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Why Marketers Should Implement User-Generated Content: 23 Stats to Know

This may be of some interest.

As a Boston-based young professional, the biggest product I’ve had to invest in was an over-priced apartment.

And this year, with apartment tours going fully virtual, I’ve found it even harder to do the extreme research needed before committing to a lease. Now, as I research apartment after apartment online, my new process feels like an intense buyer’s journey.

In my research phase, I spend hours on end scouting listings, looking up addresses on Google Maps, researching neighborhoods, skimming through Yelp reviews of prospective property managers, and analyzing photos or video tours for potential problems that an unseen apartment could have.

Ultimately, I’ve found that the apartment listings I’m most drawn to have links to video tours filmed by current tenants.

When I’ve watched tours filmed by tenants, they’ll explain what they like about their apartment, note major pros and cons, and give tiny — but authentic — details that the average salesperson might not offer. For example, in one video, a tenant honestly revealed one pro and one con about a bathroom by saying, “The bathtub has a great jacuzzi, which makes up for the lower water pressure.”

After viewing a pleasant and seemingly trustworthy virtual tour, I feel like I’ve gotten an in-depth and authentic look at the product, as well as thoughts from a previous customer who is an expert on the product. Additionally, because the tenant often voluntarily offers their time to host the create video or virtual tour, I also get the sense that they are willing to help a trusted landlord find a new tenant.

Ultimately, I’m more likely to respond to an apartment listing with a great tenant-generated virtual tour than a listing with over-produced images or videos edited by an outsider.

When it comes to smaller purchases, I feel the same way about promotional content created by customers. This content shows me what the product is like in real life and proves that customers are delighted enough about their experience to promote a trusted brand.

And, I’m not the only consumer (or marketer) who thinks this. An estimated 90% of consumers say user-generated content (UGC) holds more influence over their buying decisions than promotional emails and even search engine results.

Below, I’ll highlight more stats, facts, and figures that demonstrate the benefits of user-generated content.

23 User-Generated Content Stats to Know in 2020

Benefits of User-Generated Content

  • Consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful than influencer content. (Stackla, 2020)
  • 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, (Stackla, 2020)
  • 48% of marketing professionals believe that content created by customers can help humanize their marketing. (TINT, 2018)
  • 34% of TINT users surveyed and 45% of marketing professionals agreed that UGC helps increase key social media KPIs. (TINT, 2018)
  • 42% of marketers say user-generated content is a vital component of their marketing strategy. (TINT, 2018)
  • Ads featuring UGC garnered 73% more positive comments on social networks than traditional ads. (Jukin Media, 2018)
  • 31% of consumers say advertisements that feature UGC content are more memorable than traditional ads without it. (Jukin Media, 2018)
  • 28% of consumers say ads with UGC content in them are also more unique than ads without this type of content. (Jukin Media, 2018)
UGC ads are more memorable than traditional ads.

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UGC Tactics

  • 50% of marketers have utilized user-generated content in email marketing, (TINT, 2018)
  • Meanwhile, 58% of marketers have implemented UGC in ad campaigns. (TINT, 2018)
  • Nearly half of marketers use UGCto support their overall marketing campaigns. (TINT, 2018)
  • 41% of marketing professionals ranked content engagement as their top KPI for tracking user-generated content. (TINT, 2018)
  • The most common types of UGC are photos, videos, social media content, customer reviews or forums, and content created with branded AR filters. (IAB, 2019)

Brand Authenticity

  • 60% of consumers believe UGC is the most authentic marketing content. (Stackla, 2017)
  • 75% of marketers believe user-generated content feels more authentic than other types of content. (TINT, 2018)
  • Although 92% of marketers think they’re creating authentic content, 51% of consumers think their favorite brands offer authenticity. (Stackla, 2020)
  • 57% of consumers think that less than half of the content brands create resonates as authentic. (Stackla, 2017)
  • Consumers are 2.4x more likely to say user-generated content is authentic compared to brand-created content. (Stackla, 2020)
  • 56% of internet users say they find out about products from friends or acquaintances while 32% rely on customer reviews. (Statista, 2020)
  • On average, 20% of consumers have unfollowed a brand on social media because they felt their content was inauthentic. (Stackla, 2017)
  • 70% of the time, consumers are able to distinguish between consumer-created content and brand-created content. (Stackla, 2017)
top user generated content strategies

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UGC Audiences

  • Demographically, more Gen Z YouTube viewers prefer UGC to professional videos more than older generations. (YouTube, 2020)
  • Globally, Gen Z and millennial generations watch more user-generated content than Gen X and Boomer generations. (YouTube, 2020)
  • More than 30% of millennials have unfollowed a brand due to inauthentic content. (Stackla, 2017)
consumers unfollow brands due to inauthentic content

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Defining a User-Generated Content Strategy

As you can see from the stats above, user-generated content not only saves you production time, but it can also make your brand more authentic and trusted.

If the data above has persuaded you to implement UGC in your marketing strategy, here are a few next steps you can consider:

  • Get inspiration from other brands: Seeing successful examples of UGC from brands in a similar industry will give you an idea of which customers to reach out to and how to amplify their positive thoughts about your product. For a few great UGC examples, check out this blog post.
  • Determine how you’ll get the content: Will you encourage fans to send you videos on social media, host a content-related contest, or directly ask your clients to promote a product via email? For tips on this step, read this post,
  • Be authentic: Remember, the biggest strength of user-generated content is that it allows audiences to see an authentic view of your product. Don’t be afraid to promote UGC that might be lower quality but highlights all the best features of your brand or product.

To learn more about how to leverage user-generated content in your marketing, click here.

Thank you for reading.

What The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Means For Marketers

This may be of some interest.

By now you have heard about the Coronavirus.

The sad reality is that it is spreading quickly and will continue to spread for a while.

Did you know that we are getting roughly 13,000 new cases a day and it’s growing fast?

No one really knows how many people will be infected (or will pass away sadly), but it has caused the global stock markets to crash, which means as a business (or even a marketer), you will be affected.

And because my ad agency works with hundreds of companies in all the major sectors and we have 7 offices around the world, we are already starting to see how it is impacting marketing (I’ll share the data below).

So what does this mean for you?

Well, before I go into that, let me be clear on what marketers should NOT do.

Don’t exploit the situation

The first thing we are seeing is people trying to exploit fear.

What I mean by this is supplies are running low around the world. From masks and toilet paper to hand sanitizer and other basic necessities… I am seeing marketers buying them and then reselling them on eBay or running ads and selling them for 10-50x the price.

This isn’t entrepreneurship and this isn’t marketing. I highly recommend that you avoid exploiting the Coronavirus situation to make a quick buck.

Not only is it wrong but it is also very short-sighted. Sure you may be able to make a quick buck, but it won’t last… you are better off spending your time on anything that is long term.

So now that we got that out of the way, what does the Coronavirus mean for marketers?

Businesses are going to struggle for a while

Even if the virus slows down fast as the numbers have dropped in China, businesses are going to struggle for well over a year because they will have to make up for their losses.

For example, in China the virus caused retail sales to drop by 20.5% and the unemployment rate jumped to 6.2 in February.

When companies like Apple shut down their stores to help reduce the spread, it means less income and less profit. Sure they are able to pay their employees during their temporary shutdown, but not all companies have their bank balance and most won’t be able to do the same.

Just look at the travel industry. The virus is expected to lose them 820 billion dollars. Virgin Atlantic just asked their staff to take an 8-week unpaid leave.

The ports are also empty and the first rounds of layoffs have already started.

It’s estimated that in total COVID-19 will cost the global economy $2.7 trillion.

And not only are people losing money but they are losing traffic and conversions.

Organic traffic is down in most industries

As I mentioned above, we work with hundreds of clients in different industries through my agency. On top of that, we also have tons of data because of Ubersuggest.

Before I dive into the data, note that we didn’t focus on any one single country, we decide to look at the traffic stats from a global perspective. We also didn’t include data from sites with less than 5000 visitors a month as they tend to have drastic swings from a percentage perspective even when there are no global issues or algorithm updates.

We also don’t have data on every single industry, for example, we don’t really work with many restaurants nor do we purchase data for that category as local restaurants usually don’t have the biggest marketing budgets. We have data on most of the major ones, but again not all.

Now, from an SEO standpoint, last week we saw huge drops in organic traffic for most industries we are tracking. Just look at the chart below (compares last week to the previous week).

If you are in the news industry or financial space, your traffic skyrocketed. 

And if you are in the travel industry, you saw massive drops in traffic.

You can’t tell by the chart, but e-commerce was a mixed bag, depending on what sites sold, traffic was either up or down. For example, if you were selling baby products like diapers or wipes then you saw a nice bump in traffic.

But if you were selling luxury goods like big-screen televisions you saw a drop in traffic.

Conversions were also down for most industries

From a conversion rate standpoint, we saw drops in most industries as well. Even the financial sector, which had big traffic booms in traffic, dropped in conversions.

Just look at the chart below (comparing last week to the previous week):

As for news (media) sites, they had a big conversion lift as many of them charge for people to read their updated information.

For example, you can only read a certain amount of content from the Washington Post for free until you see a message that looks like this:

People didn’t want to miss out on Coronavirus, political and financial information with the turmoil, hence news sites saw a nice lift.

And with some sectors like travel, they are currently offering massive discounts, which is helping counteract some of their traffic declines. Overall, they are still seeing a massive revenue hit.

Pay-per-click data

We don’t have as much pay-per-click data as we do for SEO as Ubersuggest is mainly used for SEO purposes, but we haven’t seen big shifts in cost per click… even for things like the travel industry.

We don’t have a big enough sample size, but as I mentioned, costs haven’t come down much.

For example, even though we saw big dips in the number of people searching for things like flights or hotels, we didn’t see a drastic drop in CPC but we did see a big increase in cost per acquisition.

In other words, you can still roughly pay the same amount per click, but the cost per conversion has been going up for most industries… unless you are selling necessities like toilet paper.

So what does this mean for marketers?

Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful

I didn’t come up with that saying, it’s actually a line from Warren Buffett.

You will see people cutting back because the economy is predicted to get hit by 2.7 trillion dollars and experts are saying that we are going to go into a recession.

You even have billionaire investors like Carl Ichan saying that the market has more room to go down and we should expect the sell-off has longer to go.

But what I’ve learned from going through two crashes (the dotcom crash in 2000 and the real estate crash in 2008) is that the best time to double down is when others are not.

During an economic downturn, you’ll find that you will have less competition, which means it is easier and faster to get results, and in some cases, you’ll be able to get deals, such as a potential reduction in pay-per-click advertising.

Just think of it this way: out of all the publicly traded companies in the United States, if the market keeps going down, many of them will struggle to pay off their debt, which has exploded to $75 trillion.

This means some companies will either go bankrupt, get bought out, or get bailed out by the government. Some may be able to cut costs enough to pay their bills, but for most, it will be too late.

Again, this just means less competition for you.

If you are lucky enough to be sitting on some cash during the recession this is the best time to buy out other companies. The ideal ones to buy are media companies.

The more eyeballs you control, the more power you will hold in the future. Plus, by controlling eyeballs, it gives you the ability to sell anything you want in the future.

It’s the reason I bought the KISSmetrics website for $500,000 a couple years ago. During their peak, they had 1,260,681 million unique visitors a month.

That’s a lot of traffic.

When I bought the site out, I was out a good amount of money for me, but the moment I merged it into the NeilPatel.com site, I increased my lead count by 19% and recuperated my investment in less than a year.

In other words, this is your opportunity to strike and gain market share.

So when you see your competitors closing down or slowing down on their marketing, the goal is to double down. You may not see the biggest return right away, but in the long term, you will.

Every time the market goes down by 20% or more it roughly takes 536 days to recover.

As we recover, you’ll see your revenue climb and the ROI from your marketing spend go through the roof.

Conclusion

Hopefully, the Coronavirus passes soon and it has minimal impact on lives. For the time being, try not to socialize with others too much or go into crowded places.

You should read this article by the Washington Post as it breaks down great simulations of how the Coronavirus will spread and what we can do to reduce the impact on the world.

And as for your marketing, this is the time for you to double down. Don’t be fearful when others are also afraid. Do what Warren Buffett does… be greedy when other people are fearful.

In other words, double down. 

How have you seen the Coronavirus affect your traffic?

PS: Please be safe and, if possible, stay indoors.

PPS: To help out a bit, I’ve opened up the keyword ideas report on Ubersuggest as well as historical keyword data. I know many of you may be facing financial difficulty, so hopefully having the data helps you save a bit of money on marketing.

The post What The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Means For Marketers appeared first on Neil Patel.

Thank you for reading.

TikTok Self-Service Ads: What Marketers Need to Know

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore an update of TikTok’s self-serve ad platform, how businesses are developing content on TikTok, and much more […]

The post TikTok Self-Service Ads: What Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Changes Coming From Instagram: What Marketers Need to Know

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Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore what marketers need to know about changes coming from Instagram and the expanded rollout of Facebook’s search […]

The post Changes Coming From Instagram: What Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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What Can Marketers Learn From the Children In Our Lives? Plenty

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What Can Marketers Learn from Kids?

What Can Marketers Learn from Kids?

In my experience, most marketers fancy themselves as lifelong learners, taking pride in innovating their work and skill set to maximize their impact. We keep tabs on emerging trends, tactics, and tools. We follow industry leaders for their insight. We consult our internal teams and external partners for advice. 

But there may be one specialty group we don’t look to for inspiration enough: The kids in our lives.

As a parent of two adorable monsters who are growing up way to fast, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how far they’ve come. Of course, I’ve realized that I’ve come far too, as both a parent and a marketer. And I’d wager that most of us have kids in our lives who have the potential to teach and remind us of some important things that can make us better humans and better at what we do.

So, what marketing lessons can the little ones in our lives pass on? Here are a few that have been illuminated for me recently.

4 Marketing Lessons We Can Learn from Kids

#1 – Foster permanent curiosity. 

Lately, on the 20-minute commute to daycare, we’ve been listening to “But Why?” It’s a fantastic podcast by Vermont Public Radio. It’s just incredible. Kids from all over North America send audio clips of themselves asking the most unexpected, puzzling, and just plain fun questions. This week we learned why we laugh, why boys and girls are different, and why sugar is bad for you.

Curiosity is one of the simplest and most powerful lessons we can learn from a child. As a marketer, this makes me ask: What can we do stay curious against a backdrop of back-to-back meetings, tight budgets, and the unending barrage of emails? There’s a lot of opportunity for curiosity to creep in.

  • Professional Development: Can you carve out a little time each week to drink a cup of coffee and surf your favorite industry publications for the latest news? Is there a certification or training that’s been on the backburner?
  • Strategic Innovation: As you head into your quarterly or annual marketing strategy planning sessions, how deep have you dug into why you’re making your recommendations? Or better yet, have you considered other possibilities? A way to innovate? 
  • Reflection and Growth: We all experience our fair share of fire drills. We immediately spring into action, oftentimes without asking all the “why” questions. Furthermore, we may not take the time to look back to learn how we got there. What processes could be fine-tuned? What is the true cause of a marketing mishap? (Tip: I like to employ the Urgent Important Matrix attributed to President Eisenhower to help balance my day.)

#2 – Employ resilient trust.

When both of my babes were around 6 to 9 months old, they learned to jump into our laps, assisted by Mom or Dad’s hands securely around their waist. They were so proud of their amazing feats. And through repetition, they knew we’d always be there to catch them—even when they jumped unexpectedly.

Aided by their caretakers helping hands and guidance, kids learn new things and take risks, eventually without fear. Why? Because trust has been built.

In the marketing world, when trust is a focus, you can forge incredible bonds colleagues, clients or customers, prospects, and partners. And in a time when trust is dwindling among consumers, it’s more critical than ever.

#3 – Be coachable.

My persistent (and often stubborn) children throw puzzle pieces. They shriek or scream, sometimes when they’re seemingly unprovoked. They make mistakes. But their curious, trusting nature makes them incredibly teachable.

This magical trait is easy to lose once we hit the working world and get some experience under our belts. None of us probably think we’re perfect, but how well do you take feedback? If you want to get results for your company and your career, you need to be open to coaching.

For example, did your supervisor offer some constructive feedback? Rather than put up your defenses, open yourself up to the feedback. You can literally, open your posture (no crossed arms), face her or him directly, and show your listening. Even take notes if it helps!

Or did you get a string of bad customer reviews on social media? Acknowledge their concerns. Offer an opportunity to talk about it more in detail. Point them in the right direction to get help. This not only shows them that you want to create great experiences, but others can see your willingness to take feedback and work to make improvements.

#4 – Keep it simple.

My children never fail to remind me to simplify my life—and my marketing. Whether you’re a parent or caretaker, or you’re watching others raise their kids, we can all admit that parents over-think questions and scenarios all the time. What do I do when my kid asks me where babies come from? Why is that parent so concerned about a kid playing with a cardboard box? Am I a terrible parent for putting my kid in timeout five times today?

But the thing is: Kids often sees the world through the most basic lens. They don’t typically overthink things. They aren’t riddled with stress and anxiety.

This should be a reminder that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff and that the simple answer is often the right answer. 

For example, you could spend 45 minutes responding to a curt email from a colleague or client, and then hours or days spinning as you wait for a response. Or you could ask the person in question to jump on the phone or huddle for a quick chat. This levels the playing field and limits the potential for misinterpreting signals.

As another example, if you’re in the process of launching a major campaign, can you integrate various tactics to minimize and streamline the work? (Certainly, hiring a trusted agency partner could help with that. Wink.)

Look to the Children

If you want to be a lifelong learner, sometimes you need to go back to basics. The children in our lives can teach us some incredible lessons about curiosity, trust, coachability, and simplicity that can improve our personal and professional lives.

What’s a marketing lesson that you’ve learned from a kid in your life? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post What Can Marketers Learn From the Children In Our Lives? Plenty appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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4 Key Lessons Content Marketers Can Take From Data Journalists

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Posted by matt_gillespie

There’s an oft-cited statistic in the world of technology professionals, from marketers to startup founders to data scientists: 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years.

This instantly-Tweetable snippet was referenced in Forbes in 2018, mentioned by MediaPost in 2016, and covered on Science Daily in 2013. A casual observer could be forgiven for asking: How could that be true in three different years?

At Fractl, the data makes perfect sense to us: The global amount of digital information is growing exponentially over time.

From Seagate

This means that the “90 percent of all data…” statistic was true in 2013, 2016, and 2018, and it will continue to be true for the foreseeable future. As our culture continues to become more internet-integrated and mobile, we continue to produce massive amounts of data year over year while also becoming more comfortable with understanding large quantities of information.

This is hugely important to anyone who creates content on the web: Stats about how much data we create are great, but the stories buried in that data are what really matter. In the opening manifesto for FiveThirtyEight, one of the first sites on the web specifically devoted to data journalism, Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver wrote:

“Almost everything from our sporting events to our love lives now leaves behind a data trail.” 

This type of data has always been of interest to marketers doing consumer research, but the rise of data journalism shows us that there is both consumer demand and almost infinite potential for great storytelling rooted in numbers.

In this post, I’ll highlight four key insights from data science and journalism and how content marketers can leverage them to create truly newsworthy content that stands out from the pack:

  • The numbers drive the narrative
  • Plotted points are more trustworthy than written words (especially by brands!)
  • Great data content is both beautiful and easy-to-interpret
  • Every company has a (data) story to tell

 By the time you’re done, you’ll have gleaned a better understanding of how data visualization, from simple charts to complex interactive graphics, can help them tell a story and achieve wide visibility for their clients.

The numbers drive the narrative

Try Googling “infographics are dead,” and your top hit will be a 2015 think piece asserting that the medium has been dead for years, followed by many responses that the medium isn’t anywhere close to “dead.” These more optimistic articles tend to focus on the key aspects of infographics that have transformed since their popularity initially grew:

  • Data visualization (and the public’s appetite for it) is evolving, and
  • A bad data viz in an oversaturated market won’t cut it with overloaded consumers.

For content marketers, the advent of infographics was a dream come true: Anyone with even basic skills in Excel and a good graphic designer could whip up some charts, beautify them, and use them to share stories. But Infographics 1.0 quickly fizzled because they failed to deliver anything interesting — they were just a different way to share the same boring stories.

Data journalists do something very different. Take the groundbreaking work from Reuters on the Rohingya Muslim refugee camps in southern Bangladesh, which was awarded the Global Editors Network Award for Best Data Visualization in 2018. This piece starts with a story—an enormous refugee crisis taking place far away from the West—and uses interactive maps, stacked bar charts, and simple statistics visualizations to contextualize and amplify a heartbreaking narrative.

The Reuters piece isn’t only effective because of its innovative data viz techniques; rather, the piece begins with an extremely newsworthy human story and uses numbers to make sure it’s told in the most emotionally resonant way possible. Content marketers, who are absolutely inundated with advice on how storytelling is essential to their work, need to see data journalism as a way to drive their narratives forward, rather than thinking of data visualization simply as a way to pique interest or enhance credibility.

Plotted points are more trustworthy than written words

This is especially true when it comes to brands.

In the era of #FakeNews, content marketers are struggling more than ever to make sure their content is seen as precise, newsworthy, and trustworthy. The job of a content marketer is to produce work for a brand that can go out and reasonably compete for visibility against nonprofits, think tanks, universities, and mainstream media outlets simultaneously. While some brands are quite trusted by Americans, content marketers may find themselves working with lesser-known clients seeking to build up both awareness and trust through great content.

One of the best ways to do both is to follow the lead of data journalists by letting visual data content convey your story for you.

“Numbers don’t lie” vs. brand trustworthiness

In the buildup to the 2012 election, Nate Silver’s previous iteration of FiveThirtyEight drew both massive traffic to the New York Times and criticism from traditional political pundits, who argued that no “computer” could possibly predict election outcomes better than traditional journalists who had worked in politics for decades (an argument fairly similar to the one faced by the protagonists in Moneyball). In the end, Silver’s “computer” (actually a sophisticated model that FiveThirtyEight explains in great depth and open-sources) predicted every state correctly in 2012.

Silver and his team made the model broadly accessible to show off just how non-partisan it really was. It ingested a huge amount of historical election data, used probabilities and weights to figure out which knowledge was most important, and spit out a prediction as to what the most likely outcomes were. By showing how it all worked, Silver and FiveThirtyEight went a long way toward improving the public confidence in data—and, by extension, data journalism.

But the use of data to increase trustworthiness is nothing new. A less cynical take is simply that people are more likely to believe and endorse things when they’re spelled out visually. We know, famously, that users only read about 20-28 percent of the content on the page, and it’s also known that including images vastly increases likes and retweets on Twitter.

So, in the era of endless hot takes and the “everyone’s-a-journalist-now” mentality, content marketers looking to establish brand authority, credibility, and trust can learn an enormous amount from the proven success of data journalists — just stick to the numbers.

Find the nexus of simple and beautiful

Our team at Fractl has a tricky task on our hands: We root our content in data journalism with the ultimate goal of creating great stories that achieve wide visibility. But different stakeholders on our team (not to mention our clients) often want to achieve those ends by slightly different means.

Our creatives—the ones working with data—may want to build something enormously complex that crams as much data as possible into the smallest space they can. Our media relations team—experts in knowing the nuances of the press and what will or won’t appeal to journalists—may want something that communicates data simply and beautifully and can be summed up in one or two sentences, like the transcendent work of Mona Chalabi for the Guardian. A client, too, will often have specific expectations for how a piece should look and what should be included, and these factors need to be considered as well.

Striking the balance

With so many ways to present any given set of numbers, we at Fractl have found success by making data visualizations as complex as they need to be while always aiming for the nexus of simple and beautiful. In other words: Take raw numbers that will be interesting to people, think of a focused way to clearly visualize them, and then create designs that fit the overall sentiment of the piece.

On a campaign for Porch.com, we asked 1,000 Americans several questions about food, focusing on things that were light and humorous conversation starters. For example, “Is a hot dog a sandwich?” and “What do you put on a hot dog?” As a native Chicagoan who believes there is only one way to make a hot dog, this is exactly the type of debate that would make me take notice and share the content with friends on social media.

In response to those two questions, we got numbers that looked like this:

Using Tableau Public, an open-source data reporting solution that is one of the go-to tools for rapid building at Fractl, the tables above were transformed into rough cuts of a final visualization:

With the building blocks in place, we then gave extensive notes to our design team on how to make something that’s just as simple but much, much more attractive. Given the fun nature of this campaign, a more lighthearted design made sense, and our graphics team delivered. The entire campaign is worth checking out for the project manager’s innovative and expert ability to use simple numbers in a way that is beautiful, easy-to-approach, and instantly compelling.

All three of the visualizations above are reporting the exact same data, but only one of them is instantly shareable and keeps a narrative in mind: by creatively showing the food items themselves, our team turned the simple table of percentages in the first figure into a visualization that could be shared on social media or used by a journalist covering the story.

In other cases, such as if the topic is more serious, simple visualizations can be used to devastating effect. In work for a brand in the addiction and recovery space, we did an extensive analysis of open data hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The dramatic increase in drug overdose deaths in the United States is an emotional story fraught with powerful statistics. In creating a piece on the rise in mortality rate, we wanted to make sure we preserved the gravity of the topic and allowed the numbers to speak for themselves:

A key part of this visualization was adding one additional layer of complexity—age brackets—to tell a more contextualized and human story. Rather than simply presenting a single statistic, our team chose to highlight the fact that the increase in overdose deaths is something affecting Americans across the entire lifespan, and the effect of plotting six different lines on a single chart makes the visual point that addiction is getting worse for all Americans.

Every brand’s data has a story to tell

Spotify has more than 200 million global users, nearly half of whom pay a monthly fee to use the service (the other half generate revenue by listening to intermittent ads). As an organization, Spotify has data on how a sizeable portion of the world listens to its music and the actual characteristics of that music.

Data like this is what makes Spotify such a valuable brand from a dollars and cents standpoint, but a team of data journalists at The New York Times also saw an incredible story about how American music taste has changed in the last 30 years buried in Spotify’s data. The resulting piece, Why Songs of Summer Sound the Same, is a landmark work of data-driven, interactive journalism, and one that should set a content marketer’s head spinning with ideas.

Of course, firms will always be protective of their data, whether it’s Netflix famously not releasing its ratings, Apple deciding to stop its reporting of unit sales, or Stanford University halting its reporting of admissions data. Add to the equation a public that is increasingly wary of data privacy and susceptibility to major data breaches, and clients are often justifiably nervous to share data for the purpose of content production.

Deciding when to share

That said, a firm’s data often is central to its story, and when properly anonymized and cleared of personal identifying information, or PII, the newsworthiness of a brand reporting insights from its own internal numbers can be massive. 

For example, GoodRx, a platform that reports pricing data from more than 70,000 U.S. pharmacies, released a white paper and blog post that compared its internal data on prescription fills with US Census data on income and poverty. While census data is free, only GoodRx had the particular dataset on pharmacy fills—it’s their own proprietary data set. Data like this is obviously key to their overall valuation, but the way in which it was reported here told a deeply interesting story about income and access to medication without giving away anything that could potentially cost the firm. The report was picked up by the New York Times, undoubtedly boosting GoodRx’s ratings for organic search.

The Times’ pieces on Spotify and GoodRx both highlight the fourth key insight on the effective use of data as content marketers: Every brand’s data has a story to tell. These pieces could only have come from their exact sources because only they had access to the data, making the particular findings singular and unique to that specific brand and presenting a key competitive advantage in the content landscape. While working with internal data comes with its own potential pitfalls and challenges, seeking to collaborate with a client to select meaningful internal data and directing its subsequent use for content and narrative should be at the forefront of a content marketer’s mind.

Blurring lines and breaking boundaries

A fascinating piece recently on Recode sought to slightly reframe the high-publicity challenges facing journalists, stating:

“The plight of journalists might not be that bad if you’re willing to consider a broader view of ‘journalism.’” 

The piece detailed that while job postings for journalists are off more than 10 percent since 2004, jobs broadly related to “content” have nearly quadrupled over the same time period. Creatives will always flock to the options that allow them to make what they love, and with organic search largely viewed as a meritocracy of content, the opportunities for brands and content marketers to utilize the data journalism toolkit have never been greater.

What’s more, much of the best data journalism out there typically only uses a handful of visualizations to get its point across. It was also reported recently that the median amount of data sources for pieces created by the New York Times and The Washington Post was two. It too is worth noting that more than 60 percent of data journalism stories in both the Times and Post during a recent time period (January-June, 2017) relied only on government data.

Ultimately, the ease of running large surveys via a platform like Prolific Research, Qualtrics, or Amazon Mechanical Turk, coupled with the ever-increasing number of free and open data sets provided by both the US Government or sites like Kaggle or data.world means that there is no shortage of numbers out there for content marketers to dig into and use to drive storytelling. The trick is in using the right blend of hard data and more ethereal emotional appeal to create a narrative that is truly compelling.

Wrapping up

As brands increasingly invest in content as a means to propel organic search and educate the public, content marketers should seriously consider putting these key elements of data journalism into practice. In a world of endless spin and the increasing importance of showing your work, it’s best to remember the famous quote written by longtime Guardian editor C.P. Scott in 1921: “Comment is free, but facts are sacred.”

What do you think? How do you and your team leverage data journalism in your content marketing efforts?

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LinkedIn’s List of 24 B2B Marketers You Need to Know

This may be of some interest.

LinkedIn’s 24 B2B Marketers You Need to Know

LinkedIn’s 24 B2B Marketers You Need to Know

In honor of it’s fifth anniversary, LinkedIn has released a revamped edition of The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn. The eBook features a powerful array of digital marketing smarties, each who shared their insights and practical advice on how to get the most out of LinkedIn—from optimizing your profile to expanding your network.  The TopRank Marketing team was privileged to work with LinkedIn team to identify, engage, and gather fresh insights from these brightest marketing minds.

If you’re anywhere near the B2B marketing world, social selling or recruiting, getting to know LinkedIn is more essential today than ever. Why? Check out these statistics:

  • With over 610 million members in over 200 countries and territories, more than 1 out of every 3 professionals worldwide is on LinkedIn.
  • Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second.
  • LinkedIn counts executives from nearly all 2018 Fortune 500 companies as members
  • More than 30 million companies are represented on LinkedIn

There simply isn’t another social network with that kind of community and momentum for business professionals. And while most professionals have been using LinkedIn for years and may see it as a jobs marketplace, many simply haven’t taken the time to optimize or maintain their profiles. They also haven’t discovered all the ways you can capitalize on LinkedIn as a marketing and social selling tool. The good news is that quite a few people have.

In The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn, there are 55 pages of advice on reaching the right people and taking your marketing to the next level directly from marketers within LinkedIn, as well as some of the top B2B marketing professionals in the business.

There’s also an excellent list of 24 B2B marketing experts in the U.S. that LinkedIn suggests we get to know, selected by staff at LinkedIn—and that’s where we’d like focus today. Many of the names on the list will be familiar to you, such as our own CEO Lee Odden. But some are likely to be new discoveries.

Congratulations to those on the list and to anyone who downloads and reads The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn.

24 B2B Marketers LinkedIn Says You Need To Know


Robert Rose
Chief Troublemaker, The Content Advisory
Twitter: @Robert_Rose
LinkedIn: /in/robrose


Aaron Orendorff
Founder, iconiContent
Twitter: AaronOrendorff
LinkedIn: in/aaronorendorff

Ryan Robinson
Ryan Robinson
Content Marketing Consultant
Twitter: TheRyanRobinson
LinkedIn: in/theryanrobinson/

Carla Johnson
Carla Johnson
Chief Innovator, Type A Communications
Twitter: CarlaJohnson
LinkedIn: /in/carlajohnson

Allen Gannett
Allen Gannett
CSO, Skyword
Twitter: Allen
LinkedIn: /in/allengannett

Shane Barker
Shane Barker
Co-Founder and CEO, Content Solutions
Twitter: shane_barker
LinkedIn: /in/shanebarker

Ann Handley
Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs
Twitter: MarketingProfs
LinkedIn: /in/annhandley

Katie Martell
Katie Martell
Marketing Consultant, On-Demand Marketing
Twitter: KatieMartell
LinkedIn: /in/katiemartell

Mandy McEwen
Mandy McEwen
Founder and CEO, Mod Girl Marketing
Twitter: MandyModGirl
LinkedIn: /in/mandymcewen

Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
CEO, Marketing Insider Group
Twitter: BrennerMichael
LinkedIn: /in/michaelbrenner

Lee Odden
Lee Odden
CEO, TopRank Marketing
Twitter: LeeOdden
LinkedIn: /in/leeodden

Nancy Badillo
Nancy Badillo
CEO, NancyBadillo.com
Twitter: NancyBadillo13
LinkedIn: /in/nancybadillo

Jay Baer
Jay Baer
Founder, Convince & Convert
Twitter: jaybaer
LinkedIn: /in/jaybaer

Jason Miller
Jason Miller
Brand Marketing Lead, Microsoft
Twitter: JasonMillerCA
LinkedIn: /in/jsnmiller

Vin Clancy
Vin Clancy
Founder, Magnific
Twitter: vincentdignan
LinkedIn: /in/vincentdignan

Andrew Davis
Andrew Davis
Keynote Speaker, Monumental Shift
Twitter: DrewDavisHere
LinkedIn: /in/drewdavishere

Heidi Bullock
Heidi Bullock
CMO, Engagio
Twitter: HeidiBullock
LinkedIn: /in/hbullock

Gina Schreck
Gina Schreck
CEO, SocialKNX
Twitter: Ginaschreck
LinkedIn: /in/ginaschreck

Doug Kessler
Doug Kessler
Creative Director and Co-Founder, Velocity Partners
Twitter: dougkessler
LinkedIn: /in/dougkessler

Gabe Villamizar
Gabe Villamizar
Global Sales Evangelist, Lucid
Twitter: gabevillamizar
LinkedIn: /in/gabevillamizar

Suzanne String Nguyen
Suzanne String Nguyen
Video Evangelist, Shootsta
Twitter: StringStory
LinkedIn: /in/stringstory

Joanna Penn
Joanna Penn
Director, The Creative Penn
Twitter: thecreativepenn
LinkedIn: /in/joannapenn

Janet Murray
Janet Murray
Content Marketing Expert
Twitter: jan_murray
LinkedIn: /in/janet-murray74

Julia McCoy
Janet Murray
Content Marketing Expert
Twitter: JuliaEMcCoy
LinkedIn: /in/juliaemccoy

No list is ever perfect, so who would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments.

If you’re ready to dig in to the 2019 The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn, start now and grab your own copy here:

2019 The Sophisticated Marketer's Guide to LinkedIn

The post LinkedIn’s List of 24 B2B Marketers You Need to Know appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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