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Nov

10

2016

The Free Growth Tools I Recommend For Modern Businesses to Grow & Scale

growth-tools.jpg

If you’re growing a company, chances are you’re challenged with choosing the right tools to help you grow.

Both at HubSpot and at other businesses I’ve helped advise, I’ve seen marketing and sales teams experiment with all sorts of different tools they’ve hoped would drive growth. Some of these tools did help the team grow. Others slowed growth down or blocked it altogether. At HubSpot, we’ve seen opportunities to build new growth tools for marketing and sales teams and we’ve worked hard to fill those gaps.

One of the most important lessons I’ve taken away from growing businesses is that most growth problems come not from ideas, but from execution. You might have a growth-driven team, a great vision, and the dedication to achieve your lofty goals. But having those things isn’t enough to actually grow.

To execute on your strategy, you’re going to need a powerful set of tools that leverage every stage of the customer experience, from the first point of contact, through the sales and marketing process, and over the lifetime of the customer.

The foundation of a strong growth stack starts with the following:

  • A CRM system that serves as the foundation for all the other growth tools you’re using, which is where all of your customer data is stored.
  • A marketing platform to attract the right people, convert them as leads, and communicate with them through the purchase process and once they’re a customer.
  • A sales platform that helps your sales team identify the right people, connect with them, and close them as customers.

Some companies are in the position to implement a growth stack right off the bat and then enhance and customize it with the right collection of integrated tools. Others need to start with free tools and build to a full growth stack over time. (Note: There is a free version of the HubSpot Growth Stack.)

For those companies just getting started, here is my shortlist of the best free growth tools for modern businesses. The list comprises a blend of free HubSpot tools and those from other companies that we’ve used and recommend.

The 11 Free Growth Tools I Recommend

A Free CRM

1) HubSpot CRM

You can’t build a skyscraper without a solid foundation. A CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool) is just that — it acts as the base layer of growth where all your business functions’ information is organized and can be easily analyzed. In all honesty, it’s impossible to grow and scale your business without a CRM.

Your CRM is the software that sits at the core of your digital system. It tracks every interaction your sales team has, stores all your marketing leads and customer data, and improves communication across your organization. The more you grow, the more important this becomes.

The problem is, most traditional CRM systems are hard to implement and use — especially for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with limited time and resources. Sales teams have trouble adopting them internally, and you can bet that doesn’t help your business grow whatsoever. If you’re looking for a clean and intuitive CRM that’ll make your sales reps more efficient — regardless of their experience levels — I’m very proud of the free CRM our team at HubSpot has built.

hubspot-crm-screenshot.png

Free Growth Tools for Marketing

2) Trello

I’m a big fan of visualizing progress. Growth teams tend to have a lot of ideas, a lot of projects, and a lot of experiments going on at the same time. We’ve found Trello to be the best tool for tracking that progress. Each idea, project, and experiment can live on its own card, which teams can use to take notes, assign tasks, set due dates, and so on.

Here’s a real example: Our VP of Marketing Kieran Flanagan uses it to track, from start to finish, all the experiments his growth team runs. What’s especially remarkable is that his team members are located in various parts of the US and Europe, but with Trello they’re able to stay organized and effective, and make a big impact on business growth.

trello-sample-promo-board.png

3) Hotjar Heat Maps & Visitor Recordings

Data beats intuition. You can’t really know what your audience wants without getting inside the heads of the people who already regularly visit your site to find out why they visit your site, and Hotjar’s tools are perfect for just that.

These guys are on the cutting edge of helping people figure out what drives people to different parts of their website. They’re making it possible for people to build and grow their website in a way that actually resonates with people. We actually just launched an integration with Hotjar that shows Hotjar poll responses in HubSpot users’ contact timelines.

The Heat Maps and Visitor Recordings are my favorite parts of the tool, though, and here’s why: They visualize what people are doing when they get to your site by showing clicks, taps, and scrolling behavior. This is so important for a business because each of these actions shows what people do and care about on your site. It’ll also help you find the biggest opportunities for improvement and testing. (And you should always be testing.)

hotjar-heatmaps.jpg

Image Credit: Hotjar

4) Google Keyword Planner

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to growing traffic, which is a big driver of business growth in the online age. Simply put, you need to do it, and you need to do it well. If you want more people to find you on Google, you’ll need a keyword tool to help you prioritize which keywords to focus on.

There are a few good keyword tools out there, but Google Keyword Planner is a great starting point for narrowing down the right keywords, gauging competition around each one, and learning how many people are searching for them.

google-keywords-planner-1.png

5) GrowthBot

Bots are pretty freaking cool, and there’s business value to them too — they can make simple processes more efficient, giving your team time back in your day and helping you intelligently answer questions around your business. I could not be more excited about bots. That’s why I spent a lot of time this year building a chatbot for growth professionals called GrowthBot. I originally started building it because I wanted it myself, but others have told me they find it helpful, too.

So how does it work? By connecting to a variety of marketing systems (like HubSpot, Google Analytics, and more), GrowthBot is able to give you more convenient access to information you already otherwise have, and give you access to information you didn’t know you had. In the first case, you could ask it the question, “How was organic traffic last month?” and it’ll tell you. In the second case, you might ask it, “Which public SaaS companies are using HubSpot?” or “Which PPC keywords is uber.com buying?” and it’ll spit back the answer in just a few seconds.

growthbot-examples.png

6) HubSpot Marketing Free’s Lead Flows

A big mistake I see growing marketing teams making is spending all their time driving traffic to their website, but not turning that traffic into leads. Problem is, if you’re not learning about the people who are showing interest in your business, you’re leaving critical lead and sales numbers on the table.

To help you take a page that gets a good amount of traffic and turn that traffic into leads, some really smart folks created a feature within HubSpot’s new free marketing tool called Lead Flows. Lead Flows are unobtrusive widgets — pop-ups, dropdown banners, slide-ins — that you can add to any of your website pages. Best part is that they involve no technical setup or coding whatsoever, so you can set them up in minutes (seriously, minutes) without having to make changes to your existing site. Let us know what you think of Lead Flows on Product Hunt.

hubspot-marketing-free.gif

7) Buffer

There’s a lot you can do with social without spending any money. Social media is an amplifier. It takes time, but if you build a following, it is a great way to take that awesome content you’re producing and spreading it further and wider.

For social media marketing on all the major networks, Buffer is a great place to start. It connects your business’ Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+ accounts in a single platform and lets you share text, links, photos, and videos, either immediately or to schedule for later.

buffer-schedule-posts.png

Image Credit: Buffer

8) Canva

Tools that make creating visual content easier are important for growth, especially for a business with limited design resources. Being able to create great images in a short amount of time will help make your website, your emails, your social media posts, and every other marketing asset more engaging and attractive to your audience. Simply put, better visuals = more engagement = more traffic = business growth.

Canva makes it easy and fast for people who aren’t designers by trade (like me, as my team knows well) to create visual content quickly.

canva-example-1.png

Image Credit: Entrepreneur’s Organization

Free Growth Tools for Sales

9) join.me Free Conference Calls & Screen Sharing

The easier you make it for your sales team to interact with leads and prospects, the better they’ll be at closing customers, which you most definitely need if you want to grow your business. join.me isn’t software — all your reps have to do to start a call is open up the desktop or mobile app or log in online.

There are a lot of meetings tools out there, but this one is one of the fastest, most reliable, most intuitive, and easiest to use. And if you use HubSpot’s free CRM, you can start a join.me meeting directly from your contact timeline.

hubspot-join-me-integration.png

Image Credit: join.me

10) HubSpot Sales Templates

Your sales reps are probably wasting a lot of time writing the same emails over, and over, and over again. There’s a lot of value in streamlining the emailing process while still making sure sales reps are sending high-quality emails. If your sales reps can get their hands on personalized email templates, that’ll save hundreds of hours over the long term. Templates, a feature of HubSpot Sales, lets you access personalized email templates for free from within your inbox.

What makes this tool particularly powerful for sales teams is that you can build a shared library of templates everyone can use. You can also aggregate data on how often emails with certain templates get opened or clicked, which helps you hone in on the approaches worth sharing.

HubSpot-Sales-Email-Templates.png

11) HubSpot Sales Email Open Tracking & Notifications

This is one of my favorite email tools, not just for sales teams, but for personal use. It sends instant desktop notifications when the emails you send get opened. You’ll see who opened the email, at what time, on which device, and where they were located when they opened it. If you want to look at all your notifications, or all your notifications on a specific email, then you can view the full history in a stream.

hubspot-email-activity-stream.jpg

This list of free tools is a starting point for those looking to grow from startup into sustainable. Down the road, you’ll want to integrate your growth tools together into a true growth stack. For those looking to take the next step, we’ve mapped out our version of a complete growth stack over on Product Hunt. Take a look and let our engineers know what you think.

hubspot-growth-stack

Nov

10

2016

The Free Growth Tools I Recommend For Modern Businesses to Grow & Scale

growth-tools.jpg

If you’re growing a company, chances are you’re challenged with choosing the right tools to help you grow.

Both at HubSpot and at other businesses I’ve helped advise, I’ve seen marketing and sales teams experiment with all sorts of different tools they’ve hoped would drive growth. Some of these tools did help the team grow. Others slowed growth down or blocked it altogether. At HubSpot, we’ve seen opportunities to build new growth tools for marketing and sales teams and we’ve worked hard to fill those gaps.

One of the most important lessons I’ve taken away from growing businesses is that most growth problems come not from ideas, but from execution. You might have a growth-driven team, a great vision, and the dedication to achieve your lofty goals. But having those things isn’t enough to actually grow.

To execute on your strategy, you’re going to need a powerful set of tools that leverage every stage of the customer experience, from the first point of contact, through the sales and marketing process, and over the lifetime of the customer.

The foundation of a strong growth stack starts with the following:

  • A CRM system that serves as the foundation for all the other growth tools you’re using, which is where all of your customer data is stored.
  • A marketing platform to attract the right people, convert them as leads, and communicate with them through the purchase process and once they’re a customer.
  • A sales platform that helps your sales team identify the right people, connect with them, and close them as customers.

Some companies are in the position to implement a growth stack right off the bat and then enhance and customize it with the right collection of integrated tools. Others need to start with free tools and build to a full growth stack over time. (Note: There is a free version of the HubSpot Growth Stack.)

For those companies just getting started, here is my shortlist of the best free growth tools for modern businesses. The list comprises a blend of free HubSpot tools and those from other companies that we’ve used and recommend.

The 11 Free Growth Tools I Recommend

A Free CRM

1) HubSpot CRM

You can’t build a skyscraper without a solid foundation. A CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool) is just that — it acts as the base layer of growth where all your business functions’ information is organized and can be easily analyzed. In all honesty, it’s impossible to grow and scale your business without a CRM.

Your CRM is the software that sits at the core of your digital system. It tracks every interaction your sales team has, stores all your marketing leads and customer data, and improves communication across your organization. The more you grow, the more important this becomes.

The problem is, most traditional CRM systems are hard to implement and use — especially for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with limited time and resources. Sales teams have trouble adopting them internally, and you can bet that doesn’t help your business grow whatsoever. If you’re looking for a clean and intuitive CRM that’ll make your sales reps more efficient — regardless of their experience levels — I’m very proud of the free CRM our team at HubSpot has built.

hubspot-crm-screenshot.png

Free Growth Tools for Marketing

2) Trello

I’m a big fan of visualizing progress. Growth teams tend to have a lot of ideas, a lot of projects, and a lot of experiments going on at the same time. We’ve found Trello to be the best tool for tracking that progress. Each idea, project, and experiment can live on its own card, which teams can use to take notes, assign tasks, set due dates, and so on.

Here’s a real example: Our VP of Marketing Kieran Flanagan uses it to track, from start to finish, all the experiments his growth team runs. What’s especially remarkable is that his team members are located in various parts of the US and Europe, but with Trello they’re able to stay organized and effective, and make a big impact on business growth.

trello-sample-promo-board.png

The folks at Trello put together their own list of business growth apps, inspired by ours. Check it out here.

3) Hotjar Heat Maps & Visitor Recordings

Data beats intuition. You can’t really know what your audience wants without getting inside the heads of the people who already regularly visit your site to find out why they visit your site, and Hotjar’s tools are perfect for just that.

These guys are on the cutting edge of helping people figure out what drives people to different parts of their website. They’re making it possible for people to build and grow their website in a way that actually resonates with people. We actually just launched an integration with Hotjar that shows Hotjar poll responses in HubSpot users’ contact timelines.

The Heat Maps and Visitor Recordings are my favorite parts of the tool, though, and here’s why: They visualize what people are doing when they get to your site by showing clicks, taps, and scrolling behavior. This is so important for a business because each of these actions shows what people do and care about on your site. It’ll also help you find the biggest opportunities for improvement and testing. (And you should always be testing.)

hotjar-heatmaps.jpg

Image Credit: Hotjar

4) Google Keyword Planner

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to growing traffic, which is a big driver of business growth in the online age. Simply put, you need to do it, and you need to do it well. If you want more people to find you on Google, you’ll need a keyword tool to help you prioritize which keywords to focus on.

There are a few good keyword tools out there, but Google Keyword Planner is a great starting point for narrowing down the right keywords, gauging competition around each one, and learning how many people are searching for them.

google-keywords-planner-1.png

5) GrowthBot

Bots are pretty freaking cool, and there’s business value to them too — they can make simple processes more efficient, giving your team time back in your day and helping you intelligently answer questions around your business. I could not be more excited about bots. That’s why I spent a lot of time this year building a chatbot for growth professionals called GrowthBot. I originally started building it because I wanted it myself, but others have told me they find it helpful, too.

So how does it work? By connecting to a variety of marketing systems (like HubSpot, Google Analytics, and more), GrowthBot is able to give you more convenient access to information you already otherwise have, and give you access to information you didn’t know you had. In the first case, you could ask it the question, “How was organic traffic last month?” and it’ll tell you. In the second case, you might ask it, “Which public SaaS companies are using HubSpot?” or “Which PPC keywords is uber.com buying?” and it’ll spit back the answer in just a few seconds.

growthbot-examples.png

6) HubSpot Marketing Free’s Lead Flows

A big mistake I see growing marketing teams making is spending all their time driving traffic to their website, but not turning that traffic into leads. Problem is, if you’re not learning about the people who are showing interest in your business, you’re leaving critical lead and sales numbers on the table.

To help you take a page that gets a good amount of traffic and turn that traffic into leads, some really smart folks created a feature within HubSpot’s new free marketing tool called Lead Flows. Lead Flows are unobtrusive widgets — pop-ups, dropdown banners, slide-ins — that you can add to any of your website pages. Best part is that they involve no technical setup or coding whatsoever, so you can set them up in minutes (seriously, minutes) without having to make changes to your existing site. Let us know what you think of Lead Flows on Product Hunt.

hubspot-marketing-free.gif

7) Buffer

There’s a lot you can do with social without spending any money. Social media is an amplifier. It takes time, but if you build a following, it is a great way to take that awesome content you’re producing and spreading it further and wider.

For social media marketing on all the major networks, Buffer is a great place to start. It connects your business’ Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+ accounts in a single platform and lets you share text, links, photos, and videos, either immediately or to schedule for later.

buffer-schedule-posts.png

Image Credit: Buffer

8) Canva

Tools that make creating visual content easier are important for growth, especially for a business with limited design resources. Being able to create great images in a short amount of time will help make your website, your emails, your social media posts, and every other marketing asset more engaging and attractive to your audience. Simply put, better visuals = more engagement = more traffic = business growth.

Canva makes it easy and fast for people who aren’t designers by trade (like me, as my team knows well) to create visual content quickly.

canva-example-1.png

Image Credit: Entrepreneur’s Organization

Free Growth Tools for Sales

9) join.me Free Conference Calls & Screen Sharing

The easier you make it for your sales team to interact with leads and prospects, the better they’ll be at closing customers, which you most definitely need if you want to grow your business. join.me isn’t software — all your reps have to do to start a call is open up the desktop or mobile app or log in online.

There are a lot of meetings tools out there, but this one is one of the fastest, most reliable, most intuitive, and easiest to use. And if you use HubSpot’s free CRM, you can start a join.me meeting directly from your contact timeline.

hubspot-join-me-integration.png

Image Credit: join.me

10) HubSpot Sales Templates

Your sales reps are probably wasting a lot of time writing the same emails over, and over, and over again. There’s a lot of value in streamlining the emailing process while still making sure sales reps are sending high-quality emails. If your sales reps can get their hands on personalized email templates, that’ll save hundreds of hours over the long term. Templates, a feature of HubSpot Sales, lets you access personalized email templates for free from within your inbox.

What makes this tool particularly powerful for sales teams is that you can build a shared library of templates everyone can use. You can also aggregate data on how often emails with certain templates get opened or clicked, which helps you hone in on the approaches worth sharing.

HubSpot-Sales-Email-Templates.png

11) HubSpot Sales Email Open Tracking & Notifications

This is one of my favorite email tools, not just for sales teams, but for personal use. It sends instant desktop notifications when the emails you send get opened. You’ll see who opened the email, at what time, on which device, and where they were located when they opened it. If you want to look at all your notifications, or all your notifications on a specific email, then you can view the full history in a stream.

hubspot-email-activity-stream.jpg

This list of free tools is a starting point for those looking to grow from startup into sustainable. Down the road, you’ll want to integrate your growth tools together into a true growth stack. For those looking to take the next step, we’ve mapped out our version of a complete growth stack over on Product Hunt. Take a look and let our engineers know what you think.

hubspot-growth-stack

Nov

24

2015

How to Search in Google: 31 Advanced Google Search Tips

advanced-google-search-tips

If you’re like me, you probably use Google many times a day. But chances are, unless you’re a technology geek, you probably still use Google in its simplest form. If your current use of Google is limited to typing in a few words and changing your query until you find what you’re looking for, then I’m here to tell you that there’s a better way — and it’s not hard to learn.

On the other hand, even if you are a technology geek and can use Google like the best of them already, I still suggest you bookmark this article of advanced Google search tips. Then, you’ll then have the tips on hand when you’re ready to pull your hair out in frustration watching a neophyte repeatedly type in basic queries in a desperate attempt to find something.

The following advanced Google search tips are based on my own experience and things that I actually find useful. I’ve kept the descriptions of the search tips intentionally terse, as you’re likely to grasp most of these simply by looking at the example from Google anyway.

For even more Google tips, download our free guide here. 

31 Advanced Google Search Tips to Search Google Like an Expert

1) Explicit Phrase

Let’s say you’re looking for content about inbound marketing. Instead of just typing inbound marketing into the Google search box, you will likely be better off searching explicitly for the phrase. To do this, simply enclose the search phrase within double quotes.

Example Search: “inbound marketing”

2) Exclude Words

Let’s say you want to search for content about inbound marketing, but you want to exclude any results that contain the term advertising. To do this, simply use the  sign in front of the word you want to exclude.

Example Search: inbound marketing -advertising

3) This OR That

By default, when you conduct a search, Google will include all the terms specified in the search. If you’re looking for any one of one or more terms to match, then you can use the OR operator. (Note: The OR has to be capitalized).

Example Search: inbound marketing OR advertising

4) Words in the Text

If you want to find a webpage where all the terms you’re searching for appear in the text of that page (but not necessarily beside each other), type in allintext: followed immediately by words or phrases.

Example Search: allintext:vermont ski house lake

5) Words in the Text + Title, URL etc.

If you want to find a webpage where one term appears in the text of that page and another term appears elsewhere on the page, like the title or URL, then type in that first term followed by intext: followed immediately by the other term.

Example Search: neil diamond intext:red sox

6) Words in the Title

Want to find a webpage with certain words contained in the title (but not necessarily beside each other)? Type in allintitle: followed immediately by words or phrases.

Example Search: allintitle:wine club

7) Words in the TItle + Text, URL, etc.

Want to find a webpage where one term appears in the title of that page and another term appears elsewhere on the page, like in the text or the URL? Type in that first term followed by intitle: immediately followed by the other term.

Example Search: flu shot intitle:advice

8) Words in the URL

If you want to find pages with your search query mentioned in the URL, type allinurl: immediately followed by your search query.

Example Search: allinurl:hubspot blog

9) How to Search Within a Website

Often, you want to search a specific website for content that matches a certain phrase. Even if the site doesn’t support a built-in search feature, you can use Google to search the site for your term. Simply use the site:somesite.com modifier. (Read this blog post to learn how to do this in more detail.)

Example Search: site:www.smallbusinesshub.com “inbound marketing”

10) Related Search

If you want to find new websites with similar content to a website you already know of, use the related:somesite.com modifier.

Example Search: related:visual.ly

related-google-search.png

11) A Page That Links to Another Page

Let’s say you want to search for every website that cites a BuzzFeed article on their website. To do this, use the link: command, immediately followed by the name of a page. Google will give you all pages that link to BuzzFeed’s official website. The more specific the URL is, the fewer, more pointed results you’ll get.

Example Search: link:buzzfeed

12) Similar Words and Synonyms

Let’s say you want to include a word in your search, but also want to include results that contain similar words or synonyms. To do this, use the ~ in front of the word.

Example Search: “inbound marketing” ~professional

13) Word Definitions

If you need to quickly look up the definition of a word or phrase, simply use the define: command. You can listen to the word’s pronunciation by pressing the megaphone icon.

Search Example: define:plethora

google-word-definitions.png

14) Missing Words

Ever forgotten a word or two from a specific phrase, song lyric, movie quote, or something else? You can use an asterisk* as a wildcard, which can help you find the missing word in a phrase.

Example Search: much * about nothing

15) News in a Specific Location

If you’re looking for news related to a specific location, you can use the location: command to search Google News for stories coming from that location.

Search Example: star wars location:london

16) Specific Document Types

If you’re looking to find results that are of a specific type, you can use the modifier filetype:. For example, you might want to find only PowerPoint presentations related to inbound marketing.

Example Search: “inbound marketing” filetype:ppt

17) Translations

Want to translate a simple word or phrase from one language to another? No need to go to a translation website. Just search translate [word] to [language].

Example Search: translate krankenwagen to english

18) Phone Listing

Let’s say someone calls you on your mobile number, and you don’t know who it is. If all you have is a phone number, you can look it up on Google using the phonebook feature.

Example Search: phonebook:617-555-1212

(Note: The number in this example doesn’t work. You’ll have to use a real number to get any results.)

19) Area Code Lookup

If all you need to do is to look up the area code for a phone number, just enter the three-digit area code and Google will tell you where it’s from.

Example Search: 617

20) Zip Code Lookup

If you need to look up the zip code for an address, simply search for the rest of the address, including town or city name and state, province, or country. It’ll return results with an area code (if applicable), 

Example Search: 25 First St., Cambridge, MA

21) Numeric Ranges

This is a rarely used but highly useful tip. Let’s say you want to find results that contain any of a range of numbers. You can do this by using the X..Y modifier (in case this is hard to read, what’s between the X and Y are two periods). This type of search is useful for years (as shown below), prices, or anywhere where you want to provide a series of numbers.

Example Search: president 1940..1950

22) Stock (Ticker Symbol)

Just enter a valid ticker symbol as your search term, and Google will give you the current financials and a quick thumbnail chart for the stock.

Example Search: GOOG

23) Calculator

The next time you need to do a quick calculation, instead of bringing up the Calculator applet, you can just type your expression into Google.

Search Example: 48512 * 1.02

24) Tip Calculator

Along with a normal calculator, Google has a built-in tip calculator. Just search tip calculator and you can adjust the bill, tip %, and number of people splitting it.

Search Example: tip calculator

 google-tip-calculator.png

25) Timer

Don’t have a timer handy? Google has you covered. Just type in an amount of time + the word “timer,” and the countdown will begin automatically

Search Example: 

 google-timer.png

Search Example: 20 min timer

26) Stopwatch

Search “stopwatch” and it’ll bring up a stopwatch for you to start when you’re ready.

Search Example: stopwatch 

27) Weather

Next time you’re looking for quick weather stats or a forecast for a certain area, search for weather followed by a location. Google will give you both before the first search results.

Search Example: weather cambridge ma

weather-google-search.png

28) Sunrise & Sunset Times

If you’re curious when the sun will rise and set that day at a specific location, do a simple Google search with the word sunrise or sunset along with the location name.

Search Example: sunrise acadia

29) Flight Statuses

If you type in the airline and airplane number into Google, it will tell you the flight information, status, and other helpful information.

Search Example: BA 181

google-flight-status.png

30) Sports Scores & Schedules

Want to know the latest sports scores and future schedules of your favorite teams or match-ups? Search a single team name or two team names and Google will use Google Sports to spit out scores and schedules before the first search results.

Search Example: manchester united

31) Comparing Food

Believe it or not, if you’re ever curious how two types of (fairly generic) foods compare with one another, you can do a quick Google search to see how they differ in calories, fat, protein, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, and other nutrients. 

Search Example: pizza vs broccoli

What are you favorite Google search tips? Share any that I’ve missed in the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2007 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

free google tips and tools guide

 
free download: google marketing tools & tips 

Sep

23

2015

Is Advertising Inherently Outbound?

inbound advertising

It’s easy to look at complicated things in black and white.

Take Darth Vader, for example. Darth is a major bad guy — no way around it. But he didn’t start off that way. 

Anakin Skywalker was a good kid with a lot of potential. In the right situation, he could have gone on to become a hero and represent the light side. And he actually does have a glimmer of “good” towards the end of the series. At the very end, Darth saves Luke from certain death at the hands of the Emperor. He’s a complicated character with the potential for both good and bad.

Advertising is the same way. We used to think that if you bought an ad, you were automatically irritating your customers. But online advertising has been changing and things have gotten more complicated.

There are still a ton of bad ads, but we’re also seeing a new breed of ads. Ads that have the potential to benefit people. Ads that help customers find the information they are looking for. Ads that amplify great content and surface it to the people interested in that topic. Ads that are … kinda inboundy.

Truthfully, we didn’t stumble on this observation ourselves — our customers had to point it out to us.

How Our Customers Convinced Us Advertising Isn’t All Bad

Turns out, 53% of our customers use ads — and they’re using them to augment their inbound activities. Using search and social ads, they’ve been able to effectively target a qualified audience with the right content. 

Our customers taught us a very important point: It’s the content, not the format, stupid. When ads become good content, they’re contributing to — not detracting from — a robust inbound marketing strategy.

Five years ago, this same principle didn’t apply. Pretty much all online ads were terrible. The display ad was “the cutting edge.” Most ads were interruptive and untargeted.

Today, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have changed the game. They’ve innovated with choice-based formats, blurred the lines with native ads, and created video and mobile ads that people actually enjoy and find useful.

These companies also reward ads that help their users. Both LinkedIn and Google, for example, have a quality or relevance score. This metric makes sure that the highest quality content is matched with the most relevant user. Which means that advertisers who create remarkable content, relevant landing pages, and helpful ads can pay less and rank higher than those who don’t. 

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We’ve also seen how helpful and powerful relevant ads can be first-hand. With lead generation as our goal, we took some of our own best performing content and promoted it to a valuable new audience through LinkedIn. We knew this content was already proven to drive leads, but by providing it to a new and relevant professional audience on LinkedIn, we drove 400% more leads within our target audience than lead generation efforts on other platforms. By getting our content into the hands of more people who needed it, we were able to generate qualified leads at a cost-per-lead that made sense for our business.

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How We’re Going to Help

But there’s still a massive problem with ads: It’s hard to do ads well. Our friends at Unbounce have estimated that as many as 98% of advertisers are wasting money on ads

Why? It’s too hard and expensive for marketers to get good enough with ads to consistently make money with them. The software is intimidating, the learning curve is steep, and determining ROI is murky at best.

Seeing all of this combined, we decided to get over ourselves and help our customers with ads. 

That’s why we created the HubSpot Ads Add-On. No, it’s not a prank. We want to make sure that more of the ads out there are quality ones. And we want to help more marketers get better results with the time, effort, and money they’re spending on ads.

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To start, we’re proud to partner with two proven leaders in ads: LinkedIn and Google. These partners allow our customers to reach valuable audiences and engage with them in an inbound way. Take LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, for instance. With the HubSpot Ads Add-On, customers will be able to place helpful, relevant posts right within users’ feeds — no interruption necessary.

So, in short, we’re here, listening to our customers and embracing the grey. With the right mindset, strategy, and tools in place, advertising doesn’t have to be interruptive and annoying.

It won’t be easy to change the advertising industry for the better. But it wasn’t easy for Darth Vader to betray his master and save Luke from the Emperor either.

live webinar: INBOUND 2015 HubSpot product launches

Sep

9

2015

Inbound for Everyone: 5 Launches (And 1 Surprise) We Think Will Change Your Marketing This Year

When we first started HubSpot over nine years ago, I didn’t know much about marketing; I only knew I didn’t like being marketed to. I didn’t see what good it did to interrupt people just to push a product on them. It’s not the sort of thing you’d wish on yourself, so why put it on others? 

It was that observation — that flaw in the way that marketing traditionally worked — that laid the foundation for inbound marketing. Inbound became a new approach that prioritized attracting people with quality, search-friendly content and converting them with more tailored and relevant communications. It was, we thought, a more human way of marketing.  

It resonated with people. This week, more than 13,000 people have come to our hometown of Boston for the annual INBOUND event — a week of inbound talks, parties, and announcements. Over the years, while we have leaned into this philosophy of marketing, we have also worked to develop tools that make the hard work that marketers do a little easier.

Today, on stage at INBOUND15, I got to announce a collection of new HubSpot features and marketing tools that we believe will make things better for both marketers and their customers. Here’s what we revealed.

Ads, the Inbound Way

We have a long history of being skeptical about ads. Too many of them are irrelevant, interruptive, and inane. But an interesting thing happened this year: We learned that 53% of our customers used some sort of paid media in their inbound marketing strategies, and they were having success.

So we got to wondering, can advertising ever be inboundy? What about ads that solve a search query or amplify relevant content? Isn’t that customer-centric?

We realized it’s the content that matters, not the format or path to it. When ads include good content or help people find it, they contribute to a well-rounded inbound marketing strategy. So we’ve built an Ads Add-On that can help marketers create ads on LinkedIn or Google (the latter is in beta) and measure the return they’re getting on their investment. The Ads Add-On elevates social posts that are already doing well on their own so you know you’re promoting content that will be well received. It also closes the loop between dollars in and revenue out for your ad spend.

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A Website Platform Made for Marketing

Your website should be one of your star marketers. It spends more time with your prospective customers than most sales reps do and plays a major role in their research and decision process. The problem with most content management systems, however, is they focus too much on “management” and not enough on marketing. Two years ago, HubSpot launched a website platform as part of our Content Optimization System. This year, we’ve made some major improvements to help marketers get more value out of their websites:

New Editing Interface: The advent of the content management system (CMS) popularized the term WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) for the editing experience. CMSes allowed you to edit a page and then get a preview of what it would look live. We’re trying a new term on for size: WYSIWII (what you see is what it IS). HubSpot has redesigned the editing experience across the Website, Blog, Landing Page, and Email Apps to make editing faster, simpler, and more intuitive. You can see what we mean below.

Built-In Optimizers: To improve your content for search and conversions, HubSpot now includes optimizers on every webpage you create. These optimizers will show you how to rank for the keywords that matter to you and even suggest where to use personalization based on the segments most commonly viewing that page. 

SSL for All: It may seem like a small thing, but the little “s” at the end of “http” on URLs can be incredibly important for both your search engine ranking and website security. Beginning October 1, SSL will be included on all HubSpot websites. If you fully host your website on HubSpot, you’ll get it. Simple as that.  

Predictive Lead Scoring

Lead scoring can be a great way to align your marketing and sales team around a common set of criteria, but it can also be incredibly manual to set up. It requires users to try to find patterns among thousands of possible factors.

Included in HubSpot Enterprise, Predictive Lead Scoring takes the guesswork out of scoring. Our algorithm combs through a company’s history of engaged and unengaged contacts to glean which factors indicate a higher close rate. Using this information, we create a custom model that automatically scores each contact based on their propensity to close.

One Dashboard, All Your Reports

One thing we’ve heard from marketers is that they often feel like they spend more time reporting on the numbers than actually making the numbers. As businesses grow, this need to report on progress from many different angles only grows. 

So we wanted to create a Reporting Add-On that would scale with your company. The new Reporting Add-On gives you a library of 20 of the most commonly used reports across marketing and sales teams. If the report you want isn’t there, you can easily build custom reports for any data. Finally, users can create their own custom dashboard to help them understand the metrics that matters to them most. You can get a look at that dashboard and its drag-and-drop functionality below.

A Unified System of Record

We’ve always prided ourselves on being “all-in-one.” In many ways, it’s true. HubSpot has everything you need to run your marketing and sales strategies — but that’s not quite enough is it? It would be enough if customers only interacted with your company through marketing and sales channels. In reality, customers are engaging with your company through a number of different touch-points across a range of teams, from marketing and sales to billing and customer support. 

To connect the dots between all these different interactions, we’ve opened the platform up to more than 20 integration partners. These integrations bring in data from Zendesk, Eventbrite, Perfect Audience, Teamwork, UberConference, and other commonly used platforms and apps to unite your company around a common view of your customers. We call it HubSpot Connect, and our customers are already starting to use it in compelling ways. 

Bonus Launch: Introducing Leadin

One of the things we like best about the conference is that it’s not just HubSpot customers who attend. It shares a lot in common with this blog in that sense. Inbound attendees hail from businesses of all sorts and sizes — not all of which have the budget for marketing software. This year, in addition to all the announcements for our customers, we wanted to do something for the rest of the inbound community who works just as hard to create marketing people love.

We call it Leadin. Leadin is a freemium app that works with any website to convert visitors into contacts. Leadin then automatically finds publicly available information about each of your contacts and tracks the pages they view so you can market to them in a more relevant way. You can set it up for free and don’t need to be user of the HubSpot Marketing Platform to use it. It even integrates with MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, and other email systems. 

Get Leadin for Free

Inbound for Everyone 

Whether you’re an experienced marketer or just getting started, whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or on a sophisticated marketing team, we’re trying to make it easier for everyone, everywhere to go inbound. The launches this year are one step along the way.

If you want more details on any of them, you can find them at hubspot.com/new. Thank you for pushing us each year to get better, and for being the source of some of the marketing that really inspires us. Maybe we’ll see you at INBOUND16.

live webinar: INBOUND 2015 HubSpot product launches

Dec

1

2014

The Top 50 Marketing Blogs on the Internet Right Now (+ Advice From #1)

Top50_x700If you’re anything like me (and my apologies if you are), you like lists. And, if you also happen to work in marketing, you’ve probably heard of the old AdAge Power150 list — it was a list of the top marketing blogs in the world. I use the past tense, because a few months ago AdAge said they were “powering down” the list. As the folks from Monty Python would say … the Power150 has ceased to be. (Video link here — you’re welcome.)

Ever since that initial announcement, I’ve thought to myself: “Self, you should totally go build that.” Well, it took me a while (and it’s by no means done yet), but we now have the Inbound 50: The Top Marketing Blogs list. I hope it will become the definitive (and dynamic) list of top marketing blogs on the internet.  

This list draws on a few different criteria to determine the highest “score,” but the most important element is that it’s a dynamically updating list — which means the ranking will change automatically over time. Right now, the plan is to update every Sunday night.  

Below is a screenshot of the top 10 blogs on the Inbound 50. I don’t think you’ll be surprised to see who sits at #1 today. With over 332K followers, 175K Facebook fans, and (predictably) incredible search authority, the Moz.com blog has long been heralded as an industry guidepost for how business blogging (and SEO) is done.

I thought it would be appropriate to sit down with Rand Fishkin and Moz’s founder, to solicit some words of wisdom as the original man behind the blog. Meet me below the top 10 list to see what he had to say. (To see the entire Top 50 list, visit inbound.org here.)

Full disclosure: Rand is a long-time friend and co-conspirator and instigator for the inbound.org site but I developed the algorithm independently. Besides, I dare you to argue that the Moz blog doesn’t deserve to be on this list. I DOUBLE-DOG DARE YOU! 

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 Because the list is based off an algorithm that updates the rankings in real time, the list in the image above may look different than the list that appears on inbound.org. Click to see the full list of all 50 blogs.

1) When did you launch the Moz (formerly SEOMoz) blog, and why did you decide to do it?

I launched it in October of 2004, primarily with the goal of sharing what I was learning around SEO. I hoped, mostly, to be able to share ideas that wouldn’t fit comfortably on the SEO forums of the time (where I was doing a lot of my content creation and community participation). That turned out to have lots of positive, serendipitous, but unintended effects, including launching our business!

2) You made the decision to switch the focus of your blog from SEO to broader inbound marketing topics. What precipitated that shift?

A few things — one big one was a desire to help SEO-focused marketers with other tasks, challenges, and data. We also felt that SEO was expanding so much in scope that it seeped into arenas like social media, content marketing, public relations, and even email. As the engines advance and as the web’s influencers expand how they discover and share content, SEOs have had to follow suit. Thus, they needed tools, data, and educational content to help with these new job requirements. SEO isn’t just SEO anymore!

3) You have an incredibly engaged reader community — what role did they play in the growth of your blog?

Our community has not only been the backbone of our blog, but also the backbone of our business. It’s almost entirely thanks to the amazing people who contribute on Moz (in the comments and through other channels of all kinds) that we have the business and the community we have today. People found our content, helped it spread, and introduced new readers and contributors to our work. That pattern, over the course of the last decade, has made Moz into what you see today.

4) Is there a standout piece of content on your blog that you’re particularly proud of?

I did a piece many years ago about how to create the “perfectly optimized page,” and I’ve updated that resource many times since (including an all-nighter I pulled last year to entirely revamp it and create new graphics from the ground up). My last edit was small, but since I made it recently, that post is particularly fresh in my mind.

5) The Moz blog is an industry standard for top-notch marketing content today. What advice do you have for blogs in other industries that want to elevate their blog content?

I’ve found a few things to be true:

  • Conversations and ideas that resonate in person are far more likely to perform well on the web. When I’ve made content off the top of my head while staring at a screen, it’s almost always worse than when I take an idea that I’ve bounced off others, usually in person, and converted it into web content.
  • Don’t expect much in your first few years of blogging — if you do, you’ll be sorely disappointed (often to the point where you give up). Great blogs are built over many years (with very few exceptions). Pay attention to what works, what doesn’t, and most importantly — why. That’s the way all the great bloggers I know have built their successes.
  • With every post, be able to answer the question “Who will help amplify this and why?” If you don’t have an answer to that, don’t bother creating the content. It’s totally OK even if you’re not in touch or will have a hard time exposing your post to those people you believe would help amplify, but it’s not OK if they don’t even exist. That’s when you’re shouting down an empty hallway.

learn how to get 100,000 blog readers

Sep

17

2014

Getting Exceptional Growth: Meet the New HubSpot Marketing Platform

hubspot_marketing_platform_product_launchYears ago, when Brian and I started HubSpot, we were on a singular mission. We wanted to help companies get off of the sidelines and into the game. The internet had changed everything, and too many businesses were missing out on the massive potential this created. 

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Sep

2

2014

Announcing the Launch of the New Inbound Marketing Book [Free Preview]

Published by in category HubSpot InBound Marketing Blog Feed, Inbound Marketing | Comments are closed

Inbound-Marketing-LP-2A lot of things can change in five years.

You could get a new haircut. You could move into a new house. You could start a new job. You could get a whole new set of friends (who then become old friends). You could watch your child, sibling, friend, or relative graduate high school, graduate college, and start their career.

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