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Dec

8

2016

28 of the Best Chrome Extensions for SEO, Productivity & More

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For all of the greatness that the internet affords — cute animal videos, GIFs, and interesting blogs — I think its biggest downside is how distracting it can be. How many times have you sat down to work and been pulled into a pit of procrastination?

Perhaps you get absorbed in updates on social media, or maybe you click through Wikipedia trying to determine what exactly Gina Rodriguez’s first TV role was (it was on Law & Order). No matter where you click online, it’s easy to be pulled into a black hole of distraction and low productivity.

Enter Google Chrome browser extensions. The Google Chrome web store offers a variety of different tools that help you be more productive with just one click. We can’t guarantee that they will make YouTube videos less tempting to watch, but we recommend them for busy marketers who want to make their time online more efficient. We’ve broken them down into different categories if you want to jump ahead:

Social Media, SEO, Content Sourcing, Blogging, Productivity

Please note: All of these are free tools, but some of the services that they work with have paid features or subscriptions, and those prices are included below.  

28 of the Most Useful Google Chrome Extensions for Marketers

Social Media

1) bitly

This extension lets marketers quickly and easily shorten links and share them on social media directly from their browser. This is particularly useful for social media marketers, given that Twitter has a 140-character limit.

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Image courtesy of bitly.com

Price: Free; bitly Enterprise pricing varies depending on company size

2) BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo provides insight into how content is performing. When you’re on a web page, click the extension to show metrics such as the number of social shares and backlinks to a piece. This tool provides an easy way to see how much engagement your content is generating. You could also use BuzzSumo to perform competitor analysis to uncover strategies that might make your content more shareable.

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Price: Free with limited number of link analyses; BuzzSumo Pro starts at $99/month

3) Pinterest

This extension allows you to easily save items onto your Pinterest boards without navigating away from what you’re doing. What’s neat about this tool is that it shows you multiple pinnable items available on each website so you can save more than one item to your board at a time. (Normally, you would have to click into each blog post or image in order to separately pin each to your boards individually.)

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Price: Free

4) Save to Facebook

Facebook’s new “Save” feature lets users aggregate links, images, and videos they find on Facebook in one location in their account. This bookmark allows you to do the same from anywhere on the web, making Facebook a centralized place to save content you’re interested in checking out later. (As you can see, in addition to inbound marketing, I’m also interested in learning more about footwear and vegan recipes.)

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Price: Free

5) RiteTag

RiteTag shows you how hashtags are performing on Twitter and Facebook before you post content. Once you log in to RiteTag using your Twitter or Facebook credentials, it checks the hashtags you begin typing in real time and color codes them: 

  • If your hashtag is green, it means the hashtag will help your content be seen now.
  • If your hashtag is blue, it means the hashtag will help your content be seen over time.
  • If your hashtag is gray, you should select a new hashtag because it has low levels of engagement.
  • If your hashtag is red, you should select a new hashtag because it’s so popular, your content will disappear into the crowd.

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Price: Free

6) List Builder for Twitter

If you’re following a hashtag or event on Twitter, you may want to make a list of users tweeting about topics you’re interested in, which is time-consuming to do manually. With the List Builder for Twitter, you can navigate to a hashtag or trending topic and build a list of all users tweeting, or you can select which users you want to add to a list. Here’s an example of the tool in action: I built a list of all users tweeting “#INBOUND16.

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If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can easily create lists using the social streams featuring in the HubSpot Social Monitoring tool

Price: Free

7) Instagram for Chrome

Want to keep tabs on Instagram notifications without having to constantly check your phone? With this extension, users can see what’s happening on their Instagram content directly within their browser.

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Price: Free

SEO

8) MozBar

The MozBar is a Chrome extension that allows SEO marketers to easily get insights about different websites without leaving their web browser. With one click, you can find search ranking and link coding information about all of the search results on a Google results page.

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Image courtesy of Moz

Price: Moz subscriptions start at $99/month

9) Check My Links

Check My Links does what it says it will: It quickly scans web pages and shows you which links are working properly and which are broken. With this extension, marketers can ensure that their own websites are functioning properly for their visitors. Additionally, marketers can check for broken backlinks to their content on other websites to build backlinks to their content and increase their domain authority.

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Price: Free

10) NoFollow

NoFollow quickly indexes web pages and identifies links that are coded with the nofollow metatag. Nofollow links aren’t crawled by search engines and don’t contribute to search engine authority, so SEOers can use this extension to determine if external sites are backlinking to them with followed, or indexed, links. Additionally, you might use nofollow links on web pages you don’t want crawled, such as a landing page or thank you page, and this extension can easily double-check if you’ve coded links correctly. In the example screenshot below, nofollow links are highlighted in red.

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Price: Free

11) Impactana

Impactana’s Chrome toolbar offers a wealth of SEO, social media, and content marketing information about any web page. Its two biggest metrics are “Buzz,” which measures a website’s reach on social media, and “Impact,” which measures SEO metrics such as clickthrough rate, backlinks, and time on page. It also shares details like author and publisher contact information that are useful for PR professionals.

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Price: Impactana subscriptions start at $99/month

Content Sourcing

12) HubSpot Collect

Whether you’re conducting research for a project or simply reading different articles online, you most likely come across resources that you want to save and return to for later use. That’s where HubSpot Collect will come in. Instead of saving content to another application or document, you can save it directly to your HubSpot software for easy reference when you sit down to write a blog post or web page. Coming soon to HubSpot software, Collect will automatically generate author attributions and citations if you want to cite a link you saved for a blog post.

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Price: HubSpot Marketing Software starts at $200/month

13) AwesomeScreenshot

AwesomeScreenshot is a screen capture extension with capabilities for annotation and photo editing while staying in your browser. Once you take a screenshot of a selected area of your screen or an entire web page, you can crop, highlight, draw shapes, and blur sensitive information.

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 Price: Free

14) Evernote Web Clipper

Evernote is a note-taking and organization app that can be shared across teams for content collaboration. With the Evernote Web Clipper extension, users can save links onto a clipboard within their Evernote app for later reading and reference.

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Price: Free

15) Giphy for Chrome

Everyone loves animated GIFs. They make emails, blogs, and social media posts engaging and funny, and with this extension, you can easily grab a GIF from Giphy’s huge database for whatever content you’re working on without navigating away.

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Price: Free

16) Bookmark Manager

Manually bookmarking websites can sometimes be a tedious process, so Google created this extension to organize websites you want to save without having to open a new tab. Save websites to bookmarks, create folders, and add notes for later reference.

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Price: Free

17) OneTab 

When you conduct research for a piece of content, it’s easy to get swamped in multiple open tabs with great resources you want to cite. The trouble is, once it comes time to write and refer back to the sources, it’s hard to navigate between all of the tabs. Luckily, OneTab lets you put multiple different URLs into a single tab for easy reference.

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Price: Free

Blogging

18) Grammarly

Grammarly is my go-to app for reviewing blog posts for proper spelling, grammar, and word use. You can drop large pieces of text into the desktop application for review, or you can use the handy Chrome extension to call out any grammar errors you’re making while typing on the web. Here’s an example of Grammarly pointing out an error I was about to make in a tweet:

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Price: Free with subscription upgrades for more in-depth reviewing

19) Google Dictionary

Have you ever come across a word you’re not familiar with while doing research online? Instead of Googling it in a separate tab, quickly highlight the word and click on the Google Dictionary extension to get the definition.

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Price: Free

20) Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides

For those times when you and your coworkers are working on computers with different operating systems, or want to collaborate on a live document together, check out Office Editing. This extension lets you easily drop Microsoft Office files into Google Drive to view and edit them without needing the software installed on your hard drive. Here’s an example of an Excel file that I dropped into my Google Drive:

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Price: Free

21) QuickWrite Text Editor 

Sometimes it’s hard to free yourself of distractions to write productively, especially if you’re writing online. This extension quickly opens a new tab for a clean and neutral text editor that auto-saves while you’re working if you need a break from where you normally write.

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Price: Free

Productivity

22) ToDoist

ToDoist is a project management tool that lets you create highly organized and visually appealing to-do lists across all of your devices. What’s neat about the Chrome extension is that you can see your to-do list, or your team’s shared lists, and add tasks to it without having to open a separate tab, app, or device.

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Price: Free for Basic; $29/year for Premium

23) Rapportive

Rapportive uses LinkedIn account information to provide details about the recipient of an email you’re drafting. This is a great way to get details about someone you’re trying to connect with and to ensure that you’re contacting someone on their correct email address.

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Price: Free

24) Momentum

Momentum is a simple Chrome extension that replaces blank new tabs with beautiful photography, inspiring quotes, weather reports, and a space for you to write down a priority for the day when you open up your browser for the first time. (Don’t worry — the temperature is in Celsius, it’s not that cold in Boston.)

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Price: Free

25) StayFocusd

StayFocusd lets you budget your time on specific websites so you can eliminate distractions when you need to buckle down and work. It’s highly customizable — you could set your time limit to 20 minutes on Twitter and only five minutes on Facebook, for example. It also has neat features like the Require Challenge: Once you set time limits on sites, if you want to go back and change your settings, you have to complete a challenge (think: retyping a piece of text without typos or answering questions).

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Price: Free

26) LastPass

LastPass is a password manager that auto-fills in passwords for all of the accounts you save with this extension. You only have to remember one password: your LastPass password. This saves you time, headaches, and increases the security of your personal data.

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Image courtesy of LastPass

Price: Free

27) Add to Trello

If you use Trello for project management, team collaboration, your content calendar, or just a personal to-do list, this extension lets you easily add links as cards to your Trello boards.

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Price: Free; Trello subscriptions start at $9.99/user/month

28) Extensions Manager

We couldn’t give you 27 different extensions to try out without also suggesting Extensions Manager. Try this tool to organize all of your extensions so they don’t take up half of your browser’s screen. It shows you what extensions you have operating on Google Chrome and gives you the option to hide some of the icons to keep your browser better organized.

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Price: Free

Now that your browser is loaded with extensions to make marketing easier on a day-to-day basis, test them out to see what time and efficiencies you’re able to save. When you’re ready to work on your next piece of content, try these content curation hacks and tools to make that process simpler, too. 

What’s your favorite Google Chrome extension? Share with us in the comments below.

Learn about all the product launches from INBOUND 2016

Dec

5

2016

How the Brain Processes Different Types of Content [Infographic]

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Sometimes, the movie adaptation of a book is better than the book itself. Maybe it’s the acting, maybe it’s the special effects or the soundtrack, or maybe the story is simply better told on the big screen than in our imaginations.

The reason? Different stories are better told in different formats depending on the message they’re trying to convey.

The folks at Main Path Marketing created an infographic to break down common types of content marketing formats and how they communicate information to your audience. And some of their insights may surprise you. For example, did you know that the human brain processes videos 60,000X faster than text? That’s part of what makes how-to videos so popular in online search habits. Save countless hours using these free, pre-made templates to design your  infographics.

Check out the full infographic below for helpful takeaways about how to tailor your content strategy according to how your audience interprets information.

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15 free infographic templates in powerpoint

Nov

30

2016

11 Examples of Facebook Ads That Actually Work (And Why)

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One average, Facebook is home to 1.18 billion daily active users — from CEOs, to students, to companies. And while the community is clearly there, connecting with them from a marketing standpoint isn’t always easy. 

For brands, posting on Facebook alone isn’t enough anymore — especially for ones just starting out. Sure, you can throw money at your efforts to drive people to your Facebook Page and send them to your website, but that only works if you’re smart about it.

One way to do just that is to create optimized Facebook Ads targeted at the right audience. Optimized ads can help you spend your PPC budget wisely and see a positive return on your investment. Download this free guide for data-backed tips on creating the optimal Facebook  Ad.

So, what does optimized Facebook advertising actually look like? If you’re looking for some great examples, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll quickly go over the three overarching formats for Facebook Ads: right column, desktop News Feed, and mobile News Feed. Then, we’ll show you eight different types of Facebook Ads, each with real-life examples — along with some insights into why that ad is so successful.

But before we get to these examples, let’s discuss the four components of a good Facebook Ad (or any ad, really) regardless of its type …

4 Components of Successful Facebook Ads

1) It’s visual.

Visual content is not only treated more favorably in the Facebook algorithm, but it’s also more likely to be shared and remembered than written content. The lesson for Facebook marketers? No matter what type of ad you create, your image needs to be visually appealing.

Check out this blog post for a detailed guide to image sizes for various ad units on Facebook along with some tips on posting visual content.

2) It’s relevant.

Relevance is critical for success when using Facebook advertising. Remember, you are spending money when someone views or clicks on your ad (depending on the settings you use). If you’re showing ads that aren’t relevant to your target audience, you’re wasting your time and money and will likely not see success with any kind of advertising.

Back in February 2015, Facebook launched a feature in the Facebook advertising platform that rates your ads and gives you a relevance score, similar to Ad Rank in Google AdWords. The more relevant your ad image, ad copy, and destination page is to your audience, the higher your score is — and the more favorably Facebook will treat your ads.

3) It includes an enticing value proposition.

A value proposition tells the reader why they should click on your ad to learn more about your product. How is your product or service different from any other? Why should the viewer click on your ad to see your website?

Your value proposition should be believable. For example, saying you have the greatest sandwiches in the world will not make people come to your business’s Page, but maybe offering 20% off will. Or, perhaps adding social proof will help — something like, “Sandwiches loved by over one million people every year! Come try yours today and get 20% off your order with this coupon.”

4) It has a clear call-to-action.

A beautiful and relevant ad is great, but without a call-to-action (CTA), your viewer might not know what to do next. Add a CTA like “Buy now and save X%,” or “Offer ends soon” and add a sense of urgency to your viewer. Your CTA should encourage people to click on your ad now.

The 3 Primary Formats for Facebook Ads (With Examples)

Format 1: The Right Column Ad

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Source: Facebook

This type of ad is the most traditional on Facebook, it appears on the right side of a user’s Facebook News Feed. This is the first type of advertising Facebook had, and it still exists today.

Although ads in the News Feed are likely to get higher engagement metrics due to its native advertising features, right column ads shouldn’t be forgotten. We often see less expensive clicks and conversions when using these ads. In order for a right column ad to be successful, it needs to be relevant, have a value proposition, a good visual, and have a call-to-action. Let’s look at an example below from Winc (formermly known as Club W): 


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Here’s what makes this ad great:

  • It’s visual. The visual is clear, simple, and appealing to all types of wine-lovers.
  • It’s relevant. This came up in my wine-obssesed colleague’s News Feed. Need I say more? Two thumbs up on relevance.
  • It includes an enticing value prop. Three bottles for $19? What a steal. They also pull the viewer in with an additional value: a discount on their first order of wine.
  • It has a strong call-to-action. The word “get” is strong call-to-action language, and it’s used twice here. A time limit on this offer would have made it even stronger.

Format 2: The Desktop News Feed Ad

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Source: Facebook

This type of ad appears directly in a user’s News Feed when they access Facebook on a desktop computer, and it looks more like native advertising. In our experience, these ads have a higher engagement rate than right column ads, but they can also be more expensive. These ads must follow organic Facebook posts best practices and be both engaging and visual.

This is how an ad from Amazon looks in the News Feed on a desktop:

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Here’s what makes this ad great:

  • It’s visual. Not only is this image larger than the right column ad display, but it also uses warm colors, white space, and directional lines which drew my eye towards the featured product.
  • It’s relevant. As a cat mom, this offer is clearly tailored to my consumer needs. 
  • It includes an enticing value prop. Amazon has advertised a self-cleaning litter box here, which is of tremendous value for any cat owner. Additionally, it shared the strong customer ratings below an image of the product. (Social proof, anyone?)
  • It has a clear call-to-action. Amazon instructs me to click on its ad today, after which point the deal for the litter box will presumably disappear. “Now” is strong CTA language that compels clicks.

Format 3: The Mobile News Feed Ad

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Source: Facebook

Like the desktop News Feed ad, this type of ad appears in the user’s mobile News Feed and displays like an organic posts from people and Pages that they follow. 

This is what a mobile News Feed ad for The New York Times looks like:

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Here’s what makes this ad great:

  • It’s visual. The quirky cartoon drew my eye as I scrolled on my mobile News Feed through lots of text and photography. The nontraditional illustration pulled me in for a closer look at the content.
  • It’s relevant. I’m a person in my 20s, and I used to write about health care. This is an article I would definitely be interested in reading, and it helps that the ad appears like a native post promoting an article in my New Feed.
  • It includes an enticing value prop. The ad shows me which of my Facebook friends also like, and presumably read, The New York Times. This social proof makes me more likely to click and read the article.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. This ad is dedicated to increasing the page’s Likes, and by asking a question in the ad, the call-to-action makes me want to click the article to learn more.

Now that we’ve covered the three main ad formats, let’s dig into a sampling of the wide variety of post types you can use.

8 Types of Facebook Advertising & Some of the Best Facebook Ad Examples

1) The Facebook Video Ad

Video ads appear fairly large in the user’s New Feed and offer more engaging content than static posts. And with 8 billion videos being watched on Facebook every day, it serves as an interesting — and potentially profitable — ad type for marketers to try out. 

Need some inspiration? Check out this example from Key Jewlers below:

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Why this works:

  • It’s visual. Even though this is a video, I have a general idea of what I will be watching, thanks to the screen capture it started with. Additionally, I can understand the gist of this ad without playing with the sound on, which is important given that 85% of videos on Facebook are now viewed without sound.
  • It’s relevant. It’s relevant to me because I was recently scouring jewelry websites, specifically for necklaces like the one in the ad.
  • It’s valuable. Kay shows potential customers the value of purchasing with the help of the happy reaction from the woman receiving the gift in the ad. Plus, who doesn’t love dogs?
  • It has a solid call-to-action. This ad is set up to drive Page Likes, which is an easy, one-click way for me to get more relevant content served up to me.

How can you create your own video ad? First, understand Facebook video ad requirements including length and video size. We suggest keeping your video as short as possible, even though Facebook allows you to upload a much larger video. Create a video that displays your product or service, and upload directly to the Facebook ads manager by following these instructions

2) The Photo Ad

Another type of rich media advertising on Facebook is a post of an image. This is one of the most popular types of ads ever since Facebook began favoring visual content. The optimal size for News Feed photo ads is 1200×628 pixels, otherwise your image will get cropped. Adjust your image based on the target audience’s needs and by what will appeal to them the most.

Here’s an example of a photo ad from NatureBox:

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Why this works:

  • It’s visual. The image shows you exactly what you’re getting, and it calls out the “free sample” CTA well.
  • It’s relevant. Everyone likes to snack. In all seriousness, the person who saw this is a fan of several lifestyle subscription companies, which is what NatureBox is. 
  • It’s valuable. This ad is full of value. First, the “free trial” callout is the first thing your eyes go to when looking at the image. Second, it clearly mentions the healthy aspects of the goodies in its product.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. Nature Box is asking you to try its free sample. It couldn’t be easier to know your next step.

3) The Multi-Product Ad

Multi-product ads allow advertisers to showcase multiple products within one ad. Viewers can scroll through the images and click on individual links to each product. You can promote multiple of anything, not just products — like different blog posts, ebooks, or webinars. These ads can be created in the Facebook Power Editor.

Here’s an example of a multi-product ad from Shutterfly, along with the additional images that are used in the ad. Each image has a different offer, to appeal to many different demographics in one ad.

shutterfly

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. This series of images leands on a consistent color pallette, making it feel both cohesive and on brand. (Having a cute cat doesn’t hurt either.)
  • It’s relevant. The person who saw this loves taking photos and creating sentimental gifts. Spot on, right?
  • It’s valuable. There is a very clear value for the user, 40% off each of the products being advertised. The code and sale end date are also clear in the ad description. This ad also has an added level of value, it is showing the many different ways people can use Shutterfly, in ways many may not be aware of.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. I know I need to use this before February 17th when this deal expires, so I would be encouraged to take action right away.  

4) The Local Ad

Local ads on Facebook only work if your business has a physical location that you are trying to drive real foot traffic to. If you fall into this category, then locally targeted Facebook ads may be a great fit for you, as you can hyper-target on Facebook down to the mile.

If your business has an offer or event going on at your store, set up a few Facebook ads that appear only to people within a short distance of your store. Have these ads appear a few days prior to the event and on mobile devices while the event is happening. You may want to reach some people the day of the event who happen to be in the area and checking their Facebook account on their smartphones.

Take this ad for example from Mizzou Campus Dining:

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Why this works:

  • It’s visual. This image has college pride, a variety of salty and sweet treats, and a well-known logo to attract hungry college students. 
  • It’s relevant. This ad is likely only being shown to students on campus who are in its target audience. It also mentions the sports game that was going on at the time, and plays to the student’s current needs: snacks and Subway sandwiches.
  • It’s valuable. Mizzou Market is telling hungry college students that it has everything students need for the big game. 
  • It has a clear call-to-action. This ad has the option to show directions, making it extremely easy for a college student on the go to follow the walking directions to this market.

5) The Offer Ad

An offer ad is a newer form of Facebook advertising where a business can promote a discount on a product or service that can be redeemed on Facebook. The benefit of this? It eliminates one step in the buyer’s journey, which ultimately increases sales.

The offer ad has many benefits. First, it drives the user directly to the offer. The user claims it directly on Facebook, removing any added friction of needing to to go to your website for the offer. You also can reach any type of audience that you want, as all the Facebook targeting options are possible.

Finally, you can include all the information needed for the user to decide if they want it or not, including the time period it is usable, the number of people who has already claimed it, and the exact amount the offer is. This will eliminate any unqualified clicks, which cost you money.

Here’s an example of an offer ad Boston Sports Club:

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Why this works:

  • It’s visual. The featured photo uses bold colors and clear typography to draw my attention to the details of the offer, and the woman exercising gives me an idea of what I could gain from purchasing the offer.
  • It’s relevant. I recently moved to Boston and have been searching for gyms in my area online, so this ad is highly relevant to my recent Facebook and search activity.
  • It’s valuable. Paying $5 for a monthly gym membership is a great deal. Even though the price may increase in the future, the low price definitely makes me want to click.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. The CTA emphasizes that the discount offer is limited and should be claimed quickly using the word “hurry” and telling me when the offer expires.

6) The Event Ad

Event ads promote a specific event. The CTA on these ads usually send users directly to the ticket purchase page, wherever that happens to be hosted.

Using this type of ad will help drive a targeted group of people to attend your event. These will show up in the News Feed of the specific audience you’ve chosen. Events are a big part of most businesses, but getting people to attend even a small event, can be tricky. Promoting your event to a targeted specific audience on Facebook can help drive the right kind of attendees.

A good ad in this format will clearly show the benefit of attending the event: The price, dates, and a clear CTA to purchase a ticket. The events ad below for the Tortuga Music Festival displays the date and time and the bands playing:

event facebook ad

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. The picture alone is worth a thousand words about how much fun this concert would be. Not only is it on the beach, it was also taken on a gorgeous day and the stage looks amazing. Also, it clearly represents what to expect during the event, and it catches the eye as someone scrolls through their News Feed. (The beautiful ocean water definitely helps.)
  • It’s relevant. The person who saw this ad is a fan of Kenny Chesney and has been to his concerts before. They’re also originally from Florida, which is where this event takes place. 
  • It’s valuable. Since the image was taken on a beautiful day, it looks like an ideal place to be — especially to those of us viewing it from our office desks. It also clearly tells you the cost of the ticket so you know before you click. (This is also good for the advertiser: By including the price, the ad allows users to self-select based on whether they can afford the ticket. If they can’t afford it, they won’t click through, thus saving the advertiser money on unqualified clicks.)
  • It has a clear call-to-action. The CTA is clear: “Buy.” The advertisers also add urgent wording with the title “Time is running out!”, encouraging you to purchase your ticket now before it’s too late.

7) The Retargeting Ad

A retargeting ad promotes an ad to a specific list of previously identified people. Have you ever seen ads follow you across the internet after visiting a certain website? Then you’ve seen a retargeting ad. 

Facebook has the same capability. An advertiser can advertise to a list of leads or customers by uploading a list of email addresses it already has into the Power Editor to make a custom audience. A good retargeting ad acknowledges that the brand knows you’re already interested in its product. (Because, let’s face it … retargeting can be a little creepy.)

Last week, I started shopping around for a bridesmaid dress for an upcoming wedding. Today, this ad appeared in my News Feed:

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Why this works:

  • It’s visual. The image gives me a good idea of what to expect from the designer’s website, and it definitely helps that the gowns are both unique and stunning. Talk about a showstopper. 
  • It’s relevant. The ad called out that I was already shopping for bridesmaid dresses, and what’s more, I had previously looked at dresses on this exact website, so this ad is highly relevant to my search.
  • It’s valuable. The variety of dresses in the ad’s image and in the description make this website worth a visit for someone trying to find the perfect gown out of thousands of options.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. The CTA is “Shop Now,” which encourages me to click to purchase the beautiful dresses in the ad’s image.

8) The Boosted Post

A boosted post is an organic Facebook post that was originally on the homepage of a company’s Facebook, and that later was boosted with advertising money.

This is different from the above ads because it’s not created in the Facebook Ads Manager. You can include more in the description, as there is no limit to word count on boosted posts like there is in ads. You can also have a link in the copy.

The cons? Boosted posts leave you fewer options for bidding, targeting, and pricing. You also cannot run any types of A/B tests because you’re promoting a post that’s already been creating, not creating one from scratch.

Here’s an example of a boosted post from Bustle, who promoted one of its articles on Facebook:

bustle learn more ad.png

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. Lots of people are familiar with the Amazon Prime logo, but not in neon lights in a window display. It made me do a double-take while scrolling through Facebook.
  • It’s relevant. As we’ve already learned from earlier examples, I like shopping on Amazon and also read Bustle, so this article is a combination of those two behaviors.
  • It’s valuable. “Brilliant” is a strong adjective to describe products, which makes me curious to learn more about purchasing them.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. The ad entices me with information about useful and “brilliant” gadgets I can get delivered to my door within two days, which I’m happy to click to learn more about.

Getting Started

There you have it: A list of all the different types of Facebook posts and a few examples of awesome ones from all different brands. The Facebook Ads Manager platform will walk you through how to set these up with simple, step-by-step instructions — so don’t feel overwhelmed.

Note for HubSpot customers: You can now integrate Facebook Ads reporting into the HubSpot Ads App to make reporting and analyzing your advertising ROI easier. You’ll be able to easily see which Facebook Ads generate leads and increase your ROI without having to analyze the data yourself. You can also use this integration to edit Facebook Ads from directly within your HubSpot portal. Customers can sign up to test this integration here.

Now, stop reading and start creating.

Want to see how HubSpot uses Facebook? Like our Facebook Page here.

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

free guide to facebook advertising

 
learn the science of successful facebook ads

Nov

30

2016

11 Examples of Facebook Ads That Actually Work (And Why)

facebook-ads-that-work.jpg

One average, Facebook is home to 1.18 billion daily active users — from CEOs, to students, to companies. And while the community is clearly there, connecting with them from a marketing standpoint isn’t always easy. 

For brands, posting on Facebook alone isn’t enough anymore — especially for ones just starting out. Sure, you can throw money at your efforts to drive people to your Facebook Page and send them to your website, but that only works if you’re smart about it.

One way to do just that is to create optimized Facebook Ads targeted at the right audience. Optimized ads can help you spend your PPC budget wisely and see a positive return on your investment. Download this free guide for data-backed tips on creating the optimal Facebook  Ad.

So, what does optimized Facebook advertising actually look like? If you’re looking for some great examples, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll quickly go over the three overarching formats for Facebook Ads: right column, desktop News Feed, and mobile News Feed. Then, we’ll show you eight different types of Facebook Ads, each with real-life examples — along with some insights into why that ad is so successful.

But before we get to these examples, let’s discuss the four components of a good Facebook Ad (or any ad, really) regardless of its type …

4 Components of Successful Facebook Ads

1) It’s visual.

Visual content is not only treated more favorably in the Facebook algorithm, but it’s also more likely to be shared and remembered than written content. The lesson for Facebook marketers? No matter what type of ad you create, your image needs to be visually appealing.

Check out this blog post for a detailed guide to image sizes for various ad units on Facebook along with some tips on posting visual content.

2) It’s relevant.

Relevance is critical for success when using Facebook advertising. Remember, you are spending money when someone views or clicks on your ad (depending on the settings you use). If you’re showing ads that aren’t relevant to your target audience, you’re wasting your time and money and will likely not see success with any kind of advertising.

Back in February 2015, Facebook launched a feature in the Facebook advertising platform that rates your ads and gives you a relevance score, similar to Ad Rank in Google AdWords. The more relevant your ad image, ad copy, and destination page is to your audience, the higher your score is — and the more favorably Facebook will treat your ads.

3) It includes an enticing value proposition.

A value proposition tells the reader why they should click on your ad to learn more about your product. How is your product or service different from any other? Why should the viewer click on your ad to see your website?

Your value proposition should be believable. For example, saying you have the greatest sandwiches in the world will not make people come to your business’s Page, but maybe offering 20% off will. Or, perhaps adding social proof will help — something like, “Sandwiches loved by over one million people every year! Come try yours today and get 20% off your order with this coupon.”

4) It has a clear call-to-action.

A beautiful and relevant ad is great, but without a call-to-action (CTA), your viewer might not know what to do next. Add a CTA like “Buy now and save X%,” or “Offer ends soon” and add a sense of urgency to your viewer. Your CTA should encourage people to click on your ad now.

The 3 Primary Formats for Facebook Ads (With Examples)

Format 1: The Right Column Ad

Right Column Facebook Placement.png

Source: Facebook

This type of ad is the most traditional on Facebook, it appears on the right side of a user’s Facebook News Feed. This is the first type of advertising Facebook had, and it still exists today.

Although ads in the News Feed are likely to get higher engagement metrics due to its native advertising features, right column ads shouldn’t be forgotten. We often see less expensive clicks and conversions when using these ads. In order for a right column ad to be successful, it needs to be relevant, have a value proposition, a good visual, and have a call-to-action. Let’s look at an example below from Winc (formermly known as Club W): 


Club W FB Ad.png

Here’s what makes this ad great:

  • It’s visual. The visual is clear, simple, and appealing to all types of wine-lovers.
  • It’s relevant. This came up in my wine-obssesed colleague’s News Feed. Need I say more? Two thumbs up on relevance.
  • It includes an enticing value prop. Three bottles for $19? What a steal. They also pull the viewer in with an additional value: a discount on their first order of wine.
  • It has a strong call-to-action. The word “get” is strong call-to-action language, and it’s used twice here. A time limit on this offer would have made it even stronger.

Format 2: The Desktop News Feed Ad

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 1.16.38 PM.png

Source: Facebook

This type of ad appears directly in a user’s News Feed when they access Facebook on a desktop computer, and it looks more like native advertising. In our experience, these ads have a higher engagement rate than right column ads, but they can also be more expensive. These ads must follow organic Facebook posts best practices and be both engaging and visual.

This is how an ad from Amazon looks in the News Feed on a desktop:

amazon newsfeed litter box.png

Here’s what makes this ad great:

  • It’s visual. Not only is this image larger than the right column ad display, but it also uses warm colors, white space, and directional lines which drew my eye towards the featured product.
  • It’s relevant. As a cat mom, this offer is clearly tailored to my consumer needs. 
  • It includes an enticing value prop. Amazon has advertised a self-cleaning litter box here, which is of tremendous value for any cat owner. Additionally, it shared the strong customer ratings below an image of the product. (Social proof, anyone?)
  • It has a clear call-to-action. Amazon instructs me to click on its ad today, after which point the deal for the litter box will presumably disappear. “Now” is strong CTA language that compels clicks.

Format 3: The Mobile News Feed Ad

Mobile Facebook Ad Placement.png

Source: Facebook

Like the desktop News Feed ad, this type of ad appears in the user’s mobile News Feed and displays like an organic posts from people and Pages that they follow. 

This is what a mobile News Feed ad for The New York Times looks like:

NYT mobile ad.jpg

Here’s what makes this ad great:

  • It’s visual. The quirky cartoon drew my eye as I scrolled on my mobile News Feed through lots of text and photography. The nontraditional illustration pulled me in for a closer look at the content.
  • It’s relevant. I’m a person in my 20s, and I used to write about health care. This is an article I would definitely be interested in reading, and it helps that the ad appears like a native post promoting an article in my New Feed.
  • It includes an enticing value prop. The ad shows me which of my Facebook friends also like, and presumably read, The New York Times. This social proof makes me more likely to click and read the article.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. This ad is dedicated to increasing the page’s Likes, and by asking a question in the ad, the call-to-action makes me want to click the article to learn more.

Now that we’ve covered the three main ad formats, let’s dig into a sampling of the wide variety of post types you can use.

8 Types of Facebook Advertising & Some of the Best Facebook Ad Examples

1) The Facebook Video Ad

Video ads appear fairly large in the user’s New Feed and offer more engaging content than static posts. And with 8 billion videos being watched on Facebook every day, it serves as an interesting — and potentially profitable — ad type for marketers to try out. 

Need some inspiration? Check out this example from Key Jewlers below:

kayjewelersfinalgif.gif

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. Even though this is a video, I have a general idea of what I will be watching, thanks to the screen capture it started with. Additionally, I can understand the gist of this ad without playing with the sound on, which is important given that 85% of videos on Facebook are now viewed without sound.
  • It’s relevant. It’s relevant to me because I was recently scouring jewelry websites, specifically for necklaces like the one in the ad.
  • It’s valuable. Kay shows potential customers the value of purchasing with the help of the happy reaction from the woman receiving the gift in the ad. Plus, who doesn’t love dogs?
  • It has a solid call-to-action. This ad is set up to drive Page Likes, which is an easy, one-click way for me to get more relevant content served up to me.

How can you create your own video ad? First, understand Facebook video ad requirements including length and video size. We suggest keeping your video as short as possible, even though Facebook allows you to upload a much larger video. Create a video that displays your product or service, and upload directly to the Facebook ads manager by following these instructions

2) The Photo Ad

Another type of rich media advertising on Facebook is a post of an image. This is one of the most popular types of ads ever since Facebook began favoring visual content. The optimal size for News Feed photo ads is 1200×628 pixels, otherwise your image will get cropped. Adjust your image based on the target audience’s needs and by what will appeal to them the most.

Here’s an example of a photo ad from NatureBox:

naturebox-1

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. The image shows you exactly what you’re getting, and it calls out the “free sample” CTA well.
  • It’s relevant. Everyone likes to snack. In all seriousness, the person who saw this is a fan of several lifestyle subscription companies, which is what NatureBox is. 
  • It’s valuable. This ad is full of value. First, the “free trial” callout is the first thing your eyes go to when looking at the image. Second, it clearly mentions the healthy aspects of the goodies in its product.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. Nature Box is asking you to try its free sample. It couldn’t be easier to know your next step.

3) The Multi-Product Ad

Multi-product ads allow advertisers to showcase multiple products within one ad. Viewers can scroll through the images and click on individual links to each product. You can promote multiple of anything, not just products — like different blog posts, ebooks, or webinars. These ads can be created in the Facebook Power Editor.

Here’s an example of a multi-product ad from Shutterfly, along with the additional images that are used in the ad. Each image has a different offer, to appeal to many different demographics in one ad.

shutterfly

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. This series of images leands on a consistent color pallette, making it feel both cohesive and on brand. (Having a cute cat doesn’t hurt either.)
  • It’s relevant. The person who saw this loves taking photos and creating sentimental gifts. Spot on, right?
  • It’s valuable. There is a very clear value for the user, 40% off each of the products being advertised. The code and sale end date are also clear in the ad description. This ad also has an added level of value, it is showing the many different ways people can use Shutterfly, in ways many may not be aware of.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. I know I need to use this before February 17th when this deal expires, so I would be encouraged to take action right away.  

4) The Local Ad

Local ads on Facebook only work if your business has a physical location that you are trying to drive real foot traffic to. If you fall into this category, then locally targeted Facebook ads may be a great fit for you, as you can hyper-target on Facebook down to the mile.

If your business has an offer or event going on at your store, set up a few Facebook ads that appear only to people within a short distance of your store. Have these ads appear a few days prior to the event and on mobile devices while the event is happening. You may want to reach some people the day of the event who happen to be in the area and checking their Facebook account on their smartphones.

Take this ad for example from Mizzou Campus Dining:

ScreenShot2015-03-29at2.12.59PM

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. This image has college pride, a variety of salty and sweet treats, and a well-known logo to attract hungry college students. 
  • It’s relevant. This ad is likely only being shown to students on campus who are in its target audience. It also mentions the sports game that was going on at the time, and plays to the student’s current needs: snacks and Subway sandwiches.
  • It’s valuable. Mizzou Market is telling hungry college students that it has everything students need for the big game. 
  • It has a clear call-to-action. This ad has the option to show directions, making it extremely easy for a college student on the go to follow the walking directions to this market.

5) The Offer Ad

An offer ad is a newer form of Facebook advertising where a business can promote a discount on a product or service that can be redeemed on Facebook. The benefit of this? It eliminates one step in the buyer’s journey, which ultimately increases sales.

The offer ad has many benefits. First, it drives the user directly to the offer. The user claims it directly on Facebook, removing any added friction of needing to to go to your website for the offer. You also can reach any type of audience that you want, as all the Facebook targeting options are possible.

Finally, you can include all the information needed for the user to decide if they want it or not, including the time period it is usable, the number of people who has already claimed it, and the exact amount the offer is. This will eliminate any unqualified clicks, which cost you money.

Here’s an example of an offer ad Boston Sports Club:

BSCad.jpg

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. The featured photo uses bold colors and clear typography to draw my attention to the details of the offer, and the woman exercising gives me an idea of what I could gain from purchasing the offer.
  • It’s relevant. I recently moved to Boston and have been searching for gyms in my area online, so this ad is highly relevant to my recent Facebook and search activity.
  • It’s valuable. Paying $5 for a monthly gym membership is a great deal. Even though the price may increase in the future, the low price definitely makes me want to click.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. The CTA emphasizes that the discount offer is limited and should be claimed quickly using the word “hurry” and telling me when the offer expires.

6) The Event Ad

Event ads promote a specific event. The CTA on these ads usually send users directly to the ticket purchase page, wherever that happens to be hosted.

Using this type of ad will help drive a targeted group of people to attend your event. These will show up in the News Feed of the specific audience you’ve chosen. Events are a big part of most businesses, but getting people to attend even a small event, can be tricky. Promoting your event to a targeted specific audience on Facebook can help drive the right kind of attendees.

A good ad in this format will clearly show the benefit of attending the event: The price, dates, and a clear CTA to purchase a ticket. The events ad below for the Tortuga Music Festival displays the date and time and the bands playing:

event facebook ad

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. The picture alone is worth a thousand words about how much fun this concert would be. Not only is it on the beach, it was also taken on a gorgeous day and the stage looks amazing. Also, it clearly represents what to expect during the event, and it catches the eye as someone scrolls through their News Feed. (The beautiful ocean water definitely helps.)
  • It’s relevant. The person who saw this ad is a fan of Kenny Chesney and has been to his concerts before. They’re also originally from Florida, which is where this event takes place. 
  • It’s valuable. Since the image was taken on a beautiful day, it looks like an ideal place to be — especially to those of us viewing it from our office desks. It also clearly tells you the cost of the ticket so you know before you click. (This is also good for the advertiser: By including the price, the ad allows users to self-select based on whether they can afford the ticket. If they can’t afford it, they won’t click through, thus saving the advertiser money on unqualified clicks.)
  • It has a clear call-to-action. The CTA is clear: “Buy.” The advertisers also add urgent wording with the title “Time is running out!”, encouraging you to purchase your ticket now before it’s too late.

7) The Retargeting Ad

A retargeting ad promotes an ad to a specific list of previously identified people. Have you ever seen ads follow you across the internet after visiting a certain website? Then you’ve seen a retargeting ad. 

Facebook has the same capability. An advertiser can advertise to a list of leads or customers by uploading a list of email addresses it already has into the Power Editor to make a custom audience. A good retargeting ad acknowledges that the brand knows you’re already interested in its product. (Because, let’s face it … retargeting can be a little creepy.)

Last week, I started shopping around for a bridesmaid dress for an upcoming wedding. Today, this ad appeared in my News Feed:

Adrianna Papell wedding dress ad.png

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. The image gives me a good idea of what to expect from the designer’s website, and it definitely helps that the gowns are both unique and stunning. Talk about a showstopper. 
  • It’s relevant. The ad called out that I was already shopping for bridesmaid dresses, and what’s more, I had previously looked at dresses on this exact website, so this ad is highly relevant to my search.
  • It’s valuable. The variety of dresses in the ad’s image and in the description make this website worth a visit for someone trying to find the perfect gown out of thousands of options.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. The CTA is “Shop Now,” which encourages me to click to purchase the beautiful dresses in the ad’s image.

8) The Boosted Post

A boosted post is an organic Facebook post that was originally on the homepage of a company’s Facebook, and that later was boosted with advertising money.

This is different from the above ads because it’s not created in the Facebook Ads Manager. You can include more in the description, as there is no limit to word count on boosted posts like there is in ads. You can also have a link in the copy.

The cons? Boosted posts leave you fewer options for bidding, targeting, and pricing. You also cannot run any types of A/B tests because you’re promoting a post that’s already been creating, not creating one from scratch.

Here’s an example of a boosted post from Bustle, who promoted one of its articles on Facebook:

bustle learn more ad.png

Why this works:

  • It’s visual. Lots of people are familiar with the Amazon Prime logo, but not in neon lights in a window display. It made me do a double-take while scrolling through Facebook.
  • It’s relevant. As we’ve already learned from earlier examples, I like shopping on Amazon and also read Bustle, so this article is a combination of those two behaviors.
  • It’s valuable. “Brilliant” is a strong adjective to describe products, which makes me curious to learn more about purchasing them.
  • It has a clear call-to-action. The ad entices me with information about useful and “brilliant” gadgets I can get delivered to my door within two days, which I’m happy to click to learn more about.

Getting Started

There you have it: A list of all the different types of Facebook posts and a few examples of awesome ones from all different brands. The Facebook Ads Manager platform will walk you through how to set these up with simple, step-by-step instructions — so don’t feel overwhelmed.

Note for HubSpot customers: You can now integrate Facebook Ads reporting into the HubSpot Ads App to make reporting and analyzing your advertising ROI easier. You’ll be able to easily see which Facebook Ads generate leads and increase your ROI without having to analyze the data yourself. You can also use this integration to edit Facebook Ads from directly within your HubSpot portal. Customers can sign up to test this integration here.

Now, stop reading and start creating.

Want to see how HubSpot uses Facebook? Like our Facebook Page here.

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

free guide to facebook advertising

 
learn the science of successful facebook ads

Nov

30

2016

The Top Questions to Ask & Avoid During a Phone Interview [Infographic]

phone-interview-questions.jpg

Did you know that the average job seeker spends only 76 seconds reviewing a job posting online before they decide to apply?

While this may be enough time for the candidate to determine if the role is in their area of expertise and meets their salary requirements, it probably isn’t enough for them to evaluate if they’re the best fit for the role.

If you’re an interviewer, this is where the phone interview can come in handy. Instead of taking time to coordinate an in-person interview, a phone interview requires only a few minutes of your time and can quickly and easily determine if the candidate is qualified for the role.

Hireology produced the following infographic to review questions you should — and shouldn’t — ask in a phone interview to decide if a candidate should move forward in the recruiting process. Check it out below to sharpen your phone interview skills.

PHONE-INTERVIEW-1.png

What questions do you always make sure to ask during a phone interview? Share with us in the comments below.

learn how to hire an all-star marketing team

Nov

30

2016

The Top Questions to Ask & Avoid During a Phone Interview [Infographic]

phone-interview-questions.jpg

Did you know that the average job seeker spends only 76 seconds reviewing a job posting online before they decide to apply?

While this may be enough time for the candidate to determine if the role is in their area of expertise and meets their salary requirements, it probably isn’t enough for them to evaluate if they’re the best fit for the role.

If you’re an interviewer, this is where the phone interview can come in handy. Instead of taking time to coordinate an in-person interview, a phone interview requires only a few minutes of your time and can quickly and easily determine if the candidate is qualified for the role.

Hireology produced the following infographic to review questions you should — and shouldn’t — ask in a phone interview to decide if a candidate should move forward in the recruiting process. Check it out below to sharpen your phone interview skills.

PHONE-INTERVIEW-1.png

What questions do you always make sure to ask during a phone interview? Share with us in the comments below.

learn how to hire an all-star marketing team

Nov

29

2016

How to Validate Your Blog Post Topics: A 3-Step Process

validate-blog-post-ideas.jpg

Imagine you own a business that films and produces yoga routines for at-home practice. As search engine results pages become more crowded, your chances of ranking for a popular industry keyword — such as “yoga” — begin to diminish.

But as it turns out, that’s not the end of the world. These days people are actually conducting more specific, conversational queries — think: “how do I teach myself yoga?” — to get the information they’re looking for, faster.

Unsurprisingly, Google responded to this change in behavior by introducing RankBrain — a machine-learning artificial intelligence system — as well as Hummingbird — a search algorithm designed to focus on the meaning behind the search terms being used.

The result? An increased number of long-tail keyword variations that are regularly searched within a topic. Jackpot. Learn more about HubSpot's latest tools to power your growth here.

But with more topic opportunities on the table, how can you be sure that you’re going after the right ones? To help you avoid wasting time on topics and keyword plays that won’t generate a meaningful return for your business, we’ve put together a simple process for validating your ideas before you start writing. Check it out below. 

How to Validate Your Blog Post Topics: A 3-Step Process

1) Get to know your audience really well.

Ideally, you’re already conducting market research and thinking about your audience before you start writing a piece of content. But in case you’re not, or you need to refresh your memory, here are a few questions you should be asking when you’re brainstorming blog content ideas:

  • Who searches for information on this topic? What are their ages, job roles, and demographic traits?
  • What emotions do you want to evoke? What are their goals?
  • What do you want viewers to do with your blog posts once they read it?

When you have a clearer idea of the demographic and psychographic traits of your ideal audience, you can then use this information to substantiate your list of ideas. Chuck the ideas that don’t fit their mold, and keep the ones that do — it’s that simple.

2) Create a topic cluster based on your persona research.

Once you know who you’re writing for, figure out what questions they need answers to. To start, think about providing solutions to challenges your audience is facing.

For example, in the yoga example above, your audience’s problems might include: not having enough time to go to the gym, a lack of nearby gyms, an inability to afford a gym membership, or high levels of stress.

From there, marketers should ask questions to determine the specific angle of their content. What’s the best way to deliver this information — a blog post, an infographic, or a video? What content has already been published about the topic, and what angle can I pursue to differentiate mine?

One of the best ways to organize your thoughts and finding here is through a topic cluster a new way to strategize blog content geared toward how search has evolved.

Continuing with the yoga example, you’d want to create a topic cluster centered around “yoga” as the main topic. Then, you’d come up with subtopics that are related to yoga but based on long-tail keywords that are easier to rank for in search. These could include “at-home workouts,” “exercises for stress relief,” “yoga for beginners,” and “online yoga classes.”

Here’s an example cluster that HubSpot’s Head of Growth & SEO Matt Barby created. Notice that while the core content topic is “workout routines,” the cluster content — referred to as pillar content — spans a wider variety of related topics.

workout routines topic cluster-1.png

By clustering ideas around one core topic that is relevant to your audience, it become easier to generate content that you know will resonate.

“This is a very simplistic overview but can work as a light framework for prioritizing content ideation and production,” explains Barby in an article detailing the full process. “The role of the pillar content is to cover the core topic broadly and also perform well at converting visitors into leads (or whatever your conversion goal is). The cluster content that is built for each of the subtopics will focus on gaining greater topic visibility and funneling traffic through to the pillar content in order for them to convert.”

3) Use tools to gut check your topics.

Once you have topics in mind for blog posts, do some testing: Just because you think the topic is interesting and good for search engine optimization doesn’t always mean it will resonate with your audience.

Here on the HubSpot Blogging team, we propose blog topics and titles alongside a reason why we think they will perform well. Here are some of the tools we use to determine if an angle is worth writing up:

  • TitleTester: As the name of the tool suggests, TitleTester allows you to plug different title options into its tool to analyze which has the highest clickthrough rate. Use this tool to test different angles on a topic to see which generates the most interest.
  • Twitter Polls: Ask your followers to vote for topics they’re most interested in reading more about using Twitter Polls. Use that data to guide your topic choosing before starting to write.
  • Twitter Chats: Figure out which Twitter Chat most closely aligns with the topics you’re writing about, click on the hashtag, and see what types of questions people are asking about. That will give you an idea of a content gap that your blog post could fill with resources for your audience.
  • BuzzSumo: BuzzSumo analyzes how many times a URL has been shared via social media or linked to by another domain. Do some quick competitor analysis by dropping in links to content on the topic you’re writing about to see how different angles have performed in the past.
  • Blog Comments: Does your blog have commenting enabled? If not, it should, because feedback from your subscribers is the exact answer to the questions you’re asking — what content is my audience interested in? Take positive and constructive feedback from readers to inform your strategy.

Once you’ve aggregated responses to different tests and questions you’ve asked your audience, choose a topic and title with the greatest level of engagement and response, and start writing your blog post.

Quality > Quantity

The biggest takeaway for marketers is to emphasize blog post quality and relevance over quantity. Instead of writing multiple blog posts without a review of the strategy behind them, it will be difficult to rank in search and achieve lead generation goals.

For HubSpot customers, HubSpot Content Strategy will help guide you through the process of creating a topic cluster. Based on data from the HubSpot Keywords App, Content Strategy and the Blog Topic Generator will recommend topics that you should create content around, and advise against topics that will be hard to rank for or are unrelated to your central topic. It’s coming soon to the HubSpot software, and users can sign up for early access now.

How do you decide which topics to write blog posts about? Share with us in the comments below.

Product Launches INBOUND 2016

Nov

29

2016

How to Validate Your Blog Post Topics: A 3-Step Process

validate-blog-post-ideas.jpg

Imagine you own a business that films and produces yoga routines for at-home practice. As search engine results pages become more crowded, your chances of ranking for a popular industry keyword — such as “yoga” — begin to diminish.

But as it turns out, that’s not the end of the world. These days people are actually conducting more specific, conversational queries — think: “how do I teach myself yoga?” — to get the information they’re looking for, faster.

Unsurprisingly, Google responded to this change in behavior by introducing RankBrain — a machine-learning artificial intelligence system — as well as Hummingbird — a search algorithm designed to focus on the meaning behind the search terms being used.

The result? An increased number of long-tail keyword variations that are regularly searched within a topic. Jackpot. Learn more about HubSpot's latest tools to power your growth here.

But with more topic opportunities on the table, how can you be sure that you’re going after the right ones? To help you avoid wasting time on topics and keyword plays that won’t generate a meaningful return for your business, we’ve put together a simple process for validating your ideas before you start writing. Check it out below. 

How to Validate Your Blog Post Topics: A 3-Step Process

1) Get to know your audience really well.

Ideally, you’re already conducting market research and thinking about your audience before you start writing a piece of content. But in case you’re not, or you need to refresh your memory, here are a few questions you should be asking when you’re brainstorming blog content ideas:

  • Who searches for information on this topic? What are their ages, job roles, and demographic traits?
  • What emotions do you want to evoke? What are their goals?
  • What do you want viewers to do with your blog posts once they read it?

When you have a clearer idea of the demographic and psychographic traits of your ideal audience, you can then use this information to substantiate your list of ideas. Chuck the ideas that don’t fit their mold, and keep the ones that do — it’s that simple.

2) Create a topic cluster based on your persona research.

Once you know who you’re writing for, figure out what questions they need answers to. To start, think about providing solutions to challenges your audience is facing.

For example, in the yoga example above, your audience’s problems might include: not having enough time to go to the gym, a lack of nearby gyms, an inability to afford a gym membership, or high levels of stress.

From there, marketers should ask questions to determine the specific angle of their content. What’s the best way to deliver this information — a blog post, an infographic, or a video? What content has already been published about the topic, and what angle can I pursue to differentiate mine?

One of the best ways to organize your thoughts and finding here is through a topic cluster a new way to strategize blog content geared toward how search has evolved.

Continuing with the yoga example, you’d want to create a topic cluster centered around “yoga” as the main topic. Then, you’d come up with subtopics that are related to yoga but based on long-tail keywords that are easier to rank for in search. These could include “at-home workouts,” “exercises for stress relief,” “yoga for beginners,” and “online yoga classes.”

Here’s an example cluster that HubSpot’s Head of Growth & SEO Matt Barby created. Notice that while the core content topic is “workout routines,” the cluster content — referred to as pillar content — spans a wider variety of related topics.

workout routines topic cluster-1.png

By clustering ideas around one core topic that is relevant to your audience, it become easier to generate content that you know will resonate.

“This is a very simplistic overview but can work as a light framework for prioritizing content ideation and production,” explains Barby in an article detailing the full process. “The role of the pillar content is to cover the core topic broadly and also perform well at converting visitors into leads (or whatever your conversion goal is). The cluster content that is built for each of the subtopics will focus on gaining greater topic visibility and funneling traffic through to the pillar content in order for them to convert.”

3) Use tools to gut check your topics.

Once you have topics in mind for blog posts, do some testing: Just because you think the topic is interesting and good for search engine optimization doesn’t always mean it will resonate with your audience.

Here on the HubSpot Blogging team, we propose blog topics and titles alongside a reason why we think they will perform well. Here are some of the tools we use to determine if an angle is worth writing up:

  • TitleTester: As the name of the tool suggests, TitleTester allows you to plug different title options into its tool to analyze which has the highest clickthrough rate. Use this tool to test different angles on a topic to see which generates the most interest.
  • Twitter Polls: Ask your followers to vote for topics they’re most interested in reading more about using Twitter Polls. Use that data to guide your topic choosing before starting to write.
  • Twitter Chats: Figure out which Twitter Chat most closely aligns with the topics you’re writing about, click on the hashtag, and see what types of questions people are asking about. That will give you an idea of a content gap that your blog post could fill with resources for your audience.
  • BuzzSumo: BuzzSumo analyzes how many times a URL has been shared via social media or linked to by another domain. Do some quick competitor analysis by dropping in links to content on the topic you’re writing about to see how different angles have performed in the past.
  • Blog Comments: Does your blog have commenting enabled? If not, it should, because feedback from your subscribers is the exact answer to the questions you’re asking — what content is my audience interested in? Take positive and constructive feedback from readers to inform your strategy.

Once you’ve aggregated responses to different tests and questions you’ve asked your audience, choose a topic and title with the greatest level of engagement and response, and start writing your blog post.

Quality > Quantity

The biggest takeaway for marketers is to emphasize blog post quality and relevance over quantity. Instead of writing multiple blog posts without a review of the strategy behind them, it will be difficult to rank in search and achieve lead generation goals.

For HubSpot customers, HubSpot Content Strategy will help guide you through the process of creating a topic cluster. Based on data from the HubSpot Keywords App, Content Strategy and the Blog Topic Generator will recommend topics that you should create content around, and advise against topics that will be hard to rank for or are unrelated to your central topic. It’s coming soon to the HubSpot software, and users can sign up for early access now.

How do you decide which topics to write blog posts about? Share with us in the comments below.

Product Launches INBOUND 2016

Nov

25

2016

7 Marketing Automation Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

marketing-automation-mistakes.jpg

I have money in my savings account because my bank has a built-in auto-deposit process. I’m not logging into my account every day and moving money around, but when I do log in, I can see the progress I’ve made toward my goals by setting my account to automate deductions.

Think of marketing automation like auto-deducting money from your checking account and putting it into savings: The automatic process lets you invest in your future goals in an easier way than if you did it manually.

Marketing automation can play a significant role in the success of your inbound marketing strategy, but there is a right way and a wrong way to use it. Learn more about HubSpot's latest tools to power your growth here.

We want to help you understand marketing automation, and how and when to use it to your organization’s benefit. In this post, we’ll discuss traps marketers can fall into when incorporating marketing automation and alternatives that solve for these challenges.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Quite simply, marketing automation refers to the software that exists to automate marketing actions — actions like email, social media, and more. All of these automated actions are designed with the concept of lead nurturing in mind. In other words, marketers are creating and automating various types of content with the goal of actively attracting, qualifying, and moving prospects through the sales funnel towards a purchase.

And the marketing automation industry is huge — Emailmonday estimates that 49% of companies use marketing automation software, and Marketing Automation Insider estimates that the industry is worth $1.62 billion per year.

The trouble is, because marketing automation software has grown so significantly as a part of the inbound marketing movement, some marketers aren’t adopting it correctly. Let’s dig into some of the most common marketing automation mistakes below.

7 Common Marketing Automation Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

1) You’ve invested in marketing automation without an inbound lead generation strategy.

The Problem:

You’ve purchased and started using marketing automation software, but you don’t have a strong content strategy in place yet. As a result, you aren’t attracting enough qualified leads to your website, so the ROI of your marketing automation software is low.

To solve this problem, you might be considering buying an email contact list to build the size of your database.

The Solution:

Before you buy an email list, don’t.

You see, it’s not a sound lead generation strategy to purchase email contact lists for a few reasons. For one, people don’t generally like being contacted unsolicited, and you don’t want to irritate potential customers. Additionally, purchased email lists have generally high churn rates — because the leads are often unqualified — meaning your database won’t have the long-term growth that you’re looking for.

Instead of going that route, focus on developing an inbound marketing strategy aimed at attracting folks that actually want to hear from you. Write blog posts, create content offers, calls-to-action, and landing pages, and optimize your website so it will rank well in organic search. These efforts will ensure that your content is being discovered by your audience. Then, once you start generating more leads, you’ll be able to nurture them effectively with automated emails and social media posts.

2) You don’t have a goal for your marketing automation.

The Problem:

You’re sending out multiple automated email and social media messages without an end goal in mind. 

The Solution:

Take advantage of the ease of use marketing automation software provides and invest time and efforts into determining your goals first. Once you have them, you’ll want to assign these goals to each automated effort — social media, email workflows, and so on — to ensure it’s easy to track progress.

After all, marketers need a way to measure success when it comes to marketing automation, and one means of doing so is by evaluating goal attainment. For example, here at HubSpot, the Visual Workflows App (currently in beta) lets you set a specific goal for each automated workflow. A goal might be a new lead transitioning into a marketing-qualified lead based on certain behaviors, such as downloading a specific number of content offers.

HubSpot Visual Workflows also allows you to track the percentage of contacts in each workflow that achieve the goal, which is another great way to measure the success and ROI of your marketing automation.

3) You don’t segment your email list.

The Problem:

You have a database full of qualified leads, but you’re using marketing automation software to blast out tons of emails that aren’t customized at all. As a result, your leads are churning because your emails aren’t useful to them.

The Solution:

Develop a lead nurturing strategy that includes email list segmentation so you’re sending specific emails to specific people that they’re more likely to open.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, 77% of email marketing ROI came from targeted, segmented campaigns in 2015, and segmented emails generate 58% of all revenue. Seems like a must-have strategy, right? Unfortunately, only 42% of email marketers are sending targeted messages.

With the right marketing automation software, it’s easy to execute an email list segmentation strategy that delivers strong results. For example, HubSpot customers can use the Visual Workflows App to target their emails based on dozens of criteria, both demographic and behavioral.

Need inspiration? We recently published a blog post with 30 ideas for email list segmentation from real brands.

4) You send too many emails.

The Problem:

Perhaps your email list isn’t segmented, or maybe you’re a little overzealous with your marketing automation software. Whatever the reason, you’re annoying potential prospects by sending way too many emails.

The Solution:

Strategically send fewer emails.

When it comes to your email database, focus on quality over quantity. It’s better to have a lower volume of leads with higher engagement rates than a massive database of people who don’t open your emails.

Why? Because higher quality leads are more likely to become customers.

A staggering 78% of customers recently surveyed by HubSpot Research have unsubscribed because the brand was sending too many emails. To avoid sending one of many such emails, make sure that every single email you send provides value to leads in a way that they won’t be able to help but click.

5) You’re only automating your email marketing strategy.

The Problem:

You use your marketing automation software to send out emails, and not much else.

The Solution:

Take advantage of all of the features your software offers to maximize efficiency.

There are probably a lot of little tasks over the course of your work day that don’t seem time consuming individually. However, if you add up all of the time you spend posting on social media, updating contact information, and other tasks, you end up with a large chunk of your day spent on things that can probably be automated.

Poke around your marketing automation to see which processes you can make more efficient. For example, in the HubSpot software, users can bulk update lead contact information instead of clicking into each record and changing details there.

The more processes you automate, the more time you’ll have each day to strategize with your team about content, lead generation, and lead nurturing tactics to keep attracting quality leads to your site.

6) You’re only sharing your marketing automation efforts within your marketing department.

The Problem:

You have marketing automation set up only for email marketing, social media, and other lead activities that are only impacting your marketing team’s bottom line.

The Solution:

Use a “smarketing” approach, and make your marketing automation work for sales reps as well.

Think bigger than just the marketing team: What processes would help your sales team if they were automated?

For example, if there were a process in place that alerted reps to when their leads were checking out parts of your website, that would help inform their next call or email. When a lead fills out a form, it could trigger a specific email send from marketing and a follow-up call from their sales rep. Marketing automation software also helps users set follow-up tasks and to-do lists, which reps could use to keep track of the many leads they’re working at a given time.

Take your sales and marketing alignment to the next level by making processes easier for team members across the board to achieve their goals with the help of marketing automation.

7) You use too many different tools.

The Problem:

Roughly half of marketers use marketing automation software, and those who do often combine different strategies into a “Frankensystem” of tools to achieve their bottom line.

For example, they might start on a whiteboard, move to a spreadsheet, then shift onto an online flowchart maker, and only then will they use marketing automation software. This system is problematic in a few ways — it’s time consuming, numbers can be incorrectly analyzed, and communication is complicated.

The Solution:

Invest in all-in-one marketing automation software.

The point of marketing automation is to make things easier and more efficient, and your team won’t achieve that if you’re spending too much time updating different documents or manually targeting your leads database.

All-in-one marketing automation software offers a variety of criteria options to target your audience, as well as visualization tools so you can see how your marketing automation efforts are working together. That means you’ll be spending less time writing out numbers and emailing spreadsheets to your team members, and more time implementing strategies designed to qualify leads.

What’s the biggest challenge you encountered when you purchased marketing automation software? Share with us in the comments below.

Product Launches INBOUND 2016

Nov

25

2016

7 Marketing Automation Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

marketing-automation-mistakes.jpg

I have money in my savings account because my bank has a built-in auto-deposit process. I’m not logging into my account every day and moving money around, but when I do log in, I can see the progress I’ve made toward my goals by setting my account to automate deductions.

Think of marketing automation like auto-deducting money from your checking account and putting it into savings: The automatic process lets you invest in your future goals in an easier way than if you did it manually.

Marketing automation can play a significant role in the success of your inbound marketing strategy, but there is a right way and a wrong way to use it. Learn more about HubSpot's latest tools to power your growth here.

We want to help you understand marketing automation, and how and when to use it to your organization’s benefit. In this post, we’ll discuss traps marketers can fall into when incorporating marketing automation and alternatives that solve for these challenges.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Quite simply, marketing automation refers to the software that exists to automate marketing actions — actions like email, social media, and more. All of these automated actions are designed with the concept of lead nurturing in mind. In other words, marketers are creating and automating various types of content with the goal of actively attracting, qualifying, and moving prospects through the sales funnel towards a purchase.

And the marketing automation industry is huge — Emailmonday estimates that 49% of companies use marketing automation software, and Marketing Automation Insider estimates that the industry is worth $1.62 billion per year.

The trouble is, because marketing automation software has grown so significantly as a part of the inbound marketing movement, some marketers aren’t adopting it correctly. Let’s dig into some of the most common marketing automation mistakes below.

7 Common Marketing Automation Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

1) You’ve invested in marketing automation without an inbound lead generation strategy.

The Problem:

You’ve purchased and started using marketing automation software, but you don’t have a strong content strategy in place yet. As a result, you aren’t attracting enough qualified leads to your website, so the ROI of your marketing automation software is low.

To solve this problem, you might be considering buying an email contact list to build the size of your database.

The Solution:

Before you buy an email list, don’t.

You see, it’s not a sound lead generation strategy to purchase email contact lists for a few reasons. For one, people don’t generally like being contacted unsolicited, and you don’t want to irritate potential customers. Additionally, purchased email lists have generally high churn rates — because the leads are often unqualified — meaning your database won’t have the long-term growth that you’re looking for.

Instead of going that route, focus on developing an inbound marketing strategy aimed at attracting folks that actually want to hear from you. Write blog posts, create content offers, calls-to-action, and landing pages, and optimize your website so it will rank well in organic search. These efforts will ensure that your content is being discovered by your audience. Then, once you start generating more leads, you’ll be able to nurture them effectively with automated emails and social media posts.

2) You don’t have a goal for your marketing automation.

The Problem:

You’re sending out multiple automated email and social media messages without an end goal in mind. 

The Solution:

Take advantage of the ease of use marketing automation software provides and invest time and efforts into determining your goals first. Once you have them, you’ll want to assign these goals to each automated effort — social media, email workflows, and so on — to ensure it’s easy to track progress.

After all, marketers need a way to measure success when it comes to marketing automation, and one means of doing so is by evaluating goal attainment. For example, here at HubSpot, the Visual Workflows App (currently in beta) lets you set a specific goal for each automated workflow. A goal might be a new lead transitioning into a marketing-qualified lead based on certain behaviors, such as downloading a specific number of content offers.

HubSpot Visual Workflows also allows you to track the percentage of contacts in each workflow that achieve the goal, which is another great way to measure the success and ROI of your marketing automation.

3) You don’t segment your email list.

The Problem:

You have a database full of qualified leads, but you’re using marketing automation software to blast out tons of emails that aren’t customized at all. As a result, your leads are churning because your emails aren’t useful to them.

The Solution:

Develop a lead nurturing strategy that includes email list segmentation so you’re sending specific emails to specific people that they’re more likely to open.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, 77% of email marketing ROI came from targeted, segmented campaigns in 2015, and segmented emails generate 58% of all revenue. Seems like a must-have strategy, right? Unfortunately, only 42% of email marketers are sending targeted messages.

With the right marketing automation software, it’s easy to execute an email list segmentation strategy that delivers strong results. For example, HubSpot customers can use the Visual Workflows App to target their emails based on dozens of criteria, both demographic and behavioral.

Need inspiration? We recently published a blog post with 30 ideas for email list segmentation from real brands.

4) You send too many emails.

The Problem:

Perhaps your email list isn’t segmented, or maybe you’re a little overzealous with your marketing automation software. Whatever the reason, you’re annoying potential prospects by sending way too many emails.

The Solution:

Strategically send fewer emails.

When it comes to your email database, focus on quality over quantity. It’s better to have a lower volume of leads with higher engagement rates than a massive database of people who don’t open your emails.

Why? Because higher quality leads are more likely to become customers.

A staggering 78% of customers recently surveyed by HubSpot Research have unsubscribed because the brand was sending too many emails. To avoid sending one of many such emails, make sure that every single email you send provides value to leads in a way that they won’t be able to help but click.

5) You’re only automating your email marketing strategy.

The Problem:

You use your marketing automation software to send out emails, and not much else.

The Solution:

Take advantage of all of the features your software offers to maximize efficiency.

There are probably a lot of little tasks over the course of your work day that don’t seem time consuming individually. However, if you add up all of the time you spend posting on social media, updating contact information, and other tasks, you end up with a large chunk of your day spent on things that can probably be automated.

Poke around your marketing automation to see which processes you can make more efficient. For example, in the HubSpot software, users can bulk update lead contact information instead of clicking into each record and changing details there.

The more processes you automate, the more time you’ll have each day to strategize with your team about content, lead generation, and lead nurturing tactics to keep attracting quality leads to your site.

6) You’re only sharing your marketing automation efforts within your marketing department.

The Problem:

You have marketing automation set up only for email marketing, social media, and other lead activities that are only impacting your marketing team’s bottom line.

The Solution:

Use a “smarketing” approach, and make your marketing automation work for sales reps as well.

Think bigger than just the marketing team: What processes would help your sales team if they were automated?

For example, if there were a process in place that alerted reps to when their leads were checking out parts of your website, that would help inform their next call or email. When a lead fills out a form, it could trigger a specific email send from marketing and a follow-up call from their sales rep. Marketing automation software also helps users set follow-up tasks and to-do lists, which reps could use to keep track of the many leads they’re working at a given time.

Take your sales and marketing alignment to the next level by making processes easier for team members across the board to achieve their goals with the help of marketing automation.

7) You use too many different tools.

The Problem:

Roughly half of marketers use marketing automation software, and those who do often combine different strategies into a “Frankensystem” of tools to achieve their bottom line.

For example, they might start on a whiteboard, move to a spreadsheet, then shift onto an online flowchart maker, and only then will they use marketing automation software. This system is problematic in a few ways — it’s time consuming, numbers can be incorrectly analyzed, and communication is complicated.

The Solution:

Invest in all-in-one marketing automation software.

The point of marketing automation is to make things easier and more efficient, and your team won’t achieve that if you’re spending too much time updating different documents or manually targeting your leads database.

All-in-one marketing automation software offers a variety of criteria options to target your audience, as well as visualization tools so you can see how your marketing automation efforts are working together. That means you’ll be spending less time writing out numbers and emailing spreadsheets to your team members, and more time implementing strategies designed to qualify leads.

What’s the biggest challenge you encountered when you purchased marketing automation software? Share with us in the comments below.

Product Launches INBOUND 2016

Nov

21

2016

Google’s AMP: A Marketer’s Guide to Accelerated Mobile Pages

get discovered with amp-2.jpg

Did you know that, on average, smartphone users touch their phones 2,617 times each day?

According to the survey conducted by dscout in the spring of 2016, smartphone users also spend an average of 145 daily minutes on their mobile phones.

In other words, we’re leaning on our mobile devices more than ever before. In fact, data from HubSpot Research revealed that a whopping 33% of respondents use their smartphone as their primary device for internet use.

Unsurprisingly, Google has responded to the growth of mobile search by launching The AMP Project, or Accelerated Mobile Pages. In short: AMP was designed so publishers could build web pages that load more quickly on mobile devices.

What do marketers need to know about this new project? We’re glad you asked. Let’s walk through some of the most common questions and answers below.

What is AMP?

AMP enables content to load near-instantaneously by removing JavaScript from the page. It prioritizes text-based content, then loads additional content after the remainder of the page has rendered.

Google’s decision to launch this open-source initiative was rooted in the importance of improving the user experience (UX) for the millions of mobile searchers worldwide. (And, in part, to compete with Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles.)

Google has partnered with several different publishers and platforms to start using AMP on its content — Twitter, Vox, BuzzFeed, and the Washington Post, to name a few. It’s also created a carousel of “Top Stories” in Google Search that highlights web pages and articles built with AMP.

Here’s an example of what an AMP-formatted story on the Top Stories carousel looks like once you click:

Product_Demo.gif

Source: Search Engine Land

You can test what AMP looks like on your own mobile phone now. Open up your Google app and type in the newsworthy topic of your choosing (I chose Mars):

amp-1.gif

Pretty fast loading speed, right? As you also probably noticed, articles with the lightning bolt AMP designation can appear in a carousel of results at the top of the search engine results page.

AMP-formatted websites also appear in the main Google search engine results page, as shown below:

AMPdemo.gifSource: Search Engine Land

If this seems like a big shift, you’re right. Let’s explore why AMP will be so impactful on mobile search and search engine optimization (SEO).

Why Does AMP Matter?

The biggest benefit of AMP is improved user experience: When mobile searchers find the information they’re looking for faster, they’re less likely to navigate away from a website. The AMP Project Product Manager, Rudy Galfi, said that the median time for an AMP-formatted page to load is 0.7 seconds — in comparison, the median load time for other web pages is 22 seconds.

More than half of site visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website before navigating away, so AMP has a huge impact on publishers’ ability to attract and keep potential customers on their blog and landing pages. Google found that 29% of smartphone users will immediately navigate away from a site if it loads too slowly or if they can’t find the information they’re looking for.

Users are spending more time searching on their mobile devices than on computers all over the world. If you’ve optimized your website and email for mobile devices, AMP is a way to optimize your content for mobile search, too.

Another benefit of AMP is content visibility. AMP-formatted content is published in the AMP carousel at the top of a Google search results page, and the lightning bolt icon denotes AMP-formatted pages in search results. These layout and design changes help AMP content stand out in the crowd to users searching for information, which could drive more clicks and traffic.

How Does AMP Impact SEO?

According to Advanced Web Ranking, the first position in Google search results achieves an average clickthrough rate of 31% internationally. The second position? Only a 19.5% clickthrough rate. So, search rankings are very important to marketers.

The ultimate goal of inbound marketing is to get your website discovered by potential customers, and discovery in search engine results is key to making that happen. Blog posts and news articles formatted with AMP HTML code is one of many tools, such as keywords, headings, and alt-text, that marketers can use to optimize their content for search results.

But AMP is not a direct search engine ranking signal and sites that format their pages with AMP will not see an immediate leap in search rankings. Instead, Google Senior Director of News and Social Products, Richard Gingras, told AdAge that AMP is one of many features and signals Google looks at when determining rankings.

“If we had two articles that from a signaling perspective scored the same in all other characteristics but for speed, then yes we will give an emphasis to the one with speed because that is what users find compelling,” explained Gingras.

So, what’s the takeaway for marketers? Speed is a signal that impacts search rankings, but that doesn’t mean AMP formatting alone will get your site on the first page of Google.

But, it could contribute to higher rankings in combination with other strong signals. For example, if fewer visitors are immediately navigating away from your content because it loads quickly and is relevant to their search query, that would signal to Google to increase the ranking in search because it’s highly useful for users.

How to Use AMP

In order to implement AMP on your own web pages, you’ll need to build and develop new version of web pages with AMP HTML.

The reason you can’t simply build one web page with AMP for desktop and mobile search? AMP removes third-party JavaScript to speed up the page’s load time for mobile users, so the same web page would be simplified and less exciting for the viewer on their computer.

Remember, AMP is designed to improve user experience, so when you create a separate AMP version, you ensure that desktop and mobile visitors alike enjoy your content. Marketing Land recommends using rel= “canonical” tags so Google doesn’t downgrade your content because it’s been duplicated.

The AMP Project website provides specific instructions and tutorials for how to build a web page with AMP code. Additionally, they offer a portfolio of AMP examples for AMP design inspiration.

Below is a video from The AMP Project that explains the ins and outs of what goes into an AMP-formatted page:

Source: The AMP Project

If you’re a HubSpot customer, AMP is coming to the HubSpot Marketing Platform in early 2017. With this setting, blogging teams won’t have to hire a developer or learn how to code AMP with the resources outlined above. Instead, users will only have to check a box in order to create AMP-formatted blog posts to get discovered in mobile search.

Here’s what it will look like:

AMP in HubSpot.png

See the check box above the “Save changes” button? That’s the entire process for creating pages formatted with AMP in HubSpot Software. Easy, right?

What’s Ahead

Expect to see more results appear in the AMP carousel when you search for content on your mobile device, and keep an eye out for new developments in mobile optimization from Google’s competitors among search engines, software, and social media networks.

For now, head to The AMP Project to learn more about AMP, and look for HubSpot blog content in your AMP carousel soon.

What are your strategies for optimizing your blog for mobile search? Share with us in the comments below.

Learn about all the product launches from INBOUND 2016

Nov

21

2016

Google’s AMP: A Marketer’s Guide to Accelerated Mobile Pages

 

Did you know that, on average, smartphone users touch their phones 2,617 times each day?

According to the survey conducted by dscout in the spring of 2016, smartphone users also spend an average of 145 daily minutes on their mobile phones.

In other words, we’re leaning on our mobile devices more than ever before. In fact, data from HubSpot Research revealed that a whopping 33% of respondents use their smartphone as their primary device for internet use.

Unsurprisingly, Google has responded to the growth of mobile search by launching The AMP Project, or Accelerated Mobile Pages. In short: AMP was designed so publishers could build web pages that load more quickly on mobile devices.

What do marketers need to know about this new project? We’re glad you asked. Let’s walk through some of the most common questions and answers below.

What is AMP?

AMP enables content to load near-instantaneously by removing JavaScript from the page. It prioritizes text-based content, then loads additional content after the remainder of the page has rendered.

Google’s decision to launch this open-source initiative was rooted in the importance of improving the user experience (UX) for the millions of mobile searchers worldwide. (And, in part, to compete with Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles.)

Google has partnered with several different publishers and platforms to start using AMP on its content — Twitter, Vox, BuzzFeed, and the Washington Post, to name a few. It’s also created a carousel of “Top Stories” in Google Search that highlights web pages and articles built with AMP.

Here’s an example of what an AMP-formatted story on the Top Stories carousel looks like once you click:

Product_Demo.gif

Source: Search Engine Land

You can test what AMP looks like on your own mobile phone now. Open up your Google app and type in the newsworthy topic of your choosing (I chose Mars):

amp-1.gif

Pretty fast loading speed, right? As you also probably noticed, articles with the lightning bolt AMP designation can appear in a carousel of results at the top of the search engine results page.

AMP-formatted websites also appear in the main Google search engine results page, as shown below:

AMPdemo.gifSource: Search Engine Land

If this seems like a big shift, you’re right. Let’s explore why AMP will be so impactful on mobile search and search engine optimization (SEO).

Why Does AMP Matter?

The biggest benefit of AMP is improved user experience: When mobile searchers find the information they’re looking for faster, they’re less likely to navigate away from a website. The AMP Project Product Manager, Rudy Galfi, said that the median time for an AMP-formatted page to load is 0.7 seconds — in comparison, the median load time for other web pages is 22 seconds.

More than half of site visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website before navigating away, so AMP has a huge impact on publishers’ ability to attract and keep potential customers on their blog and landing pages. Google found that 29% of smartphone users will immediately navigate away from a site if it loads too slowly or if they can’t find the information they’re looking for.

Users are spending more time searching on their mobile devices than on computers all over the world. If you’ve optimized your website and email for mobile devices, AMP is a way to optimize your content for mobile search, too.

Another benefit of AMP is content visibility. AMP-formatted content is published in the AMP carousel at the top of a Google search results page, and the lightning bolt icon denotes AMP-formatted pages in search results. These layout and design changes help AMP content stand out in the crowd to users searching for information, which could drive more clicks and traffic.

How Does AMP Impact SEO?

According to Advanced Web Ranking, the first position in Google search results achieves an average clickthrough rate of 31% internationally. The second position? Only a 19.5% clickthrough rate. So, search rankings are very important to marketers.

The ultimate goal of inbound marketing is to get your website discovered by potential customers, and discovery in search engine results is key to making that happen. Blog posts and news articles formatted with AMP HTML code is one of many tools, such as keywords, headings, and alt-text, that marketers can use to optimize their content for search results.

But AMP is not a direct search engine ranking factor, and sites that format their pages with AMP will not see an immediate leap in search rankings. Instead, Google Senior Director of News and Social Products, Richard Gingras, told AdAge that AMP is one of the 200 signals Google looks at when determining rankings.

“If we had two articles that from a signaling perspective scored the same in all other characteristics but for speed, then yes we will give an emphasis to the one with speed because that is what users find compelling,” explained Gingras.

 

So, what’s the takeaway for marketers? Speed is a signal that impacts search rankings, but that doesn’t mean AMP formatting alone will get your site on the first page of Google.

But, it could contribute to higher rankings in combination with other strong signals. For example, if fewer visitors are immediately navigating away from your content because it loads quickly and is relevant to their search query, that would signal to Google to increase the ranking in search because it’s highly useful for users.

How to Use AMP

In order to implement AMP on your own web pages, you’ll need to build and develop new version of web pages with AMP HTML.

The reason you can’t simply build one web page with AMP for desktop and mobile search? AMP removes third-party JavaScript to speed up the page’s load time for mobile users, so the same web page would be simplified and less exciting for the viewer on their computer.

Remember, AMP is designed to improve user experience, so when you create a separate AMP version, you ensure that desktop and mobile visitors alike enjoy your content. Marketing Land recommends using rel= “canonical” tags so Google doesn’t downgrade your content because it’s been duplicated.

The AMP Project website provides specific instructions and tutorials for how to build a web page with AMP code. Additionally, they offer a portfolio of AMP examples for AMP design inspiration.

Below is a video from The AMP Project that explains the ins and outs of what goes into an AMP-formatted page:

Source: The AMP Project

If you’re a HubSpot customer, AMP is coming to the HubSpot Marketing Platform in early 2017. With this setting, blogging teams won’t have to hire a developer or learn how to code AMP with the resources outlined above. Instead, users will only have to check a box in order to create AMP-formatted blog posts to get discovered in mobile search.

Here’s what it will look like:

AMP in HubSpot.png

See the check box above the “Save changes” button? That’s the entire process for creating pages formatted with AMP in HubSpot Software. Easy, right?

What’s Ahead

Expect to see more results appear in the AMP carousel when you search for content on your mobile device, and keep an eye out for new developments in mobile optimization from Google’s competitors among search engines, software, and social media networks.

For now, head to The AMP Project to learn more about AMP, and look for HubSpot blog content in your AMP carousel soon.

What are your strategies for optimizing your blog for mobile search? Share with us in the comments below.

Learn about all the product launches from INBOUND 2016

Nov

16

2016

The Ultimate Collection of Free Content Marketing Templates

content-marketing-templates.jpg

Does any aspect of your job intimidate you?

For content creators, sometimes the most stressful part of the role can be opening a completely blank document to start a new project.

Whether it’s writing a blog post, designing an infographic, or creating an ebook, it’s challenging to start creating a new piece of content from scratch, especially if you’ve never done it before. Download the full collection of free content marketing templates here. 

Here in the HubSpot content shop, we want to take the work out of it for you. Instead of trying to master how to create every type of content in existence, cut down on the stress and inefficiency and read about our collection of nearly 400 free, customizable content creation templates

We’ve broken this list down into types of content marketing, so jump ahead if you specifically want: Content Planning Templates, Written Content Templates, Visual Content Templates, or Email Templates.

Content Planning Templates

A Content Planning/Goal-Setting Template

(Download the content planning template here.)

HubSpot teamed up with Smart Insights to create a content planning template that will help you put together an effective content marketing plan for either your business or those of your clients. These templates will help you complete a SWOT analysis on your content marketing efforts (and develop a plan to improve them), define the right objectives and KPIs for that plan, brainstorm content ideas and map these across your funnel, and create a timeline for your content plans.

download free content planning template

A Content Mapping Template

(Download the content mapping template here)

You know you need a content marketing strategy in place to support the success of your inbound marketing and sales organizations. But how do you get started? We’ve created a content mapping template so you can walk through your target audience’s buyer’s journey. The template helps you identify buyer personas, their challenges and needs, and to brainstorm content that provides solutions. You’ll come away from the template with tons of targeted blog post ideas to attract your audience to your site and convert them into leads.

download content mapping templates

A Buyer Persona Template

(Download the buyer persona template here.)

Marketing with buyer personas means marketing smarter. This buyer persona template will help you easily organize your research to create your very own buyer personas. Use it to create beautiful, well-formatted buyer personas that you can share with your entire company, while learning best practices for persona research along the way.

get the free buyer persona template

3 Blog Editorial Calendar Templates

(Download the blog editorial calendar templates here.)

Having an editorial calendar for your marketing content will save you a whole lot of time — not to mention sanity — as you plan your content release timeline. We realize there isn’t a one-size-fits all solution, so we’ve created three editorial calendar templates to use at your leisure: one for Google Calendar, one for Excel, and one for Google Sheets. (Read this blog post for a step-by-step guide for using the Google Calendar template.)

download the free blog editorial calendar template

2 Social Media Content Calendar Templates (for 6 Social Networks)

(Download the social media content calendar templates here.)

With so many different social networks to manage, a social media manager’s life becomes a lot easier when they can plan which content to share on each account — and when. This easy-to-use social media content calendar for Microsoft Excel lets you organize your social media activities far in advance. Use it to plan your updates and learn how to properly format your content for the six most popular social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest.

get the free social media contet calendar template

Written Content Templates 

5 Blog Post Templates

(Download the blog post templates here.)

Here’s the thing with blogging: There isn’t one, easy template you can fill in to produce a quality content offering. You need to spend some time brainstorming a title, outlining core content, and so on. While our templates are by no means a fill-in-the-blank type of deal, they’ll walk you through the critical steps for creating the following five blog post types:

  • How-To Post
  • List-Based Post
  • Curated Collection Post
  • SlideShare Presentation Post
  • Newsjacking Post

We’ve seen these formats crush it on our blogs, and we would love for you to use them to hit your own goals.

get free blog post templates

5 Ebook Templates

(Download the ebook templates here.)

Year after year, marketers cite lead generation as one of their top content marketing goals for the year. If you want to succeed at lead gen, then you need content offers — like ebooks — to help you get there. Our internal creative design team went to work building five, beautiful ebook templates — in both PowerPoint and InDesign — for you to download, customize, and use. 

get free ebook templates

A Press Release Template

(Download the press release template here.)

While public relations has adapted to be more lovable and less spammy, press releases can be effective when used correctly. Our press release template takes this into consideration and provides an inbound-optimized version. This means the template can help you script press releases and do so in a format optimized for sharing on your company blog. It’s built in Microsoft Word, so you can easily adapt and customize as needed for your PR needs.

download free press release template

50 Call-to-Action Templates

(Download the call-to-action templates here.)

Redesigning your call-to-action buttons can improve clickthrough rates by 1,300% or more. That means visitors will spend more time on your website, and it’ll encourage them to become leads. To help you design clickable calls-to-action, we’ve built 50 pre-designed CTAs for you. These CTAs are super easy to customize, so you don’t need to know any fancy design programs — just PowerPoint.

Bonus: There’s also a handy free tool in there that lets you track your CTA clicks in real time so you can see the exact number of clicks that your designs are reeling in.

download free call-to-action templates

Visual Content Templates 

195+ Visual Marketing Templates

(Download the visual marketing templates here.)

Not a designer? Not a problem. We partnered with graphic design software company Canva to create over 195 visual marketing templates that are easy-to-use, work for any industry (finance, dentistry, agriculture, law — we’ve got ’em all), and are completely free. Best of all, they’re ready to edit in Canva’s online design tool, which is included for free with this set of templates. The templates include…

  • Infographics templates
  • Facebook ad templates
  • Facebook post templates
  • Twitter post templates
  • Email header templates
  • Blog title templates
  • Facebook cover photo templates
  • Twitter header templates
  • LinkedIn cover photos templates

download free Canva design templates

15 Infographic Templates

(Download the infographic templates here.)

We’ve created fifteen, pre-designed infographic templates right in PowerPoint (+ five bonus illustrator templates). That way, marketers can skip the frustrations and start creating the graphics right away. Within each template, we even provide guides to teach you how to use the templates effectively. 

download free infographic templates

100 Social Media Graphics Templates

(Download the social media graphics templates here.)

Visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than any other type of content. But we know well that creating visual content takes more time and resources — which why we’ve created these 100 customizable templates for you. These templates are in PowerPoint, so they’re very easy to edit — no Photoshop skills required. Simply customize the text on an image, save it, and post it to social media.

download free social media graphics templates

5 Social Media Cover Photo Templates

(Download the social media cover photo templates here.)

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have trouble keeping straight the different size dimension requirements on different social media networks. To take the guesswork out of it and to avoid frustrating re-designs, we’ve created five templates in PowerPoint that are pre-sized for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. You can customize them for your social networks without researching design specifications — don’t worry, we’ve got it covered.

download social media cover photo templates

3 PowerPoint Templates

(Download the PowerPoint templates here.)

PowerPoint can be a powerful tool for lead generation, brand building, and thought leadership. Don’t let boring slides stand in the way. You don’t have to be a designer to create beautiful slides. To help you get started, we’ve created three, eye-catching PowerPoint templates so you don’t have to start from scratch or rely on standard, old-school styles.

Bonus: We’ve also included four video tutorials on PowerPoint tricks in there so you can learn how to enhance images, clean up your text, install premium fonts, and so on — right in PowerPoint.

download free powerpoint templates

5 SlideShare Templates

(Download the SlideShare templates here.)

Creating a SlideShare presentation in PowerPoint doesn’t have to be daunting. With the right and tools at your disposal, you can easily create an engaging, visual presentation — all without fancy design programs, huge budgets, or hiring contractors.

To help you make a SlideShare of your own, we’ve created some free PowerPoint presentation templates for making awesome SlideShares — so your presentations will look great and be a breeze to put together. (Read this blog post for tip on how you can update and edit the templates to suit your specific needs.)

download free slideshare templates

Email Templates

15 Email Templates for Marketing and Sales

(Download the email templates for marketing and sales here.)

Did you know that workers spend almost one third of their time at work reading and replying to emails? There are many ways you can streamline your inbox to save time, but you ultimately will still have to create and send emails. That’s where these templates come in. We’ve written the copy for 15 emails marketers and sales reps are likely to send over and over again to save you time and get you results.

download email templates

There you have it, content marketers: over 386 templates to help you start creating content easily and quickly and further your inbound success.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2013 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

free content creation templates

 
                                   
 
free content creation templates

Nov

4

2016

How to Conduct Research for an Infographic: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide

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They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. In reality, a picture is worth closer to 84.1 words depending on a variety of other factors, but let’s face it, that’s not as catchy.

The original point of the saying still stands, though: Images communicate information more effectively than text alone, and they’re best when working together.

According to BuzzSumo, articles with an image once every 75-100 words got double the number of social shares as articles with fewer images. More specifically, infographics are shared three times more than other types of content. Save countless hours using these free, pre-made templates to design your  infographics.

But before you design an eye-catching infographic, you must first do the research to determine what story you’re going to tell, and how you’re going to tell it visually. And that research stage can be pretty tricky — especially if you don’t have a plan.

That why we put together a helpful guide that’ll walk you through how to conduct research for an infographic, without driving yourself crazy.

Why Infographics?

There’s a reason infographics are such a popular form of content: Viewers love them. According to a survey by BuzzStream and Fractl, images are the second most popular type of content among viewers of all ages. Furthermore, research shows that website visitors pay attention to information-carrying images more than images that are simply page decoration.

This is clearly a type of content your readers search for, so how do you make an infographic that’s informative, beautiful, and shareable? Siege Media conducted a study on what makes infographics inherently shareable (the results of which they turned into a great infographic of their own), and as it turns out, the most oft-shared infographics had an average of just 396 words. (For a point of reference, you’re almost 300 words into this article.)

That’s some seriously effective storytelling, and if you want to craft a killer story, no matter what the content format, you have to do great research. You might think that all research is created equal, but there are specific tasks to ensure that you tell the right story for a graphical interpretation. Check out our list below for tips on how to begin your infographic design journey with a strong foundation of research.

How to Conduct Research for an Infographic: A Simple Step-by-Step Guide

1) Identify your audience.

Before you start conducting research on your topic, it’s essential to think about the audience who will view it. Market research is important because it makes you think beyond just one piece of content and instead about the impact it will have.

Questions content creators should ask themselves before starting infographic research include:

  1. Who searches for information on this topic? What are their ages, job roles, and demographic traits?
  2. What emotions do you want to evoke with your infographic?
  3. What do you want viewers to do with your infographic once they view it?

Tools:

1) Google Images. Hop into this search tool and check out infographics on similar topics. Then, drop them into the search bar and conduct a reverse Google image search to see what sites link to these graphics. What do they have in common, and what trends can you apply to your research?

2) HubSpot’s Free Buyer Persona Templates. These templates make it easy to keep track of what your audience is motivated by and searching for. Even though you’re not selling the infographic, if you’re using this content to attract potential customers, you’ll want to keep their objectives and motivators in mind.

2) Do your keyword research.

Once you’ve determined who will be searching for your infographic, you’ll want to figure out exactly what they’re searching for. In her article, HubSpot Customer Demand Manager Rachel Sprung wrote about how to conduct keyword research for SEO. Key to this process is starting with broad topics and potential search terms, then working your way to more specific terms using quantitative data.

Tools:

1) Google. At the bottom of a Google search engine results page, a list of related popular search terms appears. Here’s an example of my search for “blogging:” (Remember — start with broad search terms.)

blogging   Google Search.png

Use the related search results to dig into the information your audience searches for so you can better tailor your infographic research.

2) Google Trends. This tool shows you how searches for a specific word or term have evolved over time. If searches for a certain term are increasing, that may be an angle to pursue in a piece of content. Here’s the search history of “blogging” over the past five years:

blogging   Explore   Google Trends.png

From this result, it’s reasonable to assume that search volume for this term is on a slight decline, and that my research process could benefit from more specific search terms to really pinpoint my audience.

3) Google AdWords Keyword Planner. This tool shows you the search volume of terms compared to similar terms. This is helpful to determine which words or set of several keywords, or long-tail keywords, are the most popular in search. These long-tail keywords will help determine the angle your content should address. Here’s the search volume of “blogging” and related terms:

adwords-1.png

4) HubSpot Keywords App. If you’re a HubSpot customer, this handy app has several of the above capabilities already built-in. You can use the tool to conduct general keyword research and narrow your focus when selecting a topic:

Keywords   HubSpot.png

In this case, I searched for “blogging” and found that “how to make money from blogging” has a high number of search terms, so I might consider that angle as the topic of my infographic.

3) Keep search terms broad to find lots of data.

Once you start to conduct research on the topic of your infographic, don’t limit your content by what angle you think the infographic should pursue. It’s smart to do general research on a topic so you gain a basic understanding, but be mindful that it can influence the information you’re searching for.

For example, if you decided to focus your infographic on how to make money from blogging and only researched advertising as a means to achieve that goal, the data you pull won’t provide all of the information necessary to create a comprehensive infographic. Research a topic, not a particular story or angle, until you have more concrete data.

Tools:

1) Google Scholar. This resource serves as a great place to start your research. It’s a free search engine of scholarly literature on a variety of different topics and disciplines that will give you an idea of the type of data aggregated on the topics you research.

2) JSTOR. This tool provides a database of primary resources, such as journals, original research, and books. You may need to purchase login access ($19.50/month) or log in through the credentials of an academic institution you’re associated with.

3) Harvard Business Review. HBR is a scholarly magazine that publishes research, case studies, and statistics on a variety of different topics, including business, leadership, strategy, and economics.

4) Pull data from reputable, original, and validated sources.

When you find data during your research process, we recommend the following standards to decide whether or not to use it in your content:

Is it original?

Find the original data source for any statistics you encounter during your research process. Due to the plethora of different blogs and news outlets, many different websites can cite the same statistic without citing its original source. If you find a compelling data point that you want to use in your infographic, trace it to the original research source.

If you can’t find the original source, the statistic is unsubstantiated and shouldn’t be used.

Is it reputable?

Another question to ask yourself when conducting research is where you’re conducting research. Any individual or organization can start a website and publish content, but that doesn’t mean all content on the internet can be taken as fact.

Vertical Measures recommends starting internet research on .gov, .edu, and .org sites, which are associated with governing bodies, educational institutions, and organizations with greater legitimacy than blogs or individuals.

Can it be validated?

Even if you find a statistic on a reputable source, you’re not done yet. Raven Tools recommends that researchers make sure to properly fact-check information they find by a) determining if it’s cited by any other organizations or b) checking the methodology of its original research. If the data point seems unreasonable, trust your instincts and dig deeper.

Tools:

1) Pew Research Center. “From economic conditions, to political attitudes, to social media usage, the Pew Research Center website has a ton of free research that you can use to better understand your target market,” noted HubSpot Content Strategy Manager Jami Oetting in her roundup of the best market research tools. Check out the full article for even more related tools.

2) HubSpot Research. Our very own research hub offers free market research data and presentation tools to visualize your data.

5) Use recent data.

You’ve put time and resources into researching and designing a great infographic. Make sure you cite recent data so other sources will be interested in referencing your graphic once it’s published. The folks at Killer Infographics recommend sticking with data that’s 1-2 years old so your graphic will be relevant for months to come.

As a caveat, some original research data that would make a compelling case for your infographic may have set the standard for its industry more than two years ago. For example, I’ve referenced research on the curiosity gap that’s from 1994 in previous posts, as this original study coined the term that’s still used today. The trick here is to find more recent research that re-tests and substantiates the original theory so it’s a legitimate data point, instead of simply dropping an older statistic into your infographic.

Tools:

1) Google Advanced Search. This feature allows you to limit search results to a certain timeframe to search for only the most recent info available. If you have trouble, widen the time range slightly. To set this up, enter a search term, select ‘Search Tools’ in the menu bar at the top of the page, and narrow your results by choosing how recently you want the data to have been published.

google advanced search.png

With this feature, you can filter your search engine results according to when articles were published and according to their domains (.gov, .edu, .org, .com), among other features.

6) Hunt for data that can be visualized.

Remember what Siege Media found? The most-shared infographics had an average of just under 400 words. This means that the graphics relied on data visualizations, charts, and illustrations to tell the data’s story. Research for a blog post is different than research for an infographic because visitors expect to read a blog, but they don’t necessarily anticipate close-reading a graphic.

Think about data that can be turned into visuals while you research. Numbers, such as percentages, survey results, and change over time can be easily visualized using graphs and charts. Are there categories within your data that you can visualize using icons or illustrations? Can you turn a multi-step process into a mini-graphic instead of writing it out?

Analyze all of your research findings wearing the hat of an illustrator and ask yourself if there’s a balance between data that can be visualized and data that must be written out.

Tools:

1) Canva. HubSpot Senior Staff Writer Amanda Zantal-Wiener wrote an article about tools to make your own infographics, and Canva made the top of the list. Even if you won’t design your infographic yourself, experiment with this design tool (and others on the list) to see how easily your data can, or cannot, be visualized.

7) Use the data you’ve compiled to craft a story.

When you think you’re done with your research, try to lay out the story that your graphic will tell. You may even want to storyboard your infographic: Write out your data points, and lay them out according to the order they’ll be visualized in the infographic. Does the story make sense? If the story isn’t clear or obvious, then you’re not done researching.

It’s easy to get stuck in the story you think your graphic should tell, but does your research data actually tell the story? Vertical Measures suggests that you let the research drive the topic and narrative of the infographic. If you’re stuck in what you think the data should be saying, you run the risk of citing your research in a way that manipulates the data.

If a data point isn’t self-evident as a visualization, it’s probably not the right data point, or it doesn’t have the right context. Go back and gather more research if you can’t craft a story that makes sense with just the data — If you have to fill in too much with text, it will make for a visually unappealing and potentially incorrect infographic.

Tools:

1) Trello. This interactive planning and organizing tool lets you create cards that you can move around your board to organize in any way you want. You can storyboard using Trello by creating cards with different statistics on them and rearranging them to create a skeleton for your infographic.

2) Index Cards. Okay, so this one requires you to get a little crafty, but it’s actually my personal favorite method. Write out the key facts of your story and start laying them out on your desk to get an idea of your infographic’s flow.

8) Choose a provocative fact to anchor your infographic.

Strong infographics are loaded with interesting data that’s beautifully illustrated. These infographics are shared when they prompt an emotional response.

Content that shocks, disgusts, saddens, delights, or scares people performs well: Researchers Jacopo Staiano and Marco Guerini found that content that prompts feelings of valence, arousal, and dominance tends to go viral. Additionally, in an analysis of photos shared on Reddit, Fractl found that positive emotions were most likely to generate virality, but that content that provoked negative emotions with the right combination of arousal and dominance could be hits as well.

Raven Tools and Killer Infographics suggest finding a data point that gets to the heart of the topic you’re tackling to hook your reader and incite an emotion that will make them share your graphic. Then, use that hook as the infographic’s visual focal point, and build the rest of your story around it.

Check out Siege Media’s meta infographic about what makes infographics popular. They visualize and highlight the most surprising findings first to keep viewers scrolling, and then break down each finding with more research results.

siegemedia.png

Image courtesy of Siege Media

Tools:

1) GoogleTo avoid being repetitive,  “[topic] + infographic” to see what else is out there. Ask yourself: Has this angle already been covered, or would you provide a unique view on the topic?

9) Get feedback.

This may seem obvious, but feedback is a critical step in determining when the research phase is over and when writing and designing your infographic can begin. Before presenting a design proposal to your manager or client, tap your peers for their input. Ask questions like:

  • Do you understand the story’s flow?
  • Is the hook of the infographic interesting?
  • Does this data need further explanation to make sense?

It’s often challenging to remove yourself from a project you’re immersed in to honestly edit it, so feedback during the research phase will identify any weaknesses that may need to be addressed with the help of further fact-finding.

Tools:

1) Google Drive. Teams can provide feedback on documents and images by sharing them on Google Drive and leaving feedback comments.

2) PDF Preview. This tool lets you edit image files and share them with your team for feedback. They can add comments or delete items from the infographic and share their feedback with you by sending PDF or JPEG files back and forth.

Ready to Research?

In most cases, great data is the foundation of a successful infographic, so it’s worth investing time and efforts in finding the most relevant, current, and credible information out there. Key to the process is remaining open to letting the research inform the editorial strategy, instead of the other way around. And once you’re ready to start designing, check out these infographic examples, as well as these free infographic templates, for inspiration.

What are your strategies for gathering data for infographics? Share with us in the comments below.

15 free infographic templates in powerpoint

Oct

27

2016

Facebook Advertising Advice: 10 Tips From Experts at Trello, WeWork & More

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Facebook started as a way for college classmates to communicate, and it’s since evolved into a hub for content creation, sharing, and advertising.

Over one billion active users engage on Facebook every day, which represents a tremendous opportunity for advertisers to leverage their content in front of potential customers.

The variety of targeting options available allow marketers to get the greatest value out of each ad dollar spent on this vast network, making it an ideal place to drive conversions, downloads, and lead generation. In fact, Social Media Examiner found that 55% of social media marketers use Facebook as their primary platform, and eMarketer learned that nearly 68% of all social media ad spending is on Facebook Ads. Download this free guide for data-backed tips on creating the optimal Facebook  Ad.

We decided to consult with a variety of successful social media marketers to learn more about their strategies for Facebook Ad targeting. Whether you’ve been advertising on Facebook for years or are just starting out, check out these lessons from the pros to maximize your social media advertising ROI.

10 Strategies for Facebook Advertising

1) Keep track of qualitative metrics.

Matt Diederichs, Social Marketing Lead at Hootsuite:

We focused on two metrics [in our Facebook Ads campaign] — video views and offer redemptions. Video views are primarily an efficiency spend, looking at the gross number of video views we can get for our investment, at the lowest possible CPV (cost per view). In the offer redemption area, we can go a bit deeper and also calculate our CPA (cost per acquisition) for each person who redeems the offer. These help us to understand whether it’s worth our investment to pay for direct customer acquisition.

Through all of this, we [also] look really hard at qualitative feedback. Facebook’s Reactions allow us to see not only how many people ‘like’ our content, but also when people ‘love’ or uh … [don’t] love our content. We also aspire for our content to be shareable, so we look for post shares and for comments on Ads. To us, that’s a leading indicator of content resonation.”

2) Take advantage of Facebook’s precise Ad targeting.

Shari Medini, Co-Host of the Push Pull Sales & Marketing Podcast:

You can target any audience [using Facebook Ads]. Almost everyone is on Facebook, and we all share incredible amounts of information about ourselves. Facebook compiles and organizes all of that data for their Ads platform so that marketers can go as broad or as narrow as they’d like. You want to target moms of young children in a 15-mile radius from a [children’s] clothing consignment store? Facebook lets you do that. You want to get young men in the sales profession between the ages of 30 and 35 to click through to your site? Facebook lets you do that.”

Andy Odom, Digital Marketing Director at Santander Consumer USA

Use the Audience Insights feature in your Ads Account to research all of Facebook, fans of your Page, or people in any custom audience to gain better insights into who they are and how to target them. You can upload [an email list] as a custom audience and serve special ads just to them.”

 Haidi Zhu, Head of Performance Marketing at WeWork:

[With Facebook Ads,] we start by analyzing the demographics of our current members to better understand who they are based on location, interests, industry, and more. We use this data to develop audiences to identify potential members and further segment down to deliver ads that feature the WeWork offerings, locations, and services that we strongly believe will benefit them most.”

3) Test different creative assets for best results.

Frank Emanuele, Co-Host of The Marketers Next Door Podcast:

Always A/B test your creative [assets]. It’s easy to think you know what will capture your audience’s attention, but you’ll be surprised when you actually test it. I always compare at least two options and track their performance carefully. Then I put my spend toward the top performer to get the most bang for my buck. I often find that the creative I liked best actually isn’t my top performer.”

4) Pay attention to what visitors do after they click.

Alicia Palmieri, Senior Social Media & Content Specialist at 2U:

2U uses the “Learn More” call-to-action because it performs well with the type of thought leadership [education] content we share.

Our end goal when advertising on Facebook is to get people to view longform, data-rich content. Since we host most of this on our website, we work with our web analytics team to track behavior of people coming from our Ads. This helps us ensure that we’re targeting the right people and providing engaging content that they will enjoy.”

5) Don’t force new trends into your Ad strategy.

 Rachael Samuels, Social Media Specialist at Sprout Social:  

It’s important to have a clear objective for your ads, clear KPIs and a desired cost-per-conversion. Identifying these metrics, setting up proper tracking and keeping a pulse on performance is key to determining ROI from social advertising.”

Aaron Moreno, Digital Advertising Specialist at Sprout Social:  

The social landscape is constantly evolving, and our social team is constantly adapting to meet the needs of our community and stay authentic in our social presence. It’s great to be aware of trends, but you shouldn’t force a trend or new network if it’s not the right fit for your brand. You have to determine a trend’s genuine value offer before diving in headfirst. If something isn’t resonating with your audience, there’s no reason to continue chasing the hype just to be seen doing it — your audience could see that as a major turnoff.”

Chelsea Hunersen, Social Media Manager at HubSpot:

The principles of creating a good post and grabbing attention are the same no matter what the medium. For example, providing clear value and connecting about [your audience’s] real needs is something I always try to do. I’m less concerned about using a new medium like video or canvas just to use it, but I will try it if the technology gives us a better way to reach our audience.”

6) Find inspiration from your competition.

Rebecca White, Community Manager at TrackMaven:

Being able to tell what your competitors are promoting on social is invaluable. Comparing our Facebook spend with that of our competitors gives us a level playing field on which to evaluate the impact of our content.”

7) Publish videos that are short and sweet.

Erica Moss, Community Manager at Trello:

Because [Facebook offers] such a small amount of real estate, it’s important to get to the point quickly with one specific call-to-action, whether it’s a discount to redeem, an event to attend or a prompt to learn more about your product or service. Avoid lofty or flowery language.

When considering images, faces and bright colors pop more (high-res only), and video can be super impactful for ads when kept to 30 seconds or less. Bonus points if your video has closed captioning so that users don’t need audio to consume your message.”

8) Don’t fixate on vanity metrics alone.

Jenna Dutcher, Content Marketing Manager at Localist.com:

Facebook Ads can be a valuable tool, but only if you put effort into actually optimizing and measuring them. We’re big fans of A/B testing here at Localist, and always have at least two iterations of an ad running, sometimes 10-20 versions, where we’ll test things as small as capitalization, imagery, headlines, and CTAs.

You also need to be mindful of what you’re measuring. Success can’t just be based on how many people click or view an ad — what does 500 clickthroughs to a post mean to you and your company?  Be sure to tie superficial metrics like this to an acquisition goal or metric that you actually value, like cost-per-download or cost-per-lead.

9) Focus on the mobile experience.

Jason Myers, Social Media Manager at The Content Factory:

Try composing, or at least previewing, your Ad on a mobile device. Most people view Ads on a phone screen which is why those with stark, text-free images and simple messages get more engagement.”

10) Experiment with video.

Ben Kessler, Director of Marketing at WeWork

We are always eager to test new products and the latest betas to innovate with our marketing. This includes 360” video, renderings, and more, all developed by our in-house team. Because WeWork is truly something you need to experience in person, we’ve seen a lot of success with video to convey our brand and message within Facebook.”

Learn From the Pros

Now that you’ve learned different strategies for successful Facebook Advertising, apply them to your next campaign. A common thread among the responses we received for this article was the importance of constantly testing and evaluating results.

Don’t hesitate to change tactics midway through a campaign to drive greater value and conversions from your Ads. If you’re unsure where to begin with launching an Ads campaign, we have a step-by-step guide to start you off on the right foot.

What advice would you give for Facebook Advertising best practices? Share with us in the comments below.

free guide to facebook advertising

Oct

21

2016

What is a 301 Redirect, and When Should You Use One?

301_redirect.jpg

I moved five times in the last year. And every single time I moved, I forgot to sign up to have my mail forwarded to my new address.

Mail forwarding is an important step in any moving process, as it ensures you don’t lose any valuable information that’s sent to you. And the same can be said for your website: If you’re moving a website from one URL to another, you need to take the necessary steps to ensure your visitors get sent to the right place. In the world of tech, this is called a 301 redirect.

A 301 redirect is key to maintaining a website’s domain authority and search rankings when the site’s URL is changed for any reason. It easily sends visitors and search engines to a different URL than the one they originally requested — without having to actually type in a different URL. Download our free guide here to learn more about 301 redirects and common SEO  mistakes to avoid.

Here, we’ll cover the details of a 301 redirect, why websites use them, and how they differ from other redirects. 

What Is a 301 Redirect?

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. 301 redirects send site visitors and search engines to a different URL than the one they originally typed into their browser or selected from a search engine results page. These redirects also link various URLs under one umbrella so search engines rank all of the addresses based on the domain authority from inbound links

Let’s put it into practice. Below are two different URLs that take you to the same site. That’s thanks to a 301 redirect. That way, when people link to HubSpot Blogs using either URL, the URL we direct blog traffic to (blog.hubspot.com) retains the search engine authority associated with inbound links to either URL.

  1. blog.hubspot.com
  2. http://blog.hubspot.com

Did you notice that even though the second link has “http://” at the beginning of the URL, by the time you arrived at the blog, the URL in your browser read “blog.hubspot.com“? That’s because of a 301 redirect. It’s essential to set this up so the domain authority from inbound links to the http:// address are linked to blog.hubspot.com to improve its search rankings.

Why Set Up a 301 Redirect?

The big reasons marketers might set up a 301 redirect are:

  1. To associate common web conventions (http://, www., etc.) with one URL to maximize domain authority (hint: this is the same situation as the scenario we outlined above.)
  2. To rebrand or rename a website with a different URL
  3. To direct traffic to a website from other URLs owned by the same organization

In the second scenario, when a brand is changing its company or website name, a 301 redirect is integral to maintaining the power of inbound links to the original URL on the migrated new domain. Additionally, the 301 redirect is necessary in this case to do exactly what redirect means — to send website visitors to the right web address to get what they’re looking for.

In the third scenario, brands sometimes purchase domains that are similar in name or subject matter to their brand to generate more search traffic to their website. A 301 redirect is necessary to make certain that the brand’s original domain maintains its search authority in the process.  

What’s the Difference Between Permanent HTML Redirects and other Redirects?

Generally speaking, a 301 permanent redirect is better for search engine optimization than a temporary redirect because it transfers the inbound links from the redirected domain to the new one, which helps the website maintain its search rankings and prevent any dip in search traffic.

There are few situations where a 302 temporary redirect would be preferable over a 301 permanent redirect — except for when website content needs to be moved temporarily, such as when a site is undergoing maintenance and visitors need to be directed to a different domain to consume their content.

301 Redirect Mistakes to Avoid

Now that you understand the importance of the 301 redirect, we’ll review common steps in the process to review to make sure you don’t make a mistake that could adversely impact your site’s SEO.

1) Set up a 301 redirect between the http:// and http://www versions of your domains.

301 redirects point the power of inbound links from one URL to another, and although it might not look like it, http://blog.hubspot.com and blog.hubspot.com are two different URLs. Make sure you set up a 301 redirect from all of the different iterations of your brand’s domain to boost your search engine results.

2) Don’t move to a new domain without first setting up a 301 redirect.

Back in 2010, Toys ‘R Us purchased the toys.com domain without setting up a 301 redirect first, and their new site’s SEO results plummeted because it was re-crawled by Google as a brand-new domain without inbound links from the original Toys ‘R Us domain pointing to it. Be sure to set up the 301 redirect before migrating your website content so your site doesn’t lose traffic in the process.

3) In almost all cases, set up a 301 permanent redirect instead of a 302 temporary redirect, which may be the default setting of your website management software.

Unless you’re temporarily migrating your website’s content while updating or repairing your website, use a 301 redirect to maintain the inbound links and your search rankings while making changes to your domain.

4) Set up redirects to older internal links on your website.

If you don’t set up redirects from the older internal links on your website (such as a link to your company blog on your homepage), you’ll create a bad user experience for site visitors who click on these older, not-directed links. The old internal link will eventually kick over to the new domain, but it might take several seconds or show a white screen in the meantime.

The good news is that it’s easy to set up a 301 redirect correctly following the steps above and if you’re using HubSpot software to optimize your website. We wish you the best of luck with your next website redirect and moving process. (P.S. – We can help with one of those.)

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2010 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

free guide: common SEO mistakes

 
free guide: common SEO mistakes

Oct

18

2016

4 Helpful Tools for Organizing Your Social Media Calendar

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What do cross-country road trips, wedding speeches, and social media marketing have in common?

You could wing all three, but it’s probably better to have a plan for what direction you’re heading — especially when it comes to your social media content strategy.

By now, most marketers recognize that social media plays an integral role in an effective inbound marketing strategy. And with so many social networks to manage and publish on, it’s important to stay organized and have a plan for when and what you’re going to share on these platforms. Download the free social media content calendar template here to plan and  organize the timing of all your social media posts. 

In this post, we’ve rounded up some of the most helpful tools and templates for building out an effective social media content plan. Check them out below. 

The Benefits of Using a Social Media Content Calendar

Let’s face it: We’re all busy. And when we’re busy and don’t have a plan in place for the tasks we have to get done, things inevitably slip through the cracks.

Just like with blogging, a successful social media strategy requires regular publishing and engaging with followers to see positive results — whether that be in terms of SEO, brand recognition, lead generation, or all three. 

So if you’re not already using a social media content calendar, hear me out:

  1. Calendars help you get organized to avoid the dreaded scramble when things come up. With a social media calendar, marketers can plan out posts for entire weeks or months in advance, which frees up working hours to strategize for the future — and to dash off any posts about breaking news in your industry. Otherwise, you’ll spend valuable time each day searching the internet for that day’s content to share, which is a known productivity killer.
  2. A calendar helps you plan for each social network to customize posts instead of spamming all platforms with the same message. Social media marketers should take the time to craft custom messages for each network, and doing this in advance will save time throughout the week and ensure that you’re being thoughtful and intentional when you do post.
  3. Calendars can help you track performance and plan for future posts. Without a calendar, social media marketers are publishing content into the void and are unable to track big-picture and past performance. With a calendar, marketers can look back and analyze which content performed best so they can adjust their strategy accordingly.
  4. With the help of a calendar, marketers can plan for holidays and observance days, such as National Cat Day, when they can tailor their content and engage with a wider audience. 
  5. Social media calendars improve efficiency. According to Content Marketing Institute, 60% of social media marketers with a documented strategy rated themselves as highly effective, versus 32% of marketers with only a verbal strategy.

Now that you understand the merits of having a social media content calendar in place, check out our list of top tools to stay organized and on top of your game.

4 Helpful Tools for Organizing Your Social Media Calendar

1) Trello

Trello is another organizational tool that’s highly effective for team collaboration. More specifically, social media managers can use Trello’s flexible assignment “cards” and customizable “boards” and “lists” to map out to-do lists, manage a content calendar, plan a campaign, and house ideas from a brainstorm.

Here’s an example of a Trello board a social media marketing team might use to plan posts for the upcoming week:

Trello_social_media_example.png

But you’re not limited to just one structure: Users can customize boards according to their needs. For example, a team could create a board to organize social media posts for a given week, on a specific platform, or post ideas around a topic, such as a campaign or awareness day.

Trello cards allow for a ton of customization as well. Here’s a fictitious social media editorial calendar card with Twitter copy options around a piece of blog content. Note that you can track progress toward completing a checklist, which could be useful for social media marketers looking to track campaign progress. 

trello_licecap.gif

Additionally, Trello cards can be assigned to different team members, marked with due dates, and commented on. Users can even customize the labels (as in the image below) with different publication statuses so the entire team can see the progress of their social media posts and when they’re due on the calendar. The labels could also indicate different social networks that content is being published on. 

trello-calendar-status.jpg

Source: BlueGlass

Trello also offers a full calendar view (shown below) which makes it easy to visualize what content is going out, and when.

trello-calendar-monthly-1.jpg

Source: BlueGlass

2) Microsoft Excel

Marketers might already use Excel for different types of reports and data analysis in their roles, but it’s a highly useful tool for social media content calendar organization, too. Excel can be customized according to whatever priorities or metrics a team is focused on, so it’s a great tool for planning ahead.

The good news? We’ve already done the heavy lifting for you by creating a free, downloadable social media content calendar template using Microsoft Excel. Marketers can use this template to easily plan out individual social media posts — monthly or annually — while keeping an eye on bigger picture events, holidays, publications, and partnerships. 

For more on how to use the templates, check out this in-depth guide from my colleague Lindsay Kolowich.

content_calendar_example.png

Use the Monthly Planning Calendar Tab above to get a bird’s-eye view of what’s coming down their content pipeline in a given month. 

Content_repository.png

In the Content Repository tab, users can record the content they’re publishing on this tab to keep track of which pieces have been promoted and to easily recall older content that can be re-promoted on social media.

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On the Social Network Update tabs, users can draft and plan out social media posts in advance. These tabs are for organizational purposes, and the content of the posts themselves must be uploaded into a social media publisher.

This free resource can be used to draft social media posts, or it can be bulk-uploaded into a publishing app to maximize efficiency. (HubSpot customers: You can use this spreadsheet to organize content and upload it directly into Social Inbox. For instructions on how to do so, check out the template’s cover sheet here.)

3) Evernote

Evernote is a note-taking app that marketers can use to keep track of all the moving parts that comprise a social media campaign.

The tool also features yearly, monthly, weekly, and hourly logs, which make it easy to keep track of when you’re publishing content on social media, when you’re producing blog content, and other team-wide priorities. (Evernote offers customizable templates for each of these that can be downloaded into the app.)

Daily_Calendar_Evernote_Web.png

Another useful feature? Evernote’s Web Clipper extension for Chrome. Marketers can use this tool to easily save links to their Evernote Notebook for sharing later on.  

Evernote-webclipper.png

The Evernote mobile app also boasts some interesting features to help marketers keep their social content ideas straight. For example, you can easily snap a photo and save it to your Evernote files for review later.

Capture_Photos_Evernote.png

Source: Evernote

This feature is of particular valuable for social content creators looking to maintain a backlog of photos to publish on Instagram. 

4) Google Drive

Google Drive has several helpful features that make it easy for social media marketers to build out an effective content calendar. 

Here’s an example of how a team might use Google Calendar to track both their editorial and social media calendars to make sure they’re aligning posts with new blog content. These calendars can be easily shared with multiple teams to avoid scheduling conflicts and ensure that campaigns are aligned. 

gcal_example.png

Marketers can also use shared Google Sheets to schedule posts on social media, track the status of different pieces of content, and assign tasks to team members — all on the same platform as their calendar.

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With the help of Google Docs, users can keep comments all in one place and can collaborate on different projects without emailing back-and-forth or having to schedule a meeting. This is a particularly useful feature when editing content for social media, which may need to be drafted and approved quickly.

Social_Media_Campaign__Twitter_Copy___Google_Docs.png

(HubSpot customers: You can link your Google Drive account to your HubSpot portal to easily upload files from Drive into your HubSpot software.)

Ready to Plan?

Now that we’ve reviewed a few helpful tools to kick your social media strategy into high gear, experiment with them. Every social media team is different, and it could be a combination of these tools that helps you execute your strategy efficiently to drive ROI. For getting all of your ideas down and developing a big-picture plan for your social assets, we recommend starting with our template and going from there.

What tools do you use to build your social media content calendar? Share with us in the comments below.

free social media content calendar template

Oct

13

2016

How to Create an Excel Pivot Table With Medians

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As a marketer, you already know that Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool for sorting, analyzing, and sharing data. Trouble is, some of the most beneficial formulas are really tough to figure out — even for us data-crunchers. 

For example, we’ve walked through the steps of how to create a pivot table before, but unfortunately pivot tables don’t compute median values, which can be highly useful information with which organizations can analyze their growth.

Luckily, there is a workaround in Excel called the array, where you can use formulas to calculate the median of a data set. We’ll walk you through how to do that in the example below, which features a list of customers along with their company size and sales cycle length. For context, the two tables (average vs. median) look at the typical sales cycle length for each company size. Download our free Excel guide here for more tutorials to help you master the  essential Excel skills.

Ready to see how it works? Download the file here to follow along with the instructions below.

The Excel Pivot Table Alternative for Calculating Median

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The “Average of Sales Cycle (Days)” table was created with a pivot table. The “Median of Sales Cycle (Days)” table was created by doing the following:

1) Create a column with the six possible “employees” options: 1 to 5, 6 to 10, 11 to 15, etc.

EXstep1.png

2) In the cell to the right of the “1 to 5” value, type the following:  =MEDIAN(IF($A$2:$A$20=D2, $B$2:$B$20))

ex2.png

3) When you’ve closed the final parenthesis and while you’re still in the cell, type Control+Shift+Enter (on a PC) or Command+Shift+Enter (on a Mac) to populate the median. This is how you tell Excel that you want to create an array.

Note: Once you do this, you will see curly brackets { } appear around your formula. If you type in the curly brackets yourself or copy/paste the formula above into the cell, Excel won’t understand what they mean.

ex3.png

4) Copy the median amount in the first cell (G2 in the example) into the rest of the empty cells in the table (G3-G7 in the example).

ex4.png

Here is a breakdown of what these formula inputs mean: 

median_formula.png
  1. This is the column of values for “# of Employees” in Column A
  2. This is the contents of cell D2: “1 to 5”
  3. This is the column of values for “Sales Cycle (Days)” in Column B

Translation: First, the IF statement finds all rows where the # of Employees = “1 to 5”; it then stores all of the corresponding “sales cycle” values in an array. The MEDIAN function then pulls the median out of that array of sales cycles for the “1 to 5” customers.

When to Use Median to Analyze Data

Average (or mean) and median are common measures of data, but generally speaking average is more commonly used than median.

While average is a helpful way to determine what a typical member of a data set looks like, in some cases, median actually provides a fuller picture of a data set within its context.

In fact, average can actually be misleading if the data set is highly skewed and a large set of the population is similar with several far-away outliers. In such cases, the median is a better indicator of what a typical member of the data set looks like.

For example, in the United States, household income is commonly measured and referred to in terms of the median. This could be due to the fact that high-income inequality nationwide would make the average a poor representation of a typical American household’s income. 

Here’s another scenario: If a business were analyzing sales, it would be important for them to consider the types of data in the sets they were analyzing. For example, calculating the average amount of total monthly sales would be a good indicator of performance because each month has roughly the same number of days and opportunities to sell, so the average would show what a baseline expectation of productivity would be.

However, the average may not be the best measure to analyze each sale’s size that year. If the organization sold products varying in price from $10 to $25,000, then the average sale size might be skewed by the lowest and highest prices. Instead, the median would give the organization an idea of if sales were typically higher or lower in price. See the difference?

Ultimately, analyzing both the average and the median will provide the most full picture possible of your organization’s raw data, and pivot tables in Excel, such as the ones above, can help you analyze both data sets.

What formulas do you use most frequently in Excel to analyze your organization’s data? Share with us in the comments below. 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2011 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

free guide: how to use excel

 
free guide: how to use excel

Oct

12

2016

11 Examples of Instagram Ads We Love

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What makes you click on ads? Is it the cute picture of a puppy, the funny caption, or are you only motivated by a great deal?

While there are plenty of studies and articles that allude to what makes social media advertising successful, ad performance depends largely on your ability to create ad content that feels natural or organic (aka native advertising). According to the Mobile Marketing Association, users spend 40% more time interacting with native ads than traditional display ads with double the brand recall. Download our complete guide to using Instagram for business here to improve  your brand's Instagram presence.

Advertising on Instagram presents businesses with a unique opportunity because the Ads appear on the 500 million monthly active users’ Instagram feeds without interrupting user experience, similar in appearance to the organic posts their friends are sharing. Additionally, Instagram Ads are displayed based on user Likes and Follows on Instagram and Facebook, giving marketers the opportunity to target their advertising efforts even more precisely.

In this post, we’ve featured Instagram Ads that impressed us (and in some cases, made us click) with actionable suggestions for your next Instagram Ads campaign.

Why Launch an Instagram Ad Campaign

HubSpot Co-Marketing Intern Ellen Bartolino penned a comprehensive checklist of the steps to take to launch a great Instagram Ads campaign on the Facebook Ads platform. It’s still early to evaluate their effectiveness in terms of results and revenue, but some agencies and researchers are already seeing positive signs for marketers.

Brand Networks found that the overall cost per thousand impressions (CPM) on Instagram decreased from $7.04 in the latter half of 2015 to just $4.16 in the first quarter of 2016, and MarketingLand found that Instagram Ad costs are slightly lower than on Facebook with higher levels of engagement.

With Instagram Ads, marketers can target users to increase views of blog posts and other content, direct traffic to a web page, promote lead conversions, encourage app installs, or generate video views.

11 Examples of Instagram Ads We Love 

1) Instagram for Business

Here’s a somewhat meta example from Instagram’s own Instagram for Business account, advertising the new capability to advertise on the platform. They use recipe website Food52 as an example of what their ad content might look like so users can visualize it for their own business Instagram accounts.

If you check out Food52’s Instagram, you’ll notice that the ad below isn’t much different than the organic content they post, which helps ads blend in with the rest of the photos and videos their friends are posting.

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Why it works:

  • It’s a great food photo, using texture, contrasting colors, and lighting to actually make the viewer hungry. Food photos are some of the most popular on Instagram, with over 189 million photos under the #food hashtag alone.
  • It uses geometric shapes and lines to draw in viewer interest and engagement.
  • It’s inspiration-driven: According to an EventBrite survey, 78% of millennials (who make up more than 50% of Instagram’s user base) would rather spend on experiences than things, making this type of image more appealing than a shot of the website alone.

2) Samsung Mobile

Check out this ad featuring Samsung Mobile’s new Galaxy S6 Edge Plus smartphones, specifically the manual controls built into the camera to enable more precise photography.

The image shows three phones mid-shot to demonstrate new features and give people an idea of what it’s like to actually use the product. The photos captured on each screen highlight diverse locations, which suggest that the camera can help you capture a variety of stunning shots — no matter where you are.

Samsung_Mobile.png

Why it works:

  • The phones were shot on a white background, which helps the product stand out. According to the folks at SteelHouse, “This [shooting on a white background] is a common practice because, quite frankly, it works.”
  • The photos in the ad
    represent a simplified product demonstration. This approach lets viewers dive into the new control features by showing each phone mid-photoshoot, with the unique white manual controls along the bottom of each screen. 
  • The
    clever — and slightly humorous — caption features a play on words that makes it more memorable and helps to draw the viewer’s attention to the new feature: the manual camera controls.
    Ads that invoke emotion, such as happiness and laughter, are more likely to be shared and engaged with by viewers.

Instagram Advertising Guide

3) Amy Porterfield

Amy Porterfield is a marketing and social media consultant who produces educational resources for businesses and other marketers. In this ad, she’s promoting a free webinar training in an effort to generate new leads and customers for her business. 

Amy_Porterfield.jpg

Why it works:

  • The ad features a clear photo of the face of the company, which Wordstream suggests as an easy way to humanize and add personality to your brand.
  • The call-to-action (CTA) is clear: “free training” presents a clear benefit to users who have already demonstrated interest in marketing webinars, as Instagram Ads are served based on Facebook and Instagram interests. The ad presents an opportunity for viewers to hone their marketing skills at no cost.

4) New York Times

Here’s an Instagram Ad featuring the famous New York Times crossword puzzle. The ad challenges viewers to solve the puzzle, which draws them in to read more about the offer the New York Times is advertising and gets them excited about their achievement if they can solve the puzzle, putting them in a better mood and making them more likely to share or click the ad.

NYTimes.png

Why it works:

  • The ad is static, but it prompts an interaction when viewers want to solve the puzzle. This interactivity leads to greater levels of ad engagement among all of the other content on Instagram.
  • It employs nostalgia marketing for the 90’s Nickelodeon TV show, “Hey Arnold!” This marketing tactic that makes your audience feel good about your content and your brand.

5) Monster

Monster helps job-seekers match with organizations seeking talent worldwide. In this video ad, Monster uses humor to show job-seekers how to explain gaps in employment to future employers using the movie Castaway: instead of complaining about being abandoned at sea, the fictitious job-seeker explains that he managed a “crew” while on the island.

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Why it works:

  • The ad features video content, which research shows users want to see more of, particularly on social media.
  • It uses the curiosity gap to intrigue users and prompt them to learn more, because really, what does the movie Castaway have to do with job hunting? Not much, but by using this friendly demo featuring a well-known story to demonstrate how to fill in resume gaps, they’ve made the topic easy to understand and memorable.

6) Headspace

Headspace offers daily 10-minute meditation and mindfulness sessions with the help of their app. This simple but effective ad features a countdown clock that shows viewers that their app can help take away anxiety in as little as ten minutes — we’re not sure if that’s actually the case, but it’s an appealing thought considering the fact that anxiety disorders affect 40 million people in the United States alone.

Headspace-1.png

Why it works:

  • The ad uses warm, bright colors, which can prompt feelings of “courage and energy,” according to the Blur Group — useful sentiments for a company trying to prompt mental wellness app downloads.
  • The ad is cartoon-style, which Wall Street Journal cartoonist Stu Heinecke encourages due to its memorability and brand “stickiness.”
  • It features provocative, emotional words, such as “anxiety,” and “happier,” which Harvard Business Review notes can drive campaign virality and memorability.

7) Blinkist

Blinkist helps readers gather key passages and lessons from nonfiction books that take only 15 minutes to consume. In this ad, they’re promoting one of the books on their service that users can get condensed, and the book title is overlaid over an image of a person on their cell phone, presumably using it.

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Why it works:

  • The ad uses geometric shapes to center user focus on the central element of the ad. Shapes like squares, diamonds, and rectangles convey conformity and symmetry that’s visually pleasing and helps it stand out on an Instagram feed.
  • The caption appeals broadly to the many people who feel like they don’t have enough time to read. Empathy is a great marketing tactic to make ads universally applicable and brands more memorable for responding to their needs.

8) bfresh

This ad from bfresh — a market dedicated to fresh preparation and whole foods — is designed to inform locals that a new store opening in the Boston area. The simple, straightforward ad features a snapshot of the new location, which will likely catch the eye of folks that are familiar with the area.

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Why it works:

  • This ad is geographically targeted, which adds another level of personalization to the ad, and this audience segmentation helps drive Instagram advertising ROI
  • It promises future benefits, such as discounts and recipes, to its followers, who they’re hoping are younger and interested in saving money and DIY food preparation.

9) ClassPass

ClassPass grants fitness enthusiasts access to multiple gyms and classes in their area within the same booking system. This ad cleverly communicates the discount promotion they’re running while also giving viewers an idea of what they can expect from the service.

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Why it works:

  • The cool color scheme (greens, blues, and purples) is widely preferred over other color themes by both genders, according to the American Journal of Psychology.
  • The graphics show, rather than tell customers how they can use the product with cool visuals of people doing different workouts.
  • The call-to-action is bold, clear, and compelling: Users can get a significant discount on ClassPass for a limited time only. This language employs the scarcity principle, wherein consumers associate a higher value if the product is in short supply.

10) Method Home

Method Home produces eco-friendly cleaning products made from non-toxic ingredients that are also effective at home cleaning, and their playful branding is on display in their video Instagram Ad here. The video promotes a sweepstakes Method Home is currently sponsoring that is contingent on user engagement with the ad.

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Why it works:

  • The ad is eye-catching: it’s unusual to see plates, cups, and food traveling midair, and its uniqueness makes the ad, and the product, more memorable.
  • It uses empathy to relate to viewers. A lot of people can relate to the sight of dirty dishes piled in the sink, and the ad features the solution — dish soap — in a fun and interactive way. Ads that elicit emotion and positive feelings result in stronger brand relationships, which can ultimately improve your Net Promoter Score (NPS).

11) HubSpot

You’re already reading our blog, but in case you don’t know, HubSpot is a sales and marketing software company designed to help businesses grow. In this ad, we’re promoting INBOUND 2016, our annual inbound marketing and sales event in Boston.

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Why it works:

  • The ad uses celebrity social proof in its caption by name-dropping well-known industry leaders who will be speaking at INBOUND 2016. This marketing strategy compels viewers to learn more about hearing from famous people they may already know and love.
  • The branding is subtle: Remember, these ads are meant to look and feel like Instagram content so they aren’t scrolled past quickly on users’ feeds. The interesting shot of the INBOUND-inspired hedges does a great job of promoting the event without using our company logo or name.

Now that you’ve read our tips and seen examples in action of strong Instagram Ads, take a look at your Instagram and check out the Ads you’re being served. What makes you click? Then, take the lessons and start applying them to your own Instagram advertising strategy.

What tips do you have for running a successful Instagram Ads campaign? Share with us in the comments below.

free guide to advertising on Instagram

Oct

10

2016

Early Birds vs. Night Owls: When’s the Best Time of Day to Write? [Infographic]

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While many people dread the sound of their morning alarman early start to the day could actually be the best thing for your writing. 

To shed some light on this concept, the folks at Grammarly analyzed over one billion words corrected with the help of their writing app, and gathered some fascinating insights about how time of day impacts writing ability.

Here are just a few of their findings:

  • Misspelled words made up more than half of all email-writing mistakes. 
  • Writers were three times as likely to make spelling and grammar errors in social media posts compared to any other type of writing.
  • Apostrophe mistakes were the most common.

Do you notice yourself making more writing errors at a certain time of day? Check out the full infographic below to learn more about the rest of their observations.

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free guide: how to be a better copywriter


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