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Sep

6

2017

What Is a Pillar Page? (And Why It Matters For Your SEO Strategy)

Just when you thought you understood SEO … search changed. Again.

“Understood” is a strong word. Search engine algorithms change at such a rapid tick, it’s hard to keep up with the best strategies to optimize your blog to rank on the first page of SERPs. But this change is a biggie, so hang onto your keywords for this one.

Human search behaviors have changed, and so have the technologies used to interpret and serve up search results. Optimizing blog content to rank for long-tail keywords is no longer the best way to rank in search engine results — and your blog architecture has something to do with that.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the ways search has changed, the scoop on topic clusters, and how pillar pages fit into the equation.

What Are Topic Clusters?

As we mentioned before: The way people search has changed, and in turn, that’s started to change the way SEOs and bloggers create content. Here’s a basic primer — but for more details, read our latest research and blog posts about the evolution of search.

People are submitting longer, more conversational search queries.

Picture yourself before entering a Google search. If you were trying to find a place to eat sushi, would you search for “restaurants,” or would you search for “Japanese restaurants near me”?

If you’d go with the second option, you’re among the majority: 64% of searches are four words or more, and we’re seeing a growing number of these longer-form conversational search queries that help people find the exact information they’re looking for.

This is, in part, due to the rise of voice search. Between Siri and Google Assistant, 20% of mobile Google searches are conducted via voice search, and thanks to the rise of Amazon Echo and Google Home devices, this percentage will surely be on the rise.

But voice search isn’t the only reason people are submitting longer queries. For one, there’s a lot of content out there — and quality is greatly outweighed by quantity. People are submitting more detailed queries to sort through the junk get the information they need, faster. People are also skimming content more — often relying on the headers of blog posts or Google’s featured information to get simple answers to questions quickly.

Search engines are getting better at sorting through the thousands of pieces of content out there to serve up the best, most accurate results possible, too. More on that next.

Search engines are better at providing exactly what searchers want.

Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving to provide the best possible answers to searchers’ queries. Some of these changes include penalizing too many irrelevant internal links, interpreting conversational queries as an entire thought instead of individual keywords, and using machine-learning to serve up more accurate interpretations of specific terms.

What all of this means: Google is helping searchers find the most accurate information possible — even if it isn’t exactly what they searched for. For example, if you searched for “running shoes,” Google will now also serve you up results for “sneakers.” This means that bloggers and SEOs need to get even better at creating and organizing content that addresses any gaps that could prevent a searcher from getting the information they need from your site.

Now, your site needs to be organized according to different main topics, with blog posts about specific, conversational long-tail keywords hyperlinked to one another, to address as many searches as possible about a particular subject. Enter the topic cluster model.

Topic clusters help more pages rank to give searchers better answers.

The way most blogs are currently structured (including our own blogs, until very recently), bloggers and SEOs have worked to create individual blog posts that rank for specific keywords. The result is disorganized, and hard for the user to find the exact information he or she needs. It also results in your own URLs competing against one another in search engine rankings when you produce multiple blog posts about similar topics.

Here’s what our blog architecture used to look like using this old playbook:

Old structure-2.png

Now, in order to rank in search and best answer the new types of queries searchers are submitting, the solution is to use the topic cluster model: Choose the broad topics you want to rank for, then create content based on specific keywords related to that topic that all link to each other, to create broader search engine authority. Using this model, this is what our blog infrastructure looks like now — with specific topics surrounded by blog posts related to the topic, connected to other URLs in the cluster via hyperlinks:

New structure-2.png

This model uses a more deliberate site architecture to organize and link URLs together to help more pages on your site rank in Google — and to help searchers find information on your site more easily. This architecture consists of three components — pillar content, cluster content, and hyperlinks:

Cluster model-2.png

Next, we’ll dive into pillar content — which represents the primary topic bloggers and SEOs are trying to rank for, by creating more specific pieces of cluster content.

What Is a Pillar Page?

A pillar page is the basis on which a topic cluster is built. A pillar page covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting in more detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page.

Pillar pages broadly cover a particular topic, and cluster content should address a specific keyword related to that topic in-depth. For example, you might write a pillar page about content marketing — a broad topic — and a piece of cluster content about blogging — a more specific keyword within the topic.

Pillar pages are longer than typical blog posts — because they cover all aspects of the topic you’re trying to rank for — but they aren’t as in-depth. That’s what cluster content is for. You want to create a pillar page that answers questions about a particular topic, but leaves room for more detail in subsequent, related cluster content.

For example, here’s our pillar page about Instagram marketing. It provides a thorough overview of how to use Instagram, and it’s hyperlinked to specific pieces of cluster content — like this blog post about how to write good Instagram captions. In this case, we’re trying to rank for topics related to Instagram. The pillar page serves as a 101 guide to Instagram marketing, and the piece of cluster content dives into one specific aspect of Instagram marketing — writing great caption copy.

How to Create a Pillar Page

The first step to creating a pillar page is to stop thinking about your site in terms of just keywords. Start thinking about the topics you want to rank for first — then, brainstorm blog topic ideas based on more specific keywords related to the broader topic.

Think about the top interests and challenges of your core audience personas to give you ideas for pillar page content. Choose a topic that’s broad enough that it can generate more related blog posts that will serve as cluster content, but not so broad that you can’t cover the entire topic on a single pillar page.

For example, in our case, “social media” was too broad of a topic, but “Instagram captions” would have been too narrow. “Instagram marketing” is broad enough that we’re able to link many more blog posts that dive into Instagram in greater detail, but still specific enough that we could write a comprehensive pillar page about it.

Pillar pages should answer any question or query a searcher might have about a topic — which will make them want to click on your pillar page when they enter a Google search term that your page ranks for. Then, they’ll click into your pillar page to get the answers to their questions, which will link out to more specific pieces of cluster content hyperlinked on the pillar page.

For example, here’s what that looks like on our Instagram marketing pillar page:

instagram caption pillar page.png

These paragraphs cover aspects of Instagram marketing, and these hyperlinks direct to more specific pieces of cluster content related to the topic. Make sense?

If not, don’t worry — we’ll teach you more about pillar pages and how to construct them soon, along will more killer examples. Dive into our latest research to learn more about this new way to organize and build your content, and watch the video below to see how the topic clusters and pillar pages work in action.

content-strategy-tool

Sep

4

2017

I Tried These Productivity Hacks for a Month So You Wouldn’t Have To

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m not the most together person in the world.

I eat three meals a day, but one of them is usually takeout. I hit snooze so often it should be considered a nap. And I definitely don’t drink enough water. But I imagine I’m not alone.

There are plenty of productive members of society like myself who work and go to school and have fulfilling lives — those lives just don’t always involve waking up at 5 a.m. for morning meditation or listening to stimulating podcasts on their commutes the way so many famed morning routines do.

So here’s to the snoozers, the night owls, and the TV binge-watchers. I celebrate you, and I want to help you figure out if any of the most dreadful-sounding productivity hacks will actually work for you.

Over the course of a month, I spent each week trying out a different productivity hack to see if it made me more productive — in the morning, and throughout the day. Some of these techniques were brand new to me, while others had been feebly attempted (and abandoned) before.

Keep reading for a detailed explanation of why I went on this productivity journey, or skip ahead to the hacks you want to read more about:

Why I Tried Out Productivity Hacks

I spent a month this summer testing out different productivity hacks as part of a larger initiative my fellow HubSpot Blog team members participated in. Traditionally, during the summer months, we experience a slight dip in traffic due to seasonality — after all, we want you to enjoy summer vacations away from your email inbox, even if it means missing some of our blog posts.

With that in mind, we decided to take a month to run different experiments and report on the results — and I decided to devote time to testing out different productivity hacks so I could report on the results to you fine people, our readers.

I spent each week trying out a new hack — with varied results. Read on to learn more about how I became the most productive woman in the world in just 30 days (just kidding).

4 Productivity Hacks (& Results)

1) Eating Breakfast Every Day

Before the Experiment

Don’t get me wrong, I love food. But between the aforementioned snoozing and my lengthy commute time to work, eating breakfast before work was darn near impossible for me.

And by the time I got to work, which was usually slightly later than I wanted for the previously mentioned reasons, I would dive right into my to-do list — only to find myself ravenous and ready for lunch by 10:30 a.m. Or worse, scarfing down a Pop-Tart to tide myself over until my immediate sugar crash as a direct result of eating said Pop-Tart.

But starting your day with a healthy breakfast can have a huge impact on your productivity. The food we choose throughout the day impacts not only our productivity, but also our moods, focus, and energy. In fact, a study found that the more servings of fruits and vegetables people ate throughout the day, the more engaged, happy, and creative they were.

As it turns out, 31 million Americans (roughly 10% of the population) end up skipping breakfast every day — probably for reasons like mine. So I committed to a full week of making — and eating — a healthy breakfast.

During the Experiment

I quickly realized that changing the way I sleep and get up in the morning would require a lot longer than a month to complete, and I needed a healthy breakfast solution that also didn’t take too long once I finally made it into the office.

The solution? Smoothies.

Luckily, HubSpot’s Cambridge office has a fully-stocked kitchen with a lot of the materials and equipment needed to make a healthy breakfast. With the help of plant-based protein powder and spinach I brought from home, I was able to quickly make healthy smoothies that were easy to consume and fairly tasty. I can’t, however, speak for their appearance:

smoothie is gray.jpg

Look, my smoothie matches my gray desk divider!

Gray smoothies notwithstanding, this was far and away my favorite productivity hack of the experiment.

Results of the Experiment

Ironically, my interest in smoothies was to save time so I could dive right into work, but dedicating time to making and consuming breakfast before I got started with every work day helped me be more productive. I ended up taking a few minutes before getting started to a) enjoy my breakfast, b) surf Twitter without feeling guilty for procrastinating and c) prioritize my day.

Besides the health benefits of eating healthful foods first thing in the morning, I think there’s also something to be said for forcing yourself not to dive into work right away and reflect on your priorities. It’s easy when you’re swamped in to-dos to feel so stressed and overwhelmed that you start working the second your eyes open. But by making breakfast or spending your morning doing something not directly work-related, you can organize your thoughts, prioritize the mounting list of tasks we all have, and enjoy a little “me time” — and debriefing on which projects and tasks to tackle to make your day as efficient as possible.

There were definitely days when I wanted a Pop-Tart (but I promise, I didn’t have one). Also, one day that week, I decided to treat myself to a technically healthy but fairly enormous breakfast at a vegan diner. Delicious? Absolutely. But I also fell into a food coma shortly after and had a less productive day than my smoothie days.

2) Exercising Every Morning

Before the Experiment

For those of you already rolling your eyes, trust me — I know how you feel. Working out is the worst.

But actually, it’s not. Apart from the health benefits we all know and forget as our sneakers collect dust from the corners of our closets — like decreased risk of chronic disease, weight control, better sleep, and stronger muscles and bones — it can have a positive impact on your productivity all day.

Regular exercise can improve your memory retention, sharpen your concentration, help you learn faster, make you more creative, and lower stress. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t say no to literally any of those things.

I’m still in the process of recovering from an ankle injury, so I wasn’t exercising at all before starting the experiment for a week — let alone exercising in the morning. Saying I was not excited about trying out this productivity hack was an understatement, but I wanted to do it in the morning to get it out of the way — and to achieve those promised benefits even sooner.

During the Experiment

I decided to work out using 30-45 minutes Pilates videos every morning — mostly because I wanted to do something that would be low-impact on my ankle, but partly because I didn’t want to actually have to leave my house to get a workout in.

On the first day of testing out this hack, as my alarm went off 45 minutes earlier than normal and I stared at my yoga mat, I said out loud to no one in particular, “I already hate this.”

Luckily, I had a supportive family member who got up when I did and motivated me to keep going:

philates-2.jpg

We’ll call our workout routine “Pilates with Phil”

Unfortunately, his support waned the longer the workout went on every morning.

philsleeping-1.jpg

Results of the Experiment

As a side effect of exercising and waking up early, I started getting tired and falling asleep much earlier, which definitely made me feel more productive at work. I felt more alert and focused at the start of my day — having already been awake for a couple of hours — and I found myself making healthier eating choices (see above) after starting my day off on the right foot. On a few of these days, I didn’t even feel the need to drink coffee once I got to my desk!

I’ll confess that, halfway through the week, I snoozed through my alarm and worked out in the evening instead — but it definitely weighed on me as one more item on my to-do list, and getting it done early in the day was far superior.

So, while I don’t think I can commit to daily morning exercise, I can confirm that getting up and moving once a day definitely made me feel more alert and relaxed, which lasted for the entire rest of the day.

3) Using the Pomodoro Technique

Before the Experiment

Before I tested out this productivity hack, I was familiar with the concept of blocking off time for specific tasks, as well as blocking off time for breaks, but I wasn’t doing it with any particular rhyme or reason.

Simply put, I would totally disregard calendar appointments I’d set for myself and would stay in a groove if I hit one — until I looked up from my computer, hours later, with bloodshot eyes, wondering what had happened to the rest of my to-do list.

old calendar example.png

Not exactly easy to follow.

So for the next week of my experiment, I decided to test out the Pomodoro Technique — and no, it isn’t a delicious cooking method as I previously thought. It calls for working in 25-minute bursts with short breaks in between. Once you’ve completed four Pomodoros (25-minute increments), you could take a longer break before starting work again.

It sounded like a great way to balance the demands of my writing workload writing several blog posts per week in addition to various other meetings and projects.

During the Experiment

I cannot overstate the degree to which this time management method did not work for me.

I downloaded the Pomodoro Technique Chrome extension to remind me of when to start working and to take a break, and I grew to hate that little tomato — a real shame, since it’s one of my favorite fruits/vegetables.

pomodoro break.png

Tomatoes will never be the same.

I really missed being able to get into the groove working on a project — particularly when it came to writing blog posts, which typically takes more than 25 minutes.

I even tried hacking together my own Pomodoro Technique calendar when I couldn’t handle the tomato reminders, but the pop-up calendar reminders irked me even more.

pomodoro calendar.png

I was in notification hell.

By the Wednesday of the week I started testing out this productivity hack, I was back to my old ways — and loving it.

pomodoro calendar 2.png

Writing blocks, how I missed thee.

Results of the Experiment

The Pomodoro Technique definitely didn’t work for me, but I don’t think it’s the fault of the technique itself — I think it doesn’t work for my particular job requirements, which involve multiple daily deadlines.

When I write blog posts, I don’t necessarily need (or want) my time split into 25-minute bursts — I want to get blog posts out the door so I can get started on the next one.

My very unscientific assumption is that the Pomodoro Technique works better for people working on longer-term projects and daily tasks, rather than deadline-driven bloggers and creators turning things in every day.

4) Freewriting Every Morning

Before the Experiment

When I come home from writing blog posts all day, the last thing I want to do is sit down and write more — even if it’s creative writing on my own.

So when I read that morning freewriting can increase productivity, I was skeptical about whether or not it would work for me — wouldn’t it just be adding more work to my plate?

Before I tested this productivity hack, the closest thing I did that could be called morning freewriting was my morning tweeting. So I decided to try it out for a week.

During the Experiment

I blocked off 30 minutes each morning for freewriting when I got into the office each day and went to work. And let me tell you, it was hard.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything else to write about besides marketing topics for the blog — it’s that I didn’t want to write paragraphs. I wanted to write lists.

I’m in the process of moving, and I’m a bridesmaid in two upcoming weddings, and during these 30-minute blocks, I honestly couldn’t stop myself from creating list after list of things I needed to do — like this one:

bridesmaid list.png

A Maine wedding without bug spray is a non-starter.

apartment list.png

I learned from this experiment that a comfy rug is essential to at-home workouts.

Over the course of the week, I eventually started writing longer pieces with more sentences and fewer bullet points — and freewriting shifted into journaling.

Results of the Experiment

I don’t know that I did freewriting exactly correctly — technically, it was freelisting. But going through the motion every morning got me in the right mindset to braindump — which any blogger will tell you is a critical part of the writing process, when you write down any and everything you know about a topic before filling in gaps in knowledge with more research.

As a side-effect of the list-writing, I believe I was a more productive worker by handling and organizing my personal to-dos before getting started on work tasks. It was a lot less stressful knowing I had an organized game plan for calls to make and research to do on my lunch break and during personal time after work too.

There’s No Such Thing as “Hacking” Productivity

Like many other things in life, there isn’t an easy way out when it comes to working efficiently and successfully at your job every single day. There will be days when you crush your to-do list, and there will be days when you eat Pop-Tarts and get hit with a wicked case of writer’s block.

My biggest lesson from this experience was that all hacks aren’t created equal — it’s about figuring out how and when you work most productively, and optimizing your strategies from there.

My strategies could still use a little tweaking, and my next big experiment will be trying to change my disastrous sleep habits to kick the snooze button to the curb. But until then, I’ll be drinking smoothies, attempting to work out, and avoiding every tomato I come across.

Aug

31

2017

August Social Media News: Facebook Watch, YouTube Messaging & More

We’re about to hit September, and you might be feeling anxiety about you or your family heading back to school, the busy season at your office, or the prospect of a limited number of beach days left in the year.

We feel you — because even though we took a summer break, social media networks sure didn’t.

Social networks are constantly innovating new products and making tweaks that are hard to keep up with, which is why we started writing this monthly social media news roundup.Click here to learn about using social media in every stage of the funnel.

From Facebook to Snapchat, from new product launches to small tweaks, here’s a list of what’s new in social media this month. The list isn’t exhaustive, but you can expect to learn the major highlights — what was launched, what changed, and what these stories could mean for marketers.

And if you don’t have time to read this whole post, we made a short video to give you the biggest headlines below:

11 of the Biggest Social Media News Stories This Month

Snapchat

1) Snapchat has partnered with college newspapers on Discover.

The ephemeral messaging app will share original content from U.S. colleges and universities on Snapchat Discover — in specific editions for each college’s location.

Business Insider noted that this is the first time parent company Snap Inc. has partnered with smaller publishers to create original Snapchat Discover content — where previously, it’s worked with outlets like Vox, BuzzFeed, and The New York Times.

What is typical is Snapchat’s push to engage younger users — between the ages of 18-24, the demographic segment where Snapchat is most popular. More than half of eMarketer survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 said they use the app all the time.

social_media_by_age_emarketer_01.png

Source: eMarketer/Recode

It’ll be interesting to see how this content performs — for Snapchat, and for the partner colleges creating the content. Young users are the app’s path to growth — or at least, its path to preventing decline — more on that next.

2) Snapchat has more users, but less value.

Parent company Snap Inc. hosted its 2017 Q2 earnings call, and the results weren’t exactly 🔥.

Snapchat grew by seven million users in the last quarter, but that was still a miss — while it hit 173 million users by the end of Q2, investors anticipated it hitting 175.2 million instead. Its share price declined by roughly 6% as the company also reported its average revenue per user was $0.02 lower than predicted.

Snap Inc. has had a rocky journey since its IPO earlier this year. It will be interesting to see what they innovate next to compete with Facebook and Instagram in the battle for the most popular camera and sharing app.

Facebook

3) Facebook’s News Feed algorithm will start penalizing sites that aren’t optimized for mobile.

Facebook announced a few new tweaks to its News Feed algorithm — most notably, perhaps, was the announcement that links to sites that aren’t optimized for mobile viewing.

Facebook will now start taking link loading speed into account when deciding how to rank posts in the News Feed, to improve user experience for more than half of users who access the site via mobile devices.

If your site isn’t already optimized for mobile users, this ebook can help you get started.

4) Facebook has started autoplaying News Feed videos — with the sound on.

I received this notification when I opened up my Facebook app just last week:

video with sound facebook-1.png

Facebook has been gradually rolling out volume-on video autoplay for several months, but this announcement marks a big change to what’s largely been a silent world, with more than 85% of Facebook users preferring to watch videos without sound.

5) Facebook launched new camera features, including GIF recording and 360-photo capturing.

Facebook made a few big upgrades to its in-app camera this month. Swipe right on your News Feed on the mobile app to start broadcasting live, or to create a GIF and immediately share content on your Facebook Story or in a new post.

facebook licacap2-3.gif

6) Facebook launched the Watch tab for original video content.

Facebook’s going all in on video content this month — most notably, with its launch of the Watch tab, where creators and networks are developing original content specifically for the social network.

newsroom-hero_final-blue-11.png

Source: Facebook

Tap the video icon to see what creators like MLB, A&E, and Refinery29 are creating for Facebook, in yet another move to keep more people coming to its site to get what they need — namely, entertainment.

Instagram

7) Instagram launched Instagram Live — with two users.

Instagram will now let you go live with a friend — featuring a split broadcast screen like the one shown below.

Live-with-a-Friend-796x443.jpg

Source: Instagram

Now that you can save live broadcasts and share them to your Instagram Story for later viewing, users might be more interested in trying out a broadcast to engage and activate a bigger audience the way Facebook Live has succeeded. (We’ll be trying it out on our Instagram soon — make sure you’re following us.)

8) Instagram (and Facebook) launched comment threading.

Instagram and Facebook rolled out a small UX change that will make engagement and interactivity a bit easier for users — by launching threaded comments.

instagram comment threads.png

Source: Instagram

Any user knows the pain of trying to track down a friend’s comment when they’ve been tagged in a popular post on Facebook or Instagram, and this change solves that problem — and might make users more keen to tag friends in comments (which signal engagement in both apps’ news feeds).

9) Instagram users can now edit Story and Direct Message replies.

Last month, Instagram announced the ability to reply to Stories and Direct Messages with photos and videos.

And this month, users can reply with melded photos and videos that manipulate the original image — like in the example below.

reply-2-en.png

Source: TechCrunch

The next time you see a photo or video you want to reply to, tap the thumbnail in the upper right-hand corner to edit it with drawings or emojis, and add your own half-selfie to it.

Pinterest

10) Users can now pinch to zoom in on photos.

Pinterest added a few new ways to search for images, as well as a subtle UX change that now allows users to pinch and zoom in and out on photos of pins.

pinterest zoom-2.gif

Source: Pinterest

This might seem like it’s not worth even writing up, but this change is a nod to other visual-first social networks, like Instagram and Facebook. As Pinterest becomes a more shoppable social network, with the ability for users to tap and buy specific products within pins, it will be interesting to see how the competition heats up.

YouTube

11) YouTube added in-app messaging and vertical video capabilities.

At the very end of this month, YouTube unveiled a whole new visual identity — including a new logo for the first time.

Two of the big changes that marketers will want to make note of? The new in-app messaging feature, and the responsive video display that now shows vertical and square videos.

The new in-app messaging lets users share videos with friends without having to leave the app, which is the new name of the game for social networks — getting people to do what they want, without having to leave the platform. Plus, this feature is also a step toward YouTube competing with Facebook for a bigger piece of the video-watching pie.

youtube_1-7.png

Source: YouTube

And in another change, YouTube now supports vertical and square video formats, in addition to horizontal video. Remind you of anything — like, perhaps, every other social network?

Vertical videos were made popular by Snapchat, and are all over Instagram and Facebook now. The same goes for square videos. Why? Because these formats take up a greater share of the mobile user’s screen — keeping them more engaged in the app while they spend time streaming. Marketers should consider making YouTube part of their video distribution strategies besides just social media.


Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel

 
How to Use Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel E

Aug

25

2017

9 of the Best Free Video Editing Software to Try

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you already know you should incorporate more video content into your marketing.

But like most new strategies, you might need to prove its ROI before you get budget. And that can be tricky, because to make a great video, you need a few things — like a camera and editing software.

You might already have a high-quality camera built into your smartphone, but to edit your raw footage to prepare it for publication and distribution, you may need to hop on the computer.

Click here to learn how to create and utilize video in your marketing to  increase engagement and conversion rates.

There’s a good chance you already have video editing software installed on your computer. For Windows, that’s Windows Movie Maker, and for Macs, it’s iMovie. But depending on your particular skill set and what it is you’re trying to accomplish with your videos, you may find that these options aren’t packed with enough features.

The good news: There are several free video editing solutions you can download that run the gamut from super simple to Hollywood-level powerful. Use these to start making videos today.

9 Easy Video Editing Software to Use Today

1) Machete Video Editor Lite (Windows)

machete-lite-04-620x449.png

Source: Softonic

At the simple end of the spectrum is Machete Video Editor Lite, which allows you to cut, copy, and paste different sections of video. As the Machete website puts it, Video Editor Lite was “designed for quick and simple ‘slicing’ of your video files.”

The program’s intuitive interface means you won’t have to waste time shuffling through technical support documents. And because Video Editor Lite doesn’t re-encode your video files when you slice them, you don’t have to worry about losing video quality.

The main downsides to the program? It only supports the AVI and WMV video formats, and it doesn’t allow for audio editing. Still, if you have zero video editing experience and only need to make simple edits, it’s a great option.

2) Avidemux (Windows/Mac/Linux)

avidemux-screenshot-update.png

Source: Softonic

Like Machete Video Editor Lite, Avidemux allows you to do basic video editing (no audio editing) without having to worry about loss of video quality. But Avidemux also has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

For starters, the program supports multiple video formats, including AVI, DVD, MPEG, QuickTime, and MP4. What’s more, Avidemux comes with several filters that allow you to perform a host of different functions, from flipping and rotating clips, to adding subtitles, to adjusting colors and brightness levels.

And while the learning curve for Avidemux is slightly steeper compared to Machete Video Editor Lite, the upside is that there’s an extensive Avidemux wiki that covers everything you need to know.

3) WeVideo (Cloud-based)

we-video-editor-799465-edited.jpg

Source: WeVideo

Cloud-based video editing software (i.e., software that you access via a browser instead of downloading directly to your hard drive) is growing more and more popular. And one of the programs leading the charge is WeVideo.

Compared to the first two programs on this list, WeVideo definitely offers some more advanced features and functionality, including audio editing capabilities, a library of commercially licensed music, and the ability to share videos in 4K resolution. However, the free version of WeVideo isn’t without its limitations.

One major downside is that you’re only given 10GB of cloud storage. If you’re making a one-off video, this is fine. But if you’re planning to edit multiple videos, you’ll definitely need more space. The free version also puts a WeVideo watermark on your videos, which isn’t ideal.

For a complete breakdown of the differences between WeVideo’s free and paid options, check out its pricing page.

4) VSDC Free Video Editor (Windows)

vsdc-free-video-editor-screenshot.jpg

Source: Softonic

In experienced hands, the VSDC Free Video Editor can produce some seriously professional-looking video. In addition to supporting nearly every major video format, the program offers advanced video effects, including object transformation and color correction, as well as advanced audio effects like volume correction and sound normalization. And unlike WeVideo, the VSDC Free Video Editor is truly free. You can use the program’s full feature set without having to deal with pesky watermarks.

Unfortunately, there is one catch. If you want technical support, you need to pay. (And because there is a bit of a learning curve, there’s a good chance you’ll need to.) Support for the VSDC Free Video Editor costs $9.99 for one month and $14.99 for one year.

5) Wondershare Filmora (Windows/Mac)

wondershare-filmora.jpg

Source: Wondershare

Wondershare Filmora (formerly Wondershare Video Editor) is the perfect option if you want to start out with basic video editing functionality while also having the opportunity to get more advanced as you go.

The program’s “Easy Mode” strips away the complexity so you can drag and drop video clips, choose a pre-designed theme, add some music, and produce a finished video in a matter of minutes. Go into “Full Feature Mode,” however, and you’ll be able to do much, much more — from adding transitions, filters, and overlays, to playing video clips in reverse, to using split-screen effects.

Sound too good to be true? Well, you’re right: The free version of Wondershare Filmora adds a watermark to your videos that you can only remove through upgrading to their paid service.

6) Blender (Windows/Mac/Linux)

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Source: Blender

The open source program Blender is more than just a video editor: It’s a full-blown 3D animation suite, which allows for modeling, rendering, motion tracking, and more.

On the video editing side, there are a ton of features, including transitions, speed control, filters, adjustment layers, and more. There are also 32 slots available for adding video clips, audio clips, images, and effects, which means you can produce some incredibly complex video.

For the amateur video editor, all the functionality that’s available can be a bit overwhelming. But if you’re looking to produce truly professional-quality video — without having to deal with watermarks — Blender is a solid option. The best part: “You are free to use Blender for any purpose, including commercially or for education,” according to its website. For the fine print, check out its licensing info.

7) Lightworks (Windows/Mac/Linux)

lightworks.jpg

Source: ZDNet

Like Blender, Lightworks is definitely on the more advanced (and powerful) end of the video editing software spectrum. In fact, it’s a program that’s been used to edit some well-known and award-winning films, including Pulp Fiction, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The King’s Speech.

There are two different licenses you can choose from with Lightworks: “Free” and “Pro.” (The latter of which, as you might have guessed, requires that you cough up some cash.) The main difference between the two licenses is that the Pro version offers more features, including stereoscopic output and advanced project sharing. But the free version is still quite powerful, providing 100+ effects and supporting multicam editing.

8) Shotcut (Windows/Mac/Linux)

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Source: Shotcut

Shotcut is another open source video software — and it’s completely free. It’s possible to use Shotcut to create professional-looking videos, but the interface is tricky to use. Perhaps that’s because it was originally developed for the Linux platform, which looks and feels a lot different from the typical Windows or Mac UX.

With dedication — and time spent in the Shotcut frequently asked questions and how-to guide sections — it’s possible to use this software to create and export high-quality videos, completely for free.

9) HitFilm (Windows/Mac)

hitfilm screenshot.jpg

Source: HitFilm

HitFilm Express is a free video editing and visual effects software — which means you can use it to add more than 180 special effects to your videos, including 3D editing.

Possibly the coolest HitFilm feature is its wealth of tutorial videos — users can practice applying special visual effects in movie tutorials based on Star Wars, Westworld, and more.

Of course, upgrading to HitFilm Pro grants access to more visual effects, better high resolution and 3D rendering, and better audio syncing between audio and video files. It costs $349 for use on three computers, but if you’re not ready to fully invest, HitFilm Express users can purchase lower-cost expansions to use more tools in their software.

To see the complete list of differences between HitFilm Free and Pro, check out their “Compare Versions” page.

Free Guide Use Video in Buyer's Journey


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Aug

22

2017

What’s the Best Way to Write a Blog Post? Marketers Weigh In

I write content for the HubSpot Blog every day, and after more than a year of doing it, I like to think I have a good system.

It starts with drinking seltzer and listening to instrumental pop music, and it usually ends with a finished article. But I wondered if others might have better strategies and more efficient hacks than Polar’s Dragon Whispers seltzer and 2Cellos’ cover of “Despacito.”

So I asked the rest of my teammates about their processes — how they source ideas, and any of their hacks and tricks for putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard), and getting the job done.

Unsurprisingly, I got a lot of good advice — from not allowing yourself to delete anything written during the first draft, to saving the introduction and title for last — so I wanted to open up the discussion to a larger group of marketers on inbound.org.

Whether you’re an experienced blogger or are just getting started, I’ve compiled suggestions for every stage of the writing process — along with some general tips for writing clearly and concisely, staying focused, and knowing when you’re done writing.

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14 Helpful Blogging Tips

Sourcing Blog Post Ideas

1) Source inspiration from sites like Quora, Reddit, and inbound.org.

When you’re at the very beginning of the writing process and wondering what topic or idea you want to tackle, Paul Skah recommends finding out what types of questions your target audience is asking before getting started.

Sites like Quora, Reddit, and inbound.org, where people ask and discuss common questions and challenges, can inspire blog post ideas. Once you have an idea of what to write about, you can choose specific keywords to target.

2) Or, ask your colleagues and peers common questions to guide your blog post’s focus.

Shauna Ward recommends finding blog post inspiration by asking members of your own team what your audience wants to know. Whether you’re targeting your blog post to attract new visitors or help convert leads, your colleagues will give you the specific guidance you’re looking for.

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3) Don’t be afraid to freewrite if you have writer’s block.

My colleague Eric Peters recommends writing — about anything — if your blog post is having a slow start. In fact, morning freewriting has been recommended to improve general productivity for anyone.

Getting Started on New Posts

4) Start with a completely blank document and brain dump everything you know about a particular subject.

Caroline Cotto‘s method for starting the blog writing process is to do a brain dump — to write anything and everything you know about the subject in a blank document, and then, go back and find themes, arguments, and gaps in information to continue researching and writing about.

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5) Outline blog posts with a working title and headings to guide your brainstorming and writing as you go.

HubSpotter Emma Brudner, meanwhile, believes in starting out with a bit of guidance — namely, a title and headers to organize the blog post’s content as you write.

emma-quote.png

6) Do your research first, then bullet out main points, then write it all out.

My colleague Meg Prater has a different method — starting with research. After she thoroughly researches a blog post topic, she jots down the points and facts she wants to include in bullet format, then organizes them into an outlined version of the full blog post.

meg-quote.png

7) Write your introduction once your post has evolved.

Tatiana Morand advocates for saving the first for last — the introduction. Revisiting the introduction — once you’ve worked out your arguments, main points, and body content — can help ensure it captures the reader’s attention and sets them up for the rest of the blog post.

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Writing and Finishing Posts

8) Focus on clarity, not complexity.

HubSpot Marketing Blog Editor Karla Cook offered a plethora of writing advice below, but my favorite suggestion was to “focus on clarity, not complexity.”

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Instead of trying to write complex sentences using technical vocabulary and multiple phrases, write so your reader can get the necessary content as efficiently as possible. And that means writing sentences that are clear, concise, and get to the point — not necessarily in the most artistic fashion. Remember, you’re writing a blog post — not a short story.

9) Write first — delete later.

My fellow HubSpot bloggers Aja Frost and Amanda Zantal-Wiener are avid believers in banning the delete key while writing the first draft of a blog post. They advise to write as much as possible, even in stream-of-consciousness style, and then to go back and delete when it comes time to edit.

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10) Keep your writing process nimble. Take breaks and come back to content later if you need to.

Lydia Cockerham advises bloggers not to be afraid to take breaks or go on a writing marathon, depending on how the words and inspiration are flowing. She mixes longer and shorter writing chunks to take breaks and allow time to think and brainstorm during the process.

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11) But make sure you make decent progress before stepping away from a blog post to stay motivated.

On the other hand, Ivan Kreimer suggests not stopping until you’ve finished writing a certain number of words to keep yourself motivated and to complete your blog post in good time — his threshold is 750 words.

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12) Rely on multitasking to help you stay focused while writing.

Kenny Pattle uses multitasking to keep himself focused and on-track while writing blog posts — by setting 30-minute timers by completing other tasks on breaks. By planning other tasks and projects while working on a post, you can stay focused by the necessity to stay productive and get everything done.

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13) If music doesn’t work for you, create your own soundtrack.

Instrumental Britney Spears just isn’t for everyone, so Ward recommends skipping the tunes and creating your own ambient noise soundtrack to keep you focused while you write if music doesn’t help you stay focused.

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14) Come up with at least 5-10 title options to choose from.

Once you’ve finally finished your blog post, it’s time to get it ready for publication — and that means choosing a title. As the blog post evolves, so too does your original idea for it, and that includes your working title. Joe Goldstein recommends reviewing the finished blog post, creating as many as 10 of them, and choosing the best fit for the piece with multiple options in front of you.

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Aug

14

2017

Why the “Pivot to Video” Is Misguided

When I read that the average American spends five-and-a-half hours per day watching video content, I scoffed — because between video explainers on Facebook, Game of Thrones, and Netflix, that average is closer to my daily minimum time spent watching videos.

After all, 2017 is “the year of video” — so why shouldn’t people consume more videos, and why shouldn’t creators make more?

As it turns out, there is such a thing as too much video — and it happens when publishers “pivot to video.”

Click here to learn how to create and utilize video in your marketing to  increase engagement and conversion rates.

pivot gif friends.gif

No, not that kind of pivot. I’m talking about the “pivot to video.”

What is pivoting to video? No, it’s not changing seats on the couch to get a better view — it’s the latest example of marketers and content creators being so eager to adopt a new platform or medium that they ruin it.

What Is Pivoting to Video?

Pivot to video (verb): To decrease or entirely shutter written editorial operations to focus on creating more video content

Synonyms: restructuring, reorganizing, refocusing

If this sounds like a joke … well, the dictionary definition is kind of a joke. But “pivoting to video” consists of publications deciding to focus so entirely on video that entire writing and editorial staff are laid off completely.

It started with MTV News.

You might not be surpised to hear this — after all, the word “television” makes up two of the three letters in MTV. But after an organizational restructuring at MTV in 2015, long-form editorial and video content about politics, culture, and social issues helped improve the network’s ratings and engagement on web properties. MTV News staffed its team with content creators who produced documentary-style videos and 4,000-6,000-word long-form written pieces — most of whom were let go in June of this year, when MTV News “pivoted” to create more short-form music and entertainment video over long-form editorial pieces.

Twitter was flooded with tweets from former employees announcing their newfound employment status, friends calling for publishers to hire them, and content creators from all media decrying — and defending — the strategic pivot.

But the pivot didn’t stop there.

Over the past year thus far, several major publishers have pivoted, structured, reorganized, and refocused on creating video content — at the cost of writers’ and editors’ jobs. Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports, Vice, and HuffPost have all focused efforts on creating short-form video content — and all have laid off writers and editors. One publication — Vocativ — laid off its entire editorial staff “to focus exclusively on video content.”

In fact, “pivoting to video” has become such a ubiquitous term in the digital space that it’s become a joke in and of itself.

But funny tweets notwithstanding, we need to talk about why you shouldn’t pivot to video — at least, not fully.

What Pivoting to Video Is All About

Let’s call a spade a spade — publishers are pivoting to video to make money.

In the age of pre-roll and mid-roll advertising, it’s harder to ignore a video ad when it’s the only thing standing between you and a video you want to watch. Ads are easier to ignore when they live in the side margins and on top of written long-form articles, so publishers might see a greater opportunity to make money from placing video ads over video content.

And the biggest piece of the digital advertising pie now goes not to advertisers or publishers — but to Facebook and Google. So it’s understandable that media companies and publications are doing whatever they can to drive ROI on the content they produce.

But the pivot to video isn’t happening at random — these strategic reorganizations are also a nod to the growing popularity of video content, which we can’t deny — nor would we want to.

We’ve blogged at length about video being engaging, in-demand, and a smart way for brands to diversify content and connect with audiences in new ways. And making videos is smart — it just shouldn’t be the only content your brand produces.

It’s true that videos are growing in popularity — your audience wants to see videos, videos drive results for your business, and videos are an extremely favorable medium across different social media platforms. It’s also true that the human attention span is waning. But this doesn’t mean you should send your editorial staff packing. You don’t need to “pivot to video” to develop a smart video strategy as part of your content production engine — and we’ll show you how.

Why Pivoting to Video Is Bad (and What You Should Do Instead)

1) People like to read.

Setting aside for a moment the fact that the written word has been in existence for several thousand years (Thank you, Flinstone family), the popularity of video content and written content aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, audiences want more written content and more videos — so can’t we all just get along?

Last year, we learned that almost half of consumers want to see more video content — but almost the same amount also wanted to see more news articles.

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And in a new HubSpot Research survey forthcoming later this year, we learned that the popularity of video content is increasing — especially among people in their teens and early 20s. But people of all ages wanted to see more in-depth multimedia articles, ebooks, and blog posts, too — and you shouldn’t cast that segment of your audience aside in favor of solely creating content in the latest and most popular medium.

Content consumption preferences are always changing, and they vary across different age groups, content formats, and subject matter. There are some cases when the written word is a better way to share information than video content, and in some cases, audiences don’t want videos at all. For example, in the United States, NiemanLab found that video isn’t growing as rapidly as one might think.

In fact, roughly half of those surveyed didn’t watch any online news videos — and more than two-thirds said they consumed most news in text format. Most video being consumed was short and sweet and entertaining — leaving plenty of room at the table for written content consumption, too.

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So, people are watching videos, but they’re also consuming a lot of text content, too. How should publishers and content producers address the diversifying content preferences of audiences?

The Solution?

Make great videos, and write great articles. In fact, ideally, you should be writing articles and reports, and then incorporating videos and other multimedia elements into them. Give the people what they want — which is written, visual, and audio content.

Think about how your audience wants to learn. According to the survey above, people are more interested in consuming in-depth news information by reading it, whereas they might be more interested in watching shorter, more consumable video content. While a video might be a good fit for briefly explaining a complicated topic, it might not be the best fit for a detailed breakdown of SEO best practices — like in these examples.

If you don’t know the answer to this question, ask your audience. If you’re not sure about your industry or audience’s preferences, ask them. Using an email newsletter or a Twitter poll, ask questions like, “What would you most like us to produce a video about?” or “Do you prefer written or visual explainers?” to figure out where to get started.

The answer to the question of what types of content your audience prefers is an evolving one — and one that we constantly experiment with here at HubSpot. Read about how we’re changing up our social media video strategy in this blog post.

2) Videos are hard to make.

Videos are hard to make — and it shows.

The internet is populated with far too many slideshows and photos set to music that are masquerading as videos — like this one:

Videos like these don’t offer the viewer much more value than reading a story would, but publishers keep making them — presumably because they get more clicks on social media than an article would.

I don’t know about you, but I find these videos extremely annoying — they either autoplay when I open an article, or I click them to learn more and get no additional information out of them.

Instead, publishers and brands should be striving to make great videos — which are driven by great stories. You need good storytelling to create a compelling video, and — guess what? That will require the writing of a script or outline beforehand, and writers and editors can be of tremendous value there.

Additionally, if you remember our finding above, audiences don’t just want one thing — they want it all. Consumers want multimedia articles, in-depth research reports, blog posts, and entertaining videos. There’s plenty of room for cross-collaboration between writers, editors, and video producers to create excellent content that solves for constantly-changing consumer preferences.

The Solution?

Before implementing a video strategy, invest in resources to do it well, and experiment with creating different videos for different segments of your audience.

This means taking the time (and resources) to invest in video equipment, filming, and editing software, and freelancers or new employees who can make videos — more specifically, who can make videos well.

By investing in video content up front, you’ll ensure that your entire content production team is firing on all cylinders and creating video content that can both eventually rank in search results, and generate millions of views organically — not just as an ad.

3) Videos are tough to distribute.

With the exception of a few major publications — with content production budgets in the millions — it’s hard to crack the code of not only how to make great videos, but how to monetize them and use them to drive leads, customers, and revenue.

That’s partly because digital video is such a new content medium, and content creators are figuring out how to make great videos (see above). It’s also because Google search ranking factors and social media algorithms change so frequently that it’s hard to nail getting videos surfaced and seen by people on different platforms.

And now that more people are jumping on the video content creation bandwagon, search engines and social networks are getting saturated with more videos to compete against.

So you might think that video creation is the hard part, but that’s just the beginning. It takes concerted effort for videos to rank in YouTube and Google search results, or to rack up thousands and millions of views on Instagram and Facebook. And even if you do everything right, there could be a bunch of reasons people don’t want to watch your videos — they might not want to turn up the volume, they might be running low on their monthly data plan, or hey — they could even be sitting on the toilet.

People have their preferences, and in our forthcoming survey, we found that consumers want to watch video content and read in-depth news and research content — and that they want to watch videos on social media. Millions of hours of video content are streamed across social platforms every day, but these popular social videos might not generate leads at the speed a growing business needs.

So, we suggest creating multimedia content that serves a variety of purposes on a variety of different platforms. For example, keyword-specific blog posts and YouTube videos might quickly rank in Google and YouTube searches, to help drive visitors to landing pages and lead forms that help brands start selling. On the other hand, entertaining, short-form videos on Facebook and Instagram will help spread a brand’s message and attract more people to a website down the line.

If you’re just getting started with video marketing, we have ideas for the type of video you should make first. Use them to help guide visitors along your marketing funnel — alongside written content and offers to capture lead information.

The Solution?

Make specific types of videos for specific platforms in the same way you would for different types of written content. That way, the videos you create will have specific goals in mind — for example, video views, video view rate, or website clicks — that you can measure and iterate on.

Videos achieve outcomes on social media that written content might not, and written content can achieve search engine rankings that videos might not. The best scenario is to create both types of content — along with multimedia content — to meet audiences’ ever-changing preferences, and to attract visitors and leads throughout the marketing funnel.

Free Guide Use Video in Buyer's Journey

Images: Tumblr, HubSpot Research, NiemanLab

 
Free Guide Use Video in Buyer's Journey

Aug

8

2017

10 Examples of Successful Co-Branding Partnerships (And Why They’re So Great)

Who else loved baking brownies when they were a kid? My favorite part was drizzling the chocolate syrup on top as a finishing touch.

As it turns out, one of my beloved childhood memories was a product of co-branding: Betty Crocker partnered with Hershey’s to include chocolate syrup in its signature brownie recipe.

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There’s something brilliant about that co-branded product: It’s a fun way to marry two classic brands into one delicious experience for fans of baking and chocolate alike. In fact, these brands still create new co-branded products to this day.

Co-branding is a strategic marketing and advertising partnership between two brands wherein the success of one brand brings success to its partner brand, too. Co-branding can be an effective way to build business, boost awareness, and break into new markets, and for a partnership to truly work, it has to be a win-win for all players in the game. Both audiences need to find value — like chocolate-loving fans of Betty Crocker and Hershey’s.

There are a ton of great examples of co-branding partnerships out there — too many to list in one post. Below, we’ve curated a list of 10 examples of great co-branding partnerships to inspire you.

10 Examples of Great Co-Branding Partnerships

1) GoPro & Red Bull: “Stratos”

GoPro doesn’t just sell portable cameras, and Red Bull doesn’t just sell energy drinks. Instead, both have established themselves as lifestyle brands — in particular, a lifestyle that’s action-packed, adventurous, fearless, and usually pretty extreme. These shared values make them a perfect pairing for co-branding campaigns, especially those surrounding action sports.

To make the partnership work, GoPro equips athletes and adventurers from around the world with the tools and funding to capture things like races, stunts, and action sport events on video — from the athlete’s perspective. At the same time, Red Bull uses its experience and reputation to run and sponsor these events.

“GoPro camera technology is allowing us to complement the programming by delivering new athlete perspectives that have never been seen before,” said Sean Eggert, Red Bull’s director of sports marketing. The collaboration allows exclusive GoPro content to enhance both companies’ growth.

While GoPro and Red Bull have collaborated on many events and projects together, perhaps the biggest collaboration stunt they’ve done was “Stratos,” in which Felix Baumgartner jumped from a space pod more than 24 miles above Earth’s surface with a GoPro strapped to his person. Not only did Baumgartner set three world records that day, but he also embodied the value of reimagining human potential that define both GoPro and Red Bull.

2) Pottery Barn & Sherwin-Williams: Color Your Room

One of the biggest benefits of co-branding campaigns is the opportunity to expose your product or service to a brand new audience. That’s exactly what home furnishing store Pottery Barn and paint company Sherwin-Williams did when they partnered together back in 2013.

Together, the two brands created an exclusive product line of paints, and then added a new section of Pottery Barn’s website that helped customers easily select paint colors to complement their furniture choices.

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Source: Pottery Barn

Customers could coordinate paint colors with picture-perfect Pottery Barn furniture for a mutually beneficial partnership — and style assistance for both brands’ customers to boot. “Paint Landing,” Pottery Barn’s landing page for the partnership, contains helpful blog posts and how-to ideas for do-it-yourself painting and decorating.

3) Casper & West Elm: Test a Casper Mattress

You may have already heard of Casper — it’s an online mattress and bedding brand that sells mattresses in a box.

Casper mattress unboxing videos like this one have become a hit on YouTube, but despite the brand’s 100-day return policy, some shoppers might still be hesitant to buy a mattress without getting the chance to roll around in it first.

Enter West Elm, a high-end furniture company. Casper and West Elm partnered so shoppers could try out the comfy mattress before purchasing — and so West Elm could advertise its chic bedroom furniture.

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Source: Casper

This is another example of a mutually beneficial co-branding partnership. It helps both brands appeal to a broader group of shoppers — after all, Casper doesn’t sell furniture, and West Elm doesn’t sell mattresses. It also provides shoppers with options — to try a mattress before buying, or to feel what it would be like sleeping in a bed frame.

4) Bonne Belle & Dr. Pepper: Flavored Lip Balm

Dr. Pepper-flavored lip balm. I mean, it’s genius.

Bonne Belle first debuted Lip Smacker, the world’s first flavored lip balm, in 1973, starting with flavors like strawberry, lemon, and green apple. Just two years later in 1975, they’d forged their first flavor partnership with the timeless Dr. Pepper brand. The result? A lip balm flavor that’s been famous for decades among teenage girls.

If you’re thinking the connection between lip balm and Dr. Pepper is a little thin, consider the copy on one of their vintage ads: “It’s the super shiny lip gloss with lip-smacking flavor… just like the world’s most original soft drink.” And later, “From Bonne Belle of course: the cosmetics company that understands your taste.”

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Source: Click Americana

5) BMW & Louis Vuitton: The Art of Travel

Car manufacturer BMW and designer Louis Vuitton may not be the most obvious of pairings. But if you think about it, they have a few important things in common. If you focus on Louis Vuitton’s signature luggage lines, they’re both in the business of travel. They both value luxury. And finally, they’re both well-known, traditional brands that are known for high-quality craftsmanship.

These shared values are exactly why this co-branding campaign makes so much sense. In their partnership, BMW created a sports car model called the BMW i8, while Louis Vuitton designed an exclusive, four-piece set of suitcases and bags that fit perfectly into the car’s rear parcel shelf.

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Source: Louis Vuitton

Although the four-piece luggage set goes for a whopping $20,000, the price is right for the target customer, as the BMW i8 starts at $135,700. A price like that kind of makes that luggage set seem like a drop in the bucket.

Not only does the luggage fit perfectly size-wise, but its design and appearance fit perfectly with BMW’s image: sleek, masculine, and high-quality. Turns out both the luggage and some parts of the car’s interior use carbon fiber, strong-yet-light composite material.

“This collaboration with BMW i epitomises our shared values of creativity, technological innovation and style,” said Patrick-Louis Vuitton, head of special orders at Louis Vuitton. “Our craftsmen have enjoyed the challenge of this very special project, using their ingenuity and attention to detail to create a truly made to measure set of luxury luggage. This is a pure expression of the art of travel.”

6) Uber & Spotify: Soundtrack for Your Ride

Music-streaming app Spotify partnered with ride-hailing app Uber to create “a soundtrack for your ride.” This is a great example of a co-branding partnership between two very different products with very similar goals — to earn more users.

Here’s how it works: When riders are waiting for an Uber ride, they’re prompted to connect with Spotify and become the DJ of their trip. Users can choose from their own playlists to determine what they’ll listen to.

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Source: The Verge

This smart co-branding partnership helps fans of Uber and Spotify alike enjoy better experiences thanks to the app. And they might be more interested in picking Uber and Spotify over competitors knowing they can enjoy their next ride listening to their favorite tunes.

7) BuzzFeed & Best Friends Animal Society

Some co-branding campaigns are more complicated than others. This example from BuzzFeed and Best Friends Animal Society is one of the simplest ones out there — and it goes to show a great co-branding effort doesn’t have to take months of planning or millions of dollars.

For this campaign, the folks at Best Friends Animal Society wanted to leverage BuzzFeed’s readership of over 200 million people. To do this, they partnered with the folks at BuzzFeed to set up and publish an article called, “We Interviewed Emma Watson While She Played With Kittens And It Was Absolutely Adorable,” which you can read here. The article is exactly what it sounds like: Harry Potter and Beauty and the Beast star Emma Watson answered fans’ questions while she played with cute kittens.

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Source: BuzzFeed

The article ends with a CTA advertising that the kittens featured in the video are, in fact, adoptable — a win-win for both partners.

8) Alexander Wang & H&M

Anyone who’s designer-conscious knows Alexander Wang and H&M aren’t exactly the same caliber when it comes to quality. Shoes by Alexander Wang tend to go for around $350 a pair, whereas shoes sold by H&M tend to go for more like $35 a pair. See what I mean?

But that discrepancy in pricing is exactly why the two brands decided to partner with one another. To support their brand positioning as trendy and fashionable, H&M has traditionally paired with high-end fashion brands to offer exclusive branded items for a limited time.

In exchange, those high-end brands — like Alexander Wang — can expose their brand name to “a new generation of potential consumers, who will increasingly aspire to owning more pieces from his high end collection,” writes Michelle Greenwald for Forbes.

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Source: Snobette

9) CoverGirl & Lucasfilm: Light Side and Dark Side Makeup

Whenever a new installment of the beloved “Star Wars” series is released in theaters, it causes global pandemonium, and the release of “Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens” in 2015 was no exception. The series’ parent company, Lucasfilm, partnered with CoverGirl to capture a broader audience to get fans new and old excited about the movie’s release.

You might be wondering, “What do “Star Wars” and makeup have in common?” And the cleverness of this partnership is evident in the answer.

In the past, the space-age action movies were almost exclusively advertised and targeted toward men and boys. But in this day and age, that’s nonsense — because people of all genders can be interested in space exploration and makeup contouring alike.

The line was designed by famed makeup artist Pat McGrath, and it features two styles: the Light Side and the Dark Side, which loyal “Star Wars” fans will recognize as the sides of good and evil in the movies.

 

In a galaxy far, far away @COVERGIRL+@StarWars have partnered on beauty looks created by @patmcgrathreal and limited-edition makeup inspired by #StarWars #TheForceAwakens. It’s a #beautyforce like never before, channeling the duality that is within us all. #LightSide, #DarkSide—which will you unleash today? #droid #stormtrooper

A post shared by COVERGIRL (@covergirl) on Aug 13, 2015 at 6:59am PDT

This co-branding partnership was a win for both brand. Lucasfilm captured more attention and got CoverGirl shoppers (many of whom are young women) excited about the film’s release. And CoverGirl hopped on the “Star Wars” advertising bandwagon that took over the internet, stores, and TV leading up to the film’s release.

10) Nike & Apple: Nike+

Athletic brand Nike and technology giant Apple have been working together since the early 2000s, when the first line of iPods was released.

The co-branding partnership started as a way to bring music from Apple to Nike customers’ workouts using the power of technology: Nike+iPod created fitness trackers and sneakers and clothing that tracked activity while connecting people to their tunes.  

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Source: Apple

The partnership has since evolved to become Nike+ — which uses activity tracking technology built into athletic clothing and gear to sync with Apple iPhone apps to track and record workout data. Tracking transmitters can be built into shoes, armbands, and even basketballs to measure time, distance, heart rate, and calories burned.

It’s a genius co-branding move that helps both parties provide a better experience to customers — and with the popularity of fitness tracking technology, Nike+ is ahead of the curve by making it easy for athletes to track while they play.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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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:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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