Online Marketing

US Ad Blocking Grows by 48%


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Ad blocking is on the rise - in a monstrous way. According to The 2015 Ad Blocking Report produced in partnership by Adobe and PageFair, US ad blocking grew by 48% to reach 45 million active users in 12 months up to June 2015, and by 41% globally.

Ad blocking is a technology being employed by consumers to block ads before they are loaded by the web browser. The result is a quickly rendered page and a serene and uninterrupted consumption experience. Proponents of the technology advocate that it enables a more efficient customer experience, pushes marketers to target appropriately, and gives consumers the power they deserve when experiencing the web. In a cyber world saturated with irrelevance, it’s no wonder an overwhelming 73% of consumers are more likely to engage with ads when they are personally relevant.

Opponents, on the other hand, say that supporting ad blockers disrupts the very fabric of the web, a place where we can communicate - for free. Adoption of ad blockers may result in an internet that is less crowded by ads, but also in a cyberspace where only the largest publishers can pay for, and deliver ads uninterrupted, without user consent. Ads fuel a place in which high quality content produced by experts can be published free to the consumer. Without it, publishers are more likely to put their great content behind subscription walls. According to The Ad Blocking Report, $22 Billion dollars will be lost to online publishers in 2015.

While revenue loss will be devastating for publishers and consumers alike, it seems that the current “crisis” is an amalgamation of advertising practices gone stale, one’s that have been in need of serious disruption for some time. The ad status quo (serving as many ads as possible as often as possible to as many people as possible) isn’t acceptable any longer, and ad blocking is a tool that has given consumers a voice.

Speaking on consumer preferences, consumers tend to be more displeased when served ads on mobile that they haven’t subscribed to. The reasons for this are still unclear, but it’s safe to speculate that our mobile devices have far less real estate and therefore ads seem far more intrusive. It’s interesting to note that while 38% of all web browsing happens on mobile, that only a very small percentage of people are using ad blockers on their mobile devices. However, it’s unlikely for those stats to stay the same. More likely, ad blocking on mobile will become mainstream as Apple has recently allowed iOs9 developers to make apps with ad blocking software.

In order to preserve the richness of the web, this trend must be seen as an opportunity for advertisers to reorganize their thinking and embrace targeting technology they’ve been slow to adopt.


How to Use Online Marketing to Drive Local Sales


In the huge community that deals with digital marketing, there is no shortage of advice for business owners and marketers: a million and one ways to engage on social media, 25 things you must do right now to improve your site’s SEO, etc., etc. Heck, that’s what I do! But often when I read marketing tips and how-to’s, I think of those businesses that plenty of online marketing advice just doesn’t apply to – those that operate only within a local community, only in brick-and-mortar spaces, and primarily offline.

But an offline point-of-sale certainly does not make online marketing pointless; brick-and-mortar businesses still need to participate in our online sphere of websites, maps, reviews, social media and networking. That’s because even if you’re offline when you interact with your customers, they could still very well be finding you through social media, searching for your locations, and deciding to visit you based on online reviews. If you haven’t crafted an online presence that checks all the marketing boxes, you’re missing out on a big group of customers who might otherwise be browsing your shop, sitting down at your café counter, or visiting your space. Here’s how to start off your online presence right.

Be Super Findable with Google+

Most people would agree that Google+ has not become the social media Facebook rival we were warned of – but it has absolutely become one of the most important platforms for brick-and-mortar businesses. That’s because the vast majority of people search using Google (just under 70%), and Google uses your business’s Google+ page (essentially a Place page) to populate a preview of sorts at the top of search engine results. Below is an example of the Google search results for a local café/bar I love:


The box on the right of the screen is generated automatically by Google, using the map listing (address), photos, information and hours the business owner has added to The Foundry’s Google+ page. If you’re the type of marketer who cares about standing out in search results (that’s everyone, right?), this eye-catching box is valuable SERP real estate.

Improve Your Google+ Business Page

This box will be there even if you haven’t created a Google+ page for your business, but it won’t be much: a map showing your location, your address, and a phone number if you’re publicly listed. If you claim your Google+ page, you can upload photos (how tempting does that latte look?), list your business hours, and even link to your menu if you have one – and all of those things will show up in this preview box. Even reviews are previewed in this space!

Related Class: Social Media Strategies & Tactics to Drive Local Digital Marketing

If I’m searching for a place, this little box will give me everything I need to know about your business – if you set it up! Or if I’m searching on my mobile device (which is how we’re all doing it these days), this summary box is the very first thing I see in my results:


Claim and Customize Your Review Sites

Most review sites function a lot like the above Google search preview – your listing will be there whether or not you claim it, but you really, really should. An unclaimed listing on Yelp or TripAdvisor will still show user reviews and include basic info (address, phone number), but it won’t have much else. Once you claim your business’s page, you can link to your website, list your hours, upload photos (though reviewers can also upload their own), and even write a summary of your business and (on Yelp) a profile of the business owner or manager. People really do make decisions based on what they see here on a review page, so make it as tempting as you can. Here’s the Yelp page of a local market/bakery in my area:


Between the reviews and the photos, I’m ready to head there now! Think how much more compelling this listing is than a barebones list of reviews with no images, no background info, and no hours to help me plan my visit. Plus, you can respond to reviews, track click-throughs, and much more! It’s quick and easy to claim your review pages, because these sites want you to do it – Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Angie’s List all have step-by-step instructions.

Obviously this is just the beginning of what should be a comprehensive online presence – social media, local listings, and a lot more. But for small businesses and brick-and-mortar companies in search of new customers, these steps will make it easier for those fresh faces to find you, and more favorable for your business when they do.

To find out more about driving local search traffic to your business, check out this class: Google Places and Local Business Marketing Best Practices.


Excuse Me, Your Data is Showing


You don’t want to be caught with your data exposed.

If your organization is still struggling with data management, you are at risk of drowning in it and missing out on critical customer insights. The goal this year for digital marketers should be to make all of that “big data” compact, through an increased investment in analytics.

Excuse Me, Your Data is Showing Digital Marketing

Why? A new year brings new opportunities for digital marketers of all levels to expand their marketing strategies. But to truly be successful in 2015, brands have to adopt a data-driven philosophy, specifically to understand their customers. Forrester Research doesn’t lie, and "The Age of The Customer" is real.

Prioritizing your analytics means prioritizing your customer and that should be the #1 focus for businesses, regardless of size, scale, or scope/maturity.

Related Class: Web Analytics Fundamentals for a Data-Driven World

The year 2014 was plagued with the term “big data.”

The truth is, it doesn’t matter how you label it--big, small or in between. No matter the size, the ability to put it into action is what will differentiate successful brands. Gartner, a leading information technology research company, found that this year alone, “big data demand” will reach 4.4 million jobs globally, but only one-third of those jobs will be filled. These numbers are a reflection of companies recognizing the need for these skills in their organizations to collect and interpret the rich amount of data available, but there is not enough supply in the market to keep pace. Make it a top priority and beat your competitor to the punch.

While it may sound scary, the steps to improving and building your analytics practice can be broken down into two simple categories: infrastructure and insights.

Excuse Me, Your Data is Showing Digital Marketing - Brad Messinger
Infrastructure is pretty self explanatory, you’ve got to invest in the people, process, and technology. Does your organization have a commitment to understanding its customers better?

Have you invested in building your analytics practice?

Is it informing your marketing decisions and creating better experiences for customers?

These skills are not typically native to marketing and there is a big shift taking place from the "Mad Men" of old to the "Math Men" of new. You want to make sure you have “data masters” that are comfortable living and breathing in information, the process to activate against it, and the technology to do it at scale.

Related Class: Big Data Driven Strategies for Analytics

Insights go hand-in-hand with infrastructure.

Now that you have the plumbing in place, you need to be able to take action. Things like testing and conversion rate optimization, cross-functional intelligence, and attribution are all done on the insights side.

This allows you to constantly focus on using the data to guide your marketing investments and continuously optimizing to maximize the impact. With appropriate investments in both areas, digital marketers will be well on their way to a successful, data-driven 2015.


Marketing to Millennials: How to Reach and Convert Gen Y


Full disclosure: I fall squarely into the millennial demographic, so I’m hardly an impartial judge on this subject. But I’ve also got a lot of experience with this generation, since I’ve worked hard to market to them, and also know what it’s like to be marketed to as one of them. There are a lot of brands doing it right, and a lot of brands that completely miss the mark.

First off, we don’t like to be called the “selfie generation,” and we’re not ignoring your content because we can’t stop watching Grumpy Cat videos. We are using our devices but are not glued to them, thank you very much. We are smart, careful consumers who look for deals, and we know that our friends and family give better advice than celebrity-stuffed TV ads. We’re 27% of the US population, so even if you think your market isn’t millennials, you can’t afford to ignore us (unless you’re AARP, I guess). The stats on this demographic are in, and they say a lot – not only about how we should be marketing, but also about how we should be facilitating their needs in the sales funnel and purchasing process.

Word of Mouth Matters

Hubspot recently released a great infographic about how the millennial consumer shops, lives and interacts, and it really highlights one of the central characteristics of this generation: their reliance on word of mouth when it comes to purchasing decisions.

marketing to millennials

You almost can’t overstate the importance of reviews and referrals for millennial buyers. Almost 70% couldn’t care less about celebrity endorsements, because they’d rather read reviews and talk to friends and family. 93% of millennials (including me!) read reviews before buying; for me it’s because I know I can find out more about the real quality of a product from reviews than from that dazzling, buzz-wordy product description at the top of the page.

How to Help Millennials Shop Your Stuff

So what does this emphasis on WOM mean for businesses that want to bring in millennial customers? My takeaways from this come down to three things:

1.  Make reviews a big feature of your product or service pages, and encourage or even incentivize review-writing for your current customers when they buy.

2.  Make sure that reviews are easily viewed on mobile devices – millennials prefer to browse that way, but they won’t stick around if they can’t access reviews on your mobile site.

3.  Proactively include testimonials and reviews in your marketing content and social media activity, and make it easy for customers to share and review your products or brand on social media. Almost 60% of millennials will make product recommendations when they have a very good, or very bad, experience.

Sale-Savvy Browsing and Shopping

Millennials came of age during the Great Recession, and believe me, it hasn’t been easy for us! But it has made smart shoppers of my generation; we are technology natives who know how to find a deal online, and care more about price than brand loyalty for the most part.

According to CMSWire, 55% of millennials will switch brands for sales, and 63% will purchase brands that aren’t favorites if they’re on sale. You can include me in those numbers as well – online shopping makes it easy to compare prices across brands, and even marketplaces like Amazon, so as shoppers we have more information than ever before about value.

marketing to millennials

Millennials are also at the forefront of tech-shopping trends like showrooming to get the best prices (2 out of 3 millennials use mobile apps while shopping in-store), and reverse-showrooming to research the best options before buying in person (71% of millennials).

How to Sell to Sale-Hunters

Three steps that can help you draw in millennials looking for sales or savings:

1.  Make sure you promote your sales where millennials are – on social media like Facebook (almost 90%), Twitter (nearly 60%) and even Instagram (34%). (Stats courtesy of AdWeek.)

2.  Don’t just write an update about a sale on your Facebook Page – create a sharable image or video that grabs more attention in the feed, and ranks higher in Facebook’s content algorithm.

3.  Know your price is better than the competitor’s? Say so. Are your products comparable to a fancy brand name but much less expensive? Market that fact.

Coupons, Vouchers & Social Shopping

After shopping online for a few years, I have pretty set habits. A crucial step before I decide to buy? Browsing around for coupons or voucher codes that will knock the price down a little. I learned this behavior because it works, and many millennials have too; in fact, 60% of millennials follow brands on social media to get deals and coupons.

marketing to millennials

I check the brand’s Facebook Page and Twitter feed to see if they’re sharing any discount codes, and failing that I sign up for the mailing list. That first welcome email usually comes with a 10% off code, or free shipping code, or something similar. Sites like RetailMeNot and Groupon offer discounts on popular brands, and millennials know where to look. In total, deals account for 31% of millennials’ shopping dollars.

How to Tempt Millennials with Vouchers

If you’re not already capitalizing on the millennial weakness for coupons, here’s how to start:

1.  Give them the content they want through your social channels: coupons. It’s a great way to reward users for connecting with you socially, and they’ll take note.

2.  Make it clear that there’s a discount incentive for connecting with you on social media, or signing up for the mailing list. Have a homepage header declaring 10% off when you join the mailing list, or offer voucher codes for the next 20 Twitter followers.

3.  Consider offering your products or services through Groupon or similar social buying platforms, to reach new audiences and tempt deal-hunting millennials.

Millennials have high expectations for your marketing, whether it’s email, social, or more traditional means. They’ve learned to love customized, targeted marketing that meets their needs, and they want content that speaks to their concerns, like cost and personal recommendations. If you want to bring this blockbuster demographic into your customer base, you’ll have to meet them on their ground, and check all the right boxes first.

Want to learn more about targeting millennials in your marketing for maximum effect? Check out this OMI class: Targeting Millennials on Social & Mobile.


How Sweating the Small Stuff Will Lead You to Marketing Success


Parts of your digital marketing experience stink. I guarantee it. There are dead ends you know about on your web site. There are mobile mishaps you understand need to be fixed. And yet, here we are.

Now that we're getting into 2015, we're facing yet another year with BIG goals and mostly stepping over those smaller obstacles in your marketing path.

How Sweating the Small Stuff Will Lead You to Marketing Success
Yes, mobile should be first and podcasts will be a priority.

However, I encourage anyone focused on digital marketing to start sweating the small stuff. If you don't care about your micro interactions - those small, often overlooked make-or-break interactions - then your competitors will.

Make 2015 the year of minutiae!

Related Class: Building Your Mobile Strategy

Maybe this seems crazy at a time when most marketers are being asked to predict traffic and conversion numbers in big terms, but let me make this case for you.

A microinteraction is often something we know is a hinderance to the overall experience. We see that error message randomly and realize it doesn't offer any direction for the user and strikes the wrong tone. Our email newsletters are me, me, me instead of focused on the reader. We know these things. But we don't change them.

How Sweating the Small Stuff Will Lead You to Marketing Success - Jeannie Walters

So instead of losing yourself in big goals, consider the small ones. Can you make it your mission to tackle the micro interactions in your digital marketing?

Here are a few places to start:

What do your users want to do on mobile? If it's likely they'll be searching for contact information via mobile, make it front and center for them!

Where do your prospects get lost? If your digital sales process is tricky or requires lots of waiting for your prospects, it's time to clean it up! Try micro mapping the experience and determining where a small change, like offering live help, could make a big difference.

Related Class: 8 Steps to Creating Content Your Audience Will Love

How can you help your customers find their way? If customers get lost, is there clear direction for them on what to do next? Our favorite examples of this include humor and direction.

It's time to think small! Make a list of the things you know are troubling to your digital experience. Be honest. I bet you can find 3 things to fix immediately.

Don't get lost in a sea of big goals that overshadow these small moments. These are the moments that matter!


3 Macro Trends Driving Massive Growth for Digital Coaches


Here are the Top 3 Macro Trends that are creating incredible opportunities for digital coaches around the world. Following that are my 4 proven tactics that top experts are using to accelerate their personal brands and launch powerful businesses.

Trend 1: Business Economics Work aka Proliferation of the Collaborative Economy

Giving consumers direct access to products and expertise is where it’s at. By skipping the big corporations and going right to the person selling the service or product is the way of the future. From eBay to Kickstarter, PopExpert to Craigslist, this is evident. The emergence of great Business-to-Business-to-Consumer platforms like Uber, Kickstarter, and even Amazon further sets the tone for this paradigm shift.

These are all lining the path to giving an outlet for those with great products/services to reach the masses. And this will only accelerate in 2015.

Related Class: Social Collaboration: Turning Loyalty into Demand


Trend 2: Video Above All Other Content

It’s clear. Video is where most everyone spends their time. 70% of online time is spent viewing video. Not even Facebook can match that. Consumers are ready, willing, and able (to pay) to engage with either live video or on-demand in a massively adopted way.

3 Macro Trends Driving Massive Growth for Digital Coaches Video Coaching


Trend 3: The Mass Movement of Entrepreneurial Empowerment

The need to run your own business, control your own destiny and just have the gumption to do it is here .. and in a big way.  So with so many offering their knowledge as service on it’s own, the market has just gotten a lot bigger and critical mass of options for consumers is now in place.


The question then becomes… How do I take advantage of these macro trends and grow my business?

As an expert in any discipline, from Digital Marketing to Mindful-Life Coach, Yoga Instructor, and Nutritionist, it’s simply the cost of doing business to have a good plan to capture and ride this big wave of change.

The formula is simple:

1.)   Have a powerful digital presence that creates opportunities to discover and engage with new clients.

2.)   Create a strong reputation for yourself and back that up with credibility online.

3.)   Provide compelling ways to engage with your knowledge.


Here are the top 4 tactics that successful digital coaches are using to drive more customer acquisition in 2015.


1. Capture Google - Blog

Creating high quality, meaningful blog content is the most important component to being great. It's a simple, easy, and highly achievable tactic. Having the discipline to write every week and build a great series of posts that demonstrates your knowledge and thought leadership will go miles for building your online reputation.

The key is doing research to the topical pain points you want to help people with, and then build a content publishing calendar for yourself that you stick to.


2. Capture Apple - Podcast

An incredible amount of traffic comes through iTunes. If you can create a good podcast series that aligns with your blog calendar, you will build a set of subscribers and followers that engage with multiple content mediums from within your arsenal. Good audio equipment is a must. 

3 Macro Trends Driving Massive Growth for Digital Coaches

3. Online Video

This is the secret sauce. Once you have great written content, video is the next logical step, and it gives you an opportunity to connect with your audience on a much deeper level. Your personality, your passion, your energy. Only video captures that completely.

Creating a series of high quality videos (consider renting a nice camera or partner with someone willing to co-create quality video that has a crew) goes much further to demonstrate your knowledge. You can utilize the existing presentations you already give at conferences or clients, and turn it into a video series that someone can actually purchase. This will show that you can provide a high amount of value for your clients.

There are 4 general types of video formats to consider:

  • On-Demand eLearning
  • Studio Quality Video Teasers
  • Good Ole Webinar (screen share video)
  • Live Video Coaching

Be careful to not to get lulled into thinking Google Hangouts or Skype is the answer to doing live video coaching well. It's now scalable and isn't very professional. Scheduling, payment systems, and a great user interface (my favorite example is PopExpert’s video coaching platform), will make you stand out from all that say “let’s just get on Skype” chatter and will save you an awkward ask for their credit card information.

Related Class: How to Engage Top Experts Using Video


4. Third Party Validation (the Online Referral)

Getting customers and other reputable experts to talk about you and share their great experiences with the world is the final leg in the stool. You need to get people to rate, review, and write about you & your work. Not just on Facebook and Twitter but across all web domains.

Third party credit building sites that drive good ratings and reviews are imperative. LinkedIn for the B2B side is critical. Yelps style platforms like the aforementioned PopExpert, will get you listed and allow you to host some good client ratings and testimonial style reviews.

Socially Shareable content is a must. The social proof of people sharing your content, retweeting it, and doing it all on your own profile, blog, or website is key. When folks see a blog post and notice that 100 other people have already tweeted it and 30 more shared it on facebook, your reputation will instantly jump. More importantly, Google SERPs love social validation, and this will push you up dramatically in the rankings.

In summary, get on the front end and top of these macro-societal trends. Build a great online presence with the Content Marketing tactics above, and you'll be on the fast track to growing your digital coaching business.


What Google’s New .How Top Level Domain Means for Marketers


Today, Google made available the purchase of .how domain names available to the general public. This is huge for digital marketers and coaches around the world.

Google's aim with this new Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) is to make it easier for businesses and individuals to share content & teach people how to do something. With the online education industry projected to grow well into the $100's of Billions in the next few years, the new .How domain extension provides an incredible opportunity to those looking to showcase their knowledge.

If you're ready to pick up your .How Domain, head over to Get.How (by Google) and get started now.

How to Get a .How Domain Name Google's New Top Level Domain Extension for Marketers


As a marketer, you're at the front lines of discovering new customers, educating them about your products or services, and showing them how you can help achieve their goals. There are many ways this new TLD can positively impact your business.

There are already a number of businesses and individuals that are using .how domains, to showcase their skills and offer eLearning opportunities to people around the world. If you want to learn how to skydive, how to be a better cook, or how to win in a sword fight, then you're in luck. With a .how domain extension, these businesses are poised to experience some major SEO benefits for search terms around "how to ..." when it comes to their specific niches.

Related Class: The Marketer's Secret to Content Marketing Success

Let's say you're in the SaaS (Software as a Service) industry and your product is a CRM tool that helps businesses track their customers actions and qualifies them as sales leads when they complete certain steps within your selling process. You're likely spending a lot of time educating your sales leads (and customers) on how your product is going to provide value and help them close more deals.

We know that content marketing is rapidly becoming one of the best ways to reach and engage new customers. From the example above, in order to help educate your customers and attract new sales leads, you could create a new website on a .how domain that's designed around the concept of giving out free (unbiased) advice for business owners on how to grow their sales funnels.

How to Get a .How Domain Name Google's New Top Level Domain Extension Creating Compelling Content for Marketers

Launching a new platform that features genuinely beneficial educational videos, regular blog content, downloadable free resources, and offers a way to get in touch with your business for personalized advice, is a great strategy for building trust and a powerful reputation within your industry. If you're looked to as an authority on how to convert leads into customers, and you're a source of meaningful content for businesses looking to do exactly that, then you're really going to solidify your position in the marketplace.

As Google's CIO, Ben Fried put it, "embracing .how is a great opportunity for companies and individuals to improve how they reach and engage thinkers and people who want to learn."

Whether you take advantage of Google's new .how domain extensions or not, you can't afford to miss out on the opportunities that are created when you become an online authority on a topic deeply connected to your business. If you're looking for some tips on how to kick off your content marketing strategy, check out our awesome class on Executing a Winning Content Marketing Program.


How Content Marketing Has Become Marketing Content


It’s no secret that content marketing has been all of the rage the last couple of years. Adoption rates, as reported by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), bear this out, too. That might lead many to believe that last year’s top digital marketing focus might have been content marketing.

That’s great, but there’s a little problem with that. CMI reports that only 37 percent of marketers believe their content is effective.

How Content Marketing Has Become Marketing Content by Chad Pollitt for OMI

Since so many brands in a variety of industries are cranking out content, many of these verticals have moved from content deficits to surpluses in the last few years. There’s much more competition for online content consumers’ attention today than at any other time in history.

Early adopter brands are the ones mostly reaping the content marketing rewards. They earned their audiences when they were one of the only content producing brands in their industry.

Related Class: The Marketer's Secret to Content Marketing Success

In the time of content deficits, brands could mostly rely on organic social and search channels to deliver the audiences they sought. That dynamic has changed substantially in the last few years. Year over year growth in organic search queries is on the decline and Facebook’s organic visibility is quickly approaching zero.

Twitter announced last fall that it will be minimizing brands’ organic visibility, too. SEO isn’t what it used to be, either.

Today, it’s easier to earn a real audience that produces the signals Google and the other search engines use to determine relevance than it is to game their algorithms.

As a result, brands should focus on marketing their content using earned and paid channels, and not content marketing this year. Creating owned media, hitting the publish button, sharing it on social media and broadcasting to a small email list won’t cut it in 2015.

Marketers residing in the 63 percent that believe their content is ineffective are starting to figure this out. The ones that don’t will start to see company support for content marketing wane.

The Channels of Content Promotion


(Click to Enlarge)

It’s not a mystery why over the last several years a cornucopia of new and unique content promotion tools, networks and tactics have cropped up. The promise of search and social organically delivering game changing business results in a "build and they will come" strategy is a myth with today’s content surpluses.

That’s why a robust content promotion ecosystem that leverages both paid and earned media for a converged strategy exists.

Related Class: Creating Content that Converts for Lead Generation

Each earned and paid tactic represented in the channels above aren’t necessarily game changers by themselves. Leveraging a mix of tactics increases the likelihood of success.

For a more detailed and thorough explanation of the strategies, tactics and tools of content promotion download my latest ebook, The Content Promotion Manifesto for free, but only for a limited time.


The Top 20 Digital Marketing Strategists for 2015


The Online Marketing Institute is proud to recognize the Top 20 Digital Marketing Strategists for 2015, chosen for their innovative contributions in the digital marketing community and dedication to creating online education opportunities for business owners, marketers, and students around the world. 

The list is comprised of distinguished OMI educators, authors, business owners, digital marketing professionals, contributors, and speakers, known for:

  • Creating and leading the adoption of the newest, most effective digital marketing strategies
  • Presenting incredible education opportunities through speaking engagements, blogging, and teaching
  • Delivering high-impact, positive results for their clients and organizations

With new technologies and trends the likes of retargeting, content marketing, mobile adoption, and video content all moving into the forefront of digital marketing for 2015, the landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace. It's crucial that marketers around the world embrace changes, stay current with proven best practices, seek new opportunities, and take calculated risks to stay ahead of the competition. Through their involvement in the professional community, whether speaking, blogging, or teaching, these leaders are empowering marketers to do exactly that. 

In conjunction with this announcement, we asked these top online marketers to share the #1 area of digital marketing that all businesses need to be focusing on for 2015. We'll be releasing their insights in a series of upcoming blog posts over the next few weeks. Several of these experts are also participating in our Free Virtual Event, the First Annual Get Better @ Week starting on Jan 19, 2015!

Here is our annual list of Top 20 Digital Marketing Strategists for 2015 in alphabetical order:


1. Kim AlbeeKim Albee, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

President and Founder, Genoo Marketing Automation | @kimalbee

Among many other contributions to the digital marketing space over the past 23 years, Kim Albee is the President and Founder of Genoo, LLC, a software-as-a-service suite of tools that allow marketers to generate messaging, drive traffic, create demand and pass intelligent lead information on to their sales departments to build relationships. Kim has also been a longtime proponent of creating eLearning opportunities and sharing her experience in the digital marketing industry with aspiring marketers, through her Digital Marketing Certification curriculum.


2. John Baker John Baker, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

President at dotJWT Worldwide | @jmbak

As the President of dotJWT for J. Walter Thomas, one of the world's best known marketing communication brands with over 150 years in the business, John drives strategy in digital technology adoption for the company. Pulling from over 25 years of international marketing experience and consulting, John is a regular blogger and educator on industry trends and analysis.


3. Susan Baroncini-Moe

Executive Coach, Marketing Strategist, Author, Business in Blue Jeans | @suebmoe

Susan Baroncini-Moe is the author of the bestselling, Business in Blue Jeans: How to Have a Successful Business on Your Own Terms, in Your Own Style. She is an executive coach and a marketing consultant for B2B and the wellness and hospitality industries. She regularly speaks to audiences of all sizes and has shared the stage with business giants like Michael E. Gerber, Bob Burg, and Larry Winget, among others. Susan and her businesses have been featured in Redbook Magazine, USA Today, MSN Living, Investor’s Business Daily, Yahoo Finance, and American Express Open Forum, and she is a Guinness World Records® titleholder.

4. Rohit Bhargava Rohit Bhargava, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

CEO & Founder, Influential Marketing Group | @rohitbhargava 

Rohit is an author of five best selling books on digital marketing, including Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity and How Great Brands Get it Back, featuring contributions from Guy Kawasaki. As the founder of the Influential Marketing Group and over 10 years of experience at digital agencies, Rohit has advised global brands the likes of Intel, Lenovo, Unilever, Novartis, Pfizer, and Marriott on communications strategy, storytelling, and how to build an authentic image. Rohit is also a professor at Georgetown University, where he's renowned for his signature course on Global Marketing in the Age of Social Media.


5. Bernie Borges Bernie Borges, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

CEO and Founder, Find and Convert | @bernieborges

Bernie is a longtime speaker, blogger, and educator in the online marketing space. As the CEO and Founder of Find and Convert, a digital marketing agency and HubSpot partner of over 12 years, he has become well known in the industry for his digital tv show and podcast, The Social Business Engine which showcases practitioners and thoughts leaders succeeding on their social business journey. Bernie also participates in regular speaking engagements and presentations around the US, and is a former faculty member of the American Marketing Association.


6. Lisa Buyer

CEO, The Buyer Group@lisabuyer

Social PR author, evangelist, journalist and publicist. Author of Social PR Secrets and named one of the top 40 Digital Strategists for 2013, Lisa Buyer is passionate and ambitious about how public relations, social media and online marketing influence each other. She is president and CEO of The Buyer Group, an interactive public relations and social agency located in Celebration, Florida and editor for Social #PR Chat covering trends in social PR, mobile PR, brand PR and SEO PR. Lisa writes for several industry publications covering how public relations influences search and social and is a regular speaker with PubCon, SMX, ClickZLive (formerly SES) and OMI. She is also an instructor of the University of San Francisco’s online Advanced Social Media certificate program. Lisa graduated from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism. Go Gators! Her favorite hashtags are #yoga, #sunsets and #surfing. 


7. Thom Craver Thom Craver, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

Vice President of Development & IT, Internet Marketing Ninjas | @thomcraver

Thom is a technology innovator at Internet Marketing Ninjas, one of the world's best quality link building companies. He currently leads a team of 16, including web designers, developers, programmers, and system engineers in driving strategy and creating more efficient processes. Thom is a regular contributor to Search Engine Watch, speaker at ClickZ Live Conferences around North America, and was the keynote speaker at a Tedx Event in 2013. Thom also has over 20 years of classroom experience and creating curriculum for the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY.

8. Courtney Herda Courtney Herda, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

President, Smarter Searches | @courtneyherda

What are you doing to improve the value of your website? If you have the opportunity to chat with Courtney about your business, you're definitely going to hear that question. Courtney has more than seven years of experience in content creation, optimization, sales, and retention of successful PPC, SEO and social media campaigns for companies of all sizes. After running search engine marketing for TV personality and financial speaker Dave Ramsey, Courtney launched Smarter Searches, her digital marketing consultancy. She has rapidly become an authority on search engine strategies and landing page optimization. Courtney was also recently interviewed in Forbes on how to get started with Google+ for Beginners and Businesses Alike.


9. Victoria Ipri Victoria Ipri, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

Founder, Learn LinkedIn Fast | @victoriaipri

Victoria is an independent marketing consultant, focusing on teaching LinkedIn strategy and works largely with small B2B businesses to improve online marketing and lead generation results on LinkedIn. She is the founder of many successful LinkedIn groups, representing thousands of active members, and is regularly cited as a Top Influencer on Linkedin. Victoria is a sought-after speaker and author of the popular ebooks “Social Media for the Clueless,” "LinkedIn For The Clueless," and “How to Sell Your Book Using LinkedIn.” She holds a masters certificate in Advanced Internet Marketing from the University of San Francisco, and lives in Philadelphia, PA.


10. Thad Kahlow 

Thad Kahlow, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

CEO, BusinessOnline

Thad has been in the internet marketing industry for over 16 years and has developed a wealth of experience in Search Engine Optimization, Web Analytics, and Interactive Marketing. Since being featured on the Inc 5000 list in 2011 and 2012 with his digital marketing agency, BusinessOnline, Thad has become a regular contributor to iMedia, ERA and B2B Magazine. He has also presented on how to drive meaningful and highly targeted web traffic at industry and executive conferences including the DMA, HTMA, AMT and Online Marketing Summit.


11. Kent Lewis Kent Lewis, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

President and Founder, Anvil Media | @kentlewis

Kent founded Anvil Media, an integrated marketing agency specializing in analytics, search engine & social media marketing 19 years ago. Under his leadership, Anvil has received recognition from Portland Business Journal & Inc. Magazine as a Fastest Growing & Most Philanthropic Company. Kent regularly speaks at digital marketing industry events and has been published in several books and publications including Business2Community, iMedia Connection, Online Marketing Summit, and Portland Business Journal. Kent was also recently recognized as a Top 25 Most Influential Pay-per-Click Expert and the Marketer of the Year by the American Marketing Association, Oregon chapter.


12. Phil Pallen Phil Pallen, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

Brand Strategist, Phil Pallen Collective | @philpallen

Author of the acclaimed, Shut Up and Tweet, Phil Pallen represents a new breed of digital brand strategists. In a world of interconnectivity, Phil's approach is that social media and visual identity are now truly co-dependent, essential pieces of a brand. Phil builds brands for TV personalities, public figures, and entrepreneurs around the world. As an avid writer, podcast publisher, and twitter aficionado, Phil keeps a pulse on the latest technologies and trends that determine what success looks like online. Join his new e-series and change the way you think about branding today.


13. Chad Pollitt Chad Pollitt, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

VP of Audience, Co-Founder, | @chadpollitt

Chad co-founded, the world's first online publication dedicated solely to highlighting the content marketing industry. A member of the Forbes Top 100 list for global ad agencies in social content, Chad also authored "51 Things Your Mother Taught You About Inbound Marketing." He has contributed to industry media outlets, including the Guardian, Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Business2Community, and LinkedIn. In his free eBook, The Content Promotion Manifesto, Chad lays a foundation for content marketers to have successful and profitable campaigns in a short amount of time, while simultaneously building a lasting audience.

14. Kevin Popović 

Founder & CEO, Ideahaus | @kevinpopovic

As the founder of Ideahaus, Kevin drives strategy for one of the world's leading creative communications agencies, serving B2B, B2C and Non-Profit organizations that want to build their brands and increase sales. In 2010, Kevin was ranked #43 in Fast Company's The Influence Project measuring the "most influential people online." His latest book, 20YEARS Communications is looked to as an authority on the evolution of communications, and provides insight as to where communications was, is, and will go in the future.


15. Neal Schaffer Neal Schaffer, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

President, Maximize Your Social | @nealschaffer

Neal has been a Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer for two years in a row. Also recognized as a Forbes Top 5 Social Sales Influencer, he has made an incredible impact on social media education through eLearning opportunities online and through his consultancy, Maximize Your Social. Neal is a global social media speaker who has spoken at over 200 events across three continents since 2009, and is a regular contributor to leading online publications. Neal also teaches as part of the Rutgers University Business School Mini Social Media MBA Program and is soon launching his Social Media Center for Excellence to continue down the path of offering meaningful online learning opportunities in the digital marketing space.


16. Miriam SlozbergMiriam Slozberg,Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute.png

Social Media & SEO Consultant, Gemini Rising | @msmir

Over the past 4 years through her digital marketing consultancy, Miriam has worked with Sears, Whirlpool, and Hero Burgers on social media management and modern SEO techniques, including blog writing and keyword-driven unique content. With a Klout score of 79, it's safe to say Miriam knows what works and what doesn't when it comes to social media engagement. She runs an online coaching course, Social Influence University, to help entrepreneurs harness the potential of social media. Miriam was also named one of AGBeat's Top 50 Influencers of 2014 for social media evangelism and expertise. She's a regular contributor in The Boston Globe, Fortune, Worth, on radio shows, podcasts and blogs as a social media expert.


17. Debra Smallman Debra Smallman,Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

CEO, Kaberg Consulting | @debras

Debra Smallman has over 20 years of media experience in both traditional and digital marketing. Debra has held several roles as Senior VP in major media agencies around the United States, and started her own consulting agency, Kaberg Consulting, 15 years ago. Through her consultancy, Debra leads strategy and focuses on providing consultation to numerous agencies and clients across a variety of industries and demographics.

18. Jamie Smith Jamie Smith,Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

VP of Growth, | @jamiesmithnow

Jamie founded Engine Ready Software, a strategic marketing service, and just recently successfully sold the business to another digital agency. Jamie has over 10 years of Internet Marketing experience, continually staying on top of the newest opportunities in the ever-changing Internet business landscape. He now also works with, a search marketing competitive intelligence provider. It's used by business owners, marketing managers, and agencies to quickly optimize SEO, AdWords and other PPC campaigns using information from what their top competitors are doing.


19. Brian Solis Brian Solis, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

Principal Analyst, Altimeter Group | @briansolis

Brian is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders, speakers, and published authors in new technology and digital anthropology. He's the Principal Analyst at Altimeter Group, his research and consulting firm that helps companies understand and act on digital disruption. His new book, What's the Future of Business (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold and flourish in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. One of his most popular books, Engage, is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.


20. Jeannie Walters Jeannie Walters, Top Digital Marketing Strategist 2015 Online Marketing Institute

CEO & Chief Customer Experience Investigator, 360 Connext | @jeanniecw

Jeannie is a world renowned customer experience speaker, writer, and consultant with more than 15 years experience in assisting all types of companies, including Fortune 500 to better empower and satisfy their customers. Jeannie has spoken at TEDx conferences, and has been awarded the Businesswoman of the Year by the Business Ledger and as An Outstanding Woman of Achievement by the Girl Scouts of America for her active leadership in numerous women's organizations.


Know someone else who should be on this list? Share your pick for the top digital marketer by tagging them in the comments below.


3 Missed Opportunities: Lead Nurturing to Maximize Conversions


Lead generation is a tricky thing to get right. And if you’re not doing a great job of nurturing those new leads through to a purchase, your efforts will all have been in vain anyways. There are many tried and true ways to keep your leads interested and engaged, and hopefully your marketing and sales teams are already on top of them.

lead nurturing

So where is there room for improvement in your sales funnel and lead nurturing program? Only a thorough examination of your analytics, CRM system and sales figures will truly tell you what personalized steps you should be taking to maximize the number of new leads who make it through to a purchase. But there are several trouble spots in the lead nurturing process that most businesses struggle with, so you can start there.

These missed opportunities can cause you to lose a lead forever – whereas handling it in the right way can earn you a loyal customer instead. Maximize conversions with proactive steps and hands-on management of the sales funnel for all your leads. Look out for these opportunities to connect with leads, and don’t miss them when they come around.

1.  Abandoned Shopping Carts

I’m an expert on these because I abandon shopping carts myself – a lot. Many times a week, probably. I blame a lack of commitment combined with the sticker shock that comes with seeing the final total after shipping and taxes are added in. It’s not a social experiment, but I have to admit I’m always curious to see how the business in question will handle it, if at all.

If you’ve ever abandoned your shopping cart before clicking the Place Order button, then you probably know the answer to this one: most businesses don’t do anything about it. Since you are likely browsing their webshop as a guest (i.e. not signed in to an account associated with an email address), the business generally has no way to contact you. For many, the only recourse for following up is through retargeting, which we’ll get to later in this blog.

Related Class: Demand Generation: Email Marketing Messaging Best Practices

The businesses that stand out to me are the ones that have the ability to follow through, and act on it. Today I got an email from a site I browsed recently, with the subject line “Your cart misses you.” In the email were tempting images of the items I had considered purchasing, along with the clincher: a voucher code for $15 off my purchase if I act soon. This is a smart move no matter what type of business you’re running. If you have the ability to contact shoppers after they abandon a cart, use it. You might lose a little on your profit margin by offering a discount or free shipping, but otherwise it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re going to lose the whole sale.

2.  Shoppers Who Browse and Leave

Any eCommerce business is likely to see a lot of these users; they come to your webshop, look at a few products, and take off without purchasing. This is an opportunity that is very often missed since, as I said above, you don’t have an email address to contact them. But you can still follow up with them in a different way.

Related Class: How to Set Up Social and Display Retargeting

Retargeting is essentially pinpointing those users who have visited your site, and getting relevant online ads in front of them. With the right tracking technology, or the help of third party agency, you can automate ads to be for exactly what that user was looking at or searching for. Did they browse your site and click on a few winter jackets? Did they search your site for the term “down parka”? With retargeting, you can show them ads of jackets they considered, and other items that seem very relevant to their needs. It’s generally said that only 2% of online shoppers buy at first sight; retargeting is designed to get the other 98% to come back to your site for a second look (and hopefully a purchase!).

3.  Leads with Little Information to Support Them

Unless you have a business that sells one very specific commodity or service, it can be difficult to know what a lead is looking for when they sign up for your mailing list or fill out a form. This missed opportunity is essentially not asking for enough information to personalize the marketing emails and offers that you will need to use to cultivate the lead.

Obviously this is a fine line to walk, since a form that is too long or asks for too much information risks a high rate of abandonment. Consider offering a freebie, discount code or guide that is significant enough to warrant the longer form and thus more of the user’s time.

It can be difficult to know why someone who has never dealt with your business would sign up for your mailing list, or why they’re choosing to download your latest whitepaper. That’s where a few extra questions can help you form a clearer picture of the lead you’ve gained – so that marketing can tailor emails to the needs or interests of that lead, rather than sending a standard email. But weigh your needs versus the lead’s time carefully, and consider offering an incentive to ensure that they follow through.


These are just 3 of the most common missed opportunities – no doubt you can look at your own sales funnel and pinpoint other problem areas that need your attention. Sometimes lead nurturing can seem like the less exciting cousin of lead generation, but one without the other is sure to lead to less-than-stellar sales numbers for any business.

Looking to learn more about lead nurturing? Check out this class, Content is Opportunity: Developing Content for Every Stage in the Buying Cycle. You’ll find out about which content is best at each step, for leads them come back and convert.