If you’re anything like me, you’ve bookmarked more webpages than you’ll ever have cause or time to read.
However, occasionally an article crops up on your LinkedIn feed or email inbox that is so irresistible it demands immediate reading.
Here are 11 that caught - and sustained - my attention in 2017. I’ll explain why I read them and the value they had in steering Squaredot into 2018.
Neil Patel at neilpatel.com, Q1 2017
In this blog from early 2017, Neil Patel explains how backlinks are directly linked (pardon the pun) to ranking high on search engine results pages (SERPs). He provides evidence that the number of external links affects the position of your website on Google. In the article he offers 9 top tips for cultivating and improving backlinks - ranging from fixing broken links, repurposing old content, and guest posting (a traditional link-building tactic that is here to stay!) We’re always improving our SEO strategies because the landscape constantly evolves and the parameters change with each new Google algorithm update.
H. James Wilson, Paul R. Daugherty and Nicola Morini-Bianzino, Sloan Review Magazine, March 23, 2017
In a world where robots and artificial intelligence (AI) pose a real threat to factory and service sector jobs, this article about the opportunities AI will create caught my eye. It’s an interesting topic, for our industry in particular, since marketing automation is investment priority #1 for marketers in 2018. It got me thinking about the jobs and careers children of today will have in the coming decades. The article gave me hope that automation will almost always require a human trainer, coder, or living brain behind operations.
Darren Shaw for moz.com, April 11, 2017
The Local Search Ranking Factors survey is the go-to resource for helping businesses and digital marketers understand what drives local search results and what they should focus on to increase their rankings. This interpretation of the results was really instructive to my understanding of how my business listing may have changed as a result of the 2016 Google Possum update. Squaredot take SEO seriously, and anything that affects business ranking - for instance, why a business might rank high organically but not locally - is seriously interesting to us.
Tom Smith at Salesforce, June 26, 2017
Since we believe the Ireland and UK marketing landscape share many similarities, this blog (and accompanying report) demanded a through reading. It discusses how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is approaching an adoption phase, and informing how marketers reach customers through better understanding of their behaviour and predicting their next steps in the purchasing process. From predictive sales lead scoring, to service chatbots and personalised marketing campaigns, AI has huge potential to help marketers do a better job. While not powered by AI (although their recent acquisition of Kemvi could see that change in the near future) HubSpot's Smart Content helps businesses achieve greater personalization. The more information collected by contacts is used to build lists, segment audiences and communicate in a more personal way. Squaredot threw our hat in the ring with HubSpot a few years ago. We’re confident in their mission to transform the way businesses market and sell. The key take-away? Watch this space for future developments in the world of AI and marketing.
Chad Pollitt, Marketing Executive, on LinkedIn Pulse, October 23, 2017
I’m not averse to shock tactics, but telling me I might soon meet my Waterloo is one surefire way of getting my attention! I’d wager that any CEO of a digital marketing agency (with special focus on inbound) would feel a little nervous reading this blog title. As it happens, Chad Pollitt’s take on the content deluge and challenges facing content marketers is very informative. It talks about the glory years of industry content deficits, where it was possible to write something and have it found and read online. However, with evidence to suggest that influencer marketing is making its way into the B2B sphere, a captive audience for inbound content may have to be earned - rather than taken as a given. Content Outreach should be a key mindset for anyone who produces content.
Justin Keller at Sigstr, November 2, 2017
Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify combined can't touch the sheer volume of email. That’s the key takeaway from this succinct little infographic discussing the inbound marketers bread and butter - email. Every day there are more emails sent than all other online interactions - that’s over 274 billion emails, in case you were wondering. OK, so the author could be a little bias since they flog email signature software - but it definitely got us at Squaredot thinking about how we could put together better emails.
Patrick Murphy, Senior Consultant at Miagen, on LinkedIn Pulse, November 22, 2017
Patrick Murphy uses the book, ‘Marketing 4.0: Moving From Traditional to Digital’ as fodder for this short blog on how digital innovation has changed marketing practices and how people buy. Marketing’s four P’s – Product, Price, Place and Promotion – have become digital marketing’s four C’s: Co-creation, Currency, Communal activation and Conversation. In the age of digital, there are a lot more disruptions and distractions to the traditional ‘imaginary’ sales funnel. Without data and a thorough understanding of customers, brands won’t be invited to join the conversations and communities where sales opportunities reside.
Brian Roberts, Writer, Consultant, and Founder of Pocket Guide Club, December 15 2017
Everyone wants something unique - and marketers should be using the power of scarcity and exclusivity to make customers feel special, according to Brian Roberts. This brief blog got me thinking about how we, as digital marketers, can create the feeling of a ‘flash’ sale in our marketing endeavours - and what the B2B version of this looks like. If anything, I came away from the article believing more firmly that you don’t have to have all the customers, all the time. In fact, sometimes there are benefits to being a little more discerning.
Gary Vaynerchuk at garyvaynerchuk.com, December 29 2017
Gary Vaynerchuk is one of those mesmerizing, charismatic internet influencers that everyone wants to grow up to be. He has the whole confident, suave American (neigh, New Yorker) thing going for him - but what really caught my attention in this blog was the line: ‘the way to win on social media is to actually be social. 😉’ In many ways, we know that we have to be social in order to succeed on social media - but why is it so hard for businesses to let their personality shine through? Of course, it helps if you’re an extrovert, but in many cases B2B brands simply don’t know what their personality is. That is something which requires work - and key to it is creating an impression of the brand that isn’t conversion-focused.
Sweet Fish Media, throughout 2017
I cycle to work everyday and I listen to podcasts on my commute. I wanted to know if anyone out there was doing quality B2B podcasts so I Googled it, and voila! Sweet Fish Media came up in the search results. Easing people into the working day with a nice easy-to-listen to podcast (while joustling through rush hour traffic) is kind of a genius stroke. In many respects they have a captive audience - happily captive, I should add. I loved Stephen Mackey's saying 'you don't have to be popular to be profitable' - he really solidified my thoughts on creating value adding content. I'm positive I'll be still listening to these guys throughout the incoming year.
Courtesy of Liverpool-based creative agency, iZideo, January 19 2018
OK, so it’s dated January 19 2018. But if someone asks us for a backlink, then we’re giving them a backlink - in fact, we’re flattered! Besides, someone at iZideo has taken time to list all those little corners of the internet that want to hear from you. That's right, guest blogging opportunities are plentiful when you know where to look. We suggest you check out this list of sites that accept guest posting - guaranteed to crank up your domain authority and earn some backlinks in the process. You’re welcome.
So there you have it: 11 articles that I read, enjoyed and learned from in 2017. I hope you made it to the end of this blog. If you did, why not subscribe to our mailing list so you never miss out on future musings.