The Online Marketing Institute’s Annual List of Top Digital Marketing Strategists Share Their Insights for Improving Your Digital Strategy in the New Year.

The Online Marketing Institute identified the top 40+ strategists in digital marketing and asked them for their best advice for 2014. They were selected because they are:

  1. Embracing the latest integrated digital strategies and technologies
  2. Advancing the industry through education — speaking, blogging, and teaching
  3. Driving game-changing results for their clients and organization


This article is the first of a three-part series, where digital strategists well-versed in the area of social media marketing share their best practices, predictions for the future of social, evaluation of industry trends and share the know-how to deliver thought provoking insight that will lay the groundwork for you to build an effective, holistic digital marketing strategy in 2014.

1. Harness the power of ‘the social inbox’.

“2014 will mark the year marketers finally harness the power of ‘the social inbox.’ With Snapchat commanding significant attention, especially due to their (shortsighted?) decision to reject a $3B offer from Facebook, a number of platforms focused platform enhancements on their private messaging features towards the end of 2013. Whether it was Twitter adding rich media capabilities or Instagram creating a private messaging capability, platforms have taken note of permission-based marketing opportunities, and it’s time for marketers to do the same. When users decide to follow their favorite brands, they are ‘opting-in’ for the brands to communicate with them. Yet, the large majority of brands have only focused their attention on broadcasting to the masses (to marginal results) rather than accessing their audience on a personalized level at scale (while keeping in mind spam concerns). The email inbox is tried & true, and it’s only a matter of time before the social inbox receives its due respect.”

– Adam Wexler, Insightpool

Adam Wexler is the Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Insightpool, The Leader in Social Engagement Optimization. The software helps many of the most innovative brands in the world like Home Depot, Intercontinental Hotels Group and The Weather Channel drive their social goals and develop stronger relationships with their key influencers, prospects and customers. Insightpool was spawned from the creative social media marketing tactics Wexler employed on his prior startup, GoRankem, where they sought to reach a wide audience on a non-existent marketing budget (outside of being the first successful web startup to successfully raise money via Kickstarter’s crowdfunding platform). Over the years, Adam has been invited to speak in front of thousands of students and event attendees about social media and entrepreneurship. Additionally, Adam has written for a wide variety of publications such as The Huffington Post, Digiday and Direct Marketing News. At different times, Adam has also been the voice behind numerous brands on social media including Sprite, NCAA March Madness and the band Cracker.

2. Remember that social media is the customer’s environment.

“Remember that Social Media isn’t a platform to be hijacked by advertising and corporations – it’s the customer’s environment. Take the time and effort to connect and engage with individuals on a 1:2:1 basis to help build trust and credibility Listen to what the consumer demands and simply provide them with what they want when they need it – For Small Businesses, you have the upper hand over big corporations by building relationships with individuals and communities. SEO and Social Media go hand in hand so produce relevant, useful and quality content that people want to read which will result in enhancing your SEO. Integrate Social Media with your company website and other Marketing formats so customers can find you at their convenience.”

– Jason King, Jason King Consulting

Jason King is owner of Jason King Consultancy.By analyzing his clients individual needs, unique selling points and competitive environment Jason helps position them in the marketplace and promote their strengths to gain a competitive advantage. With the belief that small is good, Jason can help to prove that for Micro-Business and SME’s.

3. Stop the Silos.

” In 2014, social media will no longer be the sole responsibility of one person stuck at a desk. Social media channels have an insatiable need for up-to-the-minute information in the form of on-the-ground impact stories, photos, short videos and updates. One person or even one lone department cannot possibly be in all places at once, collecting and disseminating this information in a timely manner. In addition, every person involved with your company needs to be on the same page about using social media – not just what is prohibited, but what is encouraged.• Members commit to a social site, not because of the site, but because of the commitment to one another – tap into that.”

– Julia Campbell, J Campbell Social Marketing

Julia Campbell is the owner of J Campbell Social Marketing. Julia Claire Campbell received her degree in Journalism & Communications from Boston University and earned a Master in Public Administration from Old Dominion University as well as a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Tidewater Community College. A Beverly native, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, a mom of 1 and a social media marketing enthusiast, Julia helps nonprofits and small businesses maximize their impact and accomplish their missions by effectively harnessing the power and potential of online marketing and social media tools. Julia’s clients include local businesses, nonprofit organizations, and universities, and she also offers one-on-one coaching sessions, group seminars and college courses. She writes a twice weekly blog about nonprofits and social media. Julia has been featured on Social Media Today, Business 2 Community, Forbes and The Glass Heel.

“It seems with every passing year in the world of digital marketing we see the emergence of a “popular” niche industry that has existed for years. A few years ago it was the year of the SEO, then it was the year of the social media guru and now it’s a content marketing dominated world. I feel like this trend has distracted us from realizing that the best type of digital strategy is an all encompassing one. Not one where content takes the lead, but where content marketing is integrated into a multi-channel campaign that involves search, social and content marketing. Stop the silos and get back to a well rounded integrated digital strategy and you’re sure to improve effectiveness in 2014.”

– Kaila Strong, Vertical Measures

Kaila Strong is the Director of Client Strategy at Vertical Measures, a Phoenix based search, social and content marketing company. Kaila works with her team of internet marketing specialists to market client websites online, obtain links, and improve metrics. She also works with clients to strategize their current link building campaigns and SEO campaigns.

4. Social Insights Are a Must-Have to Reach and Engage Your Buyers

“Despite all the marketing technology available, reaching, engaging, and influencing decision makers is still a huge challenge for marketers. Personas, surveys, and market research can get you in the ballpark, but often lack actionable details. Tapping your personal network is effective, but not scalable. Social media insights are key to understanding decision makers in a way that is both scalable and actionable. Armed with social insights into what your buyers are talking about, which social networks they’re active on, the content they’re consuming and sharing, and the vendors, publishers, and people that most influence them, you can make vastly more informed decisions about how to deploy your resources and execute your marketing initiatives.”

– Karri Carlson, Leadtail

Karri Carlson, VP, Social Insights at Leadtail drives the technical side of Leadtail’s marketing services and in-house product development. She works closely with clients to put the right tools and platforms in place to help them achieve their online marketing and social media goals. Prior to Leadtail, Karri spent 10 years creating and delivering products at the intersection of marketing and social media for technology companies such as: Quinstreet, Friendster, Technorati, AOL and Zuberance.

5. Use Categories to Keep All of Your Content Focused on the Same Topics

“Use Categories to Keep All of Your Content Focused on the Same Topics: Defining a set list of blog categories is a crucial part of the content planning process, ensuring that everything you post on your company’s blog is aligned with your marketing strategy. You can develop a similar category list for social media by determining the topics that are of most interest to your audience and are most aligned with your company’s expertise. Be disciplined about staying within your categories and people will recognize your expertise in those areas.”

– Lisa Dessau, Content Mastery Guide

Linda Dessau is the author of Write Your Way to More Clients Online and the founder of Content Mastery Guide. Linda has been writing for the web since 2003, creating her “You Talk, I’ll Write” service in July 2005. Today, her hands-free blogging services help small businesses attract their ideal customers with captivating content.

Ready to learn more on social media marketing? Enroll in the Online Marketing Institute’s elearning center today and gain access to many classes focused on social media topics influencing the future of online marketing.

6. Follow the 4 Simple Truths

“There are some simple truths about the state of Digital Marketing for B2B marketers. Content is King. Google loves authentic, shared content that supports a real market position that can be supported. Investing in Online PR works to drive thought-leadership. The world of Internet Marketing is saturated and highly competitive for any B2B marketer. Social is now a significant influencer for B2B corporate buying decisions. In my experience, the only real way a B2B marketer can think to win in market share, share of wallet and sustained lead development (and conversion) is to have 4 necessary ingredients:

1. A content plan and related machine for execution that delivers a real social voice (daily)

2. A focused SEO strategy that is constantly monitored and managed to improve performance

3. A website with proven, excellent user experience that keeps the target on site longer

4. A thought-leader within the B2B organization that is polished, engaging and visible online

– Jasmine Sandler, Agent-cy

Jasmine Sandler is a veteran in digital marketing. She was recently named (2013 and 2014) as a Top 40 Global Digital Marketing Strategists by the Online Marketing Institute. She has over 15 years’ client experience in helping corporations use the web to drive online brand awareness and generate new business. Some of her clients include: Citibank Mortgage, Intercall Corporation, Interactive Edge, Doublerock Corporation and hundreds of others. She is the founder and CEO of Agent-cy Online Marketing, Inc. and consults in digital strategy for mid-enterprise B2B global corporations.

7. Personalize your content across platforms

Marketers in 2014 need to understand that the major online platforms (Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ Pinterest, LinkedIn) have powerful machine learning powered algorithms in place that are constantly re-adjusting what content is shown to users of those platforms, ensuring that the content is personalized to the user’s interests, past behavior, profile information, other online activity. Effective marketing messaging that breaks through those personalization filters is content that is targeted to your customer – their needs, their desires, their behavior. If you’re marketing in 2014 and are fuzzy about who your target audiences are, it’s time to get smart, and test your messaging with them before you launch. And stop tracking rankings. They mean nothing in a world where everything in personalized to you.

– Katherine Watier Ong, Ketchum

Katherine Watier Ong, is the VP Online Strategy and Market Insights at Ketchum, Inc. Katherine Watier Ong is a Washington DC based digital strategist with nearly ten years of experience in SEO, social media, online paid and web analytics. Katherine provides online marketing services for Ketchum’s clients globally including NY State of Health, HHS, Express Scripts, Gazprom, Cleveland Clinic, Hershey, and others. She has more than 17 years of experience in communications strategy and online delivery of communications messages, including 8 years of SEO, social media, SEM, and web analytics management.

8. Leverage tools to optimize performance.

Your social media performance can always be improved and there are some amazing tools that will help. For example:

1). Run Socialcrawlytics on your competitors website to find out the most popular content. If it’s popular on their site similar content will be popular on yours. Can you write better content?

2). Assess the authority of your website using Your website is rated out of 100. Compare this with your competitors and focus on improving this through providing great content on your website and guest posting on sites with a much higher domain authority.

3). Review and improve your social media performance using tools such as Twitonomy on your Twitter account and Postacumen on your Facebook account.

By leveraging the tools that are available to assess your performance you can implement plans and goals to make improvements.

– Ian Cleary, Razorsocial

Ian Cleary, aka ‘the social media tools guy’, is a mediapreneur, speaker and technology expert who specializes in sharing unbiased information about social media tools through his award-winning website, RazorSocial. A well-respected thought leader in his field, Ian’s background in the technology sector means he presents complex information in an accessible way. A popular choice for speaking engagements, his specialist social media knowledge and passionate personality mean that the information he shares is easy to understand, actionable, and highly entertaining. Ian has spoken at many high profile social media conferences and his writing credits include high-profile industry websites like Social Media Examiner and Marketing Profs. He has also been quoted in The New York Times.

The Online Marketing Institute is committed to bringing forth the insight of industry leaders. Look for the full list of courses from these top digital educators on the online learning center’s class topics page.

Come back next week for the next installment on B2B marketing and how an effective content marketing plan can drive significant results.