Author: justinsmorgan

Ceralytics, Content Intelligence, and Data Trends and Tips: A Conversation with Brandon Andersen


For over a decade, Brandon Andersen has been at the forefront of the content intelligence movement. As the CEO, Founder, and Chief Strategist of Ceralytics, a content intelligence platform, Brandon has dedicated his career to helping businesses better connect with their audiences.

At Ceralytics, Brandon helps clients identify and evaluate the needs of their audiences through the use of content intelligence. Ceralytics taps into the science of content to help clients identify and predict the content topics and themes that provide the most value to their audiences. By adopting content intelligence, Brandon and the Ceralytics team have helped clients pinpoint content gaps, strengths, and opportunities in their respective industries.

Brandon leads the overall strategy for Ceralytics and oversees product development, marketing, and sales. Recently, he launched a new newsletter for Ceralytics called Sketchalytics. This newsletter features micro-lessons about marketing and business in a single sketch. In March, Brandon and the Ceralytics team will be releasing a state of content marketing in healthcare report. This report, featuring samples of around 20 healthcare sites – both consumer and provider facing – will identify the topics and trends that are driving engagement in the healthcare space.

Before overseeing operations at Ceralytics, Brandon served as the Director of Marketing at Cision. He has written over 30 articles related to content marketing and SEO, including five for Relevance, and has written a zombie novel entitled ‘Mantrap.’


What inspired you to pursue marketing and content intelligence as a career?

I had no intention of getting into marketing. I was a tech guy. I started my career as a web developer who happened to fall into a web design role at Bacon’s Information – now known as Cision. From that I started getting into SEO and moved my way up through the marketing ranks to lead US marketing efforts for Cision. In that role I oversaw demand generation, content marketing, and marketing operations. A glaring gap in the market I saw was a lack of data-driven insights that could tell content marketers what topics they should write about next. It was all just a guessing game. I wanted to create something that took content marketing from guessing to knowing. Content intelligence was the answer.

Can you tell us a little more about what you do at Ceralytics?

I’m a co-founder and chief strategist. I oversee marketing, product and sales. The fun stuff. My (and Ceralytics’) main mission is to take your content marketing efforts from guessing to knowing. In doing so, we help you deliver more value to your customers.

What helps you stay motivated on the day to day?

Seeing and hearing the “AHA!” moments that happen when we present our initial findings to a client. Those moments can come in the form of surprise, clarity, or relief based on the findings. The best part for me in those moments is that the team now has a newfound sense of confidence in what they’re doing. The path is laid out before them and they can now do what they do best – create awesome content.

What’s your favorite quote?

Teddy Roosevelt’s Daring Greatly quote. It’s literally above my desk right now on a huge wooden sign that I got as a gift from my wife right after Ceralytics was founded.

You recently launched a new newsletter called Sketchalytics, which features these unique and informative micro-lessons about marketing and business drawn in a single sketch. Where did this idea come from and what do you hope content marketers will get out of it?

We interviewed Jay Acunzo on how to fix newsletters that suck. When we got his answer, I realized that our newsletter sucked. So we went back to the mission of the company, and a big part of going from guessing to knowing is education. I’ve talked to hundreds of content marketers and all of them have something they want to learn more about. Nobody has a grasp of everything. So we thought micro-lessons in marketing and business would be a good fit.

But just a weekly lesson seemed pretty bland. I stumbled upon Sketchplanations and said, “This is it! We do something like this, but for marketing and business!” Luckily, a good friend and former colleague, Amanda Davidson, is a fantastic artist and does all of our sketches for us.

In March, you’ll be launching a state of content marketing in healthcare report. What was the inspiration behind this and how do you envision healthcare marketers utilizing the information?

Healthcare seems to be way behind the times when it comes to content marketing. Regulations definitely don’t help matters, but there also seems to be a huge opportunity for healthcare companies to take the lead in delivering real value for customers, especially in the US. If the insights from our report can help make a positive dent in how healthcare companies engage with the general public, that would be a win for us.

Tech like Amazon Alexa and the recently announced Apple Homepod are really blowing up. Do you think content marketers should start exploring AI in 2018 and beyond?

AI and machine learning are definitely taking off, but I think investing in it just for the sake of investing in a new trend is the wrong approach.

These technologies need to demonstrate that they can solve a pain point for you. Having AI for the sake of AI doesn’t do any good. But, if that AI is packaged into something that saves you time, money, or gives you a competitive advantage, then it’s something to consider. At Ceralytics, we heavily lean on these technologies, but no one cares that it’s marketing AI. What people care about is that it gives them a competitive advantage, gives them confidence in the content they create, and does it all at a fraction of the price of having a big analytics department and paying a third party huge royalties for competitive data.

Blockchain for marketing has become sort of a buzzword lately. Do you think marketers should start paying attention to the way blockchain is disrupting digital marketing or do you think it’s a passing trend?

Blockchain is having a real impact on the world. The biggest and best thing about the blockchain concept is that you can’t hide anything. It’s completely transparent. It’s as much a marketing play as it is a PR play because you can show your financial transactions to charities, where you source your produce, and where you make political contributions.

From the marketing standpoint, the idea that people could get paid by brands to be advertised to seems really strange, but I think it could work. People buy Amazon Kindles that have ads on them because they save a few bucks over the non-ad version. People play freemium games and put up with ads because they want to save a few bucks instead of buying the full version. Ads are worth money to people, so if you told someone, I’ll give you a dollar for every article you read of mine, I think people would absolutely do it.

Is there a viable future for augmented and virtual reality content marketing?

Augmented reality for sure. Providing real-time feedback for things around a person would be huge. Travel and tourism industries could do great things with this. Not sure about virtual reality though – I think that may be further away from making a content marketing play.

What game-changing content intelligence and data trends do you think marketers will be latching onto this year?

This is going to be a shakeout year. Companies doing content poorly are going to exit the space and reallocate budgets to paid advertising, because that’s showing true ROI. Bad content won’t bring in audiences and those who create it won’t be able to show a positive ROI.

I think, and hope – let’s be honest – that content intelligence platforms will catch on more in the mid-market. Large enterprise companies with giant marketing teams can already do a lot of what content intelligence platforms can, but they require multiple teams of analysts and really expensive competitive intelligence data. They also do it much slower. Content intelligence does the same thing faster, offers real-time updates, and for a fraction of the price.

There’s millions of pages of content out there and it can be tough for a small or an up and coming business to find exposure. What advice would you give to a marketer who is struggling to find an audience?

If your company sells something, and people are buying it…there’s your audience. Learn about your customers by talking to them directly. Understand their pain points. What keeps them up at night? What are they trying to accomplish day to day? What are they trying to avoid? If you can’t talk directly to your customers, talk to your sales and client support teams. They will have a lot of this information too.

Then, find how your company is uniquely positioned to address resolving those pain points. Now, here’s the kicker. Don’t just write about what you want to write about. You need to blend the things you want to talk about as a company with what your audience wants to hear. That’s tricky – and is where content intelligence comes into play. Once you find that middle ground, it’s then a matter of executing great content that consistently relieves the pain points of your audience.

What advice would you give to marketers who have no idea how to get started with content analytics?

Start with Google Analytics. Moz has a great 101 guide. You can also sign up for Sketchalytics because we cover content analytics all the time. In fact, on the main page for Sketchalytics is a sample newsletter all about sources and mediums – two essential concepts for content analytics.

What piece of advice would you give to young professionals who want to get into marketing?

The #1 differentiator for marketers that I see right now is whether or not they understand analytics. Those who do stand out among the sea of new marketers out there. Even if you’re a content creator, having an understanding of analytics will set you apart from 90% of other content creators out there.

You could be the best marketing writer in the world, but if you’re writing content that isn’t resonating with an audience, that content is worthless. Understanding analytics and drawing insights from them will enable you to understand your audience better. You’ll learn how your audience wants to consume stories, where they find your content, what they do once they land on your content, and if it’s truly effective. If you have an analytics team, you can get this information from them, but first you need to know what to ask for. Unless you have the basics of analytics under your belt, you won’t know the right questions to ask, and therefore won’t get the answers you need.

Last but not least, are there any upcoming projects you’re working on or events you’re excited about?

We’re working on monthly guidebooks that address other gaps in the content marketing industry that we don’t feel are appropriately addressed. The first will launch in April.

We’re also making constant updates to our content intelligence engine within our application, and will be launching some big new features in the coming months.

Connect with Brandon on Twitter and LinkedIn 

Keep up with all things Ceralytics by visiting their official website and by following them on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Email Marketing via Relevance February 22, 2018 at 10:04PM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

Lessons from leaders: A data-driven approach helps deliver engaging, relevant messages

As marketers, we know how important it is to understand our customers and reach them at just the right moment. We also know that consumers have more control of their digital environments than ever — and that they expect us to consistently make recommendations in line with their interests, personalities, and behaviors.1 So how can we regularly communicate in a relevant way with all of our customers?According to our new report on MIT Sloan Management Review, success starts with a strategy that’s backed by data. In the report, The Data-Driven Transformation, we speak with marketing leaders from Bayer, Tapestry Inc. (the parent brand for Coach, kate spade new york, and Stuart Weitzman), and Sprint. They open up with first-hand insights about transforming their teams to be more efficient, accurate, and agile. Here’s a few key insights from the research — and some words of wisdom from these top analytics pros. Move toward a unified technology stack — and educate as you goA recent study by the Association of National Advertisers showed that top marketing performers are the same companies that spend the most money on marketing technology.2 In many ways, their investments are paying off, but for those still using separate solutions for separate channels, there’s greater potential. Unifying their tech under a single, shared system could bring fuller, more tailored consumer insights — not to mention an easier way to evaluate what’s working and what’s not.Jeff Rasp, director of digital strategy for Bayer’s Consumer Health division, did just that, helping reimagine his team’s approach to data. He oversaw the creation of a new marketing insights platform to consolidate data under a single customer ID, and also helped build the company’s first attribution model to evaluate their success. Assemble teams with the analytics skills to uncover actionable insightsTo deliver the right messages at the right times, marketing organizations need data scientists, mobile developers, and other data professionals. For Rob Roy, chief digital officer at Sprint, that meant building a new in-house analytics team to take operations over from external partners. “We needed to get the right people who know how to build the architecture to house all the data,” Roy explains. Once he found them, Sprint worked to integrate data across channels — from web and social media to retail and display — allowing the team more advanced customer segmentation capabilities.Encourage collaboration across teamsA recent McKinsey study showed that 51% of top-performing marketers were part of a networked organization — one where cross-functional teams come together as needed. Parinaz Vahabzadeh, VP of global data labs at Tapestry, is one leader who’s made sure her team collaborates as a single unit.“Our mandate is to democratize the data,” explains Vahabzadeh. “As a small, centralized team, we need to find ways to focus on the most impactful projects and also enable the broader teams to run analytics independently.”Find out moreWant the full stories behind how these three brands are reimagining what they can do with data to reach their customers in relevant ways? Download the full report to learn more. 1-2 MIT SMR Custom Studio/Google, “The Data Driven Transformation,” January 2018Posted by Matt Earp, Content Marketing Strategist, Google Analytics team
Email Marketing via Google Analytics Blog February 22, 2018 at 06:27PM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

Longer is Better: A 6 Step Cheat Sheet to Creating Content that Attracts 361,494 Visitors

We have all been there.

You spend time and money creating short-and-sweet content for your targeted audience; you drink copious cups of coffee and push out all other daily noise to give it your all.

When your gem is complete, you click “publish.”

But your content doesn’t seem to generate any leads. Even worse, it goes unnoticed.

In short, “Winter is Coming” …but not for the House of Stark: for your business.

The solution? Longer content. Research shows that 3,000+ word blog posts get more traffic.

But if you’re anything like me, you often find yourself skimming through longer articles for the next header, either due to lack of time or to a short attention span.

So where’s the happy medium between in-depth content and increased audience attention?

The tendency is to think that audiences have a short attention span and don’t want to be overwhelmed with information.

Ironically, in the age of misinformation we live in, more information isn’t just necessary, it is reputable.

If your content isn’t attracting the visitors your business deserves, you’re probably missing some vital growth-hacks.

Perhaps you don’t know exactly which topics to expand on or how to rise above the humdrum of essentially rehashing what your company offers over and over and over again ad nauseum.

That’s why we’ve compiled this six-step cheat sheet to creating content that is proven to bring in traffic.

Longer vs. shorter (the benefits and pitfalls)

Let’s get clear for a second. Your short content might not have gotten you where you want to be, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its benefits.

Shorter content is a great way to provide a taste of what your business can provide. Just think about how well short social media posts like tweets or Instagram videos perform.

It’s kind of like serving an appetizer. We all love them. They’re delicious. Imagine a gorgeous 7-layer dip with corn chips. Who doesn’t want to get to the bottom of that bowl?

And that brings us to the pitfall.

Sometimes, short content is best, like when used on a homepage.

But in other cases, like blog posts, it can leave visitors wanting more.

That’s probably why longer blog posts get more social shares.

Readers aren’t left with any questions and want to share the valuable information with friends and followers.

That’s where more informational and data-driven content fits the bill.

It gives your visitors that educational delicious full-flavored bite they’re really looking for.

It shows that you know what you’re talking about, and most importantly, you’re willing to share it so they can really enjoy that deliciously deep 7-layer bite.

Ready for the down low? Let’s get down to that cheat sheet.

1. Knowing what drives your audience will make you a star

On the pyramid of things to pay attention to when striving to optimize and maximize visitors who read your content, having an accurate survey of customer motivation is the foundation.

Not knowing what your audience is clicking on, will pretty much make any other marketing endeavor absolutely futile.

2. Start using analytics track your general website activity

Analytics makes it simple by giving you control of what activity you want to track and providing results within just a couple of hours.

There are two approaches to understanding consumer interest and behavior effectively.

One is through aggregate data, like a current customer’s name or order information.

The other is a people-based analytics platform.

Both of these are key to understanding how your business ranks and how to give audiences more of what they are looking for.

If you’re paying less for a more aggregate-oriented analytics solution, it will definitely help you attract visitors to your website.

But eventually, this bird’s eye view can only take you so far.

If your goal is to create content that doesn’t just attract, but also educates and retains, then getting down-and-dirty with the individual peeps.

This is how you ensure that your business doesn’t hit a ceiling on how high it can go.

More on analytics in a bit…

3. Get high on content or find someone who can

People are looking for verifiable information delivered in an original way. This is not fast food.

You won’t retain customers by delivering the same information the same way every time.

Knowing what makes your services or products tick to your audience is a growth hack made up of several parts.

Among these are the use of SEO tools like Moz’s Open Site Explorer, backlinks, infographics, videos, and effective CTAs.

Backlinks matter

Think of backlinks as portals into various parts of your industry’s multiverse.

Except instead of Rick’s portal gun (Rick and Morty reference; yes I am a dork), you’re wielding what we will call the “reputable gun.”

Backlinks show that you’re not just blowing smoke to get the sale (like the Shamwow guy… whatever happened to that dude anyway?)

You’re informed, you’re the expert on the product or service, and you’re taking the time to educate your potential customer/client base to make an empowered decision.

This speaks volumes. It’s no surprise that 73% of advanced SEOs build 1 to 20 links per month. You need to do the same.

The longer the content, the more backlink portals you can include to open your readership to the wondrous world of high-absorbency washrags.

Or whatever product or service you’re selling.

Add calls to action (CTAs)

“The eagle has landed,” some guy said once somewhere…

Make sure your eaglet lands on an invitation to engage further with your company.

This applies to downloading a free guide, signing up for the company newsletter, leading them to an exciting case study, or even an invitation to a networking event.

The point is diversification.

Targeted variety is the spice of content creation.

Let’s take a pretty easy example to understand.

If you are selling essential oils, your audience might include clients who are interested in natural healing for themselves or natural healing for their loved ones.

They might even be interested in learning how to become a certified aromatherapist themselves.

Create a variety of landing pages to cater to these needs through more content along with corresponding CTAs.

The type of landing page you need will depend on your industry.

A good rule of thumb is to add high-quality images, an eye-catching CTA, and some kind of contact form.

Run A/B tests on a few different versions to see which ones perform best.

4. Make analytics your best friend

Analytics can be scary.

It feels like waiting to find out how you did on that dreaded Statistics test in college.

Okay, so maybe you weren’t a Statistics apasionado, but I would be willing to bet that the subjects you did enjoy, you pursued in greater depth.

It works the same way with potential leads who need to learn more about your product before taking the leap.

You can think of analytics as the barometer for what to pursue in greater depth, through longer content.

Based on a recent article in Forbes, “marketers who invest more than 10% of their working media budgets in marketing performance measurement (MPM) are three times more likely to exceed their growth plans by 25%.”

  1. It delineates the need for businesses to actually invest in an in-depth analytics solution.
  2. It proves that analytics point to what people want more.
  3. It suggests that more thorough analytics can result in a greater amount of “clicks.”
Companies like Kissmetrics or CrazyEgg provide the tools you need to measure ROIs for you so you can finally throw out your great-grandma’s abacus.

You might not be able to count your chickens before they hatch, but with the right tool, you can more accurately predict which eggs have better chances of hatching over others.

Once you have analyzed specific user behavior and narrowed down the topics that attract more views and the content that gets the most clicks, you can take them and expand them into longer content pieces.

For example, compile several short articles you’ve already written and create an e-book, like HubSpot.

Combine content to get from this…

To this:

Once you’ve written these other pieces of content, include hyperlinks in the text to your main content piece.

This shows search engines that all your content is interrelated.

Hubspot also offers a perfect analogy of this games.

It dubs the website’s main subject content as the Pillar of your entire content enterprize and other related content as the Clusters.

Your pillar is like the sun around which fun and educational planet clusters of content rotate, linked by gravity.

Gravity attracts and keeps things together.

Similarly, your hyperlinks let search engines like Google find your cluster content and related back to your pillar, so you’re more easily found in web searches.

5. Get friendly with the competition

If only MMA champion Conor McGregor could have been a fly on the wall during Floyd Mayweather’s training!

But if you want to be the best at what you do, it helps to leverage what already exists and works while keeping watch for any gaps you may be able to uniquely fill with your service.

Competitor analysis tools like SimilarWeb allow you to compare the traffic analytics for businesses like yours so you can find that edge.

Let’s say you own a burger shop, and a competing business has set up shop right across the street.

They have a much cooler logo than yours, and their approach is young and hip.

This competition can seriously hinder your sales; everyone is looking for the fresh and new.

If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a cash register full of tears and not dollars.

See the issue here? How are you going to stand out against your way cooler competitor?

Well, imagine that after you’re done crying about it, you take a peek and see what’s on their menu.

To your utter surprise, you notice that their mustard comes in packets, while yours is homemade…

…see where I’m going with this?

Run back to your store and put out a big neon sign immediately! Market the living seeds out of that mustard!

You just found your leverage.

(Ex: The only burger in town serving REAL mustard!” or “Farm-to-Table Mustard. It’s just how Momma made it” or “Buy Local, not imported,” etc… You get the gist.)

So how does this translate into the online marketing content scene?

Well, if you had a website for your burger shop, this would be the time to add a blog or an article chock-full of educated content on the value of fresh ingredients, promoting local business, and how his burger shop is saving the planet, one burger at a time.

Blogging, interviews, guides, and case studies are just a few of the ways to deliver meaningful content.

Here are some other ways to jump-start your content creation process, courtesy of Hubspot:

Since longer content is on the rise, it benefits to find trending topics in your industry and expand on them in a way that highlights what your business can provide over other similar businesses.

Once you have a hook on the right topic, it’s time to write, write, write and promote it like there’s no tomorrow. And if neon signs help, go for it.

6. Try and try, again

Creating effective content is not just a one-time thing.

The attention attracted by your long-form blog or article will likely diminish in a few weeks, if not days (as I addresses in this article).

Additionally, there will always be changes or simple variations in trends to take advantage of.

So based on these oscillations and the knowledge you derive from your analytical platform, your content will continue to grow and build on itself until you attract those 361,494 visitors.

Does writing drawn-out content sound daunting?

Well, there is good news! You can keep that content fresh by updating it!

Fear not, padawan! There are so many guides on how to make that long-form content effective to yield greater ROIs through promotion and social media.

That person-oriented analytics strategy will ensure you remain relevant.

Remember that you’re writing to help people stay informed on the aspects of your industry that benefits them on a personal level.

Another great benefit of person-oriented analytics is the opportunity to send out targeted surveys based on user activity (or inactivity).

Basically, if you notice that a user has not been engaging in your posts and activities, ask them why.

Find out what’s working for them and what isn’t. Based on the results, tailor content to optimize what is working while making sure to address what isn’t.

Who doesn’t love surveys, right?


Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Let’s wrap a lasso around all this.

First, take a look at your landing pages and find out what is and what isn’t getting the attention it deserves.

Several companies provide in-depth step-by-step guides to creating more effective landing pages, content, and promotional strategies.

If you are not already attracting those 361,494 visitors, it is probably going to take a little extra work.

That work involves writing more educational and more targeted copy based on the results from aggregated and person-focused analytics through tools that companies are already providing for your the benefit of your business.

Ask yourself, what is it that my website visitors clearly want to learn more about?

Armed with the results of your new analytics tool, you can empower your potential customers and clients with the educated information they need to make a leap into what your company offers.

And don’t forget to have fun!

Trend analytics, landing pages with CTAs, providing a space to collect email on every single page of your website, and scattering those backlinks like dandelions in the wind are just some of the ways that you can keep ahead of the 2018 trend curve.

What content creation shortcuts do you use to attract visitors?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

Email Marketing via The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog February 22, 2018 at 04:59PM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

Adsense Auto Ads Use Machine Learning to Bring Time Saving Solutions to Publishers

Improving Optimization

For publishers looking to up their optimization game and save a ton of time on ad placement, Google’s new Adsense auto ads (with machine learning capabilities) will give them something to get excited over.

Google’s Adsense Auto Ads were launched in a limited beta last September and are now available for everyone. Adsense Auto Ads will use machine learning to make monetization and placement decisions on behalf of publishers. The developers have stated that the only thing publishers have to do is place one piece of code to all of their pages and Google will analyze those pages for performance for them and find the best ad placement spots based on the data.

These powerful optimization opportunities only scratch the surface of what Auto Ads can give publishers. Another major benefit of the automated ads ties into revenue growth. Because Adsense automatically scans for the best available ad placement spots and places new ads there, publishers could see their revenue consistently increase.

Simplifying Ad Placement

Adsense auto ads come with easy to use tools and a nifty toggle feature. After placing the initial code, the new Adsense features and formats will be easy to toggle on and off and there will be no need to change the code again.

To get started with Auto Ads, a user has to sign into their Adsense account, select the formats they’d like to show on their pages (includes in-page and overly vignette and anchor ads), copy the code, and “paste the ad code between the < head > and </ head > tags of each page where you want to show Auto ads.” The developers have stated that it will only take 10-20 minutes for ads to start appearing on pages.

The developers also affirmed that Auto ads will take into account any existing Google ads on pages and that there wouldn’t be a need to remove manually placed ads.

Concerns Over Automated Advertising

The success of Adsense Auto Ads will ultimately depend on how well the system will leverage it’s machine learning technology. This launch not only signifies a major step forward for machine learning, but it also lends itself to a debate over whether or not programmatic advertising is truly reliable.

In the past, programmatic advertising has been rife with controversy and publishers have claimed that inconsistent measurements and metrics and ad fraud have plagued these systems. Unfortunately, user responses during the Auto Ads beta test were less than positive with some users claiming that the ads can end up overcrowding pages.

If the machine learning aspects of this new program prove themselves to be successful in the full rollout, publishers won’t have to worry about manually analyzing which ad spots will perform best or stress about a programmatic system that works. They may finally have room to breathe.

However, concerns over whether or not the Adsense Auto Ads will actually place ads on high performing sites are popping up and they’re certainly valid. According to a news release about the ads over on Marketing Dive,

The success of AdSense Auto ads will be dependent on how effective the technology is at identifying the best advertising opportunities for marketers while balancing this with the need for a strong user experience. Automated processes like programmatic have run afoul of advertisers in the past year for eliminating so much control from media buying that brands’ ads end up on low-quality or low-traffic sites.

As more publishers start to experiment with this new automated process and share their feedback, we will have a better grasp of how machine learning and AI will play a role in optimization going forward. For now, check out the blog post announcing the Adsense Auto Ads here and let us know what you think about them in the comments below. Will you sign up?


Email Marketing via Relevance February 22, 2018 at 04:09PM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

Why Most Marketers Ignore Lead or Customer Quality

Ask any marketer who is running digital ads about the metrics they look at to define campaign success. The responses will most likely include the number of leads or conversions, cost per acquisition, and CTR. You will never hear them discussing lead quality. The most common reason is the fact that they do not know how to quantify their lead quality.

Here are some tips you may apply to quantify your lead quality:

  • Returning customer or lead. If a lead is a duplicate in your CRM, can you really attribute it to your digital marketing campaign? Isn’t it a lost cost per acquisition? The problem with duplicated records is that it is not easily detected. For example, you may identify a customer as a duplicate because of an email address. But what if they use two different emails? Another duplicate issue that marketers are dealing with is that not all systems are integrated. It means that you may collect different information using different tools that would require record deduplication to continue optimizing your marketing.
  • Lifetime value of a customer or lead. If you are calculating the ROI based only on one sale, it might mean that you are actually under valuing your lead or customer. Think of the lifetime value of the customer. For example, you are selling clothes and a new customer purchases a t-shirt priced at $30. It cost you $15 to generate that sale. Then that same customer returns and buys shorts and two pairs of socks with a total spend of $70. As a result, the customer that was considered to be worth $30 is now worth $100. You should look at the average spend for all your customers to have a better calculation of your ROI.
  • Bogus data. Typically, marketers check email accuracy by sending ‘welcome emails’ or implementing other verification processes. However, bogus records keep making their way into their systems. It means only one thing: bogus records should be excluded from your calculations. Bogus data can be flagged by utilizing bounces, unsubscribed and test records.
  • Source of leads and data collected. Not all sources and leads are created equally. You may find that some leads provide you with just an email and then sign up for your newsletter. Other leads provide you with more detailed information that you can use to enhance your marketing strategy. Some buy something specific while others you can upsell to. Keeping track of this can help you not only calculate the value of your leads and customers but also enable you to take digital marketing to a new level. 
However, none of the above is possible if you cannot track a lead or customer to the original source and follow them throughout their life-cycle as a customer. Investing in a good tracking tool and marketing automation system can mean the difference between a loss and a profitable, sustainable, and long term business. Further investing in analytics and data cleaning can ensure that your customer and lead data is being properly tracked and optimized.

Email Marketing via Relevance February 22, 2018 at 12:01PM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

The Rise of the Story Format on Social Media [Infographic]

By now we know that marketers are often storytellers, finding success in connecting with customers and prospects rather than directly selling to them.

That type of messaging takes on a whole new meaning when we look to social media, since many platforms are literally set up for, well, stories. Snapchat first introduced Snapchat Stories in 2013, and since then we've witnessed the rise Instagram Stories, Medium Series, YouTube Reels, and more.

As a marketer, you have choices in where you tell your brand's stories. Taking a look at where your audience hangs out is the first step.

The following infographic, compiled by story-experience producer Fastory, shows social media story preferences by age group (Snapchat, although the pioneer, is not always the clear winner.)

For more on how stories can help your brand and which social platforms you might want to explore, check out the graphic.

Laura Forer is a freelance writer, email and content strategist, and crossword puzzle enthusiast. She's an assistant editor at MarketingProfs, where she manages infographic submissions, among other things.

LinkedIn: Laura Forer

Email Marketing via MarketingProfs Daily February 22, 2018 at 11:47AM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

How to Target Millennials With Billboard Advertising

When most people think about Millennials, they imagine a tech-savvy and knowledgeable demographic that is increasingly influential—which is why so many marketers believe that online channels offer the most effective way to convert Millennial leads and generate a desired ROI.

The Millennial generation in the UK has swelled to more than 13.8 million members (the youngest of which will have recently turned 17). With such a large group to target, marketers need cost-effective marketing techniques with optimal reach, and digital channels seem to fit this brief to a tee.

Although there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the digital approach, it does prevent some marketers from using other channels and creating fully integrated campaigns.

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is particularly effective at engaging Millennials, for example, especially when brands take the time to fully understand this medium and get their execution just right.

The Argument for OOH Advertising in the Digital Age

Some of what I'm saying may sound counterintuitive in the Digital Age, but it is important to understand the behavior of Millennials and the way they interact with the world around them.

First, Millennials are increasingly cynical in their treatment of online ads; approximately
63% of them are thought to use ad-blockers on at least one of their devices. That cynicism is largely the result of the saturation of the online space with conflicting and overly promotional ads, which have made it extremely difficult for messaging to shine through.

Another reason Millennials are keen to avoid the type of sales-led and intrusive ads online is that they like to curate their own content. More specifically, they want autonomy to choose the brands they engage with, and it can be extremely difficult to identify the most earnest and trustworthy businesses in an increasingly crowded online space.

Those factors have had a cumulative impact in the mind of Millennials, while naturally distinguishing OOH advertising as an engaging alternative to digital channels.

After all, OOH channels, such as traditional billboards, are omnipresent in the real world, with figures suggesting that 70% of customers regularly see and interact with them. Traditional billboards also optimize a brand's reach by providing total exposure: Messaging is displayed without being forced to compete with other brands.

Most important, OOH ads are nonintrusive, blending seamlessly into our surrounding environment and so creating a sense of trust and reassurance among Millennials. Fully 56% of Millennials are thought to trust the messaging that they read on billboards and OOH materials; moreover, the organic placement of these ads compels viewers to interact with the brand.

Whether you consider large, 96-sheet billboards at roadsides or the smaller posters found at train stations, these ads are often viewed by Millennials—and others—as they go about their daily business.

Before you launch an OOH campaign, however, you should consider the various sizes of billboards available so you know which are best suited for your type of business and target markets.

How Can Your Business Target Millennials Through OOH Advertising?

The argument for targeting Millennials with OOH adverts may be compelling, campaign execution will determine whether you secure a high conversion rate. Millennials are among the savviest group of consumers ever, so the placement, design, and objective of your ads must be thought out and planned in careful detail.

Here are some steps to help you on your way.

1. Consider location, location, location

Let's start with the basics: You cannot hope to effectively target Millennials if you do not get the placement of your ads right. Without a suitable geographical location, your ads run the risk of missing the mark and failing to effectively reach your target market.

Data is your main ally here; it can offer insight into how Millennials behave and spend their time. Around 37% of Millennial customers prefer visiting stores to shopping online, for example, so investing in billboards and posters near busy shopping centers can help generate brand awareness and leads.

Younger Millennials and students are also known to prioritize outdoor entertainment as a key part of their budgeting, so placing OOH adverts in parks and bustling high-street areas can also deliver exceptional value.

Similarly, educational facilities, colleges, and universities can offer brands direct access to Millennials through OOH advertising. These establishments tend to not only feature towering buildings in a central area but also allow businesses to target a far larger and more engaged audience.

Establishments that are close to busy bars and eateries are particularly popular, as they are capable of targeting customers at various times of the day (allowing you to tailor your messaging and proposition accordingly).

2. Indulge your creative side in a way that appeals to Millennials

Creativity is an exceptionally important consideration, ultimately determining your ability to translate your ideas into an effective message and visual ad. Your use of colors, imagery, and messaging is crucial if you want to effectively engage increasingly discerning Millennials.

Color is particularly important as Millennials tend to seek out shades with mindful and optimistic vibes. As Millennials are also curious and like to curate their own content, they respond well to experimental and unusual color combinations, which is why botanical greens have become such a popular home interior shade in recent times.

If you use digital billboards, you may even be able to create interactive ads that tap into the typical Millennial's desire to create and curate content. Interactive ads not only offer novelty value but also build a relationship with customers and empower them to showcase their own creativity under the banner of the brand.

When deploying images and messages, you need to ensure that you target the core traits of the Millennial demographic. Millennials certainly respond well to content that affords them recognition, both for dealing with life challenges and playing a role as influencers within social networks. Concise and straightforward messaging is also key, particularly in an age when they are daily bombarded with advertising.

From a visual perspective, your use of color and branding must be consistent throughout your marketing efforts to optimize recognition across multiple channels. This requirement should not be underestimated, especially if you aspire to create a seamless customer journey that drives assisted conversions.

3. Make your call to action count

We have not yet even touched on the biggest advantage of OOH when targeting Millennials: They are more likely to interact with a brand online after seeing OOH ads, which therefore help you create a viable, omnichannel customer journey that is truly engaging.

Billboards have always been effective at driving customer actions: 58% of consumers are inclined to interact further with brands after seeing a billboard or poster. Millennials are even more responsive to this type of advertising; they are 17% more likely to engage with a brand through their smartphone after consuming an OOH advert.

Those are impressive numbers, but they mean little unless you get your calls to action (CTAs) right.

First, your CTA should have a prominent place on the billboard, and any online addresses or physical destinations should also be accurate and free from ambiguity.

You must also ensure that you solicit consumer actions that are part of a wider, clearly defined customer journey.

If you are going to harness the potential of OOH adverts for providing assisted conversions, you need to direct customers through viable channels that will sustain engagement and ultimately drive conversions. Whether that's a specific social channel or your mobile website, make sure the CTA is tailored to suit the objective of the campaign and the needs of your target market.

The Last Word

Though it may seem counterintuitive to invest in offline marketing channels in the Digital Age, there is a great deal to be said for conducting integrated campaigns.

That's particularly true when targeting Millennials, who are increasingly likely to block online advertisements and to respond well to the organic, nonintrusive, and concise nature of OOH materials.

Email Marketing via MarketingProfs Daily February 22, 2018 at 11:47AM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

Corporate America’s Most Broken Internal Processes

More than half of workers at corporations in the United States say their firm has at least one broken process related to IT, employee onboarding, and administrative functions, according to recent research from Nintex.

The report was based on data from a survey of 1,000 full-time employees who work for corporations in the United States.

Some 62% of respondents say at least one IT process doesn't work well at their company.

The most-cited broken IT processes are technology troubleshooting (59% say the process doesn't work well), equipment onboarding for new hires (43%), and requesting a new computer/device (42%).

Some 58% of respondents say at least one employee onboarding process doesn't work well at their company.

The most-cited broken employee onboarding processes are gaining access and tools that enable good job performance (55% say the process doesn't work well), learning internal approaches such as emergency procedures (46%), and completing necessary paperwork (43%).

Some 54% of respondents say at least one administrative process doesn't work well at their company.

The most-cited broken administrative processes are annual performance reviews (57% say the process doesn't work well), promotions (53%), and raise negotiations (47%).

About the research: The report was based on data from a survey of 1,000 full-time employees who work for corporations in the United States.

Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

Email Marketing via MarketingProfs Daily February 22, 2018 at 10:37AM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

Review Content Strategy for Your Business & Make it Better

Many elements of your content strategy may be reviewed and updated for the better. Identifying which elements to review and which to update is part of the process. Here are several content strategy elements that you may review in order to improve.

Review And Redefine Your Target Audience

Any level of personalized marketing is desirable within a content strategy, and even the most simple strategy has a target audience, even if the target audience is the result of the content-strategy’s direction rather than the content strategy being the result of the target audience.

One assumes that your content strategy is not dumb enough to try to please everybody, because otherwise your content would feature articles about how Hans Solo and Jean Luke Picard are the best ship captains, and how every color in the rainbow is the best color.

Even if your target audience is the result of your content strategy, you could still introduce the idea of defining your target audience at this late stage. By defining your target audience, you may make your content topic selections a little more consistent.

Review And Redefine Your Marketing Goals

You may argue that your content strategy doesn’t have goals, but if that is the case, then why do you have a content strategy? Consider reviewing and redefining your goals to make them more specific or maybe more flexible. Consider the direction you are taking right now and think about going the opposite way. There is no law that says you have to go the opposite way, but it may be worth considering.

Look at the large media publishing groups that are run by predominantly Jewish groups. Their marketing goals were to undermine the Trump presidential administration while selling advertising space to leftist companies. Then, President Trump became the first US president to ever officially recognize Israel. The same publishing groups quickly shifted their marketing goals and slowed their attacks on the Trump administration. If they had ruthlessly stuck to their guns and maintained their original marketing goals, they would have prompted a massive amount of scorn from their own community.

Review And Redefine Your Content Dissemination Channels

The example above showed how sometimes you “need” to change your marketing goals in order to roll with the times, and the same is true of your content dissemination channels. Google+ may have been a joke eight years ago, but it is now loaded with males aged 16 – 80 years old. If you are selling to that demographic, then it is outright vital that part of your content is shared on Google+.

Review And Redefine Your Content Dissemination Methods

One key to authentic communication is communicating in a way that your target audience favors. Some people are blog junkies, others are Facebook addicts, and some listen to podcast while driving. There is no rule that says you cannot disseminate the same content on multiple platforms, but it pays to have dominant platforms that are heavily visited by your target audience.

Review And Redefine Your Content Style

Open your mind to the wide variety of different content styles that exist. Your content style doesn’t have to match your target audience. There is no need the purposefully alienate your target audience because that would be dumb, but you will be surprised what some people in your target demographic actually like.

Quentin Tarantino said he made Kill Bill 1 & 2 both for action-junkie men and for young women who may enjoy seeing a powerful woman as the hero. He definitely didn’t make it for middle-aged housewives and elderly grandmas, but there are still women in those demographics who love the movies.

Review And Redefine Your Sales Funnels

This is a big task, and even if you spend hundreds of staff hours on the review, you should be very careful when implementing changes. One assumes that if you have a functioning sales funnel, then it has taken a long time and a lot of trial and error testing to get it right. Tampering with it, even after solid work by your review team, is going to be tricky and risky.

Consider reviewing your sale funnel phases. It is an easy way to break down your sales funnel into areas that may be tampered with in a way that offers measurable results. Another consideration is to completely ignore the things that are working within your sales funnel and to only review things that are both not working and that are still costing you resources.

Review And Redefine Your Content Creators

Maybe it is time to hire content creators to work on your premises, or maybe it is time to try outsourcing. You may have a reasonable amount of luck with a freelance writer or with an essay writing service. Are there social media influencers who may be willing to work with you, and have your current social media influencers lost their pulling power? Maybe it is to for a change.

Email Marketing via Relevance February 22, 2018 at 09:39AM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

Forty8Fifty Labs and SoftwarePlant Partner to Enhance Project Management for Atlassian JIRA

Forty8Fifty Labs and SoftwarePlant Partner to Enhance Project Management for Atlassian JIRA

Atlassian Marketplace Vendors Collaborate to Extend Efficiency of Atlassian Environments

  ATLANTA, Feb. 21, 2018 — Forty8Fifty Labs, the DevOps and software development subsidiary of Veristor Systems, today announced a partnership with SoftwarePlant, provider of advanced project portfolio management solutions for Atlassian JIRA. Both Atlassian Marketplacevendors, Forty8Fifty Labs and SoftwarePlant deliver solutions to enhance the agility, efficiency and value of Atlassian JIRA.

 “By partnering with other advanced Atlassian ecosystem providers such as SoftwarePlant, we are enhancing the time to value for our mutual customers,” said Rashad Neloms, Vice President Technology and Strategy, Forty8Fifty Labs. “SoftwarePlant’s innovative project portfolio management solutions, combined with our custom services and productivity enhancing apps such as SmartHandler for Mail, can powerfully enhance the power and efficiency of Atlassian JIRA.”

 “Our partnership with Forty8Fifty Labs furthers our mission to enhance the productivity of teams that use Atlassian JIRA,” said Tom Kucharski, CEO, SoftwarePlant. “We are pleased to be offered as a preferred Atlassian Marketplace solution in the Forty8Fifty Labs portfolio of solutions.”

 SoftwarePlant delivers advanced project portfolio management systems and tools for Atlassian JIRA. BigPicture and BigPicture Enterprise are project portfolio management solutions that organize teams’ work and plan a cadence-based roadmap. BigGantt allows users to create, schedule and analyze tasks and search and embed epics and stories from other JIRA projects. BigTemplate offers advanced exporting capabilities for JIRA. The company also offers Metrics to easily define and see project-level custom fields and Role Extensions for personalized roles for JIRA components. For more information visit

 The SoftwarePlant suite of products joins Forty8Fifty Labs’ DevOps product portfolio of solutions for Atlassian environments. This portfolio also includes the Forty8Fifty Labs’ SmartHandler for Mail, an advanced email decisioning and automation solution for JIRA and JIRA Service Desk. For more information visit

 About Forty8Fifty Labs

 Forty8Fifty Labs is the DevOps and Agile Consulting, Services and Software Development subsidiary of Veristor Systems, Inc.  With decades of field-proven experience in solving the toughest challenges for today’s CIOs and the Development/Operations teams they lead, the Forty8Fifty Labs team unlocks the secrets to bringing your IT tools and your people together; accelerating your DevOps journey, improving collaboration, streamlining development, and reducing time to revenue.  Let us help you supercharge your business with our team’s unparalleled expertise, extensive partnerships, and custom tools and integrations. Learn more at


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