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The Next Level of Influence: 30 Essential Influencer Marketing Statistics

30 Essential Influencer Marketing Statistics

30 Essential Influencer Marketing Statistics

Pop Quiz: When influencer marketing is done right, who wins?

a) Your brand
b) The influencers
c) Your audience
d) All of the above

In case you missed the last few classes, the answer is D. In the ideal influencer marketing engagement, your brand gets a boost in credibility, authority, and exposure to a new audience. The influencer gets a cool content asset to promote, association with other thought leaders, and is able to grow their influence in their niche. And the audience gets awesome content neither the influencer nor the brand could have produced on their own.

Getting to that “everyone wins” stage requires strategic planning and execution, though. You can’t just throw money at someone with a big Instagram following and expect results.

Our agency was a pioneer in B2B influencer marketing, and we’re invested in taking it to the next level. Our approach has seen amazing results for Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike.

To help you reach the next level of influencer marketing — what we call Influence 2.0 — this post combines our experience with original research from other thought leaders in the industry:

  1. Influencer Marketing: Science, Strategy & Success (Zine)
  2. An Evaluation of Brand Influencer Partnerships (Onalytica and Smart Insights)
  3. Two Sides of the Same Coin: Exploring the Brand and Influencer Relationship in Influencer Marketing (Activate)
  4. State of Influence 2.0 2018 (Traackr & Altimeter Group)
  5. Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing (TopRank & Altimeter & Traackr)
  6. The State of Influencer Marketing 2017 (Linqia)
  7. Sponsored Spenders Survey (Collective Bias)

Read on to upgrade your influencer marketing and get ready for what comes next.

30 Essential Influencer Marketing Statistics

Influencer Marketing Works

  1. Over half of brands say influencer content outperforms brand-created content. Only 6% said it underperformed brand content. 6
  2. 78% of consumers will buy when recommended by someone they feel they know and trust. 1
  3. 67% of consumers have no negative reaction to sponsored content. 7
  4. 58% of brands have seen improved brand awareness and perception from influencer marketing campaigns. 2
  5. 54% saw an increase in leads and revenue. 2

Influencer marketing works because the message comes from people your audience already trusts. It also works for awareness and brand positioning, but also for driving revenue.

As our CEO Lee Odden defines it: „Influencer marketing activates internal and industry experts with engaged networks to co-create content of mutual value and achieve measurable business goals.“

[bctt tweet=“#InfluencerMarketing activates internal and industry experts with engaged networks to co-create #content of mutual value and achieve measurable business goals. – @leeodden“ username=“toprank“]

Very Few Influencer Marketing Programs are Fully Mature

  1. Only 10% of organizations are fully mature with influencer marketing; that is, running a cross-functional program. 4
  2. 46% are using influencer marketing tactically, but have not integrated it across marketing. 4
  3. 57% of marketers say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities by 2020. 5
  4. 62% are going to spend more on influencer marketing in the year to come. Only 4% will spend less. 4

Marketers have a ways to go with influencer marketing sophistication. Investing more time and budget is a good start, but sophistication really comes from integrating influencers across your marketing initiatives on an ongoing basis, from strategy to content to promotion and beyond.

[bctt tweet=“#B2B #influencermarketing is still in its infancy—which means there are plenty of opportunities to begin implementing it today. @azeckman“ username=“toprank“]

Sophisticated Influencer Marketing Involves Deeper Relationships

  1. Nearly half of marketers are working on long-term campaigns w/influencers. 2
  2. 40% of influencers say they’re in long-term partnerships. 2
  3. 48% of B2C influencer programs are ongoing, but only 11% of B2B are. 5
  4. Only 29% of influencers are asked for their opinion on content direction. 1
  5. 55% of marketers say content strategy and direction are decided well before influencers are added. 1
  6. Only 25% of influencers said brands shared engagement goals with them. 1

Building long-term relationships with influencers is crucial for sustainable influencer marketing. The relationship-building should include working with the influencers on content strategy, direction, and engagement goals.

As Rani Mani, Adobe’s Head of Social Influence Enablement, recently told us in an interview: „We at Adobe pride ourselves on cultivating and nurturing long term relationships with our influencers. We look at it as dating with an eye towards long term commitment which means we are always looking to establish a ‚give to get‘ exchange where all parties come out ahead.“

[bctt tweet=“We look at #influencermarketing as dating with an eye towards long term commitment, which means we are always looking to establish a ‚give to get‘ exchange where all parties come out ahead. – @ranimani0707″ username=“toprank“]

Influence Is More than Follower Count

  1. Only 25% of consumers are more likely to buy a product when someone with over 1 million followers recommends it. 1
  2. As reach grows, engagement tends to drop. 1,ooo-10,000 is the sweet spot for engagement. 1

It’s time to rethink what makes a good influencer, especially for B2B brands. Reach is only one part of the equation; resonance and relevance are even more important than size of audience.

Not long ago, our own Ashley Zeckman, Senior Director of Digital Strategy, wrote: „Social reach should be a consideration for your B2B influencer marketing program, but not the only one. Sometimes the influencers with the largest reach may not be engaging their audience in a meaningful way that leads to more users connecting with your content.“

Look for people who are actively engaging with their audience, and are talking about topics relevant to your brand.

[bctt tweet=“#Social reach should be a consideration for your #B2B #influencermarketing program, but not the only one. @azeckman“ username=“toprank“]

Aim for Content Co-Creation, Not Sponsorship

  1. 73% of influencers said they put more effort into content when they’re passionate about the brand/product. 1
  2. Only 27% said they put in more effort when the campaign involves financial compensation. 1
  3. Only 34% expect financial compensation. 1
  4. However, 65% expect some form of reward. 1
  5. Only 14% said being paid well was the most important reason to work with a brand. 2
  6. 52% say building their influence on key topics is most important reason to be an influencer. 2
  7. Top criteria for influencers choosing brands? Most important is “I love the brand and already post about them organically.” 3

While financial compensation can be part of your influencer marketing strategy, it shouldn’t be the whole strategy. Money can’t buy genuine enthusiasm and emotional investment. Look for influencers who are already excited about your brand, are eager to share their thoughts and expertise on a relevant topic, and work with them to create content you both can be proud of.

[bctt tweet=“While financial compensation can be part of your #influencermarketing strategy, it shouldn’t be the whole strategy. Money can’t buy genuine enthusiasm and emotional investment. @NiteWrites“ username=“toprank“]

Level Up Your Measurement

  1. 78% of marketers surveyed use influencers to build brand awareness. 3
  2. 45% cite sales conversion as their primary goal. 3
  3. 5% of marketers surveyed are tracking engagement rate, while only 45.92% track sales conversion. 3
  4. 37% of influencers cite brand awareness as their goal, while 22% cite sales conversion. 3
  5. 74% of marketers surveyed said sales conversion was one of their top goals for influencer marketing. 5
  6. 76% of marketers surveyed said determining ROI was their top concern. 6

Influencer marketing isn’t just for brand awareness. Like every other marketing tactic, your influencer efforts can contribute to revenue and that impact should be properly attributed. It’s important to make revenue measurement part of your initial planning and goal-setting.

[bctt tweet=“#InfluencerMarketing focuses on the entire customer journey, driving demand, leads and to help with nurture. @AmishaGandhi @SAPAriba“ username=“toprank“]

The Next Evolution of Influence

As these statistics show, it’s time to rethink what influencer marketing is and what it can do. It’s more than one-off sponsorship deals with celebrity contributors to boost brand awareness.

Influence 2.0 means finding the true influencers for your audience. It means developing long-term relationships to co-create valuable content worth getting excited about. And it means setting goals throughout the marketing funnel and being equipped to measure them, from engagement down to revenue. When you can do all of that, everybody wins.

Is your B2B organization just getting started with influencer marketing? There are six things you absolutely need to know.

The post The Next Level of Influence: 30 Essential Influencer Marketing Statistics appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Source:: toprankblog.com

Google Activity Cards: Inviting users to be better connected with their past search activity

google activity card

The latest tweak to Google’s search results which lets us browse, save, and delete results from similar searches we’ve made before is the next step in the company’s journey toward making the SERPs even more intuitive, tailored, and useful.

Access to our respective search histories is not a new Google feature. Each of us can – if we have a Google account – simply click Settings > History, and from there browse, search for, or delete any past searches we want to.

The launch of Google’s new activity cards on January 9th appears to be building on the principle of giving the user more control.

So what functionality do they offer? And what are their implications for transparency, SEO and how we move around online?

What are Google activity cards?

For certain searches, we will begin seeing a small card marked “Your related activity” at the very top of the SERPs. We can expand this card to show results we have clicked on when making similar searches in the past.

The spiel from Google is that this is particularly useful for long running tasks:

“Whether it’s meal planning for a new food regimen, researching new stretching routines for post-gym recovery or picking up a new hobby. You might come back to Search to find information on the same topic, hoping to retrace your steps or discover new, related ideas.”

Bringing bookmarking/pinning functionality to search

There is more to activity cards than merely offering another set of results to peruse.

In a couple of clicks users can save searches to collections. This gives another layer of organization where users can view and scroll through a digital pinboard of relevant past searches they have made.

It is also just as simple to delete any unwanted results from the card too.

google activity card

More transparency?

We have known for a long time that certain search results appear because we have clicked through to that page in the past.

Activity cards make things more transparent, even for the most casual Google user.

It is now far more clear to visualize what in a set of SERPs is appearing there because of our own behavior rather than the strength/popularity of the content according to other users.

Implications for SEO and user journeys

It’s a little too early to see any definite implications these cards will have for search engine optimization and how much they will change our journeys as users.

Bear in mind that at this stage the cards are only appearing for selected searches. Specifically, the cards appear on so-called long running tasks where Google deems them relevant.

That said, for results that do include activity cards, those cards can be seen to occupy the most important part of the SERP. They appear right at the top of the page, even above sponsored listings.

This might frustrate digital marketers if we see sponsored and organic listings in the main SERP receive less traffic.

It also might make life a little more difficult for newer sites if Google’s users – for certain searches, at least – already have a well-clicked plethora of personally trusted domains.

Additionally, those who are skeptical about the risk of digital echo chambers may also view such personalized results as a problem rather than a solution.

Broadly a positive move

While it remains to be seen whether activity cards make any drastic changes to search and our habits, I think they are a positive move in terms of transparency and control for the user.

We found many key takeaways from the recent appearance of Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai at Congress in December.

One of the main ones, though, was realizing just how difficult a task Google has in assuring everyday search users that they can trust the search results.

Google spend a lot of energy helping users believe that the results they receive appear due to metrics such as whether content is fresh, popular, or has been visited by the user before – rather than by favoritism or bias on the part of the company itself.

These clearly-labelled activity cards might promote greater awareness of just why users receive the results that they do.

Similarly, there is also something to be said for introducing casual users to be more hands-on with taking ownership of their search activity.

Users still need to click through to Settings to view/delete searches from all their history. However, seeing how easy it is (just a couple of clicks) to browse and delete results in the activity card may promote other ways users can find things they’ve searched for in the past. It can also help users remove things they want to get rid of.

The post Google Activity Cards: Inviting users to be better connected with their past search activity appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

How to Choose a B2B Marketing Agency that Can Evolve with Your Needs

How to Choose an Agency That Will Evolve with Your Needs

How to Choose an Agency That Will Evolve with Your NeedsB2B brands‘ marketing departments are constantly evolving. Over the past 10 years, marketing teams have undergone a seismic shift to accommodate changing technology, millennial consumers and employees, and to breakdown silos between marketing and the rest of the business.

To keep pace with the changing marketplace, many B2B brands are working to find the perfect balance between growing out their in-house digital marketing team and partnering with an external digital marketing agency. Most brands are seeking agency partners to provide a spectrum of services, from tactical support to creative strategy and content innovation. And they need a partner that can adapt and evolve along with their marketing needs and opportunities.

So, the question is: To find that partner that can grow and adapt to your needs, what should you be looking for?

In our humble opinion, the best brand/agency partnerships help brands stay ahead of their competitors with integrated strategies, an eye on the latest and greatest, and the ability to measure and iterate on the success of campaigns. Here are some key characteristics that you should be on the lookout for.

What to Look for in a B2B Marketing Agency Partner

#1 – They have an eye (and hand) on emerging trends.

Interactive content. Influencer marketing. Podcasting. Virtual Reality. As the B2B landscape and B2B buyers evolve, brands and marketers need to adapt their digital and content marketing strategies to not only stand out from their competition and reach their target audience audience, but connect and resonate with buyers. And that means carefully investing in new types of content and strategies.

Of course, dipping your toe into new waters can be scary, and you’ll need to set aside time, resources, and budget for testing new mediums and following trends. And at the end of the day, you need the expertise to get it done. That’s where an experienced agency partner can help you gain traction.

For example, if you’re interested in going bold with interactive content; look for an external agency with experience here to help you:

  • Planning: An experienced marketing agency likely already has a planning checklist developed and has worked through the kinks you haven’t even considered yet; like where to host, how to optimize multi-media files, and how to create a UX experience in an non-static asset.
  • Tools and Equipment: New trends often require new technology. Tap into a marketing agency’s existing tool set and expertise using the tools.
  • Optimization: Another benefit of agency specialization is that they’ve already optimized the process, the promotion mix and experience, so your brand gets the benefit of all that experience; instead of having to start from scratch.
  • Measurement: A great agency partner will be able to help you set up tracking and provide reporting to tell you if and how emerging trends are really working for you.

#2 – They possess undeniable strategic acumen.

External agencies are great at providing support and creative ideas as needed for projects. However, the development of agency talent, expertise and context, provides agencies with strategic expertise to help you develop the marketing approach that informs their tactical support.

Tapping into an outside perspective to deep dive into owned, competitive, or prospect data to develop a comprehensive strategy and recommendation can be a really impactful set up in planning. External agencies can offer brand support in:

  • Owned and competitive audits.
  • Strategic roadmaps.
  • Customer or prospect research and profiles.
  • Overcoming marketing pain points like a lack of qualified leads or a sudden drop in traffic.

#3 – They challenge the status quo.

In-house marketing teams offer the benefit of people that are deeply immersed within the brand and the team. Frequently they sit in the same building, same floor as the rest of the team, making them easily accessible for questions, brainstorming, and strategy development.

This can be a great benefit when it comes to the free flow of information and integration across team. However, familiarity can be stifle innovation. But the good news is that it can empower an outsider to think differently.

By offering a third-party, neutral perspective, an agency can drive tough conversations that push you out of your comfort zone to create next-level strategies, and help:

  • Persuade: Agencies‘ specialization and work across many clients can drive knowledge and credibility which may be able to convince a marketing team to take the next step.
  • Bring new ideas: Agency marketers, who live and breathe new marketing, and often focus on creative hires, can supply brands with new tactical or creative approaches which can push the envelope and grab attention within the marketplace.

#4 – They prioritize client relationships.

The relationship an external agency creates with your brand and in-house team is so critical. The best agency/brand relationships are based on trust and genuine alignment of goals.

Strong relationships are a key factor in creating innovative and successful marketing tactics. As you are considering agency partners, look for:

  • Alignment of values, purpose and mission: Agencies and brands that fit and work best together tend to have alignment around key culture items. Teams which exemplify the brand/agency core values are able to connect and enjoy working collaboratively toward the same goals.
  • Engaged Listening: Agency partners need to advise, but they should also be adept listeners. During the prospecting phase, a potentially great agency partner should be able to really listen to your business‘ needs and present a solution that syncs with your brands‘ objectives.
  • Thoughtfulness: Yes, great agency partners are responsive to your needs and queries. Perhaps more important than a quick response; is thoughtfulness and quality of response. A really great partner will offer you well thought out and creative solutions to challenges and questions, to really drive results.
  • A referral from someone you trust: When it doubt, ask your colleagues and associates for a referral to an agency they love. If they love them, that agency is already more likely to align with your values, be familiar with your brand voice and requirements, and think of you as a highly valuable partner.

#5 – They’re committed to transparency of contracts, tactics, and data.

Along with prioritizing the relationship, the right agency partner will build trust with your brand by offering transparency, which comes to everything from contract deliverables to the results of your core KPIs.

If you are partnering with an agency to help you test emerging trends; it’s especially critical that a great partner share what is and is not working, so your teams can together optimize and iterate.

Whether it’s a change in timeline, a tweak to a tactical mix or an honest assessment of how you’re tracking against benchmarks, a good partner will drive straight forward conversations that help you move forward in the best way.

#6 – They know your niche.

In B2B it can be especially tough to get up to speed on a new vertical or product. Tapping into an agency that has a similar client base to you; speeds the learning curve as much as possible.

Industry trends (like IOT for example) often span verticals; so look for a partner that understands the lingo, but also has an existing network of influencer and contacts.

Better Together: Find a Partner You Can Grow With

The agency place within your marketing department will continue to evolve as your team does. And partnering with right agency can provide you with a partner who will help you innovate tactically and strategically, while providing your in house team with the support they need to reach their goals in 2019 and beyond.

What do you look for in a great agency partnership? Tell us in the comments section below.

We’re fortunate enough to have built client relationships that stand the test of time. For many, we engage in an always-on approach to digital marketing, allowing us to capitalize on opportunities and tackle challenges. Get a small glimpse into what an ongoing partnership looks like by learning how we were able to make small tweaks to yield big results for one legacy client.

The post How to Choose a B2B Marketing Agency that Can Evolve with Your Needs appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Source:: toprankblog.com

How to scale your social media marketing to build traffic and leads

ContentCal month

Scaling is all about making repetitive tasks more productive to be able to focus on more creative things and experiments.

I know a lot of people will cringe at the idea of scaling social media marketing because it is supposed to be all about human connections.

There are also many people who don’t believe you can attract any substantial amount of clicks from social media.

Well, both may be true but only if you do that wrong:

That’s not possible to build good traffic from social media without at least some sort of automating / scaling.

  • Social media audiences are fragmented: You cannot catch all of your social media followers with one single update.
  • Social media is multi-platform (has been for quite a while) and it’s impossible to be everywhere at the same time.
  • Social media won’t send you any traffic unless you are constantly there both engaging and broadcasting.

And while truly effective engagement cannot be efficiently scaled, you can scale all other parts of the puzzle, at least to some extent:

  • Social media posting
  • Social media tracking and analysis

Let’s see:

Cross-post with calendar publishing tools

Even if you have a dedicated full time social media team at your disposal, constantly publishing on social media is difficult to achieve. Big corporations have rotating shifts that handle it but for most of us we have to operate on a smaller scale, especially budget wise.

We can get around that by publishing scheduled posts, which includes cross-posting from one platform to another. That will cut the time spent on social media in half.

That doesn’t mean that all of your posts should be pre-made and scheduled, or that they should go to every single platform. It still takes intelligent planning.

My personal method is to sit down every month and plan a month’s worth of social media posts based around content that is going to be circulated and is already scheduled to post. Using ContentCal, I get all of those posts ready to go on all platforms.

ContentCal is an affordable social media editorial calendar with some cool productivity features:

  • It makes things easy to delegate (Your team members may add posts to a “Pinboard” for you to drag and drop them throughout your calendar)
  • It makes it easy to review your monthly calendar and make sure you have something to go live daily
  • It make it a breeze to update multiple platforms with one click

From there, my team will dedicate time every day to manage regular social media interactivity. They will respond to posts, find brand mentions using listening tools and searches and do the more thorough work involved in the process.

Supported platforms: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram

Put your content in front of influencers where they expect it

The power of influencer marketing cannot be overstated. Twitter has become a particular powerhouse for the tactics, but Instagram, YouTube and even Snapchat are gaining a lead. Cultivating a relationship with influential social media users is mutually beneficial and can have lasting effects on your brand.

I have done the long term version of this, which takes a lot of time and effort for both you and the influencer. Viral Content Bee (Disclaimer: This is the project I co-founded) strives to make it easier by connecting you and the influencers straight away.

viralcontentbee

You share their content, they share yours. Both get some much needed exposure and without shady pay deals. It is easy and effective.

The main thing it eliminates any possible frustration of the “being used” feeling when influencers receive pitches to share something daily. Instead, they join that platform to find your content: All you need to do is to put it there.

Supported platforms: Twitter, Linkedin, Mix, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

Track your growth and learn from that growth

Growth for its own sake is important enough and that doesn’t even get into the importance to a brand, organic traffic and profitability. But one thing we sometimes forget is what we can learn from exponential growth and how it applies to future campaigns.

Some things work. Some things don’t. We need to be able to clearly see which is which and change it up accordingly. This is where watching every one of your social channels is critical, so you can respond to every tick up or down you may see.

Over time you will also begin to notice trends that can have a huge influence on your branding. Business can change their entire social direction based on the findings of these types of analytics.

There are endless tools for this purpose. My personal favorite is Cyfe because it is an all in one business dashboard that is fully customizable. You create your own widgets, monitoring whatever you want to and all for $19 per month (they have a free version but if you are going with a higher number of channels you will want to pay the money for the full features).

Cyfe

Cyfe can manage both social media monitoring and growth for you, from one single dashboard.

Furthermore, the best widget I ever created was a Google Analytics dashboard that monitored the traffic that came from each one of my social media accounts. It really showed where my team and I needed to focus our energies.

Supported platforms: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Google Analytics…

What NOT to scale

Some things you just cannot scale or automate well, so it’s better to stop trying.

  • Always participate in discussions. Interactions boost your social media “rank” making your updates more visible. This is true for all networks but especially Twitter where you can join any discussion out there, without being invited. Here’s a nice article on how to find comments on Twitter and engage with them.
  • Always engage with your social media mentions: Until we have a social media bot smart enough to talk to your customers online in public without sounding like a bot, do it manually. It will also give you a better feeling of your audience and customer base which is very useful in the wrong run.

Truth be told, marketing is going to be more and more automated going forward. Technology is making authentic and effective personalization possible, so marketing automation (including social media automation) discussion should mature. If you want to see your social media marketing bring any kind of ROI, automate.

And how do you scale social media for it to bring more traffic and leads? Share your tips!

The post How to scale your social media marketing to build traffic and leads appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

Two Key Marketing Opportunities Amid Stories of Fake Traffic and Fraudulent Metrics

Why Transparency & Organic Content Are Important for Marketers

Why Transparency & Organic Content Are Important for Marketers

“What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.” — Morpheus, The Matrix

~~~~~

„How much of the internet is fake?“ pondered the headline of a late-December New York Magazine feature, before answering its own question: „A lot actually.“

What followed was a systematic unpacking of that premise, via author Max Read. Though somewhat cynical and harsh, his argument was backed by facts and evidence at every turn.

He documented case after case of fake traffic and fraudulent metrics.

He shared videos of phony engagement factories known as click farms.

He cited real stories and statistics that verify the prominence, pervasiveness, and pestilence of these issues.

Read’s article shook me out of my restful holiday contentment. This wasn’t all news to me, but never had I seen so many examples compiled into one grim, gut-wrenching montage. The internet is an inherently murky place – you can’t physically count visitors to a blog post, as you could with attendees at a conference speech or customers in a store – so the success of a digital marketplace hinges on our collective faith in the integrity of data (and intentions).

It’s not the number of non-human „users” that troubles me. We’ve known for some time that bots make up a large portion of website traffic, and any analyst worth their salt is accounting for that reality. What troubles me is the potential (inevitable?) existence of nefarious actors seeking to deceive and benefit — and the repercussions thereof.

Mr. Read puts it best with this poignant observation:

„What’s gone from the internet, after all, isn’t ‚truth,‘ but trust: the sense that the people and things we encounter are what they represent themselves to be.“

Taking a Toll on Trust

The digital world saw its share of bombshells in 2018, and I’d argue few were bigger than the filing of an amended lawsuit from a group of small advertisers, alleging that Facebook knowingly delivered false video metrics back in 2015/16, and that the extent of this inflation was greater than previously believed.

Though just one isolated incident (hopefully), it’s the kind of headline that serves to further erode a diminishing level of trust between people and the institutions they rely on. These occurrences send shockwaves through the digital universe that are felt in every corner, with wide-reaching implications.

When polled by CMO Council last year, 62% of marketers indicated that reports about false and faulty metrics have caused them to pull back on spend with Facebook and Google. Meanwhile, the latest Edelman Trust Barometer shows pervasive global drops in trust toward platforms — most sharply in the U.S.

Global Trust IndexFor digital marketers that value accuracy and honesty, it can be tempting to ignore these kinds of stories and headlines, going about our own business and letting all that noise play out on its own. This would be a mistake.

We can only control what we can control, but within that realm, there are steps we can take to counteract these troubling narratives.

Two Key Opportunities for Digital Marketers

Internally and externally, marketers are dealing with uphill battles that are steepened by these developments. Internally, we have to be able to confidently trust our metrics and present them to our bosses. Externally, we’re facing an audience that is growing more distrustful by nature.

From my view, the growing recognition of fake web traffic and fraudulent metrics should compel marketers to reflect thoughtfully, and double-down on two vital cornerstones in the digital era: transparency and organic content.

#1: Transparency is More Essential Than Ever

It’s getting harder for people to take things at face value. So don’t force them to. The more we can be open and honest about our processes, practices, and principles, the more we can distance ourselves from shady actors who are damaging the industry’s reputation.

Data measurement and analysis is hard. Errors and mistakes happen. If your agency or business is frontal in the way it identifies and addresses these situations, you’re more likely to sustain trusting relationships with your clients, customers, and business partners.

One company that has impressed me with the way it embraces transparency is Lemonade, a tech-driven insurance company out of New York. In line with its overarching mission to combat trust issues that have plagued the insurance industry, Lemonade runs a content series on its website and social media called The Transparency Chronicles, introspectively discussing the business with a stunning level of candor.

“We suck, sometimes,” was the title of a post from co-founder Shai Wininger last June, reflecting on the first half of 2018. He didn’t shy away from his company’s shortcomings and failures; he acknowledged them, tried to learn from them, and invited the brand’s community to take part in the conversation. Beyond refreshing to see.

Lemonade Transprarency ChroniclesLemonade is basically bringing a new model to the market: insurance claims submitted directly through an app, with a personable AI bot as your guide, removing brokers and conflicts of interest from the equation. There are bound to be unforeseen snags and hiccups along the way with such an endeavor. The company’s openness about its journey makes customers more comfortable in taking part.

As a marketer, you can’t guarantee everything you try is going to work. You can’t even guarantee every view counted by a third-party platform is a genuine human being. But if you’re open, honest, and transparent, you can mitigate these uncertainties and ambiguities.

#2: Investing in Organic Content Programs Now Makes More Sense Than Ever

Paid media and digital advertising will forever remain important. But they represent a short-term, finite usage of marketing spend, whereas organic content is a long-term play that can keep on giving. It’s like renting traffic versus investing in traffic. In an age of shaky consumption metrics, the latter becomes all the more appealing.

Smart, strategic content marketing that aligns with your target audience and adheres to modern SEO principles will build equity over time. It’s more qualitative, and not as reliant on short bursts of traffic volume, so brands don’t need to concern themselves as much with the value of each view and click.

Speaking of which, we also need to move away from superficial measurement and toward meaningful measurement. It was encouraging to see, per Demand Gen’s 2018 Marketing Impact Report, that volume, pipeline, and revenue metrics are being prioritized, but still a bit puzzling that two out of three respondents are using activity data as proof of marketing’s value:

Demand Gen 2018 Marketing Impact ReportAt TopRank Marketing we’ve seen the bottom-line impact of content marketing demonstrated through program after program. One client, Welter Heating, saw a 590% combined increase in organic conversions during its busiest month over a four-year span with a best (local) answer content strategy. Another client, Innovatech, boosted conversion rates by 34% year-over-year through CRO and search optimization.

As I alluded earlier when talking about transparency, people tend to believe what they can see. The value of content marketing remains plainly evident, even in a hazy digital climate.

A Clear of View of Digital Marketing in 2019

In the movie The Matrix, quoted at the outset of this article, Morpheus presents Neo with an ultimatum: Take the blue pill and you’ll continue to live in blissful ignorance, believing whatever you wish to believe; take the red pill and you’ll see the truth, unpleasant as it might be.

That article from New York Magazine served as a red pill of sorts for me. There’s a seedy underbelly to this digital environment, one which has long dug at me like a splinter in my mind, but I’m ready to come to terms with it. And I’m ready to do all I can in 2019 beyond to make sure that our team is part of the solution, not part of the problem.

„The frustration across the marketing ecosystem is palpable, and new headlines that breach trust and showcase systemic carelessness have inflamed the issue,“ says Liz Miller, senior vice-president of marketing at CMO Council. „The industry as a whole must align on transparency and reliability.”

Hear, hear.

Through transparent practices and the reliability of integrated content strategy, digital marketing and its reputation can thrive as much as ever.

Looking for further information on the subject? Here’s how marketers can use the art of storytelling to build and regain trust.

The post Two Key Marketing Opportunities Amid Stories of Fake Traffic and Fraudulent Metrics appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Source:: toprankblog.com