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Sep

21

2015

A Detailed Guide to Creating the Best Landing Page Images Ever

Landing Pages are the spice of life. Or at the very least, the spice of a good online conversion. In addition to writing a great headline and having a great offer, you’ll need some great imagery to complete your landing page. After all, a picture says a thousand words.

But what if you need to get a great image and you don’t have a graphic design on hand to bang one out? Follow these tips to get the best landing page images and increase your conversions!

1) Finding Free Images

Of course, the first thing you need are some images. You can purchase them from numerous online stock photo agencies, or—better yet—HubSpot offers tons of free stock photos for landing pages.

Once you find the perfect photo for your landing page, it’s time to optimize it for the web.

2) Image Effects

Once you have an image, you’ll probably want to make a few changes to it. 

There are many sites that allow you to make changes to images, in addition to all of the obvious Adobe products.

Depending on what you want to do, HubSpot may have enough for you in its image editor, which is possibly one of HubSpot’s most underutilized tools. Most HubSpot customers that I show this to have never seen it before.

It handles many of the simple imaging tasks you need, like resizing and cropping.

10thimage

Above is one of HubSpot’s free stock photos  being edited in HubSpot’s image editor.

By changing Warmth and Focus, you can get some very nice effects if you’re looking to make a nice background image:

11thimage

12thimage

3) Images and Page Performance

One of the biggest factors affecting landing page images is their size, which can greatly reduce the speed at which the landing page loads in the prospect’s browser. The slower it loads, the bigger the chance the prospect will bail and never see your offer, and therefore never convert.

You can test all of your prexisting landing pages (and all images on the those pages) in Google’s Free PageSpeed Insights Tool.

It’s easy to do, just put in the URL of your landing page and go:

1stimage

For your new images, you should always keep page performance in mind while creating the image.

4) Determining Image Dimensions

The biggest issue with page performance will be the image’s dimensions. Many people will upload a very large image (like 2,000 pixels by 2,000 pixels) and use HTML to ‘size’ the image down to 200×200 pixels. The problem with this is that browser is still loading 2,000×2,000 pixel image, essentially loading 10 times more than it has to.

You should make sure your image more closely matches the dimensions you’ll see on screen so you don’t need to resize in HTML. 

Remember: most websites are only 900-1200 pixels wide on a desktop, so you will rarely want to see image dimensions in the 1,000+ range. 

5) Resizing Your Landing Page Image

There are tons of tools to do this both on and offline. One of our favorites when we’re not using HubSpot’s editor is the free Online Photo Editor from Pixlr.com

First, open an image file or URL using the “File” menu at the top of the screen. Next, click “Image” from the top menu and select “Image size”.

select "image size" from the "image" menu

A window will open that asks what dimensions you would like. Make sure you keep “Constrain proportions” checked so the image doesn’t end up looking squished.

make sure you check "constrain proportions"

Once you have the image size you want, just click “Save” under the “File” menu and save your image to your computer.

6) Size Your Image for Social Networks

While you’re resizing your images, you should make sure your image is optimized for social sharing.

Each social networking site has its own standards for image dimensions.

  • Facebook recommends images be at least 600 x 315px
  • Twitter only recommends the image be larger than 60 x 60px
  • LinkedIn images should be equal to or smaller than 180 x 110px

These are the images the social networks will use when someone shares your landing page. You can see why they’re important. 

This might involve creating multiple copies of your image at different sizes, depending on which social platforms you want to optimize for. 

7) Compress Images

Now that your images are correctly sized and stylized, you should compress the file even more to speed up your page’s load time.

I prefer tinypng.com for image compression. Its results are reliable and—despite the name—it compresses both .jpg and .png files.

Simply drop your files onto the page and it will compress them right there for you.

rev-img-compress-01

After you’ve dropped your files, you’ll see a list of all newly compressed files available for download. Download the files back onto your computer and now you have web optimized images!

rev-img-compress-02

Now you can upload your images to your site!

8) Set Your Image Alts

Once you have an image on your landing page, you must set the alt tag. The image alt tag offers descriptive text about your image for viewers who cannot see the image.

Not only that, alt tags boost SEO. They allow search engines to better interpret the content of your images by reading keywords from your alt tags.

Most content management systems allow you to set your alt tags when you edit or select an image. In HubSpot, for example, you can change the alt text in the image editing module:

in hubspot, press edit image to change the alt tag

include a keyword-rich description of the image

When writing your alt tags, keep these points in mind:

  • Make sure the description is related to the image. Do not stuff the alt text with irrelevant keywords.
  • While there is no official limit to how many words you add to the alt text, it’s best to keep it brief. This post on Hobo Internet Marketing’s blog suggests that search engines stop reading alt text after 16 words. Realistically, many images will require well under 10 words for a description.

Conclusion

You’re set! You should have a well designed and optimized landing page image that will help the conversions rush in. 

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Aug

3

2015

5 Easy Ways to Help Reduce Your Website’s Page Loading Speed

The adage “patience is a virtue” doesn’t apply online. 

Even a one-second delay can drastically reduce pageviews, customer satisfaction and drop conversions

The speed of your site even affects your organic search rankings. Since 2010, Google has been accounting for a site speed in its algorithm. 

So what’s the biggest factor contributing to your page speed?

Size.

It takes browsers time to download the code that makes up your page. It has to download your HTML, your stylesheets, your scripts and your images. It can take a while to download all that data. 

As web users expect more engaging site designs, the size of a site’s resource files will continue to grow. Each new feature requires a new script or stylesheet that weighs down your site just a little more.

How do you make sure your site is up to speed?

There are some great resources for analyzing your site’s speed. Google’s PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix are probably the most popular. Both services will analyze your site and tell you where you’re falling behind.

A little warning: the results can be a bit daunting sometimes, but most fixes are relatively quick and easy. You might not fix everything the speed service recommends, but you should fix enough to make the site experience better for your visitors. 

Let’s learn how to speed things up!

While a few modern content management systems like HubSpot implement speed-enhancing options out-of-the-box, the more common systems like WordPress and Joomla require a little manual labor to get up to speed. 

Now let’s look at some essential speed solutions that every webmaster should consider. 

1) Optimize Images

Images are one of the most common bandwidth hogs on the web.

The first way to optimize your images is to scale them appropriately.

Many webmasters use huge images and then scale them down with CSS. What they don’t realize is that your browser still loads them at the full image size. 

For example, if you have an image that is 1000 x 1000 pixels, but you have scaled it down to 100 x 100 pixels, your browser must load ten times more than necessary. 

Scale your images before you upload them to your site, so you don’t ask for more from your visitors than you should. 

Take a look at the size difference when we scaled down one of our images:

speed-01-scaling

The second way to optimize your images is to compress them. 

There are several free online tools for image compression, such as tinypng.com, that can reduce your image sizes dramatically without losing quality. You can see size reductions anywhere from 25% to 80%!

2) Browser Caching

Why make visitors download the same things every time they load a page?

Enabling browser caching lets you temporarily store some data on a visitors’ computer, so they don’t have to wait for it to load every time they visit your page.

How long you store the data depends on their browser configuration and your server-side cache settings.

To set up browser caching on your server, check out the resources below or contact your hosting company:

3) Compression

Enabling compression is like putting your website into a zip file.

Compression can dramatically reduce your page’s size and thereby increase its speed. According to feedthebot.com, compression can knock off 50 – 70% from your HTML and CSS files! That’s a ton of data your visitor won’t have to download.

Compression is a server setting, so how you implement it will depend on your webserver and its settings. Below are some resources for the most common webservers. If you don’t see yours, contact your hosting company to see what they can do.

4) Optimize Your CSS

Your CSS loads before people see your site. The longer it takes for them to download your CSS, the longer they wait.

Optimized CSS means your files will download faster, giving your visitors quicker access to your pages.

Start by asking yourself, “do I use all of my CSS?” If not, get rid of the superfluous code in your files. Every little bit of wasted data can add up until your website’s snail-pace speed scares away your visitors.

Next, you should minimize your CSS files. Extra spaces in your stylesheets increase file size. CSS minimization removes those extra spaces from your code to ensure your file is at its smallest size.

So how do you minimize your CSS files?

First, see if your CMS already minimizes your CSS or if there’s an option for it. HubSpot, for example, already minimizes your CSS by default whereas WordPress or Joomla do not.

If your CMS does not have a minimize CSS option, you can use a free online service like csscompressor.com to minimize your files. Simply paste in your CSS and hit “Compress” to see your newly minimized stylesheet.

Minimizing your resource files is a great way to knock some size off your files. Trust me—those little spaces add up quickly.

speed-02-minification

5) Keep Your Scripts Below the Fold

Javascript files can load after the rest of your page, but if you put them all before your content—as many sites do—they will load before your content does.

This means your visitors must wait until your Javascript files load before they see your page, and we know how much they like waiting.

The simplest solution is to place your external Javascript files at the bottom of your page, just before the close of your body tag. Now more of your site can load before your scripts.

Another method that allows even more control is to use the defer or async attributes when placing external .js files on your site.

Both defer and async are very useful, but make sure you understand the difference before you use them:

  • Async tags load the scripts while the rest of the page loads, but this means scripts can be loaded out of order. Basically, lighter files load first. This might be fine for some scripts, but can be disastrous for others.
  • The defer attribute loads your scripts after your content has finished loading. It also runs the scripts in order. Just make sure your scripts run so late without breaking your site.

All you need to do is add a simple word in your <script> tags.

For example, you can take your original script

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”/path/filename.js”></script>

And add the little code to ensure it loads when you want it.

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”/path/filename.js” defer></script>
<script type=”text/javascript” src=”/path/filename.js” async></script>

The importance of your scripts will determine if they get an attribute and which attribute you tack on. More essential scripts should probably have the async attribute so they can load ASAP without holding up the rest of your content. The nonessential ones, however, should wait until the end to ensure visitors see your page faster.

But always make sure you test each script to ensure the attribute doesn’t break your site!

Conclusion

As online users demand a richer online experience, the size of our pages will continue to grow. There will be flashier Javascript, more CSS tricks and more third-party analytics to weigh down our sites.

As marketers, we can’t let this bog us down.

A little attention will go a long way—remember, just a one-second delay is all it takes to lose a lead.

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Mar

10

2015

10 Analytics Red Flags All Marketers Should Look Out For

analytics

In the new Digital Age, Marketers are constantly bombarded with a sea of information. One of the first questions most new HubSpot users ask is “What report should I be viewing?” and “What data matters most?”

While every company is different and every campaign as well, there are some tried and true analytics that every Marketer should be looking at. If these numbers start to look bad, it’s a clear sign that something has gone wrong and your digital presence may not be performing as it should be.

Let’s dig in:

1) Keyword rankings versus your competition:

While many people focus on their own keyword rankings, which is a good thing, don’t forget to focus on your competitor’s rankings as well. You may see yourself jump to the first page for an important keyword, only to find that a competitor that used to trail you is now ranked higher than you. As we all know it takes time to rank well for keywords, and once you start to see your competition move up, you have to act fast to stay in step. 

If you’re using HubSpot, you can find this information in the Keywords tool. Be sure to click the ‘With competitors’ ranks’ in the drop down next to the date range.

keywords-competitors

2) Organic Query Search Terms:

Make sure to install Google Webmaster Tools. Google is very stingy with sharing this information, and as of today, Google Webmaster tools is the only place you can get a comprehensive report on the search terms people are using to find your site. You might find some wonderful gems in here that you didn’t know people would use.

If you’re blogging and writing great website content on a regular basis, then you will start to rank for all sorts of phrases that you never even thought of. Use this knowledge for developing keywords and phrases that you should write more content for, and add these gems to the keywords tool in HubSpot to better keep track of them!

Don’t forget that you can install Google Webmaster Tools on your main website (such as www.inalign.com) and your blog (such as blog.inalign.com).

google-webmaster-tools-search-queries

3) Visits to Leads Ratio: 

If you’ve been doing Inbound long enough, you know that there’s a certain amount of traffic that produces a certain amount of leads. While increasing traffic is usually a good thing, if it’s not producing leads than you are attracting the wrong people.

Likewise, this ratio will become glaring if you find that blogging has slowed down for a month (like in December when everyone is out of the office).

4) Website Content & Blog Posts That Generate Leads: 

This is a great analytics report, and one that comes for free with HubSpot. It’s a recipe, so you’ll have to add it yourself, but it’s well worth it. Don’t forget that the goal of blogging is not just traffic, but creating leads. So which blogging efforts paid off the most? Look under attribution reports.

AttributionReport

5) Mobile Usage: 

There will come a day when web designers will develop the mobile website first, and the desktop version will be an afterthought. Depending on your industry, that day might be today. Google Analytics will show you the percentage of mobile visitors, and anything over 10% is cause for making sure your site is responsive.

The HubSpot COS is very mobile friendly, but you should checkout the conversion path from Google to Blog to Landing Page to Thank You page and make sure that the entire content stream is very mobile friendly.

google-analytics-mobile-overview

6) PPC Cost Per Lead: 

It’s easy to turn on PPC and then forget about it. In a good inbound strategy, PPC helps to get traffic while you wait for blogging and content writing to boost your organic rankings.

There comes a point though when PPC just isn’t worth it. Every company’s PPC campaign is different, but if you’re in a competitive space you need to watch this number closely. Competitors can start up a PPC campaign overnight. The more competitors, the more you’ll pay. Watch this ratio at least once per month.

7) Social Media Clicks, Interactions, and Visits: 

There’s a lot to look through on this one, and if you’re using HubSpot, it’s easy enough to do for all of the major social media channels. The first place to look in HubSpot is the sources report-which gives you a great report on the number of Contacts and Customers that are coming from social media. But what if those numbers are falling, or are still at zero?

You may be focusing on the wrong channels, or publishing information that just isn’t resonating. Within HubSpot, go to Social, Reports, and select ‘Compare Channels’. Take a look at the Clicks, Interactions and the # of Visits from your Social Media channels.

Not all social media channels perform the same for all industries. Use this report to figure out which channels are producing the most clicks and interactions, and focus your efforts on those channels.

While fans are important, I do not focus a lot on that metric (unless you’re just starting out and you have zero fans). What we want most from Social Media is engagement, which I just from Clicks, Interactions, and Visits.

social-media-clicks-interactions

social-media-visits

 

8) Page Performance, Most Popular Page and Least Popular Page: 

These are two items that I follow closely with any website. After all, you want to rank for the pages that you planned to drive the most traffic. Under performing pages might have great content, but perhaps they are hard to find, lack a decent mobile presentation, or just aren’t linked within the content of your site and blog.

9) Monthly Visits from Referrals: 

Aside from generating content to rank organically, we’re also creating content to other websites will link to us. Those links can become gold. But what if referrals from a great link are starting to trend down? It could mean that your competition is also listed with the referral, or the referral’s website has changed and your link is now buried.

Either way, it’s usually a matter of finding out what changed and responding to that change. If you were guest blogging on another site, maybe it’s been a while since your last post. Or maybe you need to create some fresher content on your site for the referrer to link to.

10) Overall Marketing Cost Per Lead: 

Factoring in all marketing expenses, what is the total marketing cost per lead? This is the most important analytic that your company is going to look at when measuring your performance. This number will fluctuate throughout the year but you want to keep an eye on it. This is why it’s so imperative that you keep track of all leads generated from marketing. Obviously, you’ll want the cost per lead to stay the same or go down.

You should track this monthly and year-to-date.

First, calculate the monthly cost of marketing. This includes everything such as salaries, software fees, AdWords fees, trade shows, etc.

Secondly, determine the number of MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) that were generated in the last month.

Then, divide the first number by the second number.

Therefore, if the total cost of marketing is $10,000 per month, and in the month of January you produced 180 leads, then the Marketing Cost Per Lead is $10,000 / 180, or $55 per lead.

download free marketing analytics guide

Feb

10

2015

How to Ask for a Raise (And Actually Get One)

 getting_a_raise

Looking for a raise? Most people think they have to ask for a raise from their boss, but for millions of Americans, you’re not asking your boss, but more than likely, the owner of the company. 

Based on U.S. Census Bureau data from 2011, 99.7% of businesses have fewer than 500 workers, and 89.8% have fewer than 20 employees. 

If you think this is the same as working for a large company, you’re wrong. When you work for a large company, your boss is interested in getting promoted. They are looking for employees that are helping them reach that goal.

When you work for the owner, he/she is looking for an employee that is going to grow the firm. 

As with any negotiation, you have to understand how the ‘other side’ thinks and feels. In this case, it’s the owner of the company. Consider these items: 

  1. Why did they hire you in the first place? Has that need changed or evolved?
  2. Who have they hired since you joined? Are those people in similar roles as you? Is your role still relevant?
  3. What are their biggest obstacles to growth? Are you involved with solving any of those obstacles?
  4. Do you speak to any of your customers? Do you have a solid understanding of why customers do business with your firm? 

With that understanding in mind, here’s some easy talking points when asking for a raise: 

1) Your value to the firm

If you’re asking for a raise, this should be simple. How do you contribute to the bottom line? Do you perform tasks that no one else can do? Do you help others do their job better?

2) You can manage yourself

Give your boss what s/he really wants-more time! Cash is king in any business but time is a close second. A small business owner never has enough time. Giving your boss more time (because you need less management) is the greatest gift you can give. 

How do you prove you need less management? Explain that you don’t have to be told twice to do something. You’re a note-taker and list-writer. You also anticipate your next tasks.

3) Your new responsibilities

Hopefully you’re gotten real good at doing whatever you were hired for, and since then, you’ve taken on a few more responsibilities. The owner is busy, and may have forgotten all that you do, so it’s OK to remind her. 

4) Your understanding of the company, its products, services, and customers

The number one complaint I hear from small business owners is that they have no one to talk too. You’d be amazed at how many employees really don’t know why their company is in business. When there is a disconnect, the owner often feels isolated and alone.

Explain that you’re the person they can go to when discussing a new service, or how to handle a difficult client. The owner will love you for it. 

What Not to Do

As with anything, there are some tried and true methods employees use for a raise that simply do not work. Here’s some of the top ones: 

1) It’s time for a raise! (It’s been a year since my last one!)

Owners generally tend to think like their customers. They can only increase the rate they charge when there is more value to be had. If you’re the same you were last year and doing the exact same thing, there is no perceived new value.

2) Someone with my number of years of experience should be making more

We are a mobile work force. There’s a good chance that if you have 15 years’ experience it wasn’t with your current employer. So many times though people count all of the accomplishments at their previous job and expect to be reimbursed for those accomplishments at their current job. It doesn’t work that way. Employers want to reward you for what you did for them, not someone else.

3) Someone else in the company is making more, and you’ve been there longer

Your pay is not based on longevity, but the value you bring to the company. If you want to make more, figure out what the higher paid employees are doing and start doing that.

The Bottom Line

In all cases, remember that asking for a raise can be nerve racking for all involved. Don’t stomp into your boss’ office Friday afternoon at 4:30 and demand a raise. Let them know you want to discuss compensation, set a date with them when they have time to dedicate to the conversation. Don’t expect an answer right away. Give your boss a couple of days to think it over after you meet.

Don’t forget, if you really are worth more, and your current employer doesn’t agree, sometimes the easiest way to a raise is to find a new job!

Good luck!

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