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  • September 2, 2015


Inherently knowing that there is value in social media marketing and being equipped to show value are two different things.

Social media provides a unique and often-challenging opportunity to connect one-on-one with customers, prospects and fans of your business. However, only 42% of marketers feel that they are able to accurately measure the value of their social media efforts.

“Social media enables relationships to be built regardless of traditional barriers like distance or language. For brands, this provides a forum to listen and learn – and if you’re smart, take action based off of what you learn,” says Alison Herzog, Marketing Director, Global Social Business & Digital Strategy at Dell, (a TopRank Marketing client).

Social media strategy has become a fundamental part of most marketing plans. But as marketers, we are pushed to show the value of these programs. To help you do just that, here are three ways you can measure and share the value of your social media marketing.

#1 – Understand Your Current Situation

When creating your social media measurement strategy, start by defining the outcomes you are looking to achieve. Once you understand what success should look like, you can set your strategy and define your key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring progress. The actual metrics you use should be based on the KPIs or action they represent.

For example, if your ongoing social media marketing goal is to increase brand awareness and improve traffic back to your brand’s website you should:

  • Set benchmarks on where your brand is currently ranking on all social media channels.
  • Create a competitive analysis of your brand versus your top competitors.

Additionally, there are many tools (native and 3rd party) that can help you measure towards your social media marketing goals.

Some tools to help you review your competitor’s social media presence include:

Twitter measurement tool examples:

You will want to review your competitors overall followers, the frequency of their postings, and engagement of posts. Also, use a search or listening tool, to find-out the overall mentions of your brand compared to your competitors.

To understand the source of your web traffic, use a web analytics tool, like Google Analytics or Adobe’s SiteCatalyst to review the referring traffic sources. You can also use a link shortener, like Bit.ly, to gain additional data on  who is clicking on the links in your social posts.

Once you understand the playing field, you can set goals and review your social growth on an ongoing basis. Regular evaluation is key to understanding what is working and what isn’t.

The great thing about social media is it is easy to adjust course mid-plan and optimize if you see a type of post or messaging that isn’t capturing an audience.

#2 – Set Specific Campaign Goals

Depending on what you are hoping to achieve, specific campaigns will require different metrics to show value. Social media has proven to be a very effective tool that can be used to target a particular audience to increase brand awareness (or meet other marketing goals) in a unique and conversational way. Below are some examples of recent social media campaigns that achieved great results:

Clif Bar

Cliff Bar Share Your Adventure

In 2014 Clif Bar created a campaign focused entirely on content created by their fans. Brand enthusiasts were asked to share an environmental friendly photo under the hashtag #MeettheMoment. For each photo that was shared, Clif agreed to donate $1 to an environmental non-profit. When all was said and done, Clif not only donated a cool $60,000, but they had made their fans part of something memorable.


Lowes Vine Series

Lowes found a unique way to present users with a clever social campaign around six second life hacks. They used 6 second vine videos to share easy lifehacks for everything from getting scratches out of your wood floor to making a pillow case out of an old t-shirt. Their inventive social campaign garnered over 4 million views putting Lowes on the Vine map.

#3 – Communicate Value to Your Internal Audience

By this point, all marketers are aware that any social media marketing program should consider the audience’s needs and habits. However, we may not always think about our internal audience. For any social media program to grow and be successful, it is important to show that it is adding value to the business.

Measuring and communicating social success can sometimes be overwhelming. When preparing to show value internally, think about which internal stakeholder will be reviewing the information. Below are some metrics that you may want to consider sharing with different internal stakeholders:


  • Overall trends
  • Sentiment
  • Standing in the marketplace
  • Conversions


  • Engagement rate on campaign content
  • Best performing creative or content
  • Highlights relevant to their line of business
  • Click-through rate from social posts to key landing pages

Customer Service

  • Response rate
  • Sentiment

By understanding your current situation, developing goals and communicating internally, you will be able to provide more value with your social media marketing strategy – to your community and within your company.

What have you found to be the biggest barriers in creating value with social media within your organization?

Image via Shutterstock

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  • September 1, 2015

Influencer Marketing

Brands: Stop Doing These Things!

Influencer Marketing is hot and that means the value of influencer relationships is higher than ever.

Working hard to romance in-demand experts to collaborate, co-create and even advocate can be a substantial investment. The mutual benefit from these long term relationships can mean anything from hugely successful marketing programs for brands to top billing at speaking events, book deals and consulting work for the influencers.

Unfortunately, outreach communications, expectations and negotiations with influencers to work together are often so lacking of empathy, relevant context or even courtesy that the industry expert “checks out”. Losing influencers is sad and wasteful.

But it doesn’t have to be that way if you know what makes them leave. Trust me, I work on influencer outreach nearly every day (sending and receiving) and am both guilty of committing some of these influencer marketing sins and having them committed against me.

So, with a little help from some of my marketing influencer friends, here’s a big list of what NOT to do.

50 ways to lose your influencer:

  1. Using the wrong name in a pitch email or other inaccurate information (that should really be correct).
  2. TLDR requests that take forever or never get to get to the point.
  3. Irrelevant requests that have little if anything to do with the influencer’s expertise.
  4. Not making it clear what the value exchange is.
  5. Being too familiar and friendly with influencers on the first contact. Hey, we’re not actually friends (yet) are we?
  6. Making it difficult by asking numerous, complicated questions, like those fun essays in college.
  7. Unreasonable deadlines: “Hi you don’t know me,  but please send me 1,000 words by tomorrow.”
  8. No credibility. Emailing a pitch from a gmail address and pointing to a website that looks really spammy or just bad.
  9. #influencerstalking Following up one day after the first pitch. Then again the next day. Then again the next day and so on.
  10. #failuretofollowup Asking for participation and then never following up.
  11. Cold shoulder. Engaging an influencer online several times and then ignoring them when in person at industry events.
  12. Lying or being disingenuous in any way.
  13. Bait and switch. Offering access to a tool to preview, then requiring an guided demo where the influencer is “sold to”.
  14. Bait and switch 2. Inviting the influencer to an event, then requiring attendance of a presentation where the influencer is “sold to”.
  15. Micromanage. Requiring an unpaid influencer to cover specific topics in specific ways to the brand’s benefit that are not natural to the influencer (or their community).
  16. Taking advantage. Expecting an influencer to do for free, what really should be paid for – moderating a panel, writing substantial content, extensive participation requirements.
  17. When a brand takes unearned credit for ideas the influencer created, wrote about and used in their business.
  18. Misappropriating. Using influencer content in ways never intended, especially when it is monetized by the brand or someone else entirely. Also, misrepresenting how the influencer’s contribution will be used. For example, saying it is for a public article and then using it for a gated ebook.
  19. Making public, disparaging remarks or being disrespectful about an influencer.
  20. Not being patient – these people are busy!
  21. Switching the conditions of participation – shame on everyone if there is not a written, signed agreement for specific expectations.
  22. Not being thankful for the influencer’s efforts. This goes both ways too – influencers should be thankful for the opportunity as well.
  23. Failure to communicate. Managing communications and coordination poorly, in a disorganized way and without clear direction.
  24. No edits. Publishing influencer content “as-is” without copyediting.
  25. Being an asshat. Going over the line with sarcastic humor in influencer communications – you really need to know if they’re in to that.
  26. Slimy SEO. Taking the influencer’s contribution and then SEO-ing the heck out of it with keywords and anchor text galore.
  27. Backchannelling. Reaching out the the influencer’s “boss” or co-worker to ask why the influencer hasn’t responded to pitch emails.
  28. Not being clear about the premise or context of the ask and thereby confusing the pitch.
  29. Being one sided. When brands do not follow through on commitments made to the relationship.
  30. And you are? Changing the client side contact and not doing any kind of hand off to ensure continuity.
  31. Making it incredibly difficult to share the result of the brand/influencer collaboration. i.e. not providing pre-written tweets and social shares, properly sized graphics, embed codes, etc.
  32. Inappropriate asks. “As for asks like promoting your product (books, webinars, conferences, etc.) in exchange for affiliate revenue please DON’T.” via Carlos Gil
  33. “Out-of-the-blue Asks. I get requests from people I know really well every week. What makes you think I’ll make time to work with you if I’ve never interacted with you before? Take some time to comment on my posts, rate my podcast, review my book. I’ll return the favor in a heartbeat. If you hit my inbox out of nowhere… Delete.” via Drew Davis
  34. Too soon. “My pet peeve is when someone follows me on Twitter or Instagram and/or fans me on Facebook and immediately reaches out to me with a request to check out their business.” via Kim Garst
  35. “Ask Them To Sell. Your influencer is there to help you increase the awareness, association and consideration of your brand in a certain space – not to shill for you.” via Gerry Moran
  36. Using the wrong channels to communicate: “Sending me a message about LinkedIn using Facebook.” via Jason Miller
  37. Hello, can I interrupt you? Calling an influencer without an appointment to pitch. via Mark Schaefer
  38. Peerless pressure. PR people that try to persuade influencer involvement because their peers are involved too – except they are not. via Mark Schaefer
  39. Impersonal pitches. When companies send out generic en masse pitches, like a robo-call, but via email. The personal touch can make or break an influencer’s decision to engage. via Chad Pollitt
  40. “Don’t tell me your story, let me tell my story. ‘LESS fabrication, MORE facilitation’ = a boost to your Return on Relationship, #RonR.” via Ted Rubin
  41. Lazy duplication. “When you get that really interesting Tweet inviting you to take a look at something and then when you click through to it you also see that they have composed basically the same message to 579 other people on Twitter.” via John Jantsch
  42. Delegated and impersonal. “Reach out to me directly yourself. Do NOT delegate this critical step to your marketing agency, PR professional, team member, assistant or intern. Do it yourself and make your note personal. If you want me to respond, I expect you to do the asking yourself.” via Heidi Cohen
  43. “Not greasing the skids. Influencers are most likely to add commentary if there is some kind of existing relationship.  This means at least some kind of history where the person reaching out has already been sharing the influencer content.” via Joe Pulizzi
  44. “Expecting too much in one ask. For example, writing a 1000 word article on your platform due this week without a previous relationship.” via Joe Pulizzi
  45. Misleading opportunity. “Asking for 30 minutes of my time to discuss a “partnership” – which actually means you want me to sell your stuff to my clients.” via Ardath Albee
  46. Asks that are complicated, ambiguous and without deadlines. via Rebecca Lieb
  47. Not following up with that blog post, ebook, or copy of the interview the influencer contributed to. Influencers are indeed interested in seeing the fruits of their labors. via Rebecca Lieb
  48. Abusing the kindness of an influencer by asking over and over again without showing any special consideration. “Set the tone and rules upfront. Influencers can’t be expected to take part in everything you do, so say that. Set the ground rules and expectations.” via Bryan Kramer
  49. Giving up, as in not being persistent (over time) with credible, relevant offers and reasons to engage. “Give them a reason to come back, ask them what they are working on and keep the conversation going.” via Bryan Kramer
  50. Spamming. “Signing up for an app that spams your “top influencer” with automated messages is a sure path to a rocky relationship.” via Glen Gilmore

Basically your takeaway from this list is, don’t do these things! Learn from these mistakes, pet peeves and advice.

To be successful with an influencer relationship, brands need to consistently make an effort to research the experts they want to engage and find out what motivates them. Create value and set clear expectations. Make working with your brand a very easy and satisfying experience. Listen and communicate in a meaningful way – not too different than any relationship, actually.

For brand marketers that want to point their influencer marketing efforts in the right direction, I recommend these collections of resources for best practices:

  • Featured Influencer Marketing ResourcesTraackr
  • What You Need to Know About Content & Influencer Marketing. BONUS: Case Study and 18 articlesTopRank Marketing
  • Influencer Marketing eBooksGroupHigh
  • Influencer Marketing EducationOnalytica
  • Social Listening in Practice: Influencer MarketingBrandwatch

You can also learn more about the influencer marketing services at TopRank Marketing.

If you’ve been on the receiving end of influencer outreach and communications, what are some of your pet peeves?

Photo: Shutterstock

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  • August 29, 2015

How & Where Are Brands Placing Their Content Budgets

The Big Content Spend: How & Where Are Brands Placing Their Content Budgets [Infographic] – In this infographic, we’re taking a look at just how big of an investment companies are putting into content marketing this year. What kinds of brands believe in content, and invest in it as a major form of marketing? What kind of investments are being made? With numbers in the billions, the findings may (or may not) surprise you. Social Media Today

Twitter Introduces New Audience Platform – Twitter continues to push out updates in its ongoing efforts to improve the functionality of its offerings. Twitter

Native Videos Beat Out Every Other Video Format on Twitter – Of all branded videos on Twitter, only 31% are posted natively – but those account for 67% of total video engagement. Socialbakers

Survey: 35% of Users Check Their Phones More than 50 Times Per Day – Delvv, developer of the Glean personalized news reading app, has announced the results of its Delvv Mobile Overload Report which measured the ‘volume of information’ U.S. users experience on their smartphones. SocialTimes

Is Instagram’s Rapid Growth Slowing Down? Engagement And Follower Growth Down – Summer lull or signs of saturation? A study conducted by Locowise found that overall engagement on Instagram was down 19 percent in July, and that follower growth was down 77 percent. Another recent Pew study noted that Instagram has doubled its community since 2012. Social Media Today

1 in 3 Marketers Say They Have All The Tech Tools They Need – Fewer than 1 in 10 marketing, sales and business professionals (predominantly B2B) say they have all the marketing technology tools they need and fully utilize what they have, according to a survey from Ascend2.  MarketingCharts

Google Controls 65 Percent Of Search, Bing 33 Percent — [comScore] – In terms of non-network share, Bing saw a tiny 0.1 percent gain in July, and so did Ask. Google was flat with 64 percent, unchanged for the past three months. Yet Google’s market share is down from 67.6 percent a year ago. Search Engine Land

Tweets Officially Show In Google Desktop Searches – It looks like Google gives a f**k about Twitter after all, at least a little. The industry continues to speculate on whether or not the search powerhouse may acquire the microblogging platform, but in the mean time, Tweets have started showing up in search results. Search Engine Watch

LinkedIn Ads Rolls Out New Campaign Management Tool – A newly redesigned LinkedIn ad manager has been rolled out giving paid promoters a much cleaner and more user-friendly way to place their paid spend. Social Media Today

Facebook Launches M, a Siri-Like Personal Assistant for Messenger – This week Facebook announced its beginning a very small roll out of a digital assistant service that will live within Messenger. The service, called M, is capable of completing tasks and finding information upon request. Facebook

LinkedIn SlideShare Introduces Clipping, Saving Your Favorite Content Just Got Easier – Clipping enables our users to identify and save the best slides within a presentation to a Clipboard. And deeper integration with LinkedIn identity brings credibility to the content – providing more details on the professional behind the content. There’s so much information at our fingertips today, but it’s often hard to separate the good quality content from the noise. LinkedIn [Client]

Facebook Finally Gives in and Allows Animated GIFs in Posts and Ads – Facebook is about to get a whole lot noisier… and it’s about time! Finally, Facebook has decided to get with the rest of the Internet program and allow animated GIFs in ads and Page posts. Social Media Today

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Express Writers

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  • August 28, 2015


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

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

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

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

What You’ll Learn in Content Inc.

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

– Joe Pulizzi

How to Lead with Goal Setting

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

The 6 Step Content Inc. Model

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

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

Real-Life Examples of Why Content Inc. Works

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

From the Mouth of the Godfather of Content Marketing

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

Who is Content, Inc. for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Should You Do Next?

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

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

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

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

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

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  • August 27, 2015


“Influencer Marketing” is a phrase that has gained momentum over the past few years. It seems that everywhere you turn, marketers are telling you that you need to incorporate influencers as part of your integrated digital marketing strategy. But the question is, does it really work?

Many companies may not have the staff or resources to run a full-fledged influencer marketing strategy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t begin dabbling in influencer marketing campaigns to help meet marketing and business objectives. A successful approach to influencer marketing provides value for both the company, and the influencers that participate. 

One ripe opportunity for building awareness and integrating influencer marketing into your marketing mix is to use it as a means to help promote events. 

Below are three stories of how TopRank Marketing helped three companies incorporate content and influencer marketing to create a winning combination for event promotion.

#1 – Collaborating with Influencers on a Blog Post to  Increase Target Conversion Pageviews

A leading genealogy research company wanted to leverage their involvement in the annual RootsTech event that averages around 20,000 attendees. In order to take advantage of a clearly identified and qualified audience, this company worked with TopRank Marketing to develop a content and social amplification plan that included contributions from industry influencers.

Objective: Collaborate with influencers to drive traffic to a specific high priority page on the business website.

Campaign elements included:

  • Content that included tips from influencers on how to best create a genealogy project
  • Thought leader outreach for contribution
  • Social message development to encourage amplification of the content
  • Cross promotion of influencers within social messages to increase reach

Results: Visits to the landing page increased significantly and the social reach exceeded all predictions and expectations. 


#2 – Using Influencers to Create Evergreen Content to Build Credibility

One of the largest healthcare technology companies in the United States participates in an annual event managed by Healthcare Information and Management Systems (HIMSS). Healthcare technology is an incredibly competitive field and marketing is heavily regulated. That means that companies in this industry have a unique opportunity to get creative with their approach.

Objective: Partner with influencers to create awareness at the event and develop evergreen content that is still promotable post-event.

Campaign elements included:

  • eBook including contributions from top healthcare experts
  • Gated landing page of the eBook on the company website
  • Optimization of the content for search
  • Paid and organic social amplification
  • Banner advertisement on the company blog
  • Supporting blog content

Results: This co-created campaign generated 22x the typical page views of previous landing pages and 3x as many downloads compared to other recent fulfillment pieces. 


#3 – Increasing Event Awareness with Co-Creation

Content Marketing World is the largest content marketing event in the world. But, competition in the digital marketing industry is becoming increasingly fierce, which means they need to find a creative way to provide valuable content for marketers. Content Marketing World partnered with TopRank Online Marketing to create a series of four eBooks (and supporting content) to provide attendees and potential attendees with tips from some of today’s top content marketers.

Objective: Develop an opportunity for influential speakers to participate in content creation that would promote their presentations, the CMWorld conference and create a useful and infotaining resource for all marketers interested in content marketing.

Campaign elements included:

  • 4 Alice in Wonderland themed eBooks co-created with conference speakers
  • 4 infographics that included tips from the speakers
  • Long form interviews to promote speaker sessions and expertise
  • Tweetable quotes to encourage social sharing
  • Paid and organic social amplification

Results: The campaign eBooks have garnered over 200,000 views on SlideShare and captured more than 1,000 leads.


Ready to Embark on Your Own Influencer Marketing Initiative?

These examples only provide a glimpse into the possibilities you can uncover with an influencer marketing program. Over the next few months, TopRank Marketing’s CEO Lee Odden will be speaking at some of the largest national and virtual conferences in the United States on the topic of influencer marketing and how to incorporate it into your digital marketing mix. 

If you’re interested to learn more about the benefits of adding influencer marketing to your integrated digital marketing strategy, please visit our website and learn more about our influencer marketing programs.

Header image via Shutterstock.

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  • August 26, 2015


Here’s a test: Google “fairy wings” right now. Your job is to quickly find which result will sell you a set of glitter fairy wings and preferably include free shipping.

Now that you’ve begun your search, how do you know which result will bring you to the most qualified products? One way is to visually scan the title and description snippets in your search results.

There are nearly 12 billion Google searches per month. Consumers conduct searches for products or services they need, and often use the snippets in search results as deciding factor on whether to click, or keep scrolling.

The examples below show how three mega e-commerce sites approach title tags and meta descriptions, what they’re doing right and some additional opportunities.


alibaba logo

Alibiba.com takes a keyword-heavy approach to title tags and meta descriptions. Jam-packed with keywords, their title tags and meta descriptions often exceed recommended character counts and do not create compelling arguments for click-throughs.

What they’re doing right

  • Specifying title tags and meta descriptions on every page
  • Including keywords in title tags and meta descriptions
  • Using action-oriented meta descriptions to call readers to “Find quality [product name here]”

Strategic recommendations

  • Reduce title tag length: Lengths are consistently over 100 characters. Limiting the character count to 50-60 will reduce truncation in search results and allow Alibaba.com to reign in their optimization strategy to focus on 1-2 top priority keywords per page.
  • Reduce meta description length: Descriptions tend to be upwards of 200 characters on this site. Limiting the character length to 160 characters or less will allow Alibaba.com to lead with a complete, cohesive sentence in search results.
  • Draft unique and compelling meta descriptions: Meta descriptions on this site’s product pages simply reorder keywords listed in title tag and tend to trail off into lists of keywords for the bots to read. Draft descriptions for readers instead of search bots to improve click-through rates with concise, actionable language that emphasizes Alibaba.com’s value proposition.

alibaba meta example


amazon logo

Amazon appears to take a minimalistic approach to title tags and meta descriptions. Template-style descriptions leave room for improvement in terms of providing useful and compelling reasons to click.

What they’re doing right

  • Specifying title tags and meta descriptions on every page
  • Not exceeding character limitations in most cases

Strategic recommendations

  • Draft more robust meta descriptions: Second level category pages such as Toys & Games or Electronics appear to have effortless, default meta titles and descriptions. Due to the incomplete description provided by Amazon in the example below, Google has opted to feed additional copy from the page that it feels better represents the content of the page. Amazon could take control of this lost meta description real estate by providing a detailed and compelling description.
  • Draft compelling title tags: Although “Toys & Games” may be the actual page title, this title tag does not compel a reader to click. It does not evoke interest, or curiosity, or excitement. We recommend drafting a title that highlights the value proposition or ties into an overarching brand voice.

Amazon meta example

Best Buy

best buy logo

Best Buy’s approach to meta titles and descriptions is the perfect mix of taglines, keywords and marketing objectives to provide attractive page snippets you can’t help but click.

What they’re doing right

  • Concise language that defines the benefit of shopping with them: In-store pickup, free shipping on thousands of products, expert service.
  • Appropriate lengths to avoid truncation in search results
  • Unique title tags and meta descriptions on every page

Strategic Recommendations

  • Keep rocking your mad meta skills!

best buy meta example

For years, optimization experts have been told that keywords within meta titles and descriptions do not effect organic ranking – and while Google’s ranking algorithm may not be reading these keywords, users are. They’re deciding which search result to click on based on their perception of the relevance of each result page.

How compelling are your title tags and meta descriptions? Ensure they follow recommended character limits, include 1-2 keywords most relevant to the page’s content and concisely pitch your value proposition. If you do, your glittery fairy wings should be flying off the shelves in no time.

For more real-life examples of search engine optimization strategies and results, check out TopRank Marketing’s integrated marketing case studies.

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  • August 25, 2015


In 2015 the world celebrated the 126th birthday of Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower. This important piece of history is comprised of over 18,000 individual pieces and was built by nearly 300 people participating in the project.

Developing content for content marketing programs can be approached with a similarly participative framework and in a way that satisfies some marketers’ top needs. According to Altimeter Group, 60% of surveyed marketers said that content creation was a top need while 53% named distribution. That means it’s time for organizations to begin looking outside of their marketing teams for content co-creation partners and to improve content promotion at the same time.

But how does an optimized, socialized and co-created content program work?

CMW Lee OddenHere’s the good news! In September, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden will be presenting at Content Marketing World on the the benefits of using a participative and integrated approach to content creation and promotion.  As a preview, I interviewed Lee to get his insight into the future of content marketing as well as some sage advice for marketers that want to explore the benefits of participation marketing with content.

[Be sure to stay tuned at the end of this post for an opportunity to win a free pass to Content Marketing World]

#1 – What are some important changes on the horizon for content marketing, and what can marketers begin doing today to prepare?

To prepare an effective content experience, marketers will need to emphasize their ability to understand customers.

Mobile – Google says if you only have one site and that site is mobile, you should do fine in both mobile and desktop search results. 61% of US consumers search and 56% use social networks on Smartphones daily (Google – Our Mobile Planet).

To prepare, it’s essential that content marketers plan, create, promote and optimize performance specifically for the mobile experience, because that is where customers are discovering, consuming and acting on content.

Focus on Content Experiences – From personalization to omnichannel coordination of content and visual assets on and offline, marketers will need to focus on content as an experience vs. simply providing information.

To prepare an effective content experience, marketers will need to emphasize their ability to understand customers. Brands need to forego lip service to customer segmentation and use of personas as tools to represent true customer interests. It’s more important now than ever to evolve understanding of what really makes customers tick – their goals, their aspirations, their pain and what role content can contribute to the best possible solution experience.

Importance of Influencers – Working with industry influencers will increase significantly as companies learn how to attract, engage and activate relationships with authoritative “brandividuals” and niche influencers alike.

Everyone is influential about something and people are now empowered with technology to discover, consume, interact and publish anytime, anywhere. Anyone with an internet connection and an active passion for a topic can become influential.

To prepare, brands need to understand that influencer marketing will be as much about working with established influencers as it is about helping up and coming talent become influential will hold a competitive advantage. The time to start growing an influencer network is long before you actually need them, so it’s important for brands to start nurturing relationships immediately – but guided with a solid long term strategy.

Participation Marketing – Democratization of content creation across organizations and communities will increase as more companies implement targeted crowdsourcing of content and user generated content (UGC) programs.

Preparation for participation marketing means breaking free of siloed content development within marketing and creating the framework for an ecosystem of content creation amongst internal and external sources. Guided by a solid strategy, content co-creation with internal and external audiences supports numerous marketing and PR goals as well as reinforcing and growing relationships with current and emerging influencers.

#2 – Do you have some examples of some of your favorite and impactful participation marketing programs?

Parents are always proudest of their own children and I am very proud of the work we’ve produced at TopRank Marketing when it comes to co-creating content for marketing.

Content Marketing Wonderland eBooks

In fact, the “Content Marketing in Wonderland” campaign we co-created with industry influencers to promote Content Marketing Institute’s Content Marketing World conference last year won a DGR Killer Content Award and is a finalist in MarketingProfs Bright Bulb Awards.

View the full case study here.

#3 – How do you think that your experience in SEO has helped you become a more effective content marketer?

When innovation and adaptability are the norm for a marketer, it creates a great foundation for being competitive in today’s fast-changing digital marketing environment.

Great SEOs are out-of-the-box lateral thinkers. They are capable of both left and right brain solutions to moving target problems presented by changing search engine algorithms. When innovation and adaptability are the norm for a marketer, it creates a great foundation for being competitive in today’s fast-changing digital marketing environment.

SEOs are also driven by observable results and data informed strategies – characteristics that are highly valuable with scalable digital marketing programs that need to integrate across tactics.

I think those perspectives have been highly transferable for me and have contributed to being more effective.

#4 – What are some of your go-to tools for influencer discovery?

  • BuzzSumo alerts and trends
  • Influencer tracking with Traackr
  • Several niche email newsletters about content, social, PR and search marketing
  • Bookmarked queries on Google News for various marketing topics
  • Various bookmarked digital marketing resources ranging from marketingcharts.com to the very funny marketoonist.com

#5 – Your Book “Optimize” is still regarded as one of the top books for digital marketers. What do you think has made this book stand the test of time in a quickly evolving industry?

Optimize is about empathizing with customers and creating a great experience through integrated content, search and social media.

While the name “Optimize” makes the book seem to be about SEO, it’s really about empathizing with customers and creating a great experience through integrated content, search and social media. I think the book continues to be popular because the importance of buyers in marketing will never expire.

Optimize takes a strategic approach to understanding a target audience and use insight about how content is discovered, consumed and acted on to inform a digital marketing strategy.

#6 – Your session at Content Marketing World is titled “Participation Marketing: How to Co-Create, Optimize & Socialize Content with Influencers”. What are three things you want the audience from your session to walk away understanding about participation marketing?

  1. What brand & customer interests can you align with co-creators in your network?
  2. Incorporate search & social topics into the fabric of your co-created content
  3. Make content creation, promotion and success a community effort

Enter to Win a Ticket to Content Marketing World 2015


Content Marketing World will be here before we know it. If you’re pining for a spot at the conference but haven’t been able to make it work, we’ve got something special for you. TopRank Marketing is giving away a pass for Content Marketing World’s Main Conference and Industry Lab.

In the spirit of participation marketing, we’re asking that you submit your most pressing participation marketing question to cmw15@gobigcontent.com to enter to win your free Content Marketing World conference pass. Please include your name, best email address to reach you, twitter handle and question in your submission. We only have one to give away, so make your question count. We will announce the winner just one week from today on Monday August 31st, so send your submission soon.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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  • August 22, 2015

How To Engage Instagram With The Right Content

Engage Your Instagram Following with the Right Content [Infographic] – If you focus on one social channel in 2015 it better be Instagram. With over 300 million active users and 3x more engagement than Twitter, it offers the richest opportunity for exposure and conversation around your brand. Learn how you can engage your Instagram audience from this great infographic. Social Media Explorer

Instagram Tops Snapchat, Vine in Satisfaction, Buzz (Report) – Consumer satisfaction and buzz is trending as follows, according to YouGov BrandIndex: Instagram up, Snapchat steady, Vine down. SocialTimes

Only 21% of Marketers Include SEO in Their Budgets [Study] – Nearly 80 percent of marketing decision-makers fail to include SEO in their budgets, according to new research from global tech public relations agency Hotwire. Search Engine Watch

Instagram Mobile Ad Revenues to Reach $2.81 Billion Worldwide in 2017 – Instagram will bring in $595 million in mobile ad revenues worldwide this year, according to eMarketer’s first-ever forecast of how much advertisers will spend on the social network. eMarketer

Study: Non-Mobile-Friendly Sites Disappearing From Top Google Results – Remarkably there are many brands and companies that still don’t have mobile-friendly sites. According to a new study from Moovweb there are clear visibility and ranking consequences, in addition to usability consequences. Search Engine Land

Facebook Thrives, Pinterest Lags As Driver Of E-Commerce Sales Conversions [Survey] – Facebook was the top converting channel for 64% of online retailers in the US and UK, according to a survey by ChannelAdvisors. Only 5% said the same about Pinterest. Marketing Land

Report: Digital Natives Do Everything From Mobile Devices – A study from Refuel Agency, a marketing agency specializing in teen and niche marketing, examines current trends among millennial teens. SocialTimes

Facebook Study Proves ‘lol’ Is Dying Out Online – Facebook analyzed its users’ posts (private messages were not included in this study) and determined that only 1.9 percent of internet gigglers most commonly used “lol.” Just over half of people preferred the classic “haha,” a third turn to emoji, and the remaining 13 percent is rounded out by “hehe” lovers. The Week

Survey: 71 Percent Browse Retail Apps Before Buying In-Stores – Retailers as a group haven’t figured out how apps fit into their larger strategies, despite all the “omnichannel” rhetoric to the contrary. To date, retail apps have mostly been treated as small-screen versions of e-commerce desktop sites with some “circular” content (e.g., offers) thrown in. Marketing Land

Introducing LinkedIn Lookup: Easily Find, Learn About, and Contact Your Coworkers – A new LinkedIn app that makes professionals more productive and successful by helping them easily find, learn about, and contact their coworkers. LinkedIn [client]

Facebook Pulls Ahead of Google In Referral Traffic – Google may be synonymous with web traffic to many people, but Facebook refers more traffic to news sites, according to recent data from traffic analytics firm Parse.ly. Search Engine Watch

Pinterest and Instagram Users on the Rise – LinkedIn and Twitter, not so Much [Report] – New data from Pew Research has found that the proportion of online Americans who use Pinterest and Instagram has doubled since Pew first started tracking social media platform adoption in 2012. Use of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, on the other hand, while it’s also grown steadily over the years, is now starting to slow. Social Media Today

From our Online Marketing Community:

In response to Learn How to Harness the Power of Millennial Employees, Laith Marmash said, “Really interesting article Ashley. Love your view on failure, and how it should be celebrated as it means an attempt was made to try something new.”

On The New Era of SEO: Optimize for People Before Searchbots, Escapevidya commented, “Thanks for sharing. I have always wondered if I can follow the natural instinct of an user.”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Spredfast

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Online Marketing News: Less Are LOLing, Move Over Non-Mobile-Friendly, LinkedIn Gets Lookedup | http://www.toprankblog.com

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  • August 21, 2015


The dreaded content marketing rut, we’ve all been there. Everyone from copywriter to CMO has experienced content marketing fatigue at one point or another. Sometimes it feels like no matter how hard you try you can’t quite seem to:

  • Create enough content
  • Get the engagement you need
  • Find interesting ways to innovate

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Recent research has found that, 70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they were a year ago and 54% find producing engaging content to be a challenge.

If only there were a list of tips that you could reference from time to time when you need a content marketing pick-me-up.

Well, look at what we have here! Keep this list of 25 content marketing tips handy for whenever the need strikes.

Want to Make Your Blog More Impactful?


  • Stand for something specific – Being focused and opinionated attracts attention. It builds authority and credibility.
  • Human recognition – Curate responses to opinions into content that recognizes contributors
  • Know your audience – Understand how your blog readers prefer to discover, consume and act on content.
  • Look beyond yourself for blog topics and writing – Connect with your community for inspiration – crowdsource topics through analysis of blog engagement.
  • Review the content type and buying cycle – What is to be accomplished? Who is it for and where in the buying cycle does the focus need to be?
  • Examine your objective – The individual pieces of content need to match the objective of the content marketing strategy as a whole.
  • Make your audience feel something – Many resources specialize in photography that expresses specific emotions, but the image must mesh with the overall content message

Experiencing Writer’s Block?


  • Draft first – If you’re having trouble creating an outline, do your draft first, then reverse engineer the outline.
  • Be conversational – Write as if you’re having a conversation with an old friend. Write the way that you would talk, maybe even exaggerate the tone.
  • Forget perfection – When you’re stuck trying to write perfection, turn off your inner editor and just write garbage. Try even typing with your eyes closed so that you’re not tempted to edit. Then look at it and edit and refine it until it’s worth showing.
  • Find an ideal time – Everyone’s brain works in different ways. Find the time of day that works best for you to be creative with your copywriting and try to set aside a time slot each day to focus on writing.  

Not Sure How to Repurpose Existing Content?


  • Repurposing basics – Customize and deconstruct – Take an eBook and structure it to be industry specific so you can create different versions for distinctive industries.
  • Make lists – Collect disparate resources relevant to your target audiences and rank them.
  • Interview famous and soon to be famous, industry leaders – Create a library of quotes for social shares to a specific audience. Use tips and quotes to create an infographic.
  • Capture live or recorded content aka “Live blogging” – Find events offline or online, live or recorded that contain content and influencers relevant to your target audience.

Struggling with Your Influencer Marketing Strategy?


  • Defining influence – Take into account their ability and willingness to affect action – not just achievement of high fan, friend and follower counts.
  • Don’t get distracted – Don’t be blinded by the prospect of fame by association. Popular influencers  won’t necessarily create positive effects for brand marketing and PR goals..
  • Validate influencers – Narrow down a short list of influencers by finding correlations across multiple influencer discovery tools and then validating through manual inspection of their work.
  • Share a game plan – Provide examples of a thought leader who is already speaking to your target audience. Share steps for how you might attract, engage and partner with those influencers.
  • Be the expert – Help your boss & constituents understand what influencer marketing is and isn’t.
  • Be mindful of results – Focusing on social shares vs clickthroughs and actions creates fuzzy influencer results.

Need to Weave More Storytelling into Your Content?


  • Develop and advance the narrative – Strong brand stories are told through anecdotes, strung together to advance the narrative.
  • Customer-centric value – Use statistics & percentages. Try sharing customer feedback.directly.
  • Address human needs – B2B content should elevate the product or service to address the human needs of the audience.
  • Visualize the message – Convey emotion through visual stimulation, and use a variety of visual elements such as videos, infographics, memes, comics, SlideShares and quotes.

Hopefully this list provides you with some inspiration when you’re struggling to make your content marketing program shine. What have you found works best for you when you’re in a content marketing slump?

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  • August 20, 2015

Digital Marketing SpotlightToday we begin a new series of interviews with digital marketing professionals from the front lines of marketing to executives in the C-Suite. Our goal? To shine a light on the secrets to digital marketing success through strategy and tactics, challenges and wins, technology, operations, best practices and a little social media fun.

Starting off the series is Tami Cannizzaro (@tamicann) Senior Director of Marketing at eBay where she is responsible for global demand generation and driving lead targets across four major business units. In this interview, Tami talks about what she’s learned from her years at IBM in her new role at eBay, tips on choosing marketing technology, outsourcing vs. insourcing, the convergence of earned, owned and paid media and insightful career advice for rising digital marketers. Plus we learn what she really thinks about the top social networks.

Tami CannizzaroYou recently joined eBay as Senior Director, Global Demand Generation (congrats!) after many years at IBM. What prompted the change and what’s your focus now?

During my time at IBM, I integrated new acquisitions and built our leadership in product categories – SOA, Social Business, Smarter Commerce, Smarter Marketing and finally, Cloud computing. I had done almost every job and was ready for the challenge of working for a smaller, high-growth company.

At a larger B2B brand, the sales force can rely more heavily on the brand name to drive new business. At a mid-sized company, every dollar spent in driving demand needs to drive leads and impact the bottom line. In my new role, I run the demand generation program for eBay’s Enterprise unit. Our company helps companies to grow and scale their ecommerce and in store business. I’m on the hook to drive new leads in support of sales growth.

What lessons have you learned from your experience as a technology marketer that translate to your responsibilities at eBay?

I have worked with many different marketing organizations in the past 10 years and I find that the most successful ones operate with a single focus – driving top line revenue growth. This mission aligns the entire organization to become results driven.

To rise above the noise, you need to increase your touchpoints by 10x if not more to reach a prospect.

In B2B, there’s a shift from product to category marketing. I have found the most success when aligning the entire organization to go after a new market. That means PR, AR, DG, partner marketing, social media, all coming together and aligning to drive a leadership message. Gone are the days when a single message or one way advertising campaign can break through. Tech has become incredibly saturated with new entrants given the low cost of entry caused by the onslaught of applications and rapid pace of innovation. To rise above the noise, you need to increase your touchpoints by 10x if not more to reach a prospect.

One of the biggest observations I’ve made in the last year or so is that the customer, the technology and the techniques to prospect are changing at a rapid pace. I work to embrace new techniques and pilot new programs all the time. I consider myself a student of marketing and I am learning something new every day. The reality is that If you aren’t evolving as a marketer in this landscape, you’re falling behind.

When you enter into a new marketing leadership role, what is your approach to getting things up to speed? How do you balance hiring more staff vs. using outside vendors and agencies?

I am not married to any particular agency or staffing model. Designing a team and hiring agencies all depends on your budget, the skills at hand and the agencies you have at your disposal. I love working with smaller agencies who can partner with you on driving business results.

There’s huge upside with the right investment in digital – most B2B companies are just scratching the surface.

For digital demand generation, it’s critical to have resources on your team dedicated to lead development. I learned about digital conversion from two companies I had the opportunity to work with very closely – Coremetrics and Softlayer. They both had models which depended almost entirely on digital for lead flow. Most B2B companies still use digital as a supporting function to their business versus an engine to drive the business. I personally think most B2B companies are underinvested in terms of skills, budget and digital programs. There’s huge upside with the right investment in digital. Most B2B companies are just scratching the surface.

Companies are maturing in their use of content, especially with the flurry of content hubs that are meant to support demand generation objectives. What do you think is the most important criteria for an established brand to be a “brand publisher”?

Producing sufficient content is the topic that keeps me up at night. Today, the first brand impressions are less likely to be advertising and more likely to be an article or a blog or piece of content. Take Salesforce for example. They do a great job of creating content to help a B2B marketer with CRM strategy. They have become the go-to brand for CRM by building their authority and giving prospects the confidence they are the right platform choice.

For my money, I suggest turning traditional ad dollars into a content engine.

You can hire agencies to help deliver content at scale – like NewsCred – hire external contractors, or turn your traditional product marketing team into a team of journalists. Many agencies these days will white label your content. It really depends on your business model.

For my money, I suggest turning those traditional ad dollars into a content engine. It’s more effective and works harder for you. You can hire an agency to do this, which is easier, or hire internally, which is more efficient.

Marketing Technology Scott Brinker

There are more marketing technology options available now than ever. I think Scott Brinker’s diagram is up to 1,800 different platforms and SaaS offerings. How do you make marketing technology choices? Do business units have autonomy or is it led by corporate marketing?

In my group, the technology choices are led by the demand generation team together with our operations and CIOs office. I agree it can be an overwhelming process. Integration of systems is key or you lose your view of the funnel. Simplicity and robustness are two trade-offs that also need to be made. Some tools are simple and easy to use but don’t have the functionality. I’ve often seen technology go unused or misused because it’s too complicated.

Corporate marketing has chosen the Marketo and Salesforce platforms for our business. At a unit level, we’re free to augment with analytics, custom dashboards, social media, re-targeting solutions etc. I’m leading that process now for our group. We’re actively shopping several technology ad-ons to augment the basic functions of marketing automation.

Marketing and communications roles are converging within many organizations as owned, earned, paid and social media intertwine. For example, PR is increasingly running ads as sponsored content, marketing is using social networks to connect with influencers and advertisers are creating content hubs. What does the modern marketing and PR entity look like? Are they converged, independent or something new?

I started working with a new head of communications recently who is very evolved in his thinking. A legacy PR person will try to land grab and own all communications, including social. They can feel threatened by an organization broadly engaged in social media.

An evolved PR person will understand marketing and PR need to support and amplify one another. Successful social takes engagement from across the organization.

There needs to be seamless collaboration (between marketing and PR) or it doesn’t work.

On balance, I would say it needs to converge and move from a command and control traditional PR model to shared ownership. For instance, a Brand Channel on Forbes is a marketing buy. I will make the buy and work with my PR team on the right story/placement. My team may apply paid against that channel to amplify something the PR team has done. There needs to be seamless collaboration or it doesn’t work.

What career advice would you give to rising digital marketing executives on skills and advancing their career?

My advice is to get in the mindset that you always need to be in learning mode and evolving as a marketer. The biggest mistake I see executives make is that they haven’t changed their game up in the last 5 years. Consumer behavior is changing rapidly. Every day new social platforms are being introduced. Every day traditional marketing programs are becoming less effective and so you need to be ready to try new things.

You always need to be in learning mode and evolving as a marketer.

I would also advise to embrace the next generation. I’ve worked with execs who find millennial colleagues very threatening in terms of their ability to question the traditional way of doing things. My advice is to learn from them and be humble enough to learn form the intern on your team who will likely bring the freshest perspective!

Finally, I would suggest building your public persona. Headhunters and brands are looking for someone who can bring credibility to their brand. Having industry credibility can only help to position you as a standout candidate and forward thinking marketer.

How do you deal with information overload in the marketing world and what marketing and technology information resources do you rely on to stay current?

I read my twitter feed every day – #Marketing #CMO #Digital.  I follow a number of people regularly who I respect in the industry. I have a must read list for certain thought leaders like yourself including:

These industry experts keep me current and I often learn about trends from their news feeds.

I also read several marketing and digital magazines on Flipboard. I search topsy.com which combs for the most shared social content to find new trends or topics.

Let’s play social media word association. I’ll list social networks and media sites and you reply with what comes to mind first:

Facebook – Personal Network

Vine – Video Shorts

LinkedIn – Professional Network

Twitter – Industry Network

Meerkat or Periscope – Real Time Video

Google+ – Search engine ranking

Snapchat – Teen platform

YouTube – Video platform

Instagram – High impact visuals

Flickr – Photo sharing

Pinterest – Mommy site

My Space – Is it still around?

Thanks Tami! 

You can find Tami on Twitter, LinkedIn and on her site, Digital Age of Marketing.

Be sure to check in for our next Digital Marketing Spotlight interview with Jeff Marcoux, CMO Lead, Worldwide Enterprise Marketing at Microsoft.

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