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The following is a guest post submitted by Matt Cayless (@matt_cayless). Cayless is a cofounder and SEO expert at Bubblegum Search, a SEO & content marketing agency. He has a passion for helping businesses optimise their content experiences online. By night he can be found training for his next marathon while remaining fearful of carbohydrates.

What would we do if it weren't for Google? Sometimes it's easy to forget what life looked like before search engines offered us endless information with just a few clicks of a mouse or taps of a smartphone screen. Our team of SEO experts at Bubblegum Search have created a fun and interactive infographic, which outlines some surprising facts about our search engine history and reminds us just how far technology has come.

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Consider your approach to writing a stellar piece of content. 

You spend time researching the topic, gathering resources, organizing your ideas, drafting an outline, transforming your outline into a rich first draft, passing it off for a review, making final tweaks... Phew! 

Hours later— probably at least two hours, according to Hubspot— your final product is informative, resource-rich and memorable. You’ve invested a great deal of time to ensure that your audience consumes the best piece of content you can create. 

After all that effort, you’re doing yourself a disservice to only spend 45 seconds sharing it on your social media profiles and moving on to the next project. It’s time to make your content work harder.

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For the first time in several years, marketers are being hit with the dreaded words: budget cuts. 

According to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey, marketing budgets have officially stalled for the first time in three years. It’s becoming more and more critical to assess and report on the allocation of (a potentially dwindling) budget.

When was the last time you took inventory of how you’re tracking overall marketing budgets? Tracking budgets across a variety of marketing categories is the first step to tying spend back to results—aka the ever-challenging marketing return on investment (MROI) equation.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Amy Gallo (@amyegallo) highlights the following benefits of tracking MROI: 

  • Helps justify marketing spend
  • Aids in deciding what marketing campaign to put spend toward
  • Allows teams to compare marketing efficiency with competitors
  • Holds the marketing team accountable

However, Gallo also points out the ongoing challenges of calculating MROI, including lag time, incremental financial value and closed-loop reporting—just to name a few. On top of these challenges, it may feel intimidating to pull the correct metrics when starting from the ground up. 

Fear not marketers, for 2018 can be the year that your team finally defines and quantifies your MROI with the right metrics. First, you’ll need to compile your costs before calculating MROI. Below, we highlight five must-have marketing costs to track, followed by key metrics to calculate that will help you get one step closer to discovering your team’s MROI.

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More Meaningful Meetings

Posted by Jessica Miller on January 16, 2018

This post originally appeared on the Marketing Agency Insider blog. Read more like it here

Before we dive into the ever-so-popular topic of meetings, let’s get into the right frame of mind.

Take a moment to think of someone you actually like to meet with.

This looks like a fun meeting, right? 

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t always so pro-meeting. I’m a numbers person by trade, and calculating the total hours our team spends in (not-so-perfect) meetings would make my head spin. And it’s not just our team. Middle managers spend about 35% of their time in meetings, and upper management spends about 50% of their time in meetings, according to research from The Muse.

Don’t get me wrong. I agree there’s no sense in having a meeting just to have a meeting.

But, hear me out: If we spend lots of time in meetings, and there is the potential to build relationships with exceptional meetings—that’s an opportunity for our business.

Powerful, well-run meetings GSD. They build relationships. They position our team as the strategic consultants our clients have partnered with to grow their business.

The potential is evident. Holding meaningful meetings is a soft skill that is invaluable over your entire career.

 So, how do you run a more meaningful meeting?

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This post was originally published in November 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness. If you’re making the shift to value-based pricing, join us for the live and on-demand series Point Pricing for Agencies.

I spent the first six years of my marketing agency career chasing hourly quotas instead of results. Our goal was to bill a minimum of five hours per day. 

Yes, we cared if the client was happy and successful, but the fundamental economic driving force behind the firm's existence, and my career potential, was the billable hour.

I discovered early on that the billable-hour model was a flawed, archaic, agency-centric system that wrongly tied agency performance to outputs, not outcomes. 

In 2004, four years into my career, I became highly motivated to build a more efficient and profitable solution that shifted the focus to client needs and goals. 

The idea was centered on making services tangible with clearly defined costs, features and benefits, almost like buying a product off a retail shelf or signing up for a software service.

My theory was that if clients understood exactly what they were getting, and agreed ahead of time what it was worth, then we could remove the mystery from the equation and focus on delivering value and results. 

The problem was that the billable-hour model was the only one I had ever known. How would I build an entirely new financial model and productize a service business?

>> If you’re getting started with value-based pricing, check out the 12 Questions to Guide Your Marketing Agency Pricing Model Transformation.<<

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17 Must-Read Marketing Posts from 2017

Posted by Sandie Young on December 19, 2017

The marketing industry reached a tipping point in 2017.

New, artificially intelligent tools are working to make our campaigns smarter than ever before. Increased access to consumer data enables more contextual, relevant content. And, more and more manual tasks are being left to automation.

But, we are just scraping the surface of disruption to come.

In the words of ChiefMartec.com’s Scott Brinker (@chiefmartec), “...the truth is that AI is already having a significant impact on marketing. And over the next several years, it will dramatically reshape the nature of business and marketing — no hype.”

Before we push on into 2018, we’d like to take this time to reflect on the best of 2017—PR 20/20 style.

Below, we’ve curated our top 17 blog posts from 2017. We ranked posts in order of pageviews, and excluded any with an average time on page that fell below two minutes.

Cheers to our blog readers in 2017. Enjoy a bit of marketing know-how over a hot cocoa!

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7 Tips for Building an Engaged Email List

Posted by PR 20/20 on November 14, 2017

This following is a guest post submitted by Kim Courvoisier. Kim is the director of content marketing and social media at Campaign Monitor. She loves all things marketing and good puns. Follow her on Twitter at @Stiggy1.

Email marketing is rated as the most effective digital marketing strategy. But, that doesn’t mean email marketing works all the time. Marketers know that email marketing only yields results if your subscriber list is on point.

Building an engaged subscriber list is an ongoing process that involves finding the right audience at the right time and then sending them the right messages. To help ensure you see the astounding ROI you can get from email marketing, it’s vital to participate in list building best practices.

This infographic will present 7 tips to help you build and grow an ideal subscriber list.

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As marketers, a failed campaign is our worst nightmare.

But sadly, failed marketing attempts happen every day and everywhere. Forbes says that strategic plans fail for many reasons, including a lack of focus on results, the wrong talent, partial commitment from leadership, and resistance to change.

So, how can teams pinpoint what went wrong and redirect marketing energy?

As Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) states in Chapter 8 of The Marketing Performance Blueprint:

“Every marketing plan should start with an honest internal marketing assessment. The assessment should consider perspectives from multiple stakeholders, including marketing and sales leaders, as well as key executives. The more involved the partiers are in the entire strategy process, the easier it is to align needs, goals, expectations and priorities.”

The time is now to transform your marketing program.

At PR 20/20, we utilize a comprehensive marketing audit of 40+ questions that zero in on talent, tech, strategy and performance. As you’ll see below, we’ve broken down audit questions by each of these categories. This audit is a key piece of the puzzle when we start working with new partners to build long-term, custom marketing plans that win executive buy-in and align with stakeholder goals.

Continue reading below for 21 questions to ask your team and guide more strategic planning. For the full 40+ questions, download our Comprehensive Marketing Audit template.

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Disclaimer: this is not your average end-of-year tips and tools blog post.

We get that annual planning is a beast, and marketers everywhere are wrought with expectation and reporting woes.

If numbers are down, how can you prove that next year’s performance will improve? And if your numbers are up, what can you do to keep climbing?

You need an actionable, original marketing plan—driven by purposeful planning and backed by data—to truly gain executive buy-in.

Thus, below we’ve outlined seven tips (including PR 20/20 tools, concepts and templates) that can lead to actionable change. The following tactics featured (of which are nearly all free) will add value to your planning framework, year-over-year analysis and assessment, performance reporting, team brainstorming, integration with artificial intelligence, and more.

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This post was written by PR 20/20 intern Sammie Fisher (@sammiefisher3). Sammie is majoring in strategic communication at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

 

Do you need more blog subscribers? Of course you do.

Subscribers are loyal contacts that raised their hands saying they want to read your content. They help gauge what the industry wants to read and determine if your content is getting readership ROI. Plus, since subscribers have already opted in, they serve as the contacts you can market to in different ways when new campaigns are activated. 

If you aim to increase your subscriber base, publishing quality content (and more of it) is the first step toward understanding what resonates and what doesn’t.

The problem is that it takes time. You might be able to design a campaign or change your content marketing strategy by the end of this year, but what do you do if you need subscribers by the end of the month? 

You need some quick wins. This post will help you increase your subscribers using tactics that are easy to implement in a short period of time for fast results. 

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