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Tag: AutomaticMarketing

Competitive Research Who’s Your SEO Competition?

Competitive Research 
Who's Your SEO Competition?

Now that you've brainstormed a long list of potential keywords, you may be wondering which keywords are most important. Good question! We'll spend two lessons on competitive research to help provide some answers. First, you'll learn who's your SEO competition among the top-ranked websites.

Identify the Top-Ranked Websites for Your Keywords

In this step of the SEO tutorial, you begin to evaluate your potential keywords by finding the websites currently ranking for those terms. Knowing these "keyword competitors" helps you determine whether your site belongs in the competition for that keyword.

search query changes the game and the opponents entirely, depending on what the search engine perceives the searcher's intent to be. Identifying who's competing for a particular keyword topic can tell you what type of game is being played and whether you should even step on that field.

Some keyword competitions just won't be your game.

Since your keyword choices influence who can find your website, optimize your pages for the phrases and terms that buyers, not just masses of window shoppers, might use to find what they need. You must select keywords that interested site visitors would search for (and then make sure the content on your page answers their needs AND uses those keywords). Whatever you hope your site visitors will do (whether to make a purchase, sign up for your newsletter or other), you need to figure out which keywords those people will search for.

Fortunately, the search engines are trying to figure out the same thing — what people really want — for every search query. So the best way to tell whether a keyword could lead to a conversion on your site is to see what kinds of results the search engine delivers. If at least some of the top 10 websites offer the same types of products, services or information that yours does, then that's probably a relevant keyword worth putting on the list. But don't worry. We have another free SEO tool to make your competitive research easier.

Here's how to use the Top-Ranked Websites by Keyword tool:

  1. Enter a keyword or phrase below and click "Research Keyword."
  2. View the list of URLs returned for each search, which may be your keyword competition (more on that in a moment).
  3. Keep these lists of keyword competitors in your spreadsheet (next to each keyword), as these are sites you may want to analyze later.
     

What the Competitive Keyword Research Shows

The Top-Ranked Websites by Keyword tool lists the sites with the most top-25 rankings and shows the specific pages that rank highest for the keyword you entered.

The numbers represent each site's current (real-time) ranking position in several search engines (1 means the First position, 3 is third, etc.). Keep track of the individual page URLs that are ranked best and are your major competition (we'll identify your true competitors in a moment). The example to the right shows the top-ranking web pages for the keyword "campsites in Southern California."

Can't I just run a search? If you search directly on Google or Bing, your results are biased by your personal settings, city, and previous searches and clicks. Using our SEO tools eliminates almost all bias and personalization. This unbiased ranking information provides helpful benchmarks for SEO competitive research.

However, if you're a local business or service, you'll want to run your keywords through the search engines directly (with personalization turned off, but your location set to the market area) to see the local competitors.

Know Your True Competitors

Are all the top-ranking sites really my keyword competition? Well, yes and no. In the above example, one result is the Parks Service, an authority .gov website. Will your campground ever be able to compete against it? Probably not for this keyword. You may not consider the government or other high-clout sites (like Wikipedia) to be competitors. Nevertheless, where these and other search result giants are competing for the same SERP space, they're among your keyword competition.

Still, the results reveal what kind(s) of pages search engines think are most relevant to this keyword's perceived user intent. If ALL the top-ranking sites serve a different kind of visitor from the person you want to attract, then maybe you don't want to compete for that keyword.

 

 

For example, if your business designs go-kart tracks, should you optimize for the keyword "go-kart racing"? Looking at search results shows the answer: none of the top-ranked websites offer what your company offers. The search engine assumes that everyone searching for "go-kart racing" wants to go for a ride, so it will probably never consider your design company a relevant match.

You'd better keep doing keyword research looking for more relevant keyword phrases whose top-ranking websites include some true competitors. You can see how keyword research leads to competitive research, which leads to more keyword research, and so on. Now that you know who's your SEO competition for the important keywords, keep their URLs handy.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Keyword Research, How to Select Keywords

Keyword Research
How to Select Keywords

The first and most important search engine optimization step is keyword research. What is keyword research? Simply put, it's figuring out what people might search for in order to find what your website offers — what keyword topics best identify your website content. In this step of our SEO tutorial, you learn the basics of how to do keyword research, try out some free keyword research tools, and start your SEO plan of attack!

Getting Started with SEO Keyword Research

The first task is simply brainstorming. Ask yourself some basic questions to select keywords that might make good targets for search engine optimization, like:

  • What is your website content about?
  • What would you ask a search engine to find what your website offers?
  • What do you think other searchers would ask for?
  • What are your most popular pages/items about?

Most people can make a short (or long) list of keywords that might be used to find their own site. But ask other people these questions and write down their keyword suggestions, too. Doing so will help you go beyond the jargon words that only you and insiders know. When doing keyword research for SEO, you want to discover what real people in your target audience would call what your site offers.

Don't limit your ideas; brainstorm whatever subjects and phrases could lead the kinds of visitors you want to your site. Type them into a spreadsheet. Your brainstorming will "prime the keyword pump." This initial list will be expanded upon and refined in the next few steps, but start with the logical keywords.

Find Keywords People Already Use for Your Business

If your site is already live, you may have hidden keyword gold just waiting to be dug up.

  • A good place to look for keywords is your internal site search. Offering visitors a search box within your site is good for users but also good for you, because it collects search query data. Looking at these queries primarily helps you improve usability (since it reveals what people want to see, what website content may be missing, and where your site navigation is weak). But you may also find nuggets of keyword gold, useful phrases that people search for. Add those to your list.
  • You can find valuable data using Google Search Console (formerly called Webmaster Tools). This free service from Google gives website owners a wealth of information about their own sites (especially with Google Analytics set up, too). Particularly useful is the Search Analytics report; when you look at it by Queries, you can see what key search terms are bringing up your web pages in Google searches. Google also uses Search Console to notify you of errors or penalties, and you'll need the diagnostic SEO tools offered there to keep your site in good health. So don't miss out. (Here's how to set up Google Search Console.)
  • Dig through your customer communications to find additional, actively used keywords. Talk to your customer service people to find out what customers are asking about (in their words). Also check social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to read what your community has said, and search for your primary keywords to discover how people are currently talking about your products, services or subjects.

Get Keyword Suggestions

Take advantage of free keyword research tools to find additional keywords. Our Keyword Suggestion Tool below shows you keyword ideas that are related to any seed word you enter. Type in one word or phrase at a time. The resulting suggestions come from actual search query data, so select the keywords that match your website content and add them to your growing keyword research list.

What the Keyword Data Tells You

With our tool, you can see keyword suggestions with data on the average click-through rate (CTR) and cost per click (CPC) for advertisers bidding on that keyword. It also reveals how many web pages contain those words in their Title tag (not necessarily as an exact phrase) under AllInTitle. These metrics indicate how competitive a keyword phrase may be.

You can also see an Activity column, which shows the approximate number of monthly searches for that keyword (also known as "search volume"). CAUTION: Don't get greedy looking at keyword activity counts. Record this statistic with the keyword in your spreadsheet. But keep in mind that a keyword's search volume should not overly influence your choices, especially at this point. You want to select keywords only if they reflect what your website is truly about. Going after high-volume keywords that don't relate to the rest of your content would be deceptive and even punishable as spam.

 

 

How Should You Use Search Activity Data?

Search volumes do cast light on your keyword research. They reveal what people actually call things, and they help you prioritize similar keyword phrases.

For instance, a retail site might choose to use "rolling backpacks for kids" (1,600 monthly searches) rather than "wheeled backpacks for kids" (320 monthly searches) because the first keyword phrase gets searched 5 times more often. However, that retailer should not pin its hopes on ranking for the broad term "backpacks," no matter how attractive that word's sky-high search volume looks.

The moral: Don't be tempted by the huge numbers for broad keywords. With enough time and effort, you might be able to rank for them, but you'd be battling large, established brands for unfocused visitors that might not even be ready to buy.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin Apps You Need to Know About

Bitcoin Apps You Need to Know About

If you are a bitcoin enthusiast, there are a few bitcoin apps you need to know about, as they might come in handy. Whether you want to earn a few free satoshis playing games in your free time, or whether you want to constantly keep track of bitcoin’s price, there is an app out there that will take care of your needs. Here are a few examples:

Cryptonator

This free app allows you to check conversion rates for over 500 different cryptocurrencies, in over 40 different exchanges. Essentially, Cryptonator makes it easy for users to find out how much cryptocurrencies people own are worth.

It also includes a portfolio tool that allows users to see how their selected coins perform over a specific period of time, as well a “winners & losers” section that show which coins are doing good, and which aren’t.

Bitcoin Ticker Widget

Bitcoin Ticker Widget is exactly what it sounds like it is: a widget that gives you bitcoin’s price directly on your home screen. Widgets with the price of other cryptocurrencies can also be set up, showing conversion rates for a few different fiat currencies. The prices shown in the widgets are taken from some of the world’s top cryptocurrency exchanges, such as BTCC and Bitstamp.

 Blockchain Game

If you want to introduce someone to bitcoin, you need to show them this game. Not only will it give you context to explain what blockchain technology is, but it will also help the other person earn a few satoshis and start playing around with bitcoin before they get serious about it. The game itself is pretty entertaining, and killing free time while earning bitcoin makes it a lot more enjoyable.

Bitcoin Map

Bitcoin Map is a free app you can install on your smartphone that shows you where you can spend your bitcoins. This way you will be able to know whether the local burger joint accepts bitcoin or not. Even if you know every brick-and-mortar store accepting bitcoins in your area, the app may still come in handy when you decide to go for a road trip. There are other Bitcoin map apps out there, but most of them only give you the location of bitcoin ATMs, not actual brick-and-mortar stores accepting the cryptocurrency.

Blockfolio

Blockfolio is a free financial app aimed at cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Not only does it show price information for bitcoin and over 800 altcoins, it can be set to send the user a notification whenever a specific currency reaches a price threshold. Moreover, as if that insane number of altcoins wasn’t enough, it also features over 30 different fiat currencies so it can reach a global audience.

zTrader

zTrader is the trading client app every cryptocurrency trader needs. It features information from most major exchanges and can show in-depth analysis on different currencies, giving the user a great market overview. The app is pretty complex and gives users tons of information that can, at first, be overwhelming. It will, however, make traders’ lives easier. The app features secure, encrypted storage of API keys, and even though it’s free to download, there is also a pro version.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Cryptocurrency Enthusiast Succesfully Mines Bitcoin on a 1985 NES Console

Cryptocurrency Enthusiast Succesfully Mines Bitcoin on a 1985 NES Console

People have tried to mine bitcoin on a wide variety of devices in the past. Due to the evolution of mining hardware, most of the older devices have become obsolete for this type of purpose. That hasn’t kept users from getting creative, though, as one person has successfully created mining software for a 1985 NES. Quite an intriguing project, although it won’t make anyone rich overnight.

RetroMiner Mines Bitcoin On An NES

Although it may sound unlikely to mine bitcoin on an NES gaming system, it is certainly possible to do so. What started out as an offhanded challenge quickly turned into an intriguing project for the person who developed RetroMiner. Not everyone may see the benefit of this project, though, as it is unlikely the NES is even capable of mining bitcoin at any more than laughable speeds.

Most people do not understand the concept of bitcoin mining. Since it takes dedicated expensive hardware to perform this process efficiently these days, mining bitcoin makes little sense. Showcasing how this process works on a device most people are comfortable with, however, may sway a few people’s minds in the process. Then again, it is unlikely anyone will try to mimic mining bitcoin on a 1985 NES, though.

To put this into perspective, mining bitcoin on an 8-bit game console involves a lot more work than one would assume. Bitcoin mining is a very resource-intensive process and the 1985 NES is not a top-notch machine by any means. For its time, it was revolutionary in every way possible, but things have evolved a lot over the past 32 years. Then again, it is nifty to see someone actively mine bitcoin on such a device, albeit it may not generate any coins in the process.

The NES is not equipped to communicate with the live bitcoin network, or performing SHA-256 hashing. Communication with the bitcoin network proved to be pretty easy to implement once a custom bitcoin version was compiled. Keep in mind this involves using a Raspberry Pi as a proprietary device, though. More detailed instructions on the software involved can be found on the Retrominer website

SHA-256 hashing requires multiple 32-bit operations to take place. The NES, however, can only perform 8-bit tasks, which seemingly makes it incompatible. However, it was possible to create an open implementation of SHA256 that works just fine with 8-bit hardware. The custom ROM including the SHA256 algorithm is sent to the NES through the Raspberry Pi, though. However, in the end, the 8-bit game console is more than capable of doing its job, albeit no one should expect any miracles.

Interestingly enough, the person responsible for the Retrominer project feels there is still a lot of room for future improvements. At the same time, none of these improvements will turn 32-year-old hardware into a money making machine by any means. Eventually, the goal is to move more parts of the mining process to the NES, rather than passing through a Raspberry Pi first. All things considered, this is quite an amazing project, that goes to show old game consoles can be repurposed for other tasks with a bit of tinkering.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin as Trend Setter: Warren Buffett on Why Money Management is Expensive & Inefficient

Bitcoin as Trend Setter:

Warren Buffett on Why Money Management is
Expensive & Inefficient

 

Increasing ambiguity in the structure of the financial industry and rapidly changing trends in investing are bringing more attention towards Bitcoin, the digital currency which traders and investors are using to avoid economic instability and financial uncertainty. Both financial and technology corporations are also actively investigating the potential of Bitcoin’s underlying technology — the Blockchain — in creating a secure, efficient, transparent and cross-sector platform for the settlement of transactions and assets.

However, still, the vast majority of investors and traders are eying potential investments in Bitcoin, possibly through fully regulated and liquid financial instruments such as the Winklevoss twins’ Bitcoin ETF. As Cointelegraph reported, the March 11 approval of the Winklevoss twins’ COIN ETF is nearing and analysts are quite optimistic towards its approval. Once approved, the ETF will open a new market for Bitcoin, encouraging hedge funds and large-scale investment firms to enter.

Warren Buffett says investors always try to beat market,
Bitcoin is a trend setter

Warren Buffett, a prominent American investor with a net worth of $76.1 bln, recently wrote to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway in his annual letter that wealthy investors should be able to afford superior financial services. In the letter, Buffett also mentioned that investors and traders are always trying to beat the market, as breaking the trend and investing in innovative companies often lead to the highest profit margins. Buffett himself is known be an early investor in some of the most wildly successful conglomerates, most notably the $183.7 bln beverages company The Coca-Cola Co.

To beat the market and make profitable investments, a high level of risk is involved. More to that, financial managers, investors, and hedge funds maintain a massive portfolio of investments that require immense labor. Thus, hedge funds and investment firms have been charging high fees to their clients for managing their funds. This trend, which has sustained its stability for decades, is starting to change. Hedge fund managers like Paul Tudor Jones, who was known to the financial industry for charging some of the highest fees to his clients, have been continuously decreasing fees over the past few years.

Why Bitcoin matters
and money management will continue to see declining fees

Essentially, the decline of money management fees and the sense of urgency of hedge funds managers all boil down to acknowledging new trends in the market. Over the past few years, Bitcoin has consistently been the top performing currency and assets across all markets and industries across the world. In fact, many mainstream investors, traders, and analysts in early 2017 recognized Bitcoin as the best performing asset and currency throughout 2016, offering extensive media coverage and comprehensive review of Bitcoin as an investment. As a result, Bitcoin’s market cap is continuing to reach new all-time highs.

In the near future, investors will be left with two choices: leave their money with expensive and inefficient hedge funds or invest in emerging assets or currencies like Bitcoin. The choice to invest in Bitcoin will be readily available once the Winklevoss twins’ ETF is approved.

Second Blockchain Academy Launched in Kerala, India

Kerala is to become the second Indian state to get its own Blockchain academy in a joint scheme between the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala, hereinafter IIITM-K and international learning and business development platform Blockchain Education Network, hereinafter BEN. The initiative was announced a recent Blockchain workshop held by the IIITM-K in Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram, with director Dr. Rajasree MS confident of its potential. “Banking, health care [sic], and governance are the three major avenues where Blockchains [sic] will find applications,” he said quoted by Indian Express Sunday.

Professor S Rajeev, a consultant at Maker Village, a subsidiary incubator run by IIITM-K, added that “Blockchain [sic] technology, which leverages the idea of a distributed and decentralized ledger, will open up new avenues both in the software and hardware sectors.” The focus of such ‘academies’ in both Kerala and pioneer Bangalore remains somewhat vague but points to a desire to understand the impact of technology on various spheres of the economy. At the same time, India’s central bank last week suggested Blockchain becoming mainstream was a “pipe dream” and that such technology could only gain popular acceptance with the endorsement of authorities.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin Prices Spike Above $900 But Turbulence Remains

Bitcoin Prices Spike Above $900

But Turbulence Remains

 

coindesk-bpi-chart-94

 

Bitcoin prices passed $900 today, though this feat was diminished by several rallies that ultimately failed to push its value above this benchmark. Overall, the digital currency rose to as much as $904.76, after falling below $880 earlier in the session, climbing above this level amid modest volatility.

Later in the session, the price mounted another comeback, hitting a high just above $905, according to the CoinDesk USD Bitcoin Price Index (BPI). At press time, however, the price had dipped again to a value of $894.95. This upward movement represented the latest session of relatively mild price volatility, at least compared to the sharp price fluctuations experienced earlier this month.

Most notable, however, about the day's trading, may have been the lack of any serious decline over the day's trading. Bitcoin prices enjoyed their latest climb in spite of new Chinese regulatory developments that found the nation’s exchanges responding publicly to pressures from the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank.

Bullish sentiment

Still, market sentiment has been bullish, according to figures provided by a handful of exchanges, even with the confirmation that major Chinese exchanges Huobi and OKCoin had stopped offering margin trading. The market was 91% long on 19th January, Whaleclub figures reveal. In addition, more than 53% of Bitfinex orders that were executed in the 24 hours through 22:15 UTC were buy orders, according to BFX Data.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

What is The Perfect Keyword Density?

What is The Perfect Keyword Density?
 

The short answer to this is – no. There is no one-size-fits-all keyword density, no optimal percentage guaranteed to rank any page at number 1. However, I do know you can keyword stuff a page and trip a spam filter.

Most web optimisation professionals agree there is no ideal percent of keywords in a text to get a page to number 1 in Google. Search engines are not that easy to fool, although the key to success in many fields doing simple things well (or, at least, better than the competition).

I write natural page copy where possible always focused on the key terms — I never calculate density to identify the best % — there are way too many other things to work on. I have looked into this. If it looks natural, it’s ok with me. I aim to include related terms, long-tail variants and synonyms in Primary Content — at least ONCE, as that is all some pages need. Optimal keyword density is a myth, although there are many who would argue otherwise.

‘Things, Not Strings’

Google is better at working out what a page is about, and what it should be about to satisfy the intent of a searcher, and it isn’t relying only on keyword phrases on a page to do that anymore.

Google has a Knowledge Graph populated with NAMED ENTITIES and in certain circumstances, Google relies on such information to create SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)..

Google has plenty of options when rewriting the query in a contextual way, based on what you searched for previously, who you are, how you searched and where you are at the time of the search.

Can I Just Write Naturally and Rank High in Google?

Yes, you must write naturally (and succinctly) in 2016, but if you have no idea the keywords you are targeting, and no expertise in the topic, you will be left behind those that can access this experience.

You can just ‘write naturally’ and still rank, albeit for fewer keywords than you would have if you optimised the page.

There are too many competing pages targeting the top spots not to optimise your content.

Naturally, how much text you need to write, how much you need to work into it, and where you ultimately rank, is going to depend on the domain reputation of the site you are publishing the article on.

Do You Need Lots of Text To Rank Pages In Google?

User search intent is a way marketers describe what a user wants to accomplish when they perform a Google search.

SEOs have understood user search intent to fall broadly into the following categories and there is an excellent post on Moz about this.

  1. Transactional — The user wants to do something like buy, signup, register to complete a task they have in mind.
  2. Informational – The user wishes to learn something
  3. Navigational – The user knows where they are going

The Google human quality rater guidelines modify these to simpler constructs:

  • Do 
  • Know
  • Go

As long as you meet the user’s primary intent, you can do this with as few words as it takes to do so.

You do NOT need lots of text to rank in Google.

Optimise For User Intent & Satisfaction

When it comes to writing SEO-friendly text for Google, we must optimise for user intent, not simply what a user typed into Google.

Google will send people looking for information on a topic to the highest quality, relevant pages it has in its database, often BEFORE it relies on how Google ‘used‘ to work e.g. relying on finding near or exact match instances of a keyword phrase on any one page.

Google is constantly evolving to better understand the context and intent of user behaviour, and it doesn’t mind rewriting the query used to serve high-quality pages to users that comprehensively deliver on user satisfaction e.g. explore topics and concepts in a unique and satisfying way.

Of course, optimising for user intent, even in this fashion, is something a lot of marketers had been doing long before query rewriting and  Google Hummingbird came along.

Optimising For ‘The Long Click’

When it comes to rating user satisfaction, there are a few theories doing the rounds at the moment that I think are sensible. Google could be tracking user satisfaction by proxy. When a user uses Google to search for something, user behaviour from that point on can be a proxy of the relevance and relative quality of the actual SERP.

What is a Long Click?

A user clicks a result and spends time on it, sometimes terminating the search.

What is a Short Click?

A user clicks a result and bounces back to the SERP, pogo-sticking between other results until a long click is observed. Google has this information if it wants to use it as a proxy for query satisfaction.

For more on this, I recommend this article on the time to long click.

Optimise Supplementary Content on the Page

Once you have the content, you need to think about supplementary content and secondary links that help users on their journey of discovery.

That content CAN be on links to your own content on other pages, but if you are really helping a user understand a topic — you should be LINKING OUT to other helpful resources e.g. other websites.A website that does not link out to ANY other website could be interpreted accurately to be at least, self-serving. I can’t think of a website that is the true end-point of the web.

A website that does not link out to ANY other website could be interpreted accurately to be at least, self-serving. I can’t think of a website that is the true end-point of the web.

  • TASK — On informational pages, LINK OUT to related pages on other sites AND on other pages on your own website where RELEVANT
  • TASK — For e-commerce pages, ADD RELATED PRODUCTS.
  • TASK — Create In-depth Content Pieces
  • TASK — Keep Content Up to Date, Minimise Ads, Maximise Conversion, Monitor For broken, or redirected links
  • TASK — Assign in-depth content to an author with some online authority, or someone with displayable expertise on the subject
  • TASK — If running a blog, first, clean it up. To avoid creating pages that might be considered thin content in 6 months, consider planning a wider content strategy. If you publish 30 ‘thinner’ pages about various aspects of a topic, you can then fold all this together in a single topic page centred page helping a user to understand something related to what you sell.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

The Ultimate Marketing Machine

 

The Ultimate Marketing Machine

Tools and strategies

 In the past decade, what marketers do to engage customers has changed almost beyond recognition. With the possible exception of information technology, we can’t think of another discipline that has evolved so quickly. Tools and strategies that were cutting-edge just a few years ago are fast becoming obsolete, and new approaches are appearing every day.

Yet in most companies the organizational structure of the marketing function hasn’t changed since the practice of brand management emerged, more than 40 years ago. Hidebound hierarchies from another era are still commonplace.

Marketers understand that their organizations need an overhaul, and many chief marketing officers are tearing up their org charts. But in our research and our work with hundreds of global marketing organizations, we’ve found that those CMOs are struggling with how to draw the new chart. What does the ideal structure look like? Our answer is that this is the wrong question. A simple blueprint does not exist.

Marketing leaders instead must ask, “What values and goals guide our brand strategy, what capabilities drive marketing excellence, and what structures and ways of working will support them?” Structure must follow strategy—not the other way around.

To understand what separates the strategies and structures of superior marketing organizations from the rest, EffectiveBrands (now Millward Brown Vermeer)—in partnership with the Association of National Advertisers, the World Federation of Advertisers, Spencer Stuart, Forbes, MetrixLab, and Adobe—initiated Marketing2020, which to our knowledge is the most comprehensive marketing leadership study ever undertaken. To date, the study has included in-depth qualitative interviews with more than 350 CEOs, CMOs, and agency heads, and over a dozen CMO roundtables in cities worldwide. We also conducted online quantitative surveys of 10,000-plus marketers from 92 countries. The surveys encompassed more than 80 questions focusing on marketers’ data analytics capabilities, brand strategy, cross-functional and global interactions, and employee training.

We divided the survey respondents into two groups, overperformers, and underperformers, on the basis of their companies’ three-year revenue growth relative to their competitors’. We then compared those two groups’ strategies, structures, and capabilities. Some of what we found should come as no surprise: Companies that are sophisticated in their use of data grow faster, for instance. Nevertheless, the research shed new light on the constellation of brand attributes required for superior marketing performance and on the nature of the organizations that achieve it. It’s clear that “marketing” is no longer a discrete entity (and woe to the company whose marketing is still siloed) but now extends throughout the firm, tapping virtually every function. And while the titles, roles, and responsibilities of marketing leaders vary widely among companies and industries, the challenges they face—and what they must do to succeed—are deeply similar.

Highlights from the Survey

Winning Characteristics

The framework that follows describes the broad traits of high-performing organizations, as well as specific drivers of organizational effectiveness. Let’s look first at the shared principles of high performers’ marketing approaches.

Big data, deep insights.

Marketers today are awash in customer data, and most are finding narrow ways to use that information—to, say, improve the targeting of messages. Knowing what an individual consumer is doing where and when is now table stakes. High performers in our study are distinguished by their ability to integrate data on what consumers are doing with knowledge of why they’re doing it, which yields new insights into consumers’ needs and how to best meet them. These marketers understand consumers’ basic drives—such as the desire to achieve, to find a partner, and to nurture a child—motivations we call “universal human truths.”

The Nike+ suite of personal fitness products and services, for instance, combines a deep understanding of what makes athletes tick with troves of data. Nike+ incorporates sensor technologies embedded in running shoes and wearable devices that connect with the web, apps for tablets and smartphones, training programs, and social networks. In addition to tracking running routes and times, Nike+ provides motivational feedback and links users to communities of friends, like-minded athletes, and even coaches. Users receive personalized coaching programs that monitor their progress. An aspiring first-time half-marathon runner, say, and a seasoned runner rebounding from an injury will receive very different coaching. People are rewarded for good performance, can post their accomplishments on social media, and can compare their performance with—and learn from—others in the Nike+ community.

Purposeful positioning.

Top brands excel at delivering all three manifestations of brand purpose—functional benefits, or the job the customer buys the brand to do (think of the pick-me-up Starbucks coffee provides); emotional benefits, or how it satisfies a customer’s emotional needs (drinking coffee is a social occasion); and societal benefits, such as sustainability (when coffee is sourced through fair trade). Consider the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which defines a set of guiding principles for sustainable growth that emphasize improving health, reducing environmental impact, and enhancing livelihoods. The plan lies at the heart of all Unilever’s brand strategies, as well as its employee and operational strategies.

In addition to engaging customers and inspiring employees, a powerful and clear brand purpose improves alignment throughout the organization and ensures consistent messaging across touchpoints. AkzoNobel’s Dulux, one of the world’s leading paint brands, offers a case in point. In 2006, AkzoNobel was operating a heavily decentralized business structured around local markets, with each local business setting its own brand and business goals and developing its own marketing mix. Not surprisingly, the outcome was inconsistent brand positioning and results; Dulux soared in some markets and floundered in others. In 2008, Dulux’s new global brand team pursued a sweeping program to understand how people perceived the brand across markets, paint’s purpose in their lives, and the human truths that inspired people to color their environments. From China, to India, to the UK, to Brazil, a consistent theme emerged: The colors around us powerfully influence how we feel. Dulux wasn’t selling cans of paint; it was selling “tins of optimism.” This new definition of Dulux’s brand purpose led to a marketing campaign, “Let’s Color.” It enlists volunteers, which now include more than 80% of AkzoNobel employees, and donates paint (more than half a million liters so far) to revitalize run-down urban neighborhoods, from the favelas of Rio to the streets of Jodhpur. In addition to aligning the once-decentralized marketing organization, Dulux’s purpose-driven approach has expanded its share in many markets.

Total experience.

Companies are increasingly enhancing the value of their products by creating customer experiences. Some deepen the customer relationship by leveraging what they know about a given customer to personalize offerings. Others focus on the breadth of the relationship by adding touchpoints. Our research shows that high-performing brands do both—providing what we call “total experience.” In fact, we believe that the most important marketing metric will soon change from “share of wallet” or “share of voice” to “share of experience.”

A spices, and flavorings firm, emphasizes both depth and breadth in delivering on its promise to “push the art, science, and passion of flavor.” It creates a consistent experience for consumers across numerous physical and digital touchpoints, such as product packaging, branded content like cookbooks, retail stores, and even an interactive service, FlavorPrint, that learns each customer’s taste preferences and makes tailored recipe recommendations. FlavorPrint does for recipes what Netflix has done for movies; its algorithm distils each recipe into a unique flavor profile, which can be matched to a consumer’s taste-preference profile. FlavorPrint can then generate customized e-mails, shopping lists, and recipes optimized for tablets and mobile devices.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member