.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks

In a profession with so many moving parts and fast-paced changes, it can be easy to become risk averse. The problem is, if you don’t take risks to create great, more impactful content, your competition will, and your audience will follow.

Content risks don’t have to mean completely changing your approach. It can be slight tweaks and tests along the way to improve performance and innovate.


Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

“More marketers are getting comfortable taking risks because sometimes our very best work comes out of us taking a risk.” @annhandley tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What are some small risks that you can begin taking today to improve your approach to content marketing?
  • How can you work testing new content approaches into your routine?
  • What can you learn from other marketers that are having success with innovation?

Make Owned Content a Cornerstone

It’s no secret that social networks and content on 3rd party websites are a great way to attract your audience. Ultimately though, these approaches should be used as a means to draw people to owned content on your website.

Social algorithms change constantly and you’ll find that if you put the majority of your efforts into building relationships on those platforms, you can lose that audience faster than you gained it.


Joe Pulizzi
Author & Keynote Speaker

“Use social media platforms to get your audience to your own content so you create a direct connection.” @joepulizzi tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • Which platforms are currently the biggest drivers of audience members to your owned content?
  • How can social networks and other credible websites become part of your strategy for driving visitors to your website?

Focus on Quality Content

As more and more brands become publishers, that means that a huge influx of content has been hitting the search results and inboxes of your target customers. Unfortunately, a lot of what is out there is not at the level of quality that it needs to be to provide value.

That means, customers are becoming overwhelmed by crappy content and are in dire need of quality content created for them by marketers who understand their top needs.


Chris Brogan
CEO, Owner Media Group

“There should be a big, wide-open playing field for marketers that are passionate and make real business happen.” @chrisbrogan tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • What would it take to create high-quality content on a consistent basis?
  • Should content quantity be reduced in order to focus on impact?
  • Can your team truly identify the difference between low and high-quality content?

Pay Attention to Distribution

All too often, content distribution and amplification are either ignored, or treated as an afterthought when creating content. At the end of the day, we are marketers that are responsible for the performance of the content that we creates which means giving distribution the time and attention it deserves.


Alexandra Rynne
Content Marketing Manager – Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn

“Give your content room to breathe and focus on what works and what doesn’t so you can approach it better next time.” @amrynnie tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • Are you creating content for content’s sake or is your content tied to business objectives?
  • How can you give content distribution and amplification the same attention as creation?
  • Are you documenting which forms of content distribution are effective? And which ones aren’t?

Eliminate Marketing Buzzwords

It doesn’t matter if you create content for a B2C or B2B audience, the key is connecting with people. When marketers focus on creating product, solutions or services based content, they’re ignoring the true needs of their audience.

Buying audiences don’t care about marketing buzzwords, they want to know what problems you can help them solve. This requires creating a true connection and providing honest and helpful content based on what their top needs are.


Tim Washer
Writer & Producer, Cisco

“Instead of trying to change what people say, we need to change how people think.” @timwasher tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • Is our content focused on the message we want to send or the true needs of our customers?
  • How much do we actually know about what our target audience wants and needs?  

Invest in Dedicated Content Marketing Staff

You wouldn’t hire a plumber to do your drywall or a professor to act as an electrician. The same can be said for your marketing team. While there are some marketers that can fulfill multiple roles, now more than ever it’s critical to work with a dedicated content marketing staff.

That can mean hiring full-time resources in-house and/or partnering with an agency that has expertise in your industry.


Dayna Rothman
VP of Marketing & Sales Development, BrightFunnel

“One of the most important things your team needs is a dedicated resource to run content.” @dayroth tweet this

Ask Yourself:

  • Who in my organization is truly responsible for content?
  • Are we setting content teams up for success?
  • Do we need outside help to scale our content marketing program?

Document Your Content Strategy

While we are seeing a 1-2% increase each year in marketers who have a documented content strategy, we are still nowhere near to 50%. Your content strategy should be your guide for all content you create and serve as an anchor point if your team ever starts to get off track.

Without a documented strategy, it is MUCH more difficult to meet business objectives and make a case for content’s place within your organization.


Chris Moody
Content Marketing Leader, GE Digital

“Your content strategy is the single most important document you’ll create. It’ll make you more productive and it’ll be used internally on a regular basis.” @cnmoody tweet this

What Content Lesson Did You Learn in 2017?

If we are going to move forward and improve content in 2018, it’s essential to reflect on what we’ve learned in 2017. Some lessons are easy and others are plagued with difficulty. As you reflect on the past year, think about your biggest content lesson learned. Feel free to share in the comments below!

Disclosure: BrightFunnel is a TopRank Marketing client.


Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Content Conversations: Top Content Marketing Lessons Learned in 2017 | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Content Conversations: Top Content Marketing Lessons Learned in 2017 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

What All Marketers Can Learn from Fast Food Giants Crushing Twitter

There’s little doubt among marketers that social media is an important part of their strategic digital marketing mix. After all, social media is part of the fabric of our daily lives—and arguably our identities. In fact, it’s estimated that there are 1.96 billion social media users worldwide—with that number expected to grow to 2.5 billion by 2018.

But increasing adoption and content saturation, as well as changing algorithms and the rising tide of paid social advertising, means all brands are facing stiff competition for audience attention and engagement. So, what’s a marketer or brand to do?

The answers don’t lie in posting more frequently, adding more visuals or adding more channels to your mix. From my perspective, it’s all about developing your brand’s identity in a way that not only provides a real-time glimpse into what your company is all about, but also gives your audience a unique and tasty experience. And that’s where some of our favorite fast food brands such as Wendy’s, KFC and McDonald’s can provide us a little food for thought.

How? Read on to get a taste of what we can all learn from three recognizable fast food brands.

#1 – Acknowledging and engaging your competitors can actually help you stand out.

For some time now, Wendy’s—known for their motto of “fresh never frozen beef”—has been heralded as a leader in, well, roasting anybody and everyone on Twitter—including the trolling of its competition.

Most recently, Wendy’s was challenged to a duel with Wingstop, a chicken wing restaurant chain that grown to more than 1,000 locations around the world.

Wingstop put out a poetic, rap-style tweet in early October. Another user, @Fatlaz901, brought Wendy’s into the mix by challenging them to “step up” their game.

Wendy's Trolling on Twitter

And then the rap battle ensued over who had the better product ensued. Here’s one of my favorite excerpts—and the engagement metrics speak for themselves:

Wendy's & Wingstop Twitter Battle

The takeaway here is not to simply start trolling your competition. The point is that a little friendly competition can go a long way—and I think that can extend beyond your social channels, too.

#2 – Social customer care is an opportunity ripe for the taking.

Currently, McDonald’s is the world’s second largest restaurant chain, coming in behind Subway and boasting more than 36,000 outlets in 119 countries. For years, McDonald’s trademark “I’m lovin’ it” slogan has helped convey its desire to make quality food and deliver quality service that their customers will love—and that commitment is an intrinsic part of their social media strategy.

In addition to its official Twitter page for the USA, McDonald’s actually has another handle, @Reachout_mcd, dedicated to fielding customer gripes and answer questions. Most recently, McDonald’s announced that it would be bringing back its Szechuan Sauce in a “super-limited” fashion—aka releasing the sauce for just one day at select stores. Well, Szechuan Sauce lovers everywhere were not only miffed about the limited release, but also how quickly it “sold out” of participating locations.

Not only did McDonald’s openly address many of its customers public dismay on Twitter, it got to work to fix the problem.

McDonald's & Szechuan Sauce

What can marketers learn from this example? Marketers, particularly those managing social media, have to stop thinking customer service is not “someone else’s problem.” As social customer care expert and McDonald’s Senior Director of Global Social Media, Dan Gingiss, told me in his Behind the Marketing Curtain interview earlier this year:

“When we interrupt people’s social media feeds with marketing messages, we hope that they will engage with our fun and interesting marketing content. But sometimes, all we do is remind them that they had some other problem with our brand. Since social media is the first and only channel where customers can talk back, marketers need to listen and engage.”

#3 – Social media can be a vivid extension of your brand.

Finally, last month, the internet went bonkers after Twitter user Mike Edgette discovered that KFC’s official Twitter account followed just 11 people: All five members of 90s pop group the Spice Girls, as well as six random guys named Herb. Of course, this cleverness pays homage to the secret blend of 11 herbs and spices used in the making of KFC’s chicken. On the off chance you didn’t see this, here’s how Edgette broke the news to the world.

KFC 11 Twitter Followers

But, as you may already know, the story doesn’t stop there. KFC reportedly went above and beyond to recognize Edgette’s discovery, tracking him down and sending him an unbelievably awesome and hilarious gift:  A personalized letter from Colonel Sanders “himself,” a boat load of gift cards, and perhaps the most amazing of all, a painting featuring Edgette triumphantly receiving a piggy back ride from the Colonel.

Colonel Sanders & Mike Edgette Painting Tweet

For me—and I’m sure you may agree—this serves as an ultimate example of thinking outside the box, and intertwining your brand’s core messaging and mission across channels to bring it to life.

Find Your Unique Flavor

Every brand has a story to tell—and social media platforms can help you bring that story to life and season it with the voices of your community. If you’re looking to craft your recipe for success, check out our post 8 Important Questions Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Must Answer.

What other fast food restaurants have you grown to admire on social media? Tell us in the comments section below.


Email Newsletter
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
What All Marketers Can Learn from Fast Food Giants Crushing Twitter | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post What All Marketers Can Learn from Fast Food Giants Crushing Twitter appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Social Storefront, The Trust Project and Facebook’s New App

Social Content is the New Storefront [Infographic]
Regardless what others might say, social content is here to stay. Instead of heading to local storefronts, consumers are now heading to social media platforms to find what they need in the in and off-season. Social Media Today

Google tries to bring more transparency to news content with help from The Trust Project
Google has teamed up with The Trust Project that works with over 75 news organizations to determine the difference between quality and promotional content that may be plagued with misinformation. Search Engine Land

Facebook’s New App Connects Creators With Video, Fans And Watch Shows
Facebook is on the hunt for new influencers and wants to see how these experts interact with their networks. Their new app will give “internet stars” a chance to publish, edit and film live video with their audiences. AdAge

Google’s Big Daddy Update: Big Changes to Google’s Infrastructure & the SERPs
Big Daddy has been on the scene since 2005 as part of infrastructure changes. And while it hasn’t always been a fan favorite, it has impacted the approach to SEO. Search Engine Journal

The State Of Subscription Video, In 5 Charts
With more and more content publishers and brands looking to video as the new frontier, many are also looking to monetize their offerings. But how well does subscription video perform in our current content landscape? Digiday

Google aims to make apps for Google Assistant more functional and discoverable
Are homes getting smarter with the help of Google? According to Google, they are making a number of updates to make it easier for third party apps to integrate and develop specific items for key users. Search Engine Land

The Huge Impact of Amazon This Holiday Season (And How Retailers Can Compete)
It’s getting even harder to compete with larger retailers during the holiday season. In fact, a new report found that shoppers expect to make at least one purchase for Amazon. Where does that leave other retailers during the holiday season? MarketingProfs

LinkedIn lets advertisers generate leads from Sponsored InMail, Dynamic Ad campaigns
As of April (no fools) LinkedIn launched their lead gen forms which let advertisers collect information through Sponsored Content Ads.Now, these options are available to members using the Sponsored InMail ad format which has enabled brands to add their own questions to the forms. MarketingLand

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more digital marketing news! If you need more in the meantime, follow @toprank on Twitter or leave your thoughts in the comments.

The post Digital Marketing News: Social Storefront, The Trust Project and Facebook’s New App appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.