Book Review & Interview: Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi

Joe-Pulizzi-Content-Inc-Book-Review

The Godfather of Content Marketing has struck gold again. Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi has a new book that will hit shelves and Amazon carts this September.

His newest book, Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses is a delightful blend of inspiration from Joe’s personal experiences building Content Marketing Institute and advice businesses can follow to create an actionable content business model.

Content Inc. takes readers down the logical path from starting their journey, to monetization and creating next-level content.

When the Godfather releases a new piece of content it is always worth a read. If you don’t, you may have to answer to his loyal base of subscribers and followers. Below are some highlights of Content Inc. as well as an exclusive interview with Joe on his new book.

What You’ll Learn in Content Inc.

By focusing on building an audience first and defining products and services second, an entrepreneur can change the rules of the game and significantly increase the odds of financial and personal success.

– Joe Pulizzi

How to Lead with Goal Setting

There is a big difference between inherently having an idea of what your goals might be, and actually getting them down on paper and persistently working to achieve them. Even though this book is largely about content, Joe makes sure to emphasize that you should document all goals, personal and professional in order to be successful. This approach can help you prioritize and scale your business model.

The 6 Step Content Inc. Model

This book is built around what Joe calls the “Content Inc. Model” which is a six step process marketers can follow to efficiently and effectively develop a winning content marketing program. What are the steps?

  1. The Sweet Spot: A blend of your  core knowledge and passion.
  2. Content Tilt: Defining what makes you different from your competition.
  3. Building the Base: Determining which content distribution channels will be your foundation for publishing.
  4. Harvesting Audience: Leveraging different methods to draw in new audience members.
  5. Diversification: How to break out from your base distribution channels and build additional streams.
  6. Monetization: Once you’ve scaled your model, how will you use it to generate revenue?

Real-Life Examples of Why Content Inc. Works

Content Inc. has a high impact ending. After we’ve been instructed on the six steps, given prompts for action and resources for more information, we have the best part; examples. Readers can gain inspiration from hearing more about how companies like Razor Social, Lego, Marriott and more have found success from following the Content Inc. Model.

From the Mouth of the Godfather of Content Marketing

This book review wouldn’t be complete without some additional insight from the author, Joe Pulizzi. Here is how Joe describes the notion of Content Inc. in his own words:

Who is Content, Inc. for?

The book is perfect for two audiences.  First, for startups and small businesses, Content Inc. can serve as the underlying business model for long-term growth.  Build a loyal audience and sell them whatever you want.  Second, the book can really help marketers in larger companies who need to be change agents.  Marketers looking to build a valuable audience in a specific content niche – that ultimately will help them drive more leads, more sales or new lines of revenue.

In chapter one you talk about “Beginning with the end in mind”. What impact has goal setting had your own career?

My life changed for the better when I started to do two things.  First, write down my goals (with actual pen and paper).  Second, review those goals daily.  You have no idea what kind of impact this can make on your life.  It’s such an easy thing to do that no-one does.

Another concept you reference is about “Unleashing Your Passion”. How did you find your passion for content marketing?

I don’t like the idea that marketers only sell and don’t make positive change happen.  That’s why I love content marketing.  You can increase the bottom line while, at the same time, help your customers live better lives or get better jobs.  Content marketing is the only kind of marketing that provides ongoing value, whether you purchase the product or not.  Isn’t that what all marketers want to do?  Provide real value?

What are three things you want people who read Content, Inc. to walk away understanding?

  1. That the way we’ve been launching and growing businesses is not right anymore for how people consume information.  Building an audience around valuable content is the absolute best way to start and grow a business for the long-term.
  2. That even though Content Inc. is not a get-rich quick scheme or will make immediate impact in your business, if you follow the six steps and consistently execute on the idea, you will be successful.  Any sized company can do this.  Any company or person can follow the six steps.  I love it because it’s democratic.  Bigger budgets don’t necessarily win.
  3. The competition can copy everything we do as companies except for one thing – how we communicate.  That means delivering an amazing content experience to our customers on a regular basis is THE most critical thing we should be doing as marketers, business owners and communication professionals.

What Should You Do Next?

The way that Joe structured Content Inc. is incredibly powerful. He provides enough information to make the content actionable, without creating paralysis from information overload. If you’re looking for a content model to follow, enjoy a good story, or just want to know more about the man behind Content Marketing Institute, I would strongly recommend pre-ordering a copy of Content Inc. on Amazon.

The book will be released on September 8, 2015 to coincide with the annual Content Marketing World event hosted by Joe’s team in Cleveland, OH.  

The TopRank Marketing team will be in attendance, and our CEO Lee Odden will be speaking on the topic of Participation Marketing: How to Co-Create, Optimize & Socialize Content With Influencers.

We are very excited about Content Marketing World and look forward to learning from some of today’s top content marketing experts and connecting with other passionate content marketing individuals. See you there!


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Book Review & Interview: Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi | http://www.toprankblog.com

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The Key to a Successful Digital Marketing Agency and Client Relationship

digital marketing agency client success

Digital Marketing success is more dynamic than ever and companies embracing everything from content marketing to predictive analytics seek outside help for strategy, implementation and consulting. However, it takes a lot more than savvy sales pitches, charismatic account management and smart creative to make a client and agency relationship work.

We’ve been in the thick of the digital marketing world at TopRank Online Marketing for nearly 14 years and I’m happy to say our biggest growth so far in 2015 has come from client retention and program expansion. Thanks to an incredibly talented team, we’ve delivered great results for clients and have weathered numerous changes in the industry and within client organizations.

There are no shortcuts to great client agency relationships though and at BMA15 I attended a presentation offering some really useful advice:

According to Robin and Steve Beohler of Mercer Island Group, there are 4 reasons clients change agencies:

  1. Client side leadership change
  2. Troubled business results from the engagement
  3. Strained relationships between those involved
  4. Agency performance perceived as sub-par

Not all of these areas are controllable, but some are.

Chemistry and capabilities both need to be a fit for a successful client / agency relationship.

What many digital marketing agencies miss is in the on-boarding process – in terms of the business and the culture. What are the expectations, communications preferences and what does the end of the day look like? Clarity on these from the start as well as continued attention is essential.

What are the causes of most digital marketing agency and client issues?

Partners often view the relationship differently. According to research presented at BMA15 by the Beohlers, in 2/3 of the relationships, views of the relationship are very different. How different?

Agencies with the strongest reviews from clients were characterized by:

Top service, strategy, creative capabilities.

Lead strength: SERVICE.

Agencies with weak reviews:

Service was the biggest issue 100%.

Strategy and creative issues 63%.

Clients that received strong reviews:

9 out of 10 agencies cited that the partnership was strong.

Client guidance (client gave great briefings and feedback) and knowledge were also strong.

Clients that received weak reviews:

Guidance from the client was the biggest issue.

Alignment of the client to the agency, followed by client’s processes (mostly approval) were also problematic.

According to a new report, Enhancing Client Agency Relationships (PDF), released by the ANA:

  • Clients and agencies don’t agree on the quality of agency briefings. Not one agency reported receiving excellent briefings.
  • Only 2% of agencies strongly agree that the client approval process works well.

So, how can digital marketing agencies and the clients that hire them improve?

The most important thing is to put the relationship first. How people feel about the others they work with is paramount. Focus on building strong relationships and make sure people feel valued.

Also recommended was to do client / agency 360’s to collect ongoing feedback and conduct routine relationship enhancement sessions.

Deep feedback during these sessions is important, because clients aren’t always direct. Sometimes agencies don’t “hear” what the client is actually telling them.

Early warning systems are critical: pick up on early warnings and get the straight scoop information. Develop a way to capture deep, qualitative feedback on what’s really important – relationships and program results.

When things are going good, the ‘importance’ scores on relationships are low. But when things aren’t going well, everything is important.

It’s essential to invest in the processes of managing expectations and the relationship. There are significant costs to change agencies for both clients and the agency:

Client Costs:

  • Added expense
  • Distraction from other work
  • Work interruption
  • Reputation hit

Agency Costs:

  • Lowers revenue
  • Staff risk
  • Growth plan interrupted
  • Reputation hit

There are positive impacts from doing client / agency relationship 360’s. For clients, sharing and capturing feedback fuels business growth, better creative, strategy and service from the digital marketing agency.

For agencies, a relationship check can contribute to business growth, referrals, references, profitability, and reduced churn.

Overall, marketing agencies need to be more strategic in how they manage relationships with clients. Look beyond the day to day of tactics and program management to the bigger picture of how the client agency partnership has mutual impact.

Improving relationships is not all on the shoulders of agencies. A few things most clients who hire digital marketing agencies can do to improve both the relationship and the performance of their investment include:

  • Improve guidance – give better briefs and clearer feedback
  • Internally aligned creative feedback (reduce disconnected junior staff approval vs. the actual decision maker)
  • Streamline the approval process

It takes more than smart consulting to make a digital marketing client and agency relationship work. Without a healthy understanding of expectations and clear communications, all that smart consulting goes to waste if it never gets implemented. Invest in both high performing consulting and an understanding of expectations to make the client / agency relationship work.

Agencies that focus on service as well as strategy and consulting will be more valuable to the companies that hire them. Clients that provide excellent briefs and that can streamline review/approval processes will get a much better return on the digital marketing agency investment.

Great relationships drive great work. Great work drives great business results.

Image: Shutterstock


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World First Solar Powered Fashion Show



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Jessica Minh Anh is no stranger to extraordinary catwalk in the best places. The July 17, 2015, the model and the contractor will be history making 10th generation in the middle of the solar power plant Gemasolar win in Seville, Spain. Unlike previous fashions Jessica at the Eiffel Tower, the Tower Bridge in London, Grand Canyon Skywalk, and One World Trade Center, J Summer Fashion Show 2015 not only presented a combination of art, architecture, culture and fashion, but also celebrate the best of advanced technology and environmental preservation. With backdrop of famous film central tower and thousands of advanced mirrors, the gateway to the sun must redefine the standards of modern fashion.

J Summer Fashion Premiere in June 2015 fashion collections and exclusive jewelry in Europe and Asia. Focusing on the art of minimalism, Ekria Turkish jewelry brand presents a collection of highly futuristic gold laser cut and silver. Rather, the Spanish sensation Paloma Sanchez, who has traveled the world in search of the most precious stones, present a luxurious and colorful collection. Heavily influenced by Chinese culture and dedication to perfection, the jeweler combines Eastern European charm and sophistication to make all women feel like kings. Returning to the single gateway Jessica Minh Anh, Pakistani Haute Couture designer Syeda Amera continue their creative approach to training, gold glitter embellishments, bold cuts, and abstract patterns. Adding a Spanish touch to the big window, very clean designer Vera Pilar Sevilla will present some of the most dynamic, dramatic, romantic and especially Flamenco dresses. Youth collection pays homage to the textile crafts, traditional sewing techniques and floral prints with an emphasis on the sensual silhouettes. “Jessica Minh Anh embodies fluid movements, class and elegance that resonate with my collection. I look forward to its main other models on the podium in my multilayer signature red doll dress,” said Pilar Vera.

Effective Solutions In Heating and Cooling Systems in Australia



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Normally, through Australia, 40 percent of the energy we use at home is for heating and cooling. This does not include the heating of hot water. The amount of energy used by your home vary according to their needs and the environment where you live and the type of heating and cooling depends on you. Most households have to be heated or cooled to a certain time of year, but with an efficient home, which could avoid dependence on heating and cooling additional devices in total.

Besides the type of heating and cooling solutions you choose, how to work and take care of your system may also have a significant impact. Once you have used all the options of passive heating involved, the next step is to select a suitable to your situation heating. There are many types of heating with different reasons of energy and environmental quantities efficiency.Your, type water heater, how to use it and to its position in the room can make a positive change in their leisure and heating costs. When sizing and adequate system of your home, you can avoid investing in the energy required. Central heating often can heat an entire home, while the space (room) heat warms everyone in the room (or more in the American zone) is used. Whether you opt for the central heating or space, there are many technologies and different heating options to consider, the best type of heating for you is determined by your circumstances, including the size of the rooms to become heated, the number of people in your home and your local climate.

Efficient gas heaters and reverse cycle air conditioning (heat pumps) are cheaper to acquire than standard electric heaters and create about a third of the amount of greenhouse gases. Note that it is important to work with unflued gas heaters with adequate ventilation when they cause indoor air pollution probably at home that may affect their welfare. See the requirements of your state or place.

Central heating systems are often critical to the gas, but could use a water heater in the fire, or heat pump solar system. Most of these systems circulating hot water radiators through solar panels, fan coils or in some cases indirectly through a concrete slab.

Air conditioning (or heat pumps) reverse cycle represent the type of electrical energy efficiency heater.Heat more levers have a fan and led the parties directly unheated heat your home.

They can be a profitable, low cost of operation. Portable electric heaters can be cheap to buy but expensive to maintain. Many are not as useful as other strategies slab floor heating heating.Electric often stronger fuel emissions of greenhouse gases whole house heating and perform.As rules would be the highest you should clean the filters in your heating system regularly to make sure it works effectively, follow the actual manufacturer. Use thermostats and timers to ensure that you are only heated room with everything you need to make when you need to save energy and money. Research on the best type of heating and cooling for your circumstances, our information could help you get started.

4 Steps Marketers Can Take Towards Increasing Their Digital Marketing Budget

Marketing Budget

Raise your hand if you’ve ever encountered a situation like the one described below:

It’s time again for your annual marketing budget meeting. You’re confident that what you’ve put together is going to knock the leadership team’s socks off.

You begin rocking through your amazing slide deck, chock full of powerful data points such as the number of Facebook Likes and banner ad clicks. Everything seems to be going great, and you know that this is the year you’ve finally proven the value of digital marketing and will win more budget. This means more budget to create additional content, place more ads and maybe even hire a great agency to help augment internal marketing efforts.

“Sure.” your CEO says, “That all looks great, but what are we going to get out of it?”

“Brand awareness, views, clicks, shares” – you say.

“No.” they say pointedly, “What are we really going to get out of it in terms of new customers, revenue and sales?”

A recent study from Econsultancy found that only 44% of marketers surveyed believe that the C-Suite really gets digital marketing and is developing an effective strategy. This can create many challenges for today’s digital marketers.

So how do you convince the C-Suite of the power of digital marketing when it comes to meeting business objectives and win that bigger budget?

Step 1: Become Fluent in CEO Speak

In my day to day, I spend most of time talking with other agency and client side marketers. Fortunately we are all speaking the same marketing lingo of conversions, page views and bounce rates. However, in order to get your CEO on board, you’ll need to step away from the marketing speak and dial into language which resonates with your audience:

For example:

speak CEO language

Step 2: Do a Landscape Audit, Don’t Forget Your Competition

Try to remember that most CEO’s don’t live and breathe digital marketing. They may not be aware that 83% of B2B marketers have a content marketing strategy in place. Or that there are 350 million users on LinkedIn. Set the stage by letting them know what is going on in the industry.

Keep in mind however that all the 3rd party research in the world won’t lead to an increase in budget, but showing a competitor that is applying a similar tactic and doing well will. C-suite is often intrinsically motivated by the idea that their competitors may know something they don’t.

Create a simple matrix of your top competitors and who is using which tactics. Then use a competitive audit tool like SEMrush to find data for PPC ad spend and traffic volume. Pull this data into a PowerPoint deck, and include screen shots of impressive ad campaigns or downloads to show value to your CEO.

Step 3: Show Them What They Stand to Gain (Or Could Lose)

When preparing to present to your leadership team, make sure that you:

Know what your CEO really cares about. Sometimes we assume CEO’s only care about the bottom line, but they may have many other objectives for the upcoming year. Examples could include: increasing brand visibility, attracting new customers from top competitors, or a higher volume of product sold.

Nail down tracking. If you don’t have the tracking in place to tie back each of your marketing tactics to an objective your CEO really cares about, then make sure you laser focus on making that a reality. Leverage custom tracking URLs and some advanced Google Analytics segments to document tracking of visitor flow and conversions from pretty much any digital marketing tactic. If you need more advanced tracking, begin researching marketing automation systems, and plant the seeds for a big investment in 2016.

Perhaps you already have tracking in place. The next step is to show your team what they stand to gain.

For example:

  • 2015: Created 4 gated downloads = 800 leads
  • 2016 (Double the investment): 8 gated download = 1,600 leads

If you can present a case for investing in 4 additional content marketing assets, and the standard cost per lead, then you can show the potential ROI on additional content objects.

Now let’s flip that on its head. By not investing these dollars in 2016, you stand to lose 800 new leads. Psychologically, showing what your boss stands to lose is often more compelling than a potential reward.

Step 4: Start Small to Win Big

When testing a new tactic or platform, like Google AdWords or co-created content, I always advise clients to start small.  You must invest enough to run a true test, but consider it in terms of percentage of available budget.

I recommend that companies invest 70% of available budget in tried and true tactics that you know produce results, 20% on medium risk tactics, and only 10% on those brand new, high-risk tactics. This strategy ensures marketing is creating the results you need, while still making room for testing new tactics that have the potential to drive big results.

If you are asking for a 25% increase in budget, show your CEO the breakdown of how you will be spending that budget. Knowing you are investing the lion share in proven tactics, can help show that you are aiming to make a sound investment.

If you’re looking for more help crafting your pitch, speak with your current agency and have them provide you with more results from the previous year and their recommendations for next steps.

If you’re not working with an agency, reach out to an agency like TopRank Marketing and see what recommendations they have or what they would provide you if you worked with them.

Image: Shutterstock


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Using Solar Power in Your Home



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Residential solar power is becoming an attractive option for many people. They can use the sun’s energy to operate various devices and to heat their homes. It is also earth-friendly and economical way to bring the power in your home. Solar energy can help reduce external energy consumption by 50-70 percent. There are several different ways you can use solar energy in your home, which may include the use of solar panels and solar thermal systems to produce electricity.

Once you have installed solar power in your home, you can use water heated by solar energy to produce hot water and heat your home. There will be a collector mounted on an elevated area, such as the roof, and is used to absorb thermal energy from the sun. Often increases the heat and stores the resulting hot water. This heat can be piped through radiators to heat the house and provide hot water. Besides reducing your electricity bills, it can add value to your home if you decide to sell your home.

The main reason why many people are using residential solar power is helping to reduce the cost of their utility bills. Depending on the type of solar system used in a dozen years, the solar panels can pay for themselves. The Department of Energy United States hopes that by 2020, solar energy will become common place in homes. They also expect to see the normal cut energy consumption by seventy percent in that time.

The solar electric panel is the technology used in solar power, which uses photons to produce electricity. Solar electric panels, known as photovoltaic panels (PV) can be installed in a variety of ways, such as:

• Free standing rigid sheets

• Adjust your ceiling

• peel and stick laminate

How dependent are installed ceiling. The captured energy is converted into electricity through a modified grid system. It has an installed meter that reads the amount of solar energy used in your home compared to normal electricity used. The meter will then subtract the power of solar energy is used and what is left is then applied to your electric bill.

Most solar energy systems that are used are also able to store some of the energy they generate so if there is a surplus of energy can be used at a later time. Besides using the stored energy to generate rooms hot water and heat, it can also supply for other electronic equipment and light your home. The main cost of solar energy is the cost of installing the system and solar panels.

Engage More Customers By Becoming a Content Marketing Sommelier

content marketing sommelia

A sommelier is known for having extensive knowledge about wines, and how to complement the sensory experience of each type with perfect food pairings. Many train for years in hopes of finally becoming a Master Sommelier.

When embarking on a content marketing initiative, it’s important to know how to maximize the sensory experience of your content. A Master Content Marketing Sommelier knows what will best engage their customers, be it a complex, full-bodied blog post or a light, crisp infographic.

Demand Metric found that content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing but costs 62% less. This means marketers have a ripe opportunity to create content that expertly meets the needs of their audience.

Below are 6 tips to help you become a sommelier of content marketing.

#1 – Balance: The level of harmony between acidity, tannins, fruit, oak, and other elements in a wine; a perceived quality that is more individual than scientific.

wine balance

Content marketing can be a great tool for lead nurturing if implemented correctly. Successful content will harmoniously create value for your audience and move them toward a purchasing decision.

First and foremost, it is essential that your content offer useful and relevant information for your audience. If your message doesn’t help them solve their problem or meet a current need, they’ll move on to someone who does.

However, that does not mean there isn’t an opportunity to incorporate a call to action, where it makes sense. In fact, many marketers are leaving leads on the table by offering a piece of content without asking for contact information in exchange for the download.

Another often overlooked opportunity is adding calls to action within your blog post. This can be as simple as asking a question that helps your reader internalize the information and engage with your content by sharing their opinion. As long as you achieve balance between your promotional element and the value you add for the reader, you’ll create a pleasant experience.

#2 – Blend: The process whereby two or more grape varieties are combined after separate fermentation; common blends include Cotes de Rhone and red and white Bordeaux.

wine blend

Content marketing should not be a stand-alone program within digital marketing. In order to truly be masterful, it must be combined with other digital marketing efforts such as:

  • SEO
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Paid Search & Social Media Advertising
  • Conversion Optimization
  • Website Analytics

Just as a good blended wine combines the strengths of each vintage to enhance the flavor experience, a good marketing blend puts the different elements of marketing to work to amplify your message.

#3 – Legs: A term used to describe how wine sticks to the inside of a wineglass after drinking or swirling.

wine legs

Even if your customers aren’t ready to buy right now, you want to remain top of mind when they are ready to make the leap. So the question is; how can you create stickiness with your content marketing?

One simple way is to create a consistent posting schedule. If you continue to offer relevant information and sound advice on a consistent basis, your customers will come back to you when they have another need.

#4- Table Wine: A term used to describe wines of between 10 and 14 percent alcohol; in Europe, table wines are those that are made outside of regulated regions or by unapproved methods.

Table Wine Image

If you are an avid wine drinker (like myself) then you know that you’re typically better off skipping the table wine or house wine. It’s usually the cheaper option, but it’s definitely made for quantity rather than quality.

When it comes to your content marketing, you’re better off doing a few things very well, than trying to do too much and falling short. Prioritize your content marketing for impact and form an understanding of what you can handle in-house, what may need to be outsourced and what needs cut from your plan. A few high-quality pieces of content are more valuable in the long-run than high-quantity “table wine” content.

# 5 – Yield: The amount of grapes harvested in a particular year.

Yield Vineyard

The vintner who fails to measure their vineyard’s yield and adjust their plans accordingly won’t be in business for long. If you don’t measure the yield of your content marketing, it will be difficult to see how it is performing and what you can do better. As with any sales or marketing program, you must:

  • Determine your critical measurements based on business goals
  • Define both short and long-term goals
  • Tie performance back to leads and sales metrics

There is no replacement for content marketing measurement and it should always remain top of mind when deploying new tactics. For each piece of content you create, make sure to ask yourself: Does this align with my objectives, and what do I hope to achieve?

#6 – Pruning: The annual vineyard chore of trimming back plants from the previous harvest.

pruning vines

Vintners prune their plants to enable them to grow and thrive. Once you’ve given your content marketing time to mature, it’s time to go back and decide where to “prune” your program. You may find that your audience responds really well to long-form blog content but does not care much for video, for example.

Take the time to find which tactics are performing the best and weed out those that are not effective. A little strategic pruning can make sure that you focus on creating the content that resonates most with your audience.

Pour Yourself a Nice Crisp Glass of Content Marketing

Understanding what makes a successful content marketing strategy can be as tricky as mastering the appreciation of fine wine. Both take practice, dedication and attention to detail. What have you found is your biggest challenge in creating successful content marketing that inspires action?

All definitions are courtesy of WineEnthusiast

Photos via Shutterstock: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh


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5 Impactful Digital Marketing Takeaways from MNSearch Summit

MNSearch-Summit-2015

In order to be an effective digital marketer, it’s imperative that you understand the role that search plays in all of your marketing initiatives. The search landscape is quickly evolving and sometimes what you need is a helping hand from some industry experts to set you down the path to success.

Amazingly, that is just what we experienced at this years MNSearch Summit. Alexis Hall, Evan Prokop, Joel Carlson, Kat Steiner and I took a leap across the river into St. Paul Minnesota for a day filled with actionable information that can be used to improve any digital marketing program.

If you were not able to attend, or maybe didn’t get to see all of the sessions that you would have liked, we’ve provided a helpful roundup of 5 of the takeaways that we believed were most impactful for digital marketers.

ahall

Team Member: Alexis Hall

Session: The Data-Driven Content Marketer – Sean Callahan, LinkedIn

The statement exemplifies the pain marketers have been feeling for over 75 years. Imaging the glory days of a 1950s Don Draper, when advertising was based on gut feel, seeing into the soul of the customer. Some things worked and some things didn’t.  The problem was – it was very difficult to tell which was which.

As savvy content marketers today, we certainly know more about performance than the 1950s ad man, but many of us still feel a gap when it comes to measuring content. We are ready to move beyond page views and social shares to find out if our content is really working.

Enter – big data. It’s no surprise that the amount of data is ramping up:

  • 5 Quintillion bytes of data created every day across the globe
  • 90% of existing data has been created in the last 2 years
  • 90% of buyer journey completed by the time a prospect reaches out to a salesperson

Throughout his presentation, Sean provided examples of companies like Netflix, Google, Zendesk and many more that are using data to guide their content marketing strategy.

He explained that one approach to creating relevant content is the Big Rock Approach, when one big piece of content in a period feeds other content marketing efforts.

The Big Rock Approach follows these steps:

  1. Start with keyword research: Find out what your customers asking and where that intersects with your business.
  2. Repurpose content like leftover turkey: Use tactics such as slide presentations, blogs, infographics, webinars and videos. Then drive your audience back to a gated piece of content to drive conversions.
  3. Use turkey slides to fuel your content hubs: Examples would include:
    1. Company pages
    2. Sponsored updates
    3. LinkedIn Groups
    4. SlideShare

When you are able to merge a data driven approach with truly relevant content then you can make your marketing really meaningful.

ksteiner

Team Member: Kat Steiner

Session: How to Win with the Unexpected in PPC – John Gagnon, Bing

In his session, Bing Ads Evangelist John Gagnon offered sound advice to help marketers look at solving problems in unique ways.

There were three strategies that John discussed including voice search, brand term bidding and offsite tagging. All of which can be used to help companies stay competitive with their online properties in the current digital landscape.

Voice Search

According to Gagnon, the increase in the use of voice search will alter how marketers strategize on behalf of their clients. Currently, 25% of inquiries come from a voice search. It is essential that steps are taken to target this specific audience segment.

The use of voice search is different from a typed inquiry in the following ways:

  • A searcher is mobile, so the results will change accordingly
  • A searcher is looking for local results
  • The search inquiry is shaped in a more conversational format

Brand Term Bidding

When looking to attract traffic for branded search, companies still need to utilize paid search opportunities in addition to organic strategies. By bidding on the highly visible paid space, companies can ensure less clicks go to their competitors.

Brand term bidding gives marketers control of what landing page a visitor arrives on. By maintaining visibility in the paid space for branded terms, a marketer can influence the first impression a visitor has when they arrive on their website.

Offsite Tagging

When looking for remarketing opportunities, marketers can utilize the websites of relevant business partners to gain insights. Marketers can tag the site of the business partner to see how visitors are interacting, then start collecting information to build out the audience and report on their behavior. Once relevant audience members are identified, these individuals can be retargeted at a later date.

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Team Member: Ashley Zeckman

Session: Email Marketing Trends, Tactics & Opportunities for Search Marketers – Loren McDonald, Silverpop

Loren McDonald provided some great insight into email marketing trends, as well as the convergence of email marketing and search. What stuck with me the most from his session was the opportunity for email marketing and search teams to work together, and the fact that most simply aren’t.

Below is some of the low hanging fruit that Loren mentioned in his presentation:

  1. Landing Pages: You can build a dynamic email based on the search terms that consumers used to get to your landing page.
  2. Lead Scoring: If marketing automation is being used, begin incorporating keywords into lead scoring. Keywords can be scaled higher or lower based on what was used to drive the consumer to your website.
  3. Keyword Driven Email Content: There is also an opportunity to incorporate the keywords used in search results to drive the content of your email campaigns.

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Team Member: Evan Prokop

Session: How we Can Tell a Compelling Story with our Google Analytics Data – Jeff Sauer, Jeffalytics

There are many steps involved in collecting, cleaning and categorizing data in a way that makes it prime for storytelling. Jeff Sauer provided many actionable tips in his presentation to help marketers get more from their Google Analytics data. When it comes down to it, how can marketers use data to tell a compelling story?

In order for data to be valuable, it needs to tell a story. “Traffic is up 50% over last month” doesn’t say much, but “referral traffic from the ebook campaign we launched last month helped to drive a 50% increase in total website traffic, 20% increase in soft leads and 10% increase in revenue compared to the previous month” tells a much more compelling story.

A good web analytics story not only summarizes the current situation, it leads to actionable next steps. Taking the example above, a logical and actionable next step would be to allocate additional budget to the content marketing team to concept and launch additional ebook campaigns.

That’s the kind of story that drives business decisions and leads to results, and that’s what all digital marketers should be striving for from their web analytics.

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Team Member: Joel Carlson

Session: The Power of Real-Time Content For Any Organization – Bob Stanke, Minnesota Timberwolves

The ability to respond to a story in real-time is an incredibly difficult task. In fact, AdWeek reported that only 4% of marketers are able to create content for breaking news in real-time.

Bob Stanke opened up his session by reminding the crowd of the heart wrenching story of the Chilean miners that were stuck underground for two months in 2010. He also highlighted that Oakley quickly jumped into action and provided the miners with sunglasses to help their eyes adjust once they were finally freed. This seemingly small investment and goodwill move on Oakley’s part led to an approximately $41 million return for the company.

In his position at the Minnesota Timberwolves, Stanke and his team have to be able to respond quickly and effectively to breaking news. Below are some of the ways that they are able to set their team up for success:

Real-Time Content the Timberwolves Way

  • Conduct weekly content meetings
  • Include representatives from over 7 different departments
  • Discuss various what-if scenarios
  • Give attention to crossing storylines (Ex. Does a current player live or did they live in an area that was just hit by a disaster)
  • Focus on human-interest topics as they relate to the organization
  • Discuss ways to use exclusive content and how will it be distributed

A Behind-the-Scenes Snapshot of #MNSummit

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The speakers at MNSearch Summit covered email marketing, PPC, using data for storytelling and so much more. Which tip above most closely aligned with your current digital marketing needs?

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Online Marketing client.

Header Image: Shutterstock


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5 Impactful Digital Marketing Takeaways from MNSearch Summit | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post 5 Impactful Digital Marketing Takeaways from MNSearch Summit appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Content Marketing: 4 Tips for Creating B2B Content When You’re at a Loss for Words

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Content marketing has rapidly become an essential piece of the B2B marketing puzzle. Buyers are more connected and more self-directed than ever before, and informative, engaging content is key to making sure your organization becomes part of the buyer journey.

Creating a steady stream of quality content can be challenging for any marketer, but especially for those in B2B marketing, where buyers expect to be informed and entertained at the same time. So it’s no surprise that Content Marketing Institute’s latest report found that 54% of B2B Marketers rated producing engaging content as a top challenge, and 50% said producing content consistently is a challenge.

If you’re a B2B content marketer, sooner or later you’ll likely find yourself facing a blank screen with a head full of complex information that won’t move to the keyboard. So what do you write when you don’t know what to write? Here are a few strategies to remove the block between your brain and your fingertips:

#1 – Start with Structure

If you’re like me, you hated writing outlines for school assignments. I would always draft first, then reverse-engineer the outline.

But as a professional content creator, outlines are your new best friend. Take your complex topic and imagine what your sub-headings should be to discuss the topic. That way, you won’t get hung up on word choice or phrasing and can focus on the key information you want to get across. Once the structure is in place, it will be far easier to fill in the content.

#2 – Write the 5-Year-Old Version

Recently I was writing content for a client about the importance of balancing marketing efforts across the top, middle, and bottom of the sales funnel (sometimes called ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu marketing). I was having trouble explaining it in a clear and concise way. Finally, I thought, how would I explain this to my 5-year-old son? In a matter of minutes, I wrote the following little fairy tale:

“Once upon a time there were three little goats named Tofu, Mofu, and Bofu. Tofu trip-trapped happily through the meadow all day, blissfully unaware of the troll under the bridge nearby. Mofu knew the troll lived under the bridge, but wasn’t sure how the troll affected his day-to-day life and wasn’t ready to do anything about the monster. Only Bofu had seen across the bridge to a beautiful meadow of green grass, and was ready to take steps to get rid of the troll.

The local heroes who got rid of trolls focused their attention on Bofu exclusively. He knew he had a problem and wanted someone to solve it. The heroes didn’t see that it was important to offer their services to Tofu and Mofu, and so they missed out on getting the other two goats to start thinking about their troll problem. The heroes would have had better luck selling their services to all three goats.”

Obviously, I didn’t forward my fairy tale to the client. But writing it enabled me to lay out the argument for full-funnel marketing that I was trying to make, and I finished the client draft within the hour.

The “5-year-old-version” strategy helps you to explain what you’re trying to write to yourself, which makes the grown-up version far easier to write.

#3 – Write the Conversational Version

If you don’t have a 5-year-old in your life to use as an imaginary sounding board, write the way you would talk to an old friend. You don’t ever have writer’s block in a casual conversation, right? So write the way you would talk. Even better, exaggerate the tone—let yourself be silly. Try to make yourself smile.

For example, when I get stuck I’ll write something like: “Okay, so check it out bro, this new eBook is the bomb dot com. I know you’ve got some mad problems with your content marketing, but this book is gonna drop knowledge on you. Get it, yo!” After about a paragraph of that, I’m ready to reign it in and write the professional version.

#4 – Write the Garbage Version

Voltaire said, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Sometimes the source of writer’s block is that perfect version of the content you see in your head. So you write a few lines, they don’t measure up to the standard, and you erase everything. It’s easy to convince yourself that the version in your head is so much better than anything you could put on the screen.

But the truth is, any version of the content that exists is better than something that isn’t real. So don’t let that imaginary ideal form of the content stop you from writing.

When you get stuck trying to write the perfect words, turn off your inner editor and just write garbage. Type with your eyes closed if you can, so you’re not tempted to edit. Whatever clumsy, error-riddled, clichéd garbage you put on the screen is still better than a non-existent perfect piece. And now you have a start, something you can edit and refine until it’s worth showing to the world.

Content marketing is a business function, but it’s also a creative endeavor. As such, it’s just as subject to writer’s block as any other form of writing. When you’re stuck with that blank screen, stop thinking about creating the perfect finished piece and try for a different perspective. Write an outline to make sure your structures solid, or write a simplified version to help organize your thoughts. Write a silly version, bro, for reals. Write absolute trash. Just write something. Even the messiest first draft is the start of creating an amazing piece of content.

What is your favorite way to get past a block in your writing?

Image: Shutterstock


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. |
Content Marketing: 4 Tips for Creating B2B Content When You’re at a Loss for Words | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Marketing Superstars Tell All: Measuring Content Marketing Box Office Success

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“Show me the money. Show me the money!” – Jerry Maguire

In the summer of 2010, the Internet was abuzz about the upcoming movie Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. It was based on a comic book with a rabid cult following and directed by the indie darling behind Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. When the movie was released, the buzz intensified, dominating social media for its opening weekend. By almost every measurement, it was a blockbuster success. Unfortunately for the film, the one metric it missed was number of tickets sold. Scott Pilgrim was very good at generating excitement, but failed to deliver on the one metric that mattered.

In content marketing as in movies, it’s important to measure success with metrics relevant to business goals. But measuring the ROI of content marketing is no easy task. Content Marketing Institute found that fewer than 25% of B2B and B2C marketers say they are successful at tracking the ROI of their content marketing programs. The challenge for content marketers is to look past the vanity metrics and uncover what matters.

To help you separate the buzz from actual box office success, TopRank Online Marketing and Content Marketing Institute present the thrilling conclusion of our content marketing trilogy: Measuring Your Content Marketing Box Office Success. ‘

This final chapter combines Hollywood movie magic with no-nonsense advice from 13 content marketing superstars. It’s a feature-length collection of tools and tips, but it’s also a sneak preview of what you will see at Content Marketing World in 2015.

In this content marketing feature, you will discover:

  • Valuable metrics for measuring content marketing success
  • How to link content strategy to results
  • How to create content with measurability in mind
  • Tools for tracking and measuring effectiveness

In the grand tradition of Return of the Jedi, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the third and final installment of our trilogy wraps up the series on a high note (until the inevitable gritty reboot). Here are a few content marketing ROI tips from the marketing thought leaders in the eBook, in handy tweetable format:

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Joe Pulizzi – Content Marketing Institute

Want to better measure the value of content marketing? Create a subscription program. @joepulizzi tweet this

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Jeannine Rossignol – Xerox

When selecting metrics for content marketing, pick one question to answer & go from there. @j9rossingnol tweet this

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Rebecca Lieb – Altimeter Group

There is no content strategy without measurement. Understand what you want to achieve. @lieblink tweet this

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Julie Fleischer – Kraft Foods

Content marketing success starts by determining what critical measurements drive spending decisions. @jfly tweet this

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Todd Wheatland – King Content

Define real-time & long-term content marketing results that align w/ business objectives. @ToddWheatland tweet this

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Michael Brenner – NewsCred

Your content marketing has to generate real sales w/ real people to be successful. @brennermichael tweet this

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Andrew Davis – Author, Brandscraping

The two simplest ways to measure the value of content marketing: revenue by post & subscriber. @tpldrew tweet this

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Carla Johnson – Type A Communications

Monitor, learn & adjust your content marketing measurement strategy as you go. @carlajohnson tweet this

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Jason Miller – LinkedIn

If your content marketing is encouraging engagement, that’s a sign of relevance. @JasonMillerCA tweet this

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Lee Odden – TopRank Online Marketing

For marketing success, make content accountable & measurable to attract, engage & convert. @leeodden tweet this

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Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Guide

Begin by stating your business goals & creating content to achieve those objectives. @heidicohen tweet this

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Ian Cleary – RazorSocial

Find your most linked-to and shared content and produce more of this. @IanCleary tweet this

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Chad Pollitt – Relevance

Identify baseline measurements for content marketing by researching audience, media & competitors. @chadpollitt tweet this

Here’s the full Content Marketing Measurement eBook:

View the Entire Content Marketing Triple Feature Whenever You Want!

eBook covers - cmw15

If you missed the first and second eBooks in the series, you can view the entire triple feature here: Developing a content marketing strategy, making content the star of your marketing and measuring content marketing ROI.

Be sure to visit the Content Marketing World website to learn more about the conference and to reserve your seat. You won’t want to miss it!


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. |
Marketing Superstars Tell All: Measuring Content Marketing Box Office Success | http://www.toprankblog.com

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