Lee Odden Shares Ways to Supercharge Your Content with Influencer Marketing

Sitting across the aisle from a renowned digital marketing strategist and speaker on a daily basis has tendency to allow you to take for granted the knowledge stockpile that is just a few feet away. Tuesday was a good reminder of that.

When Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing, promised the crowd at the 2017 Digital Summit Minneapolis 45 minutes of content in his 25-minute closing keynote, he was not joking.

Eloquently arranged into this 25-minute time frame, Odden opened eyes of marketers to the still-in-it’s-infancy-field of influencer marketing, and how influence can literally supercharge marketing programs. But, don’t take the summary from just me, his desk neighbor. Audience members let me wrangle them on the way into post-conference happy hour to share their favorite parts of the presentation too.

Why Influence?

In 1900, cars zoomed down the road at a blistering 45 MPH. Within 8 years, a car could travel 100 MPH. How? The supercharger: a seemingly magical collaboration between oxygen and the automotive engine causing unheard of increases in horsepower and torque.

How do you supercharge your marketing? By adding your own supercharged–influencers. Influencers provide valuable, trustworthy content and incredible amplification opportunities you couldn’t otherwise realize.

How much added “horsepower” can you see from influencer marketing?

  • $9.60 in earned media value for every $1 spent (Burst Media)
  • 10x increase in conversion rate (Content Marketing Institute)
  • 37% higher retention rate (McKinsey)

These stats alone are fantastic! But what kept many audience members on their toes throughout the presentation, was that influencer marketing is still a relatively new form of marketing, and taking what they learned, they could help their organization “still get in while it’s hot.”

And, let’s just say, it IS still hot. Odden also shared data from Altimeter, Traackr and TopRank Marketing’s recent research report, Influence 2.0. Our research found influencer marketing was the number one underfunded area of marketing today, with less than 10% of budgets allocated toward it. Of those influencer marketers surveyed:

  • 50% of marketers spent less than $100k per year on influencer marketing
  • Yet, looking ahead, 55% of marketers plan to increase their spend on influencer tactics next year

What is Influence?

When you think of influence, if you think of Kim Kardashian holding a product, think again.

Odden explained:

Influence isn’t about popularity. It is the ability to affect action. @leeodden
Click To Tweet

What got the #DSMPLS audience excited was that everyone and anyone can be an influencer. As you’re selecting the right influencers for your situation, hone in on Odden’s definition: 

Influencer marketing is developing relationship with internal and industry experts with active networks to co-create content that helps drive measurable business goals.”

What are the basic steps to implement influencer marketing?

The audience members I spoke with also appreciated Odden’s sneak peek into three steps for implementing influencer marketing.

  1. Activation: Start the conversation and build relationships. Listen to influencers and align on what you have in common.
  2. Co-creation: Develop content together. Compose a goal and make it fun and easy for influencers to participate.
  3. Amplify: Provide influencers with ammo to share your content. Make it easy and show them how it benefits them.

Lee also added ongoing influencer nurturing is the like the rinse and repeat of this three-step shampoo bottle.

B2B or B2C?

Influencer marketing has proven to be successful in both B2B and B2C situations. The Influence 2.0 research showed that of those with influencer marketing programs, B2C brands were ahead of B2B in maturity:

  • 55% B2C brands have ongoing or integrated programs
  • 15% of B2B brands have ongoing or integrated programs
  • 49% of B2B brands are still experimenting

If you’re in B2B, don’t let maturity of use in the industry intimidate you. Start creating your influencer marketing strategy today to get ahead of the curve.

Is this a pay-to-play space?

Brands large and small, deploying successful influencer marketing programs have seen success using completely paid, completely organic and a mix of paid and organic efforts with their influencer programs. The best choice will be dependent on your business goals and the value your influencers will receive.

Types of Organic Influencer Engagements

In my pre-happy hour prowling, I also learned the audience loved hearing about the three types of influencer engagements and the powerful examples of each Odden shared.

  • Microcontent: Short-form quotes, tips or insights from individual influencers added to brand content.
  • Campaigns: Longer-form content contributed by individual influencers often as a part of a larger campaign.
  • Community: A dedicated group of influencers that contribute a variety of short- and long-form content for brand communications.

Let’s dive in.

Microcontent: Influencer Marketing is Like Dating

Microcontent can be quickly produced by asking influencers questions centered around keywords. Wa-laah, just like that, you have a keyword-centered answer ready to gain rankings.

Influencer marketing is like dating. You should ease into it. @leeodden
Click To Tweet

Microcontent can show up in many formats as an ingredient to a bigger piece: from influencer roundup blogs and SlideShares to adding snippets within a brand-developed piece of content.


Once you’re “dating” your influencers – okay that doesn’t sound right – once you’ve nurtured your influencers and grown the relationships, you can begin to engage them in campaigns.

Within a campaign, you’ll want to map content against the stages of a purchase journey. Think about the genuine questions your target audience is asking. What’s keeping them up at night? Then decide from whom each answer should come: your brand or an influencer.

It’s important to select influencers who are aligned with your message so both parties gain the full value of an influencer campaign. If you aren’t on the same page, the brand won’t relay the correct message and the piece won’t be as valuable to the influencer which will likely decrease their amplification and deter future collaboration.

Influencer integrated campaigns are where you really see that supercharge in action. In one impressive B2B example Odden shared, with the use of gated assets, long-form interview blogs and social promotion, a brand drove 200,00 views, 4,000 downloads and over 1,000 leads!

Or try another B2B brand who with the help of just one – but impressive – influencer, Shep Hyken, drove $570,000 in qualified sales leads and $1.5 million in projected pipeline revenue in 30 days!

Catch your breath. I know, that blew me away too, and I sit next to the team who designed and executed the latter example.


A structured formal influencer community is a sign of a mature influencer program. In this situation, influencers know (and are likely proud) they are part of the brand’s influencer community. Influencers are asked to contribute to short- and long-form content for brand communications at a regular cadence.

There may or may not be a paid component to being a part of a structured influencer community. But even if there reimbursement, it’s not like what Lebron pockets from Nike, or one-off tweet (an estimated $185k).

Influencers become and stay a part of a brand’s community because their beliefs and values align with the brand’s. And because participating provides them with value.

Odden cited the Adidas Tango Squad as an effective example of a B2C influencer community. Squads of 100-250 youth ages 16-19 in 15 cities worldwide are looped into exclusive content and new product releases before it goes live elsewhere. Adidas stands by their investment arguing content is far more authentic if you give it to 500 kids with 2,000 followers compared to a global influencer with a million followers.

Community’s also work strikingly well for B2B: think employees, execs, clients, industry thought leaders, media and analysts.

Operationalize Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is not a task or even a project. To fully gain the value of the supercharger, integrate influencer marketing in every step of your marketing planning, execution, measurement and optimization.

Ready to supercharge your marketing but not sure where to start? We’d love to help. Learn more about our influencer marketing services or reach out, today.

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Learn how to Become a Better Storyteller with Insights from GoDaddy’s Shawn Pfunder

Storytelling is a buzzword that has made it’s way around the marketing block several times. And as GoDaddy’s Editor in Chief, Shawn Pfunder, shared, storytelling continues to be relevant because our brains are insatiable for stories.

Through stories of his own ranging from Christian Slater impersonations to a death-defying Grandfather, Shawn showed attendees at Digital Summit Minneapolis how to become more compelling storytellers.

Stories Are What Make Us Who We Are

The stories we’re told affect our actions. As Shawn pointed out, after we watch an action movie like Fast and Furious, we might drive a little faster and pretend we have a stick shift once we leave the movie theater. But it can go beyond that.

As an example, Shawn shared the remarkable story he grew up hearing about his grandfather. The man wasn’t supposed to be alive after suffering a heart attack, becoming the first guinea pig for defibrillation, and surviving 12 hours of CPR. His grandfather was told by his doctor, “You must be alive for a reason.” Well, after hearing the story, Shawn and every one of his relatives were convinced they were the reason Grandpa lived. That one story became a part of their DNA and became a driving force in their lives.

Those are the kinds of stories that make us who we are. Our dreams, nightmares, wishes, regrets, goals, desires, and more are stories that propel us forward and make us act. And we all have them.

The Power of a Template #HaikuChallenge

If we love stories so much and stories make us who we are, why don’t marketers use them for everything?

To solve this question, Shawn actually asked the audience to create a Haiku about Wonder Woman. As you may or may not know, Haiku’s have a finite structure. They’re just three lines, each with a set of syllables. And the audience created some killer poems, including these favorites:




The fact was, that once Shawn gave us a template—a Haiku—it was easy for us to start writing and get our creative juices flowing.

Three Story Templates to Live By

To help us marketers easily create stories, Shawn introduced three story templates we can use without fail.

1. The Quest

Probably the most classic of all stories is the quest. Quests start and end in the same place, there are travel companions that help the hero, and the end result is often not what the hero expected. To give us an example of a quest story, Shawn used the iconic film “The Wizard of Oz.” Dorothy’s story starts and ends in Kansas, she has three loyal friends who help her on her journey, and in the end she finds she had the ability to go home all along.  

Hollywood Example: “The Wizard of Oz”

2. Underdog

Shawn reminds us that the key to a good underdog story is an unmatched rivalry. Think of Globo Gym and Average Joe’s of Dodgeball”. Globo gym is better in athleticism, finances, and every other way that matters. Average Joe’s doesn’t stand a chance. But luckily for Joe’s, underdog stories also require a “wizard” that help give them the tools to succeed. With the help of dodgeball legend Patches, Average Joe’s had the dodge, dip, duck, dive, and dodge skills to get them through the tournament and defeat Globo Gym.

Hollywood Example: “Cinderella”

3. Transformation

Stories of transformation focus more on the origin than the destination. In fact, Shawn says transformation stories spend more time on the disgusting and miserable parts of normal life. But then something happens and the hero’s life becomes better. Like a weight loss before and after photo, the difference is dramatic and significant.

Hollywood Example: “Wild”

Ready to Start Telling Stories of Your Own?

Ask yourself:

  • Whos the hero?
    • Psst… it’s never you!
  • What’s normal life?
  • Why change?
  • What will be different?
  • Whats next?

Shawn’s last piece of advice? Watch a movie, read a book, or find a story and try to recognize the thing about it that makes it special.

So we want to hear from you in the comments below. What do you plan on watching or reading next and why are you excited about it? Personally, I’ll be starting the new Netflix series “Ozark” because of its complex plot and leading man, Jason Bateman.

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Elevate your Marketing Career with One Simple Word: Strategy

Not everyone can say that within 4 years, they went from being an individual contributor to the VP of a billion dollar company. McLean Donnelly can.

How did he do it? As someone with a design background, you might expect the answer was jaw-dropping designs. But that is only part of the magic. It is the well-paired designs with outstanding business cases that propelled Donnelly’s career forward. And, his ability to grow the talent he manages, the product he sells and the bottomline.

So, how did he get there? In his Digital Marketing Summit presentation on Tuesday, Donnelly shared what he learned through his MBA, adding “business IQ” to his repertoire of design skills. Here are the three areas he suggested you can grow in – with or without an MBA.

#1 – Learn the Math

Even if you haven’t taken a math class since 10th grade, you can still learn the “business math,” as Donnelly called it. Buy your accountant a burrito for lunch one day or check out a quick course from Khan Academy and you’ll be surprised how quickly you can learn.

  • Income Statement: Understand the basics on an income statement. It is the blueprint of understanding a business model. And, don’t just focus on the revenue sources. If you can find opportunities to reduce cost, you can drive profit just as quickly. For instance, at Expedia, Donnelly learned if a customer spent more than X seconds on a customer service phone call, the company began losing money. Opportunity? I’d say.
  • Statistics: Get the hang of statistics. And it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might think. For instance, in Google Analytics, you’ll find your eCommerce conversion rate = the # of visitors / the # of conversions. Really dig into the data, question it. Once you have a solid understanding of statistics and the income statement, you can take this business math to the next step:
  • Building Models: Identify the business case before even working on a specific design opportunity (writer’s note: apply this train of thought to every marketing tactic to drive stellar strategy). Then, build a model to test your designs against metrics that lead to ROI. And to get started, keep in mind a quick Google search will find you free design templates for testing revenue models.

#2 –  Execute on a Strategy

Backed by a strong business case, you can now be strategic in the tactics you’re implementing. Donnelly cited Michael Porter’s – the Lebron of business – definition of strategy:

The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do. @McLeanDonnelly
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All too often in business we get caught up on what we’re supposed to do or what was in the plan. Constantly stepping back to reassess “why” and determine what not to do will drive results more quickly.

To help us execute on strategy, Donnelly took us through his favorite creative approach – Human Centered Design. Human Centered Design is a design and management framework that develops solutions to problems by involving the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process. Here are the four pillars Donnelly covered:

  • Find the emotional connection: Every brand experience has an opportunity for an emotional connection. Find yours. Help your team figure out customers’ emotional connection to your brand by mapping a customer journey collage. At Shutterstock, Donnelly’s team brings in customers to share what they want to feel at each stage of the journey. When they’re designing that photo book, they want the warm fuzzies, whereas while they are about to check out, they want to trust the site’s security and speed of product delivery.
  • Solve for the users’ worries/problems: Look for honest, constructive dialog from your customers about your product and company. Easy place to find it? On social media. Value that input rather than worry too much about the negative feedback. You can address it and learn from it.
  • Talk to your customers: No, seriously. Talk to them. “If you’re not having actual face to face convos with your customers, you’re not going to succeed” CTT See how their voice and facial expressions change when they talk about each interaction with your brand. Customers can’t just be data points in Google Analytics.
  • Find your signature experience: Figure out what is unique about your brand. Eye glasses shopping once took place in a store where you snapped a photo of yourself and texted your friends for input. Today, you can have your top frame picks delivered to your door, and make an evening of the experience, gathering friends and sipping on cocktails. Donnelly highly recommends leveraging the Northstar Workshop to drive these insights. Gather team members from every department in one room to foster an open conversation and create a sense of investment in the customers’ problems you are solving for. You can set this type of meeting at a regular cadence, or like some organizations, work in SCRUM 100% of the time.

#3 – Empower Your Team

Empowering his team is what really got Donnelly started down the path of getting his MBA. “When I got my first report, it’s when I realized how much I love being a manager. Getting my MBA was a way to scale my passion for management. I am now better able to help grow talent and the organization as a whole,” Donnelly explained.

Posted at his desk, Donnelly’s daily inspiration are Dr. Edward Deming’s 14 points. “It has been transformational in how I think as a manager,” Donnelly shared. Dr. Deming was a visionary in empowering employees. He believed “A bad system will beat a good person every time.” Often called the father of LEAN, Deming advocated process reduction and a push toward individual ownership.

I can tell you first hand, allowing for individual ownership is how you succeed. @McLeanDonnelly
Click To Tweet

Here are Donnelly’s favorites from Deming’s 14 points:

  • Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team to foresee problems of production and use that may be encountered with the product or service.
  • Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place. Mass inspection is not scalable, not empowering and just doesn’t work. Put quality back on the worker, giving them that ownership.
  • Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.

Add Strategy to Your Work Today

Do you sometimes feel like you’re going through the motions, executing marketing tactic after tactic? Take a step back today, huddle with your cross-functional team and ensure you’re on point with WHY. Use your newfound business IQ to inform your tactics and in Michael Porters’ words, take the time to “Choose what not to do.”

What should you stop doing at work today?

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Using Audio to Engage in a Connected World #DSMPLS

Have you ever heard a song in the morning, only to have it stubbornly stick in your head all day long, even though you don’t care for it?

Of course you have. It happens to all of us, and there’s a clear explanation for it.

“People remember things via audio signal better, longer, and stronger than when they see visually,” said Gabe Tartaglia in his presentation at Digital Summit Minneapolis: Engaging in a Connected World with the Power of Audio.

The field of neuroscience is increasingly measuring and shedding light on this phenomenon. Today’s marketer needs to be paying attention.

The Screenless Revolution

In his role as Vice President of National Vertical Sales for Pandora, Tartaglia has an inherent interest in this dynamic. And here’s why he believes it matter to all of us: “We are entering the age of voice.”

To back up this suggestion, he points to research from Accenture illustrating the growing adoption of voice-enabled devices among younger demographics:

Image Source: Voicebot

The proliferation of IoT, and the advent of screenless platforms, mean people are increasingly interacting with media in non-visual ways. As you look ahead, are you mapping this into your strategies?

Speaking to Your Audience

There are a number of ways that advertisers can leverage these changing trends to better engage people, and Tartaglia called out a few.

As one example, he played a Starbucks commercial for streaming services that seamlessly dropped in user variables like time of day, weather, day of week, and location in order to create an ultra-relevant experience that resonated.

“All of a sudden that ad is speaking directly to you,” he said. “It’s almost kind of creepy, but it’s effective, because it’s customized.”

Welcome to the future.

Searching for a Voice

One other key takeaway from the evolution of media consumer habits? Voice search is becoming a force we cannot ignore.

As Search Engine Land explored recently, “the impact of voice search on B2B SEO is inevitable.” As devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home become more mainstream, and as voice-to-text tools on smartphones become more accurate, an entire generation is growing up with these routines ingrained.

Marketers should ensure they are cognizant of this new reality.

“Is there usable content in your site that search engines will actually pick up?” Tartaglia asked. “If Alexa or Siri or whatever doesn’t know how to find you because the content does not live in a voice platform, even the best brands are going to be missing out.”

There’s a piece of guidance worth getting stuck in your head.

Want More From #DSMPLS?

You can follow us on @toprank for live tweets from the conference and visit toprankblog.com for additional coverage.

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Taming the Wild Wild West of Social Media Digital Reputation #DSMPLS

In the Wild, Wild West of Social Media Digital Reputation, employees create social accounts without governance. But, are they on brand?

At the Digital Summit Minneapolis, #DSMPLS, Casey Hall,Thomson Reuters, shared a process for taming the horses and adding governance to the stable.

The Audit

Start by searching your company name and all variations of it, says Hall. You can use a simple spreadsheet or a database to keep track of the channel name, followers, last activity, link and log if there were any brand issues.

Once you have found all the rogue channels, you need to determine if it is a relevant channel or if it needs to move to the takedown.

The Takedown

If possible, find the employee and ask them to take down the account. If that is not possible, try messaging the account. Hall found many times the person who owned the channel would take down the channel before they had any more correspondence.

If needed, you can try to recover the password by submitting a ticket to the platform, and if the account was started with an official corporate email, it is often recoverable. Hall recommended contacting their representative at the channel helped expedite the takedown.

Best Practices

Give people training and they be open to following the rules says Hall. Thomson Reuters created a Digital Oversight Committee to review best practices and provide training.  The oversight committee included representatives from –

  • Social leads
  • Creative
  • Brand
  • Legal/Privacy
  • Digital Leads
  • Communications

Get the Tools

Find a tool to allow the enterprise organization to manage their social channels. They now have creative services department create and allow access to others. Rogue accounts will still happen, but less often.


The key providing governance to employees. Hall says you need to empower your oversight committee to provide guidance and governance to the organization. At Thomson Reuters, anyone who wants to start a new channel needs to fill-out an application on why and what KPIs they will report. Sometimes, the committee will recommend partnering with a channel that is already in place, which provides new content for that channel.

The oversight committee monitors the use of the channels, and if there is inactivity, they will cull the channel.

Finally, Hall reminds us to continue monitoring. New accounts and channels will continue to appear. But, if you continue to be diligent and monitor, the horses will not get out of stable, again.

Want More From #DSMPLS?

You can follow us on @toprank for live tweets from the conference and visit toprankblog.com for additional coverage.

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