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Aug

21

2017

Talking the Talk: The Beginner’s Guide to Designing a Chatbot Conversation

Nothing will impact the way we communicate quite like chatbots.

Whether you need to summon a Lyft, book a flight, or even test out a new shade of lipstick, it’s now safe to say, “There’s an bot for that.”

By plugging into the messaging apps we already use to talk with friends every day, chatbots sit at the intersection of convenience and utility, redefining what it means for brands to be helpful for their customers.

And the numbers live up to the hype. Today, messaging apps have over 5 billion monthly active users, surpassing that of the top social networks. On Facebook Messenger alone there are 100,000 bots, not to mention the growing offerings on Kik, Slack, WeChat, and more.

Needless to say, bots are the future of brand communication.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t frustrate the hell out of you from time to time.

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Image: Why Chatbots Fail

Let’s face it. Aside from the one-year-olds in your life, humans are really good at conversation. We remember contextual details. We get sarcasm. We read between the lines.

Bots don’t.

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Image: Giphy

No matter the amount of headlines you read proclaiming that it’s the “Year of Chatbots”, natural language processing technology is still early, and there will still be those bots that make you want to sling your phone against the wall.

Besides, an entire lifetime of conversations has taught us to expect those we talk with to be relevant, clear, and brief. But, as more and more marketers race to this new communication channel without carefully considering the customer experience, we risk messing up messaging.

It’s safe to say, the greatest challenge of creating a bot is developing the conversational flow.

Don’t get hung up on development. Thanks to platforms like Motion.ai, building a bot is as easy as drawing a flowchart, meaning you can get the whole process done without knowing a line of code.

However, crafting a productive conversation is an art. There’s no absolute template to follow.

It’s really the double-edged sword of messaging. When done well, bots provide a scalable way to have one-on-one conversations with buyers unlike any other communication channel us marketers have gotten our hands on. Yet, bots fail when they don’t deliver an experience as efficient and delightful as the complex, multi-layered conversations people are accustomed to having with other humans on messaging apps.

If this sounds like nothing you’ve ever done before as a marketer, you’re not alone. Designing a great chatbot conversation will take more than some witty copywriting.

To help you wrap your mind around the concept, we’ve created the Inbound Messaging Framework — a beginner’s guide to structuring chatbot conversations that keep the greater customer experience in mind.

So, get out those dry erase markers. It’s time to whiteboard your first chatbot conversation.

The Inbound Messaging Framework

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Connect

The first step of the Inbound Messaging Framework is to connect with your audience. Before you write a line of copy, understand your audience enough to know the messaging app where they’re most likely to spend their time so you’re available when their problem arises. For example, with its wide reach, Facebook Messenger could be the best option for audiences over the age of 18. But it overlooks the teenage demographic, who has proved loyal to Kik.

Engage the user in a conversational tone authentic to the feel of the messaging app, but remains true to your brand’s personality. For example, notice how the Sephora bot for Kik welcomes users with a casual tone and isn’t shy with the emojis.

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Image: NewsWhip

The Sephora bot begins the conversation by getting to know the customer as if they’ve walked into the store and are greeted by a personal stylist. The bot then recalls these details to cater product suggestions accordingly.

This sort of personalization is just the beginning of what the Connect stage could be in the future. Imagine chatting with a bot that remembers your exact shade of foundation or recalls your shipping address automatically. As bot building platforms make connecting to your business’s CRM even easier, personalization will have a new whole meaning for marketers.

Understand

A common misconception with chatbots is that they’re supposed to be chatty. Remember, with each joke or silly GIF, you’re adding another barrier between the user and the solution they’re looking for.

Instead, the goal of the Understand phase is to lead the user through a series of dependent questions to to collect the necessary information to understand their intent or problem.

Here’s where the flow-charting begins. The progression of questions is neither random, nor one-size-fits-all. Start with a leading question that helps you narrow down the user’s intent as much as possible. Then, use the answer to alter each follow-up question until you’re able to hone in on a solution.

As described on the Prototypr blog, one method is to consider the who, what, when, where, and why of the situation and order your questions with the most telling variable first. For instance, Spring, a personal shopping bot, begins by asking whether the user wants women’s or men’s items to cut the product options in half from the start.

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Image: SendBird Blog

Deliver

You’ve heard it said before: bots are the new apps. We’ve grown tired of having to download an app we’ll never use again. In fact, half of U.S. smartphone users download a whopping zero apps per month. But since bots are accessed via messaging apps, there’s no longer a need to clutter up your phone with new downloads.

The best bots complete a transaction or deliver a solution without forcing the user to leave the conversational interface. Thankfully, most bot building platforms provide a variety of rich media options to help make this a reality, including image carousels and buy buttons.

Note how TechCrunch’s Facebook Messenger bot delivers content via Instant Articles to prevent mobile users from having to load their website.

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Refine

The process doesn’t end when the user closes the chat window. The best bots apply what they’ve learned from each and every interaction and use it to make subsequent experiences more unique and streamlined.

As Clara de Soto, co-founder of Reply.ai, told VentureBeat, “You’re never just ‘building a bot’ so much as launching a ‘conversational strategy’ — one that’s constantly evolving and being optimized based on how users are actually interacting with it.”

We’re swimming in data these days, and the more we market within the world of messaging, the more we’ll find this to be true. Consider updating the options in the menu based on the options users select or altering the syntax of questions that cause users to bounce.

Remember, building a bot is one thing, but understanding the cyclical nature of this field is another. The conversational flow is the heart of your chatbot and should be something you come back to refine time and time again.

Dec

8

2016

How to Write the Perfect Marketing Email [Free Ebook]

From the subject line to the closing, there’s a science to writing the perfect email.

Include too many pictures, and your clickthrough rate may decrease. Write too much text, and your message may overwhelm your reader — especially considering 48% of emails are opened on a smartphone.

In our ebook, How to Write the Perfect Email, we’ll walk you through the 14 key steps to optimize your marketing emails for opens, clicks, subscribers, and more. We’ll cover how to:

  • Prioritize the goals of your emails
  • Nail the tone of your email to build trust with your audience
  • Time your sends to make sure your email is actually read
  • Segment your emails by lifecycle stage, content engagement, and more
  • Choose an impactful call-to-action

With each email send, marketers make countless decisions that influence whether your message gets opened, tossed, skimmed, or clicked. Don’t send your next blast without the latest optimization tips and industry data.

Check out our email optimization guide and learn how proper email optimization can boost your content downloads, convert more prospects, and increase your ROI.

write the perfect email

Nov

18

2016

How to Run a Competitor Analysis [Free Guide]

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When was the last time you performed a competitor analysis for your brand?

Too often, a competitor analysis is reserved for the early days of a company or the launch of a new product. For others, analyzing the competition doesn’t go further than scrolling through their social media accounts every morning.

Whether it’s lack of time or understanding, many marketers are not taking full advantage of a proper competitor audit. Yet, knowing how your competitors are positioning their product and brand story is a key way to ensure your content remains compelling to your persona.

In our new ebook, How to Run a Competitor Analysis, we’ll show you how to compare your competitor’s weaknesses against your own strengths and vice versa. You’ll learn how to:

  • Identify your direct and indirect competitors
  • Analyze your competitor’s content strategy for quality and reach
  • Grade your competitor’s SEO strategy and increase your own authority
  • Equip your salespeople to compete during the decision stage of the buyer’s journey

Then, we’ll show you how to organize all of your research in a single document to align your entire team.

Fair warning, this is not the ultimate guide to replicating your competitor’s every move. But with our competitor analysis guide, you’ll discover how to run an efficient, on-going analysis that sets your brand apart.

download how to run a competitor analysis

Nov

18

2016

How to Run a Competitor Analysis [Free Guide]

Competitor Analysis.jpg

When was the last time you performed a competitor analysis for your brand?

Too often, a competitor analysis is reserved for the early days of a company or the launch of a new product. For others, analyzing the competition doesn’t go further than scrolling through their social media accounts every morning.

Whether it’s lack of time or understanding, many marketers are not taking full advantage of a proper competitor audit. Yet, knowing how your competitors are positioning their product and brand story is a key way to ensure your content remains compelling to your persona.

In our new ebook, How to Run a Competitor Analysis, we’ll show you how to compare your competitor’s weaknesses against your own strengths and vice versa. You’ll learn how to:

  • Identify your direct and indirect competitors
  • Analyze your competitor’s content strategy for quality and reach
  • Grade your competitor’s SEO strategy and increase your own authority
  • Equip your salespeople to compete during the decision stage of the buyer’s journey

Then, we’ll show you how to organize all of your research in a single document to align your entire team.

Fair warning, this is not the ultimate guide to replicating your competitor’s every move. But with our competitor analysis guide, you’ll discover how to run an efficient, on-going analysis that sets your brand apart.

download how to run a competitor analysis

Oct

27

2016

The Ultimate List of 250+ Marketing Statistics [New Data]

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We’ve all been there … the wild goose chase of finding the perfect statistic.

You’re writing a blog post on the importance of using video in your social media strategy, for instance. As you crank through your outline, suddenly you pause. If only I had a stat to insert here.

First you come across a research report, but it requires a hefty membership fee. For your next data point, you follow the trail of links from one article to the next, only to find that the original source is 404-ed. When you finally think you’ve found the perfect social video statistic, you realize it was published during the days “poking” someone on Facebook was still socially acceptable. 

Let’s stop chasing after stats. For your researching ease, we’ve gathered all the top marketing and sales data in one place. So when you need a stat on the rise of video, we’ve got you covered. In fact, did you know 43% of consumers want to see more video content from marketers in the future? 

In our Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics, you’ll find over 250 data points on search engine optimization, content marketing, email optimization, sales and marketing alignment, and more. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Content consumption on Facebook has increased 57% in the past two years.
  • 65% of marketers say generating traffic and leads is their top challenge.
  • 82% of marketers with a service-level agreement think their marketing strategy is effective.

Bookmark our Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics today to spend less time scouring the internet for numbers and more time creating great content.

get the free 2016 state of inbound report

Sep

21

2016

8 Stats You Need to Know From the 2016 State of Inbound Report [New Data]

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The inbound movement has always been about one thing: being relevant and truly helpful to your audience.

This approach shouldn’t change, but as consumer habits evolve, marketers and salespeople must adapt to better connect with and help their prospects and customers.

To better understand how consumers are changing, we collected data from 4,500 marketers and salespeople from around the globe, resulting in the 2016 State of Inbound report. It details benchmark data on ROI, the lowdown on collaboration between Marketing and Sales, and a look at what the industry’s foremost marketers are adding to their strategy in the coming year. To learn more about the challenges marketers face today, download the free  2016 State of Inbound report here.

Check out the full report here or view some of the most interesting highlights below. 

8 Stats You Need to Know From the 2016 State of Inbound Report

1) Inbound organizations are 4X as likely to be effective. [Tweet this]

Over the past few years of the State of Inbound report, we’ve established the challenges and priorities of marketers and salespeople. But this year, we introduced a new angle in our study: Do marketers believe their organization’s marketing strategy is effective?

As it turns out, we’re glad we asked. Out of all the datapoints in the report, the fact that inbound marketers are much more likely to be satisfied with their organization’s playbook is among our favorite insights.

2) 1/3 of marketers think outbound marketing tactics are overrated. [Tweet this]

It’s not simply the effectiveness of the inbound philosophy that encourages us, but the success of inbound when compared to alternative methods. Each year, marketers tell us that outbound practices are overrated.

While we admit we might be a bit biased, when we cut the data outbound marketers agreed. According to this year’s data, 33% of inbound marketers and 31% of outbound marketers rank outbound marketing practices such as paid advertising as the top waste of time and resources.

Marketers aren’t just saying outbound is overrated — the data supports it. Our survey revealed outbound marketing teams have more trouble proving ROI, securing budget, and training their team compared to their inbound counterparts.

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3) Organizations that can calculate ROI are 1.6X as likely to receive higher budgets. [Tweet this]

Speaking of calculating ROI, organizations that are able to do so receive higher budgets. Additionally, 72% of organizations that calculate ROI say their marketing strategy is effective. Only 49% of organizations that don’t calculate ROI say the same.

The logic here is clear: Marketers that calculate ROI both receive more budget and are more successful. With the help of an inbound methodology, all of these goals are easier to achieve.

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4) Marketers struggle most with metrics-driven challenges. [Tweet this]

Marketers find tracking and making sense of their metrics a challenge. This year, 65% of marketers admit that their top challenge is generating enough traffic and leads. This is followed by 43% who struggle proving the ROI of marketing activities and 28% who are trying to secure enough budget.

All three of these top challenges are metrics-driven. Without the proper tools to track concrete campaign results, this will continue to be a struggle.

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5) Inbound organizations with an SLA are over 5X as likely to be effective. [Tweet this]

When we began publishing this report eight years ago, much of our data revolved around the adoption of inbound marketing. As the message spread, we began to see why it’s crucial for both marketing and sales teams to adopt the inbound methodology together. One of the main ways this is done is through a service-level agreement (SLA).

Despite the fact that only 22% of organizations say they have a tightly aligned SLA, the benefits of having one are clear: 82% of marketers with an SLA think their marketing strategy is effective. In fact, there is no combination of factors more strongly correlated with marketing success than being both inbound and having an SLA.

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6) 40% of salespeople say getting a response from prospects is getting harder. [Tweet this]

While marketers struggle with tracking the metrics of their campaigns, salespeople admit that getting a response from prospects is their top challenge. However, as you dive deeper into the data, you see the problem goes beyond prospects not answering email or phone calls.

Instead, there’s a disconnect between Marketing and Sales around the quality of leads. According to this year’s report, 59% of marketers say they provide salespeople with their best quality leads, while salespeople rank marketing leads last. In fact, marketing-sourced leads are ranked behind referrals and sales-sourced leads by all sales levels from the C-suite to individual contributors.

There’s always room to improve the handoff between Marketing and Sales. For the coming year, both departments will need to continually communicate and refine their SLA, even if there’s already one in place.

7) Marketers think video and multimedia platforms have the potential to disrupt. [Tweet this]

As marketers prepare for the future, many plan to add more multimedia content. In the past, content marketers poured their efforts into their blog. With the rising trend of content decentralization, marketers are now seeing the benefit of publishing on additional channels.

In our study, marketers are accounting for video’s global appeal, with 48% planning on using YouTube and 39% looking to add Facebook video. Podcasts are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, while others are turning to more visual platforms such as  Instagram and Snapchat.

But, don’t think the age of the blog is over. Decentralized content marketing is all about augmenting your blog to make it more effective, not scratching all of your existing strategy. Marketers can start by repurposing their most successful blog content into additional multimedia formats.

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8) 22% of salespeople don’t know what a CRM is. [Tweet this]

Marketers are not the only ones who should be thinking about how new technologies can alter their future strategy. A quarter of all salespeople say improving their sales technology is their top priority over the next year. Yet, 22% of respondents still don’t know what a CRM is and 40% continue to use Excel or Outlook to store customer data. It’s no wonder so many salespeople are spending an hour or more on data entry every day.

The more time salespeople spend on data entry, the less time they have to sell. And if lead records are stored in a haphazard way, there’s potential for a prospect to get contacted by multiple reps, receive redundant emails or calls, and end up with a disjointed and frustrating selling experience. As Sales looks to improve their numbers and scale their business, implementing a CRM should be a top priority for the future-thinking sales organization.

Want more data-backed insights? This is just a preview of the State of Inbound report. Download the report for free to discover how inbound marketing and sales is evolving.

get the free 2016 state of inbound report

Sep

19

2016

The Decentralized Content Marketing Playbook [Infographic]

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In the past, content marketing revolved around one thing: your blog. Marketers lived by the promise that if they wrote quality articles on their website’s blog, traffic would come. And after decades of interruptive television commercials and dinnertime cold calling, it was a welcome change in the world of marketing and selling.

But, your website isn’t as important as you think — at least not on its own. Top content marketers aren’t simply cranking out blog posts and ebooks. Instead, they’re publishing on Medium, exploring live streaming video, and project managing web development tools. Between all of these rising trends, content publishing is becoming decentralized across the web.

Just like it sounds, content decentralization is the movement away from website-based publishing in an effort to reach beyond the limits of your current audience and build a community where people are already consuming content. It’s not meant to replace traditional content marketing, but instead, augment it.

In the infographic below, we’ve gathered actionable data to help you realign your priorities with the content consumers want. For even more insight on the future of marketing, be sure to download the 2016 State of Inbound report.

SOI-Content-Infographic-small-V4.jpg

Want more data on the future of content marketing? Download our free 2016 State of Inbound report.

get the free 2016 state of inbound report

Aug

11

2016

27 Email Hacks That’ll Make You More Productive [Free Ebook]

Email_Productivity_Hacks-1.jpg

When I made my start in the working world, I believed a terrible lie about my inbox.

I thought that the best employees respond to emails immediately. So of course, I prided myself on replying to emails quicker than any of my coworkers — even if that meant dropping whatever important task I was supposed to be doing.

Thankfully, this competitive spirit around my inbox didn’t last long. While I still love the feeling of “inbox zero,” I’ve come to understand the amount of time your inbox can steal. According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, the average worker spends 28% of the workweek reading and responding to emails.

Emailing may seem like the most basic of tasks — write, attach, send, reply. But it turns out, it takes a thoughtful strategy to ensure your inbox isn’t the mortal enemy of your productivity. With our latest ebook — 27 Email Hacks That’ll Make You More Productive — we’ll help you unburden yourself from the weight of email overload.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to triage your inbox effectively, filter out unwanted messages, and use templates to write your emails faster. Then we’ll show you the secret features of Gmail and Outlook to help you take back your workday.

Don’t waste another minute clicking back and forth to your email tab.

Get your copy today.

free email productivity tips

Jun

20

2016

Trying to Find a Job? 8 Little Ways to Make Your Job Search a Whole Lot Easier

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The average job search is a peculiar paradox. There may be 2,278 available positions for your chosen field, but as you scroll through pages and pages of listings, you’re lucky if two stand out.

Perhaps you’re a recent college graduate searching for the needle in the haystack of three- to five-year experience jobs. Just as frustrating, you could be a senior employee wondering if any position out there matches your unique mix of skills. Either way, it doesn’t take long before you start to feel like the Goldilocks of job searching.

So how do you know if you’re being too picky? In my own job searching, I’ve tried two opposite methods:

  1. Blanketing hundreds of postings with the same resume.
  2. Strategically focusing on a dream list of companies.

But for the sake of full transparency, the former option was fueled by the motivation to get off of my parents’ couch as quickly as possible.

If you’ve read any amount of job search advice on the internet, you probably know which of these two methods yielded the best results. However, there are plenty of other factors beyond your resume-sending habits that go into finding the perfect position and ensuring you get the call back. Below, I’ve gathered some of the top tips to score a job without all the added stress that comes along with the search.

Trying to Find a Job? 8 Little Ways to Simplify Your Search 

1) Customize your web presence.

It should go without saying, but if you aren’t customizing your resume, cover letter, and portfolio for the specific job you’re applying to, you probably won’t get the interviews you’re hoping for.

While a full resume checklist warrants a blog post of its own, one tip I will highlight is taking the time to match the wording of your resume and cover letter to the position you’re applying to. In the world of marketing, jargon abounds. Whether it’s content management or landing page optimization, talk about your skills in a way that a first-round recruiter — or even a computer — will understand.

Let’s take a look at the listing for a blogging position on our content team as an example (and did I mention, we’re hiring?):

content_marketing_writer-blogger.png

Having found this promising job listing, here’s how you might begin customizing your application:

  • Create word cloud. As a first check, use a word cloud generator to extract the terms that are used most in the job description. For example, here’s what terms stand out in the blogger listing:

blogger_word_cloud.png

  • Scan the job description for technical terms you can repeat in your own writing. This doesn’t mean mentioning “high-impact experiments” if you’ve never actually tested content distribution or format. But it would be wise to replace “designs hero images” on your resume with “creates multimedia assets” to make the connection clear for a recruiter.
  • Identify themes between the resonsibilities and qualifications. If the job description repeats a desired quality, you can assume it’s a pet rock of the team. For example, the posting stresses the importance of experimentation. Therefore, you should replace or refine the anecdotes of your cover letter to highlight this quality.
  • Take notice of culture clues. Sentiments of collaboration and teamwork appear multiple times in this job posting. As you aim to show you have this quality, refer to the company’s culture code to inform your language choice.

Beyond tweaking your resume and cover letter for the specific company and role, make sure all instances of your name on the internet — including your LinkedIn profile, Twitter, Instagram, published clips, and portfolio — tell a cohesive story. Remember, every aspect of your online presence should scream, “I’m perfect for this job!” before you pick up the phone for your first screening call.

2) Don’t limit yourself to formal applications.

“It’s not what you know, but who you know.” No matter how many times I hear this quote, it still makes my blood boil. In the back of my mind, I hear my post-grad self wine: “But I don’t know anyone. How am I supposed to get a job then?”

Even if that saying is true, I would now push back on my former self with a little tough love: If you don’t know the right people, make the connections.

No matter what what stage of your career you’re in, it won’t hurt to reach out to friends, alumni, and former colleagues. Even if you don’t know the right person, they might. And that referral can make all the difference. While employee referrals make up only 7% of applications, Jobvite estimates they account for 40% of all hires.

Opt for targeted, personalized emails as opposed to a single spammy message to your entire address book. For an example, take a look at this inquiry email I might send to a former co-worker for potential leads:

job_inquiry_email.png

You’ll notice that besides attaching my resume, I’ve shorted my recent experience to a few quick bullet points in the body of the message to make it as easy as possible to scan. I’ve also included ideal job titles and companies, while of course, thanking them graciously for their support.

As frightening as it may be, emailing second connections or companies of interest without job listings is not out of the question … as long as you do it in the right way. There’s a big difference between a cold email and a genuine, personalized message. Many of my best leads came out of direct messages to content directors, admiring a specific aspect of their work and asking for their creative expertise over a cup of coffee. For those who know me be best, they’ll confirm it’s completely out of my introverted, Midwestern-nice comfort zone to ever do this. But in the end, your momentary discomfort could pay off tremendously.

3) Reflect on your why.

Most interview questions never change. Why are you interested in this position? What are your top strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Yet, no matter how many interviews you’ve had, it’s still easy to stumble through these questions. According to Charles Duhigg, building mental models and telling yourself stories of potential situations can help control how you think. What could be more helpful in an interview than being able to control your racing mind?

Too often, we wait until the night before an interview (or even the 30 minutes before) to reflect on why we want that particular position and how we’ll answer the questions we know are coming.

Instead, move this process to the top of your job search to-do list. Don’t settle with just knowing you want a position as a content marketer or project manager. Consider the “why” and write it out. From my experience, the more I wrote out my reflections to common interview questions, the more confident I felt in each of my interviews.

4) Be specific in your search.

At this point, you’ve compiled a list of dream companies and scoured their individual careers pages. Likely, you’ll still want to spend some time on job boards to complete your search.

If you’re anything like me, clicking through pages upon pages of job links is not your ideal pastime. In the best interest of your sanity, prioritize your searching on niche job sites. If a company has taken the time (and often, money) to post a position on a niche site as opposed to simply Indeed.com, they are serious about finding the perfect fit. From my experience, companies that prioritize the interview experience also value things like career development, people operations, company culture, and management training later on.

Not sure where to start? Sales Gravy is great for sales jobs, while JournalismJobs.com and Mediabistro are perfect for writers. Be sure to check out Inbound.org for marketing positions.

To stay on top of new listings, most job boards allow you to set up instant alerts that’ll immediately email you when a position is posted with specific keywords in your chosen area. Twitter is another option for monitoring job listings in real time. Get yourself in the habit of searching for specific keywords like “marketing job Boston” or “content director.” As you find specific companies or job sites tweeting about positions regularly, you can add them to a public or private Twitter List to make monitoring easier.

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Of course, don’t forget to clean up your profile with a nice headshot, creative bio, and link to your porfolio — that way, when you find the perfect job listing tweet you’re ready to start the conversation.

5) Think about timing.

With a stroke of luck, perhaps you do find the perfect job in your endless scrolling through job listings. So, do you stop everything and submit the application as quickly as possible? Besides, you don’t want someone else to snatch the position before you do …

Not so fast. When you find the listing for your dream job, here’s might advice: don’t apply for it. At least not until you think about your timing.

According to a study by Bright.com, applicants that apply on a Monday are most likely to advance in the hiring process. In fact, nearly one in three job seekers who applied on a Monday moved forward successfully in the hiring process.

Sound like a myth? Considering a separate study by SmartRecruiters found that most applications are submitted on a Tuesday, there could be some truth to the early bird gets the worm philosophy for job searching. The data shows that 18.5% of candidates apply on Tuesday, with 21.5% of hiring decisions also being made on a Tuesday. Therefore, use the weekend to get your cover letter and resume in line. Then, be ready to submit your application before the emails flood the recruiter’s inbox on Tuesday afternoon.

6) Stay organized.

While it’s nearly impossible to know the average number of applications an individual job seeker fills out before they get an offer, we do know that, on average, 118 people apply for any given job.

There’s a lot of factors that affect how long your search will last: your experience level, your network, the time of year, the demand for your skill set in your geographic area. No matter what, you’ll probably fill out more applications than you can remember. Therefore, it’s absolutely crucial that you stay organized.

Keep an organized spreadsheet with more information than you think you’ll need. There are some obvious inclusions, such as the title of the position, the location, the type of company, etc. But don’t forget to include the date you applied, who you included as your references, and the name and email of the hiring manager. That way, when your former boss reaches out to you because of a reference, you’ll know exactly how many times you gave out their contact information.

Good news here: We have a job application tracking template ready for you to use as a part of our Interview Kit for Job Seekers. As you proceed through the job search process, use this Google Sheet to keep track of where you are in the interview process with each company and manage all of those new names like a pro (Believe me: I’ve messed up someone’s name in a job interview. It’s not fun).

7) Go the extra mile.

What if I told you that your resume doesn’t matter? You’d probably question me to some degree. Of course, your resume serves the very important purpose of telling a hiring manager where you’ve been and what you’ve done. However, when it comes to making a impression, there is something much more important than a list of bullet points: proof.

Show, don’t tell. It’s nothing new. In his recent Medium article, writer Raghav Haran spoke of the importance of this through the concept of a “pre-interview project.” And not nearly as many people are taking advantage of this opportunity as they should.

The idea is to show your potential employer that you can do the job before you get the job, and often before you even talk to a hiring manager. For a salesperson, that might be reaching out to prospects and introducing them to the team. For a marketer, you could replace the traditional cover letter with a sample campaign, complete with an ebook, social images, and promotional blog post.

The trick is, do the project before they ask. Especially for creative jobs, it’s normal for hiring managers to ask final-round applicants to write a blog post or draft a creative brief. But to really stand out, show that you are proactive about solving problems.

8) Don’t obsess.

There is a behavioral pattern I seem to follow whenever I’m applying for jobs. 90% of the time, I’m my usual conscientious, rational self. I thoughtfully sort through job listings, take breaks, consider my cover letters word-by-word.

The other 10% of the time, I’m a chaotic mess. Suddenly it hits me how much I need a job and how much I need one right now. In a frenzy of panic, I binge apply. In a single night, I’ll power through 30+ typo-ridden applications until I’m too tired to function.

From someone who’s fallen prey to this lie more times than I’d like to admit, don’t panic. If you’re truly being thoughtful about which positions you are applying for, there’s a limit to how many you can apply to in a single day, or even a week.

Instead, take your time and form a strategy for each company on your dream list. The irony of obsessing over the job application process is you’ll bring yourself to burnout before you even start training for your new position. Don’t treat applying for jobs like it’s your full-time time job — it’s emotionally exhausting in a way I hope your actual job never is.

No matter who you are, self-promotion is draining and rejection is inevitable. The truth of the matter is, applications can’t fill a forty hour week. Keep your expectations reasonable and give yourself adequate breaks to rest, spend time with people, and stretch your creativity. Your future employer will thank you for it.

Unsure if now’s the time to start the job search? Take our career development quiz to learn how to accomplish your professional goals.

take our five-year career plan quiz

May

10

2016

How to Figure Out the Next Step in Your Career [Quiz]

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Where do you see yourself in five years?

Of all the interview questions out there, this might be the most difficult.

These days, career paths aren’t linear. The age-old corporate ladder model of putting in a few years as an individual contributor, becoming a manager of a small team, and climbing your way through senior management or director roles is not right for everyone.

To say the least, career development is complicated. And often, a lack of open conversations around the personalization of career planning makes it worse. Maybe you’re unsure how to bridge the leadership gap between your current role and becoming a manager. Perhaps you know you’re not suited for managing people, but you don’t know how to advance your career otherwise. Even as a director, it’s easy to feel stuck in the trajectory of upper management.

To help you plan confidently for your next five years, HubSpot has launched a brand new career assessment called The Next Five. Tell us your interests, strengths, and working style, and we’ll help you identify a next step that’s right for your long-term professional goals.

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The Next Five, however, is not your average quiz. With your result, we’ll include a detailed plan that encourages you to rethink the idea of a career path. Each tip is paired with customized articles, ebooks, videos, and more that will help you score visibility for your work and bring value to your company.

No five year plan? No problem. With The Next Five career growth assessment, discovering your next step has never been easier.

take our five-year career plan quiz

Mar

21

2016

The Step-by-Step Guide for Getting Started With Co-Marketing [Free Ebook]

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We’ve all heard the adage, “Two heads are better than one.” And within your marketing team, the power of collaboration is probably no surprise.

But what about when you’re collaborating with the marketing department of another company via a co-marketing campaign? Are the benefits still worth the stress of it all?

Our experiences say yes. Co-marketing is all about doubling your chances: double your leads, double your resources, all while spending half of the budget. 

But what exactly is co-marketing? In short, co-marketing allows two or more companies to work together on a project with the purpose of sharing in the reward — whether that’s leads, buzz, awareness, or new customers. By leveraging the reach and resources of a partner, these campaigns are designed to deliver substantial results without having to wait for the content to rank in organic search. 

Ready to take on the challenge? To pull off a fruitful campaign, you’ll need top-notch organization and project management skills. The good news is we’ve crafted this comprehensive guide to keep you on track. This guide will teach you how to:

  • Choose your partner and make the connection
  • Write your co-marketing agreement
  • Evaluate your co-marketing goals
  • Brainstorm and delegate the content creation
  • Promote your content
  • Evaluate the partnership value

See how co-marketing can help you surpass your goals. Download our 10-Step Guide to Getting Started With Co-Marketing

free guide to co-marketing partnerships

Mar

7

2016

The Power of Teamwork: 31 Quotes That Celebrate Collaboration

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We’ve all been a part of that group project. You know, the project where one person takes the lead, leading some members to conclude their ideas are unwelcome, while a select few ride the others’ coattails.

Thanks to experiences like this, it’s no surprise why so many people have been scarred by the nightmares of past group projects.

And yet, something incredible happens when teamwork happens the way it’s supposed to happen. Things change when everyone on the team is equally invested in the overall purpose and goal. You find yourself working faster, finding mistakes more easily, and innovating better.

Ultimately, you reach a point where you’re certain each person on your team has your back — and both your job satisfaction and performance skyrocket. (Getting inbound certified doesn’t hurt, either.)

To inspire your team to band together and celebrate collaboration, we’ve gathered some of our favorite quotes on the power of teamwork. Flip through the SlideShare below and share how teamwork shapes your work culture. 

31 Quotes To Celebrate Teamwork and Collaboration from
HubSpot

31 Tweetable Quotes on the Power of Teamwork & Collaboration

1) “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller (Click to Tweet!)

2) “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford (Click to Tweet!)

3) “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes (Click to Tweet!)

4) “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton (Click to Tweet!)

5) “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” – H.E. Luccock (Click to Tweet!)

6) “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie (Click to Tweet!)

7) “It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” – Charles Darwin (Click to Tweet!)

8) “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” – Henry Ford (Click to Tweet!)

9) “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan (Click to Tweet!)

10) “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson (Click to Tweet!)

11) “The best teamwork comes from men who are working independently toward one goal in unison.” – James Cash Penney (Click to Tweet!)

12) “Politeness is the poison of collaboration.” – Edwin Land (Click to Tweet!)

13) “Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler (Click to Tweet!)

14) “Effectively, change is almost impossible without industry-wide collaboration, cooperation, and consensus.” – Simon Mainwaring (Click to Tweet!)

15) “Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” – Patrick Lencioni (Click to Tweet!)

16) “You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.” – Jim Stovall (Click to Tweet!)

17) “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” – Babe Ruth (Click to Tweet!)

18) “There is no such thing as a self-made man. You will reach your goals only with the help of others.” – George Shinn (Click to Tweet!)

19) “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” –Napolean Hill (Click to Tweet!)

20) “The whole is other than the sum of the parts.” – Kurt Koffka (Click to Tweet!)

21) “A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of others.” – Norman Shidle (Click to Tweet!)

22) “The ratio of We’s to I’s is the best indicator of the development of a team.” – Lewis B. Ergen (Click to Tweet!)

23) “Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi (Click to Tweet!)

24) “One piece of log creates a small fire, adequate to warm you up, add just a few more pieces to blast an immense bonfire, large enough to warm up your entire circle of friends; needless to say that individuality counts but teamwork dynamites.” – Jin Kwon (Click to Tweet!)

25) “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” – Reid Hoffman (Click to Tweet!)

26) “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain (Click to Tweet!)

27) “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Booker T. Washington (Click to Tweet!)

28) “Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs (Click to Tweet!)

29) “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” – Ryunosuke Satoro (Click to Tweet!)

30) “Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.” – Virginia Burden (Click to Tweet!)

31) “None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” – Mother Teresa (Click to Tweet!)

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Mar

3

2016

How to Use Excel: A Marketer’s Must-Have Guide [Free Ebook]

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These days, knowing how to use Microsoft Excel is so expected that it hardly warrants a line on our resumes. But, let’s be honest here: How well do you really know how to use it?

You may know how to plug in numbers and add up cells in a column, but that’s not going to get you far when it comes to reporting on your metrics.

Gone are the days when marketers could rely on their gut for important business decisions. More than likely, you’ve already been tasked with identifying trends within customer survey results, performing content topic analyses, or pulling in sales data to calculate return on investment. What do all these things have in common? They require a bit more Excel knowledge than what we learned in grade school. 

Here’s where our handy new guide How to Use Excel: Essential Training for Data-Driven Marketing comes in. Whether you’d like to create prettier charts (and faster), finally understand what pivot tables are, or complete your first VLOOKUP (I promise it’s not as scary as it sounds), this guide will teach you everything you need to make more informed marketing decisions, in less time.

Since we all know that reading about Excel may not be the most captivating topic, we’ve catered this ebook to your unique learning style. Inside, you’ll find:

  • Short videos on each topic to help orient you — and for those in search of quick answers
  • Deep dives into topics like basic functions, INDEX MATCH, pivot tables, conditional formatting, VLOOKUP, IF functions, data visualization, and more
  • Tips, tricks, and advice about using Excel to build reports
  • Practice questions at the close of each chapter

So don’t push off mastering Excel another day.

Download How to Use Excel: Essential Training for Data-Driven Marketing.

free guide: how to use excel

Feb

16

2016

How to Write an Ebook From Start to Finish [Free Download]

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For inbound marketers, “offers” are the golden ticket for lead generation. Not only do they feed your list of new contacts, but they are a critical tool for nurturing existing leads into a position that makes them more sales-ready.

But, let’s face it … creating an offer is complicated. For starters, you have a choice of format: templates, kits, workbooks, and even interactive websites. The most common, however, is the ebook. 

Despite the ebook’s prominence, the steps between ideation to launch are often a bit hazy. For some, it’s the additional length of a typical ebook that causes dread. Then there’s the pressure of crafting a professional design that doesn’t look like Word document. Aside from the creation process, you must coordinate all of the moving pieces of your campaign, including social media posts, landing pages, and promotional blog posts. 

Needless to say, you’ll have to be a hybrid marketer in order to create a successful ebook: part journalist, part designer, expert project manager, and an all-around content strategist. Thankfully, there’s no need to do it alone. We’re here to help with our latest (and oh, so meta) ebook: How to Write an Ebook.

In this offer, you’ll learn:

  • How to pick an engaging topic your sales team will love
  • How to write in-depth content that keeps your audience engaged
  • Tips and tricks we use to design our own ebooks here at HubSpot
  • Ways to promote your ebook and track its success

Ready to increase the number and quality of your leads, all while producing a premium piece of content you can be proud of? Download this guide today to take the mystery out of ebook creation.  

how to create an ebook: 5 free ebook templates

Feb

16

2016

How to Write an Ebook From Start to Finish [Free Download]

Ebook_.png

For inbound marketers, “offers” are the golden ticket for lead generation. Not only do they feed your list of new contacts, but they are a critical tool for nurturing existing leads into a position that makes them more sales-ready.

But, let’s face it … creating an offer is complicated. For starters, you have a choice of format: templates, kits, workbooks, and even interactive websites. The most common, however, is the ebook. 

Despite the ebook’s prominence, the steps between ideation to launch are often a bit hazy. For some, it’s the additional length of a typical ebook that causes dread. Then there’s the pressure of crafting a professional design that doesn’t look like Word document. Aside from the creation process, you must coordinate all of the moving pieces of your campaign, including social media posts, landing pages, and promotional blog posts. 

Needless to say, you’ll have to be a hybrid marketer in order to create a successful ebook: part journalist, part designer, expert project manager, and an all-around content strategist. Thankfully, there’s no need to do it alone. We’re here to help with our latest (and oh, so meta) ebook: How to Write an Ebook.

In this offer, you’ll learn:

  • How to pick an engaging topic your sales team will love
  • How to write in-depth content that keeps your audience engaged
  • Tips and tricks we use to design our own ebooks here at HubSpot
  • Ways to promote your ebook and track its success

Ready to increase the number and quality of your leads, all while producing a premium piece of content you can be proud of? Download this guide today to take the mystery out of ebook creation.  

how to create an ebook: 5 free ebook templates

Jan

23

2016

Want to Be Productive All Day Long? Start With a Morning Freewrite

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This post originally appeared on HubSpot’s Sales Blog. To read more content like this, subscribe to Sales.

We’ve all heard that you should never check your email when you first get to the office if you want to start your day at peak productivity. If you’re not careful, you’ll be lost in a black hole of links, articles, and email chains that don’t deserve your morning attention.

But if this is the case, how should you start your most precious working hours?

In Claire Diaz-Oritz’ book Design Your Day, she reminded me of one of my favorite productivity analogies involving a jar, a couple of big rocks, and a ton of small pebbles. If you start by pouring in all of the small pebbles, you won’t be able to fit the larger rocks. Now, flip your process. Begin with the big rocks, and all of your pebbles fit in nicely. Consider Ortiz’ thinking:

Life is the same way. It’s easy to fill up a day or a life with an endless series of pebbles and then not have the time, energy, or resources to fit in the big rocks. A life well designed is about making sure that the important stuff stays important, day in and day out.”

In other words, start your day with the largest, most intensive task. If you’ve prioritized your to-do list during yesterday’s end-of-day ritual, you should already know what that task is.

However, when you come back in the morning, there is a large possibility your mind is either racing because of all the tasks you need to get done or you’re groggy from a severe lack of caffeine. Neither of these states are ideal places to be when you need to tackle that “big rock” first thing.

Enter the brilliance of freewriting. Before you start your day — and yes, even before you log into your laptop — have a notebook and pen in hand. Check the clock. For 10 minutes, just write.

Before you think freewriting is just for a middle school English class, consider this: According to a study from Harvard Business School, regular workplace journaling is one of the best ways to improve professional performance. Not to mention research shows that occasionally writing by hand improves both memory and creativity.

Writers, of course, use this exercise to get past writer’s block. But for anyone else, freewriting will bring perspective to your work and narrow down the focus of your day. Even if your job involves absolutely no writing, this quick morning ritual will help you move past the mindset of prioritizing and ease into the heavy lifting of your day.

Does this mean your writing has to center around what you need to get done that day? Of course not. That would defeat the purpose of this being freewriting. Although it may take some time, train yourself not to stress over what words to put on the page. It could be as trivial as the song stuck in your head from your morning commute.

Consider mine from this morning:

Today, I am starting to get stressed about the number of things I need to get done in the coming weeks. Writing my blog post will definitely be my priority. But after lunch, my focus has to be design. For this ebook, I need to brainstorm data visuals earlier in the writing process … “

The idea is, by writing what you know — whatever it may be on that particular morning — you’ll be able to sort out your thoughts and leave behind anything clouding your best thinking.

If you’re stuck, use these prompts:

  • Recently, I’m struggling with …

  • If I had more time in the day, I’d use it to …

  • Today, I’ll relieve stress by …

  • I feel out of my comfort zone when …

  • My work is motivated by …

  • This week, I’m thankful for …

  • Today, I should avoid …

  • I feel fulfilled at work when …

  • From my team, I’m proud of …

  • I work best when …


Remember, with freewriting there is no wrong answer. It doesn’t have to be pretty, or even legible for that matter. Embrace the stream of consciousness purge to clear your mind. Besides, what better way to boost your morning morale than to start with an automatic win?

Before long, your mornings will become a coveted part of your day — a time you can rely on to release tension and generate fresh ideas.

free productivity tips

Jan

19

2016

How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog [Free Templates]

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If you’re anything like me, you’re consistently working out of at least 20 browser tabs, four journals, a yellow legal pad or two, and a myriad of Post-it notes stuck around your computer monitor.

To the average overseer, it’s nothing short of chaos. But for me, there’s a system … at least, that’s what I tell myself. 

Nonetheless, my muddled system transforms dramatically when I work with a team. I understand the need for organization and structure for collaboration to function, nearly to the point of obsession. 

This, of course, could not be more necessary than with managing a blog. Without a mutually-agreed upon system for planning upcoming posts, you’ll find yourself in a pile of missed deadlines, unedited blog posts, and a fair amount of team tension. 

Here’s where we come in. With our free Blog Editorial Calendar Templates, you’ll be able to organize, categorize, and color code to your heart’s delight. Use these templates to target the right readers, optimize posts with the best keywords, and pair each topic with a killer call-to-action. 

In this download, we’ve included three different templates for you to choose from. Why threeWe recognize that not all content teams are the same. While some feel most efficient with a centralized editorial calendar solution, others may need the gentle push of an upcoming deadline right on their personal calendar. Therefore, you’ll have access to all three templates in Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Google Calendar.

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To help you implement your new editorial calendar faster, we’ve also included instructions for each template and expert blog management tips. With a little customization, your blog calendar will be running smoothly, leaving you time to be the content-writing, lead-generating machine you strive to be.

Ready to rethink the way you approach blogging? For access to all three formats, download our Blog Editorial Calendar Templates.

get free blog editorial calendar templates

Jan

11

2016

Budget Planning, Hiring, Training & More: The Ultimate Kickoff Toolkit for Marketers [Free Download]

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Ah, the start of a fresh quarter — a time when setting realistic and attainable goals is at the top of every leader’s to-do list.

To help you stay organized and focused through all of your January priorities, we’ve gathered a complete collection of executive tools in our latest guide: 2016 Kickoff Kit for Marketing Leaders.

Included in this guide, the Growth of Inbound Report will help you communicate your goals with valuable insight from a diverse collection of global marketers. Once you determine the year’s targets, use the 8 Budget Templates to manage your marketing spend at a monthly and quarterly level. In this offer, you’ll have access to the templates in both Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. 

As you build out your budget, you may begin to see some holes in your team. Use our 29 Job Descriptions for Hiring Excellent Marketers to identify what positions you might be missing and easily copy-and-paste descriptions into your next job listing. 

Finally, start this year with a commitment to higher quality training for your team. In our Top Training Needs for Marketing Teams report, we’ve compiled the questions marketers miss most from our Inbound Marketing Certification test and provided a refresher for the sections that proved most difficult. As you prepare your decks for the training sessions, use our beautiful PowerPoint templates to ensure your presentations are engaging and impactful. 

Sounds too good to be true? It’s not. For access to all of these resources, download our 2016 Kickoff Kit for Marketing Leaders today.

free toolkit for marketing leaders

Jan

5

2016

11 Impressive B2C Campaigns That B2B Marketers Can Learn From

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Time for another brainstorm session …

After scratching out a list of possibilities, you turn to your computer for inspiration. Consider your go-to sources: Do you immediately navigate to your competitor’s blog? Are your bookmarks filled with favorite content from companies in your industry?

Constructive thinking doesn’t happen inside of a vacuum. Instead, our best ideas come when we take a step outside the scope of our work and seek inspiration from unlikely sources. For B2B marketers, this means that the creative spark you’re looking for might not be found directly within your industry. In fact, there’s actually a lot B2B marketers can learn by observing the approach of B2C companies.

Of course, B2B and B2C marketing have their long list of differences. With B2B marketing, the door is open to technical jargon and long, deliberate marketing funnels. Yet, B2C marketers often have more room to stretch their imagination with lofty expectations for either witty or tear-jerking campaigns.

But despite the dissimilarity between the two, there is an opportunity to surface fresh ideas to by exploring out-of-the-box examples. And with a bit of inspiration and original execution, your B2B campaigns can rival the creativity of the most buzz-worthy consumer marketing.

11 B2C Campaigns for B2B Marketers to Learn from in 2016

1) Chobani

It is easy to think that only companies with an extensive catalog of products can pull of beautiful visual marketing. But what about when you specialize in one item?

With colorful photos of kale Caesar salad, mushroom flatbread pizza, and peach cheesecake, Chobani is a great example of a brand that leverages diverse photography to highlight a single product. 

Even if you market for a niche B2B business with one main product, there are still endless possibilities for your visual marketing. As you determine a visual strategy for social media, especially Instagram, start by thinking beyond the product itself to the many ways or locations your product can be used.

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2) Tesco

Based in the UK, Tesco is an international grocery store and a reliable source of information for anyone hoping to make their home run a little smoother. On their blog, Tesco Living, shoppers can find how-to articles with easy-to-follow instructions and ample pictures. Topics range from family favorite holiday recipes to summertime craft ideas for your preschooler.

By thoughtfully identifying common challenges of grocery shoppers, Tesco Living proves to be an exceptional example of helpful inbound marketing. Tesco then continues to impress by providing the solutions on a clean, easily navigable platform. 

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3) Starbucks

Starbucks was an early adopter of social media and today continues to use industry-leading photos to attract customers. However, most B2B marketers can’t say they have a product as enticing as a cup of coffee to fill their social calendar. Nevertheless, marketers of any industry would value from the coffee chain’s omni-channel approach to marketing and selling.

Starbucks creates a user-friendly experience through a myriad of special features on its Facebook page, including special contests, a store locator, international links, and job postings.

To streamline the buying process even further, Starbucks created an app to simplify mobile payments and bypass lengthy lines. While it’s unrealistic that all companies should aspire to create their own native app, Starbucks shows how brands should smooth the buyer’s journey with each interaction.

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4) Spotify

Few brands master personalization quite like Spotify. By leveraging the user’s music interests, Spotify only sends emails with content that is both relevant and rewarding — whether it’s an announcement of their favorite band releasing a new album or news of a local concert.

However, the music streaming platform shows that personalization is no longer just for email marketing. Spotify now curates Discover Weekly, a customized playlist filled with songs an individual user has yet to uncover. To close out the year, Spotify presented each user with a “Year in Music” microsite telling the story of their 2015 music habits.

As you consider how to add a human touch to your marketing campaigns, think how you can expand beyond email personalization tokens to impress your customers.

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5) Herschel Supply Co.

Adventure is the theme of Herschel Supply’s visual marketing. Browse the backpack retailer’s Instagram account to find breathtaking photos of mountaintop views and chaotic city streets.

However, Herschel Supply gives marketers more than just high quality photos to envy. The majority of the brand’s visual content comes directly from their customers posting with the hashtag #WellTravelled. 

Like Herschel Supply, consider how your brand can use social media to create a community, not simply a list of followers. This way, customers become stakeholders in your marketing and voices in how your product story is told. 

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6) Everlane

No matter the platform, each piece of Everlane’s content works toward the same goal: transparency. By illustrating the “how” and “why” behind what they do, Everlane breaks down the barrier between the customer and their favorite brand. For example, the fashion retailer uses Snapchat to send messages to their customers that feel honest and personal. And the brand’s Instagram account features backstage shots of the clothing production process.

If you are looking for a new approach to gain trust and loyalty from the businesses you sell to, consider how you can increase transparency as you explain sourcing and pricing on your social media and blog.

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7) Taco Bell

There are few ways to illustrate your brand personality quite like including humor. But before you decide there is no room in B2B marketing to pull a joke, consider the approach of Taco Bell. On the fast food chain’s Twitter account, you’ll find a robust collection of hand-drawn doodles and goofy GIFs.

However, it’s not just Taco Bell’s young audience that allows them to execute their humor so well. Credit goes to the brand’s bold, consistent voice. Taco Bell does not test the waters with a few jokes here and there, but commits completely. Whatever you determine your brand voice to be — from witty and sarcastic to encouraging and empowering — strive for consistency.

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8) Threadless

There is no doubt that Threadless knows their audience well. On the retailer’s blog, you’ll rarely catch the writers talking about their funky t-shirt designs. Instead, Threadless has created a content haven for graphic designers and illustrators with just the right touch of quirkiness and personality.

Each post is packed with images, showcasing doodles straight from the desks of their customers. Meanwhile, Threadless understands the reader’s desire for visual inspiration and keeps the copy to a minimum. Of course, this approach is not right for every brand. But the more you know your audience, the more you’ll be able to cater your content to the style your readers like best. 

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9) TOMS

Visual storytelling has always been a key ingredient in the marketing success of TOMS. By sharing the stories behind their one-for-one giving model, TOMS is able to gain customers who are all-in with the company’s mission. Therefore, it’s of little surprise that their social media accounts often look more like the work of photojournalists than marketers.

So, when you already know you do something well, why not pursue it further? This is exactly what TOMS has done with the release of their latest piece of visual marketing, a virtual reality video that takes the audience alongside on a giving trip. Viewers can drag the frame or tilt their smartphone for a seamless 360-degree view of the surroundings. While visual marketing may not be your strongest asset, determine what you do best and consider how you can push the bar and build more buzz around your brand.

10) EDEKA

EDEKA reminds marketers that commercials don’t have to feel quite like commercials. In their 2015 holiday advertisement, the German supermarket tells the story of a grandfather who will do just about anything to get his busy children and grandchildren home for the holidays. If you’re looking to explore video marketing, make note of both the empathy and character development used to transform this commercial into a sharable piece of inbound content. 

Unsure how your B2B brand could use storytelling to market your product? Remember, you don’t have to bring your audience to tears. But making a human connection through storytelling could be just what your brand needs to add interest to your B2B marketing.

11) Purina

Once you pinpoint your winning campaign idea, challenge yourself to imagine all the possible formats your content could take. Consider Purina as an example. The pet food company partnered with BuzzFeed to create an adorable video sharing the first day of bonding between a man and his new puppy. But, Purina didn’t stop there. Sequels were made to continue the tale, including “Our First Poop” and “We Met a Girl.” The campaign is then wrapped up in a microsite to guide people through the adventure of raising a puppy.

As content marketing blurs the line between retailer and publisher, consider how you can expand the scope of your campaigns and experiment with new media and storytelling trends.

Looking for more examples to spark your inspiration? Check out our latest ebook: 32 Enviable Examples of Inbound Marketing.

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Dec

28

2015

32 Inspiring Inbound Marketing Examples to Spark Your Own Campaign Ideas [Free Ebook]

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The arrival of a new year is a time for fresh beginnings. Although we may not all admit to resolutions of healthier lifestyles or less Netflix binges, it is hard to ignore the cultural push to re-evaluate your goals for a more successful year. 

Likewise, with the close of Q4, now is the time to identify the focus of your marketing team for 2016 and brainstorm fresh ideas for your campaigns. But with the infinite number of approaches and ever-increasing creative standards, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the possibilities.

To help get your inspiration flowing, we’ve curated the top marketing campaigns from the last year in our latest ebook: 32 Enviable Examples of Inbound Marketing.

Whether you want to rethink your approach to social media or experiment with a new publishing medium, considering these diverse examples will help to improve the quality and originality of your own content. 

Download it today to discover industry-leading brands outside your typical scope and spark new and exciting ideas. You might be surprised how an international supermarket could inspire your insurance firm’s marketing, or how a backpack retailer could make you rethink content for your SaaS startup. 

Have we left out your favorite marketing campaign from 2015? Share your inspirational examples in the comments below.

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