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May

23

2017

10 Job Interview Questions to Stop Asking Candidates

Published by in category Daily, hiring, Office Life | Comments are closed

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When I get a job interview, there’s a lot to prepare. I diligently research the company and my interviewers, pore over Glassdoor interview questions, and print out copies of my resume and portfolio.

When I interview someone else, it’s easier to prepare. I don’t have to put together the perfect outfit, I don’t have to worry about how to find the restroom, and at the end of the day, I don’t have to worry about if I got the job or not.

Download our free guide here for more interviewing and screening tips to build  your team.

A quick Google Search for job interview questions brings up some of the most common asks you might have already answered 20 times over the course of your career. They’re popular, but that doesn’t mean they’re good questions. In fact, they could be hurting your chances of the candidate accepting an offer.

Nobody wants to feel stressed out, put on the spot, or tricked during a job interview. After all, you wouldn’t want to experience that in your day-to-day job, so why do we demand it of candidates?

Be mindful of the different personality types, cultures, and backgrounds that are applying for open roles at your company, and consider retiring some of the more common interview questions in your arsenal. Instead, try these alternatives that might give you more helpful information about the candidate — without making them feel awkward in the process.

10 Job Interview Questions to Stop Asking (and What to Ask Instead)

1) What can you tell me about yourself?

You might be surprised to see such a traditional interview question at the top of our list, but it’s not as great of an opener as you might think. In fact, from the candidate’s perspective, it might tell them that you haven’t read their résumé, browsed their portfolio, or checked out their LinkedIn profile. Candidates don’t want to brief you on their entire job history during the short time they have to make a first impression — they want to have a conversation.

Instead, ask a question based on what stood out to you most from their resume and application. Show the candidate you’re taking them seriously and want to learn more about them, beyond what’s on paper.

2) Why are you leaving your current job?

This question could lead to an awkward answer that doesn’t cast the candidate in their best light. The answer could be highly personal, and it isn’t that helpful for learning more about the candidate.

Instead, ask them about their favorite part and biggest challenge of their current role. You’ll learn more about their priorities, dealbreakers, and culture fit — without the conversation becoming too negative.

3) What’s the project you’re most proud of?

It’s useful to learn what projects a candidate enjoys working on most, but you could take this question further by asking something broader. 

Instead, ask them to talk about how they produced a piece of work with multiple different teams. The answer will reveal how they work dynamically and as a project manager — useful traits for most marketing and sales teams.

4) What’s your biggest weakness?

Simply put, it’s presumptuous to assume that you understand what a candidate’s perceived weaknesses are. The answer could exclude candidates from other cultures or industries who aren’t familiar with yours, and it puts candidates in a negative state of mind.

Instead, ask them to describe a challenge they faced in a role and how they handled it. The answer will teach you more about their problem-solving skills, without putting them in the awkward position of personal self-reflection.

5) What’s your five-year career plan?

HubSpot Inbound Recruiting Manager Hannah Fleishman has made more inclusive hiring her mission, and she suggests replacing this interview question. “It can be a loaded question, especially for women, professionals who are thinking of starting a family, and even aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a company one day.”

Instead, Fleishman suggests asking candidates a more specific question: “How does this role fit into your long-term career plans?” The answer will give you the information you’re really looking for — if the role and your organization present opportunities for them to grow.

6) What makes you passionate about your work?

Candidates don’t have to be passionate to be successful in a role. Sure, it helps — but passion is such a subjective topic, it’s not necessary for a job interview.

Instead, ask them what makes them passionate about a company. The answer will tell you about their culture priorities and if they’ll fit with the larger team they’ll be working with.

7) Are you a team player?

Generally speaking, we advise against asking yes or no questions. Open-ended questions are more conversational and will give you more information about the candidate.

When it comes to this question, the answer is valuable, but a candidate is unlikely to self-identify as an individual worker. Likewise, your company probably doesn’t have any roles that are completely solitary — everyone has to attend meetings or work on campaigns at some point.

Instead, ask the candidate what their ideal team dynamic is. You’ll get the same answer you’re looking for — if they work well with others — while allowing them to elaborate on their preferred working environment.

8) How many people do you think flew out of JFK Airport last year?

Brain teasers might be entertaining to ask — and they might teach you a thing or two about a candidate’s problem-solving abilities — but brain teasing questions like this one create too much stress for the candidate. They’re usually ridiculously hard to solve and put the candidate on the spot — without revealing a ton of helpful information.

Instead, ask the candidate how they’d solve a problem that’s common on your team. The answer will be more useful, and it won’t take the candidate by surprise.

9) Sell me this pen.

If you’re hiring for a sales role, you should know: “Sell me this pen” has become such a frequently-asked question, it can be easily answered in a quick Google search before the interview. It might not give you the candidate’s true selling abilities — something you need to know before investing time and resources in training them.

Instead, ask them how they would handle a common roadblock your sales team faces. The answer will prove if they’ve done their research, and it will give you an idea of their persuasion skills if they were on a call. 

10) What’s your salary history?

Fleishman also suggests avoiding questions or discussions of salary or benefits until an offer has been extended to the candidate. “Salary history shouldn’t determine what a candidate’s offer package is,” she says. “This question can actually discriminate against minorities who are more likely to be under-compensated compared to their peers — which is why cities in New York and Massachusetts have banned it from interviews.”

Instead, scratch this question altogether from your list altogether.

The interview is only one piece of the puzzle for the candidate, but by asking more thoughtfully-phrased questions, you could be doing yourself and the candidate a favor. For more recruiting and hiring ideas for your next open marketing position, download our free ebook.

What’s a common job interview question you wish would be retired? Share with us in the comments below.

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May

23

2017

The Top 8 Ways B2B Brands Are Reaching Customers in 2017 [Infographic]

Published by in category Daily, Inbound Marketing | Comments are closed

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“Being a B2B marketer is a piece of cake,” said no one, ever. “A real walk in the park. Easy-peasy.”

The truth is, no marketer has it easy — but sometimes, it seems like B2B marketers have it especially tough. Their work doesn’t always get the same kind of spotlight that B2C marketing might, especially when it comes to things like word-of-mouth. Industry figures reflect this: Only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing, for example.

But that’s not to say being a B2B marketer has to be tremendously difficult. And there’s no reason why it can’t be fun, too. It seems like much of that success exists in marketing to the customer — not entirely unlike account-based marketing. That’s the philosophy behind Koyne’s 2017 State of Customer Marketing Report:

Customer marketing is not just renewal or repeat purchase efforts, but the complete set of activities undertaken by a company following a customer’s purchase of products and services in order to help those customers be successful and productive, as well as advocate for the company.”

Sounds good — but what does that look like? What are some of the best ways for B2B marketers to execute customer marketing, and why? To answer that question, Digital Marketing Philippines pulled some of the most interesting data from Koyne’s report and compiled it into the infographic below. Read on to learn more.


B2B Customer Marketing Trends


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May

23

2017

15 Fashion Brands You Should Follow on Instagram for Marketing Inspiration

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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No other B2C industry has thrived on Instagram quite like the fashion industry.

Between their carefully curated photos, expertly targeted ads, and decisive adoption of Instagram Stories, fashion and beauty brands have become masters of consumer engagement on the visual content platform. And brands from any industry could learn a thing or two from these inspirational feeds. 

Back in 2015, business intelligence firm L2 found that fashion and beauty brands were growing their community size and engagement rates on Instagram at a rapid rate. 


Source:
Digiday

The L2 report also found that among fashion and beauty brands, Instagram had firmly become the social media platform of choice — far outranking Facebook and Twitter.


Source:
L2

In 2017, the industry’s love affair with Instagram isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Digiday recently checked in with a number of fashion and beauty social media insiders at SXSW’s Decoded Fashion and Create & Cultivate events, confirming that Instagram remains a top priority in their digital marketing strategies.

“Instagram is always a priority for us,” Rosi Sanchez, a social media strategist at Fossil, told Digiday. “We have more reach and a larger new follower group there, so it leads to more conversions. Until we get to 1.5 million or 2 million followers, it’s going to be our number one priority.”

Fossil isn’t alone. Social media strategists from more established brands like L’Oréal USA, Shopbop, and Murad also indicated that Instagram was their top social media priority for the foreseeable future.

Brands from any industry looking to level up their visual storytelling chops should keep a close eye on fashion brands for inspiration. To help get you started, we’ve compiled a list of 15 fashion accounts — both big and small — who are crushing the Instagram game. Take a look below, and start planning your next big Instagram push. For a deeper dive on how to build a presence on Instagram, check out our complete guide to Instagram marketing

15 Fashion Brands to Follow on Instagram

1) Everlane @everlane

While Everlane’s account has no shortage of beautiful product imagery, they also feature photos of their customers wearing Everlane clothes, inspiring travel photography, and tips on food and art destinations in different cities around the world. 

  
 

2) Nike @nike

The behemoth athletic brand has enthusiastically embraced video content, and can be regularly found sharing clips with their impressive 7.1 million follows on Instagram. Their feed features a motivational mix of professional athletes and regular, everyday fitness enthusiasts. 

  
 

3) Teva @teva

Teva’s Instagram feed is perfect proof that it’s possible to give your brand a modern update without losing the spirit of what made you successful in the first place. Their feed includes customer-generated photos of their sandals out in the wild, as well as sleek product shots highlighting their new styles. 

  
 

4) Zara @zara

Zara has made a name for itself by emulating the marketing of more expensive, luxury brands, and their Instagram feed is no exception. Their account looks like a high-fashion magazine, with professional editorial shots of their men’s and women’s styles.

  
 

5) Fossil @fossil

If you like photos of neatly organized items, then Fossil’s Instagram is definitely for you. The accessories brand curates an impressive feed of food, fashion, and celebrity influencers like Kristen Bell. 

  
 

6) Kate Spade @katespadeny

Despite being a well-established label, Kate Spade’s Instagram has a distinct personal touch that sets it apart from similar brands. Their social media manager shares daily outfit pictures, snaps from around New York, and behind-the-scenes shots of the design process at the Kate Spade studio.

  
 

7) Fjällräven @fjallravenofficial

The Instagram feed for Swedish outdoor apparel brand Fjällräven is less about their products, and more about the adventurous spirit that has defined the company for almost 60 years. 

  
 

8) Madewell @madewell

Apparel brand Madewell is known for their relaxed, classic styles, and their Instagram clearly reflects this aesthetic. With bright, sunny images of their latest products and collaborations with brands like Vans, their feed is a fashion lover’s delight. 

  
 

9) The Row @therow

Another account that focuses less on their products and more on visual inspiration, The Row features vintage photos of art, architecture, and fashion — only occasionally sharing images of their actual products. 

  
 

10) Asos @asos

British online fashion and beauty retailer Asos keeps their feed updated regularly with colorful and bold product images and editorial snaps from their latest campaigns. 

  
 

11) Aerie @aerie

Scrolling through Aerie’s Instagram feed is like taking a tropical beach getaway. The lingerie and bathing suit brand has been applauded for their commitment to unretouched photos in their print ads, and they continue the effort on their Instagram account by celebrating a diverse range of women and body-positive messages. 

  
 

12) Eileen Fisher @eileenfisherny

Eileen Fisher keeps the emphasis on their quality materials and environmentally friendly production processes Instagram presence. By featuring images of women from all walks of life, they prove that style is truly ageless. 

  
 

13) Anthropologie @anthropologie

With colorful close-ups of their brightly patterned styles, Anthropologie’s feed is a visual smorgasbord of inspiration. We especially love the travel shots featuring their clothes around the world. 

  
 

14) Girlfriend Collective @girlfriendcollective

This leggings startup has yet to even officially launch a full collection of clothing, but they already boast an impressive 60.2k followers on Instagram. Thanks to a free leggings promotion they advertised earlier this year on Instagram and Facebook, the brand has enjoyed explosive social media growth. Their feed keeps customers engaged with stunning product photography of their minimal styles, and screencaps from inspirational movies.

  
 

15) J.Crew @jcrew

J.Crew has mastered the art of follower engagement on Instagram. With daily-updated Stories and regular contests to select new styles for clothes and accessories, their vibrant feed keeps customers inspired and interested.

  
 

What fashion brands do you follow on Instagram? Let us know in the comments.

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

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May

20

2017

7 Design Podcasts That'll Get the Creative Juices Flowing

Published by in category Daily, Design | Comments are closed

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If you’ve worked among designers, or are one yourself, there’s something that’s quickly observed: Designers, it seems, are often working with their headphones on.

Much of the time, that’s the result of creative work presenting an opportunity to plug in, and tune out distractions. Whether it helps you focus, or you’re signaling to colleagues that you don’t want to be bothered, or you just think headphones look cool, many creative professionals appreciate a little welcomed background noise.

But what’s everyone listening to? And could that auditory activity serve as a learning opportunity? 

While listening to music on the job has been known to improve workplace performance, podcasts serve as a great way for graphic designers — and many other creative professionals — to both learn something new and get inspired as they work. But there are dozens of podcasts out there, even on design alone. So to save you some of the trouble of previewing every show, we’ve collected a list of 10 interesting design podcasts that you can start listening to, right now.

7 of the Best Podcasts for Graphic Designers

1) Design Matters With Debbie Millman

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud

Design Matters with Debbie Millman

Design Matters was, according to Debbie Millman’s website, the “world’s first podcast” dedicated to design. With 281 episodes available at the time of writing this post, there’s no shortage of inspiring insights to be extracted from interviews with artists from every point on the creative spectrum.

Listen to this podcast if:

  • You usually listen to music while you’re working, but want to learn something from a podcast instead.
  • You’re curious about the intersection of design and business.

2) 99% Invisible

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud

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Serving as a “weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture,” podcast episodes from 99% Invisible don’t just scratch the surface of a dozen topics in a limited time frame. Instead, host Roman Mars uses each installation as an opportunity to dive head-first into one, single unconventional topic. Think: how the design of electricity grids, nature documentaries, and shipping containers work.

Listen to this podcast if:

  • You’re the type of person who observes design everywhere — whether it’s during your commute or while staring at a row of condiments.
  • You want to know how every corner of design — including architecture and engineering — influence marketing aesthetics.

3) Adventures in Design

iTunes | libsyn | SoundCloud

adventures in design

“As a department of one,” writes one iTunes reviewer of Adventures in Design, “it’s nice to hear others ‘talk shop’ and not censor themselves.” 

Launched in 2013, this podcast is one that focuses on the projects, process, and inspirational ramblings of its talented guests — from logo design, to the struggles of finding and working with clients. And those guests? Well, they’ve ranged from hockey legends to the global creative director of an international athletic apparel brand.

Listen to this podcast if:

  • You feel a bit isolated in your design work, and want insights from the folks who get you.
  • You work with a variety of clients and want to gain inspiration from a number of industries.

4) The Deeply Graphic DesignCast

iTunes

Deeply Graphic DesignCast

When it comes to tangible, immediately applicable advice, the Deeply Graphic DesignCast is a go-to resource for many creative professionals. Hosted by no less than six design professionals, the content comes with a diverse set of insights from each one’s real-world experience. That makes sense — it’s the product of web consulting agency The Deep End. Judging from the broad array of episode topics, from working with subcontractors to designing a mood board, these folks have seen it all … and, they’re sharing it with the world.

Listen to this podcast if:

  • You could stand to hear some expertise from client-facing designers.
  • You work in an agency setting and want to hear from like-minded professionals.

5) The Accidental Creative

iTunes | Stitcher

Accidental Creative

One of the coolest things about The Accidental Creative is that it seems to have come about, well, by accident. It’s the product of (and hosted by) author Todd Henry — an expert, speaker, and consultant on design, architecture, and other applications of creative work in business. That content is reflected in the podcast itself, with subject matter ranging from productivity tips for creative professionals, to explaining your job to non-designers.

Listen to this podcast if:

  • You could use the help of a creative consultant, but can’t quite pay for it yet.
  • You’re great at what you do, but want to know how to be even better.

6) Typeradio

iTunes | Stitcher

Accidental Creative

It’s a bit difficult to classify exactly what Typeradio is about, and it seems that its creators wish to keep it that way. The website and production alike are no-frills, and it appears to be recorded all over the place: Moscow, Amsterdam, and via Skype, to name a few.

Each episode seems to explore different issues experienced by designers around the world, from their work, to their interpersonal relationships at work and at home — the September 2016 episode with graphic and type designer Ilya Ruderman explores everything between his “first typographic memory,” and how his relationship with his wife influences both his routine and creative work.

Listen to this podcast if:

  • You want to listen to something that, as one iTunes reviewer put it, “Often revelatory. Sometimes silly and irreverent. Usually very entertaining.”
  • You’re looking for audible design content that’s profoundly unpretentious.

7) Design Story

iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud

Design Story

Does it sometimes seem like B2C designers get to have all the fun? It doesn’t have to be that way — we know that B2B design can be just as exciting, and that both categories can draw ideas from each other.

That’s why we love Design Story — the monthly podcast from Fulcrum, an agency that helps clients align their business policies and creative goals. And that’s what each episode does, by exploring and sharing the stories behind the point where design intersects with things that we traditionally see as leaving little room for creativity: science and leadership, for example.

Listen to this podcast if:

  • You’re a creative designer who also wants to succeed in business — or a manager who wants to better leverage and embrace creativity.
  • You love both data and good stories, and love it when they’re combined.

Tune In

Got those headphones ready? Good. It’s time to start listening.

One common thread that surfaces among all of these podcasts is their shared relatability. Each one explores the trials and tribulations of people with heavy exposure to design at work and at home, and who want to share how those experiences can benefit other creative professionals.

So, what do you say? Let’s turn up the volume.

What are your favorite design podcasts? Let us know in the comments.

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

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May

20

2017

9 of the Biggest Google I/O Keynote Announcements

Published by in category Daily, SEO | Comments are closed

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Each year, bonafide tech geeks and enthusiasts gather or tune in for one of the biggest events of the year: Google I/O, the search giant’s annual developer conference.

It’s a learning opportunity for many, with sessions and talks creating what Google describes as “an immersive experience focused on exploring the next generation of tech.”

But it’s the annual opening keynote that really has everyone paying the most attention. That’s when the company’s leadership, from the CEO to various VPs, unveils and describes the newest technologies, devices, and product features released by Google. Download our guide on how to advertise on Google for free now.

If you missed this year’s opening keynote, fear not: We’ve got you covered with the nine biggest announcements from it. And each month, we’ll continue to bring you a digest of what big Google news you may have missed. So read on — and stay tuned.

What You Missed From the Google I/O Opening Keynote

1) Google Lens

Anyone else remember this video from July 2015?

As “La Bamba” plays in the background, mobile device cameras hover over various words that are then translated into another language. It was a preview of something huge — something that’s finally come to fruition: Google Lens.

There are those moments when you see something that you don’t recognize — like a bird or plant, or perhaps a new cafe somewhere — but can’t identify specifically what it is. Now, with Google Lens, all you have to do is point your camera at it to get the details you want. Check out this super short video to see how that works with a storefront:

Source: Google

But it doesn’t stop with plant species and restaurant information. With this technology, you can also join a home WiFi network by hovering the camera over the name and password. From there, you’ll be prompted with the option to automatically connect.

According to TechCrunch, Lens will be integrated with Google Assistant — “users will be able to launch Lens and insert a photo into the conversation with the Assistant, where it can process the data the photo contains.” That’s a pretty concise summary of what the Lens technology is able to do: understand what a photo means. During the keynote, Google’s VP of Engineering, Scott Huffman, used the example of being able to add concert information to your calendar by taking a Lens photo of the marquee.

google-io-2017-0141.jpgSource: TechCrunch

2) Google for Jobs

google-io-2017-0362.jpgSource: TechCrunch

Anyone who’s ever undertaken a job search knows that there’s an overwhelming number of outlets where openings are listed. “Wouldn’t it be nice,” many job seekers asked, “if all of this information were readily available in one, central place?”

Ask, and ye shall receive. Google set out to synthesize job listings from a number of posting sites — as it’s wont to do, after all — and display it within search results. From there, writes Jessica Guynn for USA Today, “job hunters will be able to explore the listings across experience and wage levels by industry, category and location, refining these searches to find full or part-time roles or accessibility to public transportation.”

Google for Jobs addresses “the challenge,” said Google CEO Sundar Pichai during the keynote, “of connecting job seekers to better information on job availability.” It helps to make the application process that much more seamless, by pulling listings from both third-party boards and employers, and sending users who find a listing that interests them directly to the site where they can apply for it.

3) Google.ai

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 9.39.34 AM.pngSource: Google

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of those inevitably cool areas of technology that’s talked about by many, but thoroughly understood by — or available to — few. That was part of the motivation behind the launch of Google.ai, or what TechCrunch describes as an “initiative to democratize the benefits of the latest in machine learning research.”

In a way, the site serves as a centralized resource for much of Google’s work in the realm of AI, from news and documentation on its latest projects and research, to opportunities to “play with” some of the experimental technology. Much like the open source software TensorFlow, which allows aspiring AI developers to create new applications, a major point of Google.ai is open access to the documentation that helps professionals from a variety of industries — like medicine and education — use AI to improve the work they do.

4) Google Assistant Is Coming to the iPhone

Starting today, we’re bringing the #GoogleAssistant to iPhones. Whether at home or on the go, your Assistant is here to help. #io17 pic.twitter.com/a6T20HwnU9

— Google (@Google)
May 17, 2017

Some of the features announced during the I/O opening keynote either require or are heavily enhanced by Google Assistant — technology that previously wasn’t available to iPhone users. Now, that’s all changed. Google Assistant is, in fact, at the disposal of iPhone users, and available for download in the iTunes store.

Many are comparing the iOS version of Google Assistant to a slightly better, but underwhelming version of Siri. We took it for a spin, and here’s how it went:

Not bad, but it might also require a bit more tinkering with to discover all of the features. Its biggest advantage over Siri, writes Romain Dillet for TechCrunch, is its ability to let users “ask more complicated queries,” as well as its third-party integrations and connected device control capabilities.

5) New Google Home Features

screen-shot-2017-05-17-at-10-40-09-am.pngSource:

CNET

A number of new features available on Google Home were also unveiled during the I/O opening keynote — here are the ones that stood out.

Hands-free calling

Recently, it was announced that the Google Home had new voice recognition capabilities that could distinguish one user’s commands from another. That technology is now aiding its new hands-free calling feature, which allows you to call any U.S. or Canadian landline or mobile phone, by linking your mobile phone to your Google Home profile and asking the device to make the call. And, because of that voice recognition, it knows whose mother to call with the command, “Call Mom.”

Proactive Assistance

Like the best human personal assistance, Google Home can now proactively bring important things to your attention, without having to be asked. For example, if your next meeting requires a commute and traffic is bad, the device will suggest leaving a bit earlier. (Google Calendar users might recognize this feature from the more primitive “leave at X:00 to arrive on time” mobile alerts.)

Visual Responses

They say that “a picture is worth a thousand words” — because sometimes, information is better explained visually than verbally. Now, Google Home can do that, by redirecting a visual response to your mobile device or TV (via Chromecast). So if you ask the device for directions, for example, they’ll be sent directly to your phone.

6) Android O

Android O is a new version of the Android operating system which, while nothing too fancy, “focuses mostly on the nuts and bolts of making the software work better, faster and save battery,” according to CNET.

The publication does a nice job of breaking down the most important features of the new operating system, but to us, there’s one major highlight: picture-in-picture. We’ve all had those moments when we’re watching a video on YouTube and realize that there’s something else you’re supposed to be doing. Now, with Android O, instead of having to exit out of the app, just press the home button and the video will collapse into a smaller, movable window, but continue playing while you attend to the other task you have to complete.

7) From GPS to VPS

When you’re lost, or can’t figure out how to get somewhere, GPS has been there to save dozens of us. But what about misplaced objects — like when we’ve misplaced our keys, headphones, or sunglasses?

Now, there’s technology for that: the Visual Positioning Service, or VPS. Using Google’s Tango augmented reality (AR) platform, it’s a “mapping system that uses augmented reality on phones and tablets to help navigate indoor locations,” writes Raymond Wong for Mashable, using the example of holding up a Tango-enabled phone in a large warehouse store to locate a specific product.

One of the best parts of the VPS, Google noted, is its potential use to individuals who are visually impaired to help them find their way around places that are historically difficult to navigate.

8) Smart Replies Come to Gmail

Bringing our AI-first approach to more products, we’re introducing Smart Reply to 1 billion users in #Gmailhttps://t.co/FKhOiBN41e #io17 pic.twitter.com/fF5GxGVMq6

— Google (@Google)
May 17, 2017

When we return from vacation, one of the most daunting tasks is sifting through and responding to the deluge of emails that came in while we were out. Of course, there’s always the option of indicating to senders via auto-response that you’ll be deleting everything when you come back. But for those occasional urgent emails that arrive during our time of leave, many of us long for a more automated way to address them.

Now, there’s Smart Reply for that: a new Gmail feature that uses smart technology to suggests quick responses based on the text of the email you received. Here’s a look at how it works:

Smart_Reply_in_Gmail_Pixel_Gray_background.gifSource:

Google

Right now, it’s only available in Inbox by Gmail and Allo, but according to Google’s official blog, the technology is slated to “roll out globally on Android and iOS in English first, and Spanish will follow in the coming weeks.”

9) Standalone VR Headsets

New #Daydream standalone headsets from partners like @htcvive won’t require a phone or PC. #io17 pic.twitter.com/7TpYPJGEdU

— Google (@Google)
May 17, 2017

Google is no stranger to the world of VR. It started with Cardboard, some might say, and expanded into more advanced and expensive headsets. Now, in partnership with HTC and Lenovo, Google is developing its first standalone VR headset.

What does that mean, exactly? Previously, becoming fully immersed in Google’s VR experiences required the power of a computer or smartphone. Now, using something called WorldSense technology, these new standalone headsets can “track your precise movements in space,” according to VRScout, “without any external sensors to install.”

Until Next Time

We’ll be keeping an eye on all things Google, including the rest of the big announcements from I/O 2017. Next month, we’ll bring you those top news items, algorithm updates, and other trends that can aid your marketing.

Until then, enjoy those May flowers — we’ll see you in June.

Which I/O announcements are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments.

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May

18

2017

5 Helpful Insights You Can Find Using Twitter Analytics

Published by in category analytics, Daily, Social Meda | Comments are closed

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When it launched in 2014, Twitter Analytics marked a solid (if long overdue) move towards greater transparency and measurement abilities for all users. And since then, Twitter has continued to make upgrades to the tool, most recently by creating a standalone analytics app called Engage, and launching analytics for Twitter Moments.

Though users now have more insight into their Twitter account metrics, they might not be using them to their full potential.

They’ve poked around the Twitter Analytics homepage and figured out they can track impressions and metrics by promoted or organic activity … and that’s about it.

The good news is there’s much more you can discover in your Tweet activity dashboard — you’ve just got to know where to look. Beyond the basic metrics, here are some incredibly important things you can discover about your Twitter account and audience using Tweet Analytics.

How to Use Twitter Analytics

You can access Twitter Analytics by tapping your profile and selecting “Analytics” from the dropdown menu:

twitter-analytics-1-4.png

1) See Which Content Resonates With Your Audience

Understanding which types of content and topics your audience members most enjoy can help drive your social marketing and content strategy. What’s the point in sharing content no one cares about or enjoys?

On the “Tweets” tab, you can see Impressions, Engagements and Engagement Rate (Engagements divided by Impressions) for each tweet, for paid and organic posts. Engagements include all activity on the tweet: retweets, follows, replies, favorites, and all clicks on the tweet, link, hashtag, etc.

twitter-analytics-tweet-activity.png

For a more granular view of the volume of each type of engagement, you can click on the specific tweet:

twitter-analytics-dashboard.png

Understanding which content items get the most engagement on Twitter is huge. If you can even commit 10 minutes a week to recording your top five or ten tweets by engagement so you can start seeing trends over time — and then applying those insights to future tweets — you’ll be able to better connect with your audience.

2) Understand How People Interact With Your Tweets Over Time

This is a really common question among social media marketers and brands: What made my tweet take off?

Some tools can analyze your Twitter followers and recommend the best day of the week for you to tweet. There’s also research out there showing when people are most likely to be active on Twitter. But of course, the best way to get to know your own audience is from your own account data.

On the Tweets dashboard, you can customize the date range you want to analyze to see when you published your highest-performing tweets:

twitter-analytics-change-over-time.png

twitter-analytics-dashboard-graphs.png

Twitter used to offer the ability to view a tweet’s engagement over the course of a day, and I think it was a mistake to remove that feature. I hope they bring it back in an update soon so users can analyze the best time of day to tweet from their account.

3) Get to Know Your Followers

Twitter’s audience data in the “Followers” tab contains a ton of valuable and useful insights. This is where you can really get to know the people who follow you.

You’ll find answers to questions like: Are your audience members more likely to be male or female? Which countries and cities are the majority from? What are their top interests? You can also see who your followers follow as well as your follower’s top five most unique interests. Answering these questions can help you better identify what content to create and share on Twitter — and when to share it.

twitter-analytics-demographics.png

You can also compare your Twitter followers to different segments — for example, to all Twitter users total:

twitter-analytics-follower-comparison.png

4) See Whether Your Follower Base Is Growing (or Shrinking)

I’d call myself a Twitter power user now, but it wasn’t always so. For several years, I slowly grew my following up to about 8,000 followers. In the past few years that I’ve really focused on my Twitter presence, I’ve picked up another 704,000.

Now, Twitter allows you to track your follower growth. Twitter Analytics shows you how many followers you had on any given day with the interactive timeline pictured below. Hovering over various points on the timeline will show you the exact follow count on that day. It spans back to the day your account was started.

twitter-analytics-follower-count.png

If you’re seeing blips in your follower count over time, it’s important to revisit your activity in those periods and see if you can learn from it. How often were you posting then — and what were you posting about? Were you taking the time to reply to folks, too? Answering questions like these can help you explain these blips — and avoid the same mistakes in the future.

5) Determine If Your Twitter Ads Are Worth the Money

I’ve been experimenting recently with paid promotions on Twitter. After reviewing my own data in Twitter Analytics, I realized my ads weren’t as effective as I thought they would be.

In the Tweets tab, right at the top, there’s a chart that gives an overview of your paid and organic tweet performance. Like other Twitter Analytics charts, this one is interactive, so hovering over specific parts will show you more precise numbers, as in the example below. Keep in mind that the data only goes back 91 days, so take advantage of the ability to export it regularly. You can make comparisons over longer periods of time in another program.

twitter-analytics-ad-impressions.png

I’m not spending a ton on paid promotions — around $100 a day when I use them — but at a glance, I can see that compared to organic posts, they’re not having a huge effect. If I were running specific promotions, I’d be interested in the Conversions information available in Twitter Analytics. But for getting more impressions on my content, it doesn’t seem worth it because I could get that exposure for free by just tweeting a few extra times per day.

Obviously, this will vary for every user, but this panel in Twitter Analytics is a pretty simple way to see what you need to make that decision.

Just below that chart, you can click “Promoted” to see all of your paid promotions in chronological order. This shows you how many engagements and impressions each one earned, helping you pinpoint which paid promotions are working (and which ones aren’t).

Exporting Data: How to Discover Even More Trends in Twitter Analytics

Twitter Analytics is great as an interactive dashboard for accessing increasingly granular data about your Twitter account performance.

The most useful feature I’ve found is the ability to export data from the Twitter API as a CSV file. Even power users with a ton of account activity can fairly quickly export their Analytics data.

To export your data, select the timeframe you’d like to use, and click the “Export Data” button in the top right corner of your Twitter Analytics Dashboard.

twitter-analytics-export-data.png

You can then sort through your exported data using Excel in ways not possible within the platform itself. For example, I extracted the time of day of my last 2500 tweets and plotted the tweet engagement rate vs. time of day, as shown here:

time-of-day-vs-engagement-rate

What I found was that the engagement rate (i.e. the # of engagements/impressions) held steady (on average) regardless of the time of day — possibly because I have a ton of international followers. It got me thinking that I really ought to be scheduling my content for all hours of the day, not just during business hours in my local time zone. Sure, fewer people will see my updates at 2 a.m. local time, but those who do are just as likely to engage with the content as those who see it during business hours.

There are so many other columns of data in the CSV export, including the number of favorites, retweets, link clicks, replies, URL clicks, follows, etc. So you can do this kind of customized analysis on whatever metrics you care most about.

Ultimately, the best data is your own, so make time to check out Twitter Analytics and see what you can learn and do with it. Figure out which tweets resonate and why. Then, work those insights into your social media marketing strategy for a more successful way forward. For more ideas, download HubSpot’s guide to getting more Twitter followers.

What are your must-know tips for using Twitter Analytics? Share with us in the comments below.

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

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May

18

2017

How to Transform Your Blog Content into Compelling Videos

Published by in category Blog, Daily, Social Media, Video | Comments are closed

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Here at HubSpot, we’ve told fellow marketers about the importance of creating compelling video content to engage your busy audience. And for the most part, video content lives on social media channels — like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

But we wondered if video content had a place on our blog as well.

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Marketers are prioritizing visual content, but many marketers don’t know how to start — and others worry that video will disrupt and replace written blog content altogether.

Changing content preferences are an opportunity to innovate, not a reason to be afraid. Read on for our latest data about how content marketing is shifting and for a deep-dive into our first experiment turning blog posts into compelling video content.

The State of Video Content

We surveyed more than 6,000 marketing and sales professionals to learn how they’re changing their strategies to meet the preferences of the modern consumer. And a lot of the chatter was on the subjects of video content and social media.

Almost 50% of marketers are adding YouTube and Facebook channels for video distribution in the next year.

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33% of inbound marketers listed visual content creation, such as videos, as their top priority for the coming year.

Video content fell below the top two priorities — growing SEO presence and creating blog content — but it occupies the minds of a large part of the marketers we surveyed. It was on our minds too, which inspired the experiment. Read on for the details and the results.

Can Blog and Video Work Together? Our Experiment

What

My colleagues Jamee SheehyNick Carney, and I wanted to learn if producing video content would improve traffic to HubSpot Marketing Blog posts and social media channels.

Why

I kept hearing that our audience wanted more video content. In a 2016 HubSpot Research survey, almost 50% of respondents said they wanted to see more video content and social media posts, so I wanted to start there.

When

Between February and May of 2017, I worked with the team to publish video content for seven new blog posts.

How

We published video content on YouTube, Facebook, and on Instagram Stories. For some blog posts, we published videos on both YouTube and Facebook. The YouTube and Facebook videos were then embedded into the blog posts for cross-promotion, and all of the videos on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube linked to the blog posts.

Results of the Experiment

Videos on Facebook and YouTube

1) How to Be Productive After a Long Weekend

What We Published:

We embedded a YouTube video in the blog post and published the same video natively on Facebook.

How It Performed:
  Day 1 Week 1 End of Experiment
Blog Post Views 1,395 1,770 2,196
YouTube Views 267 335 429
Facebook Views 3,900 6,100 6,229
YouTube/Blog Views % 19% 19% 19%
Social Referral Traffic 221 305 372
Social/Total Traffic % 16% 17% 17%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Blog Post Views = # of blog post visits
  2. YouTube Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 30 seconds or more
  3. Facebook Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 3 seconds or more
  4. YouTube/Blog Views % = % of blog post visitors who watched the YouTube video
  5. Social Referral Traffic = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms
  6. Socia/Total Traffic % = % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms
Key Takeaways:
  • The YouTube video achieved a 55% view-through rate: The average watch time was 0:41 of a 1:14-long video.
  • The YouTube video contributed more blog traffic than the Facebook video.
  • The topic choice reflected in the lower-than-typical number of blog post and video views across the board — video topics should be either highly visual or more universally compelling.

2) The Ultimate Social Media Calendar for 2017 [Resource]

What We Published:

We embedded a YouTube video in the blog post and published the same video natively on Facebook.

How It Performed:
  Day 1 Week 1 End of Experiment
Blog Post Views 4,366 16,509 28,882
YouTube Views 409 1,242 1,673
Facebook Views 12,320 16,000 16,456
YouTube/Blog Views % 10% 13% 6%
Social Referral Traffic 262 1,369 2,019
Social/Total Traffic % 6% 9% 7%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Blog Post Views = # of blog post visits
  2. YouTube Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 30 seconds or more
  3. Facebook Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 3 seconds or more
  4. YouTube/Blog Views % = % of blog post visitors who watched the YouTube video
  5. Social Referral Traffic = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms
  6. Socia/Total Traffic % = % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms

Key Takeaways:

  • This was the highest-performing blog post and YouTube video, and the second-highest performing Facebook video in the entire experiment. The topic is interesting whether you’re a marketer or not, and there is a lot of search volume around the topic. The video isn’t highly visual, but the interesting topic helped drive video and blog post views.
  • The YouTube video contributed more blog traffic than the Facebook video.
  • The YouTube video achieved a 72% view-through rate: The average watch time was 0:53 of a 1:14-long video.

Videos on Facebook

3) March Social Media News: Facebook vs. Snapchat, WhatsApp for Business & More

What We Published:

We published a video natively on Facebook and embedded it in the blog post.

How It Performed:
  Day 1 Week 1 End of Experiment
Blog Post Views 1,287 3,124 3,725
Facebook Views 6,066 6,872 7,001
Social Referral Traffic 177 286 340
Social/Total Traffic % 14% 9% 9%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Blog Post Views = # of blog post visits
  2. Facebook Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 3 seconds or more
  3. Social Referral Traffic = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms
  4. Socia/Total Traffic % = % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms
Key Takeaways:
  • Although neither the blog post nor the Facebook video achieved a huge number of views, the Facebook video drove a meaningful portion of views to the blog post on the day it was published.
  • A technical difficulty forced us to re-upload a new version of the Facebook video, which lost us a few thousand views.

4) April Social Media News: AR on Facebook, Ads on Snapchat & More

What We Published:

We published a video natively on Facebook and embedded it in the blog post.

How It Performed:
  Day 1 Week 1 End of Experiment
Blog Post Views 2,278 2,912 3,115
Facebook Views 10,847 12,039 13,214
Social Referral Traffic 123 179 215
Social/Total Traffic % 5% 6% 7%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Blog Post Views = # of blog post visits
  2. Facebook Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 3 seconds or more
  3. Social Referral Traffic = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms
  4. Socia/Total Traffic % = % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms
Key Takeaways:
  • The video featured video b-roll and animations instead of talking heads — and it performed well on Facebook (thanks to Nick Carney‘s video editing skills).
  • The video was published on a Friday, when people might be more willing to browse Facebook and watch videos — this could account for the first-day jump in video views.
  • A cool video doesn’t necessarily mean viewers will click through to read a blog post — this video was so informative, it stood on its own and didn’t impact blog traffic much.

5) Brain Typing & Skin Hearing: Everything You Need to Know About Facebook’s 2017 F8 Conference

What We Published:

We published a video natively on Facebook and embedded it in the blog post.

How It Performed:
  Day 1 Week 1 End of Experiment
Blog Post Views 1,107 1,855 2,114
Facebook Views 15,765 16,991 17,401
Social Referral Traffic 83 128 150
Social/Total Traffic % 7% 7% 7%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Blog Post Views = # of blog post visits
  2. Facebook Views = # of times viewers watched a video for 3 seconds or more
  3. Social Referral Traffic = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms
  4. Socia/Total Traffic % = % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms
Key Takeaways:
  • We published this blog post later in the day to cover the conference, so it wasn’t sent out with our daily subscriber email — the likely reason for low traffic on the day it was published.
  • This is another example of a high-performing Facebook video that didn’t translate into high blog post performance.

Instagram Stories

6) February Social Media News: Weather on Facebook, SNL on Snapchat & More

What We Published:

We published an Instagram Story with the option to swipe up to read the blog post. The Instagram Story wasn’t published on the same day the blog post was published, so attribution numbers aren’t as straightforward.

How It Performed:
  Day of Instagram Story End of Experiment
Instagram Story Views 2,372  
Instagram Story Clicks 149  
Blog Post Views (Day of Story) 726  
Blog Post Views Overall 2,031 2,580
Social Referral Traffic (Day of Story) 154  
Social Referral Traffic Overall 199 243
Social/Total Traffic % (Day of Story) 21%  
Social/Total Traffic % Overall 10% 9.5%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Instagram Story Views = # of times people viewed the Instagram Story
  2. Instagram Story Clicks = # of times people swiped up on the Instagram Story to view the blog post
  3. Blog Post Views (Day of Story) = # of blog post visits on the day the Instagram Story was posted
  4. Blog Post Views Overall = Cumulative # of blog post visits since date of publication
  5. Social Referral Traffic (Day of Story) = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms on the day the Instagram Story was posted
  6. Social Referral Traffic Overall = Cumulative # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms total
  7. Social/Total Traffic % (Day of Story) =% of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms on the day the Instagram Story was posted
  8. Socia/Total Traffic % Overall = Cumulative % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms total

Key Takeaways:

  • The Instagram Story generated the vast majority of referral traffic, and it was a big driver of traffic overall.

7) Are Notifications Driving Us Crazy?

What We Published:

We published an Instagram Story with the option to swipe up to read the blog post. The Instagram Story wasn’t published on the same day the blog post was published, so attribution numbers aren’t as straightforward.

How It Performed:
  Day of Instagram Story End of Experiment
Instagram Story Views 2,300  
Instagram Story Clicks ~ 100  
Blog Post Views (Day of Story) 186  
Blog Post Views Overall 1,626 1,979
Social Referral Traffic (Day of Story) 120  
Social Referral Traffic Overall 341 433
Social/Total Traffic % (Day of Story) 65%  
Social/Total Traffic % Overall 21% 22%
What These Metrics Mean:
  1. Instagram Story Views = # of times people viewed the Instagram Story
  2. Instagram Story Clicks = # of times people swiped up on the Instagram Story to view the blog post
  3. Blog Post Views (Day of Story) = # of blog post visits on the day the Instagram Story was posted
  4. Blog Post Views Overall = Cumulative # of blog post visits since date of publication
  5. Social Referral Traffic (Day of Story) = # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms on the day the Instagram Story was posted
  6. Social Referral Traffic Overall = Cumulative # of blog post visits that came from social media platforms total
  7. Social/Total Traffic % (Day of Story) =% of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms on the day the Instagram Story was posted
  8. Socia/Total Traffic % Overall = Cumulative % of total blog post visits that came from social media platforms total
Key Takeaways:
  • Here’s another example of a high level of Instagram Story engagement. The blog post achieved a low number of views overall, but it’s meaningful that Instagram Story viewers clicked through to read the blog post and weren’t just absently scrolling.
  • The Story drove 65% of social traffic on the day of and contributed to the final social referral percentage — which is a higher than other posts in this experiment.

Going Forward: 3 Lessons Learned

We’ve already learned a lot from the experiment — here are the biggest lessons we’ll take into the next phase of turning blog content into videos.

1) High-performing Facebook videos didn’t necessarily result in a lot of blog traffic.

In a few cases, the Facebook video’s performance far outstripped the performance of the blog post — and didn’t drive a lot of traffic to the blog post, either. (Facebook doesn’t share data on the sources of video views, so the blog post embeds could have helped increase the number of views.)

A big part of the videos’ high view numbers on Facebook is undoubtedly thanks to the filming and editing skills of our team. But I think it’s also a reflection on how thorough and engaging the videos were — the viewer might not have needed to click the blog post to read more about a topic they’d already watched a video on.

Facebook videos might better serve as standalone pieces of content rather than traffic drivers to blog posts in our case, but in some cases, both the blog and Facebook worked symbiotically.

2) What goes “viral” can depend on the medium.

The best-performing blog post and YouTube video topic — as well as the second best-performing Facebook video — was the social media holiday calendar. In this case, the blog post views and the Facebook views increased rapidly alongside each other. I chose the topic based on keyword search volume and created a blog post and video that are useful and interesting to anyone on social media — which contributed to the high number of video views and a large amount of organic search traffic — 20% of the total traffic to the post.

Still, there was a relatively low amount of traffic to the blog post from the Facebook video — another reason to believe that Facebook posts might not be the biggest blog traffic driver.

The blog recap about the F8 conference achieved a smaller number of views, but the Facebook video was the best-performing in the entire experiment. Based on this experiment, news coverage and lifestyle content perform best on social media, while keyword-specific content performs better on the blog. For future video blog content experiments, we’ll try to create content that checks off both boxes to get another hit for both media.

3) Instagram Stories drove a high percentage of clickthroughs to the blog posts.

We found that the Instagram Stories we published resulted in a high percentage of clickthroughs to the blog post. In these examples, the blog posts didn’t achieve a high number of views overall, but a huge portion of social traffic the day of posting could be attributed to the Instagram Story. 

This means viewers weren’t just clicking through Instagram — they were watching stories and following the desired call-to-action to read the blog post. We’ll continue using this engaged audience to promote content on Instagram.

Next on the Blog

For the next installment of this experiment, we’re focusing on a keyword-based strategy. We’ll experiment with updating older, high-performing blog posts with new video content on YouTube and optimizing the post and the video for Google and YouTube search, respectively. We’ll publish more tactical, instructional videos for people conducting YouTube searches, and we’ll experiment with a greater variety of video creation and editing skills. And on our social media channels, we’ll cover more breaking news in the technology space and more lifestyle content we’ve seen do so well.

Next on the blog, we’ll cover more resources for how to create video content on your own, and coverage of more interesting experiments we’re doing here at HubSpot to learn more about our audience. In the meantime, download the 2017 State of Inbound Report to learn more about the latest data and insights from marketers around the world.

Have you started experimenting with video content on your blog? Share with us in the comments below.

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May

17

2017

Disproving Best Practices: The One- vs. Two-Column Form Test

Published by in category A/B testing, Daily, Landing Pages | Comments are closed

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A few months ago, I took the stage at Digital Summit Dallas to talk about blog conversion rate optimization (CRO). The session right before mine was led by Unbounce Co-Founder Oli Gardner — a household name for those of us in the CRO industry. Needless to say, it was a tough act to follow. 

In his session, “Frankenpage: Using A Million Little Pieces of Data to Reverse Engineer the Perfect Landing Page,” Oli shared lots of great data-backed tips for landing page optimization. In discussing best practices for conversion forms, he talked about how two-column forms weren’t ideal. 

What’s the Beef With Two-Column Forms?

Oli isn’t the only one to frown upon the use of two-column forms. Baymard Institute, a usability research company, published this a few years back, and ConversionXL Founder Peep Laja has also asserted that one-column forms perform better.

Peep’s colleague Ben Labay even published a study about the superiority of the one-column form over multi-column forms. The study showed that users complete the linear, single-column form an average of 15.4 seconds faster than the multi-column form. While speed is not directly tied to form completion, the data suggests that if the single-column form is faster to complete, fewer people will abandon it, garnering more conversions. It all boils down to user experience.

But Oli’s advice to avoid multi-column forms originally caught my attention because we had just redesigned HubSpot’s demo landing page, one of the most important landing pages on our website, and switched from a one-column to a two-column form in the process.

The thing that stuck out to me was that in switching to two columns, we had actually improved the conversion rate of our page by 57%. Now to be fair, the form wasn’t the only variable we manipulated in the redesign (we refreshed the design and made some copy tweaks as well), but it still made me wonder whether two-column forms were really all that bad.

So I put it to the test. 

The One- vs. Two-Column Form Test

Using HubSpot’s landing page A/B testing tools, I pitted the two-column form (the control) against the one-column form (the variant). Here’s how they looked …

Control (Two-Column Form)

demo-lp-control-two-column-form.png

Variant (One-Column Form)

demo-lp-variation-one-column-form.png

So “best practices” aside, which do you think performed better?

And the Winner Is …

not the one-column form. In fact, the two-column form converted 22% better than the one-column form, statistically significant with a 99% confidence level.

Surprised? I wasn’t. Just look at the length of that one-column form! Yes, HubSpot’s lead-capture forms are long (13 fields to be exact), but they’re long by design. Through our experience, we’ve learned that having more fields helps us better qualify our leads, and weed out unqualified ones.

But a 13-field form doesn’t exactly lend itself to a one-column design, which is why I think for us, the two-column form works better. The theory is that the one-column form, despite having the same number of fields, looks longer, so visitors are much more likely to get scared off before completing it.

Since we ran the test, we’ve actually switched to a kind of hybrid form, with elements of both a one- and two-column form, to make our two-column form a bit more user friendly. Our old two-column form is on the left, and our new hybrid form is on the right.

two-column-vs-hybrid-form.png

Questioning “Best Practices”

Any CRO worth their salt knows there’s really no such thing as best practices, and that everything should be tested yourself (which, coincidentally enough, was a major theme in the talk I delivered after Oli’s).

In fact, Oli and Peep will be the first ones to tell you that while they may share certain CRO findings and trends from their experience, there are no sure things. That’s why testing things for yourself is so important. What might work better for one site, might not necessarily work better for yours  that’s fundamental to CRO.

And in my opinion, running those tests to figure out what works for you is what makes conversion rate optimization so much fun. Especially when the results challenge what the experts say 😉 

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May

17

2017

State of Inbound 2017: Your Go-To Business Report for Marketing and Sales Research [New Data]

Published by in category Daily, Inbound Marketing, inbound sales | Comments are closed

SOI 17 Blog Header Image.png

Generate more traffic, more leads, more customers. That’s always been the purpose of marketing and sales.

But while the goal remains the same, the audience — and their preferences and behaviors — has not. People don’t want to just read content anymore. They want immersive video experiences. When it’s time to research a purchase or service a product, they don’t want to wait to talk to a rep on the phone. Instead, they’ll turn to an artificial intelligence-powered bot.

The way your customer shops and buys is drastically changing.

And in the age of the buyer, it’s up to businesses to adapt. That’s why we produce the State of Inbound research report each year: to help you stay up-to-date on all the marketing and sales changes that matter for your business.

soi-anchor-cta-2017

But for a moment, let’s dig deeper. While last year’s State of Inbound report introduced the growing disconnect between businesses and their customers, this year we look at what causes this divide in the first place.

There’s a corporate chasm forming between executives and their employees, and when misalignment forms inside the four walls of a business, that can impact everything from employee retention to customer satisfaction. Consider these discrepancies:

  • 69% of executives believe their organization’s marketing strategy is effective, but only 55% of individual contributors in marketing agree.
  • 31% of executives believe that there’s tight alignment between their marketing and sales teams, but only 17% of both managers and individual contributors agree.
  • This trend continues on the department level: 45% of sales reps say they spend over an hour performing manual data entry, yet only 21% of executives said this is so.

In the 2017 State of Inbound report, we’ll break down the divide, as well as uncover international marketing priorities, new content distribution trends, and buyer communication preferences. Download our most data-packed edition of the State of Inbound today. 

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May

17

2017

How to Leverage Social Intent Data in Your Next Nurturing Campaign

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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As marketers, capturing buyer attention is everything. Without it, we’re just throwing more content, emails, ads, and offers into the abyss. Yet, there has never been a harder time to earn buyer attention.

Thanks to advances in technology and the abundance of information on the internet, today’s buyers have a lot more knowledge and power. They can learn about our companies and products through many channels — online and offline.

Meanwhile, technology has made it much easier for marketers to create more content, push ads, and send emails, — and we’re doing it more, more and more.

The convergence of these two forces has resulted in diminishing returns for marketers. Our prospects are overwhelmed by the amount of content they’re exposed to, and they are tuning us out.

Consider that the average office worker receives 121 emails a day. With that staggering number in mind, it’s not surprising that people are unsubscribing from emails at higher rates. Research shows that the number one reason users unsubscribe from email lists is because they get too many emails in general, not necessarily because they don’t like the content.

At Socedo, our nurture emails get a 1% CTR on average. A 2% CTR is now considered “good”.

At this point, simply turning up the volume doesn’t work anymore. As marketers, we need make sure that our engagement is more targeted and valuable.

To get there, we need to listen to our customers before we act.

Instead of pushing what we “think” customers want, we should wait for them to tell us what they care about. Instead of starting a campaign because a senior leader thinks it’s a good idea, we can use customer data to inform the campaign strategy, content and execution.

What is Intent-Based Marketing?  

Intent-based marketing is a methodology of listening to signals that show a prospect is researching a specific topic or problem area so you can send the right message at the right time.

It’s the kind of marketing that aims to listen, learn, and then engage. For example, an intent-based email would be sent to a prospect as soon as they show interest in a relevant topic, and the email would reference the prospect’s interest and provide relevant content.

While intent-based marketing has been around for awhile now, marketers have traditionally just focused on buying intent.

But intent-based marketing is not just about serving the right ad or message to trigger a purchase. It’s about responding to people’s intentions in the right way, wherever they are in the buying journey. It is this level of personalization and relevant engagement that will make people choose your brand versus your competitors.

You can start this process by gathering intent data from the broader web.

What is Intent Data?

Intent data is generated from actions that tells you what a potential buyer is interested in.

It includes internal data (collected from engagement with your owned digital properties, such as website clicks, email opens, downloaded offers, etc.) and external data (collected from activities outside of your owned digital properties, such as social media platforms, user reviews, competitor mentions).

At this point, marketing automation platforms have enabled us to nurture leads, and personalize our emails, website content and ads based on the data we’ve collected. This is a great start, but it’s not enough.

If the only actions you’re tracking are email clicks, webpage visits and other engagements with your company, you are only tracking leads that are “in-market”, or actively in the buying process. In reality, the majority of the B2B buying cycle is over by the time a buyer lands on your website. According to Corporate Executive Board, prospects have made 60% of their buying decision before talking to a sales rep.

The buyer journey starts when someone starts to do research on the web to increase their understanding of a problem they want to solve. This is known as the Discover stage within the buying journey.

According to Forrester’s Business Technographics Survey in 2016, buyers use 15 vehicles during the Discover stage. More than half of these vehicles are online, and thus represent sources of digital insight.

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Source: Lenovo’s presentation on Intent-Based Marketing at B2B Marketing Exchange 2017

Social Media-Based Intent Data

Social media is a good place to start because there is a wealth of intent data that exists within social media platforms and much of that data is public.

55% of B2B buyers search for information on social media and 84% of CEOs and VPs use social media to make purchasing decisions.

Social intent data includes any action potential leads take on social media. Today, many people go to social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn to learn about and discuss news and business issues in our industry. Some of us go on Quora to get perspectives on how we might tackle certain business challenges, or go on Meetup.com to find in-person events where we can gain a broader view of our industry.

On Twitter, we can identify potential buyers based on their tweets and following relations. On LinkedIn, we could find potential buyers by looking at people’s group affiliations (i.e., specific product user groups), the influencers they are following, the articles they are sharing and commenting on. On Quora, we could do the same by looking at who is asking questions related to our product category. On Meetup.com, we could see people’s profiles and their meetup attendance history.

At this point, there are data providers that can tell you which contacts or prospects in your marketing automation database are showing interest in your space, based on keywords present in social media conversations.

With contact/lead level intent data from social media, you can start to segment your leads, use this data to trigger personalized emails in real-time, and to score your leads.  

How to Leverage Intent Data from Social Media

1) Start With Social Keyword Research

Finding the right keywords to use to target and trigger your marketing campaigns requires you to look at keyword research a little differently. You’re not looking for the keywords leads are using to find your website, because that’s only a small percent of their overall activity.

Instead, you want to know:

  • Which influencers your leads follow
  • What topics your leads research most
  • The events, news or keywords your leads care most about
  • Which competitors they’re following

Other than your own social accounts, who else do your leads follow? This information will give you a mix of obvious influencers in your industry, but it will also reveal connections that you may not have realized existed.

2) Look for Keywords and Hashtags Mentioned

This is another important set of social intent data that will tell you what topics your leads are researching — even if they aren’t actively performing the research directly on your site.

Social intent data means you aren’t limited to the keywords strictly associated with search research. Event hashtags, industry topics or other keywords could all indicate a good fit and need for your product or service — especially from your more passive leads who aren’t actively searching Google.

3) Identify Social Activity With the Greatest Opportunity

Unlike traditional lead scoring, where your leads’ actions are limited by the amount of content you create and promote, tracking keywords and social actions in this way could give you hundreds or even thousands of results. You can track as many keywords as you want, but you don’t want to create a campaign around every one. You want to prioritize the keywords where you see the most opportunity.

There are two main factors you should use to evaluate the opportunity of potential keywords:

  1. Volume: How many users are engaging with each hashtag or keyword in a set timeframe?
  2. Lead Engagement: How much do leads who take that social action engage with your company?

The first point is straightforward. The second point requires you to compare your social keywords with the lead scoring you already perform. If leads using a particular keyword also tend to visit your website, engage with your emails and download your offers, then other leads using that keyword are likely people you want to market to.

On the other hand, if a keyword has been used by a lot of leads in your system, but that’s the only thing these leads are doing and they don’t have a high lead score, you should not spend time crafting content on that topic.

Here is a sample report you can run to compare the minimum lead score of the different keywords identified in step 1. By comparing the keyword research above with your existing lead scoring you can gain an even better idea of which social activities indicate qualified leads. Eventually, you can incorporate social actions into your lead scoring model alongside email clicks and form fills, to keep your pipeline full with the most qualified leads.

This sample report has dummy data:

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Next, look at how many leads are using a specific keyword or social activity to know whether or not you should focus on it. We’ll talk about measuring and improving this list in the last step, but this data will give you a good place to start.

3) Conduct a Content Audit and Start Planning

When you perform research on social keywords, you may learn things you expect, i.e., your audience is engaging with a social keyword you’re already creating content around. You may also find a few surprising keyword opportunities that you weren’t focusing on at all. The least surprising keywords are where you want to start.

Before you begin creating campaigns, you need to determine what content you’ll use to educate and nurture the leads taking these specific social actions. This process begins by auditing the content you already have.

For each potential keyword, ask:

  • Do I already have content on this topic?
  • How does that content perform? Does it need to be rewritten or revised?
  • What’s my specific message or call to action for people who are interested in this topic?
  • What new content do I need to develop for this audience?

At the end of this process, you should have a clear idea of the buyer personas you’re targeting for each keyword and the message you want to send to properly nurture them. Your keywords will end up in one of three buckets:

  • Keywords you’ve actively targeted and rank for. These have always been your main SEO focus. You have good quality content on the topic and know the best way to target the audience.
  • Keywords you create content for but haven’t made a priority. Before this research, you may have known there were opportunities here but didn’t realize how valuable they were. The content created probably needs revisions and you may need to create some new content to support it.
  • Keywords you didn’t know your audience cared about. These are the ones that really surprised you. You currently have no content to support these campaigns and need to develop the right messaging to approach this new audience.

All these keywords still present strong opportunities. As you begin creating campaigns, you’ll be able to test out the process on keywords you know you have strong messaging for while you build out your content and messaging for the rest.

4) Leverage Social Intent Data in Your Email Nurturing Campaigns

Once you have the social actions that indicate a qualified lead, you can create marketing campaigns around lead actions like following a relevant influencer, mentioning a specific keyword, or using a relevant hashtag. 

Start by focusing on two to three of your strongest keywords, and build campaigns around those. Based on your content audit in Step 3, you should be able to identify a few “low hanging fruit” keywords where you already have good content to share. Your early concern shouldn’t be building out long sequences either. Create one to two follow-up emails per campaign and see how they perform.

Once you feel like you are getting good results in terms of email open rates and click-through rates, you can expand these initial campaigns and move on to other keywords where you already have content to promote.

Here at Socedo, we are currently sending 500-1000 real-time emails per week that are triggered solely from social media actions. Here’s an example of the email we send out when a lead uses the keyword #ContentMarketing, a topic we blog about frequently:

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This email averages a 38.8 % Open rate and a 4.8% click through rate. It performs twice as well as our typical nurture emails.

Depending on how broad each social action is, you may need to further segment your campaign or send it to everyone who uses that hashtag. For example, we found that while leads using a keyword like #ABM had a variety of job titles, almost all the leads following particular accounts are senior decision makers.

Consider Leveraging Social Intent Data

By turning to intent data from the broader web and social media, you can understand your buyers, segment your accounts and prospects into the right campaign tracks, trigger real-time emails and more accurately score your leads.

Use these five steps to start your intent-based marketing campaign but remember to constantly return to each step to further improve and refine your campaigns as you learn more about your audience and the right way to target them.

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May

16

2017

Introverts vs. Extroverts: Leadership Challenges & How to Solve Them

Published by in category Daily, Leadership, Management | Comments are closed

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There are a variety of tests and surveys you can take to learn about your personality traits and assess your strengths and weaknesses as they fit in the workplace. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the DiSC Profile, and the Big Five are a few that come to mind — we even use DiSC here at HubSpot.

These tests and their subsequent results often hinge upon the different traits and habits of introverts versus extroverts. 

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These personality traits are more commonly associated with your personal life, but introversion and extroversion impact how you interact with everyone — including your coworkers. In fact, identifying whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert could help you be a better leader, too. 

All leaders have their own distinctive styles and methods for motivating and empowering teams, and while none of them are right or wrong, some can be adjusted to make team work environments as productive and successful as possible. In this post, we’ll dive into the exact differences between introverts and extroverts, and how they can solve common leadership challenges their personality types might face.

Introvert vs. Extrovert Definitions

Introverts are people who gain and recharge mental energy by being in quieter, less stimulating environments. Extroverts are the opposite: They gain and recharge their energy by being around other people in more stimulating environments.

Quiet Revolution co-founder and author Susan Cain says introverts “listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation.” She described the difference between introversion and extroversion using an example: After spending three hours at a friend’s birthday party, would you be more inclined to go home for the night and decompress, or keep the party going? The science behind the difference between introverts and extroverts lies in our nervous systems. One big difference has to do with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that induces reward-seeking behavior. When dopamine production increases in your brain, both introverts and extroverts become more talkative and more alert to people in their surroundings. And as it turns out, dopamine is more active in the brains of extroverts. For introverts, acetylcholine is the preferred neurotransmitter — one that gives people pleasure when they reflect inward and take a lot of time to think deeply or focus intensely on just one thing.

So, introverts aren’t necessarily shy, and extroverts aren’t necessarily party animals — the different types simply derive more pleasure from different levels of external stimuli. (And it’s important to note that there’s a spectrum of introversion and extroversion, and it’s possible to be an ambivert — a person who has habits and tendencies of both introverts and extroverts.)

Challenges can arise in the workplace because individuals with extroverted tendencies — such as a willingness to speak up — might be promoted first or get more attention from executives — especially in fast-paced business environments. But there are challenges that can come up when introverts are leaders, too.

How Introverted Leaders Can Improve

The Challenge: 

I asked Cain about her thoughts on how introversion can hinder leaders at this year’s Simmons Leadership Conference. “For introverted leaders, the temptation is to keep their heads down and focused; the challenge can be to interact with their teams as frequently and enthusiastically as their team members would like.”

The Solution:

Introverted leaders should determine effective ways to interact and communicate with their team members that are comfortable for both introverts and extroverts. Some suggestions include:

  1. Schedule weekly 1:1 meetings with team members so you can prepare in advance for giving feedback and discussing work.
  2. Host “Office Hours” for team members who want to chat in person outside of regularly scheduled meetings.
  3. Overcommunicate instructions and contextual information you might not share as openly in a team meeting.
  4. Use communication and team collaboration tools — like Slack, Asana, and Trello — to keep avenues of communication about ongoing projects and initiatives open without having to hold a meeting.
  5. Schedule meetings with a clear agenda for all team members invited.
  6. Encourage team members (and yourself) to prepare for team meetings in advance so everyone can contribute to the discussion. Introverts might need more time to read, write, and prepare notes for a meeting to feel empowered to speak on the fly, so encourage your team to read any pre-meeting materials and set aside time to prepare.
  7. Determine how different team members like to give and receive feedback — and whether it’s in person or via email, challenge yourself to tailor your feedback to its recipient.
  8. Explicitly communicate praise, either in person or via email, so team members feel appreciated. Where extroverts might prefer to be praised in a team meeting, introverts might prefer to receive praise in a 1:1 meeting.

How Extroverted Leaders Can Improve

The Challenge:

Cain also reflected that extroverted leaders can encounter obstacles of their own. “For extroverted leaders, the challenge is to let other people contribute ideas,” Cain says. “A study by Wharton professor Adam Grant found that introverted leaders of proactive teams produced better results than extroverted leaders did because they were more likely to encourage others’ input, while extroverted leaders were more apt to put their own stamp on things.”

The Solution:

Extroverted leaders need to balance different personalities on their team to make sure they motivate and encourage their team to excel without being so enthusiastic that they shut others down. Some ideas include:

  1. Host meetings that incorporate aspects that let both introverts and extroverts shine. For example, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos starts all meetings with the group silently reading prep materials together for the first 20-30 minutes. Then, the meeting evolves into a discussion without a set agenda. These two pieces let both groups prepare in the manner most comfortable for them.
  2. Rethink brainstorming. As it turns out, brainstorming alone can produce a greater quantity of good ideas than discussing in a group. Cain suggests a hybrid brainstorm wherein participants come up with ideas alone and come together in a meeting to share and improve upon them.
  3. Keep meetings as small as possible so everyone feels comfortable speaking up.
  4. Allow team members to prepare as much as possible. And if that’s not possible, offer the opportunity to provide feedback and additional thoughts in a follow-up meeting or email.
  5. Listen twice as much as you speak in meetings to avoid dominating the conversation.
  6. Identify visibility opportunities for team members that work for their personality types.
  7. Champion and advocate for more introverted employees who might not identify those opportunities as readily.
  8. Challenge introverted employees to practice skills they’re not as comfortable with in private settings. Encourage extroverted employees to practice those skills in a meeting or a more visible setting.

Listen Up

The most valuable leadership advice we can offer, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, is to be honest about your leadership style. Don’t be afraid to openly and transparently tell your team members about your personality traits. Tell them about your style, they’ll tell you about theirs, and you can all work together to communicate and work effectively.

For more ideas for making the workplace conducive to introverts’ and extroverts’ success, check out more leadership content on ThinkGrowth.org, our Medium publication.

What are your suggestions for making the workplace inclusive for all personality types? Share with us in the comments below.

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May

16

2017

Account-Based Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing: 4 Common Questions Answered

Published by in category Daily, Inbound Marketing | Comments are closed

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Account-based marketing or inbound marketing? Which one should you use?

Well, maybe that’s not the right way to think about it. As it turns out, the two strategies are actually pretty complementary when done well.

With all the confusion between account-based marketing and inbound marketing, we thought we would clear the air — and hopefully help show you how the two work together.

What Is Account-Based Marketing?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a targeted approach to marketing based on an account, or a company, rather than an individual buyer. For the official definition, let’s turn to where the Internet goes for answers: Wikipedia. According to their definition, ABM is “a strategic approach to business marketing based on account awareness in which an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one.”

To simplify it though, let’s put it this way: Instead of marketing to individuals, ABM is about marketing to all decision makers within a target company at once.

Here’s a visual explanation from Terminus, an account-based marketing company.

Note: HubSpot is an
investor in Terminus, the creator of this slideshare

Are Inbound Marketing and Account-Based Marketing Antithetical?

Because account-based marketing dictates targeting a specific company instead of attracting a wide range of individuals, it can be easy to assume that account-based marketing and inbound marketing are incompatible. But that’s not true. Inbound and ABM can actually be used in conjunction with one another since they share a few core principles.

Context is central to the inbound methodology, and to account-based marketing as well. Having the right context on your potential buyers and the pain points they’re looking to solve helps you in the following areas:

  • Tight sales and marketing alignment. There are many natural points within the ABM process that foster a closer relationship between Sales and Marketing. Each team needs to work together to achieve company goals, and ABM brings marketers closer to Sales’ thinking — typically focused on accounts instead of leads.
  • Highly targeted, personalized content. The cornerstone of ABM is focusing on specific individuals within an organization, and the content and messaging you send with ABM should be highly personalized and targeted to specific individuals within an account.
  • Customer happiness, retention, and upsell. Because ABM zeroes in on a core set of specific accounts, focusing on those clients’ happiness, retention, and potential to utilize more of your product/service through upselling can be a viable growth strategy.

Inbound is about adapting to the way people want to shop and buy. Account-based marketing fits nicely into that philosophy in that it enables marketers and salespeople to take a thoroughly personalized approach to a handful of accounts.

In a smaller addressable market, you can leverage ABM for your lead generation strategy, and lean on your online presence, content, and the influence you’ve built through inbound to close the deal.

Where Do Inbound Marketing and Account-Based Marketing Diverge?

So if the two approaches share a commitment to personalized, relevant content, how are they different?

They diverge in two places.

The first concerns scalability. Account-based approaches work well when you have a smaller addressable market. For example, if there are only 100 companies you can sell into because you offer a highly specialized or perhaps enterprise-level product, creating an individual marketing plan for each potential account is reasonable. But if your company sells to a wide and diverse market of thousands, account-based marketing is harder to scale. That’s where you’d want to use a broader inbound approach.

The second area the two practices diverge is in the channels and tactics they prioritize. Account-based marketing relies on outbound channels like email and targeted advertising. When done well these tactics can extend a personalized experience — but if you’re not careful, uninvited outbound tactics can become spammy and disruptive. When done poorly, ABM can start to resemble the spammy approaches inbound was set up to counter.

How Can I Do Account-Based Marketing?

To ensure you keep humans at the center of your account-based marketing strategy, stick to the principles. Make account-based marketing about tailoring the way you communicate with your target company and be wary of any tactics that may overwhelm them.

There are five primary stages to account-based marketing that work hand-in-hand with inbound marketing. Let’s walk through each and detail how you can conduct ABM in a human-friendly way.

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Identify

Account-based marketing begins with Sales and Marketing identifying and selecting relevant accounts. When beginning this selection process, firmographic data, such as company size, number of employees, location, and annual revenue, can give you an understanding of accounts you may want to target. Similar to inbound marketing, you can also use buyer personas to understand the day-to-day lives and challenges of your target buyers, and then determine content and channels to approach them.

Expand

In large sales — where ABM is typically used — buying decisions are generally made by numerous individuals within a company. ABM helps establish a relationship with each potential buyer and engages them in the purchase decision.

At the expand stage, creating unique, company-specific content that interests each potential buyer within the organization is important. Whether your product is for marketers, operations leaders, or anyone else, ensuring that you identify and engage with everyone in the buying decision is crucial to winning a customer.

Consider the challenges each of your stakeholders faces in order to create compelling content. For example, Finance may be concerned with pricing, while Operations might be focused on user access, ease of use, and security. With this context, you can create targeted content and interactions that match each individual’s concerns and challenges.

Engage

Here’s where Sales and Marketing come together and join the party to engage with stakeholders across various channels. For example, if one of your stakeholders prefers email, then equipping salespeople to reach out to that person with a helpful and relevant message can get a conversation started. This stage is largely about developing relationships with and getting to know all the buyers who will make the final decision.

Advocate

Next, you want to nurture bonds with a few stakeholders who can serve as advocates within the organization. The modern buyer is not looking for more information about products or services and can tune out information they don’t want to hear. So it’s up to both Marketing and Sales here to provide value — and talk about the product when and where necessary.

Measure

Finally, reporting at the account level can give you data on what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve over time. Within HubSpot, you can report on company growth, revenue, job titles, engagement levels, and much more — all at the account level.

So, where do you go from here? If you’re a company that sells into a smaller addressable market and has its sights on a handful of highly critical accounts, you can learn more about building an ABM strategy without abandoning your inbound philosophy in this webinar.

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May

16

2017

Social Media Copywriting: How to Compose Text for 5 Different Channels

Published by in category Daily, Social Media | Comments are closed

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Most of us know that social media is an essential part of a brand’s marketing strategy. After all, 92% of marketers say that social media is important to their business. And yet, managing it continues to be a source of frustration for many.

That’s understandable — there are many moving parts to a successful social media strategy. There’s knowing the right frequency with which to post. There’s the measurement of any ROI on these efforts. And, there’s determining what the heck to post to each channel.

There’s technology available, for example, to post the same content to multiple social media channels. But should you be posting identical messages to each network? As it turns out — no. Different channels have different audiences, peak times, and character limits. And each one is built for a different style of writing, which means there’s one more thing to consider: What should the copy for each social network look like? Manage and plan your social media content with the help of this free calendar  template.

That’s why we put together the guidelines below to compose copy for five different social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Snapchat. So read on — and start writing.

How to Compose Text for 5 Social Media Channels

1) Facebook

Let’s start with a look at Facebook’s audience:

PI_2016.11.11_Social-Media-Update_0-02.pngSource: Pew Research Center

With 79% of all online adults on Facebook, it continues to be the highest-utilized social network of those measured in Pew Research Center’s 2016 Social Media Update. But out of the channels we’ll cover here, it also has the highest rate of usage among the 65+ audience.

When you’re composing text for Facebook, it’s important to keep these data in mind — especially if that’s who your brand is targeting. Let’s say you’re creating a marketing budget and want to decide how to allocate a portion for social media. While we encourage having a presence across all channels, if you’re aiming for the attention of the 65+ audience, this might be the best network for an ad spend or a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. Focus your energy here, and then repurpose that content for other channels.

Less than half of marketers believe that their Facebook efforts are effective — and we have to wonder if that might have something to do with the content they’re sharing on that particular network. So let’s go over some basic ground rules:

  • Make sure your formatting is correct. That’s a big reason why we discourage auto-posting duplicate content across multiple channels — you risk including an “@user” tag that’s only fitting for Twitter or Instagram.
  • Facebook’s character limit on status updates is 63,206. However, that’s far from ideal. Generally, people don’t visit Facebook to consume long-form text or stories — that’s what your blog is for. In fact, Buffer has found that Facebook posts with 80 characters or less receive 66% higher engagement.
  • Plus, less text allows greater focus to be placed on any visual content that accompanies it. Posts with images, for example, see 2.3X more engagement than those without.

Facebook is a particularly good vehicle for promoting your external content — things like blog posts, reports, or videos. That’s what 76% of users seek when they visit Facebook: interesting content. But don’t just post a link without a description. Be sure to accompany it with brief, attention-grabbing text that signals what the content is about, or poses a question that it answers.

2) Twitter

PI_2016.11.11_Social-Media-Update_0-04.pngSource: Pew Research Center

Tweets have long come with a maximum of 140 characters, but that doesn’t include images, videos, polls, or tweets that you quote. Plus, according to social media scientist Dan Zarrella, the ideal length is actually around 120-130 characters — those tweets showed the highest click-through rate (CTR).

PI_2016.11.11_Social-Media-Update_0-02.pngSource: Buffer

When you’re composing copy for tweets, remember that hashtags are an effective way to indicate and summarize what your message is about. Plus, it’s a nice way to become discovered by users who might be using hashtags to search for tweets pertaining to a certain topic — Buddy Media found that all tweets with hashtags get double the engagement.

But exercise some restraint with hashtags, and make sure the text that accompanies them comprises the majority of the tweet. Limit it to one or two — these tweets have a 21% higher engagement than those with three or more.

PI_2016.11.11_Social-Media-Update_0-02.pngSource: Buffer

Notice how music site Pitchfork uses Twitter to promote its Facebook content:

Today at 1:15pm EST: We’ll be live streaming @SlowdiveBand‘s private session at a recording studio in Brooklyn https://t.co/QoPu1cazZL

— Pitchfork (@pitchfork)
May 9, 2017

Let’s say you have a bigger audience on Twitter than on Facebook, but you want to build your presence on the latter. Twitter can be a good vehicle for driving traffic there, by promoting things like live streams that will be taking place on your page.

3) LinkedIn

PI_2016.11.11_Social-Media-Update_0-05.pngSource: Pew Research Center

LinkedIn has become an interesting content distribution channel. Users can share simple post updates, usually business-related (think: job openings and professional conferences), and push them to Twitter at the same time, though we don’t recommend that — see our note on the problems with identical content across different channels.

But in 2012, LinkedIn introduced its Influencers program, which recruited notable business figures to guest blog on LinkedIn’s publishing platform. Eventually, that platform became open to all LinkedIn members in 2014, positioning it as an outlet for people to share original content with an audience much larger than they may have received on their own domains.

That’s part of decentralized content: A concept that allows users to share their work that has been published elsewhere on a content creation platform. Unlike most social media — where limited content is displayed — the full text and images of the work are shared, with the original author and source credited, on a site different from its origin.

That makes LinkedIn a good place to re-post and link back to your blog content. But why make the duplicate effort? Well, consider this: 29% of all online adults use LinkedIn. Does your blog have that kind of reach? If it doesn’t, you can reach LinkedIn’s larger audience by syndicating your own content on their platform, drawing more attention to your work.

According to Andy Foote, the character limits for these posts are 100 for the headline, and 40,000 for the body.

4) Instagram

PI_2016.11.11_Social-Media-Update_0-03.pngSource: Pew Research Center

Since Instagram is, first and foremost, a platform for sharing photos and videos, the primary focus should typically be on your visual content. But it’s helpful to provide context that lets users know what they’re viewing — within reason.

Like many of the other channels we’ve discussed, people don’t use Instagram to read long-form content. And while Instagram doesn’t appear to specify a maximum total number of caption characters, it’s cut off after the first three lines. That’s why we recommend limiting captions to that amount, and if you require more text, make sure the most important information — like calls-to-action — is included in the first three lines. Hashtags, @mentions, and extraneous details can go toward the end of the copy.

Here’s a good example from New York Magazine. Without pressing “play,” the post appears to just be an image of a laundry basket — something that could mean any number of things without context. But the caption is used to indicate that the magazine recently did a roundup on the best socks for every occasion. Cute, right?

Using your caption to provide context is especially important when sharing videos. These typically automatically play without sound, so use the description to let them know what they can’t hear — and maybe even motivate them to listen.

And about those hashtags: Unlike Twitter, it’s okay to use more than two here, but it’s advised to use less than eight. According to research conducted by Piqora, the sweet spot seems to be around seven hashtags — those Instagram posts seem to get the most engagement.

Instagram-Study-Piqora2.jpgSource: Social Fresh

As for Instagram Stories, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of detail on character limits there but because the text overlays the visual content — which is the focus — don’t obscure too much of the photo or video with a caption.

5) Snapchat

While we’re on the topic of not obscuring visual content, let’s discuss Snapchat. Again, because the focus here is on the visual, you’ll want to prevent distracting viewers from it with too much text.

According to Teen Vogue, Snapchat’s character limit is 80 per post. The word “snap” implies brevity, so try not to ramble. The same goes for your Snapchat story: “a compilation of Snaps that a friend has posted to their Story over the last 24 hours.

Here’s a fun example of how the Food Network created an entire Snapchat story based on the idea of coffee. It began with a small promo on “3 Ways to Step Up Your Iced Coffee Game” under Featured Stories:

Featured Snapchat StoriesSource: Social Fresh

Then, it shared a series of animated images and videos all pertaining to the topic, ranging from recipe tips to clips from the network’s show, “Cutthroat Kitchen.” It took a simple topic — coffee — and expanded it into engaging, consumable content to highlight what the brand does best.

Notice that for certain parts of the story, there’s a call-to-action at the bottom to “Watch” or “Read.” While Snapchat doesn’t make this entirely clear, it seems like that’s strictly a feature of ads, and not something that can be added organically. However, if your budget permits, adding these CTAs is another way to drive attention to you longer-form content.

Get That Copy Right

Managing your brand’s social media presence is no simple task, but it’s more than possible. And now, writing creative, compelling copy for your various channels can become a fun task.

Draw some information about your audience composition for each social network. Then, see how that compares to the usership data from Pew Research Center. From there, you can see where you have the most active audience, and how you can repurpose content from one channel to draw attention to another one — and attract website traffic.

How do you create and repurpose copy for social media? Let us know in the comments.

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May

13

2017

9 Clever Ways to Get More Comments on Instagram

Published by in category Daily, Social Media | Comments are closed

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If you’re not a total Instagram addict like me, you might go a day or two without checking your app. And when you check your feed, you might notice that some posts from friends were shared mere minutes ago, while others might be a few days old.

So, what gives? Why isn’t your Instagram feed chronological anymore?

Like many other social networks, Instagram’s algorithm changed.

Download our essential guide to Instagram for business for more helpful tips  and tricks.

In this post, we’ll give you a quick rundown of what’s new with the algorithm, along with tips on how to create the most engaging posts possible to get more comments on Instagram — which help you jump higher in the feed and get discovered by new users.

Guide to the Instagram Feed Algorithm

In June 2016, Instagram announced it was changing its algorithm to show users content they cared about first — no matter when it was posted. This could make it tougher for social media marketers to get organic Instagram posts seen because most users miss 70% of the content on their feeds.

That’s where engagement comes in. There are a few factors that influence a post’s ranking on the Instagram feed, and the number of likes and comments a post achieves is one of them. Here’s what matters when it comes to ranking on an Instagram user’s feed:

  1. The number of Likes and comments a post has
  2. If that user has interacted with your content in the past
  3. How recently you posted

If your organic Instagram posts get engagement from your followers, it creates a positive feedback loop: the more people like and comment on a post, the greater likelihood it will appear on the Explore tab, where users who don’t already follow you can check out your popular content.

Before we jump into strategies for attracting more comments, there are a few things you need to do:

1) Make your account public.

Make sure new followers can find your content by opening your account. Navigate to your profile, tap the Settings gear icon in the upper right-hand corner, and toggle the Private Account button to the Off position.

instagram-public-account.png

2) Enable push notifications.

Turn on push notifications so you can quickly reply to or like your followers’ comments. Remember, the more users interact with your account, the higher on their feeds your content will appear.

Navigate to your profile, tap the Settings gear icon in the upper right-hand corner, tap Push Notification Settings, and choose which Instagram actions you want to be notified for.

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3) Curate excellent content.

People aren’t going to comment on uninteresting content, so enlist one team member to manage the scheduling and editing of Instagram content, but open it up to a larger team to source different photos, videos, and ideas to keep your Instagram feed fresh and interesting.

4) Develop an Instagram editorial calendar.

Figure out an Instagram publishing cadence that works for you — and we recommend posting no more than once per day. Remember, timing is a factor in the algorithm, so you don’t want posts from earlier in the day to get lost in the shuffle. Download our social media content calendar to keep track of what you’re posting across other social platforms so you’re not repetitive and you’re covering all of your bases.

Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s dive into strategies for getting more comments (and likes) on Instagram.

9 Ways to Get More Comments on Instagram

1) Host a giveaway or contest.

A fun and easy way to get followers to comment on your Instagram posts is by hosting an Instagram contest or giveaway. You could post on Instagram promoting the contest, then ask users to enter by commenting on your post. You could make your contest a weeklong campaign, where users have to comment each day. You could even incorporate user-generated content (UGC) and ask followers to post their own photos and to tag/mention your brand in the post.

Here’s an example of an Instagram contest we ran for our attendees at INBOUND 2016, HubSpot’s annual marketing and sales event:

Social Media Examiner has a great guide for running Instagram contests — check it out here.

2) Host an Instagram takeover.

Instagram takeovers are a fun way to get fresh content on your Instagram and to work with colleagues and influencers. They’re a smart way to generate more Instagram engagement, too.

Takeovers involve one Instagram user taking over another’s feed, usually for a day, and posting from their point of view. Takeovers are often done from the perspective of:

  • A colleague
  • An influencer
  • Another organization in your industry

These takeovers help generate more Instagram comments whether it takes place on your account or you’re taking over another account. Here’s an example of a takeover we hosted with our friends over at WeWork. WeWork was able to share brand and member stories to a whole new audience of HubSpot’s engaged followers.

WeWork closed the takeover with a call-to-action (CTA) to follow its Instagram account — where new followers will start liking and commenting on new posts. And over at HubSpot, we enjoyed comments from WeWork fans and others interested in the takeover.

Takeovers are a win-win for hosts and guests. Learn how to host one with help from Buffer.

3) Ask users to engage in the comments.

A simple way to get more Instagram comments is to ask for them.

Post content on Instagram that lends itself to sharing, and ask users to answer a question or tag their friends and coworkers in the comments. It’s a fun and easy way to interact with your audience, and it helps you garner more comments, too.

Here’s an example of an Instagram post we shared in which we asked our followers a question. You can caption posts with simple questions like “Agree or disagree?” or “What’s your advice?” to prompt responses and earn more comments.

4) Post something funny, surprising, or provocative.

In a study of what makes content go viral, research revealed some of the most viral internet moments also provoked high-arousal emotions. Among the most common were posts that created anticipation, surprised the viewer, and provoked curiosity and uncertainty. Emotions that incited feelings of joy were also among the most common, so think about content you could share on Instagram that makes people feel an emotion so strongly that they’re compelled to comment on it.

Is there content you could post about a surprising fact, a happy moment, or an intriguing industry trend? It doesn’t need to be specifically about your brand, either — content that’s enjoyable for a broad audience will likely attract more comments.

It can be silly, too — here’s our teaser video for our April Fool’s Day prank about “gorilla” marketing that attracted a lot of attention — while building anticipation and a sense of surprise.

 

Is this week dragging for you, too?

A post shared by HubSpot (@hubspot) on Mar 31, 2017 at 1:11pm PDT

5) Post videos.

Time spent viewing videos on Instagram increased 40% in 2016, and now, users can post videos up to one minute in length. Post this engaging content to get followers to stop scrolling through their busy Instagram feeds and watch your video — and make sure it’s intruiging. Your audience wants more video content — especially on social media — so if you share something compelling and ask viewers to comment on it in the caption, they’ll most likely do it.

Create short videos for Instagram that tease longer videos on other platforms — like Facebook or YouTube — or post longer video (up to 60 seconds) as we did here:

 

What’s new with Facebook? Before you tune into today’s F8 keynote, catch up on what happened on Day 1.

A post shared by HubSpot (@hubspot) on Apr 19, 2017 at 9:03am PDT

6) Use relevant hashtags.

When you post your content with relevant, popular Instagram hashtags, your posts appear in searches for those hashtags and the Explore tab. In fact, posts with at least one hashtag typically attain more than 12% more engagement. Influencers and interested users might organically comment when they see you talking about topics they’re also interested in, or you could combine some of the strategies above to generate engagement.

Ask followers how they celebrated #SundayFunday, acknowledge a #ThrowbackThursday, or use one of the hundreds of hashtags relevant to your industry or your content to get new audience members involved in the conversation. We did this with Earth Day hashtags in the example below:

Here’s a guide to finding and using Instagram hashtags, as well as a massive list of the most popular hashtags you can use.

7) Publish at the right time of day.

There’s a lot of debate over the best time of day to post on social media, and that’s because the answer varies depending on your industry, your followers, and what type of content you’re posting.

Our best advice is to test out your engagement rates on Instagram when you post at different times throughout the week, and determine your publishing schedule based on the results. Whether it’s bright and early on Monday morning or later in the afternoon, try to figure out the time when your followers are more willing to stop and leave a comment to maximize the engagement of your posts each day. Use a social media content calendar to track scheduling and results.

8) Post photos of people’s faces.

Let’s face it — selfies are fun. And as it turns out, they’re good for your Instagram strategy, too.

An analysis of more than 1 million Instagram posts by Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs found that posts with human faces are 32% more likely to attract comments — and 38% more likely to garner likes. There isn’t a ton of insight into why this is, but the researchers suspected that it’s partly because faces are effective sources of nonverbal communication that people respond to — even as infants.

Post Instagram content featuring selfies, group shots, and candid photos, and see if your audience likes the human side of your brand, too. Here’s a post featuring the faces of our recruiting team that generated a lot of comments:

9) Post photos of animals.

There isn’t a lot of research to back this one up, but you know as well as I do that animals on social media are powerful. Animals have been popular on the web for a long time, and animal influencers can earn just as much money as human influencers on Instagram, Whether you have animals in your office or a cute picture of a coworker’s pet, try posting lighter, fun content on Instagram accompanied by a furry friend to see if your audience likes commenting on animals, too.

Here’s one of our favorite dogs here at HubSpot — he racked up 24 comments and almost 800 likes.

 

Some days you just need to hug a pup to help get you through the work day. 🐶 📷 @mmsmall

A post shared by HubSpot (@hubspot) on Mar 15, 2017 at 7:51am PDT

Engagement Is Key

Likes, comments, and video views are valuable on Instagram because they influence where your posts sit in the feed. Additionally, your content will be discoverable on the Explore tab if a lot of users interact with your posts — so test out these methods for attracting more responses on Instagram. For more ideas, check out our guide to Instagram for business.

What are your strategies for getting more comments on Instagram? Share with us in the comments below.

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May

13

2017

7 of the Best Mood-Boosting Websites We Could Find

Published by in category Daily, productivity | Comments are closed

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I will never forget the day I learned that watching cat videos is proven to enhance your mood.

Even to a bonafide dog person, the news was good. In a study conducted at Indiana University Bloomington, participants reported “fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, after watching cat-related online media than before.

And it’s not just cat videos — the same conclusions have been drawn about humor in general. Researchers at Loma Linda University found that, in aging adults, watching comedic videos correlated with improved short-term memory. In other words: Funny is good.

We believe these findings particularly apply during the work day. When our days reach a stressful climax, or we’re feeling particularly frustrated, that’s when self-care becomes imperative. But there’s time and efficiency to consider. In the middle of a winter afternoon, for example, a long walk might not be the best option. That’s where the internet becomes especially useful — it’s full of those mood boosting videos that even academic researchers have found to be mentally beneficial. New Call-to-action

But what are some of the best go-to websites for mood-boosting content? I surveyed the web and my colleagues for some favorite online sources of a quick pick-me-up, and selected the seven best ones to seek out in the middle of a hectic work day. So go ahead — click, and smile. You’ll be glad you did.

7 of the Best Mood-Boosting Websites We Could Find

1) Animal Planet Kitten Cam

Live video by Animal Planet L!ve

Sophia Bernazzani, Staff Writer, HubSpot Marketing Blog:

I’m a huge animal lover, and during a hectic and stressful workday, watching a live feed of a bunch of kittens playing is a fun way to take a quick mental break without getting too distracted.”

Visit this online destination if:

You love watching adorable things happen in real time. There’s a reason why live videos get 3X more viewing time than pre-recorded ones — it’s fun to watch things unfold as they happen, even if it’s a cat discovering yarn for the first time.

Author’s note: For my fellow dog people, there’s also an Animal Planet Puppy Cam.

2) Huffington Post Good News Section

HuffPost Good News

Aja Frost, Staff Writer, HubSpot Sales Blog:

When I need a quick reminder about all the cool, heart-warming, inspiring things people do for one another each and every day, I check Huffington Post’s Good News vertical. It’s a curated collection of happy news — often stories that are overshadowed by more dramatic (read: more depressing) events.”

Visit this online destination if:

You get overwhelmed by coverage of less-than-positive current events. This site provides great fodder for watercooler talk, but focuses on, well, the good stuff.

3) Find the Invisible Cow

Invisible CowSource: StrauberryPlays

Nick Carney, Social Media Marketer:

Sometimes, there are days when you just need a win — something to pick you up and carry you through the rest of the day. For me, there’s nothing much more satisfying than finding an invisible cow. It makes me feel more accomplished and ready to take on the world, one elusive cow at a time.”

Visit this online destination if:

You like a tiny challenge with your midday break. While it’s not exactly a mind-bending game, Find the Invisible Cow provides just enough stimulation for your brain to feel like you’ve accomplished something. Plus, the more you win, the more animal options you have to choose from.

4) Cute Overload

Cute Overload

Janessa Lantz, ‎Principal Content Marketing Strategist:

Cute Overload is my go-to rainy day pickup. Puppies wearing red galoshes and kittens snuggling with hamsters will always make me feel better about life. And even though it’s no longer publishing new content, the archive is still filled with joy.”

Visit this online destination if:

You’re the nostalgic type. In January 2016, Cute Overload decided to stop publishing new content — read more about that here — but its previous posts are still alive and well at the original URL. So if you’re the type of person who never gets sick of seeing videos about seals, bunnies, and polar bears that have been curated from a variety of sites, this destination is for you.

5) Spotify

When I told Bernazzani that I would be writing this roundup, she quickly pointed me in the direction of Spotify. The digital music provider, she explained, “has curated playlists that are specifically about mood and attitude.” Some of our favorites? “Brain Food,” “Songs to Sing in the Shower,” and, of course, “Mood Booster,” which we’ve embedded below.

Visit this online destination if:

Working in silence makes you bonkers — or, if you really do need a quick and easy mood boost. Music is known for its multiple physiological benefits, which are reviewed quite thoroughly in this study of its neurochemistry. But not only can it help to regulate your mood, but also, it can be intellectually stimulating, making it a great way to take a break before resuming a challenging task.

6) BarkPost Humor

BarkPost.png

BarkPost is one of those delightful websites full of content that either leaves you in stitches, or clinging to your pets for dear life. If you prefer to avoid the latter — which is likely here, considering you’re seeking a mood-booster and not a downer — we recommend checking out BarkPost Humor, which is packed full of trending stories, photos, and videos of dogs being unintentionally hilarious. Is it hard news? Not really, unless you consider one woman’s tale of sending her dog and cat to a marriage counselor to be heavy-hitting journalism. But honestly, who wouldn’t want to read that story?

Visit this online destination if:

You never, ever, ever, get sick of seeing funny dog videos — whether you’re in a bad mood or not.

7) Audiotree

You might be thinking, “Are all of these sites related to animals and music?” Well … almost. But hey, as per the studies cited previously, those are two of the biggest mood boosters out there.

For the latter, there’s Audiotree, the aptly self-described “artist discovery platform.” Whether you’re into studio sessions, live-streamed concerts (and remember — that type of video gets over 3X the views as others), or documentaries, this site has something for you.

But what makes this site particularly mood-boosting? For us, it’s the variety of content. It might seem like music is intuitively consumed one way — by listening to it — but Audiotree has made it a mission to diversify the way we do that. Plus, they share interesting stories about the people who write and perform it, adding a learning element to the way we enjoy a great song.

Visit this online destination if:

You love your favorite artists, but want to find something new. You may not have heard of the ones featured on this site before, but what better way to boost your mood than with a new favorite song?

Get Happy

I don’t know about you, but I feel better already. Many of these sites were unfamiliar to me when I first began working on this article, and just listening to my colleagues describe them with such enthusiasm was a treat. Experiencing them was even better — and I definitely found myself feeling slightly less stressed and preoccupied once I explored some of what they had to offer.

And if you feel like you’re too busy to take a break, know this: The top 10% of most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in. So if you feel your earlobes starting to leave marks in your shoulders, please — watch a cat video, listen to an awesome new song, or read about some good news. Take notes right afterward on how you feel, and see how taking these mini mood-boosting breaks impacts your disposition over time.

What are your favorite mood-boosting websites? Let us know in the comments.

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May

12

2017

10 Content Curation Tools Every Marketer Needs

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily | Comments are closed

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“Curation” is one of those words that’s always conveyed coolness to me. Take, for example, the job of curating art for a gallery, or curating music for a soundtrack. Cool, right? Content curation is just as much fun — and just as important.

For the uninitiated, content curation consists of finding material relevant to your audience from a variety of sources, and sharing it strategically through your communication channels. For example, writing a roundup blog post of great marketing examples would require you to curate strong samples of content relevant to what you’re writing about. And while very cool, it can be tricky. There are many, many social networks, news feeds, emails, and infographics full of such content that can demand your time and attention.

That’s why the responsibility of content curation is important. Think of it as being a successful wedding DJ: Your selections can’t all be ad hoc and safe. After all, people can only hear Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” so many times before the floor clears, and that sort of playlist isn’t personalized for your audience. But if you know your audience, you can accurately gauge the temperature of the room and have the confidence to give the people what they want.

Download our free guide here for more content marketing tips and hacks.

The same goes for content curation. Instead of just rounding up the most generally popular things on the web, pick the ones that are going to be the most relevant and interesting to your audience, and provide the context around them that makes your site a destination. Of course, we never said that was easy. Where do you find this content, anyway, especially given the information overload we opened with? Good news: We’re here to help you prioritize the resources by outlining some of our favorites below.

But First, What Makes A Successful Content Curator?

1) Content curation should be personal.

NextDraft

The beauty of news roundup NextDraft is the personal touch and context that its chief curator, Dave Pell, gives to each story. I don’t just want a bunch of browsable links — I want to know why I should read this stuff, and how it pertains to me. That personalized context creates a type of bond between curator and reader that something like simple link aggregators don’t humanize quite as much.

2) Content curation should build value.

Here’s a little secret: No matter which industry your customers are in, all of them want to stay informed, but also save time. Just like you, they have demands and can’t possibly keep up with all the latest news in their industry — but they want to. Helping to solve this problem through personalized content curation presents a huge opportunity for brands to build a relationship with their audience.

If you can deliver a curated experience that saves your customers time in getting the information they need, you’ve taken a major step on the path of building trust and loyalty.

3) Content curation should offset promotional content.

Customers can grow tired of brands ceaselessly promoting their own wares, which is why progressive brands think beyond products or features. The relationship customers have with brands today transcends the product itself — after all, that’s part of the foundation of inbound marketing. So while a product may initially attract you to a specific brand, it’s what the brand holistically offers after the purchase — like great content or remarkable service — that keeps you around.

For example, I own only one jacket from the brand Arc’teryx, and yet, I follow it on YouTube and Twitter, and receive its emails. Why? Because the company is doing more than pushing products on me. Rather, it’s also pushing content and an experience that brightens my day. Check out this film series, A Skier’s Journey, that the brand played a role in producing:

4) Content Curation Shouldn’t Take All Day

At last: We’ve arrived at our favorite tools for content curation. Thanks to a slew of websites and technologies, it’s never been easier to find the external information that will serve as a resource for your customers. But they need to be prioritized — so here’s our list, to help streamline your content curation efforts.

10 Content Curation Tools Every Marketer Needs

For Beginners

If you’re thinking, “Yeah, I occasionally share a relevant post with my customers when I find one,” congratulations — you’re curating content. Unfortunately, you’re not doing so on a sustainable scale that makes you a trusted source.

But don’t worry — there are better ways to curate content for beginners that are completely free. Here are three simple sources of information to help you start getting in the habit of curating content, without being overwhelmed by complex tools, subscription fees or convoluted dashboards.

1) Pocket

Pocket

Pocket is a great place to get into the habit of accruing content to save and share later. Instead of a laundry list of bookmarks or countless emails you’ve sent to yourself with links, it keeps all your interesting images, articles, and videos in one place for reference. You can group articles with tags, and the site’s built-in search functionality makes finding those articles easy. Plus, it integrates with over 500 other apps, like Evernote, for seamless integration.

And as a bonus, Pocket tweets out their @PocketHits for the most-saved articles on their platform — a must-follow if you’re active on Twitter. For other “read-it-later” apps like Pocket, check out Instapaper.

2) Twitter Lists

TwitterLists

Twitter can be a streaming mess if you don’t organize the accounts you follow. That’s where Twitter lists come in handy — curated groups of Twitter users that you can categorize and follow separately from the rest of your feed. Here’s one that I created, which I continually manage and update. Even better, if you create a Pocket account, you can easily save articles from Twitter directly into your account.

Click here to learn how to start your first Twitter list.

3) Newsletters

Newsletters serve as a fantastic daily reminder to get your content curation done. For example, I follow HubSpot on Twitter, but don’t always get a chance to see its tweets when I’m busy. Fortunately, HubSpot also offers an email subscription. That way, if I don’t catch something notable on social media, I’m likely to catch it on email.

Whatever industry you’re in, stay on the lookout for newsletter subscriptions. And if a good one doesn’t exist in your industry, that’s the perfect opportunity to create one. But before you start your own newsletter, learn from what other outlets are doing. Here are a few that are doing a great job in original content curation:

  • Redef: Jason Hirschhorn, one of the pioneers in social media and formerly the co-president of MySpace, has launched a site curating the best in media, sports, fashion, music and technology. Subscribe to one of Reder’s newsletters for a taste of one of the best in content curation.
  • Quartz Daily Brief: Quartz has figured out how to make a text-heavy newsletter a stalwart in the news business with its Daily Brief. The beauty of the newsletter, because it’s text-based, is the cross-platform functionality. Without heavy images, the Daily Brief loads quickly on phones, tablets, and desktops, making it easy to read on any device.
  • Internet Brunch: Digital agency Big Spaceship created Internet Brunch to help folks “find the best news, GIFs, and trends from across the Internet.” From holidays, to current events, to celebrity birthdays, this roundup is sure to cover the important stuff that helps readers stay in the loop.

For Intermediates

Here are some great sources for when you’ve got the basics covered — resources like newsletters, social media, and read-it-later apps. But you’re looking for something a little more comprehensive, and if you’re willing to pay for a subscription, these are the comprehensive, algorithmically generated digests of news, feeds, and content to check out.

4) Scoop.it

Pricing: Free – $67/month

Scoopit

I like to think of Scoop.it as a nexus of content curation and social media, with a Pinterest-like user interface. Start with a topic of interest, and Scoop.it will not only generate the most relevant articles to view and share, but also, will suggest complementary topics and other Scoop.it users to follow. The site sends a daily update of the topics you follow, too, to help you keep pace with the most relevant articles to share.

The free version allows you to monitor one topic for posting, on two social media accounts. For a more robust platform that follows multiple topics for sharing across all your social channels, you might want to look into the paid options.

5) Feedly

Pricing: Free – $18 per user, per month

Feedly

Feedly is a supercharged RSS Feed. Here, content curation takes two routes: There’s web browsing 1.0 which is essentially visiting one site at a time, copying a URL, and pasting it accordingly. Then, there’s the news aggregation route that’s powered by Feedly. By simply adding a few of your favorite sources to Feedly, you can aggregate and browse these feeds in one place from your desktop and mobile devices. You can find a visual tutorial here.

6) Storify

Free options available | Demo of paid products by request

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 11.19.52 AM.png

Storify helps makes sense of an increasingly overwhelming and noisy social web. The concept is simple: Users can search, browse or create stories from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. From there, they can use that content to — as the name suggests — tell or follow a story.

At first glance, Storify’s comprehensive features and uses might be a bit confusing, so since it’s free to sign up for one version, it might be worthwhile to create an account and tinker around with it, to learn how it works.

7) Sniply

Pricing: $29 – $299/month

Sniply

Sniply is a conversion platform — by way of content curation. In a nutshell, it allows users to add a call-to-action to everything they share. “For example,” the site reads, “you can attach a button to the page that links to your own website, so that people can discover you while they read.”

It’s also a custom link shortener, so you can create branded links that are short enough to share on Twitter and the like. Here’s a quick video to show how it works:

For Advanced Users

Now we’re getting into some serious, enterprise-level curation software. These solutions work best for companies looking for a proven platform that’s capable of working with a team of users, editors, and content curators.

Enterprise-level curation provides users with advanced algorithms to find quantitatively relevant content for their audiences, a centralized publishing platform, and the ability to customize content, teams, and publishing channels.

8) Curata

Pricing information not available | Demos upon request here

Curata

The power of Curata lies in its ability to recommend and help users discover content relevant to their respective audiences, without a ton of human labor. Users can fine-tune, customize, and categorize content sources for review, and then distribute them, all from one central platform. The publishing and promotion allows you to repurpose curated content across your blog, social, newsletter, and automated marketing platforms.

9) PublishThis

Pricing information not available | Demo available by request

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 11.45.45 AM.png

Like Curata, PublishThis promotes the reliability of its algorithm to source relevant content for your audience–saving the time and headache that go with daily curation. It’s largely powered by what it calls Big Content, which is illustrated in this image below:  

big-content.png

In addition to customizing curated content to specific audiences, PublishThis also helps users manage and distribute original content, as well as adding conversions. As noted above, pricing information isn’t made publicly available, but a demo can be requested here.

10) TrapIt

Pricing information not available | Demo available by request

Trapit

Trapit may have once been designed purely for content creation, but now, its capabilities have expanded into employee advocacy — tools that help employees “follow best practices” on social media, as well as helping internal leaders become established thought leaders — and social selling.

Of course, the content element still remains. Some of the major pillars of Trapit’s platform include the ability to discover, organize, personalize, and distribute content. That’s where the social selling comes in — it helps users prospect, network, and build relationships by sharing the information that’s going to be most relevant to their targeted audiences.

Which Tool Is Right For You?

Before you select the best tools for your business, it’s important to understand the role content curation will play in your marketing operations and the size of your team. If you’re a one-person marketing department, for example, the beginner and intermediate options should suffice for your needs. As your business and team grow, content curation may play a larger role and require more powerful software.

At that point, some of the advanced tools will help save time curating and getting everyone on the same page. Regardless of your team or business size, content curation should become a part of your content marketing strategy. Great curators build trust with their audiences and become an indispensable resource as they help to sift through online information to distribute what’s worth reading.

What curation tools have you found most helpful? Let us know in the comments.

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

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12

2017

Here's the 2017 State of Digital Marketing [Infographic]

Published by in category Daily, IGSS, SEO | Comments are closed

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Digital marketing is one of those areas that’s become, in a way, all-encompassing. There’s social media, there’s SEO, and there are the analytics that come with both. And with the rapid pace at which digital marketing evolves, it can be difficult and confusing to prioritize which parts deserve your attention.

That’s why the Search Engine Journal launched the 2017 State of Digital Marketing.
To find out where digital marketers focus their time and budgets, and how they set parameters of success, over 200 industry professionals were surveyed, filling roles within SEO, paid search, and content marketing. 

Some of the most interesting findings were broken down into the handy infographic below. Among them were statistics on PPC spending — which ranges from $50 to $5,000 — and data showing that Facebook is still the preferred social media channel for 62% of marketers.

Want to know where things stand in other areas of digital marketing? Read on to learn more.


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May

12

2017

The Best Advice for Marketers in 2017: Insights from 11 Experts

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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Don Draper wouldn’t know what hit him. Gone are the decadent days of the liquid lunch, three-piece suits, and Madison Avenue dominating the marketing landscape. Modern marketers have to be a jill-of-all-trades, with one foot in the real world, and one in cyberspace.

We live in an age of digital disruption and a constantly evolving marketing playground. 96% of B2C marketers believed they were experiencing “significant change” in 2014. That number would likely be 100% today.

Radio, television spots, billboards, full-page spreads in glossy magazines, and direct mail packages have been replaced by their online counterparts. In fact, companies with a comprehensive strategic vision combined with digital tactics perform 26% better on average.

Even online, though, certain tactics have already become obsolete. Banner ads and email blast campaigns, for example, don’t really cut it anymore. Evolve, or perish. Embrace digital, or be left behind. Diversify your channels, or risk being invisible.

Today, your marketing mix should include social media, SEO, influencers, PPC ads, a mobile-first mentality, segmented and transactional email, remarketing, content marketing, detailed buyer personas, big data, analytics … and probably about a dozen more components I’m forgetting at the moment.

Obviously, that’s a lot of moving parts. So what’s a marketer to do? Where do you focus first if you want to improve?

As always, you turn to the experts. I reached out to a handful of experts and influencers, asking them two simple questions:

  1. What’s the most important advice you can give a marketer in 2017?
  2. What are some traits and qualities that make a marketer successful?

Here are their responses. Read, learn, enjoy.

Marketing Advice for 2017 From the Experts

1) John Rampton, Due

john-rampton

A prolific contributor to The Huffington Post, Forbes, and Entrepreneur, Rampton is an online influencer, serial entrepreneur, and CEO of Due

Question #1: “Don’t get stuck in a rut, relying on the same tactics year after year. Continually reassess what you’re using and doing because online marketing, social media marketing tools, and audience preferences change faster than you realize. You will be left behind. I re-evaluate what we’re doing at least once a year and stay on top of new platforms and channels I need to incorporate in an upcoming marketing strategy revision.”

Question #2: “A successful marketer needs to be flexible, open, an active listener, and creative.”

2) Ann Handley, Annhandley.com

ann-handley

Handley hardly needs an introduction: she’s a bestselling author, keynote speaker, LinkedIn influencer, and chief content officer at MarketingProfs. Forbes named her the most influential woman in social media. See what all the fuss is about at her personal website.

Question #1: “Us[e] voice and tone consistently across all channels and accounts to convey brand. Your tone of voice is a differentiator in a sea of same, yet most organizations vastly undervalue it. Most spend a lot of time on the visual elements of their brand — but not a lot on tone of voice (what you sound like). So — embrace tone of voice as your gutsiest, bravest asset!”

3) Hiten Shah, Quick Sprout

hiten-shah

Shah’s list of SaaS startups reads like a who’s who of success: He’s the co-founder and former CEO of Kissmetrics, co-founder of Crazy Egg, and co-founder of Quick Sprout.

Question #1: “Always strive to find uncommon ways of marketing yourself and your business. That’s how you’ll discover some of the biggest, high leverage opportunities that others have not caught on to yet.”

Question #2: ” A childlike curiosity will serve you well not only in marketing, but also life in general. Never lose it.”

4) Michelle Killebrew, Nomiku

michelle-killebrew

With over 16 years of high tech marketing experience, Killebrew has led teams at both IBM and Fisher Investments. She describes herself as a marketing technologist, and is currently working with Nomiku.

Question #1: “This advice is a longstanding truth: Always put the customer first. Customer-centricity has always been a foundation to good marketing, but it’s becoming exponentially more critical as the customer has more control and less attention, more options and less tolerance for poor experience.”

Question #2: “Marketers must be inquisitive with a true thirst for learning. The landscape is changing daily — everything from the consumer expectation and attention, effective channels, strategies and methods, and the technology required to execute it all. Marketers must be inventors with a love of experimentation and iteration to serve their customers well and stay competitive.”

5) Michael Lykke Aagaard, Unbounce

michael-aagaard

Aagaard is an international speaker and senior conversion optimizer for Unbounce, the landing page and conversion specialists. With stints in Europe and North America, Aagaard describes himself as a practitioner and theorist on the subject.

Question #1: “Do everything you can to understand your target audience. The better you understand what reality looks like through their eyes, the easier it will be for you to make the right marketing decisions. In online marketing, we’re seeing everything through a digital lens. It can be easy to forget that you’re in the business of influencing real human behavior and decision-making — not just moving numbers around in a spreadsheet. Your marketing activities will only be effective if they have real impact on your real target audience. My best advice is to invest heavily in customer insight and market research.”

Question #2: “Having a strategic approach to problem solving is absolutely crucial. You need the ability to approach a complex situation, look at the data, cut through the clutter, carve out the best way forward and then ‘attack’! Also, being bold enough to admit when you’re wrong is very important. Stubbornly clinging to cherished notions and personal darlings rarely leads to insight or better results.”

6) Michael Brenner, Marketing Insider Group

michael-brenner

He’s the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, an internationally recognized keynote speaker, and an in-demand author, blogger, and contributor. Brenner has passion for and insight on both leadership and marketing strategies that work.

Question #1: ” Set a measurable and customer-centric goal focused on the impact you create for them and your company. My favorite metric to use is subscribers. Subscribers will tell you if the content you create is actually helping your customers. And subscribers have the added bonus of having real value to your company!”

Question #2: “Successful marketers have the courage to support the best ideas from across the organization. Not the stuff you did last year, or the thing your boss thinks will work, but the ideas that create real impact for customers.”

7) Laura Bilazarian, Teamable

laura-bilazarian

Bilazarian is the CEO and founder of Teamable — an employee referral and diversity hiring platform. Previous investment banker, Vietnam hotel builder, and rugby player, she’s a graduate of the Wharton Business School.

Question #1: Be authentic and hold yourself to a high standard in terms of the quality of content that you associate with yourself and your brand. Make it genuinely data-driven and tactical. Go back to the standards of a college thesis with the content you create — cite scientific sources, offer unique and contrarian insights supported by data, and so on. Learn real data science so that your experiments lead to the right conclusions with the minimum input. Understand how to optimize ROI with limited resources. Learn from your cutting edge customers and put what they’re doing out into the world, again in a scientific manner, so that the discipline your product supports evolves forward.”

Question #2: “Data-driven, creative, contrarian, and intuitive. That’s the kind of marketers we need today.”

8) Talia Wolf, GetUplift

talia-wolf

Wolf was previously the founder and CEO of Conversioner, and is the founder and chief optimizer at GetUplift, a boutique conversion optimization agency. She’s a guest blogger, keynote speaker, trainer, and advocate for using emotional targeting and persuasive design.

Question #1: “You’re not the hero of the story, your customer is. Most businesses tend to focus their entire marketing strategy by talking about their product or service, the features they provide, and their pricing. However, no matter what you’re selling, customers care more about the why than the what. If you make it about them, they will listen, they will read, they will convert, and they will come back.”

Question #2: Skills and techniques can be taught, but passionate, dedicated people are extremely rare and should be held on to. It’s not about how advanced they are, or if they know how to set up a campaign in AdWords or a variation in an A/B testing platform. It’s about their passion to learn, grow, and drive the company forward.”

9) Jason M. Lemkin, SaaStr

jason-lemkin

Lemkin is a SaaS founder, investor, and enthusiast, as well as the driving force behind SaaStr, a company that provides advice, wisdom, and investment funds to four to five SaaS startups each year. He previously worked at Adobe, and is a top three most popular author on Quora.

Question #1: “Understand what playbook works at which stage. Eventually, all playbooks converge. That, and protect your brand at all costs. Later, that and the quality of your team is all that will matter.”

Question #2: “Humility. A great marketer knows what she knows how to do, and what she doesn’t, and she seeks out help wherever she needs it. An arrogant marketer — or worse, a defensive marketer — is one destined for a series of short stints.”

10) Shama Hyder, Marketing Zen

shama-hyder

Hyder is a digital marketing strategist, bestselling author, CEO of Marketing Zen, a web and television personality, and a prolific guest contributor to sites including Forbes.

Question #1: Marketing today is an entire ecosystem and it is evolutionary. The best marketers approach it in that way — by constantly learning, measuring progress, and focusing on the bigger picture.”

 

11) Lars Lofgren, I Will Teach You To Be Rich

lars-lofgren

Lofgren is the senior director of growth at I Will Teach You To Be Rich, the lifestyle and finance company started by Ramit Sethi. He previously worked in growth and marketing for Kissmetrics before switching to his current position.

Question #1: “If there’s only one thing you do as a marketer, work to be a solid copywriter. It’s the foundational skill of all marketing and also has the highest leverage. It’ll help you with every single campaign and every single project. It also teaches you the core concepts of marketing such as target market, value props, positioning, persuasion, sales, and so forth. And as most marketers are terrible copywriters, it’s the fastest way to uplevel your own career and set you apart.”

Question #2: A relentless drive for truth. The best marketers don’t delude themselves about what’s working and what’s not. They’re great at self reflection, taking feedback, and understanding when the market wants something different than what they’re offering.”

What Marketing Means in 2017

If there’s a running theme here, it’s that you need to be excruciatingly careful with your brand, and an all-consuming sense of curiosity is worth more than any formal credential.

Your brand is your digital word. Protect it. Your curiosity can keep you on top of emerging trends, new tech tools, and developing platforms, channels, and tactics. It can allow you to stand out.

Modern marketing isn’t about where you studied the field, or what company you interned for, or even how clever you can be with taglines and slogans. It’s recognizing that not only have the rules changed, but it’s an entirely new game. It’s customers first and foremost: where are they (online), how are they accessing (mobile), what do they want and expect (premium service and experience)? Your job is to identify and then think like them.

Are you up for the challenge? Do you have the right people in place to make it happen? The individuals here are walking the walk, and talking the talk. Their advice is good advice.

Are you set up to follow it? If yes, then do. If not, make the necessary changes. Your future self will thank you.

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May

11

2017

Is Interactive Video the Next Big Thing? 3 Creative Examples from Brands

Published by in category Content Marketing, Daily, Video | Comments are closed

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It’s hardly a revelation to say that online video content is phenomenally popular. Millions of words have been written on the subject, and millions more will no doubt follow.

But one of the great things about marketers is that we’re always looking for what’s next. We know that it’s not enough to rest on our laurels, or rely on things that have worked in the past.

And when it comes to what’s next for video — I believe something is happening that we should all be feeling extremely excited about. Because, quite simply, it could enable us all to take video marketing to the next level all over again.

Is Interactive Video the Next Big Thing?

Limited Limitations

Some fairly obvious characteristics have made video the web’s most engaging media type when compared to text, images and combinations thereof. It’s the perfect blend of audio and visual elements, drilled down into bite-sized chunks that appeal to the modern viewers’ desire for immediate understanding.

But that’s not to say it’s quite the perfect storytelling device. It’s close, but falls down in one simple area: when it comes to interacting with video content, users have only really been able to play, pause, rewind and fast-forward.

Interactive video changes that. In a nutshell, this emerging technology combines video content with user input — allowing viewers to take a wide range of actions while watching video content.

They can click areas of the screen to define their own journey, answer questions, complete forms, buy products, download content and more — often without leaving the player window.

Interactive Video In Action

That’s a pretty broad definition and maybe not the easiest concept to visualize — so let’s take a look at some real-world examples.

We created the below example to explain the general idea behind interactive video and demonstrate a few possible use cases:

4 Interactive Video Examples from Brands

Now that we have a general understanding of what interactive video is and what it’s capable of, let’s take a look at some examples used by real brands.

1) Warner Bros | Focus

Ever seen the 2015 movie Focus starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie?  The guys at Warner Bros rolled out  a clever interactive video campaign to build awareness pre-release.

In the movie, Will Smith plays a con-artist — and the video lets the viewer make their own choices to see whether they have what it takes to pull off the perfect con.

Give it a shot and ask yourself: which would you be more likely to share with a friend? This gamified experience, or a traditional movie trailer?

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2) UK Resuscitation Council | Lifesaver

The next example was produced by the UK Resuscitation Council as an impactful way to educate viewers about safe, effective CPR. These are skills that we all hope we never need, but they could make the difference between life and death. It’s reported that CPR can double the chances of survival in cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Take a look at the video and just consider how much more impactful this campaign might be than a pamphlet or even a simple, linear instructional video. As the old proverb goes: “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I might remember, involve me and I’ll understand.”

Involving the viewer in the process of actually performing CPR in this way is much more visceral — and it certainly imprinted the basics of CPR on my own mind, in a way that I can’t imagine would be possible with other media types.

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3) Deloitte | Will You Fit Into Deloitte?

Another, more business-focused example would be this gamified recruitment experience for Deloitte. Broadly speaking, the campaign aims to educate potential recruits about the Deloitte culture while allowing the viewer to evaluate their own suitability to work within that culture.

Recruitment videos can be a little dry and boring, so this is a nice way to infuse things with a little fun without going too far off-message.

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Looking Ahead for Interactive Video

Like all new technology, interactive video might have started as a sort of “fringe” technology that seemed slightly intimidating, inaccessible and, most importantly, unaffordable. Now, that’s slowly changing. Costs are falling, businesses are getting inspired and the technology is increasingly available and accessible, even for SME’s and startups.

With all that said, adoption is far from widespread. Wyzowls state of video marketing survey 2017 suggests that, even among committed video marketers, adoption of interactive video is around the 24% mark. What’s interesting, though, is that 92% of those who’ve tried it, reported that they’ve found interactive video to be an effective tool for their business.

There are lots of exciting things happening in the world of video marketing — short-form, 360 and even VR — but interactive video might just be the most exciting of all. We can’t wait to see more brands serving up unique, interactive experiences to their customers as we all find out more about its potential for success.

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May

11

2017

The Scarcity Principle: How 8 Brands Created High Demand

Published by in category Daily, marketing data | Comments are closed

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If you took the same Introduction to Economics class that I struggled through in college, you might remember this key lesson:

The law of supply and demand states that a low supply and high demand for a product will typically increase its price.

Download the free introductory guide to marketing psychology here. 

Why am I telling you about basic economic rules? Because changes in the supply and demand of products can result in the scarcity principle coming into play.

This psychological principle of persuasion coined by Dr. Robert Cialdini means the rarer or more difficult to obtain a product, offer, or piece of content is, the more valuable it becomes. Because we think the product will soon be unavailable to us, we’re more likely to buy it than if there were no impression of scarcity.

Brands can use the scarcity principle to persuade people to fill out a lead form, purchase a product, or take another desired action. Here’s an example: On many air travel booking sites, such as KAYAK, flight listings are displayed with a note that only a few seats are left at a certain price. Check it out below:

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We know that airfare pricing is incredibly volatile — that’s why some of us wait until certain times or days of the week to make purchases — so the knowledge that only one seat is available at that price makes me think I should buy it now, instead of waiting and running the risk of paying more later.

Now that we’re all up to speed on scarcity, we wanted to highlight 10 other brands that successfully have successfully used the principle to market and sell different products.

8 Brands That Used the Scarcity Principle to Promote and Sell Products

1) Snap Inc.

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Source: Spectacles

Ephemeral social media app Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., unveiled Snapchat Spectacles in September 2016: sunglasses that could record 10-second videos from the perspective of the wearer. But instead of selling the new gadget online or at a storefront, Spectacles were initially only sold via Snapbots — smiling, Snapchat-themed vending machines that were randomly dropped in cities around the United States.

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Source: Phandroid

There were never announcements in advance of the arrival of Snapbots — most awareness was generated on social media channels, and huge lines of people would queue hoping to purchase Spectacles before the Snapbot ran out of stock for the day.

Now, Spectacles are sold online or at a few more permanent pop-up locations, so there’s no need to line up outside a vending machine if you don’t want to. But for the initial launch, the Snapbots were a unique approach to the scarcity complex. Spectacles were available for a limited time only — just the day the Snapbot was in your city, and you had to beat everyone else trying to buy Spectacles before the machine sold out.

Plus, the product’s scarcity meant nobody — ourselves included here at HubSpot — could stop talking about the Spectacles. Blog posts and social media comments about the unique selling approach helped fuel even more interest in the products. And although we don’t have hard numbers about how the Spectacles are performing, MediaKix projects Snap will achieve $5 billion in Spectacles sales by 2020.

2) Google

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Source: OptimiseWeb

If you still remember the brief time when we were all obsessed with joining Google+, you might recall that its summer 2011 launch was by invite-only: Users had to be invited by Google or by friends who shared an invitation with them. Under this system of exclusivity, 10 million users joined Google’s social network in just two weeks. By September 2011, Google+ was open to all Google account holders, and 400 million people signed up within its first year. Over 100 million of these were daily active users, and Google started competing with other popular social networks for users’ attention.

Google+ isn’t as popular nowadays — and in recent years, Google started rolling back Google+ from the rest of its more popular products, such as YouTube and Gmail. But the low supply of Google+ invites back at the time of the launch resulted in high demand and a massive number of signups.

3) Nintendo

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Source: TechCrunch

If you weren’t a big gamer back when Nintendo released the Wii gaming console in 2006, you might not remember that the Wii was one of the hottest commodities on the market. When it was officially released in November 2006, people lined up to get their hands on the Wii as soon as possible, but the mania didn’t end there. For nearly three years, the Wii was flying off the shelves and gaming stores couldn’t keep shelves stocked — despite Nintendo increasing its supply to 1.8 million and then 2.4 million units of production per month.

Supply eventually caught up with demand — 48 million Wiis sold later. By starting out with a low monthly production number, Nintendo ensured that customers would be clamoring to buy more right off the bat. The scarcity complex here made people desperate to buy a Wii whenever they could — especially after a Nintendo executive advised shoppers to “stalk the UPS driver” and to figure out when Wiis were being delivered to stores to get their hands on one.

4) Starbucks

Coffee lovers recently decried Starbucks for adding the “unicorn frappuccino” to its menu — made of ice cream, fruit flavors, and sour candy — but people couldn’t get enough of the brightly colored, highly Instagrammable drink. After stating on its website that the specialty drink would only be available for a few days, Starbucks was flooded with unicorn frappuccino orders — which quickly sold out within the first day. There are no sales numbers available for the specialty drink yet, but there are nearly 160,000 #unicornfrappuccino posts on Instagram.

Starbucks gets a lot of orders — and social media engagement — during another of its notorious limited-time offers: the Starbucks Red Cups. During the holiday season in December, Starbucks starts serving coffee in red cups for a limited time only to drive people into cafes and to get them sharing #RedCups photos on social media. In this case, scarcity + food and drink is the magic equation.

5) Girlfriend Collective

Girlfriend Collective’s offer was simple: For a limited time, if you paid for the cost of shipping, the brand would send you a pair of $100 leggings for free. All you had to do was share a link to its website on Facebook.

Girlfriend Collective had just launched its website, and it was asking its female consumers to spread the word about the leggings so it could dedicate 100% of its advertising budget to leggings production. And if you think about it, that was a smart approach. After all, which are you more willing to trust: a Facebook ad offering free leggings, or half of your friends in your News Feed advocating for the offer?

Using this model, Girlfriend Collective “sold” 10,000 pairs of leggings just on the first day of the campaign — in addition to the myriad of fans and buzz it scored as a by-product. The one-two punch of “limited supply” and “free” made this offer irresistible — even to me.

6) Groupon

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Source: Groupon

Groupon partners with different businesses to offer discounted services in exchange for new customers — and a split of the revenue. The site often uses a limited time remaining warning (pictured above) to encourage visitors to buy quickly at the risk of missing out on a good deal.

For some deals, Groupon uses a few marketing psychology persuasion tactics to encourage you to buy. Check out the deal below:

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This deal uses the scarcity principle and social proof to encourage you to buy it — it’s only available for a limited time, and almost 600 other people have already purchased it and rated it highly. These strategies work well — Groupon made more than $3 billion last year.

7) Spotify

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Source: Geek

When music streaming service Spotify was first launched, the United Kingdom were the only countries that didn’t require an invitation from a friend or from Spotify to sign up. But due to high demand, Spotify U.K. actually had to start requiring invitations to manage all of the news users. The caveat to the invitation-only launches of Spotify around the world? Anyone could sign up for a premium, paid Spotify account. Using the scarcity principle, Spotify managed high levels of consumer demand by offering them a way in — for a price. Now, half of Spotify’s 100 million users are paid subscribers.

8) TOMS

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Source: TOMS

The beloved TOMS shoes offer a great value proposition beyond comfort and style: For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates a pair to a child in need. TOMS takes that a step further by partnering with other advocacy organizations to share sales revenue to benefit other worthy causes.

Because the brand knows its customers are already philanthropic, it’s a safe bet they’ll want to purchase shoes benefiting other causes (such as pandas in the example above), but they still might need a push. So TOMS created this neat mini-site about why TOMS and WildAid are partnering, along with some fun facts about pandas and unique panda-themed shoe designs.

Then, once the visitor has read the entire compelling site and started browsing the vegan, panda-friendly footwear options, TOMS subtly lets them know that the shoes are only available for a short period of time. In other words, helping cute pandas is only an option for a limited time, too.

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TOMS approach of using the scarcity complex to encourage shopping and philanthropy works here — in fact, I might be buying a pair of these myself.

Sometimes, Less Is More

Invoking the scarcity principle to promote and sell a product can be an effective persuasion strategy, but you have to do it correctly. If you phrase the product scarcity as if there used to be a large supply, but due to increased demand, only a few products were left, consumers will be more receptive. But if you phrase the product scarcity as if only a few units of product were ever available, the principle of scarcity won’t be as effective at generating sales.

For more persuasive ideas for effective marketing messages, download our introduction to marketing psychology here.

Are there other brands you buy from that use the scarcity principle? Share with us in the comments below.

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