Video Game Scholarships. Black Spider-Man. The Future of Cashless Commerce – The Brief for 12.11.17

Here are the notes from the Chris Brogan Media broadcast for 12/11/17. (You can watch this on my Facebook account).

The goal of these posts is that there are trends and ideas here that might impact your business now or soon. Think on the stories here and look for ways to adjust your business accordingly. If ever you’re stuck, get in touch with me and I can help.

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

Your kid play a lot of video games? Do YOU? You can maybe get a scholarship for that.

Lytro is dead. Sometimes the bleeding edge means you’ll lose memories. Is that worth it?

I learn a lot from looking at Africa. The cashless economy points to some interesting trends, because they’re actually ahead of us in some ways.

And hey, with all this Bitcoin mania, it’s important to remember that bank robbery comes with all technologies.

This is so brief. I’ll explain it in the video. This is smart engineer humor about the Internet of Things and security.

Now this is nuts. 3D printing wifi? I still can’t fully figure this out. I’ll let Chris Garrett at Maker Hacks sort it out first.

They say all publicity is good publicity. Sean Spicer making fun of Dippin Dots SOLD LOTS OF DOTS for the company.

Sometimes, my creative friends want to invent the world. This app shows you that sometimes, a really simple small idea can change the world in even bigger ways.

It’s the end of the year, so YouTube has released their 2017 Rewind video. While it’s interesting, I saw several videos that were more interesting. I’ll explain in the video above.

Nerd alert. You can mix Destiny 2 with Alexa and get this cool game-based voice assistant. Here’s why this is interesting: usually this is tech for little kids.

Congrats to Sony for putting the new Miles Morales Spider-Man on screen. Okay, so it’s animated, but it’s a good move!

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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3 Unusual Content Marketing Approaches That Actually Work

My favorite brand on social media is Denny’s. The diner chain eschews pretty much every marketing convention, and that’s exactly why its efforts stand out so much.

The company’s online personality has been compared to that of a “chill teenager.” Its Twitter feed is filled with juvenile humor, rarely promoting the restaurant’s actual food in any serious way. I doubt many people find the image of a pancake in a shoe appetizing. The Denny’s Instagram page looks like some sort of bizarre avant garde art project.

None of this goes by the book. But Denny’s scores tremendous engagement on almost every social media channel, and has developed a cult following of sorts on the web thanks to its quirky content. This has proven to be a significant differentiator for their business.

Right now, standing out with your content marketing efforts is more challenging than ever before. If you’re trying to adhere to the established “best practices,” I have bad news: so is everybody else.

This requires outside-the-box thinking. Those who go against the grain and pursue methods that counter the mainstream are frequently being rewarded, and in some cases maybe even setting new trends for the marketing world.

To illustrate, here’s a look at three unusual content marketing tactics and companies that have applied them successfully.

Get Ultra Niche

Sure, you could water down your content in order to make it appealing to the broadest possible audience. Plenty of businesses do just that.

Or, you could narrow your core following, and orient your messaging toward them directly. Speak their language, even if it might potentially alienate some folks who fall outside of that scope.

California-based apparel retailer Nasty Gal embodies this philosophy. Marketing to strong and independent young women in the mold of its founder Sophia Amoruso (of Girlboss fame), the brand’s voice is unapologetically sassy and in-your-face — sometimes even a little profane.

This was by design from the very beginning, as Amoruso told Wall Street Journal back in 2013:

“Nasty Gal really emerged from a conversation. I’ve probably spent more time than any other brand reading every last comment. To listen to people the way you’re able to online is very powerful. I think other companies are just starting to figure that out.”

Four years later, many are still figuring it out. Or too risk-averse to boldly embrace a targeted content style that borders on esoteric. Meanwhile, Nasty Gal continues to build affinity and loyalty with its very specific, adoring audience.

Stir the Pot

Last month on this blog, Josh Nite wrote about brands taking a stand based on values. That can be a scary thing. The standard playbook calls for companies to stay neutral on social issues, so as to avoid ruffling feathers and potentially turning away customers who lean strongly in another direction. As divisive and volatile as things can be these days, this mindset is magnified.

But as Josh noted, adopting an emphatic public stance can differentiate your business, define your audience, and inspire your employees. It can strengthen your company’s relationship with customers (and draw in new ones) who share your values, and generate positive third-party coverage. In many cases these benefits will outweigh the negatives.

Recently, outdoor clothing company Patagonia made waves by blacking out its website and replacing the usual ecommerce interface with this message, in the wake of President Trump’s decision to roll back public land protections in Utah:

For several days, in the thick of the holiday season, it was a bit tricky to go and even order a jacket from Patagonia online. (You could still access their store by clicking an X up in the corner, but it wasn’t all that obvious.) That’s not a traditionally advisable business move, and probably costs the retailer some money in the short term. But ultimately, it has the potential to build brand loyalty.

Focus on One Social Media Channel Exclusively

It’s easy enough to maintain a presence on every major social media channel, especially with tools that enable you to post on all of them from one central app. Sometimes it’s as simple as copy-and-pasting the same message across different platforms, broadening your reach without a whole lot of addition effort.

The problem with this approach, however, is that it can dilute your brand and prevent you from achieving true greatness on any channel. Instead of trying to create social content that will work for every social network, why not focus on mastering just one? Determine where your customers mostly like to hang and then put all of your social media marketing effort into making that account as good as it can be.

One company that exemplifies this is White Space Studio, a creative agency in Hawaii that exhibits its design savvy through a stellar Instagram page. Sure, the company also has Facebook and Pinterest accounts, but doesn’t do much with them. And White Space doesn’t even bother with Twitter.

Does this limit their potential exposure? Perhaps. But by concentrating their attention on Instagram, they’ve built an exceptional showcase for their brand while achieving bigtime engagement.

At TopRank Marketing, we love to get weird. Get in touch with us about your content marketing and we’ll help you develop some tactics that buck the norm.

Digital Marketing News: Mobile Beats Desktop, YouTube Stories, Facebook for Kids?

Top Women Influencers in Tech

TopRank Marketing has partnered with Onalytica for the Women in Tech: Hot Topics and Influencers List for 2018. The list features influencers in the categories of Artificial Intelligence, FinTech, Blockchain, BigData, IoT, EdTech, MarTech, InsurTech, Virtual Reality, and Cyber Security. Onalytica Blog

Study: 80% Of Brands Plan To Boost Video Spending In 2018. Of course Facebook and Google dominate video advertising with Facebook accounting for 39%, and Google’s YouTube, 27% of digital video ad spend. The cost of producing targeted high-quality videos is prohibitive, and many marketers rely on agencies to create the ads. MediaPost

Facebook tests tool to make it easier for businesses to send message blasts on Messenger. Facebook is internally testing a tool called Messenger Broadcast that businesses would be able to use to send message blasts to people who had conversed with their accounts on Messenger. Of course that wouldn’t work of Messenger is down (see above).  MarketingLand

Black Friday Twitter engagements totaled nearly 785M. Black Friday-related terms and hashtags on Twitter had a total message volume of 1,982,019 and a potential reach of 27.5 billion. “potential”, ha! What’s interesting is that 63% of the messaging came from mobile devices and 37% from the web. MarketingDive

Email Generates $1.6 Billion On Cyber Monday (But Search Rocked It). Cyber Monday was the largest online sales day in history with sales increasing to $6.59 billion. Mobile continues to grow as an integral component of retail marketing, as revenue driven by smartphones reached a record $1.59 billion. Search was crowned the overall winner of the shopping bonanza with 41.7% of online sales. . MediaPost

YouTube is testing its own version of Stories. YouTube announced it’s rolling out the Community tab to all creators with more than 10,000 subscribers as well as a new feature called “reels”, which is like Instagram or Snapchat Stories. Reels allow creators to stitch together short videos shot from their mobile devices and add things like filters, music and text. Engadget

Mobile Ad Spend Surpasses Desktop Spend. Mobile is now the world’s second-largest ad medium expected to reach $98.3bn in 2017, representing almost a quarter (23%) of worldwide advertising expenditure. WARC

There are now 25M active business profiles on Instagram. It looks like my favorite network for personal use is finally growing up into the business world. Instagram also says that more than 80 percent of Instagram accounts follow a business, with 200 million users visiting a business profile every day.  TechCrunch

New Facebook App for Children Ignites Debate Among Families. While there is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as Coppa, that requires services aimed at children to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting information, how long before kids figure out how to “hack” that permission? I’m not a fan of this at all.  New York Times

CMO Ad Spend 2018

63% of B2B marketers currently buy advertising programmatically. Not only are B2B marketers combining programmatic and data to drive their ad buying and audience targeting, they’re also turning to data to drive their integrated marketing campaigns. In fact, almost 80 percent of respondents said they either use or want to use a solution that integrates ad tech and mar tech. Dun & Bradstreet (client)

Google is testing an answers carousel within the search results snippets. Even less reason to click through: Google has started testing and potentially rolling out a new feature in search that shows a carousel with a list of answers directly within the search results snippets. Search Engine Land

2018 Digital Marketing Plans Survey Summary Report. Highlights include: Social media marketing, content marketing and the marketing technology that drives these tactics, are most effective marketing tactics. The most critical challenge to the success of a digital marketing plan is data quality and 93% of digital marketing budgets will increase in 2018, with 41% increasing significantly. Ascend2

Content is the No. 1 contributor to an overall good event experience for IT buyers. Four out of five IT buyers say they are more likely to visit a booth if they have heard of, read about, or connected with an exhibitor before an event. This is why conference ebooks make so much sense! MarketingProfs

Global AR & VR revenues to grow from $4.1 billion in 2016 to $79.4 billion in 2021. ARtillry Intelligence has devised a disciplined and non-biased revenue forecast for AR & VR, segmented into their product areas: enterprise AR/VR and consumer AR/VR. From Pokémon Go to applications in manufacturing and design, it looks like the AR & VR space is coming in to its own. ARtillry

Sprout Social Acquires Social Analytics Firm Simply Measured. The social analytics market is expected to grow to $9.54 billion by 2022 and with Simply Measured full-funnel analytics, Sprout Social is certainly moving in the right direction to capitalize on that growth. Sprout Social Blog

On the Lighter Side

Facebook Messenger Went Down Globally and Everyone Freaked Out.  On Tuesday this week thousands of users reporting problems according to the Down Detector website, which logs reports of online service failures. Of course when one network is down, users flock to another to complain. In this case hundreds of users flocked to Twitter to vent their frustration. Fortune

Instagram adds content warnings for koala selfies. If you click on an offending hashtag like #koalaselfie, #lionselfie #koalahugs or #tigerpet, a new warning will pop up. “You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment,” the warning reads. CNN Tech

TopRank Marketing in the News

  • Ashley Zeckman – Why Brands Should See Ideas Everywhere (podcast) – Brand Driven Digital
  • Ashley Zeckman – Revolutionary Females in Marketing to Follow on Twitter – Devrix
  • Rachel Miller – 35+ Most Influential Women Leading B2B Marketing Technology – Data Captive Blog
  • Rachel Miller – Women in Martech: Hot Topics and Influencers List – Onalytica Blog
  • Rachel Miller & Lee Odden – Top 100 Social Media and Marketing Influencers – Digital Scouting
  • Lee Odden – 2018 Predictions on the Future of Customer Experience – Adobe CMO.com
  • Lee Odden – How to Apply Influencer Marketing Principles and Boost Your Sales – LinkedIn Sales Solutions Blog (client)
  • Lee Odden – LinkedIn Presents: The Future of Advertising Agencies (video) – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog (client)

What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week?

Be sure to stay tuned until next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also check out the full video summary with Tiffani and Josh on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

What I Learned About Domains From a Bad GoDaddy Experience and What ANY Business Can Learn From How It Was Handled

You should know that I rarely choose to use the privilege of your attention to bark at companies that rub me the wrong way, but when Jacqueline told me about her GoDaddy problem, I knew that I had to lay it all out in a post and get loud about it. While the problem is technically resolved, there’s a lot to learn from this and I have a lot to share with you.

First, I’ll Recap With New Understanding

So here’s what happened (corrected) from my perspective:

  • Jacq purchased a new domain name from GoDaddy.com, a domain “registrar” that listed the price of this domain as $99.99 (There’s more to this later)
  • GoDaddy sent Jacq a confirmation that the transaction went through
  • Behind the scenes, the domain registry for .health (the domain Jacq bought) KICKED OUT THE TRANSACTION saying roughly that they won’t accept the price (Again, more later)
  • GoDaddy sent Jacq an automated email a day later saying “Hey, we took that domain transaction out of your account” (horrendously worded and a big opportunity), thus REMOVING THE DOMAIN FROM JACQ’S account.
  • Jacq called customer service and was 1.) given bad information, 2.) refused a supervisor call or any further follow-up
  • I wrote a grumpy blog post and shared it to Twitter and Facebook.
  • Friends of mine reminded me who I actually know at GoDaddy (including great folks like Christopher Carfi and Heather Dopson). They started shaking some cages.
  • I get offered a call from GoDaddy
  • Johnny from the CEO’s office calls (because hey, angry blogger influencer type).
  • I get a lot of interesting information (covered below for YOU)
  • GoDaddy refunds my purchase and essentially gifts me/Jacq the domain (which wasn’t my goal whatsoever, but hey thanks, GoDaddy).
  • Just for fun automation facts, GoDaddy sends Jacq an email this morning saying hey, you abandoned your cart *for woman.health* so here’s a coupon if you complete the transaction. (Um.)

So that’s what happened.

Second, Some Facts About Domain Purchases

I learned a bunch from Johnny at the CEO’s office. (Jacq points out that GoDaddy should’ve offered to call HER not me, and she’s not wrong, but points for the phone call. GoDaddy has still not apologized to Jacq for this beyond a quick tweet. Apologies go a long way in these situations.) More on this in the next section. — **UPDATE: Mike from the CEO’s office called Jacq directly and resolved this.**

GoDaddy is a Registrar. They’re like the real estate agent for website addresses. When you purchase a domain from GoDaddy (or any registrar), they basically take your money, then issue a command to the Registry (the company that holds the actual domain real estate), get a confirmation, and then everyone agrees that you now own that domain.

.health is a Registry. dotHEALTH LLC is the company that can set the prices and make available the various permutations of that domain space. So if I want to buy donkey.health, I can go to my Registrar (GoDaddy), see the price listed there, and give GoDaddy money. GoDaddy then sends a note to .health and says, “Hey we just bought donkey.health for $69.99 so take that name out of circulation. We’ll use it.”

.health sets the prices and then GoDaddy is allowed a bit of a markup. This is business. That’s always what happens. Some domains are normal. Others are premium. The Registry sets which domain names carry a higher price in a database and then the Registrar just bumps up that price a bit to cover their costs. (Be really clear here: the Registrar has to make some money on this transaction or they’d go out of business.)

The handshakes are, in simplest form, like this:

  1. Customer visits registrar.
  2. Customer checks availability of domain name. (Registrar checks with Registry)
  3. Registrar probably issues a very brief temporary “hold” on that domain so that no one else takes it during this transaction. (I didn’t confirm this.)
  4. Customer sees listed price that Registrar displays based on data from Registry+markup
  5. Customer clicks purchase and confirms financial details.
  6. Registrar confirms the purchase on screen.
  7. Registrar emails confirmation to customer.
  8. Registrar messages Registry and says, “Give us that domain. Here’s the price.”
  9. Registry normally says “Hey sure. Here’s the domain. Thanks.” (***)
  10. Transaction is complete.

What happened to Jacq (and/or what could happen to you) is this:

  • Registrar displays price. Jacq buys at that price.
  • Registrar tells Registry “Hey, give us that domain at that price.”
  • (***)Registry tells Registrar, “Wait. That’s not the price in our system. Reject this.”
  • Registrar then cancels the order and refunds Jacq (spitting the domain back into the available domain pools).
  • Registrar emails Jacq saying they canceled her order (with a really poorly worded email).
  • Upset Jacq.
  • Jacq calls customer service and gets bad/wrong information and no further recourse. Is told basically that instead of $99.99, the domain now costs $649, which makes Registrar look greedy, bad, wrong, and deceptive.
  • Angry Jacq. Angry Chris. Grumpy blog post.

Now, I want to walk through what needs to change in this, and some really good opportunities for Registrars such as GoDaddy and others. (This could’ve likely happened with any Registrar.)

Finally, How to Improve the Domain Purchasing Process

I have to say this up front: if this whole thing operated on a blockchain, this wouldn’t have happened this way. But that’s for the future. Let’s talk about now.

  1. GoDaddy must improve the process of price verification before putting available domains up on their site. If the price says $99.99, then that’s the price. No matter who’s at fault here (and it seems like it might be .health from what I was told), the price facing the customer must be honored by the vendor taking that money.
  2. The availability/purchase experience is clearly done in some kind of batch format and not real time. With something as important as a domain purchase, there either must be a real time option available OR there has to be a lot more/better communication flow explaining this experience. (Jacq and I have been buying domains for years – she has hundreds of them – and we never knew about this Registrar-Registry handshake and opportunity for rejection until now.)
  3. This can’t have been the first time someone went through this. A customer service refresh training has to happen.
  4. Customer service should never deny a supervisor or a supervisor callback. Ever. Resolution is far more cost effective than leaving a customer in a bad state. Dozens and dozens of people shared their frustrating stories of no resolution with GoDaddy upon reading my article. The whole reason I posted this was to flag that “regular” people who aren’t loudmouth bloggers/influencers wouldn’t have been able to resolve this easily. Nothing in Jacq’s experience shows otherwise.
  5. GoDaddy’s BIG opportunity here is to live up to their own positioning and advertising. Jacq is a woman-owned small business who trusted GoDaddy to secure a domain for her project at the price they listed on their site. They failed to do that. They sent the worst error handling automated email I’ve seen to date. They failed to fix this via customer service. This ended up requiring a lot of escalation for something that could’ve been handled a lot cleaner and better and with a satisfactory resolution for the woman-owned small business person trusting GoDaddy with over a hundred of her other domains. And so far, beyond a tweet, they haven’t contacted Jacq directly to apologize. They handled their PR issue (me).**UPDATE: Mike from the CEO’s office called Jacq directly and resolved this.**
  6. Validate the prices upon inventory loading. This is 100% the PROBLEM part. GoDaddy(Registrar) lists one price in their system and .health(Registry) has a conflicting price. To be utterly honest, if the price started at $650, Jacq would’ve bought it without flinching. She and I both own a few premium domains. But you can’t say $99. Oh wait. $650. It doesn’t work that way.
  7. Explain the process in the purchase flow. 1. check availability. 2. purchase. 3. confirm order. 4. confirm transaction. If this can’t be handled in real time, then make the process flow better align with the communication flow.

    Technology isn’t the story here. It’s improving the buyer experience. The farmer says the apples are ten cents. The grocer says the apples cost a five cents. The customer gives the grocer five cents and the grocer hands that to the farmer who says, “No! I said ten cents. Remember?” The grocer sheepishly eats the five cents this time, fixes the signs, and makes a process to ensure that everyone knows the price next time. How bout them apples?

    A Final Note on Influence

    For years, the way I’ve approached working with the companies I’ve had the pleasure to serve has centered around a really simple concept: “I just want every company to treat my mom better.”

    I say it like this because at the heart of everything I’ve ever taught is that our job is to improve the buyer experience and serve our customers.

    When I choose to go loud like this and complain at a company, it’s for one purpose: someone without as much of a spotlight and voice as I have didn’t find a straightforward resolution with a company they trusted to serve them and they’re frustrated.

    I’m grateful that Heather Dopson and Christopher Carfi and others got the CEO’s office on the line and resolved this. But more than anything else in the world, I want the next person who chooses to trust GoDaddy with their business to know that THEY will be treated better than Chris Brogan whether or not they can tweet to 365,000 people.

    “We treat you better than we’d treat Chris Brogan.”

    That’s the goal.

    And one last detail that Jacq pointed out: while it was me with the bullhorn and who went loud and who raised the ruckus, the CEO’s office didn’t reach out to Jacq. They didn’t try to talk to the customer they wronged. Just the guy who was bitching loudest. I’m glad I got the call, but Jacq would’ve preferred to have been treated like the primary focus of this. (Just a note for future such opportunities.)

    I know this post was long. I had a lot to explain. I’m sorry about eating up your time like this but I hope it helped. If you need to reach me, I’m always at chris@chrisbrogan.com

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5 Outdated Content Marketing Tactics (And What to Do Instead)

Can I interest anyone in an iPhone? No, not the iPhone 8 or X. I’m talking about this bad boy:

No takers? But it has a 320X480 pixel screen, 128 Mb of RAM, and a single 2-megapixel camera! Back in 2007, this was the hottest phone on the market. People lined up in front of stores just to get their hands on one.

You get the point: State of the art quickly becomes laughably outdated. What used to thrill a consumer’s soul is now something we wouldn’t give a toddler to play with.

That kind of obsolescence isn’t limited to the tech industry, of course. The cycle from next-big-thing to the dustbin is even faster in online content. Yet many content marketers are using tactics that, while they once worked, are now as outdated as that original iPhone. What’s worse, some of us are still in the flip-phone stage.

If you’re using any of the following content marketing tactics, it’s time for an upgrade. Here’s what doesn’t work, why it doesn’t, and what you should try instead.

Ditch These Outdated Content Marketing Tactics

1. Broad and Shallow Content

Content used to be about sheer bulk rather than quality. Search engines prioritized sites that had a lot of keyword-rich (more on that later) content. Whether that content was actually useful didn’t matter. So writers churned out blog posts like they were getting paid by the word – and sometimes, we actually were.

But search engines have gotten smarter, and our content needs to get smarter, too. Pride of place in the SERP goes to content that actually serves a purpose for an audience. Shallow content gets few clicks, low time on page, and high bounce rates. All of these factors push your content down to the hinterlands of Google’s Page 2 (or lower).

What to Do Instead: Content can no longer be a commodity, churned out in a word factory. We need handcrafted artisan content. It takes longer to create, but you don’t have to make as much of it, either. Focus your resources on a few pillar pieces that deliver real value. Content that inspires readers to spend time on the page, explore further, and share with others will beat commodity content every day of the week. 

2. Single Keyword Stuffing

In the days of bulk content, a sure-fire way to get search engines’ attention was stuffing in keywords wherever they would fit. Keywords were stuffed in every header, every paragraph, multiple times in a sentence, and then in invisible text at the bottom of the page for good measure. It didn’t add anything useful to the content—in fact, it actively made the content worse – but it helped get eyeballs to your site.

Now, though, you’re likely to get the opposite effect from keyword stuffing. Google actively recognizes spammy keyword usage and moves that content down in the SERP.

What to Do Instead: Don’t focus on a single keyword. Start with a topic for which there is proven search demand. Then create a keyword group of similar terms, related topics, and long-tail derivatives. Use your keyword group to inform your content outline. Then, as you write your comprehensive, best-answer content, you will naturally include the relevant terms without stuffing them in. That way, you’re optimizing for humans and search engines alike.

3. Clickbait Headlines

Never has a tactic been so maligned and so effective as clickbait headlines were a few years ago. “7 of the Coolest Kazoos in the UK – Number 5 Will Shock You!” “They Said He Couldn’t Play His Kazoo at School – You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!” Sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed drove millions of views with these headlines, and marketers were quick to pick up on the trend.

The problem is, if everything is “shocking,” “mind-blowing,” or “brain-melting,” nothing is. Readers caught wise to the hyperbole and stopped clicking through. Upworthy is still around, but has a fraction of the audience. Buzzfeed is still going strong, but only because they ditched the breathless headlines and focused on great content.

What to Do Instead: Offer a clear benefit to the reader in your title. Don’t promise a life-changing, unbelievable experience – promise to meet a specific need, and make sure you fulfill that promise.

4. Focusing on Bottom of Funnel Content

One of content marketers’ biggest challenges is proving how their content contributes to a purchase decision. So it makes sense that, historically, we’ve concentrated efforts on content designed to close a deal. That is, content that’s more, “Why Our Kazoos Are the Best,” rather than “Why Kazoos Are a Vital Part of an Orchestra,” or even, “Our 10 Favorite Kazoo Players.”

It’s true that bottom of funnel content is easier to tie to revenue. But without top of funnel content, you won’t have an established audience for the bottom of funnel stuff. You can talk about how great your product is out the kazoo, but who’s going to read it?

What to Do Instead: Most of your audience is going to be in the early stages of the decision-making process. To strike the right content marketing balance, use the funnel image as your guide – create the majority of your content for top of funnel, a little less for mid-funnel, and less still for the very bottom. Then make sure each piece of content has a next step that leads the reader further down the funnel. Or kazoo.

5.  “Viral” Content

There’s a potent high to having a piece of content go viral. Millions of impressions, thousands of shares, maybe even local news coverage, all organic and all free – it’s definitely intoxicating. When viral videos cracked the mainstream consciousness, marketers went chasing that high. And some of us are still trying to catch it.

As I’ve said before, viral is not a content marketing strategy. It’s a pleasant but unpredictable side effect of good content, and it’s ultimately irrelevant to your goals. How many of those millions of viewers are interested in your product? And how many just want to laugh at a dog playing a kazoo?

What to Do Instead: Don’t aim your content at the broadest possible audience and hope it goes viral. Focus on your most relevant audience and make a strategic plan to reach them. We use an integrated marketing approach that includes:

  • Best-answer, comprehensive content with SEO built in
  • Influencer co-creation for amplification
  • Social media amplification
  • Paid, highly targeted advertising

Get with the Now

The original iPhone was a technological marvel in 2007. Now, you’ll find it in a museum of technology, or on eBay as a “classic collector’s item.” But you won’t find it in anyone’s hip pocket.

Make sure your marketing stays up-to-date: Ditch outdated tactics like shallow, product-focused content and upgrade to valuable, customer-focused content, strategically planned and amplified.

Need help getting to the next generation of content marketing? We’re here for you.

GoDaddy Conveniently Deletes My Fiance’s New Domain Purchase

After years of supporting GoDaddy (even through their rough times with public relations), I might be done defending them because of something they did to my fiance, Jacqueline.

GoDaddy Deletes a Domain Purchased From Their Site

So here’s the story. On Tuesday the 5th, Jacqueline calls me all excited and tells me that GoDaddy has new .health domains available. She purchases “woman.health” right then and there. She’s very excited about it. The price was $99.99 though Jacq had a coupon to drop it to 80.17. You can see that the purchase went through. Here’s the email confirmation:

Today, GoDaddy sends Jacq an email with the “helpful” subject line “We deleted some items for you.” As if they’re somehow doing her a favor. Look:

Note how the email says “If this is a mistake, please contact us.” Well yes it’s a mistake. This wasn’t Jacq’s request. GoDaddy changed their mind on the price.

Customer Service Doesn’t Help

Jacq proceeds to call “Breanna” who says that the domain was priced wrong. She puts Jacq on hold. She says it’s priced wrong. There’s nothing they can do. They can’t keep the sale because it’s not their policy. She says it’s Icann’s problem, and their price. And so they put it back on sale on the site. Here it is back on GoDaddy for $649:

(Mind you, Jacq bought it from GoDaddy.)

Breanna goes on to say that all .health domains cost a minimum of $500. Jacq says that’s crazy and proceeds to look up a bunch:

So clearly this isn’t accurate, either.

Breanna says “I don’t know. That must be incorrect.” Jacq asks if maybe there are more domains priced wrong? She couldn’t answer.

Jacq asked for a supervisor. Hold. Breanna says she can’t find a supervisor, but that even if she could find one, they wouldn’t be able to help her anyway, because they couldn’t honor the price, either.

No Resolution. GoDaddy Doesn’t Help

Now, I realize that this story will be published and lots of people will see this. So I panicked, because I realized that ultimately, Jacq wants this domain, so maybe I shouldn’t make a blog post talking about this without first securing the domain.

GoDaddy lets me buy it. Here it is:

So think about this.

  1. Jacq buys the domain for $80.17
  2. GoDaddy PULLS THE DOMAIN purchase from her account and emails her of this a day after the fact.
  3. GoDaddy puts the domain back up for sale for $649.
  4. I’m able to buy the domain Jacq thought she secured.
  5. GoDaddy customer service says they can’t do anything about this. And blames Icann.

So, do you think I can recommend GoDaddy as a domain registrar? Do you think I feel really comfortable with all MY domains being registered there, given this experience?

Jacq has over 100 domains registered there. I have a dozen or so. It won’t be exactly easy moving everything off, but what else can we do? Seems difficult to want to trust a company that does what they did and then couldn’t offer resolution.

What would you do?

Part 2 Coming Soon

In a subsequent post, I’ll tell you what any company of any size can do to avoid this example of bad customer service, and I’ll also share how this problem is resolved (or not).

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5 Examples of Influencer Marketing in Action Across the Full Customer Journey

Influencer Marketing Customer Lifecycle

Much of what we hear about influencer marketing is centered around reach and engagement objectives. This is not unlike the early days of social media marketing programs where platform capabilities and user behaviors created a perfect storm for connection and interaction.

Fast forward to today and we’ve certainly learned that social media is not a silo of communication, but more of a universal truth when it comes to where people spend their time to discover, consume and interact with content.

Influence brings that same universal truth in terms of something that affects us all. From a marketing context, influence is the ability to affect action and since virtually every person with a phone is empowered to publish, everyone has some degree of influence.

So where does that broader view lead us when developing an influencer content marketing strategy that’s optimized to attract, engage and convert? To help answer that question and extend optimization to retention and advocacy, here are 5 states during the customer journey and how influencer marketing can play a part for better results.

“The opportunity for consumer engagement spans the entire journey and influencers can play an important role in each moment of truth.” @BrianSolis Click To Tweet

Attract

Contribution inspires promotion. The obvious value here is that working with influencers on content can inspire promotion of the content collaborated on. Reaching the audience of an influencer with content that is relevant and credible can be incredibly valuable for brands that want to attract hard-to-reach customers.

Follow the leader advocacy. Influencers that are advocates often inspire other influencers and customers to advocate for the brand as well. This can be architected with contests where the content with the most social engagement wins, but basic follow the leader behavior in an organic way is effective too.

Retargeting influencer interest. When followers of an influencer that the brand co-created content with match a customer profile, marketers can retarget those followers who have interacted with the influencer content with more context than a buyer simply visiting random websites.

blockchain influencers SAP
A great B2B example of an Attract approach to influencer co-creation is this interactive experience for SAP Leonardo (client).  32 influencers contributing their expertise on topics ranging from artificial intelligence to blockchain technologies. With over 1.8 million impressions and 100% influencer share rate, this content collaboration project exceeded reach expectations.

Engage

Creator talent drives interaction. In the B2C world, creators are plentiful and by creators I mean people will great media creation skills AND the charisma to attract an engaged audience. Creators can bring unique talent to the planning, creation and promotion of content that brings a fresh perspective and higher engagement to an otherwise tired marketing mix.

Authenticity drives engagement. When microinfluencers also represent the customer that a brand is working to engage, the authenticity and voice of the customer that they bring to content collaboration can result in more content interaction and sharing.

Relevance is essential in all things marketing and when the influencer’s audience and the brand channel for promotion match well, then engagement is more likely to be high.

Tom's of Maine - Mavrck
An impressive B2C Engage example would have to be Tom’s of Maine that focused on micro-influencers to create and amplify content on social channels. Results per 1,000 micro-influencers activated: 6,496 likes, shares and comments; 1.7 million friends reached, 4,270 survey responses captured. You can read the full case study on the Mavrck site.

Convert

Trust motivates. Few things motivate conversion more than trust and the essence of what makes someone influential is that their community trusts them. Therefore, trusted influencers who are involved with brand content that is mid to end of funnel focused can help increase conversions.

Familiarity brings confidence. Another thing about relevance is that influencers that have a reputation for recommending products and services have developed familiarity with their audience for that behavior. Working with a new brand and talking about a topic or a product / service (with appropriate ad disclaimers) can inspire transaction.

Credibility is believability. The more credible a brand’s content is, the more likely it is to persuade and inspire action. Influencers can bring that credibility.

Modern Digital Commerce
A B2B pilot project we implemented for Oracle included a formidable 68 page ebook called the Executive’s Handbook to Modern Digital Commerce which featured influencers including Brian Solis, Stephen Monaco, Ed Cleary, Stewart Rogers and other B2B digital experts. The credibility of this ebook produced in combination with industry experts resulted in exceeding the conversion rate goal by 260%.

Retain

Bring utility to the community. Expanding the scope of who is influential to customers and community, brands can engage with influencers to participate in their community on everything from general best practices or tips to how to get the most out of the brands’ product/service.

Employees are influential too and showcasing staff in brand content can help humanize the brand with customers.

Infotain customers to stay. Engaging creators to develop useful content that is also entertaining for customers can go a long way towards retaining those customers. These can be routine communications to announcements or updates.


I think a great B2C example of Retain focused influencer content is the recent British Airways safety video featuring famous celebrities including Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson), Gordon Ramsay, Gillian Anderson (yes, she’s British), Thandie Newton, Sir Ian McKellen and a few more. I flew BA multiple times in a short period recently and this video was definitely a watchable part of the experience for me as a customer.

Advocate

Activate advocates. Bringing it back to reach through brand advocacy, brands can expand their view of influence to customers and activate those who show brand love to support sharing the good news.

Influential customer stories are powerful. Customer testimonials alone are great. Testimonials with customers that are influential, either personally or the brand, can go a long way towards supporting advocacy efforts.

Incentivize the good news. Incentives for referrals amongst influencers can inspire advocacy, but there must be an ad disclosure if compensation has been, or could be paid for that promotion effort.


For this one, I’ll use a personal example. I am a customer of BuzzSumo and I’m also an influencer who advocates for the brand. Most of this I do organically in presentations all over the world, in articles like this, in interviews and by sharing Steve Rayson and BuzzSumo’s content through my social channels on Twitter and LinkedIn. Steve reaches out to me from time to time for quotes, to do a webinar or speak at one of his events.  I was also one of the first to cover the Brandwatch acquisition of BuzzSumo. I can’t say how much value BuzzSumo has gained from my influencer advocacy, but I’m guessing it’s very much in the black 🙂

So, instead of thinking about influencers on the day you publish that amazing content you’ve worked so hard on, consider a more strategic approach that puts influencers in a partnership position to collaborate from the start. When you map out the stages of your customer journey and the content needed to help buyers make that journey, think about how working with influencers, experts and advocates can add that special sauce to your marketing mix.

Think about how the addition of credible experts with active audience engagement can add valuable perspective, inspiration, promotion and trust for conversion to your marketing content – across the entire customer lifecycle: attract, engage, convert, retain, advocate.

Of course if you would like to explore the true benefits of when the Content Marketing World and Influencer Marketing World intersect, well, that’s what we do at TopRank Marketing. We focus mostly on B2B influencer content programs but would be happy to chat about any projects you have in mind and then point you in the right direction.

The Paid Media Cube: A Framework to Clarify and Communicate Your PPC Strategy

Imagine you’re a PPC marketer working at a retailer specializing in hip, junk food clothing. Your clever use of paid spend made the Bacon Strips Crew Neck an all time best seller, nice work!

the bacon crewneck

Pictured: the highly successful Bacon Strips crew neck (via Getonfleek)

Then, let’s say you get a new VP of Marketing, and in your first meeting together she asks you to explain your PPC strategy and ways you’d improve it.

You spend all day optimizing PPC campaigns, but you’ve rarely needed to step back, evaluate, or justify your PPC strategy to others.

So self doubt kicks in, and you start asking yourself questions like:

  • “Do I really understand my PPC strategy?”
  • “How can I explain my approach to this VP without getting into the weeds?”
  • “Do I know what my next steps are?”

Without a clear understanding of how you’re approaching your paid spend, stakeholders only see your hefty budget, leaving you under pressure to deliver results.

In this post I’ll cover a framework for clarifying and communicating your PPC strategy to any and all stakeholders to prove confidence and good understanding. Because—no matter how complex your plan— stakeholders on your team should ideally understand how you’re defining success, and how to support you in execution.

Andy CrestodinaAndy Crestodina of Orbit Media agrees:

“Clarity is key. Keep [your paid strategy] simple and explicit. If there’s anything confusing about your plan, you’ll pay for it later in wasted time and/or budget.”

Further, this post will walk you through the Paid Media Cube framework for identifying any opportunities you might be leaving on the table.

Four questions to clarify your PPC strategy

To better clarify and communicate your PPC plans, first answer these four questions:

  1. Who are you trying to reach?
  2. Where are you going to reach them?
  3. How are you going to reach them?
  4. What are you going to offer them?

If you can’t answer the above in one to two sentences, your strategy is not clear. Go back to the drawing board, go through your campaigns, and get these answers.

Now I know, at this stage, you’re likely thinking:

  • “It’s not that simple, Tom. My PPC strategy is more complex than these four questions!”
  • “We are running PPC ads on several channels like AdWords, Bing, Facebook, and Display.”
  • “We are targeting multiple buyer journey stages such as awareness, consideration, and decision stages. We can’t possibly answer four questions for everything.”

To ensure the aforementioned four questions are helpful, I’ve found it’s best you further visualize and map every piece of your PPC approach into buckets. Beyond explaining your strategy, you need a tool to help you identify opportunities for improvement and growth.

Enter the Paid Media Cube: a tool to visualize and clarify your PPC strategy

Typically your PPC campaigns will involve display, paid social, and paid search channels within the awareness, consideration, and decision stages of your buyer’s journey.

The Paid Media Cube below helps you visualize your PPC traffic at the intersection of both your traffic channels and buyer journey stage. Once filled out for your paid campaigns, it can help you spot gaps and opportunities for growth.

Below is an example of what your campaigns would look like using the Paid Media Cube. I’ve mapped it out below as though we were planning paid spend for our junk food clothing line…
The PPC strategy Paid Media Cube, by SCUBE

Pictured: The Paid Media Cube featuring traffic channels and buyer stages (via SCUBE Marketing)
.

Looking at Paid Media Cube for the first time, you likely have 3 questions:

#1. Why do the names vary in all squares?

The names you see in each square stand in for campaign names. You may have a different terminology because of targeting or your naming conventions.

#2. How do I fill in each square?

Consider all the campaigns you have in your paid media accounts and think about the buyer journey stage your target would be in. Then map each campaign group to the appropriate square for the right stage and the right channel. Of course this leads us to the third and the most important question.

#3. Why map all campaigns to traffic channels and buyer journey stages like this?

This exercise helps ensure strong message match.

Your message and offer have to align to your buyer’s expectations at different stages of their journey, and make sense via the traffic source from which they discovered you.

This means your ads, landing pages, and offers will be different for display campaigns in the awareness stage versus paid search campaigns intended for the decision stage, for example.

The cube gives you an opportunity to step back and re-evaluate (and improve) your message to the paid media traffic you’re targeting.

Moreover, to better represent buyer intent, the colors of each square are different, beginning with cold colours (low buyer intent) and gradually increasing to hot colours (high buyer intent).

The reality is that your PPC campaigns may not be as complex as the example above. Instead, you may have something like this:
the partial paid media cube

Identify gaps in traffic channels and buyer stages with the Paid Media Cube (via SCUBE Marketing).

Once you map your campaigns to the Paid Media Cube, you can grow in few different ways:

  • Launch campaigns for a few buyer stages within the same traffic channel. If you notice are only running campaigns in the decision and consideration stage, you can expand into the awareness stage to ensure you’re not missing out on any opportunities.
  • Launch a new PPC channel you haven’t tried yet. If you are only running campaigns on paid search and paid social channels, test the display channel.
  • Expand your PPC channel approach. I.e. If you are running paid search campaigns on AdWords, replicate them in Bing Ads.

For best results combine the four questions with the Cube

Now you have two important tools: the Paid Media Cube and four questions to ask yourself about your campaigns.

Since each square in the Paid Media Cube represents a different stage of buyer intent, you’ll want to answer the four questions for each square.

For example, your company comes up with a new Chicken Ramen Sweatshirt product line, and you want to target geeks, EDM music fans, and junk food eaters on Facebook (paid social traffic in the awareness stage).
The ramen sweatshirt

Chicken Ramen Sweatshirt (via Beloved Shirts)

Here is where your campaigns would hypothetically fit into the Paid Media Cube:
four questions in the paid media cube

Answer the four strategy questions for each square above…(via SCUBE Marketing)

The answers to the four strategy questions would look like this:

  • Who are you trying to reach? Geeks, EDM music fans, and junk food eaters.
  • Where are you going to reach them? Paid Social (Facebook Ads).
  • How are you going to reach them? Target pages about geeky gadgets, EDM music, and junk food.
  • What are you going to offer them? Free ideabook with apparel ideas featuring Ramen noodles along with a 20% coupon for their first order.

Overall, after you complete one square, repeat the question process until you can clearly articulate the factors of your PPC strategy in full.

Stay ahead of the game

Once you have clarity yourself, you can easily communicate your PPC strategy to others.

Paid media marketers face pressure from all sides. Not only are you expected to produce results, but it’s also up to you to prove the value of your campaigns to those without a thorough understanding of your efforts.

Using the four questions I outlined above, alongside the Paid Media Cube, you’ll have a great start for clearly outlining your PPC strategy to others, but even if you’re fairly autonomous or independent the Cube will help ensure you’re running a full funnel of campaigns and not missing any potential opportunities.

Cake in the Supreme Court. Google and eBay Partner Up. What Nordstrom Does Well. – The Brief for 12.05.17

Here are the notes from the Chris Brogan Media broadcast for 12/05/17. (You can watch this on my Facebook account).

The goal of these posts is that there are trends and ideas here that might impact your business now or soon. Think on the stories here and look for ways to adjust your business accordingly. If ever you’re stuck, get in touch with me and I can help.

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

Google just released an app called Files Go that helps you skinny up your Android phone. No real trend here. Just useful.

Ebay just made a project with Google Home that lets you browse their wares. Pretty cool.

What does Nordstrom do that you can learn from? Turns out lots. This is where shop experiences must go.

YouTube points out how AI can fail us. They’re hiring 10,000 people to deal with dangerous and unseemly videos.

But a cool YouTube video? Check out Best Cover Ever starring Ludacris.

Verticals or horizontals? Quickr in India says vertical. Worth thinking about.

AOL founder Steve Case just launched a $150 Million fund for rural startup development.

Free speech vs human rights. That’s how the US Supreme Court version of the cake battle is being framed.

Cute comics that teach kids tolerance and diversity?
You can have that.

The video game Overwatch is shoring up its big boy pants with eSports league colors and a new token currency to go with it. There’s even a Boston team to root for!

I love showing cosplay from all around the world, but
nobody beats Tokyo at this game.

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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How Employee Engagement Helps Drive the Success of Your Marketing Efforts

As our world becomes increasingly driven by digital technologies and the workforce experiences generational shifts, employee engagement is rising as a top focus area for many companies. After all, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace study, just 16% of the American workforce is “actively” engaged.

Of course, when employees aren’t engaged, they’re a flight risk. In fact, Gallup’s research also revealed that 51% of employees are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings. Furthermore, those employees who fall into the “actively disengaged” category, are almost twice as likely as engaged employees to seek new jobs. And when employees leave, that can have a big impact on your bottom line when it comes to recruiting and back-filling costs.

So, after reading all of that, you’re probably wondering: What does employee engagement have to do with marketing?

Well, marketer friends, the truth is that employee engagement has everything to do with marketing.

At the most basic level, without an army of engaged employees, your marketing efforts—whether it be recruiting top talent or fostering employee advocacy on social media—can’t reach their full potential. But on a deeper level, there are couple other important marketing benefits you could be missing out on:

Without an army of engaged employees, your #marketing efforts can’t reach their full potential. – @CaitlinMBurgess #EmployeeEngagement Click To Tweet

#1 – Engaged employees can be gold mines for marketing insights.

Regardless of department, every employee boasts first-hand insights into “who” your company is, what it cares about, what your customers are saying, the quality of your products or services, and what they see as the biggest value adds or opportunities.

As a result, your employees are absolute gold mines for getting insights that can help you refine and drive your marketing efforts. But in order to mine for those honest insights, employee engagement has to come front and center.

Why? Because employee engagement helps build rapport, strengthen communication and mobilize people to take a more active role. So, if employees aren’t engaged, they’ll be less likely to go the extra mile by sharing their insights with you.

Employees are absolute gold mines for getting insights that can help you refine & drive your #marketing efforts. @CaitlinMBurgess Click To Tweet

#2 – Engaged employees can help stretch your marketing dollars.

Marketers are often thought of the spenders within an organization, but engaged employees can help turn that notion on its head a bit. As mentioned in the section above, the insider insights that you can uncover are not only authentic and helpful, but they don’t cost you a thing—just the time and care in gathering them.

Of course, this means you can’t simply ask employees to weigh in from time to time. They need to feel like they’re valued from top to bottom within the organization, which means regular nurturing and engagement that trickles throughout the organization.

Don’t just ask employees to weigh in from time to time. Nurture them regularly. #EmployeeEngagement Click To Tweet

#3 – Employees can be your most powerful brand advocates.

Your employees are not only the people behind your brand, but also active consumers taking place in the marketplace, writing reviews, sharing recommendations verbally and via social media with friends and family, and researching their purchasing decisions. And they’re more than willing to share both positive and negative feedback about you online.

In fact, a couple years ago, a Weber Shandwick study found that 39% of employees had shared praise or positive comments about their employer online—and 16% had shared criticism or negative comments.

From my perspective, engaged employees are more likely to fall in the latter category. Why? Because when employees feel understood, valued and connected to something bigger than themselves, they feel pride—and pride is a reason to give praise. Furthermore, in today’s competitive talent landscape, current employees can be your best recruiters.

As a result, with a focus on employee engagement, you can unlock employee advocacy—and that’s the kind of marketing that money can’t buy.

With a focus on #EmployeeEngagement, you can unlock #EmployeeAdvocacy. @CaitlinMBurgess #marketing Click To Tweet

Help Kick-Start Your Company’s Employee Engagement Efforts

Employee engagement doesn’t happen overnight—nor does it happen with only the marketing department driving the initiative. Employee engagement has to be baked into your overall company culture to be successful.

So, where do you start? At the top.

Your company’s top leaders are the people who will give your employee engagement initiatives wings, helping the message and the commitment trickle down throughout the rest of the ranks.

A couple years back, TopRank Marketing leadership launched our Project Phoenix initiative as a way to actively listen and engage employees in constantly refining how we work together, as well as deliver more transparency as to business operations. As part of the initiative, employees are regularly surveyed on a variety of topics, which are then presented to the whole team for discussion and development of next steps.

From my perspective, this committment to engagement and learning has strengthened the resolve of the team members. More collaboration sessions are blossoming. More employees are feeling comfortable sharing their feelings and ideas with team members and leadership. And many people are setting personal and professional goals—with some putting down deeper roots within the organization and others spreading their wings and persuing new things.

All of this has also led to the recent launch of our Purpose Initiative, where we’re collectively digging deep to truly uncover how the company, every employee and our clients can be their best selves—so stay tuned for more on that in the future!

Also, if you’re in the mood for another example, check out Marketing Land column by Karen Steele of Marketo. In the post, she outlines the four steps her organization took to bake employee engagement into company culture, as well as the results they’ve seen.

#EmployeeEngagement has to be baked into your overall company culture to be successful. #marketing Click To Tweet

On the hunt for a new gig with an employer that cares about nurturing and engagement? TopRank Marketing is hiring! Check out our Careers page for open positions.