SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

It’s only fitting we return home to the USA for this month’s edition of SEJ’ SEOlympics – it is the month we celebrate our independence and all. However, we’ve opted to break the list up into regions – starting with blogs located on the East Coast. This way we won’t leave out any of the phenomenal marketer blogs in America.

But, before we get into the list, here’s some interesting stats surrounding content marketing in North America.

Based on research conducted from the Content Marketing Institute, 9 out of 10 marketers were using content marketing in 2013. Marketers also increased the number of marketing tactics they used from 8 to 12. Furthermore, the use of social media for content marketing jumped from 74% to 84%. Finally, marketers increased their content marketing budgets from 26% to 33%.

There is clearly a lot going on in the USA marketing world.

Don’t be surprised if more marketers in the United States jump on the content marketing bandwagon during the remainder of 2014.

To help you along your journey, here are 10 spectacular marketer blogs based out of  the Eastern U.S. put together using subjective criteria like voice, content strategy, and quality.

If we forget to include a blog that you feel is worthy of this list please feel free to add your suggestion in the comment section below.

Finally, the following list is in no particular order. Enjoy.

map SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

Seth Godin probably doesn’t need an introduction. But just in case you’re not familiar with this best-selling author, here’s a brief bio.

Godin was in Mt. Vernon, New York. He graduated from Tufts University and later earned a MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 1986, he launched his first business Seth Godin Publications from a New York City studio apartment. Over the years, Mr. Godin has founded, or co-founded, Yoyodyne and Squidoo, was Yahoo’s vice president of direct marketing, authored 20 books, developed the idea of “permission marketing,”and hosts the podcast the Startup School on Earwolf.

And there’s also his blog.

Seth’s Blog is one of the most influential blogs for marketers. He keeps things short and gets right to the point. Besides teaching you a lot about marketing, Seth’s Blog can show you how to blog effectively everyday.

SEER Interactive

2014 07 02 20 25 55 SEO SEM Analytics Insights   SEER Interactive 1024x721 SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

SEER Interactive was founded in Philly back in 2002 by Wil Reynolds. Originally, SEER was just one a man operation that focused on search. Over time, SEER Interactive has built a team of talented and innovative people who have experience in search marketing, SEO, and analytics. However, what makes this agency unique is the team uses analytics to help companies land those important leads.

The SEER Interactive blog posts informative posts everyday of the week focusing on everything from creating engaging content to improving PPC performance. One example of an awesome recent post is “Launching An Infographic: 7 Steps To Success.”

While not directly related to the posts featured on the blog, we really enjoy the fact the profile picture of every team member is from their childhood. It’s a fun little feature that proves why SEER Interactive was named the Top Workplace by Philly.com.

Chris Brogan

2014 07 02 20 28 19 chrisbrogan.com %E2%80%94 Building the Digital Channel Beyond Social Media 1024x695 SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

Boston resident Chris Brogan has become a respected journalist, marketing consultant, and speaker on all things social media marketing. He’s also a best-selling author. His 2009 book Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust was a New York Times bestseller. Mr. Brogan also founded PodCamp and Kitchen Table Companies. He’s president of Human Business Works and also serves on the board of advisors of HubSpot.

Mr. Brogan also happens to run a popular blog, which was once included in the Top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150.

What we really like about this blog is that Chris asks: “What do you SEEK from me? Not what I’m selling. What do you SEEK? What are you hoping to glean? When you come here, you say, “If I read X, I’ll be able to do something in my world HERE (where?).”

That’s a refreshing approach for a blog designed to help your business grow.

Internet Marketing Ninjas

2014 07 02 20 30 13 The latest SEO Industry news notes and chat. SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

We doesn’t enjoy a story about a company launched in a basement? That’s what happened when Jim Boykin founded We Build Pages in 1999. Over the last decade, the name was changed to Internet Marketing Ninjas, and today their team of 100 employees works out of its office in Clifton Park, New York. Notable employees include the incredible Community and Brand Manager Ann Smarty.

The Ninja Army, however, is what makes this blog stand out. The team has experience in a number of fields ranging from sales, customer service, content writers, design, social media, and even an IT team. In short, the Internet Marketing Ninjas blog is a one-stop destination for all your marketing needs.

Chief Marketing Technologist Blog

2014 07 02 20 30 38 Chief Marketing Technologist Marketing Technology Management SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

Prior to launching this blog in 2008, Scott Brinker earned a BS in computer science from Columbia University, as well a MBA from MIT and an master’s degree in computer science from Harvard University. Throughout his career, Mr. Brinker has developed apps for CBS Sportsline, Tribune, the Miami Dolphins, and Fujitsu, founded a web development agency, and co-founded ion Interactive, a software company that tests post-click experiences.

The Chief Marketing Technologist Blog focuses mainly on posts, webinars, and videos in marketing data, management, tactics, and software. One of the most popular, and interesting, posts was the discussion on how “Strategy, marketing, and technology are all intertwined.”

Heidi Cohen – Actionable Marketing Guide

2014 07 02 20 33 58 Heidi Cohen Actionable Marketing Guide SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

Heidi Cohen’s Actionable Marketing Guide has been included in Social Media Examiner’s “Top 10 Social Media Blog” for two consecutive years (2012, 2013). And there’s a really good reason for that; Cohen uses her past marketing experience to explain and breakdown all of the latest marketing trends.

This blog does an excellent job of discussing topics related to social media marketing, mobile marketing, and content marketing. And don’t worry if you’re a newcomer to online marketing. Heidi also posts articles that provide insight on the basics of marketing and ideas on blog posts.

When she’s not busy on her blog, this New York City resident is also a professor, journalist, and speaker.

Convince and Convert

2014 07 02 20 35 53 Blog   Convince and Convert  Social Media Strategy and Content Marketing Strateg 1024x772 SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

Jay Baer has rather impressive resume. Since 1994 he has consulted over 700 brands including power house brands like Nike and Caterpillar. In 2008 he launched his fifth marketing firm Convince and Convert. The blog has since become a favorite and trusted source in the industry. In fact, it was ranked as the worlds #1 content marketing resource by the Content Marketing Institute.

Besides Baer (who happens to live in Bloomington, Indiana) the Convince and Convert blog also features posts from the talented 8-person team, along with the occasional guest blog. You can expect everything from how to gain brand advocates to using social media to create personal connections to how to run a SMS campaign.

B2B Marketing Insider

2014 07 02 20 38 39 Michael Brenner on B2B Marketing and Social Business   B2B Marketing Insider SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

West Chester, Pennsylvania, resident Michael Brenner has been involved with leadership, marketing, and sales for over 20 years – including positions at SAP as VP of Global Marketing and Content Strategy and Head of Digital Marketing for SAP Americas. He also founded the social news site Business 2 Community and the thought-leadership blog Business Innovation.

The B2B Marketing Insider blog features posts surrounding content marketing, strategy, social media, demand generation, mobile, and search marketing. The blog is used to discuss the latest ideas, topics and strategies that can help businesses improve sales, leads and customer loyalty.

Annielytics

2014 07 02 20 40 49 Annie Cushings Blog Covering Analytics SEO and Data Visualization SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

Annie Cushing clearly loves analytics – it’s in the blog name, after all. But what can you do with analytics? Cushing uses analytics to improve sales and social media campaigns by providing easy to understand blog posts that are short and sweet.

This Cherry Hill, New Jersey, resident posts frequent articles full of useful tips, tricks, and strategies you can use to gather and visualize data, especially with Google Analytics and Excel. You may not think analytics is a big deal, or even interesting, but this blog will prove otherwise.

MarketingSherpa

2014 07 02 20 42 03 MarketingSherpa Blog SEOlympics: Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

Based out of Jacksonville, Florida, Marketing Sherpa is a unique marketing blog. It provides surveys, case studies and data that can be used for all of your marketing campaigns. The blog also hosts lots of informative videos, as well as topics that range from LinkedIn to email marketing.

Source – Best Marketing Blogs of the US East

Content Marketing Optimization: Focus on ‘Critical Few’ Metrics

A growing problem with the rapidly rising tide of data content marketers are swimming in these days is it’s becoming much easier to become overwhelmed and drown. Much like an inexperienced swimmer struggling to stay afloat in the water as it rises overhead, problems are often rooted in not knowing what to do next. What’s even more unfortunate is when we drown in data, there are usually no lifeguards to save us.

However, the great news is we can learn to swim, and this is precisely why I like to remind the organizations I partner with to focus on what Avinash Kaushik refers to as the “critical few” metrics of success. This suggestion always resonates deeply with marketers.

The critical few metrics strategy involves focusing on no more than three or four ways to measure the business outcome of the work we do in content marketing. The fewer, the better — this is one area where you will get bonus points for keeping it simple!

The beauty of the critical few metrics concept is it forces us to think about business outcomes instead of obsessing over the full complement of raw data typically available to us when we log into our analytics platforms. In addition, focusing on outcomes allows us to communicate more successfully with leadership — business decision-makers love to hear about outcomes… and tend to glaze over when presented with raw data. How many times have you shared the most recent numbers with someone in leadership, only to hear them say something like, “That’s great… but what does a higher number of sessions mean to the business?

The tricky part is knowing which critical few metrics will be most important to your organization. While this varies across business types for far too many reasons to address here, for content marketing optimization purposes, we can certainly make a couple of assumptions as we explore the subject in more detail. Hopefully the knowledge gained will help you find your own critical few and grow incrementally better at measuring and communicating success.

It’s all about the Benjamins

Some friends and I were feeling quite patriotic as we stood around at our Fourth of July barbeque and eventually found ourselves discussing the Declaration of Independence and the idea of truths that are self-evident. Later that evening, as I lay in bed (wide-awake and wishing I had exercised less freedom over the amount of grilled meat and ice cream I had consumed), this conversation led me to ponder business truths that (I hope) are self-evident — particularly my personal favorite: Business truly is all about the money. To be successful, every single thing we do in any business, whether we’re selling hot dogs and hamburgers or strategy consulting services, must have a direct line to one overriding business need: creating economic value.

In the name of simplicity, it may be tempting to call the creation of economic value the first of our critical few metrics of success. However, I think we can get away with digging just a little deeper. Just below the surface there are two separate but equally important functions that roll up to creating economic value:

  1. Increased revenue (marketing and sales)
  2. Increased profitability (finance and operations)

Revenue: Many incredibly talented and valued content marketers can get tripped up on the revenue side of things. After all, truly exceptional content marketing is about creating quality content, not direct economic benefit (right?). It’s a long game, where we care more about engagement and less about selling. And even when we think about our work in the context of conversion, we are really just thinking about moving leads into and through the top of the funnel. Phases of the buying cycle are often referred to as awareness, consideration, and deliberation — not “getting the user to click the ‘buy now’ button.”

As both a content creator and a strategy consultant who helps marketers decide on the right mix of tactics for communicating with their customers, I naturally have mixed feelings. In an ideal world it would be wonderful if all we were measured on is clarity of message, grammatical quality and/or production value, and whether it’s going to help anybody. The truth is much less difficult to measure, but it’s not as simple as more sessions, a lower bounce rate, or longer duration page views.

In the context of sales, the secret to determining what the critical few measures are for any organization lies in understanding what a typical customer’s buying cycle looks like — and it’s even better if you know what it looks like for each of your buyer personas.

If you ask your organization for this information and they don’t have it, there’s no need to despair. It just means it’s time to stop the presses and generate a customer journey map that illustrates the phases a customer will encounter as they go from first becoming aware they have a need for your products or services all the way through to the point of purchase and beyond. Once armed with this knowledge, it’s truly easy to come up with the outcomes-based metrics your company’s leaders want to see and hear as a result of your content marketing.

Profitability: The other aspect of creating economic value I mentioned earlier is profitability. It may also be necessary to do some digging to understand how content marketing is ultimately impacting this end of the business, but it will almost certainly be worth it.

For instance, let’s say it costs your company $5 to print and ship a big, full-color brochure. If the how-to blog your content marketing team publishes leads to 100,000 potential customers downloading the brochure as a PDF (i.e., saving you printing and shipping costs), that’s a $500,000 argument for the efficacy of your work.

Another great example is the cost of email lists. Purchased from a reputable supplier, a high-quality, legitimate source of targeted, opt-in email addresses can be as high as $1,000 CPM, or $1 per email address. If that same how-to blog your group is publishing generates 10,000 new, legitimate and needed email subscribers a month then, as you may realize, you just saved the organization $120,000 per year (never mind how much more qualified your organically grown email list will be).

Use critical few metrics to rally the team

Improved reporting to leadership is obviously important, but there are other reasons to do a better job of understanding the critical few metrics and their role in content marketing optimization. For instance, once armed with a clean and simple understanding of the business impact content marketing is having on your organization’s top and bottom line in the aggregate, it’s a great time to leverage this information to get your content team excited about the work they do as individuals and as a team.

When I first began my career as a content creator, I wrote for a fairly high-traffic online magazine but was not paid for my work. I had an interest in writing, but no formal education or experience. This ad-supported publication had a need for content and a willingness to give me a crash-course in essential writing skills, so long as I was willing to take direction without argument.

At the time, the lack of pay didn’t bother me, and the relationship worked. But truthfully, what really excited me — and kept me going as my writing improved and the value of instruction decreased proportionately — was very simple: Once a week, the publisher sent out a report to all the contributors that included top content and engagement with content for the week, as well as aggregate numbers about the continued growth of the publication’s viewership. On a side note, this email also contained the publication’s weekly reminder of the editorial calendar for the coming weeks — something we paid much closer attention to, since it was attached to the numbers.

Later in life, when I started getting paid to write, I contributed to a trade publication that did not share any information about the downstream outcomes associated with our work. In spite of being paid, it wasn’t long before it became very challenging to prioritize my work for them and remain interested in the subject matter. I suggested they share traffic data to rally the team, but they couldn’t understand why this information would matter to us. Making the situation worse, I eventually learned (through unofficial channels) about the tremendous economic value some of my work had created — work that I was not being credited for within the organization. My disinterest turned to resentment, and we eventually parted ways. I don’t know if they recognized the loss in financial terms, but I know they were very sorry to see me leave. Sadly, what was done was done, and it was hard to bounce back from the damage this simple lack of openness had created.

Recently, I helped another organization grow an incredibly successful content marketing department with internal contributors whose full-time responsibilities lay elsewhere. This group started with only three people, but leadership celebrated their individual victories across the organization openly and often. Before long, half of the company was interested in learning how they could spend their personal time contributing, and this dramatic increase in content with virtually no overhead led to many revenue opportunities that closed at a better rate than those from all their other channels.

In case it isn’t clear, the dynamic at play in this situation is competition, and it works very, very well. Creative people are much more competitive than most of us might think.

Whether your organization’s content team is staffed with part-time volunteers, internal subject matter experts with other full-time responsibilities, or a dedicated team of paid content creators, it’s very likely they will have a genuine and consistent interest in understanding the impact and value of the time they spend creating content. The great news is, once you have worked out the critical few metrics for your organization it’s a trivial task to segment your content marketing optimization efforts by a team, a content contributor, or even individual content items. The other great benefit to sharing numbers with contributors is they get a chance to see what works and what doesn’t. In a healthy environment, this should quickly set up a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement to the benefit of all parties.

Wrapping it all up

Hopefully this post has provided a few ideas on how to get started with taming the data dragon. This is no trivial task, so don’t be discouraged when you realize your content marketing optimization efforts have been focused on the wrong things. Part of setting up a data-driven content marketing team is promoting a culture of continued improvement, and this starts at the top. Give yourself permission to get started with measurement whether you are sure about what’s being measured or not. Also, get comfortable with the idea of gathering data from multiple sources. Clickstream analytics are only part of the picture.

In closing, we’d like to know: What are the critical few metrics by which you measure the value of your organization’s content marketing? What are the ways you’d like to measure? Is it a challenge to communicate ROI to leadership at your organization? What did I miss in this conversation?

Source – Content Marketing Optimization

3 Mindset Shifts: Get More SEO Out Of Your Content Marketing

Google is constantly working to provide users with a better experience, and marketers are constantly trying to adapt to these changes. Content-based SEO creates a compelling blend of authentic content and search engine eye-candy, but it also necessitates mastering both worlds (content marketing and SEO) instead of trying to rely on just one.

And Google is continuing to push the SEO community in that direction. Content marketing has been gaining acceptance as an SEO practice ever since Panda was rolled out — and with the release of Hummingbird, some content marketers have now become better at SEO than the long-time SEO practitioners that haven’t stayed ahead of these changes.

Whether you call yourself an SEO, a content marketer, or something in between, here are three key paradigm shifts you will need to understand in order get the most SEO out of your content.

Keywords & User Intent: Content For Every Combo

Keywords have always been an essential element of an effective SEO strategy, but their role is evolving. Yesterday’s SEO strategy would order a piece of high quality content for every keyword you’re working with. Today, keywords aren’t enough anymore; or rather, keywords aren’t the whole picture.

Take, for example, the top four results from a Google search for [content marketing strategy] (as depersonalized as I could manage):

content_mktg_search_results

How in the world can Google justify giving its top four spots to the same website?

Obviously, authority and popularity are factors. The Content Marketing Institute is the fastest growing B2B media company and is a well-known, respected authority on content marketing. But it’s rare to see 2 results from the same domain on page 1, let alone positions #1, #2, #3 and #4. Something else must be going on here — and that something is user intent.

Look closely:

  • The first result is about developing a detailed strategy.
  • The second gives a basic definition.
  • The third provides a simple framework.
  • The fourth promises a source of updated, new information.

A user looking for detailed instructions will want the first link, while someone just starting out might prefer the third result. If someone is just looking for a basic definition he will click on the second result, while a user who needs a recently updated resource may be looking for the fourth one. Google provides all four, because all four are trusted and popular, and because they all speak to a unique user intent.

How do you determine the different user intents of a single keyword? Google it! Then examine the SERPs and think through why the algorithm chose to display those specific links. The results represent Google’s best guess at the user’s intent for that search (and Google has a lot of data behind those “guesses”). Are there landing pages and resources on your website that mirror each one? Are there any user intents that are missing? Any unmet needs that you can fill?

Keyword percentages are so 2000s. Today, the cool kids are aligning content with keyword and user intent combinations.

Optimize For Intent: Targeted Blog Posts

SEO used to develop blog content strategies around keywords, and then optimize each post for those words and phrases. But when blogs are optimized for keywords alone, this kind of traffic happens:

blog_organic_traffic

Most of the posts on this popular blog drive no more than a handful of organic search visitors. But what happened on July 24?! We could filter through that post and try to duplicate every nuance, and never get the same result — because, from an SEO standpoint, that post probably just got lucky. It managed to hit that sweet spot where keyword optimization and user intent collide, and they really found their audience on search results. (And we’re pretty sure it was luck, because almost all of the posts on this blog failed to drive any noteworthy organic search traffic for many months.)

Now, here’s a look at the organic traffic to that same blog throughout the rest of the year as the authors began to focus on keywords and user intent.

keywords_user_intent

Keyword optimization alone simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Google’s not looking for keywords — it’s looking for useful content that outperforms the competition. Crafting content to meet a specific user intent (and still meet the needs of your blog’s editorial calendar and social media strategies) does take more work, but blogs posts that attract organic traffic each and every day for months and even years to come are very much worth it.

The Future Of Content-Based SEO

Sound easy so far? Well, don’t get too comfortable. Even as marketers expand their content strategies to include combinations of keywords and user intent, Google is still segmenting — still perfecting their people modeling.

Google is uniquely positioned at the intersection of search and social (and more), which means the amount of user data at their fingertips is massive. Their understanding of user behavior is allowing their services to infer user interests – so even if they don’t have much data on you, but they know who your friends are, they can target content for you based on your friends’ interests.

In other words, Google is the epitome of Big Data, and that means Google’s search results will only become more fine-tuned and even more personalized.

What we know for certain right now is that the data giant is building “audiences” based on websites visited, user information provided to Google partners, and third-party data. These “audiences” are convenient for traditional marketers because they can easily choose to send ads to a very targeted group. Regarding SEO, it’s further evidence that Google is collecting and organizing user data from all over the web, and the content in search results will become more and more tailored to each unique IP address (far more than geo-localized personalization).

Designing SEO content for each combination of keyword and user intent is a great first step, but the day is coming when we will need to consider content for every keyword + user intent + audience/persona combination. That’s right, my friend: Google is only going to get smarter.

Everybody Wins, Probably

It may seem daunting. Most marketers aren’t necessarily cheering Google on in their conquest of the online world, because this amount of data – enough to create such advanced affinity and market segmentation – is enormous, frightening, and perhaps even monopolistic. The end result, though, is the potentially for everybody to win. Users get better search results, traditional marketers get better ad campaign results, and content marketers that develop smarter content strategies earn more traffic. But sorry guys, there are still no guarantees in the wild world of SEO.

Source – Get More SEO Out Of Your Content Marketing

The Top 10 Brands With the Most Influential Content Marketing on LinkedIn

Forbes is the global brand with the most influential content on LinkedIn, according to a recent report from the social network.

The ranking was based on data from LinkedIn’s Content Marketing Score tool, which measures member engagement with a company’s pages, groups, employee updates, influencer posts, and sponsored updates.

The second most influential brand on the network is The World Economic Forum, according to the analysis.

The rest of the top 10 are media outlets and tech companies: Inc. Magazine, Microsoft, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, HP, Salesforce, IBM, and Mashable.

An earlier study in February by LinkedIn found high-tech and media companies are generally the most effective content marketers on the platform, with the top 10 brands in each category earning the highest average scores.

Other industries with a number of highly effective brands on the platform include professional services, financial services, education, manufacturing, and consumer goods.

LinkedIn also shared the most influential brands in 16 individual countries as part of the recent report.

The geographic breakdown revealed a wider range of industries compared with the overall top 10 list. For example, one of Canada’s most influential brands on LinkedIn is an educational institution (Queen’s School of Business) and one of Indonesia’s is a hospitality business (Club Bali Resorts).

For more findings from the report, check out the infographic:


Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2014/25510/the-top-10-brands-with-the-most-influential-content-marketing-on-linkedin

Use explainer videos to get new customers and increase sales

Explainer videos are the latest form of content marketing that make a message more impactful. Creating a video is hundred times more engaging than simple text displayed on your web pages because visitors connect with it more than anything else.

An explainer video helps you introduce your brand in a fun & interesting way.  A visitor needs an instant overview of your services, when he lands on your site.  By packaging your business identity in a two minute video, you give visitors, a chance to get a first impression that prompts them to explore more about you.

Here are few other benefits of engaging explainer videos:

1.     Lowers down bounce rate

When a visitor is redirected to your home page, and leaves instantly, it’s your website appeal that has got to do something with it. It probably lacks user engagement, due to which the visitors leave it and the bounce rate goes up. Having a video engages them well and makes them stay on your page.

Grabs-visitors-attention

2.     Grabs visitors attention

Videos score more on attention grabbing scale. No other form of content, whether images or text can fetch user attention so quickly and as easily as a video can. It’s an ongoing trend to watch and share videos that is why people tend to click on ‘play’ button, wherever they see it.

3.     Improves conversion rate 

By making your videos available on a site, you open prospects for higher conversion rate. People who have seen your video are more familiar with your brand and if it’s impressive, they make a purchase too. A convincing story told in the visual form of explainers, has maximum possibility to convert visitors into buyers, which ultimately improves conversion rate.

CTA

4.     Interacts with visitors 

Explainer videos are more interactive and gain more popularity because a creative script combined with attractive motion pictures appeal more than still images. Hence, the interest of online visitors too, gets doubled when they get to know you through explainer video

5.     Gets better rankings on Google

Videos are shareable and thus get more importance by search engine crawlers too.  Google sees value in a content that is shared or mentioned by users. On the basis of shares, it believes that the shared content is offering good user experience hence rates it above other things. Since videos top the content chart when it comes to popularity, they are ranked above in search engines too. 

gets-better-rankings

Making your content valuable is the need of hour, when Google is keeping an eagle eye on search quality. In the midst of all this, videos happen to be the latest trend that meets user expectations and therefore generates more sales.

Make your conversions double by converting more visitors into buyers

Get explainer videos