2018 B2B Content Marketing Report Indicates Marketers are Finding Content Marketing Success

As a community, content marketers have experienced some significant ups and downs over the years. For every step forward we take toward content success, it sometimes seems like we take a couple backwards.

But perhaps, this will be the year that changes.

Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs just released their annual report–The 2018 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.

We’ve come to rely on this report to be a definitive content marketing guide of sorts that provides a finger on the pulse of our industry and shows how we align (or don’t) with our content marketing peers.

In order to move forward, we have to know where we are today, including what is working and what is not. Below are what I consider to be some of the top learnings from the report.

Showing a Commitment to Content Marketing

As we know, content success does not happen overnight. It takes resources, dedication and patience. Commitment to content must be ingrained into company values and culture if it is going to work. So what is the outlook for 2018?

92% of B2B organizations are committed to content marketing. @CMIContent @MarketingProfs Click To Tweet

Based on these results it’s evident that only a small number of organizations are falling behind in their support of content marketing initiatives.

Characterizing Success of Content Marketing

But does commitment always equal success? In order for content marketing to be successful, it must be meeting the objectives as outlined by your organization. While 27% of B2B respondents are finding minimal or no success with their content marketing, many are!

73% say their content is moderately or very successful. @CMIContent @MarketingProfs Click To Tweet

The vast majority of respondents say that creating high quality content that is more efficient has been a leading factor to their success. Following closely behind is either developing or adjusting their content strategy.

Why a Content Marketing Strategy Isn’t Being Developed

It’s no surprise that marketers who develop a documented content strategy report higher levels of success. So what is keeping teams from developing a comprehensive content strategy?

67% B2B marketers don’t have a strategy because they have a small team. @CMIContent @MarketingProfs Click To Tweet


Feeling like they don’t have enough time is still a concern for many marketers while a small percentage (11%) simply feel like a strategy is not important.

Content Creation & Distribution Process

Content marketing process often determines success. And, efficiency can sometimes make or break a brand’s approach to content marketing.

27% rate project management flow during content creation as fair. @CMIContent @MarketingProfs Click To Tweet

For the most part, it appears that content marketers have found a process (or series of processes) that helps them efficiently and effectively get content marketing created.

Content Helping Reach Business Objectives

As customer preferences continue to evolve, the content experience will only become more important. That also means understanding what content types resonate best with your audience.

50% find eBooks & white papers to be their most effective content type. @CMIContent @MarketingProfs Click To Tweet

Interestingly, social media, case studies and videos are the top types of content being created but are not necessarily the most effective.

Effective Formats for Distributing Content

For many content marketers amplification planning for content is an afterthought. They spend a significant amount of time creating the content, but aren’t as focused on how it will be distributed.

74% say email is most effective for distributing content marketing. @CMIContent @MarketingProfs Click To Tweet

Email is both the top used and most successful tactic for distributing content according to the respondents of this survey.

Measuring the ROI of Content Marketing

What does content marketing success really look like? It varies largely by organization but an increase in leads or sales or a decreased cost of customer acquisition is a top objective for many brands.

Only 35% of organization’s measure their content marketing ROI. @CMIContent @MarketingProfs Click To Tweet

For those not measuring content ROI, they cited the top two reasons as formal justification not being a requirement or that they needed an easier way to measure ROI.

Want the Full Report?

The good news is that more and more B2B brands are finding success with content marketing initiatives. The bad news however is that measurement and ROI still seem to be a struggle for many.

The key findings above are only a sample of what’s included so be sure to review the whole report below for other lessons in B2B content marketing.

What did you find to be the most surprising finding for 2018?


Here are the notes from the Chris Brogan Media broadcast for xx/xx/xx. (You can watch this on my Facebook account).

This live video was all shot using Ecamm Live (client), the best way to do Facebook Live for Mac.

Please note that all links may be affiliate links. If someone is a client, I’ll call that out specifically.

Stories Shared

I have some correspondents today! Both Jeff Sass and Marc Ensign signed in to help us out today! You’ll see them in the show.

Want to invest super easy? This Stash app looks pretty interesting.

Also, Ikea has acquired TaskRabbit. Why? You weren’t going to assemble that bureau. Admit it.

Wait. We could make power happen from evaporating water?

Hurricane Maria has laid waste to Puerto Rico. Here’s some of that.

Once again, Walmart steps in to help with hurricane relief.

Walmart’s done well with their acquisition of Jet and now it looks like Jet is rising above and growing out its service.

People have been pretty upset about Colin Kaepernick not celebrating the National Anthem. Here’s what US Veterans think of that.

Speaking of Colin, two NFL guys saw a kid wearing his jersey at a Gamestop so they bought him an XBox.

In the realm of “hey this might be useful,” check out Forrester’s information on customer purchase journeys.

Also, look at how VCs are approaching the recruitment problems facing the workforce.

Ever wonder what you should put in the pantry of your fallout shelter? Me neither.

Travel anywhere on earth in less than an hour? That’s Elon Musk’s plan.

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Digital Marketing News: LinkedIn Top Content, Twitter Gets Character & Apple Goes Google

The Content Preferences of LinkedIn Members [Infographic]
What kinds of content do LinkedIn users prefer? A new infographic shows that LinkedIn users prefer content that’s informative, educational and relevant. MarketingProfs

Giving you more characters to express yourself
Twitter recently announced they’re giving us an additional 140 characters with which to convey our deepest, Tweetiest thoughts by upping their character count to 280. They believe this will encourage more active posting on their platform. Twitter

Apple switches from Bing to Google for Siri web search results on iOS and Spotlight on Mac
Apple has finally made the plunge with Google – when you search with Siri on your iOS device or Mac, you’ll be shown search results from Google. In other news, none of that would have made any sense 20 years ago (according to Josh Nite). TechCrunch

Adding LinkedIn’s Profile Card on Office 365 Offers a Simple Way to Build a Professional Relationship
LinkedIn and Microsoft have made it official recently with the anticipated rollout of the ability to integrate your personal LinkedIn profile card with your Office 365 profile. Full details and how-to’s are available, and the release will happen over the next couple of weeks. LinkedIn

Know Their Intention, Get Their Attention: New Ways to Connect and Measure on YouTube
Google has announced four new tools to help brands and users “capture the attention of your audience on YouTube.” These tools include Custom Affinity Audiences, Video Ad Sequencing and more. Inside AdWords

Instagram Hits 800 Million Monthly Users, Adding 100 Million in Just 5 Months
AdWeek reports: “After announcing this morning that Instagram has 2 million advertisers, the Facebook-owned app also says that it has 800 million monthly users, up from 700 million in April.” AdWeek

Report: The future of paid-search marketing is machine learning and AI
“Machine learning-optimized campaigns saw 71 percent better conversion rates and lower CPCs than those not using it.” At least, that’s what Search Engine Land makes of the recent report from Acquisio. Search Engine Land

Only A Third Of Ad Execs Trust Their Audience Data, Measurements
According to a recent survey, only 33% of advertising executives consider their data to be completely trustworthy. Only 29% said they felt their audience analytics/measurement was completely accurate. MediaPost

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more digital marketing news! If you have something to share, pass it along to the newsroom or Tweet me @Tiffani_Allen or @toprank.


Here are the notes from the Chris Brogan Media broadcast for 09/28/17. (You can watch this on my Facebook account).

This live video was all shot using Ecamm Live (client), the best way to do Facebook Live for Mac.

Please note that all links may be affiliate links. If someone is a client, I’ll call that out specifically.

Stories Shared

Corporations are finally stepping up their ability to work with freelancers and vendors. This is good news for you.

Feeling stuck in a rut? Here’s how to get out.

How can you get your stuff seen by more people? You’d probably better read this.

Grocery chain Kroger says it’s going to eliminate food waste by 2025.

Meanwhile, Impossible Foods says it plans to eliminate animal agriculture by 2035.

One way to get more people eating plant based? Make tasty “fish stick” replacements.

Facebook isn’t just for colorful text posts any more. They’re helping Indian agencies source blood donors.

And if that’s not enough, Facebook has sent their connectivity team to Puerto Rico to get them back online.

Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon says Bitcoin is stupid. Morgan Stanley’s CEO? He says not so fast.

And finally, lower your bunny ears to half mast, Hugh Hefner has passed away.

Hey, if this has been interesting, consider picking up my weekly newsletter. It’s all unique ideas by me about how to improve buyer interactions and grow your business. Give it a peek

What ELSE is News?

You want to get featured on the Chris Brogan Media show? Drop me an email: chris@chrisbrogan.com and let me know what’s news!

Please Get My Newsletter

My newsletter is the best work I do every week. You can get yours here.

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Funny Content, Serious Business: How to Use Humor in Content Marketing

Everyone likes a good joke. Everyone wants to be entertained. But when it comes to using humor in content marketing, people still hesitate. We are, after all, not here purely to entertain. Our content needs to serve a business purpose, inspire action, and rack up the sweet, sweet conversions.

Can potential buyers really take your brand seriously if you make them laugh?

I call this the Roger Rabbit/Goodfellas conundrum, best expressed by these two quotes:

How do you get the Roger Rabbit benefits of making people laugh, without becoming a Joe Pesci-esque laughingstock?

It can be done. You can still be funny and do serious business. The question is not whether to use humor in your content, but how you use it.

I believe humor serves a different purpose throughout the three loosely-defined stages of a buyer’s journey. Call them top, middle, and bottom of funnel. Or call them Attract, Engage, and Convert, as our team does. The idea is the same: How you use humor should change depending on your context.

Top of Funnel: Pure Comedy Gold

Top of Funnel content can be mostly comedy – designed exclusively to entertain people. This is what we call a “chocolate cake” or “dessert” post. The key difference between, say, a Buzzfeed post about funny tweets and your top-of-funnel content is that yours will be focused on a very specific audience.

Use humor as a way of showing your audience that you understand them. That you’re one of them. Make jokes only they will get, and you will invite them into your tribe.

That’s what I did with my “20 Jokes Only a B2B Marketer Will Get.” I called out the audience in the title, and made sure each joke used vocabulary and common experiences that only the intended audience would share. The result: One of the most-shared posts on the TopRank Marketing Blog this year.

Middle of Funnel: Humor + Value

In the middle of the funnel—what we call the “Engage” stage—comedy is still a welcome component of your content. But unlike, top of funnel, the comedy can’t be the main attraction. You’ve already brought your audience in. Now you have to provide value beyond a chuckle or two.

Start with a legitimately useful premise, and use humor to demonstrate personality and keep your content readable.  For example, the introduction to this post on video content marketing on a budget starts with a funny intro and a truly hilarious image. Images are a great way to introduce a little humor, by the way—especially if you’re on a WordPress blog and the image can show up in the excerpt.

You don’t have to confine humor to the introduction; just don’t forget the value. This post from Jason Miller at LinkedIn is a good example of a funny post that still has plenty to offer the audience. It uses the silly names and weird visuals of a BBC kids show to teach some solid content marketing lessons. And it gave Jason the excuse to make a personalized kid’s book cover:

Bottom of Funnel: Keep It Consistent

By the time your customer is almost ready to make a purchase decision, you don’t need to keep throwing out the punchlines. They’re already sold on your brand’s personality; now they need to make sure your solution is the perfect fit.

Bottom-of-funnel content is by necessity more utilitarian, more focused on your offering. But you shouldn’t suddenly become all business all the time. Aim for a consistent brand voice throughout the buyer’s journey. You can still be lighthearted and informal on a landing page or a contact form.

This “Content Marketing Kitchen” post, for example, is an announcement post that serves chiefly to drive traffic to a landing page. I dialed back the jokes but kept the tone light and personal. The result: A bottom-of-funnel piece that still kept people entertained, as the comments show:

Good Humor Isn’t Just an Ice Cream Brand

The same comedic approach won’t work for every brand or every audience. People who love zany one-liners from a fast-food company likely don’t want the same from their bank. It’s important to find the degree of comedy that puts you firmly on the Roger Rabbit side of the equation.

That said, if you keep your level of humor appropriate for the stage of the buyer’s journey, you can attract your audience, engage them with entertaining but valuable content, then convert with the same sense of personality and fun that attracted them to begin with.

Learn more about humor in content marketing from a master of the form in this interview with Tim Washer.

LinkedIn Marketing is a TopRank Marketing client.

New to the Unbounce Builder: 10 Data-Backed, Industry-Specific Landing Page Templates

When Unbounce published our Conversion Benchmark Report, we wanted to empower marketers like us to take a more data-driven approach to optimizing their landing pages.

The report documents our findings after using machine learning to analyze the behavior of 74,551,421 visitors to 64,284 lead generation landing pages belonging to 10 of our most popular customer industries.

For each industry, the report summarizes average (and good and bad) conversion rates, and how certain variables — such as reading ease, page length and emotion — impact how likely a prospect is to convert.

Our hope was that these findings would help marketers make data-informed decisions when writing copy for their landing pages. But at Unbounce, we also like to eat our own dog food.

So when our design team was recently wireframing new landing page templates for the Unbounce builder, they looked to the report (and to commonalities between the 10 highest converting customer landing pages in each industry) to inform design decisions.

The result?

10 brand spankin’ new landing page templates for 10 of our most popular customer industries: Travel, Real Estate, Business Consulting, Business Services, Credit & Lending, Health, Higher Education, Home Improvement, Legal and Vocational Studies & Job Training.

Grab the report (which includes full benchmarks and copy recommendations for your industry) below, or keep reading for a sneak peek at five of our 10 new templates (check them all out here).

Download the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report (FREE)

Data-driven insights on average conversion rates per industry (+ expert copywriting advice)
By entering your email you expressly consent to receive other resources to help you improve your conversion rates.

Business Services: Harbor Template

The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report uses an Emotion Lexicon and Machine Learning to determine whether words associated with eight basic emotions (anger, anticipation, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, surprise and trust) affect overall conversion rates.

In the Business Services industry, Unbounce data scientists found that trust is an important emotion to convey. In fact, if more than 8% of your language implies trust, you could see some improvement in your conversion rates.

To complement trustworthy copy, Unbounce designers added a section to the Business Services Harbor Template to flaunt relevant trust seals and certifications, directly under the CTA. It also includes a pretty aesthetically pleasing optional video background:

And here’s one more data-backed copywriting tip for the road:

Be as concise as you can. Overall, Unbounce data scientists found that pages with fewer than 100 words convert 50% better than those with more than 500 words.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how word count is related to conversion rates for the Business Services industry. On the x-axis we have word count — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

Business Consulting: Marconato Consulting Template

You’ll notice the landing page template below that Unbounce designers created is quite short.

That’s because Unbounce data scientists found that every additional 250 words on a Business Consulting industry landing page correlates with 20% lower conversion rates.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how word count is related to conversion rates for the Business Consulting industry. On the x-axis we have word count — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

You’ll notice that the template is a lead generation page offering an incentive such as an ebook. Our designers made this decision because they found that the top 10 highest converting Business Consulting landing pages they analyzed offered content instead of simply inviting visitors to “get in touch.”

One more thing to keep in mind when writing copy for this template?

Using any words that might evoke feelings of disgust in your audience (words like “blame,” “cheat,” “collapse,” “disaster,” and “offend”) could be hurting your conversion rates.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how the percentage of copy that evokes disgust is related to conversion rates for the Business consulting industry. On the x-axis we have the percentage of copy that uses words related to disgust — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

Real Estate: ALLHËR Template

When Unbounce designers analyzed the 10 highest converting customer landing pages in the Real Estate industry, they found (unsurprisingly) that the pages were chock full of imagery: beautiful hero shots of the interior and exterior of properties, maps, full-width photography backgrounds and floor plans.

They took a cue from this when creating the visually striking ALLHËR Template:

And just because we like ya, here’s a bonus tip to keep in mind when you’re writing copy for your Real Estate landing page:

Unbounce data scientists saw a slight negative trend for pages in the Real Estate industry using more fear-inducing terms.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how the percentage of copy that evokes fear is related to conversion rates for the Real Estate industry. On the x-axis we have the percentage of copy that uses words related to fear — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

If more than half a percent of your copy evokes feelings of fear, you could be hurting your conversion rates.

Here are some words commonly associated with fear on Real Estate lead capture landing pages: highest, fire, problem, watch, change, confidence, mortgage, eviction, cash, risk… (See the full list in the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report.)

Travel: Wayfaring Template

For the Travel Industry, Unbounce designers once again created a template that is quite visually striking, with a video background that transports you:

The emphasis on imagery in this template isn’t only a design choice; Unbounce data scientists found that in the Travel industry, landing pages with clear and concise language tend to perform best.

The large images complement the minimal copy boxes, which encourage you to explain what you are offering as simply as possible.

And here’s one final bonus copywriting tip, pulled straight from the Conversion Benchmark Report:

When writing copy for the Travel industry, keep language positive. If even just 1% of page copy subconsciously reminds your visitors of feelings of anger or fear, you could be seeing up to 25% lower conversion rates. No one wants to be angry on their vacation!

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how the percentage of copy that evokes anger is related to conversion rates for the Travel industry. On the x-axis we have the percentage of copy that uses words related to anger — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

Here’s a selection of commonly used words associated with anger in Travel, pulled from the Emotion Lexicon: limited, tree, money, hot, desert, endless, challenge, treat, fee, feeling, rail, stone, bear, buffet, lynch, bang, cash, cross, despair, shooting.

Higher Education: McGillis University Template

The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report indicates that for the Higher Education industry, the highest converting lead generation landing pages are short and sweet.

On average, pages using 125 words or less have 15% higher conversion rates. With this in mind, Unbounce designers created a short but punchy McGillis University Template for the Higher Education industry:

Bonus data-backed tip to help you fill this template with high-converting copy:

Higher Education is one of the few industries where targeting college educated reading levels has similar landing page conversion rates to copy targeting 7th graders.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how reading ease is related to conversion rates for the Higher Education industry. On the x-axis we have the Flesch Reading Ease scale — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

At the end of the day, when you’re writing copy for your Higher University landing page, don’t stress about reading levels too much — if you are communicating complicated concepts to a highly educated audience, it’s okay to use big words.

Let the data guide you

There you have it, five of the 10 data-backed templates that have just been launched in the Unbounce builder. Do you belong to an industry that wasn’t covered in this post? Check out all Unbounce templates here.

Once you’ve chosen the template you’d like to use to get started, read more data-backed copywriting tips for your industry in the Conversion Benchmark Report — and get a feel for what a “good” conversion rate is before you set that baby live!

Download the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report (FREE)

Data-driven insights on average conversion rates per industry (+ expert copywriting advice)
By entering your email you expressly consent to receive other resources to help you improve your conversion rates.

Beyond Google Keyword Planner: 7 Easy-to-Use SEO Research Tools for Generating Content Ideas

As a content marketer, you know that your target audience needs to be at the center of your content strategy. After all, modern content marketing was born to help you create valuable content that satisfies your audience’s quest for answers throughout their customer journey.

However, as the digital landscape becomes increasingly crowded with content — and you feel more and more pressure to create content in less time — you’re likely looking for quick and dirty ways to create SEO-friendly, best-answer content that doesn’t require loads of your precious time. As a result, your first stop on the research train is likely Google’s Keyword Planner tool. But, let’s face it, while it’s an excellent tool, it can only get you so far.

The good news? There are several helpful research tools that can help you uncover real questions your audience is asking around the web — allowing you to gain new audience insights and fill your content plan with relevant, SEO-infused topics. Below we dive into some of those research tools that can help you do just that.

#1 – Answer the Public

Answer the Public brings Google’s auto suggest feature to visual life. Type in any keyword or phrase, and the almost immediately you’ll be served up a visual representation of queries that are organized by specific question modifiers such as who, what, where, when, why, how, will, are and can.

What makes this tool so fantastic is that it not only helps you identify topics, but potentially some of the nuances of intent behind those questions. The best part? It’s completely free and you can sign up for a short email course to help you use the tool “like a pro.”

Answer the Public for Content Planning

#2 – BuzzSumo’s Question Analyzer

BuzzSumo’s recently launched Question Analyzer feature is incredible, allowing you to find the most popular questions being asked from across the web. How? Essentially, BuzzSumo has created a database of real questions from thousands of platforms, including forums, Amazon, Reddit, Quora and other Q&A sites. Just type in a keyword and get a list of related questions sorted by topic, as well as details on volume.

BuzzSumo Question Analyzer

Total access to this tool does require a BuzzSumo Plus subscription; however, you can sign up for a free trial for this feature and try before you buy.

#3 – Übersuggest

Like Answer the Public, Übersuggest pulls in various Google’s auto suggest keyword queries. And while the tool doesn’t create the same kind of visual representation of questions, the Word Cloud feature does help you connect the dots in a more visual way. In addition, each keyword query allows you to select “Google Trends” so you can get a closer look at seasonality — which is great for future planning. Finally, Übersuggest prides itself on being a tool that can help you uncover new keywords that aren’t available in Google’s Keyword Planner tool.

#4 – KewordTool.io

Of course, we can’t mention Answer the Public or Übersuggest without mentioning KeywordTool.io. Like the former two tools, KeywordTool.io also uses Google’s auto suggest queries as its data source. In addition, like Übersuggest, KeywordTool.io allows you to tap into Google Trends and find keywords that aren’t readily displayed in Google Keyword Planner. So, on the surface, the main differentiator between these tools is user experience.

However, from what I can tell, KeywordTool.io’s paid version, Keyword Tool Pro, offers a little something different than the others. According to the website, “Keyword Tool Pro will not only give you keywords that are hidden from everyone else but will also provide you with necessary data to sort and rank the newly discovered keywords. You will be able to see how often people search for a keyword on Google (Search Volume), how competitive (AdWords Competition), and lucrative (CPC) the keywords are.”

KewordTool.io for Content Marketing

For many marketers, the final benefit may be the most intriguing, as we’re always looking to connect business value to our efforts.

#5 – Google Search Console

Google Search Console, formerly Google Webmaster Tools, is one of the most helpful SEO and content planning tools out there. From a technical standpoint, Google Search Console enables you to monitor and maintain your entire website’s presence in Google search results. But from a content planning perspective, Google Search Console allows you to see which queries actually caused your site’s content to appear in search results.

The best part? You can filter by page, allowing you to see how a specific piece of content is drawing visibility. This means you can not only find opportunities to optimize existing content with other related keywords it’s coming up for, but also identify gaps and related topics that can spawn additional content.

Google Search Console for Content Research

#6 – Ahrefs

Back in 2011, Ahrefs launched as an backlinks analysis tool. Since then, the tool has grown into a helpful competitive analysis tool, allowing users to get a deeper understanding of how and why their competitors are ranking — and how they may be able to leapfrog them in the SERPs.

When it comes to generating SEO-infused content ideas, there are a few features that are useful. For starters, the Keywords Explorer allows you to find keywords, analyze their ranking difficulty and calculate the potential traffic you could achieve. Then you have the Content Explorer, which helps you find the most popular content for any topics based on backlinks, organic traffic and social shares. Finally, the Content Gap feature allows you to explore the keywords that your competitors are ranking for, but you don’t.

Ahrefs for Content Marketing Research

While this tool isn’t free, you can sign up for a free trial. If you like it, there are a handful of monthly subscription options at different price points.

#7 – SEMrush

Generally speaking, SEMrush offers a lot of the same benefits as Ahrefs — from discovering and analyzing keywords to conducting competitive analysis. But one feature that is particularly interesting and helpful is the Social Media Tracker.

These days, social media marketing is an important and necessary part of any digital marketing strategy, serving as an engagement and content dissemination platform. With the Social Media Tracker, you’re able to compare your engagement trends to that of your competitors, as well as see the best-performing posts in terms of engagement. You can then use these insights to craft better, more relevant content that will get more traction on your social pages.

SEMrush Social Media Tracker

How Do You Choose Which Tools Are Right for You?

Your industry, budget, internal resources and unique business objectives are all deserving of consideration when selecting research tools that will be a good fit. But, with nearly all of these tools offering free usage or free trials, you certainly have nothing to lose by carving out a little time to test them out. So, choose one to start with and go from there.

What are some of your go-to research tools for generating interesting and relevant content ideas? Tell us in the comments section below.

Break All the Social Rules: Advice from Spredfast VP of Strategy Spike Jones

In this era of social media, brands need to look at their social outreach in a different light. Which means that sometimes, you have to break the social media rules. Spike Jones, Vice President Strategy at Spredfast outlined a new type of social success at the September Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) event.

As Spike shared in his presentation:

“When it comes to social media, sometimes you need to follow the breadcrumbs.”

Why? Because you never know who you might find. Below are some of the top insights and takeaways from Spike’s presentation.

It’s not about the brand.

As marketers, we are often taught to include our brand’s logo, messaging tagline and any other branding we might have on everything we produce and influence.

Instead, says Spike, let the content be about the person. By spotlighting people and what inspires them, you will inspire others to look at your organization or company.

One example is Fiskars, makers of the orange handled scissors. They realized they were the conduit for scrapbooking. By highlighting what people were making with their Fiskars scissors, they were finding true fans.

Influencers come in many forms – Oprah vs. the Fiskar scrapbook superheroes

Not every customer is going to recognize your brand. Seek out your rallying cry and be the conduit, not the brand.

Don’t seek out influence. Create it.

Spike told the story of Jared Gaff who was very active on muscle car forums answering every question he could. Chevy interviewed Jared on video, and made him a Chevy Ignites Ambassador. Chevy did not post the video, but, instead, gave the video to Jared. The video has over 15K views, and Jared is a passionate ambassador.

Not everyone is your customer.

As social media professionals, we are sometimes asked to get likes and followers for our clients. But, don’t forget, that is not getting a customer. We need to look at who is truly our audience and speak to them.

Don’t spend all your time talking to people who don’t know you yet. Focus on fans, too. @spikejones Click To Tweet

Think about content differently.

Spike encouraged us to give people reasons to talk about themselves If you find passion from your fans, elevate it. This is the key behind the best kinds of rewards or fan experiences. When you elevate passion, your fans will be more willing to share it.

For example, I recently had a craving for a Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. OK, this is a common fall craving for me. When I got to the store, the line was really long, which I did not expect. I tweeted a photo of the line and Starbuck’s tweeted a fun, witty reply back.

I am a fan, and they just improved my experience by talking to me. They elevated my passion.

This works for B2B, as well. At TopRank Marketing, we connected with an up-and-coming influencer in the IoT space. He wanted to co-create content to improve his personal brand. Our work with him created a raving fan for our client and improved the following a personal brand recognition of the influencer.

How are you connecting your followers and fans to experiences?

Get more from social media.

When you are focused on getting more from your social, think about leveraging the 1 on 1 interaction. Mass audience messaging may not get you the following you need. Instead, show particular fans they are valued.

On leveraging the on-to-one generation:

  • 1:1 is growing, in every industry, every year
  • Find the right mix between 1:1 and 1:many
  • No one answers every Tweet – make sure you’re answering the right ones

The real marketing ROI

Every organization has (or should have) a crisis plan. But, Spike says, what is your ‘love’ plan? How do you get your customers and fans to love your brand?

One key strategy to your ‘love’ plan should include plugging it into every part of the company. Your employees are your best ambassadors. Learn how to leverage them.

People want to connect with people, not companies. @spikejones Click To Tweet

If you never call your PR firm to implement the crisis plan, just think about the money you’ve saved because your ‘love’ plan worked.

Spike ended the with these key tips on encouraging people to engage with your content:

  • Feed their Ego
  • Give them Info(rmation)
  • Touch their Emo(tions)

Then, find a way to meet offline and give them something to talk about.

Refocus social on the customer

The key to true social engagement is moving toward a personal conversation. Brands need to find people to rally for them as true ambassadors. Your love plan needs to include true personal conversations that feed your ambassadors/fan’s ego, share information and touch their emotions.

Everyone wants to believe in something bigger than themselves. What is your social rallying cry?

What It Really Takes to Get a 10/10 Facebook Ads Relevance Score

Image via Shutterstock.

If you want an ad campaign to be profitable, it’s crucial that your ad is shown to the right audience. Your ad promoting beard oil might have the best copy, images and offer — but it will never convert well if it’s shown primarily to a female audience.

The ad would be irrelevant, and you would receive a relevance score which reflects this.

It’s not enjoyable (or profitable) to run a campaign that doesn’t resonate with your audience. Fortunately, poor relevance is a problem you can solve.

Relevance is one of the most important yet under-discussed metrics for Facebook advertisers. This metric is calculated based on implicit and actual feedback that Facebook expects the ad to receive (both positive and negative). The score is updated as people comment on the ad, like it and click through to your landing page (or not).

The ideal relevance score is 10/10. Although this is not common, it’s certainly attainable, and you should always be striving to hit this target through split testing and optimizing.

To find your ad’s relevance score, navigate to Ads Manager on Facebook and add the Relevance Score tab to your ad report. Image source.

Achieving a high score decreases your cost per click (CPC) and ensures your ads are delivered to your target audience — ahead of competitors with a lower relevance score.

If you want to improve your relevance score, check out the following tips.

1. Get super specific with targeting to find your niche audience

Find the fanatics

In order to achieve that perfect 10/10, you need to be extremely specific with your ad targeting.

Every niche has casual fans and diehard fanatics — it’s important to get your message in front of the latter group if you want to run successful campaigns.

Why? Let’s say you’re manufacturing mixed martial arts apparel and want to target fans of the sport. A casual fan might tune in every time there is a gigantic fight night, whereas a fanatic watches every single event, has Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) posters on their wall and even has fighter bobbleheads next to their computer.

Put simply, fanatics are the type of people who won’t think twice about making an impulse buy if they see an ad which correlates with their passion.

Facebook’s Audience Insights is a great tool for gleaning insights about people based on individual pages they like.

In particular, the Page Likes dashboard gives you a highly insightful affinity score for pages. This shows how likely fans of a particular page will be to like other pages compared to the average Facebook user.

Quick example

A lot of people follow superstar fighter star Conor McGregor, but that doesn’t mean they’ll buy your mixed martial arts t-shirt.

Audience Insights shows that fans of Conor McGregor like a range of loosely focussed pages, such as Joe Rogan, the UFC commentator and comedian, as well as Dana White, the CEO of the UFC.

Also, a bunch of irrelevant pages come up such as Fake SportsCenter and NFL Memes:

Load Audience Insights and click the Page Likes tab.

Now, compare this to fans of Jorge Masvidal — a fighter with minimal mainstream recognition, but who has a strong fan base of diehard mixed martial arts fans.

The 50 most relevant pages for Jorge Masvidal fans are all highly specific to the mixed martial arts niche. In fact, the vast majority are pages for other fighters — which is great if you’re trying to identify the pages that diehard fanatics follow (so you can use them in your targeting).

Load Audience Insights and click the Page Likes tab.

Since you can’t target every interest in Audience Insights when you run ads (some are unavailable, for some reason), it’s a good idea to create a document and record the most relevant pages within your niche. You can specify the pages that are available when you run a campaign of the most relevant pages.

As a general rule of thumb, I like pages that have an affinity score of 100x and above. An affinity score of 100x means that your seed audience is 100 times more likely to like this page than everyone else on Facebook.

Cub Swanson, another niche fighter with a diehard following, has an outrageously high affinity score of 726x for fans of Jorge Masvidal’s page. This is great information if you’re trying to find highly specific pages to target in this niche.

Finally, ensure that at least 80% of the pages in the Top Categories section are relevant to your niche, for every interest you input.

Jorge Masvidal’s page passes this test if you’re looking to market mixed martial arts apparel — even though there are a few erroneous pages (NFL Memes may not be the greatest market for your mixed martial arts apparel).

Load Audience Insights and click the Page Likes tab.

Age and gender

It’s a good idea to create a buyer persona for your business, which includes demographic info such as age and gender. Doing so can help you tailor your messaging accordingly.

Even if they like the same Facebook page, a 22-year-old man probably won’t respond to the same messaging or product as a 62-year-old woman. Show the same ad to these two demographics and get a different relevance score.

Some niches are heavily dominated by one gender, and this should impact the tone of your ads, your copy and most obviously, the products you’re marketing.

For instance, 46% of Facebook users are men, whereas only 17% of those who like pages in the vegan niche are men.

Load Audience Insights and click the Demographics tab.

Unless your product is very specific to one gender, I would recommend running ads for men and women.

By running ads at a low cost, you can get great insights about who is purchasing and who isn’t — which will let you run more relevant ads in the future.

For instance, the following ad promoted a cork necklace to women of all ages who like eco-friendly and vegan Facebook pages. Using the “Age” filter in Facebook Ads Manager, you can see that all but one of the purchasers was over the age of 45.

Ad data taken from a campaign by Vegan Horizon.

With this valuable insight, a subsequent ad campaign was run specifically to women aged 45 and up — with much better results.

Custom and Lookalike Audiences

If people have purchased from you multiple times, you know they’re someone who resonates with your brand. To achieve a great relevance score, consider running an ad to a custom audience of your previous customers.

Follow these steps:

  1. Export your customer list as an Excel spreadsheet (this is easy to do in Shopify).
  2. Go to “Audiences” in Ads Manager.
  1. Select “Custom Audience” from the “Create Audience” dropdown.

  1. Click “Customer File.”
  1. Upload your customer list.
  1. Once your new audience is ready (you may have to wait a few hours), run an ad campaign for this custom audience.
Pro tip: Word your ad as if you are speaking to an old friend, since this is an audience who has already bought from you. Customers who have already purchased from you should convert at a much higher rate than cold traffic.

Lookalike Audiences can be extremely profitable when they work, although they’re somewhat hit and miss in my experience. If you have a seed audience of several hundred customers within a country (ideally, several thousand), click the Create Audience tab and select Lookalike Audience.

Marketing to a good Lookalike Audience can definitely get you a perfect 10/10 relevance score.

2. Split test meticulously

While targeting is the most important part of achieving a high relevance score, the quality of your ad is significant too. For me, a quality ad needs compelling images, persuasive copy, a clear CTA and an offer that your target audience can’t resist.

Quality is, however, subjective. Fortunately, you can use split testing to determine what types of ads resonate with your audience — then refine your advertising to be more resonant in the future.

Sometimes, the ads I think are superbly written fail to convert, while others I think will underperform become huge successes.

Innovate based on the data rather than your assumptions, and you can’t lose.


When I first launch a campaign, I like to fire three ads at an audience, each with the same image but with different copy. I’ll aim to highlight different features and benefits in order to determine what resonates.

One ad might mention free shipping, while another focuses on the emotional benefits of the product and the last takes a controversial standpoint in order to create a polarized reaction (and hopefully, more engagement).

Check out this example of a split test by Forbes, featured in AdBeat. Forbes ran four different ads to promote their article listing the top 20 highest paid athletes in the world.

Forbes found that option A proved most successful. At the time of running this ad, Floyd Mayweather had been heavily featured in the news. It was also rumored that he took home a big pay check from his recent fight with Manny Pacquiao. Naturally, fans were curious to learn just how much Mayweather had made that year.

While you might want to test a conversational tone versus a formal tone, I find the most significant gains can be made by split testing the headline and CTA.

Using powerful, persuasive language works well in the headline, as does opening your copy with a personalized greeting depending on your niche.

For example: “Hey fisherman/lawyers/cat lovers!”

Also, don’t be afraid to test using negative words. Oftentimes, people are compelled to action through avoidance of pain rather than pursuit of pleasure — as this powerful ad shows:


Once I’ve perfected my copy and have an ad which resonates well with my audience, I start split testing different images.

It’s important that your image looks professional. You can find plenty of free images on Pixabay, or you can give your product image to a freelancer on Fiverr to add some text and make it suitable for an ad.

Some marketers like to use red borders around their images to make them stand out. I think this looks a bit unprofessional, but again, it’s not my opinion that counts — it’s the people who see the ad and convert (or not) that matter.

Interestingly, Search Engine Land found that images of happy women, colorful logos and self portraits tend to convert the best. In my experience, pets and children also convert well, and situational photos often beat traditional product photography — but you must test and see what works best for your niche.

Check out this split test I performed to help a client determine which image to use for a campaign. Using the exact same copy, we let both ads run for three days.

The results were dramatically different.

The first ad received a CTR of 0.60% and zero purchases, whereas the second ad received a 2% CTR and three purchases over the three-day period.

Interestingly, the first ad had a relevance score of 7, whereas the second got a 9 — despite the fact both ads featured the same offer, the same copy and were targeted to the same audience.

3. Landing page optimization

While a great landing page won’t directly influence your relevance score, it is still important to get right.

By including credible social proof (such as video testimonials), persuasive copy, a powerful CTA and keeping your landing page stylistically consistent with your Facebook ad, your ad won’t just be relevant, it will be profitable — which is the goal, after all.

I’ve had positive results attracting B2B clients using Facebook ads. A free strategy session offered in my ads sends cold traffic directly to a case study page on my website.

Because I have a clearly defined buyer persona for my business, I ensure all my case studies are representative of this buyer. Because I target very specific interests and demographics on Facebook, I can ensure that the vast majority of people who click through from my ad will relate to the client in my case study.

By reading about the great results I was able to obtain for similar clients, new prospects are encouraged to get in touch for a free strategy session — where we can begin our relationship.

Through split testing, I’ve found that a bold “Contact Us” section at the end of a case study page works well as a CTA — especially when the colors contrast with the rest of the page (orange is one of the most popular CTA button color choices for a reason).

Get better results for less

Put simply, achieving a 10/10 relevance score will help you lower the cost of getting your message in front of the right buyers.

Because Facebook advertising is becoming more competitive, it’s essential to make your campaigns as cost effective as possible (that is, if you want to be profitable). When multiple ads are targeted to the same audience, a high relevance score will be factored in when Facebook decides which ad will be shown.

When split testing a campaign at a low daily ad spend, relevance should be one of the first things you look at when determining which ad has the highest likelihood of being profitable. In my experience, ads with a 10/10 relevance score usually scale better than those with a lower score.

Can you think of any other ways to improve your relevance score? Please let me know in the comments.


zombiesHere are the notes from the Chris Brogan Media broadcast for 09/25/17. (You can watch this on my Facebook account).

This live video was all shot using Ecamm Live (client), the best way to do Facebook Live for Mac.

Please note that all links may be affiliate links. If someone is a client, I’ll call that out specifically.

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