Google announced a major update to their social network this week that changes the way Hangouts, photos and the Google+ stream are viewed by users. The decidedly Pinterest-esque layout was just one of many announcements this week out of Google I/O, the totality of which Jeremiah Owyang and Chris Silva dubbed a “wreck.”
“The end result, we hope, is an app that looks and feels great across a family of devices,” Senior VP Vic Gundotra wrote of the Google+ changes. This is in line with Google’s mantra of late: Technology works best when it gets out of the way, and lets people do what makes them happiest: living, learning and loving.
With the announcements of more interconnection of services, Google Maps as a virtual world, Google All Access music streaming and more, Owyang and Silva remind consumers to expect the tools and products to get better, but to know you’re the product. If brands want to play in Google’s sandbox, they’ll ultimately need to pay, they said in summary.
Visit Web-Strategist.com to see the rest of Owyang and Silva’s commentary on what they called a “patchwork set of announcements from a fragmented company,” live from Google I/O.Online Marketing News Briefs
It’s no surprise much of this week’s news pertains to Google and their products, given their I/O event and a myriad of changes announced this week. However, Facebook also made headlines through their retail social/mobile partnership with Target, as did insightful reports for online marketers from Google and GlobalWebIndex.
Content Recommendation Engine for Mobile Sites Launched by Google
Google has rolled out a content recommendation engine, which makes content recommendations for users at the bottom of the screen on news sites with the service enabled. Sites need just one snippet of code to add this functionality to their site. See more at TechCrunch.
Over Half of Global Internet Users Signed In to Facebook in Q1 2013
Facebook continues to dominate as the most popular social network on the planet, with just over half the world’s online population logging in on the site in the first quarter of 2013. Google+ came in a distant second, with 26% of global internet users, followed by YouTube, Twitter and Sina Weibo. See further analysis of GlobalWebIndex’s report at eMarketer.com.
Target and Facebook Join Forces in Cartwheel Mobile/Social/Retail Partnership
Cartwheel, a new site from a Target/Facebook partnership, has launched in beta and will begin rolling out their mobile/social program for retailers to a select group of participants shortly. The program allows users to browse exclusive deals and sales, with additional savings for social sharing. Learn more about Cartwheel at MediaPost.
Google+ Launches Auto-Hashtagging
As part of the Google+ design makeover, a new feature enables automatic hashtagging in posts. Google will use data from their social graph and analysis to identify hashtagging opportunities and add them to content. Users can remove hashtags they feel are inappropriate. Read more about this new feature at Fast Company.
Mobile Search an Influencing Factor for 84% of In-Store Shoppers with Smartphones
The majority of consumers shopping in-store are using smartphones to help them make purchasing decisions, according to new research from Google. Of those, the vast majority – 82% – are using mobile search, rather than apps or direct navigation to company websites – to access shopping information. Search Engine Watch has additional insights from Google’s Mobile In-Store Research: How in-store shoppers are using mobile devices report.
New YouTube Trends Map Shows Viral Videos Across the US
People in search of a visual way to see which videos are trending across the United States have a new tool, courtesy of YouTube. The YouTube Trends map displays the most popular videos across the country, with the option to drill down by gender, age, location and type of activity on the video.This Week in the @TopRank Community
Our community – whether at Online Marketing Blog, on Twitter or elsewhere on the web – is a group of insightful, generous marketers always willing to share their experience with other members!
Check out these great tips, comments and quirky news from the @TopRank community this week:
It is very true that we need to be SHOWN how things work. It always makes me laugh when people tell me “I’m a visual person”, as if having a drawing in front of them is the only way they would see it. What they don’t realise is that EVERYONE is a visual person. On the other hand, if you were truly ‘visual’ you wouldn’t need it shown to you – you could see it in your head anyway. That’s what visual creatives do.”
~ from Suffolk Graphic Designer in response to The Power of Visual Content Marketing and Brand Visuals in Action on how your audience learns through content.
Stay tuned to the @TopRank Twitter channel this week for the latest online marketing, social and content headlines!
© Online Marketing Blog, 2013. | Online Marketing News: Video Trends Map, Content Recommendation Engine & New Google+ Layout | http://www.toprankblog.com
According to a CMI and MarketingProfs study, 91% of B2B Marketers are using content marketing and that means a few things:
First, it means content marketing has gained critical mass within the popular marketing mix and any company in a competitive industry would be hard pressed to attract business without it.
Second, it means competition to stand out with your brand’s content is only going to get harder as more companies adopt content marketing best practices and mature in their skills.
As companies evolve from simply recognizing the important role of content and experimenting with it, to achieving content creation competency and quality, the need to optimize content marketing skills becomes increasingly important. But where can B2B marketers find new ideas and expand their opportunities to grow content marketing capabilities?
The good news is that B2B Marketing innovation is alive and well and can be found in many places. One place I like to look is case studies and awards for successful B2B marketing work.
A few weeks ago I presented at DemandGen Report’s B2B Content2Conversion conference along with tier one B2B marketers like Michael Brenner from SAP, Jill Rowley from Oracle / Eloqua, Ann Handley of MarketingProfs, Joe Pulizzi from Content Marketing Institute and many others.
On top of hearing strategy and practical tactics from speakers, there was a Killer Content Marketing Awards presentation that highlighted some incredible creative, execution and most of all, performance of B2B content marketing programs.
SunGard – Created awareness amongst IT professionals for SunGard Cloud offerings with a zombie themed campaign. The zombie themed effort resulted in exceeding download rates by 300%, a 5.7% email open rate and 20+ leads.
Limelight Networks – Implemented a “For Dummies” themed education campaign drawing attention to success and failures for companies and their digital presence. The campaign gained exposure through nearly 10,000 social media and news release views and $200k+ worth of sales opportunities.
Logicalis - Using content assets such as emails, microsite and ebook, Logicalis developed a thought leadership effort that supported sales teams by enabling custom messaging based on the prospects interaction with the campaign. With a target audience of about 2,000, nearly $8 million in new pipeline business was closed.
Sales Benchmark Index – Targeting prospects that were newly hired VPs of Sales, this campaign focused on providing a toolkit that identified corporate pains when VPs of Sales fail as well as case studies of successes. The promoted ebook was downloaded by target VPs 5,781 times.
Lattice Engines – Partnered with a research firm to create a study showing the impact big data has on sales. A robust mix of content marketing tactics were used to promote the report including: ebook, blog posts, guest articles, video interviews, Slideshare and an infographic. The report was downloaded 500 times, covered by 15 blogs and industry media sites and 1,500 views of the ebook.
Optum – Created an integrated marketing campaign to support the launch of a new solution, support sales and build thought leadership. The content marketing mix included: advertorials, display ads, email, direct mail and a campaign website. The successful campaign earned a 23.5 lead to conversion rate, 475% increase in website traffic, 2,500+ resource downloads, 28% increase in YoY blog followers and $52 million in contract value of new business with less than $ 1million invested.
ADP – Developed a content marketing campaign to connect and engage with their target audience on a ADP solution using white papers and a diagnostic assessment tool. The campaign generated over $1 million in new sales opportunities with several deals closed within the first 3 months of launch.
Demandbase – This education campaign was designed to help B2B marketers make the right content technology investment by using a white paper, infographic, webinar, Slideshare and a live presentation to spotlight tools that can maximize the power of content. The results of the campaign included 1,700 leads, 125 webinar participants, 5,000 views on Slideshare and $1 million in new business.
Xerox – Created a targeted “Get Optimistic” campaign to connect with 30 top accounts and partnered with Forbes to create a magazine that offered relevant business tips. 70% of targeted companies interacted with the microsite, readership increased 300-400% over previous email campaigns, added 20,000 new contacts, generated 1,000+ scheduled appointments, and get this: yielded $1.3 BILLION in pipeline revenue. Yes, BILLION.
OpenText – Created a personalized new customer onboarding site offering a variety of assets (white papers, checklists, product pages, ebooks, case studies) and content to welcome new clients and provide upsell, cross-sell opportunities. The campaign also included a two phase nurturing program. 1,700 new contacts were identified along with 31 new opportunities worth $1.8 million.
Crowe Horwath – Using 48 pieces of content in 4 different topic areas, this campaign targeted C-level prospects in financial institutions with $1 billion or more in assets across the buying cycle. Content tactics included: executive briefs, case studies, infographics, checklists, Q and A, and Brainshark video. 778 contacts were engaged with a 70% open rate (vs. 10%), 2 engagement worth $250k in revenue.
One of the interesting things about these B2B content marketing campaigns is a fairly consistent LACK of attention to optimizing content assets (images & infographics, video, PDFs, etc) for search. Many of these campaign assets could continue to attract new prospects or at least attract more than they are if the assets were more visibile for relevant keywords. Just using the titles of the files and documents was difficult to find many of these. Many of these content assets are near invisible when it comes to buyer-centric keywords.
Just remember marketers, when it comes to content, there’s no excuse not to socialize, advertise, publicize AND optimize. This approach represents a lot of what we do at TopRank Marketing.
Here’s the full deck for details on each Killer Content Marketing campaign plus performance data. Enjoy!What are some of your favorite killer B2B content marketing campaigns? Which B2B brands are doing it right?
© Online Marketing Blog, 2013. | 11 Examples of Killer B2B Content Marketing Campaigns Including ROI | http://www.toprankblog.com
Visual content is certainly trendy – see the meteoric rise in infographics and social engagement with images as proof. Yet the need for content that appeals on a visual level and presents information in a more engaging format than text goes far beyond what is cool or fun to create.
In creating curriculum and learning materials for students (child to adult) and their teachers, I learned just how important visuals are in meeting the needs of different types of learners. This is too often a missing piece in the marketing mindset; we focus on what we want people to do, the action we want them to take. We think of learning styles in terms of learning disabilities, yet the ways in which every person on the planet takes in information should be a major concern for marketers, whose express purpose is to get people to take in information.
Through your content, you may be inspiring, engaging, entertaining. What you are doing though, at the basic level, is teaching. You want your audience to understand the information you are sharing. You want to influence their decisions. Empowered consumers seek out information to help them make the best decision, often considering multiple sources.
Now pair this customer insight with what we know about how people learn: the majority of people are visual learners, either primarily or in combination with other styles. You’ll see a range of stats on the percentage of learners in each group, though 30% visual, 25% auditory, 15% kinesthetic and 30% mixed learning styles is a commonly accepted figure. These are the three major learning styles and though one person may use a combination of styles to take in information, we all lean towards one primary preference.
Kinesthetic learners best retain information they discover through touching, feeling and experiencing material. You might think there is no real “touch” in digital information, yet this is where interactive games and touchscreens are an important tool.
Auditory learners consume and retain information best by listening, often through repetitive information. Podcasting is a good way to connect with auditory learners.
Visual learners, the largest portion, want you to “Show me so I can understand.” You might accomplish this through charts, infographics, video demonstrations, comics, visual e-books, photos, or even animation… the point is, you are acknowledging this unique learning style and tailoring information for best consumption and comprehension.
We saw a fantastic example of a visual learning style recently at Social Media Marketing World, when an attendee shared her visual notes from Lee Odden’s presentation on blogging for business. Taking in auditory and visual information, this person sketched notes rather than writing them, in order to more easily recall the information she wanted to retain later on. It resonated with the social community because others learn this way, as well.
This understanding of how people learn, consume information and are influenced by it lies at the heart of everything we do as online marketers: user experience, content creation, web design, social media marketing and even search engine optimization. We know visuals are important for engagement and social sharing, but understanding the “why” will help you create and optimize content that is truly in tune with your audience preferences.
Now that we know the “why,” check out these examples of companies getting it right with visual content that inspires, engages and most importantly, presents information in a way prospects can understand and retain.General Electric – Show Me How It Works
General Electric houses their images on Instagram (above) and Pinterest, though they use these same images in blog posts and across their social channels. Their Instagram images, in particular, focus heavily on showing their B2B audience how their products work in real life. Who wants to see a piece of a machine? Show me how it works! They do, and the result is that prospects can picture GE products in action for their own company.Kellogg’s Pop Tarts – Show Me a Story
The Pop Tarts Facebook Page showcases their masterful visual storytelling skills. Their brand marketers use comics, cartoon characters, and simple images to present information in a fun and engaging way. Their strategy is to entertain, to keep their audience engaged and their brand top of mind. These quirky images are perfect for social sharing and tell stories through single images, or image series released over a period of hours or days. They even have recurring characters who pop up now and again, breeding familiarity and creating anticipation. It’s a winning visual content formula for a B2C brand in a competitive market, where every touchpoint counts.Rubbermaid – Show Me Why I Need It
Look in your own closet. Now look at Rubbermaid’s closet organization images on Pinterest. Back to your own messy closet. Now back to Pinterest. Rubbermaid shows consumers precisely why they need their product with attractive, high quality photos shares to the social networks their audience members frequent. My closet looks nothing like this. I need Rubbermaid.Callaway Golf – Show Me How to Use It
Golf brand Callaway has their YouTube channel organized into different types of videos, including instructional clips for golfers. They create videos in series, such as Office Golf Tips and Bones at Work, to create consistency and build anticipation for coming videos. Celebrities like Phil Mickelson appear in their instructional videos to show golfers how to improve their game… using Callaway clubs, of course. Teaching a golf swing absolutely requires video; you would have a hard time learning from written instructions. Callaway just does theirs better than most and have become a reliable resource and authority for golfers, as a result.Show Me
As you plan your visual content, think hard on the “why.” It’s not about what you want to tell people. What do they want you to show them, to help them make an informed decision and stay connected with your brand? You absolutely must understand what your audience needs you to show them in order to engage and convert, especially when they are bombarded with imagery on a daily basis. This insight and customer-centric perspective will help drive your visual content strategy and you will never run out of creative stories to tell with compelling content.
What factors do you consider when planning and creating visual content in your organization? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Image at top from Shutterstock.
© Online Marketing Blog, 2013. | The Power of Visual Content Marketing and Brand Visuals in Action | http://www.toprankblog.com
As part of our continuing series on content marketing tactics, I’ll be covering a topic that is absolutely near and dear to every content marketer’s heart: business blogging.
According to a recent NM Incite report, there are over 181 million blogs around the world. The way many companies treat blogs in their content marketing mix is to incorporate blogs into their website as a section or subdomain, or host them on their own domain name as we do.
With that kind of popularity, you would think everyone in business would know what a blog is and would be using them to their maximum advantage. Trust me, I’m in the content business and they don’t. In fact, brands split just 11% of their total social media budget between blogging and influencer outreach. So just to clear up any ambiguity and to follow the format for this series, here goes:
Definition of Blogging: Blogging is a form of content publishing leveraging a content management system such as Blogger, Typepad or WordPress that often publishes articles, video, images or audio in reverse chronological form.
Business or corporate blogs are social media and content marketing tools used by companies to provide valuable, interesting content for customers, employees, industry media and other target audiences. Ideally, blog content fulfills a potential or existing customer’s need for information at some point in the purchasing cycle, in order to assist them in making a buying decision.How Are Blogs Used for Business? Content Marketing Applications:
Internationally, countless companies are using blogs to attract, engage and convert their target audience, though a select few stand out as masters in the corporate blogging trade. Whole Foods Market, for example, has an exceptional corporate blog called Whole Story, through which the grocery brand shares healthy eating tips, recipes, and more. Their focus on providing helpful, non-sales driven information to readers keeps them top of mind as a resource, rather than an advertiser, in the eyes of their fans.
comScore’s blog is an excellent example of a B2B blog that has catapulted them into a mainstream news source, helping to build brand awareness and authority. Their top quality research and information has also helped their authors, like Eli Goodman and Andrew Lipsman, build their own personal brands, as well.
Business blogs are a form of social media in their own right, though they work best as part of an online marketing strategy that uses other social channels for amplification and community building. Blog content should also be optimized for maximum visibility in search.Business Blogging Pros & Cons:
As with any content marketing tactic, there are advantages and challenges to blogging:
- Excellent tool for brand awareness, authority building, storytelling and passive sales messaging.
- Low barrier to entry with no technical or IT skills required to contribute content.
- Ability to measure and track performance.
- Flexible platforms with multimedia capabilities to distribute information in a variety of formats.
- SEO benefits; enhanced visibility in front of people seeking a specific type of information.
- Attract new customers, engage existing ones and convert both to buy – more and more often.
- Can be time consuming to create content.
- Requires a publisher mindset from brands possibly not used to this model.
- Requires planning, organization and editorial control, particularly with multiple authors.
- Creative, unique content can be a challenge.
Blogging as part of an integrated online marketing and content marketing strategy is practiced and endorsed by top marketers from agencies and brands alike.
“A blog is only as interesting as the interest shown in others.” ~ @LeeOdden, CEO, TopRank Online Marketing (blog)
“Be helpful, give away everything you can, and make sure you put posts together that people feel they can relate to and that have something to add to.” ~ @ChrisBrogan, President, Human Business Works (blog)
“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.” – @DougKessler, Velocity Partners (blog)
“Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time. Worry less about sounding professional and worry more about creating remarkable content that other humans can relate to.” ~ Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at @MarketingProfs (blog)Related Blogging Software and Resources:
Recently, I shared 11 of my favorite blog and social content creation tools, including an editorial calendar, Twitter lists and Ubersuggest. Lee Odden has written extensively on blogging for business, including optimizing and socializing blog content, marketing your blog, integrating blogs with content marketing to inspire action and much, much more.
Download a sample editorial plan and keyword glossary to help you organize your blogging efforts and align them with your business goals. These are available free at OptimizeBook.com.
Check out the content marketing courses at MarketingProfs University to help you improve your blogging, presentation and social skills. Be sure to check out Marketing Writing Bootcamp and Content Marketing Crash Course, in particular.
Since we’ve been practicing what we preach about bloggin for over 9 years, there are numerous articles on blogging here at Online Marketing Blog. The content marketing and blogging landscape has certainly changed over the past decade, yet best practices and the importance of blogging in alignment with business goals have remained largely the same. Smart businesses are getting social and using blogs as one of the powerful weapons in their online marketing arsenal to attract, engage and convert their target audience to loyal customers.
What are some of your pressing blogging questions or best practices tips?
Image from Shutterstock.com.
© Online Marketing Blog, 2013. | Content Marketing Tactics: Business Blogging Pros, Cons, Best Practices & Brands Doing It Right | http://www.toprankblog.com
Good advice is both hard and too easy to come by. Search “social media marketing” on Google and there are over 1 billion results.
All the scrambling often means core skills are overlooked. In fact, one of the easiest things a company can do to improve online marketing performance is to stop sucking at the basics.
When it comes to optimizing for search and social media, well implemented basics are as good for search engines and social networks as they are for your customer’s user experience.
Here are a 8 fundamentals worth applying to your organization’s daily content creation, amplification and optimization process.
1. Be the Best Answer: Start by answering a few questions of your own:
- What does your brand want to be known for?
- Is that thing what your customers really care about?
- Do you deserve to be known for that thing?
Look at leaders and authorities for the topics that matter most to your business and observe the deep and meaningful resources they provide. Tap into what makes others so authoritative and incorporate those characteristics in your own marketing. Start the journey to become the first choice amongst your customers for those topics that matter most.
2. Win Friends & Influence People: People are social and so too, should your online and search marketing. Some social networks are better than others as stand alone communities for brands, but make no mistake, social signals matter for people and search engines. That means creating, engaging and promoting brand content on social networks to inspire shares and links from people with authority on topics you want to be known for.
Use social search and influence scoring tools like Traackr, Kred, Klout, Little Bird and FollowerWonk to triangulate where the influencers are, topics that matter and incorporate that insight into your content, PR, social and optimization.
3. It’s Not About You, Or Me Or Us. And Definitely Not Them: With content for the web or social, avoid overuse of personal pronouns like “I,” “you,” “she,” “he,” “it,” “we,” “you,” “they” and objective pronouns “me,” “you,” “her,” “him,” “it,” “us,” “you,” and “them”. Instead, use more descriptive keyword phrases where social sharing widgets will copy your message and where Google is looking in page titles, file names, text links between pages, image alt text and in body copy.
Keyword use is also a fundamental that should not be overlooked. But remember, the priority is on optimizing for people and the experience they have with your content. Copy should flow smoothly and not read like it’s unnaturally using keywords. Find out what phrases your competitors are using to attract search traffic by using SEMRush, SpyFu or Keyword Spy.
4. Facts Tell, Stories Sell: Figure out why customers buy and create keyword optimized content that tells stories about how and why your products solve customer problems.
Talk to sales staff and ask them about how they are so successful and about the discussions they have with customers. Those stories are a goldmine of ideas for great content that matters to people who want to buy your products and services. Content sourcing and ideation can be challenging, but tapping into the Q and A around topics that matter during the sales cycle reveal a never ending source of meaningful ideas.
5. Optimize for Search & Share: While a lot of optimization emphasis is placed on creating web pages and media (images, video, audio) around topics and even specific keywords that customers are actually searching for, it’s also important to make social sharing compelling and easy.
To do that, start mastering the art of title writing to catch people’s attention but also include search phrases. Example, “10 Essential [keyword phrase] Tips & How to Boost [keyword phrase] Performance.
Also be sure to include social sharing widgets in your content and experiment with the best formats and networks for your audience. Most of optimization is simply about making it easy for people to do what you want them to do. Finding and sharing your content is certainly near the top of the list.
6. Links Are Like Electricity: Light up useful content on your website by sharing with topically relevant social networks, through blogging and byline articles in industry publications. Find out where your competitors are getting their links by using tools like Majestic SEO, AHerfs or Open Site Explorer.
Do not underestimate the power of media relations and PR for getting into industry publications that also result in links. Whether through feature articles or guest blog posts, contributing content or insight to respected publications that also include a link to your brand’s social or web assets helps brand credibility, sends traffic and influences search visibility.
7. Tune Up Your Engine for Search Engines: Have your website audited by a SEO professional to ensure keyword targeting in content, technical friendliness to Google and Bing, inbound links and social shares. Pages that load fast for people and search engines is good user experience and good SEO.Web Developers and content management systems can be your worst enemy if left unoptimized for search.
8. Live the ABO: Always be Optimizing: Optimization is a continuous process of creating and promoting keyword optimized content on social networks, through industry media and online communities, then monitoring performance through analytics and making refinements.
Be sure to allocate resources for monitoring social networks (Trackur, SproutSocial, or Sysomos among many others), tracking and evaluating web analytics and applying conversion rate optimization best practices to ensure your findable and sharable content is influencing action.
The blocking and tackling of online marketing may not be the most glamorous, by why leave so much marketing opportunity on the table with skills and tactics we all claim to be so good at? Optimized marketing requires a solid foundation and if your organization is having difficulty scaling performance, then maybe it’s time to take a look at the fundamentals.
I think Optimize is a book that covers these fundamentals pretty well, so be sure to check it out.
What are some of the online marketing basics that you see often overlooked?
© Online Marketing Blog, 2013. | Want to Improve Your Online Marketing? Master These Search & Social Media Tactics | http://www.toprankblog.com