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Top blog directories and RSS feed directories list. Updated bi-weekly. Submit url for effective website promotion.
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Inbound marketing is full of change. These are the 12 new realities marketers should be aware of.

The post 12 New Realities of Inbound Marketing by @lisabuyer appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Google has been using a technique called neural matching to better understand synonyms, which impacts 30% of queries.

The post Google Begins Using Neural Matching to Understand Synonyms, Impacting 30% of Queries by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Updates to Google Image Search on on mobile and desktop are rolling out on Thursday, September 27th.

The post Google is Updating Image Search on September 27, Here’s What to Expect by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

For the first time, Instagram is letting users send GIFs via direct messages.

The post Instagram Lets Users Send GIFs in Direct Messages by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Get actionable tips on how to shorten your link building learning curve when you attend this webinar.

The post Top Link Building Mistakes In-house SEOs Make That Kill ROI [Webinar] by @brentcsutoras appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Influencer Marketing Interview with Konstanze Alex

Konstanze Alex

Within the world of B2B influencer marketing, there are a handful of brand experts who have been charting a course within large enterprise organizations for the rest of us to follow. One of those pathfinders is Dr. Konstanze Alex (@konstanze), Head of Corporate Influencer Relations at Dell.

My first experience with Konnie was several years ago when TopRank Marketing was working with Dell to develop relationships with IT influencers as part of an online publication initiative. Since then, we've worked with Dell to help develop an influencer marketing playbook, support influencer engagement at events and through content, but her relationship focus on working with influencers has stuck with me through it all.

In this interview, we'll learn about the uniqueness of B2B influencer marketing, practical tips, a few of Konnie's favorite influencer programs and where influencer marketing for the enterprise is headed.

What brought you to the world of Influencer Marketing?

Konstanze AlexAbout 5 years ago I stepped into a new role in Social Media Marketing and one of my first projects had me investigate social selling experts for who understood the social media from a social business and sales perspective, specifically for a large global organization like Dell. One important aspect for us at the time was to educate our marketing leadership on social analytics and insights to help build programs for our marketing teams that would in turn lay the foundation for successful social selling programs and campaigns.

How is influencer marketing different for B2B than B2C?

In my experience B2B and B2C influencer marketing are not even siblings in the same family. They might be distant cousins at best.

B2B influencer marketing has a much slower and longer lifecycle. It is truly a long-term relationship business in which trust and mutual value creation are built over a long time via ongoing engagements and constant knowledge sharing.

B2C influencer marketing, in general, is focused on capturing the attention of large online consumer audiences which makes sense given the more transactional nature of the business.

Cutting edge B2B influencer marketing focuses on both, online and offline engagements.

Cutting edge B2B influencer marketing focuses on both, online and offline engagements by the influencers with their highly targeted, smaller business and IT decision maker audiences. The understanding of the off-line aspects of B2B influencer marketing is evolving as long-term relationships mature, trust grows and an alignment of values has been clearly established.

For example, strategic partnerships with influencers can lead to the very natural incorporation of brand content into the influencer’s event and conference keynotes, personal and professional conversations, strategic writings, etc. At that point a B2B influencer relationship resembles traditional relationships with industry analysts.

In B2B influencer marketing it is not the audience size of an influencer but the trust level an influencer has built with his/her audience that matters.

In B2B influencer marketing it is not the audience size of an influencer but the trust level an influencer has built with his/her audience that matters, especially when it comes to high value purchase decisions and long-term commitments a customer makes with a brand. For a brand, the stakes lie in constantly briefing and engaging the influencer on a strategic vision and technical level.

What are 2-3 of the main benefits of collaborating with influencers for B2B companies?

Working with B2B influencers allows our brand to have a constant pulse check with purchase decision makers. Informed influencers who share our vision of the future based on their own experience and expertise provide for independent, third party validation.

Strategic partnerships with influencers provide for an outside in view when creating content for our customers.

Strategic partnerships with influencers provide for an outside in view when creating content for our customers. We need to constantly ensure that, as a brand, we don’t start talking to ourselves, but keep a keen focus on the evolving challenges our customers have and on language they use to express these challenges.

How is influencer marketing positioned within your company? Ex: independent department that serves the brand and departments / business unites or is it more decentralized? What are the advantages of that structure?

At Dell, relationship building and maintenance with influencers, media, press and analysts is housed in corporate communications. We firmly believe that relationships based on trust, aligned values, independence of opinion and mutual value creation are key to successful collaboration between brands and influencers.

What tips can you share about being more effective about influencer identification, qualification and recruitment?

You have to invest time and due diligence to the identification process. A sophisticated influencer program doesn’t rely on a single identification method or one-time vetting process of to start and maintain a relationship with an influencer but rather develops a scorecard that gets constantly reviewed and, most importantly, evolves as this emerging field matures. At this point, we review strategy, methods, tactics and measurement on an ongoing basis.

Are there specific B2B influencers that you keep going back to because they are so amazing?

Yes, of course, we have a number of strategic partners who never stop evolving or expanding their expertise. We value them highly and feel that they represent a reflection of our brand’s values and long term vision.

Do you have a favorite B2B influencer marketing campaign that you can share? What made it successful?

There are numerous, but a couple stand out for me: A year and a half ago we started an influencer hosted business podcast called Luminaries – talking to the brightest minds in tech where we focus on technology visionaries and the very human face of innovation. Our hosts are phenomenal digital storytellers and bring the outside-in view into every episode, every conversation with every guest with a deep commitment to and appreciation of our combined audiences.

We built successful long term influencer engagement around our Realizing 2030 research reports that explore and examine the impact of new technologies on life and work in the year 2030. In strategic partnerships we are able to illuminate the report results from a number of distinct perspectives to make them accessible and relevant to our diverse audiences.

Successful (influencer marketing) programs will continue to lead from a human perspective and understand that technology remains only a tool for humans to achieve progress.

How do you think influencer marketing will have evolved in the next year or two? What will it look like in 2020?

We will leverage new technologies such as AI for increasingly nuanced influencer identification, especially for micro targeting of audiences. We will use intelligent tools to find new ways of measuring results and new roles will have been defined within an influencer marketing team. But successful programs will continue to lead from a human perspective and understand that technology remains only a tool for humans to achieve progress.

B2B Forum 2018

If you would like to learn more about B2B influencer marketing from a panel of brand experts, be sure to check out our sesssion at MarketingProfs B2B Forum November 13-15th featuring Konstanze Brown from Dell, Amisha Gandhi from SAP Ariba and Lucianna Moran from Dun & Bradstreet.

Here are the details:

The Confluence Equation: How Content & Influencers Drive B2B Marketing Success

Content and influencer marketing are hot topics for B2B marketers all over the world as two of the most promising strategies for attracting, engaging and converting ideal customers. What many marketers don’t realize is how collaborating with influencers can create even more credible, relevant, and optimized experiences for target accounts. Join moderator Lee Odden and an expert panel of B2B brand influencer marketing executives from SAP, Dell and Dun & Bradstreet to learn how working with influencers and their communities can help scale quality B2B content that gets results.  You'll learn:

  • The variety of benefits from B2B influencer collaboration
  • How major B2B brands plan, implement and measure influencer content
  • About processes and technologies that support influencer marketing success

We hope to see you there!

The post Enterprise B2B Influencer Marketing Interview: Dr Konstanze Alex, Dell appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Pinterest is now letting small-to-medium sized businesses use Shop the Look pins for marketing their products.

The post Pinterest Lets Small Businesses Use ‘Shop the Look’ Pins by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Here's a guide to the various keyword ranking tools, as well as their unique advantages and disadvantages.

The post Your Guide to Selecting SEO Rank Tracking Tools by @benjarriola appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Instagram has been spotted testing a way to add hashtags to posts without including them in post captions.

The post Instagram is Testing a Way to Add Hashtags to Posts Without Putting Them in Captions by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Connect with USC Dornsifefaculty and students to find out about the academic, research and study abroad opportunities available.
Free Blog Directory And RSS Directory List - Strong Website Promotion That Attracts Targeted Traffic

Google's John Mueller cautions against removing content from a website simply because it doesn't receive a lot of traffic.

The post Google: Low Traffic Does Not Mean Content is Low Quality by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

I like to talk about the products I use. ShoutMeLoud is currently hosted on Kinsta hosting which is one of the high-end WordPress managed hosting. I have, in the past, shared my experience and review of Kinsta hosting. As of now, I pay $400/month which is by any means a lot of money for hosting a […]

Multi-User Access & 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee Comes To Kinsta Hosting is a post from ShoutMeLoud - Shouters Who Inspires

The Power of Micro-Influencers [Infographic] A look at the benefits of working with highly-targeted audiences, and how micro-influencers can work to build brand awareness and drive sales. MarketingProfs Twitter will soon let you switch between chronological and ranked feeds Twitter announced that it will change how its feed works, with a forthcoming update allowing users [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: Haptic Marketing, Twitter’s Ranked Feeds, B2B’s ABM Challenges, & YouTube’s Vertical Video Ads appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

I have talked about the Grammarly app a few times here on ShoutMeLoud. A quick recap for the newcomers, it’s an AI-based app that let you quickly proofread your article for grammatical and spelling errors. This app is ideal for anyone who writes anywhere and on any platform. Especially for non-English speaking countries like India, Africa, Brazil, […]

Have You Tried The Grammarly Keyboard for Android & iOS Yet? is a post from ShoutMeLoud - Shouters Who Inspires

Why B2B Marketers Should Consider Interactive Content

Why B2B Marketers Should Consider Interactive Content

Show of hands, B2B marketers: How many of you know which Hogwarts house you belong in? Or which Disney princess best represents your personality and relationship ambitions?


Don’t be shy. I’m a Gryffindor wizard through and through—and apparently, I’m more of a Jasmine than an Ariel. And I know all this thanks to the rise of interactive content.

From quirky quizzes to ROI calculators to guided eBooks, interactive content is a rising content marketing star. BuzzFeed is perhaps the most prolific example, creating dozens of quizzes each week that are making their way into social feeds and search results. (And almost all users reportedly finish them).

But why should B2B marketers consider adding interactive content to their mix?

Because B2B is often pegged as bland and boring. And in a crowded content market, not to mention the fact that buyers' content preferences are turning increasingly visual, interactive content is the next evolution.

But if that doesn't convince you, read on for a few more reasons why its time for B2B to embrace interactive content.

#1 – Interactive content is more engaging than static content—for the long-term.

Interactive content may seem a little gimmicky for some marketers—especially those in the B2B space. But the vast majority of marketers who use interactive content agree that it not only grabs attention, but can also hold that attention beyond that initial view.

In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Ion Interactive 2017 Interactive Content Study:

  • 87% of marketers agree that interactive content grabs the attention of the reader more effectively than static content
  • 77% of marketers agree that interactive content has reusable value, resulting in repeat visitors and multiple exposures
  • 73% of marketers agree that interactive content, when combined with other more traditional content marketing tactics, enhances message retention among their audiences.

So, if you’re aiming for awareness, engagement, and attention, interactive content holds incredible potential. But I’d also add that this is only true if you deliver quality, relevant content in an interactive format.

As my colleague Josh Nite points out: "[Interactive content is] absolutely designed to grab attention. But if your content provides value—if it’s worth paying attention to—interactive elements can help you bring in an audience."

[bctt tweet="#InteractiveContent is absolutely designed to grab attention. But if your content provides value—if it’s worth paying attention to—interactive elements can help you bring in an audience. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#2 – Interactive content can differentiate you from your competitors.

Content has always been a foundational element of B2B marketing. Buyers don’t make hard and fast decisions. Instead, they do their research, weigh their options, and have multiple engagements with sales reps before they sign on the dotted line. Interactive content can help you make an impression and stand out in a crowed, competitive content landscape.

In addition, according to the aforementioned report, just 46% of marketers report using interactive content right now—which was flat year-over-year. And if history is any indicator, I’d wager that interactive content adoption among B2B marketers is far lower since the industry is typically slower to adopt new tactics.

But that won’t always be the case. Harnessing the opportunity right now has the potential to differentiate your B2B brand from the competition early on, showcasing your commitment to innovation.

For example, Prophix, a leading provider of corporate performance management (CPM) software solutions in the FP&A industry, wanted to drive awareness in a unique way around its report on the evolution of financial planning and analysis, as well as its solutions.

By repurposing its original research and adding influencer perspectives, we created an interactive quiz to help empower their audience to "crush" their jobs to succeed now and into the future.

Prophix Crush It Interactive Quiz

This anchor asset, which was promoted using a supporting mix of blog content, social amplification, email, and more, saw a view rate 6-times higher than the benchmark for a similar resource. In addition, the page where it lived garnered 3-times the average share rate. This unique approach to interactive influencer content made Prophix stand out from the competition and deliver a great resource that performed.

#3 – Interactive tools can provide you with exclusive data and analytics.

Savvy marketers are driven by data insights. And many of the interactive content tools you’d leverage for an asset come with their own analytics dashboards, allowing you to get near real-time data on how your audience is interacting and absorbing your content.

For example, Ceros, an interactive content software that simplifies the creation process, provides all the basic KPIs such as visitors, opens, and pageviews, as well as engagement metrics like time spent and interaction clicks. But they also track inbound referrals, social shares, video plays, and outbound link clicks.

Oh, and that data is viewable in its Analytics Dashboard within second of it happening.

Ceros Interactive Content Tool

While traditional analytics platforms and the data within them is invaluable, from my perspective, this more niche data can help uncover some insights that can help you refine your asset on the fly or consider how to improve other content types moving forward.

#4 – Interactive content can drive results at every stage of the funnel.

From educating buyers to creating customer loyalty, interactive content can serve a purpose (and drive results) at every stage of the funnel. Interactive content users report using the tactic for lead generation, lead nurturing, customer retention, and the list goes on.

And interactive is especially powerful, when combined with other tried-and-true content marketing tactics.

To help promote the Influencer Marketing 2.0 report based on research conducted by Traackr, Altimeter Group and TopRank Marketing, we partnered with interactive content platform Ceros to produce an Influence 2.0 interactive infographic.

Influence 2.0

The infographic was promoted via blog posts, social channels, email, and through the influencers that contributed. With calls to action embedded within the interactive infographic, this content succeeded at attracting over 1,700 prospective customers to download the full report with a 43% conversion rate.

What Opportunity Does Interactive Content Hold for Your B2B Brand?

Interactive content is here to stay. But the real opportunity doesn’t lay in the interactivity itself. The real value creation is in the excitement or connection that you can make with your audience, as well as the potential to hold their attention for long enough to engrain your message or inspire action.

[bctt tweet="The real opportunity with #interactivecontent doesn’t lay in the interactivity itself. The real value creation is in the excitement or connection that you can make with your audience. - @CaitlinMBurgess" username="toprank"]

So, B2B marketers. If you’re ready to break away from boring and drive better engagement, interactive content deserves your consideration.

How can you leverage interactive content? Check out our post featuring five ways of making marketing magic with interactive content.

The post Interactive Content Marketing: Why B2B Marketers Should Take Their Content from Boring to Bold appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

text Why Marketers Are Disenchanted with SEO
Wed, 19 Sep 2018 10:30:52 +0000

Why Marketers Are Turning Away from SEO

Why Marketers Are Turning Away from SEO

Just over two decades ago, search engine optimization (SEO) burst onto the internet scene and kicked the digital marketing doors wide open. Today, marketers consider SEO an effective and required part of their digital marketing mix — well, some of us at least.

Many thought leaders, marketers, and brands have speculated that SEO is dead, but we’d argue that it most certainly isn’t. Rather, it’s being reborn. However, it appears to be fading as a core digital and content marketing strategy.

Why? There’s no one answer. Instead, multiple challenges and frustrations have fused to create disenchantment with the practice.

The Current Sitch

While HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2018 report indicates that 61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority, a recent survey from Clutch shows that SEO is the least popular digital marketing tactic, with just 44% of marketers leveraging SEO. (And just think of how many articles you’ve seen — including this one — pondering whether SEO is dead or alive.)

Now think about this: 91% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing as part of their marketing strategies, according to Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 benchmarking studies.

Setting aside the different methodologies and sample groups used for these reports, I think we can all agree that some marketers are struggling to see the value of SEO (and many may even be missing its important connection to content marketing).

*Cue the dramatic music.*

But why are marketers shying away from this foundational digital marketing tactic?

The Modern Marketer’s SEO Struggle

It’s a Dog Eat Dog World

We’ve all heard (and maybe said) the top complaint: Thanks to high content marketing adoption, the organic search landscape has become too [expletive] crowded. And as a result, many marketers feel they can’t effectively compete.

As a result, more marketers are forgoing the long-term play and turning to paid search to get top placement in SERPs. In fact, paid content promotion has increased almost 400% since 2014, according to a survey from Orbit Media.

Furthermore, digital marketing budgets are slowly growing. According to August 2018 CMOsurvey results, in the next five years, digital marketing spending is expected to overtake the majority of marketing budget spend, rising from 44% to 54%.

To us, this not only signals that marketers feel the required SEO effort is too taxing and competitive, but also that they’re under increasing pressure to deliver fast results. And with larger budgets to allocate to digital, marketers may be looking to other options that can show results more quickly.

It’s Not Black and White

Since its inception, Google has been constantly leveling up the sophistication of its ranking algorithm — much to the dismay of marketers. In fact, just this summer there were several Google updates such as mobile site speed and HTTPS, all of which had SEO and ranking implications.

Savvy marketers have been paying attention to these updates. They understand that while Google will never divulge its full ranking algorithm, there are key ranking factors such as relevant, user-friendly content and quality backlinks that are important for SEO and user experience. And they know content optimization requires tweaking and testing to see what works for them.

However, with so much on their plates, the fast paced change is hard to keep up with. And couple this with the content saturation mentality, SEO can feel like a losing battle.

It’s a Waiting Game

When black-hat tactics went extinct, marketers had to get used to the notion that SEO was the long-play. But that doesn’t mean they’ve been happy with the waiting game, especially if other tactics have the potential to work more quickly.

But marketers aren’t the only ones who want fast results — so does the C-suite. And if marketers don’t deliver, they sow seeds of doubt and stand to disappoint executives, who are likely the ones who approve their budgets.

And, of course, hearing phrases like "Rome wasn’t built in a day" or "It’s a marathon, not a sprint" adds to the frustration — and doesn’t quell pressure from higher-ups.

Our Hot Take: Now Is Not The Time to Quit

The changing and challenging search landscape is frustrating. There are trillions of unique web pages and counting to compete with. Algorithms and search styles are constantly evolving. And, to top it all off, you’re under pressure drive results and meet internal stakeholder expectations. We get it.

But here’s the thing all marketers should remember: Change is inevitable. Our world is increasingly digital, which means the digital marketing landscape will continue to experience rapid shifts.

Also, many of the changes and challenges you’re experiencing now aren’t new. "Easy win" or black-hat SEO tactics have been dead and gone for a while now, and Google has been tweaking algorithms on the daily for a decade or more. Furthermore, content marketing is closing in on a decade of growing use—and shows all the right signs to continue as a staple digital tactic.

So, rather than abandoning a tried-and-true tactic, perhaps it’s time to shift your strategy. As founder of SparkToro and Moz, and one of SEO’s most recognizable experts, Rand Fishkin once said:

"SEO is powerful precisely because it’s hard to predict and hard to measure."

So, it’s not a matter of "can" you get results with SEO, it’s a matter of "how" you’ll adapt to find success.

We know quality content that matches search intent is a key ranking factor. And we also know quality backlinks are important, too. So, how do you create link-worthy content? Check out our post featuring five types of link-worthy content.

The post Why Marketers Are Disenchanted with SEO appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Eyes fixed on his computer monitor, Jack felt perspiration form on his forehead as he waited in anticipation for the flood of visitors to the new campaign he and his team just launched. Anticipation turned to nervousness as he looked around the room and asked, "Who’s promoting this content?" All Jack got in return were [...]

The post Invisible Content Syndrome and the Content Promotion Tactics to Cure It appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

There are millions of ecommerce stores, and the number continues to rise rapidly. This is because it is a trillion-dollar industry loved by both Gen Xers and millennials. About 56% of Gen Xers and 67% of millennials prefer to shop online over in-store. But just because there’s a lot of demand out there for ecommerce […]

4 Ecommerce Content Marketing Tactics You Must Use is a post from ShoutMeLoud - Shouters Who Inspires

Shep Hyken on Convenience Marketing

Savvy digital marketers have their ears to the ground and eyes to the sky, striving to be on the cutting edge of the latest and greatest trends, tactics, strategies, and tools. After all, change comes hard and fast in this industry—especially when it comes to evolving buyer demands and expectations.

However, innovation doesn’t have to be net-new. To put a slight spin on a classic line, everything old can be new again. And that’s where convenience as a strategic digital marketing tool.

Convenience has been a core customer service principle for decades. And more often than not, convenience is a defining characteristic of customer experience and the brand as a whole. Think about what 7-Eleven did for weary travelers or time-crunched professionals. Think about what Amazon first did for avid, deal-seeking readers—and what they’re doing now for folks from all walks of life.

They disrupted the industry and created loyal followings by offering a convenient customer experience. And according to customer service and experience guru Shep Hyken, marketers can learn a thing or two from these examples—and what he calls "The Convenience Revolution."

[bctt tweet="What separates rockstar companies from all the rest? They’re just easier to do business with. - @Hyken #CX #ConvenienceMarketing" username="toprank"]

For marketers, convenience isn’t just a competitive differentiator to be touted in marketing messaging—it’s also a creative lens. According to Shep, there are six convenience principles: Reducing friction, self-service, technology, subscription, delivery, and access—all of which he details in his latest book, The Convenience Revolution: How to Deliver a Customer Service Experience That Disrupts the Competition and Creates Fierce Loyalty.

Recently, Shep was gracious enough to sit down with me to explore what some of these principles and an eye on convenience can do for marketers.

Meet Shep Hyken

Customer Experience Expert Shep HykenShep’s been in the customer service and experience industry for nearly 35 years—it’s in his DNA.

"I started my first business when I was 12," Shep recalls. "It was a birthday party magic show."

That’s right. Shep worked his way around the local birthday party circuit performing magic tricks for oohs, awes, laughs, and a bit of cash. But his success was rooted in consistently innovating the service he was delivering.

"Writing thank you notes was the minimum," Shep explains. "But my parents encouraged me to also ask the parents which tricks they liked the most—and drop the tricks that didn’t make the cut. So, you see, at a very young age I’m saying thank you, I’m asking how the service was, I’m gathering feedback, and I’m using that feedback to make changes—all fundamentals of customer service."

"And this is all certainly relevant to marketers," he adds. "Customer service experience is the new marketing; it’s the new brand."

[bctt tweet="#CustomerExperience is the new #marketing; it’s the new brand. - @Hyken" username="toprank"]

Eliminating the Customer Experience Enemy

Your goal is to deliver the right information, at the right time, to the right person, on the right platform. This is the essence of convenience. You want to make it easy on your audience to get the information they need and to make a decision—and you want to enhance the journey and create a better experience for all.

How do you do this? By reducing friction. Why? Because where friction exists, frustration exists—and frustrated buyers and customers will seek out the path of least resistance.

"Reducing friction is perhaps the No. 1 opportunity for marketers," Shep states. "It’s simple. If you don’t know your friction points, you can’t improve the customer experience and build customer loyalty."

Where should you start?

As Shep suggests: "Map and study your customer journey, and ask yourself: What are my top customer touch points? Where is there friction? And how can I reduce that friction?"

[bctt tweet="Where friction exists, frustration exists—and frustrated buyers and customers will seek out the path of least resistance. #Convenience #DigitalMarketing" username="toprank"]

Strengthening Existing Customer Relationships & Attracting Prospects

The customer journey is anything but linear. We know prospective buyers and existing customers are increasingly self-directed in their quest for answers. Many turn to the internet-at-large and social media to research solutions, engage with brands, inform their decisions, and troubleshoot issues.

Marketers have the opportunity to create on-demand content that not only aids existing customers, but also engages prospects. For Shep, this falls under the convenience category of self-service.

[bctt tweet="#Marketers have the opportunity to create on-demand #content that not only aids existing customers, but also engages prospects." username="toprank"]

"Salesforce is a great example of this principle in action," he says. "They offer great explainer and how-to content online, which gives their existing customers answers at their fingertips. If customers have a question or issue, they don’t have to call support."

Here's an example of one of Salesforce's How-To videos, one of many featured on their YouTube channel:

"What makes this a fantastic marketing piece is that anyone who happens to be considering their products can see this great content, allowing them to learn more about how a product works and the level of support offered," he says.

But what about those who stop the search early and just pick up the phone? Shep says self-service content still plays a pivotal role.

"This content is a great supplement for live support," he says. "Your team member can answer questions live, but also offer more convenient, digital solutions customers or prospects can walk away with."

Defining Your Own Brand of Convenience

Here’s an important thing to remember, marketers: Convenience is objective. As Shep points out, what’s considered convenient for one business may simply be unacceptable for another—even within the same industry. That’s why it’s important to define your own brand of convenience—and not fall victim to what Shep calls "We Can Do It Too" Syndrome.

"Marketers need to stop placing so much emphasis on catching up or edging out their direct competitors," he says. "Customers don’t compare you to your competitors anymore—they compare you to other positive experiences they’ve had.

"If you keep chasing what your competitors are doing, you’re always a step behind," Shep adds. "That’s a good way to go out of business because you’re just doing what someone else is already doing."

Aim to delight and surprise—not just satisfy—if you want to build relationships and create meaningful connections with your customers and prospects.

"Convenience is a separator between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer," Shep says. "Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion. So, you need to figure out a way to create a lasting emotional bond."

[bctt tweet="Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion. So, marketers need to figure out a way to create a lasting emotional bond. - @Hyken #CX #DigitalMarketing" username="toprank"]

Create Convenience. Create Loyalty.

Simply put, your customers and prospects want to do business with companies that make their lives easier. They want fast answers to their questions. They want service they can count on, every time. They want convenience. And they’ll pay with their budgets and loyalty.

By adding the convenience lens to your marketing efforts, you can uncover and mitigate friction points, and provide better on-demand content that fosters connections with your customers and prospects throughout their journey.

"As a marketer, you need to think it’s beyond just creating awareness, and think about creating an experience that your customers will talk about to create more awareness," Shep shares. "The best marketing is when other people market for you."

[bctt tweet="The best #marketing is when other people market for you. - @Hyken" username="toprank"]

A big thank you to Shep Hyken for sharing his expertise and insights. If you want to get ahold of his new book, it’s on pre-sale now.

How can you foster deeper connections with your customers, prospects, and audience at-large? Create content that resonates. For inspiration on how to do just that, check out our post featuring lessons in resonance from 10 content marketing experts.

The post How Can Marketers Create Stronger Customer Bonds? Focus on Convenience, According to Shep Hyken appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Co-Op Advertising Strategy For Multi-Level Marketing Programs Perfecting The Use Of Leverage On The Internet Can Be Achieved By The Effective Use Of Co-Op Advertising As Described In This Instructive And Profitable Blog Post You will learn the conceptual and pragmatic advantages of co-op advertising as well as the best strategy for applying four basic […]

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Co-Op Advertising Strategy For
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LinkedIn brings Dynamic Ads into Campaign Manager platform LinkedIn has added Dynamic Ads into its Campaign Manager platform. Templates, auto-translation, and data-mapping are among the new additions to an expanded LinkedIn (client) ad management tool. MarketingLand Americans are changing their relationship with Facebook A new survey from the Pew Research Center shows that 42 percent [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: Facebook’s Ad & Metric Changes, Pinterest Tops 250M Users, Google’s URL Plans, & LinkedIn’s Dynamic Ads appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

How to Make the Most of Your Marketing Budget

How to Make the Most of Your Marketing Budget

For all marketing leaders, effectively managing your digital marketing budget is a delicate balancing act. Spend too much too early, and you’re running ultra-lean for the balance of the year and risk falling short of your goals. Spend too little, and you’ll likely lose those dollars at year’s end—and perhaps put yourself in a position to see cuts next year if your frugalness is taken out of context.

In our experience, we often see organizations slow to spend the first nine months of the year and eager to spend in the final quarter. So, if you’ll soon find yourself in the "use it or lose it" position, absolutely use it—but be thoughtful.

How and where should you allocate those dollars? Ultimately, your overall marketing goals and strategy should be your guide. But other factors to consider are projected resource constraints, upcoming and future events you’ll be attending or hosting, planned campaigns, and internal expertise.

Regardless of the size of your dollar surplus, there are several ways to make the most of it, gain some end-of-year momentum, and set yourself up for more success in the coming year. What are they? Let’s dive in.

Ideas for Making the Most of Your Leftover Marketing Budget

#1 - Invest in a content audit.

As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden has often said: "Content isn’t king. It’s the kingdom."

So, chances are, many of your budgetary resources have been allocated to creating top-notch content such as blogs, robust resource pages, or larger assets like eBooks or white papers. As a result, you have a lot of content.

But where are the gaps? What should be killed, kept as is, or updated? A content audit can provide answers here, allowing you to prioritize low-hanging fruit opportunities, refine your 2019 content strategy, and more.

[bctt tweet="Where are the gaps? What should be killed, kept as is, or updated? A #content audit can provide answers here. - @Alexis5484 #MarketingBudgets" username="toprank"]

Depending on the scope of the audit, (e.g  blog content only vs. full site audit) this can be one of the most cost effective uses of your budget.

#2 - Conduct a competitive audit.

There’s little doubt that you’re keeping a close eye on what your competitors are doing, but when’s the last time you took a more detailed deep dive into their activities or position in the marketplace? Better yet, have you had a chance to dig into those who are on the rise?

A competitive audit—which can be simple yet insightful (e.g. social only audit) or more robust—can refresh your view and surface insights that were not on your radar.

#3 - Experiment with new content types.

Consumer and buyer preferences are constantly evolving, especially when it comes to wanting more visual or on-demand content. With extra budget in hand, you have the opportunity to experiment with new content types that have the potential to reach your audience in new ways, And can continue to be promoted and drive results in 2019. Some content types to consider include:

  • Podcast series
  • Video interview series
  • Product explainer videos
  • How-to videos
  • Motion graphics
  • Interactive or animated content assets

An important note when it comes to podcasts: Podcasts do require a more significant investment of time, money, and resources. However, they also have the potential to be a staple offering that your audience comes back to again and again.

#4 - Build up your library of original photos.

From social media promotion to blog post header images, many marketing departments often rely on stock photo sites for their image needs. Typically, there’s either no time, no budget, no designer—or a combination of all three—to create custom imagery. So, why not use some of those extra dollars to create a library of eye-catching, unique photos to add some pizzazz to your written content?

#5 - Put paid spend behind your best content.

Whether it’s AdWords, boosted social posts, retargeting, or display, there’s always an opportunity to leverage digital advertising tactics to boost your marketing results. Your top-performing content assets are the best candidates for this approach. You know they resonate. You know they inspire. So, you know they have the best opportunity to deliver ROI in a paid setting.

[bctt tweet="Whether it’s #AdWords, boosted social posts, #retargeting, or display, there’s always an opportunity to leverage digital advertising tactics to boost your #marketing results. - @Alexis5484 #MarketingBudgets" username="toprank"]

#6 - Add new tools or subscriptions to your technology stack.

These days, I think it’s safe to say that every marketer uses tools and technology to make their jobs easier and their marketing more effective. If there’s a new one you’ve had your eye on, this is the perfect time to invest in a tool which will drive value throughout 2019.

Don’t jump right to purchase, however. Nearly every software tool offers demos, free trials, or free versions that you can try before you buy. If you find one you want to test for the long-term, many offer a on-time payment, rather than a monthly option.

#7 - Conduct original research.

Original research has a myriad of benefits. Not only does it allow you to uncover meaningful data about the pain points, attitudes, and insights of your audience, but also enables you to create a credible piece of pillar content that resonates.

Like podcasts, this certainly isn’t an initiative to take lightly. For the last two years, we’ve helped our friends at DivvyHQ compile the Content Planning Report.

So, take it from us: It’s resource and time intensive, but the reward can be big as you continue to refine each year and become sticky in the content landscape.

DivvyHQ & TopRank Marketing Content Planning Report Cover

#8 – Collaborate to co-create content with influential voices.

People trust people over brands. So, if you have extra budget, why not use that to collaborate with industry influencers or thought leaders to create credible, insightful content? This could be a series of long-form interviews or a more robust campaign with assets large and small.

Over the last two years, this type of content and program has been at the top of the end-of-year spend list for our clients for two reasons: 1) As an agency, we’ve developed relationships with experts in a range of industries and we’re experienced in making new connections. 2) Influencer content has longevity since it can be sliced and diced or rolled into larger assets, and the insights shared often stand the test of time.

Don’t Lose It

You’ve worked hard to win your marketing dollars—so make them work for you. Whether you want to build up a stockpile of ready-to-go promotional images or go big with an influencer program, you have cost-effective and extravagant options to make the most of your budget.

If you’ve found yourself on the other side of the spectrum—facing a budget cut—don’t panic. Check out this piece for tips to prioritize your marketing efforts after budget cuts.

The post Use It or Lose It: 8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Digital Marketing Budget Surplus appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

What according to you is a blogger’s or a WordPress user’s biggest fear? My biggest fear is losing years of work due to the server failure or a malware! Believe it or not, it has happened to many, and surprisingly, the solution is pretty easy. All you need is a backup system which takes an automatic […]

The Ultimate BlogVault Plugin Guide To Automated Backup Of WordPress is a post from ShoutMeLoud - Shouters Who Inspires

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right. If you’re a classic gamer, you’ll recognize the Konami Code used in popular games as a way to uncover gaming cheats or special effects. And if you attended Content Marketing World last week, you’ll recognize that sequence from trying to find your way through Huntington Convention Center [...]

The post Game On: How to Power-Up Your Content Marketing Game with Insights From #CMWorld appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Ashley Zeckman at CMWorld

Ashley Zeckman at CMWorld

It’s no wonder that Ashley Zeckman, Digital Strategy Director at TopRank Marketing, drew a crowd last week at Content Marketing World: she promised to debunk the prevalent myth that influencer marketing is best suited for B2C brands.

Content marketers, just like everybody else, see loads of influencers promoting consumer brands. So, why can’t some of us get over the notion that involving influencers in B2B campaigns isn’t a good fit?

Because, as Zeckman puts it, content marketing is difficult. As it stands today, only 50% of marketers believe they’re achieving their marketing goals (Smart Insights). In addition, 75% of blog posts get fewer than 10 social shares, and get zero links from other domains (Buzzsumo & Moz). What’s worse, is that 70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy (Altimeter).

But for those of you newer to the idea of using influencers for B2B, keep reading to see Zeckman’s proof that it works wonders. And as an added bonus, she debunked five other lies about B2B influencer marketing along the way.

The Difference Between B2C & B2B Influencer Marketing

Before digging in to how marketers can use influencer marketing to boost B2B results, Zeckman broke down the difference between B2B and B2C campaigns with a few examples. You’re no doubt familiar with the Marlboro Man, whose face was synonymous with a smoke. You’ve seen Kim Kardashian’s image associated with perfumes, liqueurs, and more than a few fashion labels. And, you probably remember Britney Spears’ "Got Milk?" ad.

But Zeckman points out the key difference in those B2C tactics and the new way of B2B influencer marketing:

[bctt tweet="Rather than unapologetically telling us to buy a product, #B2B influencers are collaborating around an idea. - @azeckman #InfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

5 Lies About Influencer Marketing

#1 - All Influencers Are Created Equal

When you’re looking for influencers to get involved in your B2B campaign, it’s important to know that, no, not all influencers are equal. Nor should they be used interchangeably.

The best B2B influencer campaigns, stresses Zeckman, involve multiple types of influencers, which she breaks down into five main categories below:

Categories of Influencers for B2B Marketing Campaigns

Ultimately, choosing your perfect mix all depends on your campaign objectives, Zeckman says. If you’re looking to expand your audience and get eyeballs on your content, brandividuals should be part of the mix. They’re the people with a large audience reach of their own with whom their own content resonates deeply.

[bctt tweet="Ultimately, choosing the right mix of influencers comes down to your campaign objectives. - @azeckman #InfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

If your goal is to engage a more specific audience segment, aim to include up-and-comers who resonate with your audience, and are consistently creating content that’s highly and specifically relevant to your target.

And if your main focus is to convert, don’t leave out the niche experts or customer influencers, even if they don’t have as many followers as your other influencers. They know the nitty-gritty of the subject matter, and create content that not many others can. Their relevance will make your customers feel comfortable that somebody’s been in their same shoes, and will produce the content that nudges your targets over the finish line.

#2 - Brands Should Dictate What the Influencers Say

Telling your influencers what to say can be irreversibly damaging to the level of audience trust you’ve worked hard to build. That’s why it’s so important to make sure the influencers you choose for your B2B campaign are already talking about your subject matter. That topical alignment is key, according to Zeckman, regardless of the topic itself.

Take, for example, the B2B influencer campaign that Zeckman and TopRank Marketing partnered with Prophix to create. The goal of the campaign was to increase general brand awareness for the financial software company by targeting the office of finance. To do so, our team took a close look at the office of finance, and found that the audience was in the midst of an industry shift thanks to AI, but was having trouble visualizing what that change would mean for their day-to-day.

So, the team put together an animated asset featuring AI-style audio contributions from well-aligned influencers like Chris Penn and Jennifer Warawa.

Prophix Interactive eBook Example of B2B Influencer Marketing

#3 - Influencers are Only Good For Social Promotion

It’s natural, given how wrought with influencer promotion our social media feeds can be, to assume that the main benefit of influencers is the promoting they’ll do on your social channels.

But, as Zeckman points out, we can engage influencers in a variety of collaborative ways, even making them foundational elements of the content such as audio or video interviews, or podcasts or other serialized content.

A great example of this is action is a podcast series Zeckman and the TopRank Marketing team worked on with 3M. The series involved 16 influencers across various scientific fields, including professors, teachers, astrophysicists, and chemical biologists, and was hosted by the Jayshree Seth, 3M’s Chief Science Advocate.

The podcast series beat industry benchmarks by 69% with over 7,000 downloads. Many of the influencer guests amplified, employees amplified, and live events put on by 3M (involving some of the influencers who had contributed throughout the season) also helped drive awareness.

#4 - Engaging Influencers is Just Like Buying an Ad

Because B2B influencers are collaborating around an idea rather than just peddling a product, getting them involved is rarely as simple as purchasing a media spot.

Zeckman has perfected the practice, and gives a few tips for engaging the ideal influencers for your B2B campaign. First, you’ll have to send out some signals. As a brand or agency, create content that features the individuals you’d eventually like to partner with on a campaign. The simplest way is to include them on any lists that you’re creating. TopRank Marketing, for example, recently featured people from all industries in the list the  Top 50 Content Marketing Influencers, many of whom have gone on to contribute to B2B influencer campaigns.

After you’ve started sending signals, nurture the budding relationship. Staying in touch is a great way to gain credibility with the influencer and encourage them to co-create content, amplify it, and stay in touch for future opportunities to collaborate.

Above all, says Zeckman, be thoughtful in your interactions, and show your gratitude. Bonus points if you can show your gratitude in the form of pie, as the TopRank Marketing did for the influencers who contributed to DivvyHQ’s Easy as Pie campaign.

[bctt tweet="Be thoughtful in your influencer interactions. And show some gratitude. - @azeckman #InfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

#5 - Successful Influencer Marketing Requires a Lot of Time, Budget, and Resources

Some believe the juice isn’t worth the squeeze when it comes to B2B influencer marketing, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Collaborating with the right influencers to create content is one of the most economical ways to build a successful campaign.

For one thing, the content created with influencers has great potential to be repurposed. A blog post with influencer contributions can be grown into an eBook, Slideshare, or any number of other valuable assets. Most influencers are happy to expand upon a small contribution to provide more detail where needed, and that can be filed away for future, modular use.

In addition, influencer content perfectly lends itself to curation. If you’ve worked hard enough to have a small arsenal of contributions, consider compiling them into a list and publishing them as a blog post. Quotes that hit home are easily converted to beautiful, shareable images.

And don’t forget, says Zeckman, that your the influencers you involve are individuals. They’re real people who are most often thrilled to help amplify the content to which they’ve contributed. By providing influencers with social messages and images to share at the time of campaign launch, you’ve got a head start to promoting your hard work. And the payoff is worth it; Zeckman once saw a 1,700% increase in social ad clicks for a campaign as a result.

The Truth About B2B Influencer Marketing

Don’t believe the lies. B2B brands absolutely have an opportunity to collaborate with influencers and industry thought leaders, just like B2C brands have been doing for decades. Influencers can help extend your reach, lend authority to your content, and help you build credibility with your audience.

Want more insights on influencer marketing? See what TopRank Marketing CEO had to say during his 2018 CMWorld session on solving the "confluence equation."

What misconceptions or concerns have you heard about influencer marketing? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post Ashley Zeckman Dispels B2B Influencer Marketing Lies at CMWorld appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Are you looking for a new theme to use for your WordPress sites? Well, you have landed at the right place, for in this post, I’m going to share a multipurpose theme that you can use irrespective of the type of site you’re building. GeneratePress is a popular free WordPress theme that’s especially favored by […]

GeneratePress Review: A Fast-Loading Multipurpose WordPress Theme is a post from ShoutMeLoud - Shouters Who Inspires

When you first launch your blog, it’s normal to search around for the cheapest web hosting possible. All of us have done it, haven’t we? And that makes sense because you don’t need ultra high-performance or extra features when you’re still brand new. Therefore, I always recommend shared Bluehost to beginner bloggers. But once you […]

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