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Sep

6

2017

8 Brainstorming Ideas to Inspire Brilliant Pitches

Coming up with fresh, new ideas isn’t easy. And when your job requires churning them out on a daily basis, it can be easy to hit a wall. (Not to mention frustrating.)

That’s why brainstorming sessions can be so helpful. But, as many of you probably know by experience, some brainstorming sessions are more productive than others.

Ever been to one where you left feeling like your team didn’t really come away with anything useful? It’s draining — and it can feel like a waste of you and your team’s time. Great brainstorming sessions, on the other hand, can be wonderfully revitalizing.

The best way to get the creative juices flowing isn’t by sitting your team around a conference table and asking them to shout out ideas as they come to them. It’s by creating an atmosphere that breaks people out of their traditional mindset.

Here are a few creative ways to help liven up your brainstorming sessions to improve your team’s output of ideas.

8 Brainstorming Ideas to Inspire Brilliance

1) Come up with bad ideas first.

The best brainstorming sessions come when everyone in the room feels comfortable throwing out all of their ideas, regardless of whether or not they’re gold. But some members on your team might be worried they’ll sound stupid or uninformed if they pitch ideas that aren’t well thought-out. Studies have shown people are especially apprehensive when people in positions of power are present — this apprehension can lead to major productivity loss in brainstorming groups.

One way to loosen people up and get the ideas flowing? Start out brainstorming sessions by spending 10 minutes coming up with a bunch of bad ideas first. You might throw one out yourself first to show them what you mean. This will help you set a much more open and playful tone than a formal atmosphere would. Gerry Graf of Barton F. Graf 9000 has his team come up with 4,000 bad ideas before coming up with good ones.

Once you’ve spent some time sharing throwaway ideas and having a few laughs, you can refocus on brainstorming ideas that could work. And who knows: An idea that isn’t so great on its own could spark some really ingenious ones that inform the direction of the rest of the meeting.

2) Break and build ideas.

One way to turn a few ideas into many is by breaking them down or building them up. If you’re starting with a really general theme, try breaking it down into parts and details and seeing if other ideas branch from it. Or, you can do the opposite, and build up a more specific idea to have it cover a broader perspective.

One way to break down or build up ideas is to have each person in the room jot down two or three ideas on their own pieces of paper. Then, have them trade papers with other members of the team, and build off their coworkers’ ideas. You can rotate papers several times, and start a discussion based off the new ideas that emerge.

3) Play word games.

Word games can be powerful ways to help remove you from the traditional mindset that tends to produce generic, unoriginal ideas. If you’re trying to get out of an idea rut, try adding a few games to your meeting to drum up some out-of-the-box thinking.

One great word exercise is creating a “word storm.” To create a word storm, write down one word, and then brainstorm a whole slew of words that come to mind from that first word. Try thinking about the function of that word, its aesthetics, how it’s used, metaphors that can be associated with it, and so on. Let the ideas flow naturally, and don’t over think it — this is meant to be a creative exercise.

Once you’ve listed out a bunch of words, group them together according to how they’re related to one another. The goal? To come up with those less obvious words or phrases your audience might associate with whatever project you’re working on.

Source: CoSchedule

You can record the word storm on a piece of paper or a whiteboard or by using this online word storm tool to create a visual map — which you can save, export, and send to the team after the meeting.

Mind mapping is another powerful brainstorming tool to visualize related terms and ideas. Create a diagram starting with a central idea, and then branch out into major sub-topics, then sub-sub-topics. You can create mind maps either on paper or a whiteboard, or by using something like MindNode app.

Finally, another word game you could try is coming up with what Creative Bloq calls “essence words”: Words that capture the spirit, personality, and message you’re trying to put across — even if they seem crazy. You might find that it helps spark other ideas down the line.

4) Create a mood board.

Combining imagery, color, and visual-spatial arrangements can help surface emotions and feelings that will spark fresh, new ideas. It’s also been proven to significantly improve information recall in comparison to more conventional methods of learning.

While there are many ways to use visual prompts in brainstorming, creating a mood board is one of the most common — especially in coming up with new branding and design concepts.

A mood board is simply a random collection of images, words, and textures focused on one topic, theme, or idea. Like with mind mapping, the visual components of the mood board can be anything branching off that central topic.

Source: Behance

Mood boards can either be physical boards (e.g., a poster or cork board) or virtual (e.g., a Pinterest board). You can also use a tool such as the MoodBoard app to help you collect, organize, and share all the visual components needed for your board.

5) Play improv games.

Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like a little improvisation. This may sound silly, but hear me out: The more relaxed and playful the environment is (without being distracting), the more your team will feel comfortable thinking and sharing freely with one another.

Corey Blake, the CEO of RoundTable Companies, told The Huffington Post about a time he and his executive team opened a brainstorming session with a series of improv games. “That experience opened our minds and readied the team for play before diving into more traditional brainstorming,” Blake said. “The result was a deeper dive into our exploration and more laughter and fun, which increased our aptitude for creativity.”

If your team can relax briefly and laugh together, your creative energy will be much higher when you refocus on the project at hand.

6) Doodle.

Did you know that doodling can help spur creative insight, increase attention span, and free up short- and long-term memory?

Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution, wrote that, “When the mind starts to engage with visual language, you get the neurological access that you don’t have when you’re in linguistic mode.”

While many brainstorming sessions are based on talking and reading, doodling helps people break out of the traditional mindset and think about familiar things in a different way, perhaps leading to unexpected connections.

What should you doodle? Here are two ideas from Brown’s book:

  • Take an object and visually break it down into its tiniest parts. So if you start with the word “dog,” you might draw paws, a tail, and a collar. Thinking about all the elements of that object and the environment it is found in will allow you to view an object in a new way.
  • “Take two unrelated things, like elephants and ice cream, and draw them in their atomized parts,” writes Jennifer Miller for Fast Company. “Then create drawings that randomly fuse these parts together. Like trunk-cones or melting ears. Brown has used this technique to help journalists think up unique story angles.”

Source: FastCompany

7) Change your physical environment.

Switching up your physical environment isn’t just a fun change of pace; it can actually affect the way your brain works. Neurobiologists believe enriched environments could speed up the rate at which the human brain creates new neurons and neural connections. That means where you conduct your brainstorming sessions could have an affect on the ideas your team comes up with.

Try holding brainstorming sessions in rooms that aren’t associated with regular team meetings. If you can’t change the room itself, try changing something about the room to stimulate the brain, such as rearranging the chairs or putting pictures on the walls. Another idea is to have your team stand up and walk around while brainstorming, to encourage fluid creativity.

8) Don’t invite too many people.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a rule when it comes to meetings that applies to brainstorms too: Don’t invite more people than could be fed by two pizzas.

Now, we’ve all probably crushed a pizza on our own before, but generally speaking, two pizzas could comfortably feed between six and 10 people — but more than that, and people will be hungry — not to mention, unproductive.

Keep brainstorms smaller so everyone has a chance to surface ideas — and so the conversation doesn’t become cacophonous with interruptions and diverging tangents. A group of 10 people or fewer will still be able to feed and build off each others’ ideas — without drowning anyone out or getting too off-track.

Sep

5

2017

12 of the Best College Logo Designs (And Why They’re So Great)

What makes a college logo great?

Think about your alma mater for a second. Do you have a school bumper sticker with the logo emblazoned on it? A hat? A sweatshirt? A flag? Or perhaps all of the above?

If you still bleed your school colors and rock your school swag whenever possible, then chances are, your university did a pretty good job designing its logo. According to the principles of great logo design, the best logos are simple, memorable, timeless, versatile, and appropriate.Click here to download our ultimate toolkit for social and PR branding.

Want to see some examples of awesome college logo designs? You’re in the right place. I chatted with my colleague, Tyler Littwin, art director here at HubSpot, to choose 12 of the best college logo designs from American universities. Check them out and learn what about their design makes them stand out — in a good way.

12 of the Best College Logo Designs

1) University of Texas

university-of-texas-logo.png

Source: University of Texas

University of Texas’s longhorn silhouette is the hallmark of classic and timeless logo design. The logo hasn’t changed since its introduction in 1961, and it remains one of the most iconic college sports logos in the world.

“Any logo that works as a single color design is fantastic,” says Littwin. “It’s simple, iconic, and has a great tie-in to the ‘hook ’em horns’ hand symbol.”

hook-em-horns-hand-sign.jpg

Source: Awful Announcing

2) University of North Carolina

unc-monogram-logo.png

Source: Carolina Athletics

The interlocking NC, one of the University of North Carolina’s athletics logos, features another timeless design — this time with attention-grabbing colors. Walk into a packed crowd at the Dean Dome, and you’ll see a sea of Carolina Blue, the official school color of UNC that dates back to the late eighteenth century.

Tyler gives UNC’s logo two thumbs up. “Classic,” he says. “A+ from me. Beyond the logotype, the color is a great bit of branding.”

3) Ohio University

ohio-university-attack-cat-logo.png

Source: Ohio University

The “Attack Cat,” which represents Ohio University’s bobcat mascot, replaced a simple green paw print in 2002 as the school’s official athletics logo. While many OU alumni were disappointed with the change — citing it as too intense — Littwin likes the new design.

As an objective observer, he says, “It’s a good integration of an illustration with type. The whiskers create a nice baseline for the arced text. There’s also an overall nice balance: The bobcat is recognizable and ‘Ohio’ is still 100% legible.”

4) University of Oregon

oregon-university-logo.png

Source: GoAbroad Blog

University of Oregon’s “O” logo has hidden meaning: The inside of the “O” represents the shape of the school’s track, Hayward Field, while the outside of the “O” represents the shape of Autzen Stadium, the school’s football field.

“As iconic and simple of a logo as you could ask for,” says Littwin. “I am also a huge fan of the yellow and green color scheme. It reminds me of the Oakland A’s, the Norwich Canaries, and so on.”

5) University of Notre Dame

notre-dame-logo.png

Source: Wikimedia

The Notre Dame monogram is the university’s most recognizable logo, and it’s used for athletics and academics alike. The school’s official brand standards call it “recognizable,” “representative,” “welcoming,” and “approachable.”

As for what Littwin thinks? “I’m a sucker for really basic logotypes like this one, UNC’s, and Iowa State’s. They’re wonderfully old-school and no-nonsense. Always going to get my vote.”

Even Notre Dame’s trademarked “Fighting Irish” logo is impressively well-designed for such a unique mascot. “I prefer the stylized ‘ND’ logo, but there’s something really vintage and cool about this surly Irishman,” says Littwin. “Normally the more cartoony logos lose me, but this one is a keeper.”

notre-dame-fighting-irish.png

Source: fathead

6) University of Miami

university-of-miami-logo.png

Source: Wikimedia

A reporter from the University of Miami’s official student newspaper said it best: “There are thousands of universities across the nation, but only one gets to be The U.”

The Miami athletics’ iconic split-U logo wasn’t created until 1973, several years after the student-athlete scholarship fund first commissioned a logo redesign. It was designed by publicist Julian Cole, the first graduate of UM’s radio and television department, and graphic artist Bill Bodenhamer, who both were also responsible for designing the Miami Dolphins’ current logo.

“If you think about it, it was quite a stretch,” said Lisa Cole, one of Cole’s daughters. “They took the U and said, ‘This is the university.'”

But it worked, and a hype surrounding the “U” developed over the following few years. It was used for slogans like, “U gotta believe.” Littwin calls it “minimalist and recognizable to a brilliant degree.”

Even an effort to find a logo replacement in 1979 by Henry King Stanford — the university’s president at the time — failed, thanks to heavy student campaigning against the change. Nowadays, as with the University of Texas’ longhorn symbol, the “U” has its own hand symbol. “Throwing up the U” means holding your hands in the air like this:

throwing-up-the-u.jpg

Source: PalmBeachPost.com

7) Clemson University

clemson-university-logo.jpg

Source: UNC Charlotte

Clemson’s tiger paw logo is another one of the most widely recognized collegiate logos in the United States. Although it seems timeless, it actually wasn’t introduced until 1970 — the end of a rebranding campaign that began when the school first admitted women and minorities in 1950.

The logo itself represents a tiger’s paw print, rough edges and all. An actual tiger was chosen as the subject for the logo, and the print comes from a cast that was made for the design. In fact, do you see the slight indentation at the bottom of the paw print? According to Clemson’s official website, that comes from “a scar that the tiger who had been chosen as the subject for the logo had received before the cast was made.”

The genuine paw print makes for a cool design. “The rough paw print is great and somehow works when paired with the more formal-looking type lockup,” says Littwin.

Another subtle intricacy of the logo? The 30-degree angle represents the 1:00 p.m. kickoff typical for football games at the time.

8) Bowdoin College

bowdoin-college-logo.jpg

Source: Bowdoin College

While Bowdoin’s mascot has been the Polar Bear for over 100 years, this particular version of its logo is fairly recent: It was made official by the university in 2008. A student reporter for the school’s official student newspaper explains: “The new logo is intended to serve as a consistent and timeless graphic identity for the College.”

Previously, the polar bear logo had been unofficial — and it had been represented by everything from a “cartoonish” running polar bear on student keycards, to a “more aggressive” profile of a bear with its mouth open as if it were snarling.

“Noting that in the wild, polar bears have no predators other than man, and that a ferocious, growling mascot was not the image the college was looking to project,” wrote the student reporter, “[VP for Communications and Public Affairs Scott] Hood said that there’s ‘something appealing about having a mascot that is looking directly at you.'”

Littwin agrees — that’s what makes this logo so strong. “The polar bear seems remarkably calm and composed,” he says. “I trust him.”

9) Hofstra University

hofstra-university-logo.jpg

Source: CAA Sports

The Hofstra Pride logo was “developed to build a strong visual identity” for its athletic department, according to its official usage guide. It’s represented by a pair of lions, male and female, that appear to be charging in the same direction. Furrowed brows and windswept manes give them a sense of determination and strength.

“The Pride conveys both the teamwork and togetherness that are traits of lions living in a pride, that have a close bond and work together for the good of the entire group,” reads the guide. It was created for the university’s athletic department in 2005.

“A very clever and awesome design,” notes Littwin. “It’s rare to see a university get both sexes of a mascot into the same logo. Well done, Hofstra.”

10) Missouri Western State University

missouri-western-state-logo.jpg

Source: American Association of Colleges of Nursing

Missouri Western State University started using the Griffon logo in 1973, several years before the school became a fully funded four-year state college. Why a Griffon? Because “it was considered a guardian of riches, and education was viewed as a precious treasure,” reads the school’s official website.

The logo symbolizes more than just a mythical animal, though. Notice anything special about its shape? If you look closely, the outline of the Griffon resembles the shape of the state of Missouri. Check it out:

state-of-missouri-outline.jpg

Source: ArtFire

Littwin loves the hidden message. “It’s a clever design that also works even if you don’t pick up on the geographic reference,” he says.

11) Florida International University

florida-international-university-logo.jpg

Source: Florida International University

The Panthers (originally the “Golden Panthers”) replaced the Sunblazers as Florida International University’s nickname in 1987 when Roary the Panther became its official mascot.

The logo represents a cool perspective — it seems to be coming out of the logo directly at the reader.

Littwin agrees. “I love the head-on perspective of this,” he says. “There’s something atypical and nicely menacing about it.”

12) University of Hawai’i

university-of-hawaii-logo.jpg

Source: Miracle Mamaki

The University of Hawai’i “H” logo was created for the athletic department in 2000. While the “H” clearly stands for Hawai’i, the school’s official website says it also represents the Hawaiian expression “ha,” meaning “breath” in Hawaiian. “The spirit of life passed on to us from one person to another, generation to generation, with lessons and success,” the website reads.

The cool patterns you see on either side of the “H” were inspired by Hawaiian kapa designs, which derive from native Hawaiian art. “I really like the kapa aesthetic and the simplicity of a one letter logo,” says Littwin.

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Aug

17

2017

9 Testimonial Page Examples You’ll Want to Copy in 2017

When potential customers are researching you online, they’re getting to know you by way of the content of your website. Understandably, many of them might be skeptical or hesitant to trust you right away.

To prove the value of what you have to offer, why not let your happy customers do the talking?

Your testimonial page serves as a platform to show off how others have benefited from your product or service, making it a powerful tool for establishing trust and encouraging potential buyers to take action. Plus, having a testimonial page serves as yet another indexed page on your website containing content covering product features, pain points, and keywords you’re trying to rank for.

Read on for a closer look at what makes a great testimonial.

What Is a Testimonial?

First, let’s have a little vocabulary lesson. Google’s dictionary definition of testimonial is “a formal statement testifying to someone’s character and qualifications.” In the realm of marketing, that usually comes from clients, colleagues, or peers who have benefitted from or experienced success as a result of the work you did for them.

But effective testimonials go beyond a simple quote that proclaims your greatness. They need to resonate with your targeted audience, and the people who could also potentially benefit from the work you do in the future. That’s why great testimonials also tell a story — one that inspires and motivates the people reading it.

What does that look like in practice? Check out the examples below to find your own inspiration, to help you start building a great testimonial page today.

9 Examples of Awesome Testimonial Pages

1) Codecademy

Codecademy has nailed down the testimonials section of their website, which they call “Codecademy Stories.” They’ve even included a few customer quotes (along with pictures, names, and locations) right on their homepage above a link to the testimonial page.

We love the approachable format and the fact that they chose to feature customers that users can really relate to. When you click into any story, you can read the whole case study in a Q&A format. 

2) BlueBeam

Many companies struggle to grab people’s attention using their testimonial pages, but BlueBeam does a great job of catching your eye as soon as you arrive on the page. While it’s technically called a Case Studies page, the first thing you see is a set of project examples in the form of large, bold images that rotate on a carousel. Scroll down and you can also click on video case studies, as well as view customer panels.

3) ChowNow

ChowNow does a lot right on its testimonial page, but the bread and butter is its collection of production-quality “client stories” videos. There’s a handful of these awesome, 2–3-minute videos that cover everything from the clients’ life before and after ChowNow, to how easy the platform is to use. The videos feature some great footage of the clients, their offices, and their food.

4) Decadent Cakes

There are times when you’re leaving an online review and, for whatever reason, just don’t want to include photos with it — like when it’s for something kind of personal, like your son’s birthday party.

Decadent Cakes knew that and wanted to respect its customers’ privacy, while also highlighting their positive feedback. To solve for that, the bakery showcases its customer testimonials on a whimsically designed webpage along with names, locations, and sometimes pictures of the cakes made for those people. We love that that customers are referred to as “friends,” too.

decadent-cakes-testimonials-page.png

5) mHelpDesk

Visit mHelpDesk’s testimonial page, and the first thing you’ll see is powerful header text set over a large, faded graphic showing where in the world its customers are located — a great way to show it’s a global brand. Below the header text and call-to-action for a trial, they offer videos and text testimonials equipped with pictures.

The testimonial videos aren’t production quality, but they get the message across and cover useful and relevant information — which goes to show you don’t need to invest thousands in production to get some testimonial videos up. Finally, in the theme of earning trust, we love that mHelpDesk closes out its testimonial page with awards and badges of recognition.

6) Clear Slide

One of the first things we noticed about Clear Slide’s testimonial page is how creatively it’s named — “What They’re Saying.” It includes a smattering of quotes from customers, topped with client logos from big names like The Economist and Starwood. If you have users that are celebrities or influencers within their community, be sure to include and even highlight their testimonials on your page.

7) FreeAgent

The folks at FreeAgent did a great job formatting its testimonial page with emphasized text quotations along with pictures, names, and companies to add credibility. But what we really love about it is the “Twitter love” banner on the right-hand side of the page.

Social media is a great source of real-time proof of customer satisfaction — after all, that’s why it’s called “social proof” — and many customers turn to places like Twitter and Facebook to informally review businesses they buy from. Be sure to monitor your social media presence regularly to find tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and so on that positively reflect your brand, and see where you can embed them on your website.

8) Focus Lab

Focus Lab took a unique and very cool-looking design approach to its testimonial page — which is fitting, seeing as its trade is in creating visual branding systems. Again, it’s technically a visual catalog of both previous projects and works-in-progress, but instead of just listing out client quotes, the page opts for a card-like design with interactive, rectangular elements you can click on to see the full case study — with quotes occasionally appearing in-between.

What’s even cooler is what’s included in each individual case study. Not only does FocusLab cover the challenges faced by clients and how FocusLab helped solve them, but the case studies also include some of the steps in the design process between conception and final product. In some instances, they included the evolution of the logo during the design process.

Finally, we love the aforementioned view of works in progress section below the case studies. These cards aren’t clickable, but they give viewers a glimpse into the firm’s current projects.

9) 99designs

99designs takes a bit of an unconventional approach to its testimonial page. Using a star-rating system not usually seen in the B2B sector (read: Yelp and TripAdvisor), the page is headlined with an eye-catching video, with customer reviews below it. Plus, it gives users the ability to sort through customer reviews by category so they can read the ones most relevant to them.

Spread the Love

Once you’ve created a testimonial page, don’t forget to promote it. Send it to the customer(s) you featured, your sales staff, and even to your other customers if you think they’d be interested. And don’t forget to add a link to your testimonial page on your homepage, in your “About Us” page, or as part of your overall navigation.

Aug

16

2017

22 Companies With Really Catchy Slogans & Brand Taglines

Keep it simple, stupid.

We don’t mean to offend you — this is just an example of a great slogan that also bears the truth of the power of succinctness in advertising.

It’s incredibly difficult to be succinct, and it’s especially difficult to express a complex emotional concept in just a couple of words — which is exactly what a slogan does.

That’s why we have a lot of respect for the brands that have done it right. The ones that have figured out how to convey their value proposition to their buyer persona in just one, short sentence — and a quippy one, at that.

So if you’re looking to get a little slogan inspiration of your own, take a look at some of our favorite company slogans from both past and present. But before we get into specific examples, let’s quickly go over what a slogan is and what makes one stand out.

What Is a Slogan?

In business, a slogan or tagline is “a catchphrase or small group of words that are combined in a special way to identify a product or company,” according to Entrepreneur.com’s small business encyclopedia.

In many ways, they’re like mini-mission statements.

Companies have slogans for the same reason they have logos: advertising. While logos are visual representations of a brand, slogans are audible representations of a brand. Both formats grab consumers’ attention more readily than the name a company or product might. Plus, they’re simpler to understand and remember.

The goal? To leave a key brand message in consumers’ minds so that, if they remember nothing else from an advertisement, they’ll remember the slogan.

What Makes a Great Slogan?

According to HowStuffWorks, a great slogan has most or all of the following characteristics:

It’s memorable.

Is the slogan quickly recognizable? Will people only have to spend a second or two thinking about it? A brief, catchy few words can go a long way in advertisements, videos, posters, business cards, swag, and other places. 

It includes a key benefit.

Ever heard the marketing advice, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak”? It means sell the benefits, not the features — which applies perfectly to slogans. A great slogan makes a company or product’s benefits clear to the audience.

It differentiates the brand.

Does your light beer have the fullest flavor? Or maybe the fewest calories? What is it about your product or brand that sets it apart from competitors? (Check out our essential branding guide here.)

It imparts positive feelings about the brand.

The best taglines use words that are positive and upbeat. For example, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups’ slogan, “Two great tastes that taste great together,” gives the audience good feelings about Reese’s, whereas a slogan like Lea & Perrins’, “Steak sauce only a cow could hate,” uses negative words. The former leaves a better impression on the audience.

Now that we’ve covered what a slogan is and what makes one great, here are examples of some of the best brand slogans of all time. (Note: We’ve updated this post with several ideas folks previously shared with us in the comments.)

22 Companies With Really Catchy Slogans & Taglines

1) Nike: “Just Do It”

It didn’t take long for Nike’s message to resonate. The brand became more than just athletic apparel — it began to embody a state of mind. It encourages you to think that you don’t have to be an athlete to be in shape or tackle an obstacle. If you want to do it, just do it. That’s all it takes.

But it’s unlikely Kennedy + Weiden, the agency behind this tagline, knew from the start that Nike would brand itself in this way. In fact, Nike’s product used to cater almost exclusively to marathon runners, which are among the most hardcore athletes out there. The “Just Do It” campaign widened the funnel, and it’s proof positive that some brands need to take their time coming up with a slogan that reflects their message and resonates with their target audience

nike-just-do-it-2.jpg

Source: brandchannel

2) Apple: “Think Different”

This slogan was first released in the Apple commercial called “Here’s to the Crazy Ones, Think Different” — a tribute to all the time-honored visionaries who challenged the status quo and changed the world. The phrase itself is a bold nod to IBM’s campaign “Think IBM,” which was used at the time to advertise its ThinkPad.

Soon after, the slogan “Think Different” accompanied Apple advertisements all over the place, even though Apple hadn’t released any significant new products at the time. All of a sudden, people began to realize that Apple wasn’t just any old computer; it was so powerful and so simple to use that it made the average computer user feel innovative and tech-savvy.

According to Forbes, Apple’s stock price tripled within a year of the commercial’s release. Although the slogan has been since retired, many Apple users still feel a sense of entitlement for being among those who “think different.”

apple-slogan.jpg

Source: Blue Fin Group

3) Dollar Shave Club: “Shave Time. Shave Money.”

The folks at Dollar Shave Club have made their way onto quite a few of our lists here on the blog, and it’s safe to say that when it comes to marketing and advertising, this brand’s team knows what it’s doing. And its slogan — “Shave Time. Shave Money.” — is an excellent reflection of their expertise.

This little quip cleverly incorporates two of the service’s benefits: cost and convenience. It’s punny, to the point, and it perfectly represents the overall tone of the brand.

Dollar-Shave-Club-Slogan.jpg

Source: TheStephenHarvey.com

4) L’Oréal: “Because You’re Worth It”

Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re worth it? The folks at L’Oréal worked with the theory that women wear makeup in order to make themselves appear “beautiful” so they feel desirable, wanted, and worth it. The tagline isn’t about the product — it’s about the image the product can get you. This message allowed L’Oréal to push its brand further than just utility so as to give the entire concept of makeup a much more powerful message.

loreal-slogan.jpg

Source: Farah Khan

5) California Milk Processor Board: “Got Milk?”

While most people are familiar with the “Got Milk?” campaign, not everyone remembers that it was launched by the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB). What’s interesting about this campaign is that it was initially launched to combat the rapid increase in fast food and soft beverages: The CMPB wanted people to revert to milk as their drink of choice in order to sustain a healthier life. The campaign was meant to bring some life to a “boring” product, ad executives told TIME Magazine.

The simple words “Got Milk?” scribbled above celebrities, animals, and children with milk mustaches, which ran from 2003 until 2014 — making this campaign one of the longest-lasting ever. The CMPB wasn’t determined to make its brand known with this one — it was determined to infiltrate the idea of drinking milk across the nation. And these two simple words sure as heck did.

got-milk-slogan.jpg

Source: Broward Palm Beach News Times

6) MasterCard: “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.”

MasterCard’s two-sentence slogan was created in 1997 as a part of an award-winning advertising campaign that ran in 98 countries and in 46 languages. The very first iteration of the campaign was a TV commercial that aired in 1997: “A dad takes his son to a baseball game and pays for a hot dog and a drink, but the conversation between the two is priceless,” writes Avi Dan for Forbes. “In a sense, ‘Priceless’ became a viral, social campaign years before there was a social media.”

One key to this campaign’s success? Each commercial elicits an emotional response from the audience. That first TV commercial might remind you of sports games you went to with your dad, for example. Each advertisement attempted to trigger a different memory or feeling. “You have to create a cultural phenomenon and then constantly nurture it to keep it fresh,” MasterCard CMO Raja Rajamannar told Dan. And nostalgia marketing like that can be a powerful tool.

7) BMW: “Designed for Driving Pleasure”

BMW sells cars all over the world, but in North America, it was known for a long time by its slogan: “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” This slogan was created in the 1970s by a relatively unknown ad agency named Ammirati & Puris and was, according to BMW’s blog, directed at Baby Boomers who were “out of college, making money and ready to spend their hard earned dollars. What better way to reflect your success than on a premium automobile?”

The newer slogan, “Designed for Driving Pleasure,” is intended to reinforce the message that its cars’ biggest selling point is that they are performance vehicles that are thrilling to drive. That message is an emotional one, and one that consumers can buy into to pay the high price point.

bmw-designed-for-driving-pleasure-2.jpg

Source: Brandingmag

8) Tesco: “Every Little Helps”

“Every little helps” is the kind of catchy tagline that can make sense in many different contexts — and it’s flexible enough to fit in with any one of Tesco’s messages. It can refer to value, quality, service, and even environmental responsibility — which the company practices by addressing the impacts of their operations and supply chain.

It’s also, as Naresh Ramchandani wrote for The Guardian, “perhaps the most ingeniously modest slogan ever written.” Tesco markets itself as a brand for the people, and a flexible, modest far-reaching slogan like this one reflects that beautifully.

tesco-slogan.jpg

Source: The Drum

9) M&M: “Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands”

Here’s one brand that didn’t need much time before realizing its core value proposition. At the end of the day, chocolate is chocolate. How can one piece of chocolate truly stand out from another? By bringing in the convenience factor, of course. This particular example highlights the importance of finding something that makes your brand different from the others — in this case, the hard shell that keeps chocolate from melting all over you.

10) Bounty: “The Quicker Picker Upper”

Bounty paper towels, made by Procter & Gamble, has used its catchy slogan “The Quicker Picker Upper” for almost 50 years now. If it sounds like one of those sing-songy play on words you learned as a kid, that’s because it is one: The slogan uses what’s called consonance — a poetic device characterized by the repetition of the same consonant two or more times in short succession (think: “pitter patter”).

Over the years, Bounty has moved away from this slogan in full, replacing “Quicker” with other adjectives, depending on the brand’s current marketing campaign — like “The Quilted Picker Upper” and “The Clean Picker Upper.” At the same time, the brand’s main web address went from quickerpickerupper.com to bountytowels.com. But although the brand is branching out into other campaigns, they’ve kept the theme of their original, catchy slogan.

Bounty_Paper_Towels_Slogan.png

Source: Bounty

11) De Beers: “A Diamond is Forever”

Diamonds aren’t worth much inherently. In fact, a diamond is worth at least 50% less than you paid for it the moment you left the jewelry store. So how did they become the symbol of wealth, power, and romance they are in America today? It was all because of a brilliant, multifaceted marketing strategy designed and executed by ad agency N.W. Ayer in the early 1900s for their client, De Beers.

The four, iconic words “A Diamond is Forever” have appeared in every single De Beers advertisement since 1948, and AdAge named it the best slogan of the century in 1999. It perfectly captures the sentiment De Beers was going for: that a diamond, like your relationship, is eternal. It also helped discourage people from ever reselling their diamonds. (Mass re-selling would disrupt the market and reveal the alarmingly low intrinsic value of the stones themselves.) Brilliant.

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Source: Sydney Merritt

12) Lay’s: “Betcha Can’t Eat Just One”

Seriously, who here has ever had just one chip? While this tagline might stand true for other snack companies, Lay’s was clever to pick up on it straight away. The company tapped into our truly human incapability to ignore crispy, salty goodness when it’s staring us in the face. Carbs, what a tangled web you weave.

But seriously, notice how the emphasis isn’t on the taste of the product. There are plenty of other delicious chips out there. But what Lay’s was able to bring forth with its tagline is that totally human, uncontrollable nature of snacking until the cows come home.

lays-slogan.jpg

Source: Amazon

13) Audi: “Vorsprung durch technik” (“Advancement Through Technology”)

“Vorsprung durch technik” has been Audi’s main slogan everywhere in the world since 1971 (except for the United States, where the slogan is “Truth in Engineering”). While the phrase has been translated in several ways, the online dictionary LEO translates “Vorsprung” as “advance” or “lead” as in “distance, amount by which someone is ahead in a competition.” Audi roughly translates it as: “Advancement through technology.”

The first-generation Audio 80 (B1 series) was launched a year after the slogan in 1972, and the new car was a brilliant reflection of that slogan with many impressive new technical features. It was throughout the 1970s that the Audi brand established itself as an innovative car manufacturer, such as with the five-cylinder engine (1976), turbocharging (1979), and the quattro four-wheel drive (1980). This is still reflective of the Audi brand today.

audi-slogan.jpg

Source: Cars and Coffee Chat

14) Dunkin’ Donuts: “America Runs on Dunkin”

In April 2006, Dunkin’ Donuts launched the most significant repositioning effort in the company’s history by unveiling a brand new, multi-million dollar advertising campaign under the slogan “America Runs on Dunkin.” The campaign revolves around Dunkin’ Donuts coffee keeping busy Americans fueled while they are on the go.

“The new campaign is a fun and often quirky celebration of life, showing Americans embracing their work, their play and everything in between — accompanied every step of the way by Dunkin’ Donuts,” read the official press release from the campaign’s official launch.

Ten years later, what the folks at Dunkin Donuts’ realized they were missing was their celebration of and honoring their actual customers. That’s why, in 2016, they launched the “Keep On” campaign, which they call their modern interpretation of the ten-year slogan.

“It’s the idea that we’re your partner in crime, or we’re like your wingman, your buddy in your daily struggle and we give you the positive energy through both food and beverage but also emotionally, we believe in you and we believe in the consumer,” said Chris D’Amico, SVP and Group Creative Director at Hill Holiday.

dunkin-donuts-slogan.gif

Source: Lane Printing & Advertising

(Fun fact: Dunkin’ Donuts is testing out rebranding — and renaming itself. One store in Pasadena, California will be called, simply, Dunkin’.)

15) Meow Mix: “Tastes So Good, Cats Ask for It by Name”

Meow meow meow meow … who remembers this catchy tune sung by cats, for cats, in Meow Mix’s television commercials? The brand released a simple but telling tagline: “Tastes So Good, Cats Ask For It By Name.”

This slogan plays off the fact that every time a cat meows, s/he is actually asking for Meow Mix. It was not only clever, but it also successfully planted Meow Mix as a standout brand in a cluttered market.

meow-mix-slogan.jpg

Source: Walgreens

16) McDonald’s: “I’m Lovin’ It”

The “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign was launched way back in 2003 and still stands strong today. This is a great example of a slogan that resonates with the brand’s target audience. McDonald’s food might not be your healthiest choice, but being healthy isn’t the benefit McDonald’s is promising — it’s that you’ll love the taste and the convenience.

(Fun fact: The jingle’s infamous hook — “ba da ba ba ba” — was originally sung by Justin Timberlake.)

mcdonalds-slogan.gif

Source: McDonald’s

17) The New York Times: “All the News That’s Fit to Print”

This one is my personal favorite. The tagline was created in the late 1890s as a movement of opposition against other news publications printing lurid journalism. The New York Times didn’t stand for sensationalism. Instead, it focused on important facts and stories that would educate its audience. It literally deemed its content all the real “news fit to print.”

This helped the paper become more than just a news outlet, but a company that paved the way for credible news. The company didn’t force a tagline upon people when it first was founded, but rather, it created one in a time where it was needed most.

new-york-times-slogan.jpg

Source: 4th St8 Blog

18) General Electric: “Imagination at Work”

You may remember General Electric’s former slogan, “We Bring Good Things to Life,” which was initiated in 1979. Although this tagline was well-known and well-received, the new slogan — “Imagination at Work” — shows how a company’s internal culture can revolutionize how they see their own brand.

“‘Imagination at Work’ began as an internal theme at GE,” recalled Tim McCleary, GE’s manager of corporate identity. When Jeff Immelt became CEO of GE in 2001, he announced that his goal was to reconnect with GE’s roots as a company defined by innovation.

This culture and theme resulted in a rebranding with the new tagline “Imagination at Work,” which embodies the idea that imagination inspires the human initiative to thrive at what we do.

19) Verizon: “Can You Hear Me Now? Good.”

Here’s another brand that took its time coming up with something that truly resonated with its audience. This tagline was created in 2002 under the umbrella of, “We never stop working for you.”

While Verizon was founded in 1983, it continued to battle against various phone companies like AT&T and T-Mobile, still two of its strongest competitors. But what makes Verizon stand out? No matter where you are, you have service. You may not have the greatest texting options, or the best cellphone options, but you will always have service.

(Fun fact: The actor behind this campaign — Paul Marcarelli — now appears in competing advertisements for Sprint.)

verizon-slogan.jpg

Source: MS Lumia Blog

20) State Farm: “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There”

The insurance company State Farm has a number of slogans, including “Get to a better State” and “No one serves you better than State Farm.” But its most famous one is the jingle “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there,” which you’re likely familiar with if you live in the United States and watch television.

These words emphasize State Farm’s “community-first” value proposition — which sets it apart from the huge, bureaucratic feel of most insurance companies. And it quickly establishes a close relationship with the consumer.

Often, customers need insurance when they least expect it — and in those situations, State Farm is responding in friendly, neighborly language.

StateFarm_Logo.png

Source: StateFarm

21) Maybelline: “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.”

Can you sing this jingle in your head? Maybelline’s former slogan, created in the 1990s, is one of the most famous in the world. It makes you think of glossy magazine pages featuring strong, beautiful women with long lashes staring straight down the lens. It’s that confidence that Maybelline’s makeup brand is all about — specifically, the transformation into a confident woman through makeup.

Maybelline changed its slogan to “Make IT Happen” in February 2016, inspiring women to “express their beauty in their own way.” Despite this change, the former slogan remains powerful and ubiquitous, especially among the many generations that grew up with it.

maybelline-slogan.jpg

Source: FunnyJunk

22) The U.S. Marine Corps: “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.”

The U.S. Marine Corps has had a handful of top-notch recruiting slogans over the decades, from “First to fight” starting in World War I, to “We’re looking for a few good men” from the 1980s. However, we’d argue that “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.” is among the best organization slogans out there.

This slogan “underscores the high caliber of those who join and serve their country as Marines,” said Maj. Gen. Richard T. Tryon, former commanding general of Marine Corps Recruiting Command. In 2007, it even earned a spot on Madison Avenue’s Advertising Walk of Fame.

US_Marine_Corps_Slogan.png

Source: Marines.com

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Aug

7

2017

16 of the Best Job Interview Questions to Ask Candidates (And What to Look for in Their Answers)

How lucky are you and why? How many times heavier than a mouse is an elephant? How many square feet of pizza are consumed in the United States each year?

Hiring managers have heard about using these “creative” questions to identify the best candidates. Fortunately for intelligent and qualified candidates everywhere, studies have found that the brainteaser interview questions made famous by Silicon Valley and Wall Street are just as silly as they sound. (In fact, Google started to phase out brainteasers from its interviews several years ago.)

But when you’re interviewing people to join your team, you have to get creative. After all, there’s only so much questions like “What’s your biggest weakness?” and “Are you a team player?” reveal about who your candidates truly are.

Click here to download our free guide to hiring and training a team of  all-stars.

To help give you some ideas for the next time you’re screening candidates, here are some of the best job interview questions to ask with the answers you should expect.

16 of the Best Interview Questions & Answers to Use in Your Next Job Interview

1) “Tell me about a time you set difficult goals. What did you do to achieve them? Walk me through the process and purpose.”

If you’re looking for a candidate who is goal-oriented and results-driven — as most hiring managers are — then this question will help you gauge whether they’ll be able to handle the audacious goals you have in store for them. A great answer shows they understand what difficult goals are, and they put a lot of effort into attaining their goals while maintaining a high standard of work quality.

2) “Pitch [name of your company] to me as if I were buying your product/service.”

This is a unique and more challenging approach to the generic “What does our company do?” question. It forces candidates to drum up the research they’ve done to prepare for the interview, and also to craft a compelling message on the fly.

This will come more naturally to some candidates than others — for example, someone interviewing for a sales or marketing position might find it easier than someone interviewing for a more internal-facing role — and that’s okay. You aren’t necessarily assessing their delivery. But it’ll be interesting to see how each candidate thinks through and gives their answer.

3) “Tell me about the relationships you’ve had with the people you’ve worked with. How would you describe the best ones? The worst?”

Each team is different, so this question helps you tease out whether the candidate would be happy, productive, and well liked on your team. Their answer will tell you how they interact with others — and which kinds of interactions they want to happen.

Many candidates are hesitant to bad-mouth their coworkers and bosses, so it will also be interesting for you to hear how they navigate a question about their worst working relationships.

4) “What single project or task would you consider your most significant career accomplishment to date?

Lou Adler, author of The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired and Hire With Your Head, spent ten years searching for the single, best interview question that will reveal whether to hire or not hire a candidate — and this was the one. Candidates’ answers will tell you about their prior success and sense of ownership. A great answer will show they are confident in their work and professional choices while being humble and giving credit to others.

5) “What have you done professionally that you succeeded at, but isn’t an experience you’d want to repeat?”

A candidate’s answer to this question will give you an idea of how they viewed work they weren’t very happy with, which is bound to happen to everyone in every job at one point or another. HubSpot’s VP of Global Customer Support Michael Redbord says candidates’ answers generally fall into a few categories:

  1. Something menial (e.g. envelope-stuffing). Pay attention to whether they understand the value of this getting done for the business, or whether they just think they’re too good for a job like that.
  2. Something really hard. Why was it hard? Was it because it was poorly planned, poorly executed, or something else? Where do they put the blame on it being such an unpleasant experience?
  3. Something team-related. Follow up with questions about the team, what their role on the team was, and so on.

Even the category of what they consider an experience they wouldn’t want to repeat is interesting, says Redbord. When you talk about extreme experiences that get people emotional, it can be very revealing.

6) “Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?”

For most companies, the correct answer is “good and on time.” It’s important to let something be finished when it’s good enough. Let’s face it, every blog post, email, book, video, etc. can always be tweaked and improved. At some point, you’ve just got to ship it. Most managers don’t want someone who can’t hit deadlines because they’re paralyzed by perfection.

If your candidate responds with “It depends,” then hear them out — the interview question itself is phrased in such a way that candidates can sense there is a right and wrong answer, and they’ll be looking for signs from you that they’re heading in the right direction. Try to remain neutral as they feel out their response. If their conclusion errs on the side of “good and on time,” then their priorities are probably in the right place.

7) “In five minutes, could you explain something to me that is complicated but you know well?”

This is a much better test of intelligence than a college GPA, and it’s also a great gauge of a candidate’s passion and charisma.

The “something” in this question doesn’t have to be work-related — it can be a hobby, a sports team, something technical … anything, really. Their response will tell you how well your candidate comprehends complex subjects and how well they can articulate a complex subject to someone who doesn’t know much about it. Candidates who are passionate and knowledgeable about something — and can convey that well — are more likely to be charismatic, enthusiastic, and influential at work.

8) “What’s your definition of hard work?”

Some organizations move at very different paces, and this question is an effective way to tell whether your candidate will be able to keep pace with the rest of the team. It also helps you identify someone who is a “hard worker in disguise,” meaning someone who might currently be at a slow-moving organization or in a role that is not well-suited to them, but wants to work somewhere where they can really get their hands dirty.

 

9) “If I were to poll everyone you’ve worked with, what percent would not be a fan of yours? Then, if I were to interview these people, what words would they most frequently use to describe you?”

At work, you can’t please everyone all the time. The answer to this question will help you find out if your candidate has enough drive and conviction to have alienated a small percentage of their colleagues, but not so many that they are a polarizing figure.

The word-cloud follow-up is more important than the percentage they give in the initial question. In their answers, you should be encouraged by words like “passionate” and concerned by words like “stubborn.”

10) “Tell me about a time you screwed up.”

An oldie but goodie. This is a tried-and-true test for self-awareness. (Honestly, well-prepared candidates should see it coming and have an answer ready.) Someone who takes ownership of their mess-up and learns something from it is usually humble and mindful. Candidates who blame others or give a “fake” screw-up (something like “I worked too hard and burned out.”) are red flags.

11) “Who is the smartest person you know personally? Why?”

These questions test what the candidate values and aspires to by forcing them to think of a real person they know, and then articulate what makes that person smart. Ideal answers vary, but could include specific examples of the person they’ve chosen’s ability to think ahead several steps and execute. They could also touch on the person’s decision-making skills, ability to connect, desire for learning, or application of the things they learned.

12) “What is something you’d be happy doing every single day for the rest of your career?”

While it’s important to hire for skill, it’s also important to hire someone who’s likely to be happy in the job you’re hiring for. A question like this will help uncover what makes each candidate happy at work — which is a great way to gauge whether they’d enjoy their role and stay at the company for a long time.

13) “If you had $40,000 to build your own business, what would you do?”

This question is a favorite of HubSpot Marketing Team Development Manager Emily MacIntyre‘s. First, the type of business they choose to talk about can reveal a lot about their interests, values, and how creative they are.

Second, it’ll give you insight into how business-savvy they are. By giving them a specific amount to work with (in this case, $40,000), they have the opportunity to parse out how they’d spend that money.

The best answers will get specific: They’ll offer an overview of the business, and get into the logistics of where that money would go, whom they’d hire first, and so on.

14) “What’s the biggest decision you’ve had to make in the past year? Why was it so big?”

Here’s a great way to figure out how a candidate approaches decision-making. Were they quick to make that big decision, or did it take them a long time? Did they spend most of their time reflecting on it by themselves or fleshing it out with others? How did they make a plan? Their answer could be work-related or personal — and if they ask you to specify, tell them either.

15) “What’s surprised you about the interview process so far?”

This is a question no candidate can really prepare for, and it’ll give you some indication of how candidates are feeling about the whole thing. Plus, you can see how they think on their feet. You’re looking for specifics here — something about the office space; the personality of the team; an assignment they were given to complete.

16) “Do you have any questions for me?”

This is another classic interview question, and like the one above, you’re seeing how candidates think on their feet. The answer to this question also reveals what’s important to the candidate.

Are they wondering about company culture, or compensation? Are they curious about growth potential, or learning opportunities? There are no right or wrong answers, but personality and communication style are important factors when considering hiring someone to join your team, and you can get a sense of these factors with their answer.

If you happen to be on the other side of the interview table, you can make your resume even more appealing to potential employers by becoming a certified inbound marketing professional with HubSpot’s free marketing certification. Get started here.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Dec

1

2016

15 Cheerful Examples of Holiday Homepage Designs

Cheerful Example of Holiday Homepage Designs.png

A lot of eyes are going to be on your website in the upcoming weeks. A National Retail Foundation survey found that more than 56% of holiday shoppers will purchase gifts online. What’s more, almost 80% of shoppers are heading to the internet to research gifts, even if they end up actually purchasing the item in-store.

Those numbers are only going up. The smartest marketers will prepare for this not only by prepping their website for higher-than-normal traffic and optimizing it for mobile devices, but also by giving their website design a dose of holiday cheer. Download more holiday resources to help your business succeed this season from  HubSpot's #HolidayHub

It all starts with the homepage: The first page many people will see when they come to your website. How have other companies redesigned their homepages for the holidays? Let’s take a look.

Note: Businesses change their homepages on a regular basis. The examples below may not be current.

15 Holiday Homepage Designs to Get You in the Spirit

1) Free People

When your business has a loud personality like American bohemian retail company Free People does, making a big first impression on your homepage can be a great thing. Free People’s redesign is all-encompassing, starting with a large, high-definition image of models wearing some of its latest festive holiday apparel.

We especially love the whimsical, fun font it used in the headline, “The Gift Shop 2016.” For certain brands, decorative fonts like these can be a great seasonal touch to the style of your homepage. (Get tips for using fonts in your web design in our free do-it-yourself design guide.)

FreePeople_holiday.png

2) PayPal

Who ever said online money transfer websites can’t have fun at the holidays?

PayPal’s holiday homepage works because it still looks like PayPal — just a little more festive. It’s still easy to navigate but adds seasonal flair with a clever spin on a lyric from “Jingle Bells” as its holiday slogan. The whitespace encourages visitors to focus on the happy models in the image, putting human faces to an industry that’s businesslike and technical.

paypal holiday.png

3) Sephora

Like PayPal, Sephora didn’t make many changes to the overall look and feel of its website. What it did do was feature a holiday edition of its highest-rated products and editors’ picks, specially curated for different gift recipients, price ranges, categories, and so on.

By putting editors’ picks front and center, Sephora is reminding customers how much the company values customers’ success. Plus, we love the sprinklings of gemstones throughout the page — it’s a cute, festive way to separate modules on the page.

Sephora holiday homepage.png

4) Baudville

While seasonal website redesign is often dominated by B2C companies, a few B2B businesses have been known to dress up websites a bit too. Baudville, an employee recognition solution, is one.

While some web designers like to add a ton of new elements to their holiday designs, Baudville shows you don’t have to. Something as simple as adding a holiday gift shop slide to your homepage photo banner can be enough to warmly welcome users to your site during this time of year.

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5) La Colombe

La Colombe’s holiday homepage design features soft, wintry hues and festive lighting. Visitors are greeted with high-definition photography of people enjoying La Colombe coffee products around a shared table. This webpage is another example of a business staying true-to-brand with an added holiday touch.

La Colombe _ Holiday.png

6) L.L. Bean

For a U.S. outdoor retail company like L.L. Bean, the holidays mean winter … which means cold. (For most of us, unfortunately.) It keeps the holidays out of the seasonal redesign completely: The featured photo on the homepage is a model wearing apparel in front of pine trees covered in show, which is in keeping with the brand’s outdoorsy theme.

L.L. Bean shares a list of holiday gift ideas featuring some of its most popular and beloved products. The seasonal homepage slogan — “Gifts That Last Beyond the Present” — reminds visitors of L.L. Bean’s amazing satisfaction guarantee.

If you’re more attracted to a winter-themed seasonal redesign, consider using winter-themed stock photos for your homepage. You might also consider cooling down the color scheme of your whole site for the holiday season. This means using cooler tones like blues, purples, and greens to give it a more “wintry” feel. (You can read more about cool color schemes in this blog post about color theory.)

llbean holiday.png

7) The Container Store

This homepage is a fantastic move for the holidays because it is chock-full of goodies for visitors. Every module on this homepage has something helpful to offer customers — stocking stuffers, gift ideas, luggage for holiday travel, party favors, and DIY projects.

The various CTAs on the homepage are clear and tell visitors everything they need to know about what’s on the rest of the site. The geometric shapes organize all of the content cleanly, so despite the fact that the homepage has several different offers on it, it’s not cluttered.

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8) Xfinity

Between sporting events, holiday movies, and making your family binge-watch your new favorite TV series, with holidays comes lots of screen time. This homepage reminds visitors to be prepared for fun with their families.

The primary CTA isn’t just “Deals to save you money!” or “Deals to get you to buy from our website!” Instead, this homepage advertises its “Ready for the Holidays Sale” alongside images of families having fun spending time together, some with screens.

Thanks to this positioning, the message feels less like a way to make money, and more like an nod to holiday family time that includes a lot of togetherness, and probably some TV in between.

xfinity holiday.png

9) J. Crew

J. Crew’s holiday homepage goes above and beyond expectations for a clothing store. The whitespace on the page is simple and lets the clothing and accessories stand out on the page to prospective shoppers while keeping the website true to brand.

Its homepage advertises “Present-Topia,” a Gift Guide that breaks down J. Crew products by age, gender, and price for ease of shopping. The black callout box advertises a sale it’s running that includes seasonal clothing. J. Crew also published curated looks that visitors can browse or directly shop from to make the shopping experience easier and more visual. This homepage redesign prioritizes the user experience while still keeping the site beautiful and on-brand.

jcrew holiday.png

10) Microsoft

We like Microsoft’s minimalist holiday homepage because it stays true to brand and uses whitespace to showcase the new products it’s promoting this season. The simple red banner draws attention to their holiday shopping CTA and reminds people to think about products their friends and families might want. Then, there’s another CTA reading “Shop Now” that drives home the need to click around and start shopping.

microsoft holiday.png

11) Fitbit

The dark background of Fitbit’s homepage lets the festive gold color scheme and the products shine. The photography styling positions Fitbits as a gift similar to jewelry in beautiful boxes, rather than a piece of sporting equipment, to make Fitbit products appeal to a wider variety of shoppers and not just athletes.

fitbit holiday final.png

The primary CTA is to “Shop The Gift Guide,” which leads visitors through all of the products with descriptions that suggest who they might purchase it for, making it easy for shoppers to imagine their family and friends using the product.

Additionally, the site has a neat feature where visitors can hint to someone that they themselves want to get a Fitbit as a gift.

fitbit gift guide.png

12) John Lewis

British retailer John Lewis didn’t give its homepage a holiday makeover, but by tailoring each module to the season, it makes it hard for site visitors to navigate away before looking at the brand’s products and projects ideas.

The main module above the fold features festive holiday decorations with a suggestion to look into the kitchen and home goods to prepare for big family meals. Just below, John Lewis features helpful information about delivery dates for ordering holiday gifts and the bonus that it offers free shipping.

We also love the “Be Inspired” section featuring travel and style ideas that don’t advertise John Lewis products outright but instead, provide helpful content in the true inbound marketing way.

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13) HP

We can’t guarantee that HP’s holiday homepage video won’t make you cry, but we can say that it’s a unique and heartfelt spin on traditional holiday marketing. HP’s homepage is another example of a site keeping the page minimally decorated with only their featured video, “Reinvent Giving,” above the fold.

The touching video features a brother using HP technology to come up with the perfect gift for his brother, who is hard of hearing — a guitar set that displays flashing lights when played so his brother can see himself playing music, even if he can’t hear it. Emotion in advertising is effective, especially around the holiday season — everyone has a friend or family member they want to find the perfect gift for.

hp holiday.png

14) Madewell

The image and header on Madewell’s homepage are very much in line with the company’s typical branding: a model wearing a gorgeous dress in front of a neutral background, accompanied by a holiday spin on their name in festive, embellished font.

This is both attractive to first-time visitors who are greeted with simple imagery and user experience, as well as returning users, who expect a design like this but still appreciate the added holiday touches. The #giftwell hashtag prompts visitors to start a conversation about their shopping experiences on social media, which fosters a sense of brand loyalty.

Madewell_Holiday.png

15) Warby Parker

Warby Parker stuck to the basics of beautifully simple design in its seasonal homepage redesign. “Winter 2016” is the simple headline, which showcases a man dressed in winter apparel, set with a whole lot of negative space to draw attention to the details of his outfit — and namely, his glasses.

While the primary CTA is still its usual “Shop Now,” you’ll notice a secondary CTA as you scroll that introduces “We Like It, We Love It: Warby Parker Editions.” This social proof compels visitors to click, leading them to a curated list of fun holiday gift ideas, such as dog toys and books, including one the brand published called “50 Ways to Lose Your Glasses.” This section is unique because Warby Parker is selling items different from what it usually sells to help valued customers fulfill their holiday shopping lists, which is a neat way to foster brand loyalty.

warbyholidayhomepagefinal.png

Finally, Warby Parker’s responsive design gives mobile users a pleasant holiday shopping experience. According to Google, 53% of people who shopped online in 2014 used smartphones or tablets, and mobile searches about products while shoppers are still in the store have increased 30%.

The numbers are expected to rise this year, especially now that more people are searching Google on their smartphones than on desktop, so be sure your website is mobile-friendly in time for the holidays.

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(To see more examples of ways ecommerce businesses have redesigned their websites for the holidays, check out this library of examples on Crayon.co.)

Oh, and one more thing: As you plan your own website design strategy for the holidays, be sure to plan and prepare your site for higher-than-normal traffic. The last thing you want is for your site to go down during a time when you hope to be doing great business.

What great homepage redesigns have you see this holiday season? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Visit the holiday resource hub for all your holiday marketing needs.

Nov

23

2016

The 34 Best Tools for Improving Your Writing Skills

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Words are hard.

Whether you’re a published author or just getting started with blogging, it’s not always easy to string words together in a way that makes sense, sounds good, and makes the reader feel something.

But every marketer should be able to write — and, more importantly, every marketer can write. It’s just a matter of finding the writing environment that works best for you, expanding your vocabulary, asking for feedback (and listening to it), and practicing. Download our free guide here for tips to become a better writer. 

Luckily, there are a slew of great tools you can use to help improve your writing. Check out the list below, and feel free to add the most helpful ones you use in the comment section.

The 34 Best Tools for Improving Your Writing

1) Daily Page

“Writer’s block is a comforting lie we tell ourselves so we can stop writing and go do other, more pleasurable things,” said Beth Dunn, HubSpot’s UX writer and editor. “If your fingers still work, you can write. Sit down at the same time every day and start typing.”

Want to get into the habit of writing every day, but don’t know what to write about? Daily Page emails you a writing prompt every morning, and you have the rest of the day to write your response. Once you’ve written your response to the prompt, you can either share it or keep it private.

2) 750 Words 

Another way to practice your writing is to do a “brain dump” exercise using a tool like 750 Words. “Brain dumping” means getting all that stuff in your head down on paper — without having to worry about incomplete ideas, tangents, and private stuff.

It’s not blogging or status updating — it’s just you, writing whatever you want on a totally private account, without ever having to title your content or tag topics or share with your friends.

What it does do is track your word count so you’re sure to write 750 words (about three pages of writing). Plus, it’s gamified, which makes it kind of fun: You get a point for writing anything at all, two points for writing 750 words or more, and more points if you write consistently. And every time you write, it’ll give you some cool statistics on how much time you spent writing, the feelings and themes of your words, and so on.

Image Credit: 750 Words

3) Twords 

Publishing content on a consistent basis is crucial in the blogging world. Our own research concludes that companies that commit to regularly publishing quality content to their blogs tend get the most website traffic and leads — and those results continue to pay out over time. Tools like Twords can help bloggers commit to writing consistently.

Twords calls itself “the app that nudges you to write.” It notifies you when you haven’t written in a while so you can keep yourself accountable — and even gives you the option to connect with others who will help keep you accountable. It also tracks your writing so you can start to see patterns for the days you’re blogging more versus less, and so on. Finally, it includes some cool resources like a prompt library and articles about habit formation, writing resources, and so on.

Image Credit: Twords

4) Your Own “Swipe File” 

I read about a “Swipe File” on the “Kopywriting Kourse” blog and loved the idea. Basically, a swipe file is just a folder where you can curate cool stuff you come across, like advertisements, copy, emails, etc. “Save things that make you click, sign up, laugh, or go ‘whoa!'” says the post. The purpose? To flip through it for inspiration.

A swipe file can be physical or digital.

  • A physical swipe file would be something like a folder or envelope where you can keep print ads, pieces of copy, letters, and so on for inspiration.
  • A digital swipe file on desktop would be a digital folder, like one on your desktop. Whenever you see something interesting, screenshot it (by pressing Command + Shift + 4 on a Mac or Ctrl + Shift + 4 on a PC) and dragging that screenshot to your swipe folder.
  • A digital swipe on your mobile device is good for all the stuff you see when browsing the internet on your phone or tablet. The author of the post, for instance, created a specific folder in his iPhone and made a Phone Swipe File there. He stores screenshots when he sees something on mobile that grabs his attention.

Image Credit: KopywritingKourse.com

5) Help me Write 

What better way to make sure you’re writing about stuff your audience actually wants to read than by actually asking them? When you create a profile using Help me Write, you can post ideas of what you’re thinking about writing about. Then, you can share those ideas with your network via Twitter, Facebook, email, and so on — and ask your networks what they’d like to read most. They’ll be able to vote on their favorites, and you’ll be able to pick topics and better manage your time. 

Image Credit: HelpmeWrite

6) Blog Topic Generator

Do you have an overarching theme or keywords in mind for your next blog post, but you’re not sure at which angle to tackle it? HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator could come in handy. Simply type in three keywords, and the tool will auto-generate five potential topics for your post. If you’re not keen on the suggestions, you can always click “Try Again” and it’ll give you five more topics.

7) Trello

Writing efficiently and organizing well is a part of writing well. Use a tool like Trello to collect content ideas, assign them to different members of your team, attach due dates, collaborate with other team members, track their progress, and move them from conception to completion.

Here at HubSpot, we add all our blog post ideas to Trello, turning each idea into a card that we can expand on with notes and move from list to list with a simple drag-and-drop.

8) Google Docs

There are many ways you can use Google Docs to improve your writing. For example, you can use the research tool to do online research on the topic you’re writing about, find quotes or educational information, and so on (see #4 on this list). You can use it to request edits or comments from your peers. It even has a built-in dictionary.

One of my favorite ways to use Google Docs to improve my writing is by crowdsourcing ideas from my coworkers. Here at HubSpot, the blogging team uses this method all the time — and it shaves off a significant portion of research time that goes into curated posts. The result? Better examples and more comprehensive posts with less effort.

9) Quora & 10) inbound.org

Speaking of crowdsourcing, Quora is a great place to go for crowdsourced answers if you want to reach outside your network. Simply search for a keyword, follow topics related to the topics you’re interested in, and/or post your own questions.

If you’re looking for answers from inbound marketers specifically, inbound.org is a great place to source answers from professionals. Here’s an example of a post where the author asked about people’s productivity and time management habits.

11) Blog Post Templates & 12) Ebook Templates

If you’re all set on a topic but need help with organizing your writing so it’s interesting to read, you may want to check out our free, downloadable blog post templates or ebook templates, depending what you’re writing.

  • The blog post templates will give you an outline of five different types of blog posts: how-to posts, listicles, curated collections, SlideShare presentations, and newsjacks.
  • The ebook templates are available as both PowerPoint and InDesign files. All you have to do is paste in your text, drop in your images, add your company’s logo, and voila — a finished ebook.

13) HubSpot Composer

For HubSpot customers, Composer is a new distraction-free writing tool that helps writers easily turn their brainstorm ideas and research notes into a blog post. Composer handles the work of formatting drafts into blog posts — users can copy and paste text from Microsoft Word or Google Docs into Composer, and Composer will automatically reformat them for blog publication with the press of a button.

Other team members can collaborate and share comments on documents in Composer so bloggers can get team feedback prior to publishing content on their blogs. Check it out in action below:

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14) oTranscribe 

If you’re writing something that includes an interview with someone else, oTranscribe is a great tool that’ll make the transcription process much less painful — allowing more time for your own writing and analysis.

There are a lot of transcription tools out there, but this one is one of my favorites. It’s a web app for transcribing interviews created by Elliott Bentley, a graphics writer at Wall Street Journal. The audio player is integrated with the editor meaning you won’t have to click back and forth. You can pause, play, rewind, and fast-forward using keyboard shortcuts. Every second, it automatically saves the transcription to your browser’s storage. You can export it to plain text or Google Docs. Finally, it’s open source under the MIT license.

15) Coffitivity

Ready to start writing? Here’s a tool that’ll boost your productivity. A study out of the University of Chicago found that a moderate level of ambient noise, or “white noise,” helps people be more creative. While there are a lot of white noise generators out there, Cofftivity is my favorite. It offers non-stop café background sounds at varying intensities, from “Morning Murmur” and “University Undertones” to “Lunchtime Lounge” and “Brazil Bistro.”

16) E.ggtimer.com & 17) Tomato Timer

If you like to write with a little pressure (or you’re just on deadline), then tools like e.ggtimer.com and Tomato Timer are useful (and free). Both of these tools offer a “pomodoro” option, which refers to the Pomodoro technique: a time management technique created by Francesco Cirillo based on periods of distraction-free work followed by short breaks — which is supposed to be optimal for productivity.

18) ZenPen 

If you don’t do well with distractions while you’re writing on a computer, then use a tool like ZenPen to help block out all the distractions and focus on your writing. It’s a web app that gives you a “minimalist writing zone.” There are a few, minimalist features available to help you stylize the text, add hyperlinks, and block quotes. Once you’re done, simply copy the text and paste it in your blog editor or wherever you’d like it to go.

19) Power Thesaurus & 20) Thesaurus.com 

Power Thesaurus isn’t just any thesaurus: It’s a crowdsourced thesaurus that provides alternative word choices from a community of writers. The word suggestions are totally original, and are based on the editorial work of a team of writers and years’ worth of reviews visitors’ suggestions.

But hey, when you want a good ol’, regular Thesaurus, you can’t beat Thesaurus.com.

21) OneLook Thesaurus

In addition to its thesaurus functions, OneLook Thesaurus also has a “reverse dictionary”: users can type in a definition or group of words related to the word they’re searching for and find the right word for their piece. Users can also type in a category of items, and OneLook will serve up multiple words that fall under that umbrella.

For example, here’s what happens when you search for “study animals.” OneLook then ranks synonyms according to how related or distance they are from the original search query. This is a great tool for when you have that “what’s the word for this?” moment and can’t bug your deskmate.

onelook.png

Image Credit: OneLook Thesaurus

22) Twinword Writer 

Here’s another help that’ll help you if you get stuck on a word and don’t want to leave your browser or skim through synonyms. If you type using Twinword Writer, it’ll automatically sense if you pause because you’re stuck on a word. Then, it’ll analyze the context of your writing and open a box suggesting alternate words you can use. You can also click any word to get suggestions.

23) Prompts 

If you like typing out posts or ideas using your iPhone and tend to hit a wall in the middle of a thought or idea, this $2.99 iOS app may be worth the investment. It uses an algorithm to make suggestions for what you should write next. It also tracks stats about your writing habits, can remind you to write regularly if you allow it, and lets you schedule the best day and time to write based on your writing history.

Image Credit: Prompts

24) BrainyQuote 

You may also find you want to include a quote from a famous author, politician, celebrity, or other public figure to strengthen your writing or inspire your readers. BrainyQuote is a library filled with millions of interesting quips that you can search by speaker (from Aristotle to Dr. Seuss to Audrey Hepburn) or by topic (like peace, success, leadership, and more).

25) Hemingway App

Ernest Hemingway, admired for his succinct writing style, is the namesake for this handy editing app. Want to make your content more easily readable? Paste your text into this free web app and it’ll assess your writing and identify opportunities to make it simpler. First, it sums up how readable your writing is with a grade. Then, it suggests how to improve readability. (Read this blog post for more tips on simplifying your writing.)

26) AtomicWriter 

Here’s another tool that’ll assess your writing — but this time, it’ll assess it depending on your specific target audience’s reading level and which content they relate to the most. After all, writing for your target audience is an important part of content marketing.

How? Simply hook up your Google Analytics and social media accounts to AtomicWriter, and then paste your content into the app. It’ll analyze your historical data and engagement data from those accounts, and then tell you whether it’s suitable for your target audience. 

Image Credit: Jeff Bullas

27) ProWritingAid

Here’s another tool that evaluates your writing, but it boasts some unique features that differentiate it from the tools above. For example, ProWritingAid highlights overused words, redundancies, plagiarism, and sentence length, making it easy for writers to identify trouble areas and strengthen them. 

The free version of this tool only analyzes 3,000 words at a time, so the $40 investment per year for Premium may be worthwhile if users publish multiple pieces of content per month. 

Here’s an example of what ProWritingAid looks like in action:

grammarcheck.png

Image Credit: ProWritingAid

28) Grammarly & 29) Correctica

Once the actual writing part is done, it’s time to edit. While human editors will be able to catch most grammatical errors, editing tools like Grammarly and Correctica are great tools for triple-checking before you press “publish” or “send.” Both free tools check for grammatical errors — and Grammarly even checks for plagiarism.

30) Draft 

When you upload your document to draft (from cloud services like Dropbox, Evernote, Box, or Google Drive), there’s a lot you can do with it. You can edit your document, share it with colleagues or friends, and manage your friends’ suggestions — much in the same way you can with Google Docs.

One big differentiator, though? It calls itself the “Uber for copyediting”: Draft lets you call on a staff of reviewers to get suggested edits, for a price. (Learn about more features here.)

Draft Screenshot.png

Image Credit: Draft

31) Cliché Finder 

Unleashed too many clichés in your most recent piece of content? To help your writing be more specific, it’s generally best to avoid clichés. To ensure you leave no stone unturned, paste your text into Cliché Finder and it’ll highlight any you missed so you can replace them with more specific text.

32) Listly

When you’re creating list posts — like this one — it’s easy to hit a wall. Sure, you know there are other great examples out there, but you’ve already exhausted the ones you know of. With Listly, you can invite your audience to contribute to your list. The Listly community can then vote on list items to move them up the list. 

You can either embed the interactive list in your post or use it do conduct research before you publish to ensure that the examples, items, or tips you’re including are the best of the best.

33) Style Guide

The more content your business puts out, the more consistent that writing and messaging should be. This includes everything from what official names to call your products or services, down to whether to use an Oxford comma.

At some point, most companies accept that they’ll need to develop a writing style guide: a document that indicates the basic rules of writing we’ll all agree to follow (like whether I should’ve capitalized the “a” after the colon in this sentence).

Most businesses adopt either the AP Stylebook, or the Chicago Manual of Style. If you want to customize your style guide, you can download the writing style guide template we’ve created here.

34) WritePls

If you type “how to improve writing skills” into Google, you’ll notice that there are almost six million search results. WritePls has organized the best of the best articles about writing into specific categories for different writing types (fiction, nonfiction, and emails), as well as articles about general writing, growth hacking, and resources for ebooks and online education.

This is a great home base for new and experienced writers alike. Blogging and email writing are two very different crafts, and WritePls has collected a variety of great resources to help any writers working on any type of project to refer to in a one-stop shop.

Which tools for improving one’s writing would you add to the list? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

free guide: how to be a better copywriter

 
free guide to writing well

Nov

16

2016

SEO Basics: The 6 Most Important Things Marketers Need to Know [Infographic]

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Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t all about focusing on keywords anymore. Search engines are getting smarter and better at understanding a searcher’s intent and how they can provide them with meaningful content.

Over the past few years, marketers have lived through everything from changes in search behavior (like the serious increase in mobile search queries) to search engine algorithm updates (like Google’s rewarding more secure websites). Nowadays, following and adapting to these changes has been a big key to a business’ success.

If you’re struggling to keep up with the changes in SEO and what you as a marketer need to do as a result, you’re in the right place. Check out the infographic below from Digital Marketing Philippines for a crash course in the most important parts of SEO marketers need to know to be successful in 2016 and beyond.

You’ll learn which ranking factors are the most and least important, how to optimize your website for mobile search, how to figure out what searchers are looking for, how to optimize for local search, the content length that’s best for search, the place website security has in good SEO, and more.

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Increase SEO Traffic

Nov

16

2016

SEO Basics: The 6 Most Important Things Marketers Need to Know [Infographic]

become-better-at-seo.jpg

Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t all about focusing on keywords anymore. Search engines are getting smarter and better at understanding a searcher’s intent and how they can provide them with meaningful content.

Over the past few years, marketers have lived through everything from changes in search behavior (like the serious increase in mobile search queries) to search engine algorithm updates (like Google’s rewarding more secure websites). Nowadays, following and adapting to these changes has been a big key to a business’ success.

If you’re struggling to keep up with the changes in SEO and what you as a marketer need to do as a result, you’re in the right place. Check out the infographic below from Digital Marketing Philippines for a crash course in the most important parts of SEO marketers need to know to be successful in 2016 and beyond.

You’ll learn which ranking factors are the most and least important, how to optimize your website for mobile search, how to figure out what searchers are looking for, how to optimize for local search, the content length that’s best for search, the place website security has in good SEO, and more.

become-better-seo-infographic.jpg

Increase SEO Traffic

Nov

11

2016

The Anatomy of a Lead-Generating Website

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Your website is the most important tool you have for turning prospects into customers.

There are plenty of ways to increase the number of people visiting your site, but unless you convert these visitors into leads, you won’t be able to ultimately get new customers. As a result, your business won’t be able to grow at a healthy rate.

That’s why it’s so important to design your website with lead generation top-of-mind. Download the beginner's guide to converting website visitors into leads for  your business here.

Think about what your website looks like in its current state. Do each of your webpages clearly guide visitors to take action, or does they leave them wondering what to do next? Do you use a tool that automatically pulls the submissions from your forms and puts them into your contact database? Are you creating custom landing pages for every single campaign that you run? Do you have lead generation CTAs on each of your blog posts? (Do you have a blog at all?)

If you’re starting to think hard about the opportunities you have to increase conversion on your site, you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, we’ll cover the most critical components of a website optimized for lead generation. You’ll find useful tips in here whether you’re coming from a startup generating leads from scratch, or from a well-established business looking to tighten up your website to increase conversions.

The Anatomy of a Lead-Generating Website

1) Lead generation forms

Forms are the crux of any business’ lead generation efforts. Without them, you won’t be able to get contact information that your site visitors actually opt in to give you. The opting in part is important: When people voluntarily hand over their information by filling out a form, they’re actively showing interest in your business, your products, or your content. These leads are valuable because they’re more likely to turn into customers down the road.

Embedding lead generation forms directly on your website makes it easy for visitors to convert into leads. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can create forms right in HubSpot and either add them to your webpages or embed them elsewhere. Non-HubSpot customers can turn to form-embedding tools like Contact Form 7, JetPack, or Google Forms.

Although landing pages are the most popular places to put lead generation forms, you can embed them anywhere you’d like on your site. Here are a few examples of forms from different businesses that have with different goals, starting with OfficeVibe’s homepage:

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On AdmitHub’s homepage, they’ve embedded a form for a demo request:

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The folks at American Songwriter embedded a subscribe form in the footer of their website:

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Below is the form on ChoiceScreening’s “Contact Us” page. You’ll notice it’s relatively long, but for a business that runs background checks of all kinds, the form fields are likely necessary to help organize inquiries.

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When you’re thinking about how long your forms should be, consider whether you’d rather have more inquiries coming in, or higher quality inquiries coming in. As long as you have other, easier avenues for folks to contact you, a longer form can be okay for some businesses.

2) A form scraping tool

Once you’ve created and embedded your forms, how are you going to collect and track submissions? You’ll need a tool that scrapes your forms, meaning it automatically captures the form submissions on your website and puts them into your contact database.

By consolidating your leads in one place, it’ll be much easier for you to follow up with those leads — whether it’s by sending them lead nurturing emails, tracking their future behavior on your website, or some other action.

We recommend using our free Collected Forms tool, part of HubSpot Marketing Free. Collected Forms enables you to detect form submissions on your website as they come in — even if the forms are not built with HubSpot. Then, it’ll put those submissions right into your contacts database.

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3) Primary and secondary calls-to-action on every page

When people go to a website, they’re usually trying to take some action. Sometimes, they know what that action is — like when you’re looking for a coffee grinder to buy for your spouse’s birthday and you plan to make a purchase as soon as you find one that’s good enough. Other times, visitors simply don’t know what they want to do on a website and they’re just there to browse or research.

It’s your job to guide these people forward in their research and/or buying process through calls-to-action (CTAs). Remember, your website exists to compel visitors to dig deeper into your business and offerings and move them further down the funnel. CTAs tell them what to do next so they don’t feel lost or overwhelmed. In this way, CTAs turn your homepage into a lead-generating machine.

You’ll want to create multiple CTAs for your site that speak to different parts of the buying funnel. But it’s important to have a primary CTA — one that exists above the fold of your site pages, sticks out from the others, and leads people to do the #1 thing you want them to do on each page.

What that CTA leads to will depend on your end goal. What do you want your site visitors to do most — do you want them to sign up? Create an account? Request a demo? Defining what a “lead” means to you will make your analytics goals much clearer and will help you build a more intuitive funnel.

Here are two examples of webpages that effectively use primary CTAs to direct visitors to the next logical step. The first is Mint’s homepage, where you’ll notice the free sign-up CTA immediately draws your eye:

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Here’s another example from FreshBooks’ homepage:

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Common CTA examples include “Free Trial,” “Schedule a Demo,” “Buy Now,” or “Learn More.” (Here are 30 examples of great CTAs for more inspiration.)

4) Gated offers on landing pages

We already went over the importance of embedding forms on your website in a more general sense, but landing pages deserve a section of their own. Landing pages are the hub of your lead generation efforts — which is why every marketing campaign you run and every offer you create should be tied to a custom landing page.

The more landing pages you have, the more opportunities you have to convert site visitors into leads. There’s also a huge SEO benefit to having more landing pages, which can have an impact even before visitors land on your site.

There are many elements that a top-notch landing page needs, from design to form length to navigation, share buttons, social proof, and so on. If you’re looking for detailed information on building well-designed landing pages that are optimized for lead conversion, here are a few helpful resources:

Below is a great example of a landing page from WebDAM. While it’s a solid example overall, the form might be the best part — especially the little icons in front of the text that refer to the information needed to complete it.

webdam-landing-page-example-1.png

If you’re looking for ideas for valuable content to put behind those landing pages, read this list of 23 lead generation content ideas to start you off.

5) Pop-up forms

I know, I know. “Pop-ups” can sound like a dirty word nowadays. Inbound marketers everywhere are asking themselves whether they should be using pop-up forms — and the short answer is yes, as long as you use them in an inbound-y way.

To do that, you’ll want to make sure you’re:

  • Offering something valuable and relevant so they add to your website visitors’ experience, rather than interrupting it;
  • Timing their appearance so they’re triggered by certain actions or time spent on a page in a way that feels natural and not interruptive;
  • Using language that’s actionable and human;
  • Not ruining the mobile experience.

In addition to embedded forms and traditional call-to-action buttons, you’ll also want to pick and choose pages on your website where you can place pop-up forms, which we call lead flows here at HubSpot. There are a few different types of lead flows you can choose from: welcome mats, overlay modals (which is what most people think of when they hear the term “pop-up”), banners, and slide-in boxes:

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Here’s an example of a banner on Basecamp’s homepage, which appears when you scroll a certain percentage of the way down the page:

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This overlay modal from Aquaspresso’s blog offers blog readers an avenue toward their paid products in a way that’s helpful (providing a discount):

aquaspresso-blog-pop-up.png

If you’re looking for a good free tool to get started with pop-up forms, we’d recommend you try HubSpot Marketing Free. We built the Lead Flows feature within this free tool to help marketers generate more leads across their entire website without sacrificing the user experience.

6) Intuitive design and thoughtful CTA placement

The point of your website is to guide site visitors toward the actions you want them to take. Your conversion efforts will be far more compelling when assets are easy to find and are built with a reader-centric mindset. Think about how you can use layout, CTA placement, whitespace, colors, fonts, and other supporting elements to clearly communicate your value proposition, help visitors find specific information easily, and build trust.

Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure your webpages — especially your most popular ones, like your homepage — are designed beautifully, intuitively, and with lead generation in mind. In other words, you’ll want to direct your visitors’ attention to the areas of the page that will convert them into leads.

For example, according to an eye tracking study, a website reader’s natural eye path starts in the upper left-hand corner of a website and moves on from there in an F-pattern. To take advantage of this pattern, you may want to place your most important calls-to-action somewhere within that F-pattern. (Read this blog post to learn more about designing webpages for lead generation.)

In the example below, the business’ name is in the top left, followed by the horizontal navigation bar placed on the top, and a primary call-to-action (by #4) in the second row.

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Image Credit: Envato Studio

7) A blog with lead-generating CTAs

If you don’t have a business blog or aren’t using it consistently, then you’re missing out on a huge traffic- and lead-driving engine. There are many business benefits to blogging, which not only include helping drive traffic to your website, but also converting traffic into leads for your business. Just like every blog post you write is another indexed page, each post is a new opportunity to generate new leads. And thanks to the compounding value of blog posts over time, every post you write will drive value for you in the form of traffic and leads not just when you first publish it, but for years to come.

Here at HubSpot, our blog is responsible for a significant percentage of our marketing team’s incoming leads — and 76% of our monthly blog views come from posts published prior to the current month.

But in order to generate leads from your blog, you can’t just write, hit “publish,” and call it a day. You’ll need to add a lead-generating call-to-action to every blog post that points to free content gated behind a landing page (see #4). To help you create these long-form offers more easily without worrying about the design component, try downloading these 386+ free content creation templates for ebooks, infographics, and other offers.

Once you create lead-generating offers, promote them by blogging about subject matters related to them, and then put CTAs that lead to the asset’s landing page on every one of those blog posts.

8) Social proof and other trust-builders

In order for a site visitor to turn into a lead, they need to hand over some personal information — their name, their email address, and maybe even their phone number or company name. Why would they give that information to you unless they felt some sort of trust in your brand and what you’re offering them?

That’s where establishing credibility comes in. If you want to earn people’s trust enough to compel them to opt in to your emails or otherwise put their personal information into your database, you’re going to need to prove yourself somehow — especially to people who don’t know who you are quite yet. The most meaningful form of advertising is recommendations from others, and it can have a big impact on conversion rates.

There are many ways to establish credibility on your website. One effective way to show trustworthiness is by adding social proof — like customer testimonials, case studies, and prominent client logos — as well as trust seals to your site.

  • Customer testimonials are quotes from real customers you can place on landing pages, your homepage, and anywhere else on your website. Place these quotes below forms, and be sure to include a photo, name, company, and job title. Here’s a great example from Codecademy’s homepage:

codecademy-homepage.png

  • Case studies are full-fledged customer stories, either written or in video. They’re longer and more detailed than customer testimonials, and often include success metrics and positive results. You can learn more on how to create compelling case studies here.
  • Prominent client logos are when a business places the logos of some of their more well-known clients on their homepage or elsewhere on their website to show them off. According to ConversionXL, logos from prominent clients tend to be memorable to site visitors.
  • Trust seals are symbols that reassure site visitors that their sensitive information is secure with the company they’re giving it to. (Read this post to learn more about adding trust seals to your website.)

trust-seals-1.png

There you have it. Now, these are by no means the only components of a website that can or should be optimized for lead generation. But this guide will help you get started with the fundamental components you’ll need to generate more and higher quality leads.

And although we’ve gone over some overarching best practices, remember that you’ll need to continuously test and tweak your site to optimize it for leads based on your own, unique audience. If you aren’t doing that already or want to learn more about optimization, read this post to learn about A/B testing your website in more detail.

What else makes up a lead-generating website? Share with us in the comments.

Intro to Lead Gen

Nov

11

2016

The Anatomy of a Lead-Generating Website

lead-generation-website-anatomy.jpeg

Your website is the most important tool you have for turning prospects into customers.

There are plenty of ways to increase the number of people visiting your site, but unless you convert these visitors into leads, you won’t be able to ultimately get new customers. As a result, your business won’t be able to grow at a healthy rate.

That’s why it’s so important to design your website with lead generation top-of-mind. Download the beginner's guide to converting website visitors into leads for  your business here.

Think about what your website looks like in its current state. Do each of your webpages clearly guide visitors to take action, or does they leave them wondering what to do next? Do you use a tool that automatically pulls the submissions from your forms and puts them into your contact database? Are you creating custom landing pages for every single campaign that you run? Do you have lead generation CTAs on each of your blog posts? (Do you have a blog at all?)

If you’re starting to think hard about the opportunities you have to increase conversion on your site, you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, we’ll cover the most critical components of a website optimized for lead generation. You’ll find useful tips in here whether you’re coming from a startup generating leads from scratch, or from a well-established business looking to tighten up your website to increase conversions.

The Anatomy of a Lead-Generating Website

1) Lead generation forms

Forms are the crux of any business’ lead generation efforts. Without them, you won’t be able to get contact information that your site visitors actually opt in to give you. The opting in part is important: When people voluntarily hand over their information by filling out a form, they’re actively showing interest in your business, your products, or your content. These leads are valuable because they’re more likely to turn into customers down the road.

Embedding lead generation forms directly on your website makes it easy for visitors to convert into leads. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can create forms right in HubSpot and either add them to your webpages or embed them elsewhere. Non-HubSpot customers can turn to form-embedding tools like Contact Form 7, JetPack, or Google Forms.

Although landing pages are the most popular places to put lead generation forms, you can embed them anywhere you’d like on your site. Here are a few examples of forms from different businesses that have with different goals, starting with OfficeVibe’s homepage:

officevibe-homepage-form-1.png

On AdmitHub’s homepage, they’ve embedded a form for a demo request:

admithub-form.png

The folks at American Songwriter embedded a subscribe form in the footer of their website:

american-songwriter-form.png

Below is the form on ChoiceScreening’s “Contact Us” page. You’ll notice it’s relatively long, but for a business that runs background checks of all kinds, the form fields are likely necessary to help organize inquiries.

choice-screening-form.png

When you’re thinking about how long your forms should be, consider whether you’d rather have more inquiries coming in, or higher quality inquiries coming in. As long as you have other, easier avenues for folks to contact you, a longer form can be okay for some businesses.

2) A form scraping tool

Once you’ve created and embedded your forms, how are you going to collect and track submissions? You’ll need a tool that scrapes your forms, meaning it automatically captures the form submissions on your website and puts them into your contact database.

By consolidating your leads in one place, it’ll be much easier for you to follow up with those leads — whether it’s by sending them lead nurturing emails, tracking their future behavior on your website, or some other action.

We recommend using our free Collected Forms tool, part of HubSpot Marketing Free. Collected Forms enables you to detect form submissions on your website as they come in — even if the forms are not built with HubSpot. Then, it’ll put those submissions right into your contacts database.

collected-forms-screenshot.png

collected-forms-leads.png

3) Primary and secondary calls-to-action on every page

When people go to a website, they’re usually trying to take some action. Sometimes, they know what that action is — like when you’re looking for a coffee grinder to buy for your spouse’s birthday and you plan to make a purchase as soon as you find one that’s good enough. Other times, visitors simply don’t know what they want to do on a website and they’re just there to browse or research.

It’s your job to guide these people forward in their research and/or buying process through calls-to-action (CTAs). Remember, your website exists to compel visitors to dig deeper into your business and offerings and move them further down the funnel. CTAs tell them what to do next so they don’t feel lost or overwhelmed. In this way, CTAs turn your homepage into a lead-generating machine.

You’ll want to create multiple CTAs for your site that speak to different parts of the buying funnel. But it’s important to have a primary CTA — one that exists above the fold of your site pages, sticks out from the others, and leads people to do the #1 thing you want them to do on each page.

What that CTA leads to will depend on your end goal. What do you want your site visitors to do most — do you want them to sign up? Create an account? Request a demo? Defining what a “lead” means to you will make your analytics goals much clearer and will help you build a more intuitive funnel.

Here are two examples of webpages that effectively use primary CTAs to direct visitors to the next logical step. The first is Mint’s homepage, where you’ll notice the free sign-up CTA immediately draws your eye:

mint-homepage-headline-example.png

Here’s another example from FreshBooks’ homepage:

freshbooks-homepage.png

Common CTA examples include “Free Trial,” “Schedule a Demo,” “Buy Now,” or “Learn More.” (Here are 30 examples of great CTAs for more inspiration.)

4) Gated offers on landing pages

We already went over the importance of embedding forms on your website in a more general sense, but landing pages deserve a section of their own. Landing pages are the hub of your lead generation efforts — which is why every marketing campaign you run and every offer you create should be tied to a custom landing page.

The more landing pages you have, the more opportunities you have to convert site visitors into leads. There’s also a huge SEO benefit to having more landing pages, which can have an impact even before visitors land on your site.

There are many elements that a top-notch landing page needs, from design to form length to navigation, share buttons, social proof, and so on. If you’re looking for detailed information on building well-designed landing pages that are optimized for lead conversion, here are a few helpful resources:

Below is a great example of a landing page from WebDAM. While it’s a solid example overall, the form might be the best part — especially the little icons in front of the text that refer to the information needed to complete it.

webdam-landing-page-example-1.png

If you’re looking for ideas for valuable content to put behind those landing pages, read this list of 23 lead generation content ideas to start you off.

5) Pop-up forms

I know, I know. “Pop-ups” can sound like a dirty word nowadays. Inbound marketers everywhere are asking themselves whether they should be using pop-up forms — and the short answer is yes, as long as you use them in an inbound-y way.

To do that, you’ll want to make sure you’re:

  • Offering something valuable and relevant so they add to your website visitors’ experience, rather than interrupting it;
  • Timing their appearance so they’re triggered by certain actions or time spent on a page in a way that feels natural and not interruptive;
  • Using language that’s actionable and human;
  • Not ruining the mobile experience.

In addition to embedded forms and traditional call-to-action buttons, you’ll also want to pick and choose pages on your website where you can place pop-up forms, which we call lead flows here at HubSpot. There are a few different types of lead flows you can choose from: welcome mats, overlay modals (which is what most people think of when they hear the term “pop-up”), banners, and slide-in boxes:

Popup-Types-801.png

Here’s an example of a banner on Basecamp’s homepage, which appears when you scroll a certain percentage of the way down the page:

basecamp-dropdown-banner-1.gif

This overlay modal from Aquaspresso’s blog offers blog readers an avenue toward their paid products in a way that’s helpful (providing a discount):

aquaspresso-blog-pop-up.png

If you’re looking for a good free tool to get started with pop-up forms, we’d recommend you try HubSpot Marketing Free. We built the Lead Flows feature within this free tool to help marketers generate more leads across their entire website without sacrificing the user experience.

6) Intuitive design and thoughtful CTA placement

The point of your website is to guide site visitors toward the actions you want them to take. Your conversion efforts will be far more compelling when assets are easy to find and are built with a reader-centric mindset. Think about how you can use layout, CTA placement, whitespace, colors, fonts, and other supporting elements to clearly communicate your value proposition, help visitors find specific information easily, and build trust.

Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure your webpages — especially your most popular ones, like your homepage — are designed beautifully, intuitively, and with lead generation in mind. In other words, you’ll want to direct your visitors’ attention to the areas of the page that will convert them into leads.

For example, according to an eye tracking study, a website reader’s natural eye path starts in the upper left-hand corner of a website and moves on from there in an F-pattern. To take advantage of this pattern, you may want to place your most important calls-to-action somewhere within that F-pattern. (Read this blog post to learn more about designing webpages for lead generation.)

In the example below, the business’ name is in the top left, followed by the horizontal navigation bar placed on the top, and a primary call-to-action (by #4) in the second row.

f-pattern-with-content-1.jpg

Image Credit: Envato Studio

7) A blog with lead-generating CTAs

If you don’t have a business blog or aren’t using it consistently, then you’re missing out on a huge traffic- and lead-driving engine. There are many business benefits to blogging, which not only include helping drive traffic to your website, but also converting traffic into leads for your business. Just like every blog post you write is another indexed page, each post is a new opportunity to generate new leads. And thanks to the compounding value of blog posts over time, every post you write will drive value for you in the form of traffic and leads not just when you first publish it, but for years to come.

Here at HubSpot, our blog is responsible for a significant percentage of our marketing team’s incoming leads — and 76% of our monthly blog views come from posts published prior to the current month.

But in order to generate leads from your blog, you can’t just write, hit “publish,” and call it a day. You’ll need to add a lead-generating call-to-action to every blog post that points to free content gated behind a landing page (see #4). To help you create these long-form offers more easily without worrying about the design component, try downloading these 386+ free content creation templates for ebooks, infographics, and other offers.

Once you create lead-generating offers, promote them by blogging about subject matters related to them, and then put CTAs that lead to the asset’s landing page on every one of those blog posts.

8) Social proof and other trust-builders

In order for a site visitor to turn into a lead, they need to hand over some personal information — their name, their email address, and maybe even their phone number or company name. Why would they give that information to you unless they felt some sort of trust in your brand and what you’re offering them?

That’s where establishing credibility comes in. If you want to earn people’s trust enough to compel them to opt in to your emails or otherwise put their personal information into your database, you’re going to need to prove yourself somehow — especially to people who don’t know who you are quite yet. The most meaningful form of advertising is recommendations from others, and it can have a big impact on conversion rates.

There are many ways to establish credibility on your website. One effective way to show trustworthiness is by adding social proof — like customer testimonials, case studies, and prominent client logos — as well as trust seals to your site.

  • Customer testimonials are quotes from real customers you can place on landing pages, your homepage, and anywhere else on your website. Place these quotes below forms, and be sure to include a photo, name, company, and job title. Here’s a great example from Codecademy’s homepage:

codecademy-homepage.png

  • Case studies are full-fledged customer stories, either written or in video. They’re longer and more detailed than customer testimonials, and often include success metrics and positive results. You can learn more on how to create compelling case studies here.
  • Prominent client logos are when a business places the logos of some of their more well-known clients on their homepage or elsewhere on their website to show them off. According to ConversionXL, logos from prominent clients tend to be memorable to site visitors.
  • Trust seals are symbols that reassure site visitors that their sensitive information is secure with the company they’re giving it to. (Read this post to learn more about adding trust seals to your website.)

trust-seals-1.png

There you have it. Now, these are by no means the only components of a website that can or should be optimized for lead generation. But this guide will help you get started with the fundamental components you’ll need to generate more and higher quality leads.

And although we’ve gone over some overarching best practices, remember that you’ll need to continuously test and tweak your site to optimize it for leads based on your own, unique audience. If you aren’t doing that already or want to learn more about optimization, read this post to learn about A/B testing your website in more detail.

What else makes up a lead-generating website? Share with us in the comments.

Intro to Lead Gen

Nov

10

2016

63 Stats & Tips to Help You Become a Better Twitter User [Infographic]

twitter-stats-tips.jpeg

Although Twitter’s growth rate has slowed down over the past year, it’s still one of the most popular — and powerful — social media networks around. It has 313 million active users, 79% of accounts outside of the United States.

With reach like that, businesses around the world are smart to continue using and innovating on Twitter — and adapting to the way people use it. Nowadays, 82% of active Twitter users log on using the mobile app rather than logging on via desktop. Just under 63% of U.S. Twitter users get their news on Twitter. And, impressively, Twitter’s paid ad engagement grew 208% from 2015 to 2016.

How else are people using Twitter nowadays? How are businesses using Twitter? How does the network impact people’s purchasing decisions, and how do promoted tweets boost offline sales? And does it change how connected people feel to a brand?

For answers to these questions and more, check out the infographic below from WebpageFX. It includes some great research and insights into user behavior and how Twitter affects businesses. Keep scrolling, and you’ll find some great, practical tips on the best times to tweet, what to tweet, and how to optimize your Twitter profile. (And for more ideas on how and what to tweet — including 12 tweet templates to get you started — check out this post.)

twitter-stats-infographic.png

free guide: how to get twitter followers

Nov

10

2016

63 Stats & Tips to Help You Become a Better Twitter User [Infographic]

twitter-stats-tips.jpeg

Although Twitter’s growth rate has slowed down over the past year, it’s still one of the most popular — and powerful — social media networks around. It has 313 million active users, 79% of accounts outside of the United States.

With reach like that, businesses around the world are smart to continue using and innovating on Twitter — and adapting to the way people use it. Nowadays, 82% of active Twitter users log on using the mobile app rather than logging on via desktop. Just under 63% of U.S. Twitter users get their news on Twitter. And, impressively, Twitter’s paid ad engagement grew 208% from 2015 to 2016.

How else are people using Twitter nowadays? How are businesses using Twitter? How does the network impact people’s purchasing decisions, and how do promoted tweets boost offline sales? And does it change how connected people feel to a brand?

For answers to these questions and more, check out the infographic below from WebpageFX. It includes some great research and insights into user behavior and how Twitter affects businesses. Keep scrolling, and you’ll find some great, practical tips on the best times to tweet, what to tweet, and how to optimize your Twitter profile. (And for more ideas on how and what to tweet — including 12 tweet templates to get you started — check out this post.)

twitter-stats-infographic.png

free guide: how to get twitter followers

Nov

8

2016

9 Places to Find Quality Email Newsletter Templates

emailnewsletter.jpg'.jpg

If you had to guess, how many email newsletters do you think you’re subscribed to? Ten? Twenty? Fifty?

To be honest, I’ve lost count … and I know I’m not alone.

Email marketers have a lot to compete with in their subscribers’ inboxes. If done well, though, email newsletters can do wonders to help you build an engaged subscriber base, keep your business top-of-mind, and nurture leads that are already making their way down the funnel.

However, “done well” means more than just serving up great content. In fact, an often overlooked component of the newsletter creation process is the design. Download this free guide to learn how to write, design, optimize, and measure  a successful email newsletter. 

Don’t have time to build out a custom template from scratch? We’ve scoured the internet for the best resources for email newsletter templates and compiled them below. Once you find one you like, download the template and customize it to fit your needs.

9 Places to Find Email Newsletter Templates Online

1) Email on Acid 

Price: Free

Email on Acid offers a free template with a basic, fluid design that’s also responsive to mobile devices. In other words, the three different “layouts” you see below trigger based on the width of the recipient’s screen.

Although there’s only one template here, you can actually mix and match each section of the layout to fit your specific design needs. The layout supports one, two, or three columns, and recipients on mobile devices will see the version that converts to a one-column layout for easy reading.

Email on Acid Newsletter 

Image Credit: Email on Acid

2) ZURB Ink 

Price: Free

ZURB Studios has five responsive email templates available for free, including the newsletter one below. It has a great, fluid layout you can customize with your own colors, images, and wording. If you want to see how each template looks on different email clients, you can check out screenshots from each template’s email client tests, which are on available the site. These layouts are optimized for most email clients — except for Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2013.

The template comes with a separate CSS stylesheet and HTML file to ease the editing process, and most clients put the CSS inline with the HTML itself after both are uploaded separately. If you’re going to add images to your newsletter, keep in mind you’ll have to create a separate folder and compress with the CSS stylesheet when uploaded. 

Zurb Studios Newsletter

Image Credit: ZURB Studios

3) 99designs

Price: Free

99designs is a growing online community and collaboration platform for designers and small businesses, and they have a great designer blog and business blog. To celebrate the launch of their Email Design category, the company ran a contest asking designers to create three email templates — a newsletter template, a promotional template, and a template for email notifications — using a set color scheme (green, blue, orange, and grey) for people to download. The folks at 99design then chose their 12 favorites and made them downloadable for free on their website. They’re compatible with all major email clients.

99Designs Email Newsletter Templates

Image Credit: 99designs

4) ThemeForest

Price: $6-23/template

ThemeForest is an awesome resource for email templates if you have some budget to spend. Their library has over 460 newsletter templates in all different colors, styles, and themes. They’re rated using a four-star system, and you can filter by rating, price, recency, and popularity.

There are a lot to choose from, but here are four of our favorites:

Market – Responsive Newsletter with Template Builder ($19)

This template has eight prebuilt layouts, 24 color variations, 24 full-layered PSD files, and more. Plus, it’s supported by all major email clients.

ThemeForest Email Newsletter Templates

Image Credit: ThemeForest

FreshMail, Responsive Email with Template Editor ($18)

Want a more minimalist look? This is a great template with minimalist design that’s also flexible and repeatable, so you can easily arrange the layout and use it to build your own unique template. Even better, it comes with helpful documentation and video tutorials to help you make the most of the design. It works for all major email clients and is responsive to mobile.

ThemeForest Email Newsletter Templates

Image Credit: ThemeForest

FancyMail – Responsive Email Template ($19)

If you’re looking for something more elegant and sophisticated, this might be the template for you. It comes in seven layout options and eight colors, along with six, fully-layered PSD files so you can customize as you wish. It works with all major email clients, is responsive to mobile devices, and includes helpful documentation so you can make the most of the template.

ThemeForest Email Newsletter Templates

Image Credit: ThemeForest

Rocket Mail – Clean & Modern Email Template ($16)

This template is great for marketers who are going for something that looks like your classic, basic newsletter design. It comes with 72 variations comprised of six color themes with six layouts each, and two backgrounds (light and dark) for each color. It has well commented HTML code to make it easier to follow along and customize. It works for all major email clients.

ThemeForest Email Newsletter Templates

Image Credit: ThemeForest

5) Antwort

Price: Free

Antwort offers three newsletter templates: one single-column, one two-column, and one three-column. They’re all responsive to mobile devices, so columns on desktop automatically condense on mobile devices. You’ll notice they’re pretty minimalist in design, which helps if you want to do a lot of customization work. They were also designed with dynamic content in mind.

On desktop, they work for major email clients like Gmail, Yahoo!, Outlook, and AOL. On mobile, they work for Mail on iOS and Email on Android.

Antwort Email Newsletter Templates

Image Credit: Julie Ng 

 

6) TemplateMonster

Price: $11-$19/template

TemplateMonster offers a variety of email newsletter templates, such as the cat-themed template pictured below, available for relatively low prices. Their templates are clean, customizeable, and easy-to-use, and they’re compatible with most major email clients, such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Additionally, the templates come with built-in responsive layouts for screen adaptability, such as on the mobile phone pictured below, and PSD sources for a litany of customization options.

cats.png

Image Credit: TemplateMonster

7) Themezy

Price: Free

Download sixteen free HTML, CSS, and PSD sources of customizable email templates on Themezy. You don’t have to submit an email address to get started, and there are various color schemes and layouts to meet your email list’s needs. Plus, they’re designed to be responsive across devices to ensure that your subscribers can read your newsletter.

themezy.jpg

Image Credit: Themezy

8) Litmus

Price: Free

Litmus offers a free email template collection — from newsletter templates to account management templates. The marketing-specific theme — referred to as “Pook” — is modern and sleek, while still being kind of fun. All of the templates have been tested with Litmus, and you can easily check out how the email will appear in different email clients here.

While you are required to create a Litmus account with your email address to access the templates, the templates themselves are free of charge.

pook.png

Image Credit: Litmus

9) HubSpot Template Marketplace

Price: Free & paid options available

For those of you who are HubSpot customers, HubSpot offers a great collection of email templates you can download or purchase from our template marketplace. Paid templates are available for as low as $1, and once you buy a template, you can start using it immediately right in HubSpot — no HTML or CSS required.

HubSpot Template Marketplace.png

Where else can you find email newsletter templates online? Share them with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

free guide to creating email newsletters

 
free guide to creating email newsletters

Nov

8

2016

16 Stats That Prove the Importance of Local SEO [Infographic]

local-seo-stats.jpg

When you’re looking for a local business that’ll fix your favorite pair of shoes, sell you the book your friend recommended, or bake a spaceship-themed cake for your kid’s birthday — how do you find it?

You pull up your favorite search engine for a little online research, of course.

Your customers are no different. When they’re looking for a product or service similar to what your local business sells, they’re going online to find it. Download our free guide here to learn more about 301 redirects and common SEO  mistakes to avoid.

Did you know that 50% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day? Same with 34% of consumers who searched on a computer or tablet.

A strong local SEO strategy is key to driving more people to your store, whether you have one storefront or five hundred. Check out the infographic below from GO-Globe to learn more helpful local SEO statistics and trends. (And to learn which parts of your site to optimize for local searches, check out this post.) 

local-seo-stats-infographic.jpg 

Increase SEO Traffic

Nov

8

2016

16 Stats That Prove the Importance of Local SEO [Infographic]

local-seo-stats.jpg

When you’re looking for a local business that’ll fix your favorite pair of shoes, sell you the book your friend recommended, or bake a spaceship-themed cake for your kid’s birthday — how do you find it?

You pull up your favorite search engine for a little online research, of course.

Your customers are no different. When they’re looking for a product or service similar to what your local business sells, they’re going online to find it. Download our free guide here to learn more about 301 redirects and common SEO  mistakes to avoid.

Did you know that 50% of consumers who do a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day? Same with 34% of consumers who searched on a computer or tablet.

A strong local SEO strategy is key to driving more people to your store, whether you have one storefront or five hundred. Check out the infographic below from GO-Globe to learn more helpful local SEO statistics and trends. (And to learn which parts of your site to optimize for local searches, check out this post.) 

local-seo-stats-infographic.jpg 

Increase SEO Traffic

Nov

7

2016

20 Types of Lead Generation Content to Put Behind Your Landing Pages

landing.png

What does being in a “content rut” mean to you?

Perhaps the words remind you of writer’s block, when you couldn’t think of fresh topic ideas. (We’ve all been there.) Or maybe it makes you think of those days, weeks, or even — horror of horrors — months when your content seems to be falling kind of flat.

There’s one other thing it might make you imagine — the kind of content rut with the same types of content getting created over and over again, instead of mixing it up. Build and promote landing pages that generate more leads with the help of this  free optimization guide.

A big part of building a strong content strategy is experimenting with new types of content. Your audience may love your podcasts, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing you should create. Fresh content types can expand your reach and attract more, and possibly even better leads.

To help you shake up your content balance, here are 20 things you can put behind a landing page to help you collect new leads — and ways you can optimize your landing page for each type.

20 Types of Lead Generation Content to Put Behind Your Landing Pages

1) Ebooks

Ebooks are a popular type of offer used to generate leads, educate customers and prospects, and gain credibility in your industry. But they can take time to become a reality, so be sure to choose a topic that will help a prospect go from downloading your ebook to having a productive conversation with a member of your sales team.

Here’s a good example from LiveCareer. The company created a piece of content that aligns with its brand — a job search handbook — and built a landing page around it. Plus, it’s sharable. The social sharing icons below the form make it easy for users to tell their friends and colleagues about the content.

Demo Screenshot

For more detailed tips, click here to learn how to create ebooks from start to finish.

2) Courses

Your audience may also be excited to fill out a form in exchange for a video course or tutorial. It’s up to you whether to produce, shoot, and edit the video in-house or hire a professional. You can hold the course live, or post a recording. Either way, ask participants to share their email address in exchange for the tutorial, so you can send them an email with the video recording that they can access forever.

Lynda, LinkedIn’s learning platform, does that well with its course previews. Users are able to watch the first minute of a lesson and when that preview is over, a prompt appears to start a free trial.

Course Screenshot

3) Trials

Trials aren’t just limited to things like courses. Sometimes, your prospects will want to try out your product or service before deciding whether they’re a good fit. That’s a good thing — you want to grow a base of customers that are convinced and loyal, and that can take a little more work than trying to sell your stuff to everyone who will listen.

That’s why it can be helpful to provide a free trial of your product or service with no risk, no obligation, and no credit card required — the only thing the prospect needs to do is fill out a form.

Here’s how Geneious used a form for a free trial of its research software for biologists. Notice how the form is followed by images of the program and FAQ, in case the user scrolls before committing to the form.

Course Screenshot

4) Demos

If visitors are ready to learn more about your product or service, make it easy for them to schedule a demo with your team. You can place demo calls-to-action on key pages of your website, including your home page.

These are particularly valuable on sections of your site that explain the different highlights and features of your product or service. Once the user is intrigued, make it seamless to schedule a demo. Here’s a look at HubSpot’s demo landing page:

Demo Screenshot

5) Contests

People love contests. They can teach you a lot about your audience while engaging them, growing your reach, driving traffic to your website, and — drum roll, please — generating leads. You can run contests on your website, or on pretty much any social media platform, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. They can be as simple as you’d like:

…or as complicated as you’d like. Notice how Brytor Designs uses its lobster gauge giveaway — I mean, who doesn’t need one of those? — to pull off a double whammy of lead generation. To enter the contest, the user has to both follow the brand on Instagram and fill out a form. But Brytor made it easy. When I clicked the Instagram icon on the page, it took me directly to the brand’s profile in a new tab, so that I could easily go back to the landing page and fill out the form.

Contest Screenshot

Want to learn more about running a successful social media contest? Check out our guide here.

6) Cheat Sheets

Cheat sheets are a type of short, concise offer that someone might bookmark for future reference. Think of them as comprehensive guides to terms, commands, symbols, or other things. They should be formatted for quick reference, which means clear headers and not too much detail. And the more visual, the better.

Here’s one way that Nusii pulled that off with the landing page for its proposal cheatsheet. It’s colorful and visual, with the imagery suggesting that the downloadable itself will be equally easy to follow. The only thing we’d change here? Consider removing navigation from your landing page — you can add it back in on your thank you page. Be sure to limit the text and visuals to the valuable content you’re providing.

Cheat Sheet screenshot

7) Checklists

Checklists are another type of short offer that you could put behind a landing page, which readers can print out or download to their desktops. Include clear headers, a colorful design, and keep copy brief.

Notice how there’s no navigation on Bonafide’s landing page below, which gives the visitor less of an opportunity to navigate away from the form (and the content). The text explains why the user should download the checklist, and personalizes the benefits to make the brand relatable.

checklist-screenshot

8) Email Series

An email series is a multi-part series of emails sent to an individual who specifically opted in to receive them. It’s different from an email subscription — it has a finite number of emails sent.

These programs are especially popular around the holidays, when many brands do “12 days of”-themed promotions. Microsoft, for example, executes one each year. And notice how even though I was a bit early for this year’s holiday email series, Microsoft still used the landing page to encourage me to shop its current sales, or look at last year’s prizes.

email series Screenshot

Another example is HGTV’s Urban Oasis, in which a lucky winner receives a completely refurbished home. Users are allowed to submit one entry per day, and can opt in to receive daily email reminders to enter until the contest is over.

email series Screenshot

9) Email Subscriptions

Business blogging not only drives more traffic to your website, it also can become a major source for lead generation down the road. But how do you convert blog readers into leads?

First, turn them into dedicated subscribers by simply asking for their email address in exchange for sending them new blog posts daily, weekly, or monthly. Make it easy for them to subscribe by including a one-step form on your blog, like the American Writers Museum does with its blog here:

Email subscription

Learn more about converting visitors to subscribers here.

10) Guides

Guides come in many shapes and sizes. There are “ultimate guides,” which are long, in-depth, and usually include detailed explanations, screenshots, and step-by-step instructions. Then, there are “simple guides,” which are shorter and much more concise. There are also tactical guides, pocket guides, introductory guides and advanced guides. The list goes on.

What’s the common denominator? They’re all tutorials of some sort, and many of them include step-by-step instructions. Below, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority uses a landing page for its “Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Domain Name.” It’s simple, well-branded, and concisely explains what the user is getting out of this download.

Guides screenshot

11) Kits

Kits are pieces of content grouped together into one offer. They’re great for repurposing existing content by aggregating multiple offers on similar topics into a cohesive collection. For example, HubSpot offers an Inbound Marketing Kit that includes an interactive presentation, a report that includes original data and research, and glossary.

But this content also works well with things like media kits. Not only are you providing a user with more information and media about your company, but you’re also offering it in exchange for contact information. See how Her Campus Media does that below. It helps the brand follow up with potential advertisers, which is especially valuable in digital publishing.

Guides screenshot

12) Original Data & Research

Data and metrics are have become especially valuable as many fields become more data-intensive. If your team has the bandwidth, original and data-heavy industry reports can build authority and trust with your audience. The trade-off is that curating them takes a lot of time, resources, and expertise.

One of the least expensive ways to curate original data and research is to conduct a survey among your subscribers, leads, customers, and industry professionals. Then, share the results in the form of a downloadable report, study, or infographic. For example, the data in our annual State of Inbound report is taken from a survey of over 4,500 marketing and sales professionals. We asked the questions, and the answers provided us with great insights that our audience is interested in learning about.

Data and research screenshot

Annual reports are similar to original data and research, though they usually focus on information pertaining to a specific organization, rather an industry at-large. And while these reports are often written with the intended audience of shareholders, they can actually be helpful resources for a number of users, like potential non-profit donors or members of the press.

13) Podcasts

Podcasts can build an audience and establish your brand as a source of expertise, while also showing off your company’s personality. They put a voice to your brand, so to speak. And creating one can even be relatively low-budget — all you need is a decent microphone and a smart — but fun — host who can keep your audience listening in each time a new one is released.

When it comes to using a podcast for lead generation, one of the best ways to do that is to ask your listeners to subscribe to updates about it. Subscribing to a podcast alone is already easy to do through apps that don’t ask for contact information, like iTunes and Stitcher. But by offering a “latest news” subscription, you can keep your audience up to date on related information like industry trends and sneak previews of future episodes. Here’s how we do that with HubSpot’s The Growth Show podcast:

Podcasts screenshot

Learn how to build a successful podcast here.

14) SlideShare Presentations

Because SlideShares, like blog posts, are great for traffic, some marketers choose to share them without hiding them behind a form. But that doesn’t mean you can’t offer a download of your SlideShare in exchange for some information. If your SlideShare is good enough, it can be a low-effort way to convert readers into leads.

Here’s an example for a particularly nice design from Collision Latitude. Notice how there are bullet points to outline exactly what knowledge the user will gain from this download — as well as those handy social sharing icons.

Slideshare screenshot

15) Templates

Templates are great offers because they provide readers with a backbone for creating original things on their own. Templates often take different forms — calendars, worksheets, and other outlines can all benefit different audiences in the form of a template.

For example, one of our most popular offers is our “15 Free Infographic Templates in PowerPoint,” which we promoted with blog posts that teach our readers how to create great infographics in more detail. Check it out:

Templates screenshot

16) Events

Holding a happy hour at your office, a meet-and-greet at a local eatery, or a conference in a major city? Whatever your event, ask attendees for their information so you can send or email their tickets ahead of time and have an ID badge waiting for them upon arrival.

Here’s how LIVE Magazine SA did that with registration for one of its free events. Notice how the brand used a Google Forms — a free and easy way to collect registration data without navigation or other distractions. Just make sure to direct your visitor to a thank you page where he or she can start navigating your site again.

Events screenshot

This way, you can follow up with attendees to let them know about similar occasions, ways to connect with people they may have met at the event, and where to download content they may have come across there. You can even add calls to action in follow-up communications that invite users to follow you on social media or subscribe to other types of content.

17) Tools

Interactive tools can be difficult and time-consuming to create, but if they’re truly helpful for your audience, the payoff is often worth it.

Take HubSpot’s Marketing Grader, for example. The landing page form below is simple and only requires a website URL and email address. The feedback that the marketer gets from this tool is worth a lot compared to the amount of information we ask for. That makes it a compelling exchange.

Tools screenshot

18) Free apps

Who says a free product doesn’t earn business? They’re actually a great opportunity for lead generation. Try giving out free versions of your product or service — it can be lighter or have fewer features than the full-blown version — with no risk, no obligation, and no credit card required. The only thing they need to do is fill out a form.

Check out how booking.com does this below. The brand could just post links directing individuals to the App Store or Google Play. Instead, it also provides the option to receive a link to download the free app via email or text. For the sake of convenience, some users are willing to provide that information, so think about how you can provide that ease of use in exchange for information from your audience.

Apps screenshot

19) Webinars

The webinar is a useful content format for introducing prospects to thought leadership around your industry, and it establishes you as an expert in the discussion. A successful webinar takes a lot of work — especially with regard to planning and promoting it — but with the right strategy, it can be a great way to generate high quality leads.

Here’s one that Sprout Social did about Instagram with a special guest. The registration page is fairly simple in design, but still has enough information about the webinar leaders to pique the interest of prospective attendees.

Webinar screenshot

To learn more about planning your own webinar, check out this post.

20) Whitepapers

Ebooks are informal, fun, design-heavy pieces of in-depth content. Whitepapers are more academic and persuasive reports. They’re structured to present a problem, then provide a solution to it. People download them because they are authoritative, detailed, and informative. And since every audience could use a good hold on their respective industry details, whitepapers can be quite valuable to them.

The cool thing about whitepapers is that they can be created around almost any industry. Here’s one that HookLogic created for the buying behavior around beauty products. Notice that the landing page allows users auto-fill the form using information from LinkedIn. Letting visitors auto-populate this data makes it easier for them to get to your content quicker, encouraging them to complete the form.

Whitepapers screenshot

Make a Smooth Landing

From ebooks, to apps, to templates, each type of content you put behind a landing page has a specific job. By experimenting with different types of offers, you can observe which ones resonate with your audience and convert the most leads. Of course, you can always do more of what works, but never get too comfortable — keep you audience alert and intrigued with new topics and formats that are groundbreaking, but relevant.

What other types of offers have you put behind a landing page form? Share with us in the comments below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

free ebook: optimizing landing pages


how to design landing pages for conversion

Oct

28

2016

9 Lead Generation Mistakes Marketers Need to Stop Making

lead-generation-mistakes.jpg

For many businesses, the key to making sales is to first generate leads.

Leads are valuable because they’re the people who have indicated organic interest in your content and your business by giving you their information in some way, whether it’s by filling out a form to download an ebook, completing an online survey, or something else.

But leads don’t grow on trees. Some marketers have trouble generating enough leads to feed their sales team. Others generate plenty of leads, but they’re not good leads, and your sales team is having trouble closing them into customers. Others just have no idea where their leads are coming from. Download the beginner's guide to converting website visitors into leads for  your business here.

These are all common problems marketers have with lead generation. In this post, we’ll go over many of these problems and talk about how to fix them.

(P.S. – Need help diagnosing your website’s lead gen issues? The folks at IMPACT Branding & Design are providing expert website critiques live at this year’s INBOUND event with the help of special guests like Marcus Sheridan and HubSpot’s Luke Summerfield. Sign up here to reserve a slot.)

9 Lead Generation Mistakes Marketers Need to Stop Making

1) You’re buying leads, not generating them organically.

If you’re having trouble generating leads, it can be tempting to buy email lists so you can feed your sales organization with something — anything. But buying or renting contacts out of desperation will cause you more long-term (and short-term) harm than good.

There are a lot of reasons buying email lists is never a good idea. Not only will sending emails to purchased lists harm your email deliverability and IP reputation, but there’s a good chance the people on your purchased list have never heard of your company — making them far more likely to mark you as spam. They’ll also think you’re super annoying. And you’re not annoying, are you?

Bottom line here is that quality email addresses simply aren’t for sale. The whole point of generating leads is to eventually nurture those leads into customers. In order for your leads to become customers, the leads you generate need to actually want to hear from you.

How to Fix It

Your leads need to opt in, plain and simple. This means your contacts chose to give you their information in exchange for something valuable, like a content offer, webinar, event, and so on. Focus on creating offers that are valuable in some way for your target audience, and then package that value and put it behind a lead capture form.

Growing a healthy, opt-in email list takes time, but it’s worth its weight in gold down the line. And once you have people to email, be sure you’re creating remarkable email content that makes people want to actually open your emails and stay subscribed.

2) You don’t offer lead gen content for people in different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Not everyone who visits your website is going to be in the same stage of their buyer’s journey. Think about the folks who are landing on your website for the very first time. Do you think they’re ready to see a demo of your product? Or do you think they’d be more likely to want to download a helpful piece of content, like a step-by-step guide?

Some of your site visitors might be ready to buy, but most won’t — and you need to give them the opportunities to learn more about your business and what you’re selling before asking them take any sort of purchase action.

Creating valuable content to teach and nurture your leads down the funnel is time-consuming, which is why so often you’ll browse a business’ website and see nothing but “Buy Now!” and “Click Here for a Free Demo!” all over the place.

How to Fix It

There is no one-size-fits-all CTA for everyone who visits your website. To maximize clickthrough rates, you’ll want to cater to visitors who are at all different stages of the buyer’s journey using CTAs.

So, yes — you’ll need to spend time creating a variety of offers you can put behind landing page forms that cater to people at different stages. Folks who are just starting to get to know you might be interested in offers like checklists, contests, and templates. Visitors who are a little further down the funnel might be interested in email courses, kits, and whitepapers. Folks even further down might be ready for a demo.

Make sure you’re creating content that cover the whole funnel, and that you’re offering this content on your website so there’s something for everyone. (Need ideas for lead gen content? Here are 23 ideas for you.)

If you want to take personalization a step further, use smart CTAs. Smart CTAs are CTAs that change depending on the person viewing the page — his or her interests, location, pages viewed already, items or services bought before, and so on. Unsurprisingly, personalized CTAS actually convert 42% more visitors than basic calls-to-action. They make for a better user experience for your user, and higher conversion rates for you: a win-win! You can learn more about smart CTAs here.

3) You aren’t using your blog to generate leads.

HubSpot’s blog is responsible for a significant percentage of our marketing team’s incoming leads. In fact, we found that 76% of our monthly blog views come from “old” posts (in other words, posts published prior to that month). We always joke that if the entire blogging team went on vacation for a month, we’d still hit a good portion of our leads goal. (We’re still working on that one.)

But we find that marketers aren’t fully taking advantage of blogging as a lead generation powerhouse. Either folks aren’t blogging at all, or they’re not putting lead capture forms or CTAs on their blog — sometimes because they don’t have any valuable content offers to put behind a form.

But one of the biggest benefits of business blogging is converting the traffic it brings you into leads. Just like every blog post you write is another indexed page, each post is a new opportunity to generate new leads. Here’s what that looks like in numbers: If each one of your blog posts gets about 100 views per month, and your visitor-to-lead conversion rate on the blog is about 2%, then you’d get two leads from a single blog post each month. If you write 30 blog posts per month, you’d get 60 leads in a month — two from each blog post.

Keep blogging consistently like that for a year, and thanks to each blog post’s compounding value over time, each post you write will drive value for you in the form of traffic and leads. By the end of 12 months, you’ll end up getting 4,680 opt-in contacts per month, not just 720 opt-in contacts (60 leads*12 months).

blogging_compounding_returns-5.jpg

How to Fix It

Generating leads from your blog posts is simple: Just add a lead-generating call-to-action to every blog post. Most of the time, these CTAs will lead to landing pages offering free content like ebooks, whitepapers, checklists, webinars, free trials, and so on. Promote your content offers by blogging about subject matters related to them, and then put CTAs that lead to the asset’s landing page on every one of those blog posts.

What that CTA looks like on your blog posts is up to you. On HubSpot’s blog, we use three main types of CTAs on our blog: end-of-post banner CTAs on every single post, and slide-in CTAs and anchor text CTAs on select posts. Read this post to learn when it’s appropriate to use end-of-post banner CTAs, anchor text CTAs, or both.

end-of-post-cta-banner-1-1.png

anchor-text-cta (1).png

As for slide-in CTAs, we’ve found these to perform better than end-of-post CTAs — which makes sense because visitors see them sooner since they slide in at about 25%-50% of the way down the post. Learn how to add slide-in CTAs to your blog posts here.

slide-in-cta-example-1.png

4) You aren’t using the best lead generation tools.

You know that people are coming to your website, but do you know what who they are? How about what they’re doing once they get there, or what they’re doing before and after taking certain actions? If you’re unable to answer these questions, then you’re going to have a hard time connecting with the people who are visiting your site or learning what’s resonating with them and what’s not.

But these are questions you can and should answer — but you need the right tools to do it. There are some great tools out there that can help you learn about your website visitors and convert them into leads.

How to Fix It

The trick is finding the best combination of tools that’ll give you the most insight and the best bang for your buck. There are a few different tools and templates out there that’ll help you create different lead gen assets you can put on your site.

At the simplest level, these 50+ free, customizable CTA Templates will help you create clickable buttons you can put on your blog, your landing pages, and elsewhere on your site. Use them to create CTAs that lead to a landing page form.

Speaking of forms, a form embedding tool will come in handy when it comes to actually collecting information from your site visitors and converting them into leads. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can create and embed forms using HubSpot. Non-HubSpot customers can use a tool like Contact Form 7, JetPack, or Google Forms, and then use Leadin’s free Collected Forms tool to automatically capture these form submissions on your website.

Finally, a lead capture and contact insights tool like Leadin by HubSpot (which is free) will help you capture leads using pop-ups, dropdown banners, or slide-ins (called “lead flows”). It’ll also scrape any pre-existing forms you have on your website and add those contacts to your existing contact database.

Here’s an example of a slide-in CTA created using Leadin, HubSpot’s free conversion tool:

slide-in-lead-flow.gif

5) You have a “right vs. wrong” testing mindset.

Knowing that you should test your website and constantly work on improving it is one thing. What most marketers have trouble with is seeing testing and experimenting not as a way to prove your ideas, but as a way to find something better.

I like the way Andrew Anderson put it in his post on ConversionXL: “The real challenge is in getting yourself and your organization ready to accept one really simple truth: Being wrong is far more valuable than being right.”

Often, this will manifest itself in someone having an idea for how to improve a part of their website. Perhaps they think removing distractions from a landing page will increase conversion rates on that page, for instance. What happens here is that most marketers will limit what they test in a way that skews the data to help them reach that conclusion, often without meaning it. After all, it feels bad — and might look bad — to have an idea or make an assumption and have it proven totally wrong.

How to Fix It

“The first and most vital step to dealing with this is to focus all discussions on the comparing of actions and not on validating opinions,” writes Anderson. “It isn’t about if Tactic A or B works, it is how well does Tactic A or B or C or D and so on compare to each other.”

In other words, treat every idea that’s brought to the table the same, whether or not you think it’ll “win.” This makes the testing program less personal and encourages a more holistic approach. Remember: by nature, a program that tests your website is meant to prove yourself and others wrong, and that’s a good thing.

You and your teammates need to check your egos and adopt this mindset to avoid finger-pointing. Instead of rewarding people for being right, which reinforces that toxic mindset, focus on the system and the outcomes more holistically.

6) You aren’t optimizing your top pages for lead generation.

Not all webpages should be treated the same. In fact, if you look at traffic numbers to specific pages on your website, you’ll probably find that the vast majority of your traffic is coming in to a few, very specific pages — maybe your homepage; your “Contact Us” page; maybe one or two popular blog posts. With so many people landing on those pages, why would you treat them like any other ol’ page on your website?

Because so many people are landing on those pages, it’s very important that you create opportunities for people to convert on those pages, lest you leave potentially massive lead numbers on the table.

How to Fix It

First, figure out which of your webpages are the four or five most popular for traffic. (HubSpot customers: You can do this in HubSpot by going to Reports > Page Performance, then filter the report by Views.)

Then, optimize those pages for leads. This means making sure you create calls-to-action (CTAs) that stand out from the page, and then place them where people naturally look on your website. Our natural eye path starts in the upper left-hand corner of a website and moves on from there, according to an eyetracking study.

Another way to increase the conversion rate on a page that already gets a lot of traffic? Create special offers specifically for your most popular pages, and gate them behind landing page forms. I know, I know, creating a brand new offer can time-consuming — but it could be much more effective for lead generation than optimizing button color, language, images, and so on. For example, the folks at Eastern International College created a quiz for students on which college major they should choose, which they linked to on their popular Careers page.

eastern-international-college-quiz.png

At the end of the quiz, they promised to send the quiz results in exchange for people’s name, phone number, and email address as a lead capture tactic.

Read this blog post for more tips on how to generate leads from your most popular webpages.

7) You’re not using social media strategically for lead generation.

Although social media is most effective for top-of-the-funnel marketing metrics like traffic and brand awareness, it can still be helpful as a source for lead generation — and a low-cost one, at that.

If you’re finding that social media isn’t generating very many leads for you, there’s a chance you’re not doing it strategically enough. At least that’s what Jeremy White, a serial entrepreneur and conversion consultant, wrote in a post on CrazyEgg’s blog.

“It’s not that you can’t get leads on social media; it’s that we’re not taking what’s there,” he wrote. In other words, you might be doing it wrong. If your social strategy is to post your new ebooks to all your social media channels and that’s about it, then don’t expect to bring in a whole lot of leads from those posts. The spray-and-pray technique isn’t enough.

How to Fix It

One way to generate more leads from social media is to sprinkle blog posts and offers that have historically generated higher-than-average leads numbers for you in with the new posts and offers your team is creating.

At HubSpot, we’ve found that one of the best ways to generate leads is simply to link directly to landing pages for blog posts and offers that have historically performed well for lead generation. (Learn how to do your own blog lead generation analysis here.)

We’ve also found that linking directly to an offer’s landing page can be more effective — as long as your post copy sets the expectation that you are, in fact, sending people to a landing page. In the Facebook post below, we set that expectation by putting “Free Template” in brackets in front of the offer title.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re using some of the features on each social network that are specifically designed to help you generate leads.

On Twitter, your lead gen tweets should contain a value proposition, a short URL linking to the landing page with a form, and an image to ensure the post stands out. (Here are some social media image templates you can use to create those images.)

Twitter also offers lead generation cards that can help you generate qualified leads at a lower cost than most of the other major ad platforms. Twitter cards let you embed rich media that don’t count toward your tweet character limit that allow your fans and followers to do things like download an app, visit a landing page, give over their email, or use a coupon — all without leaving Twitter. (HubSpot customers: You can connect your Twitter lead gen cards to HubSpot by following these instructions.)

On Facebook: There are a number of great ways to generate leads from Facebook, the best of which I’ve rounded up in this blog post. For example, one way to easily generate leads is by simply using the call-to-action feature available for Pages. The feature lets you put a simple call-to-action button at the top of your Facebook Page, and it can help drive more traffic from your Facebook Page to lead generation forms like landing pages and contact sheets.

Here’s an example from Tough Mudder’s Page, and you can learn how to insert your own Facebook CTA button here.

tough-mudder-facebook-for-lead-gen.png

On LinkedIn, B2B businesses can take advantage of the perception that LinkedIn is the most sophisticated of social platforms, and a place where B2B relationships are most likely to be built. Like on Facebook, you can publish your lead-generating content directly to your business’ Facebook Page alongside actionable copy and a compelling image.

8) Your forms are too long or too short.

How long should your lead capture forms be? Striking a balance between asking too much and too little on your forms is a common problem marketers gripe with.

If your form’s too short, more people might be willing to fill it out, which is great for leads numbers — but the quality of those leads might not be very high. If your form’s too long, though, fewer people might be willing to fill it out, meaning you’ll get fewer leads out of it. On the bright side, the people who do submit their information could end up being higher quality leads.

So what gives? What’s the “magic number” of questions to ask on your forms?

How to Fix It

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for how many fields to put on your forms. Your “sweet spot” will depend entirely on your goals: Do you need more leads, or do you need better leads? Essentially, the length of your form will lead to a tradeoff between quantity and quality of the leads you generate. In general, shorter forms usually result in more overall leads, while longer forms will result in fewer, but higher quality leads.

“Think of every field in your checkout as a hurdle your prospect has to leap over,” writes Copyhackers’ Joanna Wiebe. “Then ask yourself if it’s worth the possibility of losing a sale — or thousands of sales — because you want to fill a database.”

You can’t possibly know how many form fields you can pull off without conducting conversion research and running your own tests. Even then, you have to compare the ROI of additional information with the ROI of increased conversions. How much does having a phone number really help the sales team? Is it enough to warrant a potential decrease in conversions?

It’s important that you don’t make this decision without involving your sales team. They have a better idea of what information will actually help them close deals. How much does asking for a phone number actually help your sales team — and is it enough to potentially lose leads over? Speaking of talking with your sales team …

9) Your definition of a qualified lead isn’t well communicated with Sales.

You know the definition of a lead in the general sense of the term: It’s a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service by giving you their information in some way, like by filling out a form to download an ebook or completing an online survey.

A marketing qualified lead, or MQL, is a lead that’s been deemed more likely to become a customer compared to other leads, based on lead intelligence. MQLs have metaphorically raised their hands and identified themselves as more deeply engaged, sales-ready contacts than your usual leads, but who have not yet become full-fledged opportunities. In other words, from a marketing perspective, your sales team should be talking with them.

But sales teams tend to have their own system for qualifying leads. Sales qualified leads are leads your sales team has accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow-up. Agreeing on that quality threshold is where things tend to get muddy. Both the quantity and quality of leads needed and the sales process are mutually agreed upon by both Marketing and Sales.

How to Fix It

That’s exactly where the conversation begins. To align Marketing and Sales on what constitutes a qualified lead from both sides, you’ll have to learn to speak each other’s language. Similar to your marketing qualified leads, Sales has its own definition of “qualified”: sales qualified leads are leads they’ve accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow-up.

Both teams need to align on their definitions of a marketing qualified and sales qualified lead. And there’s no one-size-fits-all definition for one, either — an MQL at one company may be completely different than an MQL at another company. You should do your own internal analysis of your leads and customers to create your business’ definition of an MQL. Read this post to learn how to get started defining an MQL for your business and communicating that definition with Sales.

There are plenty more lead generation mistakes I could add to this list, but these are some of the most important ones we see marketers make often. For our readers out there who want to get more and better quality leads, we hope this post will help you prioritize where to focus your time and resources.

What other mistakes can you add to this list? Share your ideas and experiences with us in the comments.

Intro to Lead Gen

Oct

25

2016

15 Easy Ways to Make Your Commute More Productive

commute

It’s easy to think of commuting as a total waste of time. When you’re standing on the train platform or waiting at a traffic light, every minute that ticks by can seem like a minute lost from an already jam-packed day at work. But there’s good news for those of you who wish you could spend that time more productively.

There are a lot of fun, creative apps out there that help you make use of that time — whether it’s a 10-minute walk or a 60-minute bus ride. (Drivers: We don’t advocate the use of any of the apps on this list that involve reading or typing.) Download our complete guide here for more tips on improving your productivity.

Check out this roundup of 15 easy ways to make your commute more productive, and the apps that will help you make it happen. Try them out, and hey — you might even start looking forward to your trips to and from the office.

15 Ideas for Increasing Productivity on Your Commute

1) Create your to-do list for the day.

Apps: Wunderlist, Evernote, Dragon Dictation

If you’re the kind of person who likes to get organized first thing in the morning, spend some time listing the things you need to accomplish that day. Taking that extra time to think about each task can help you prioritize and set realistic expectations.

There are a number of to-do list apps out there, but Wunderlist and Evernote are among the best. They sync between your mobile devices and your personal computers and allow you to drag and drop tasks between days and categories, as well as set alerts and due dates. You can even share lists and notes with others. Here’s a look at the Wunderlist app:

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For you drivers out there, you can use the free app Dragon Dictation to get your to-do list (and any other thoughts) down on your phone. Simply speak while the app is recording, and your text content will appear. If you’re an avid Evernote user, note that Evernote also has a voice recording function, too.

dragon-dictation-screenshot

Source: OT’s with Apps & Technology

2) Clear your inbox.

Apps: Gmail, ASAM

There’s something so satisfying about arriving at the office with a clean inbox. That’s why I like to go through emails and delete anything extraneous before I even get in to work. It saves me at least a half hour and a loss of momentum during my most productive time of day.

If you’re driving, you can use ASAM — a free app from AgileSpeech — to “read” your emails. The app will read your emails out loud and word-for-word. (And when I say word-for-word, I mean it reads everything — disclaimers, signatures, and other information you might’ve skipped otherwise.) When the message is finished, the app will “ding” and you have the option to dictate a reply.

ASAM screenshot

Source: Google Play

3) Set and check in on your goals.

App: Coach.me

Believe it or not, there’s a new year right around the corner. And if you’re into resolutions, checking your progress regularly and finding ways to stay motivated is key to maintaining them. The free version of the Coach.me app lets you set personal and professional targets, get reminders, and choose whether to make your achievements visible to a community of active users so you can give and receive support. And starting at $15 per week, you can hire a coach to actually help you achieve them.

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Source: iTunes

4) Learn a language.

App: Duolingo

Once upon a time, maybe after college, you were almost fluent in Spanish. Or French. Or something else you learned in school. But then, you stopped practicing.

Want to get your language skills back on track? Duolingo is a fantastic (and free) app that makes (re)learning languages fun. Each lesson is short, painless, and super visual. Slate called it “the most productive means of procrastination I’ve ever discovered.” Be warned, though — it can get addictive.

duolingo-screenshotduolingo-screenshot

Source: iTunes

5) Listen to a podcast or audiobook.

Apps: Stitcher, Podcasts, This American Life, Audible

If you’d rather not spend any more time staring at a screen during your commute, then listening to a podcast or audiobook can be a really pleasant way to spend any length of time. Plus, you’ll learn a lot of really cool information you can impress your friends with later.

The free app Stitcher lets you make playlists of all your favorite podcasts.

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As for which podcasts to listen to, our favorites include:

Looking for something else? Take a look at Stitcher’s list of Top 100 Podcasts.

6) Read an actual book.

Apps: iBooks, Kindle, Zinio, Apple News

I don’t know about you, but I constantly lament how little time I spend reading. You know, actual books, newspapers, or print magazines. And while I also enjoy turning a physical page, I always forget to pack my print materials before I leave for work.

Luckily, there are numerous apps that address that issue, and let you read any book, newspaper, or magazine you choose from a mobile device.

For news and magazines, we like Apple’s News app, which lets you choose from a vast catalogue of publications that you can read right from your phone. You can store your favorites and choose from them with a simple tap.

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But for actual books, there are the Kindle and iBooks apps, which let you download full reading materials and enjoy them from your phone or tablet. Kindle transfers any ebook purchases you’ve made on Amazon right to your device, so you can take in whatever great literature you please, right from the bus or subway.

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7) Read the articles you’ve bookmarked.

App: Pocket

Using the Pocket app, you can save articles (and videos, and pretty much any type of content) in one place for easy reading on your commute. You can save content directly from your browser, emails, or from over 500 apps like Twitter, Flipboard, Pulse, and Zite. So while Evernote is a great app for long-term content storage, Pocket is perfect for bookmarking stuff to read later.

Pocket app.jpegpocket-app-screenshot

Source: iTunes // Just the Best Apps

8) Read the newest posts from your favorite online sources.

Apps: Feedly

We’ve covered how to catch up on the latest content from your favorite publications. But what about your favorite blogs or other online news sources? Feedly is an RSS reader that lets you subscribe to the publishers whose posts you never want to miss. You can separate them into different lists, mark articles as “read,” share your favorite pieces, and even browse for new content.

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Source: Google Play

9) Get your social media fix out of the way.

Apps: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more …

Not all of us are lucky enough to include browsing and posting on personal social media accounts in our job descriptions. Help resist the urge to check your news feeds and notifications at work by doing it to your heart’s content during your commute.

Instagram fix

10) Brush up on your marketing & sales progress.

App: HubSpot Mobile

Remember those days when you absolutely had to be at your desk to get your work done? Those days are close to being gone, thanks in part to the new HubSpot Mobile app. 

With this app, you can take advantage of your HubSpot software, even if you’re on the go. It starts with a customizable dashboard that gives you an at-a-glance breakdown of the most important metrics to you — landing page, blog, and email performance, as well as deals and sales tasks.

You can also easily access your contacts database, marketing insights (like email analytics) and your sales pipeline. For that last part, you can use the app to add notes, activities, or tasks, and keep track of deal stages.

HubSpot Mobile contacts  HubSpot Mobile Email

11) Clean your house.

App: iRobot HOME

Weekends: The perfect time to catch up with friends, family, the TV you missed last week and house-cleaning. Okay, how many of us really get around to that last one? (Hint: I don’t.)

But my colleague, Eric Peters, let me in on a little secret about the internet of things. Thanks to its HOME app, if you own a iRobot device like Roomba, you can remotely clean your house from your mobile device.

“My new favorite productivity app is from iRobot,” he told me. “I can turn on my Roomba and clean my floor, and not have to vacuum later.”

What’s more? You can even set a cleaning schedule for the week, in case you forget to spontaneously turn on your devices.

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Source: iTunes

12) Clean up your Twitter feed.

App: Twindr

Ever scrolled through your Twitter feed and realized you’ve been just a bit too generous in how many people you follow? Twindr is a free app that works kind of like Tinder, but for unfollowing people on Twitter. All it takes is a few quick swipes to clean up your follower count.

twindr-screenshot

Source: Gizmodo

13) Get zen.

Apps: Insight Timer, Personal Zen, Headspace

Mondays, amirite? Suddenly, in the midst of pre-workday standing nap among the subway masses, you find your mind flooding with a mental to-do list of all the stuff you didn’t get done when you left the office early last Friday.

If this scenario sounds familiar, you’ve got to breathe — which can be tough to do on a Monday morning. But there are apps out there that can help you get zen during your commute, no matter how long it is.

We especially like Insight Timer, since — as its name suggests — you can actually set a timer for the window you have to meditate and select a combination of ambient sounds to use in the background. Or, you can select from any number of the app’s guided meditations. Om…

Insight Timer Custom Insight Timer Guided

14) Set a step goal for the day.

Apps: Fitbit, Withings, Jawbone UP, Apple Health

A great way to get more exercise and burn more calories throughout the day is by building incremental physical activities into your daily routine. If that sounds like your style, use an app like Fitbit or Withings to set step goal for each of your commutes. (While these companies sell expensive devices that sync with their apps, they have the ability to measure your steps for free.) And if you have an iPhone, the Health app will track any steps you take when you have your device with you.

Each morning and afternoon, try to hit your goal. If you drive, park your car some distance away from the office and walk the rest of the way. If you take the train or a bus, get off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way. If your mode of transportation gets delayed, get your steps in by walking back and forth on the platform.

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Source: Jawbone

15) Plan your meals.

Apps: Eat This Much, Pepperplate, BigOven

You work hard. Your days are long. That’s why it’s so easy to resort to something that’s quick and already prepared for dinner. But you don’t have to fall victim to the easy way out — if you plan ahead. There are apps out there that can help you do that, by making it simple to plan your meals for the week in advance.

We get especially geeked-out over the Eat This Much app, in part because it’s linked to grocery-delivery apps, if they’re available in your area. Plus, it lets you set nutrition goals and set parameters for any dietary restrictions you might have, like vegan, gluten-free, or specific food allergies.

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Source: iTunes

Get Appy

See? Your commute doesn’t have to be so bad, after all. 

And even if you’re lucky enough to love your work, it never hurts to have that time to yourself to take care of the things that these apps are made to do. So get happy, get healthy and get “appy” — it’s one of the best ways to make the most of your precious time.

What do you do to make your commute more productive? Share with us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

free productivity tips

 
free productivity tips

Oct

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2016

What Successful Marketing Looks Like Today: 8 Foundational Principles [Infographic]

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When you think of the basics of marketing, you might be thinking: Okay, create an awesome website; design and send some cool emails; post strategically to social media; maybe supplement with some advertising.

But what about the principles behind your campaigns? When you’re planning and doing all of these marketing activities, what motivates your decisions?

Today, the most successful marketers aren’t just crossing items off their to-do lists; they’re taking a holistic, adaptive approach to their marketing. They’re elevating the customer experience, building personalized connections, adapting to the evolution of technology, attracting customers to them using inbound marketing, and more.

When marketers take this approach, they start creating a better brand experience and driving real business results. To learn more about the eight pillars of modern marketing, check out the infographic below from Olive & Company.

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free intro to inbound marketing ebook