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Aug

2

2017

Successful Company Logos Have These Attributes In Common [Infographic]

Your company logo might not be a stand-alone indicator of success, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a thoughtful, eye-catching design — especially if you’re an early stage startup attempting to break into a competitive space. 

To see how high-growth companies are approaching logo design, the folks at SmartSign analyzed more than 2,000 company logos from the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies, seeking patterns that might indicate more than just an eye towards popular design trends.Notice something different? Click here to learn more about the HubSpot blog  redesign process.

They collected data on each logo’s dominant attributes (e.g.: minimal, angular), structure (e.g.: icon, wordmark), color scheme, and industry. While some of the findings clearly reflect expected trends (94% of the logos could be classified as minimal), others revealed some interesting insights into patterns across a variety of industries.

Curious to see what these powerhouse startup logos have in common? Check out the infographic below, and start planning your next redesign with this data in mind. 

Logo-Attributes.png

HubSpot Blog Design

 
HubSpot Blog Redesign

Jun

2

2017

The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post

Published by in category Blogging, Content Marketing, Daily, featured-1 | Comments are closed

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Even though we all are crunched for time, spouting off a mediocre blog post for the sake of hitting a deadline isn’t worth it. Considering our audiences have access to countless other articles, it’s unlikely that they’d settle for a half-baked attempt.

New Call-to-action

We get it, though: It can be difficult to keep track of all the right blog components when you’ve got a full plate of projects. There’s a lot to remember when crafting a solid blog post — which means there’s also a lot to forget.

To make sure nothing slips through the cracks and every one of your blog posts is both comprehensive and useful to your readers, we’ve created a rundown of everything you need to remember when you start writing. Bookmark this blog post, and make sure you’ve completed this checklist the next time you press “publish.”

How to Write a Perfect Blog Post

1) Headline

Every great blog post starts with a headline that grabs the reader’s attention, and compels them to click and keep reading to learn more. Internet readers have very short attention spans — around eight seconds in length — and the headline is one of the critical first elements that help readers decide if they want to click and stay on your site. In fact, 60% of readers don’t read past the headline, which presents a big opportunity. Here’s how to write a great headline:

Brainstorm a Working Title

Start with a working title in mind and brainstorm how to make the angle as interesting as possible. This is the phase of blogging where you start with a general topic and narrow down exactly what you want to write about that topic.

For example, if I want to write about the topic of “blogging,” I need to come up with a more specific working title first. And those working titles depend on the format of my blog post. Whether you’re writing a listicle, an explainer article, or a how-to guide, brainstorm a few titles to guide your research. Here are a few ideas:

  • The Guide to Business Blogging
  • How to Get Started with Blogging
  • 10 B2B Blogging Strategies We Love (and Why)

Once you have an angle you want to pursue, it’s time for keyword research.

Conduct Keyword Research

Keyword research will help you create a headline that will perform well on search engine results pages (SERPs). Your headline is one of many factors Google considers when ranking results on SERPs, and an optimized title will help people find the information they need more easily.

Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and HubSpot’s keywords tool can help you determine exactly which terms people are searching for, and which will be easier or more difficult for your new blog post to rank for.

“Blogging” is a broad search term, and when I dropped it into SEMrush, more than 75,000 keyword results were returned. We recommend targeting long-tail keywords that are more specific to the exact audience you’re targeting — which you can learn more about by creating buyer personas.

When I searched for “business blogging,” on the other hand, I found keywords with lower search volume, but would be more specifically targeted to the audience I’m trying to reach.

Once you’ve nailed the keyword you’re targeting, you can create your final title, as well as your headers (more on that later). For the purposes of this example, I chose, “The Definitive Guide to Business Blogging.”

Craft a Title

When it comes to the art of the perfect blog post, we’ve done some analysis and looked at how our own titles have performed. Here are the consistent principles we found:

  • The ideal blog post title length is 60 characters.
  • Headlines between 8 and 12 words are shared most often on Twitter.
  • Headlines between 12 and 14 words are liked most often on Facebook.

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We also found that headlines ending with a bracketed clarification — for example, “The Definitive Guide to Business Blogging [New Data]” — performed 38% better than titles without that clarification.

If you’re having trouble trimming down the length of a title, run it through SEOmofo and Twitter to see how the title will appear on SERPs and when it’s shared on social media.

2) Meta Description

The meta description doesn’t live on your blog post — it lives somewhere different that’s just as important.

The meta description refers to the HTML attribute that explains the contents of a given web page. Basically, it’s a short description you see on a SERP to “preview” what the page is about. Check it out below:

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The headline, URL, and meta description work together to convince searchers to click on a link to read the entire blog post, so you’ll want to put thought into what to write for this piece of your blog post, too.

In our analysis, we found the ideal meta description length is under 155 characters.

3) Featured Image

Featured images usually sit at the top of a blog post and are another element to draw readers in to learn more. The image should reflect what the story is about, intrigue readers, or provoke them. It shouldn’t be too literal or obvious, and it can simply be aesthetically pleasing, too.

Here’s an example of one of our featured images. It features a mobile phone and a bright yellow color — fitting, considering I was writing about Snapchat:

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Make sure you choose featured images that you’re legally able to edit and distribute. Here are some of our suggestions:

4) Introduction

The introduction needs to quickly hook your reader and convince her to read the rest of your blog post. It also has to let the reader know what your post is about, so she knows what she’s getting. Nobody likes clickbait, so you want to make sure your post is about what the headline says it is.

Whether your approach is humor, interesting and surprising facts, or asking a question, find a way to make the first lines of your blog posts as attention-grabbing as possible. Write an introduction that would make you want to keep reading an article — a quick few paragraphs to draw the reader in and let him know what he’s about to read.

Here’s an introduction my colleague, HubSpot Staff Writer Aja Frost, wrote that does this effectively:

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Frost uses a cliffhanger approach here — and now I want to read more to learn about how hard it is to be an entrepreneur. For more introduction inspiration outside of HubSpot Blogs, I recommend reading posts on Medium and Buffer.

5) Sub-Headers

Sub-headers are another on-page SEO element that helps your blog post to rank in Google Search. Sub-headers organize and break up your blog post into different sections to signal to Google (and your reader) what the post will cover.

Sub-headers should be written with H2 tags or smaller — never H1 tags, which signal a title. Use sub-headers to split up sections of your blog post — making sure to integrate the keywords you’re using this post to target.

In this particular post, I’m targeting the keywords “perfect blog post,” which I’ve used in my title and the first sub-header.

6) Body 

The meat of your blog post — separated by various sub-headers, of course — is where your readers will undoubtedly derive the most value. In our analysis, the ideal blog post length is roughly 2,100 words, but that will vary depending on your topic. Medium found that posts that took seven minutes to read earned the most engagement and attention, and serpIQ found that most of the top-10 Google results are between 2,032 and 2,416 words.

7) Data

Whenever it’s possible to use data and numbers, do so. Numbers written as numerals (23) instead of words (twenty-three) have been shown to attract reader attention when they quickly scan what they’re reading online. Additionally, numbers represent facts — which are unimpeachable and most trusted by your readers.

If you’re using numbers or data in your blog post, add [Data] or [Research] to your headline for additional impact, as we discussed earlier in the post.

8) Multimedia Elements

We’ve told you a few times that your reader is having trouble staying focused, so wherever it’s possible to use multimedia content to break up the blog post and re-engage your reader, add images, videos, audio recordings, and social media posts. Changing up the format of your blog post will provide additional value to your reader while making sure their eyes are focused on what they’re reading and seeing.

 

This pic sums up our #Mondaymood. What’s yours? 🗒🖊☕️

A post shared by HubSpot (@hubspot) on Mar 27, 2017 at 5:12am PDT

Works, huh? 

9) Conclusion

When you’re ready to wrap up and sign off, make sure to let your reader know the article is closing. Your conclusion doesn’t need to be lengthy, but it should serve to recap the blog post the reader just finished and provide more resources and guidance, if wanted. More on that next.

10) Call to Action

Finish your conclusion with a meaningful call to action (CTA) for your reader — whether it’s advice, a content offer, or a link to another related blog post. Use the last lines of your post to leave the reader feeling like he or she learned something from you — and like there’s even more to learn from you, creating the desire to click a link or CTA image and read more.

For more ideas on how to write a killer blog post, learn from our analysis of 175,000 B2B and B2C blog posts.

What’s your go-to blueprint for a blog post? Share with us in the comments below.

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May

5

2017

8 Snapchat Mistakes to Avoid (and How to Fix Them)

Published by in category Daily, featured-1, Social Media | Comments are closed

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Do you ever find yourself mindlessly scrolling on your phone — just tapping away at your various apps to see what’s going on?

It’s my go-to method for killing time when I’m commuting or waiting for my TV show to return from a commercial break. And I’ve found that when I’m bored, I’m more likely to breeze through the content I’m consuming without really looking at it. Do you know the feeling?

The name of the game when it comes to producing exceptional content on social media is to be eye-catching. Literally — your content needs to jump out from busy social media feeds to make me stop my scrolling and read, watch, or click on it.

To that end, we wanted to help you learn from mistakes we’ve seen on Snapchat that don’t make us want to click to learn more. Read on for common problems — and solutions — for making your Snapchat Stories as compelling and clickable as possible.

8 Snapchat Mistakes You Might Be Making

1) Your Stories are too long.

The problem: Your Story is made up of too many images and videos.

The solution: Keep your Story to 10 Snaps or fewer, and make them impactful.

Clicking is hard work.

Well, it’s not exactly grueling labor, but Snapchat users don’t want to spend a ton of time clicking through a myriad of Snaps to get to the meat of what you’re trying to communicate. If your message can’t be quickly told, it doesn’t mean it’s not an important message — it just might not be the best fit for an ephemeral Snapchat Story.

Here’s a Snapchat Story from Netflix (@netflix). It’s made up of 10 Snaps that effectively tell a story without taking too long or boring the viewer:

2) Your Stories are too short.

The problem: Your Story is so short as to be uninformative.

The solution: Make sure your stories have enough context to make sense.

Don’t go overboard with being concise, either. Make sure you’re posting enough Snaps that your Story is just that — a clear narrative. Use text, emojis, and narration to provide context for the viewer so your Story is memorable and helpful. 

Here’s an example of a short and sweet Snapchat Story from the United States White House (@whitehouse). The Story is only made up of two Snaps, but text and filters provide enough context for the viewer:

3) You post Stories too frequently.

The problem: You’re posting Snapchat Stories too often.

The solution: Post more impactful Stories at a lower frequency, and spread out Snaps throughout the day.

All social media platforms are different, and you should post on them differently. What works on Twitter won’t work exactly the same on Snapchat, and we recommend that you plan to post only once or twice per week on Snapchat.

Additionally, the more recently you’ve posted a Snap to your Story, the higher your brand’s name sits on the “Recent Updates” list. So when you plan out your Snaps for a Story, don’t post them all at once. Spread them out over the course of the day so absentminded scrollers (like me) see your brand’s name at the top of their feed whenever they log in.

4) Your Stories offer no way to engage.

The problem: Your Snapchat Story doesn’t include a call-to-action.

The solution: Include prompts to reply, take a screenshot, or visit a website.

If you’re using Snapchat for a brand, make sure there’s a call-to-action for your viewer to drive your goals. We suggest asking viewers to interact from within the Snapchat app by replying to Snaps, screenshotting images, or tuning in for more news at a later time. You can drive viewers to your website by asking them to screenshot a URL, too. Just check out this example from NASA on Snapchat (@nasa) that drivers viewers to its website:

5) Your Stories are too similar.

The problem: All of your Stories features the same people or themes.

The solution: Source content from other team members, and brainstorm creative one-off events to keep your Stories unique.

We know it’s hard to spice up your Snapchat Stories if you’re a one-person social media team. To help diversify your content and keep intriguing your visitors, invite your team members to submit pictures and ideas, and ask other people to “host” Snapchat Stories from time to time. You can plan out unique content for company events or social media holidays, too.

6) Your Snaps aren’t creative.

The problem: Your Stories are simply point-and-shoot images.

The solution: Use drawings, stickers, emojis, filters, and lenses.

Snapchat is far too fun to keep things simple. Instead of just shooting and posting raw photos and videos, make sure to explore the different creative features to make your content more unique.

Use creative features in moderation, and don’t go too overboard. Geofilters, emojis, and lenses are fun ways to make a selfie more interesting, add context to a Snap, or to show the lighter side of your brand’s personality. Just look at how Refinery29 (@refinery29) does this with emojis and drawings in its Snapchat Story interview:

7) Your Stories require sound.

The problem: Viewers have to turn up the volume to get the message of your Stories.

The solution: Use text and writing so videos can be consumed with or without sound.

Most videos on social media are watched while users are scrolling through their feeds, where videos auto-play on mute unless the user clicks to turn up the volume.

What does this mean? Your videos on Snapchat must be compelling and communicative, even without sound. Use captions, doodling, emojis, and filters to make your images say 1,000 words — without your followers needing to plug in headphones. If you need lots of text or narration to get your point across, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad story — it just might not be the best fit for Snapchat. Consider a post on another text-based social media platform, like Facebook or Twitter, instead.

Here’s an example of a thorough Snapchat Story from Sephora (@sephora). It’s narrated if you turn up the volume, but viewers still get all of the information they need just from watching:

8) You aren’t recording important Story metrics.

The problem: You’re only recording Story views and screenshots

The solution: Track Story clickthrough rates to analyze how viewers like your Snaps.

Snapchat’s analytics leave something to be desired for marketers wanting to track growth and engagement. As it is now, marketers can only track the number of story views and screenshots their Snapchat Stories earn, and these numbers must be recorded manually within the 24 hours before a Story disappears.

Another valuable metric that isn’t as self-evident? Story clickthrough rate change.

If you post a Snapchat Story made up of 10 separate Snaps, analyze how many views your first Snap received compared to your last Snap. If the number of views drops over the course of your entire Story, that’s a sign followers are tapping through the first or second Snaps — and then navigating away.

You can roughly calculate this by subtracting your last Snap’s number of views from your first Snap’s number of views. So for example, if your first Snap earned 100 views, and your final Snap only earned 80 views, your clickthrough rate declined by 20%.

Analyzing this, in addition to your number of views and other engagements, will give you an idea of who’s watching your Stories from start to finish. If you observe a lot of dropoff between your first and last Snaps, that’s a sign you need to experiment with shorter Stories or different content to keep followers paying attention.

Happy Snapping

These are just a few ideas for how to create compelling and engaging Snapchat Stories for your brand. We suggest referring back to tip #3 often and analyzing how your followers engage with your content. If you aren’t getting many screenshots or clickthroughs, your Snaps could be falling victim to people like me — the mindless tappers.

For more ideas on how to create engaging Snapchat Stories for your audience, read our Snapchat for business guide, and learn more from our experts in the video below:

What are your hard and fast rules for brand Snapchat Stories? Share with us in the comments below.

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Apr

1

2017

How Do Consumers Really Feel About 2017's Digital Trends? [Infographic]

Published by in category Daily, featured-1, IGSS, Inbound Marketing | Comments are closed

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As we approach the year’s second quarter, Google is already returning over 46,600 results for “digital trends 2017.” And if you’re in the digital marketing space, there seems to be an unspoken rule that you must always have an opinion on what the key trends will be for the year ahead.

But could it be that we’re all stuck in an industry echo chamber? As it turns out, some new research from Code Computerlove might burst that bubble.

Code Computerlove surveyed 1,000 U.K. adults to find out what they really think about these trend predictions — things like voice search, virtual reality, and chat-bots. That data was then compared to what’s actually making the most noise online. Some key findings included:

  • Mobile payments are the most sought-after technology in 2017.
  • 9 out of 10 consumers claim to have no interest in using augmented reality in the near future.
  • 1 in 5 people surveyed aim to spend less time in front of screens this year.

With that many people aiming to spend less time in front of screens this year, brands have to make their digital interactions count — a poor initial digital experience can carry a long-term impact. Curious to know what else your brand needs to know about these trends? Check out the infographic below.



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Dec

5

2016

30 Secret Santa Gift Ideas Your Coworkers Will Love

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They see you when you’re slacking. They know when you come in late. They know if you’ve been bad or good so be good for your work’s Secret Santa exchange.

But that’s not how the song — or the Secret Santa exchange — really goes …

You spend all day with your coworkers, but come time for your annual gift exchange, you’re stuck trying to figure out exactly what Suzie will want that’s also in your price range. Download more holiday resources to help your business succeed this season from  HubSpot's #HolidayHub

We want to help. We’ve compiled a list of awesome Secret Santa gift ideas that are bound to meet all different budgets and personality types. From hot sauce kits to leather mouse pads, this roundup should take some of the stress out of your shopping experience.

30 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Your Coworkers

$10 and Under

1) Engraved Pencil Set

Price: $8.00

Whether you type your notes or take them by hand, these hand stamped pencils are just plain cool. The sets come in a variety of different themes — from motivational words to Harry Potter references — and they’re guaranteed to make putting together a to-do list a lot more fun.

Willing to chip in a few extra bucks? Pair a set of these pencils with a journal for a thoughtful and practical gift.

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2) Toaster Grilled Cheese Bags

Price: $9.99

While almost every office has a toaster, few have a stovetop. This rules fresh, delicious grilled cheese off the list of lunch options … or does it? When you give the gift of toaster grilled cheese bags, your recipient can toast up the perfect sandwich in minutes. The reusable, Teflon-coated bags can also be used for heating up other foods like pastries and leftover pizza.

Got a gluten-free coworker? They can even protect their food from cross contamination using these handy bags.

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3) Printed Socks

Price: $8.00

Nothing beats a great pair of socks, am I right? Not only does everyone need them, but there’s also such a wide variety of options available online that you’re bound to find a pair for any and every personality.

Know of a few pizza lovers in the office? This pepperoni-clad pair would make the perfect gift.

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4) Sushi Pushpins

Price: $9.00

Shopping for the office sushi addict? Look no further than this trendy desk trinket.

Stuck in a maki cushion, each pearl-shaped fish egg is a pushpin in disguise. Pin up your favorite notes, photos, and menus using these handy tacks — or just admire the holder on your desk.

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5) Waterproof Notepad

Price: $7.00

You never know when your next great idea is going to strike. In fact, it might even be the shower.

With a waterproof notepad from AquaNotes, you can jot down important shower notes before they slip your mind — perfect for whipping up impromptu grocery or to-do lists.

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6) Tech Cloth

Price: $9.99

Between oil, dust, spills, and smudges, our devices take a beating. But with a Smart Cloth on hand, you can polish up the screen on your smartphone, tablet, camera, or computer without having to worry about scratching the surface. No liquids or sprays needed.

You can even toss The Smart Cloth in the wash, making it easy to keep germ-free.

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7) Reusable To Go Box

Price: $9.99

There’s no shame in brown bagging your lunch at work, but why opt for a brown bag when you can reheat last night’s homemade Pad Thai in style?

This eco-friendly container is reusable, microwavable, and dishwasher safe. What more could you want?
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8) Portable Hot Sauce

Price: $9.99

Coming from a hot sauce addict, there’s nothing worse than suffering through a bland meal without access to your favorite spicy condiment.

Thanks to this convenient set of Sriracha2Go key chains, you can carry a personal stash of the good stuff around with you at all times. Simply toss it in your purse or attach it to your keys to ensure you’ve got access to heat when you need it most.

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9) Dry Erase Sheets

Price: $6.16

Use these sheets as an impromptu discussion tool, a place to post motivational quotes, or a home for your to-do list. Each sheet has a full-adhesive backing that leaves behind no residue, making them easy and convenient to tack up in the office or at home.

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10) Cord Keeper

Price: $9.99

While the world of technology continues to push us in the direction of a more wireless world, we’ve all got a pair of standard headphones we keep holding on to — no matter how tangled the cord gets.

Lucky for all of us, these handmade cord “wontons” exist to help keep our headphones, USB cords, and other accessory wires nice and neat. They come in a pack of three, so you can throw one in your car, keep one on your desk, and toss one in your bag.

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$25 and Under

11) Salsa Grow Kit

Price: $12.00

Got a coworker with a green thumb? Gift them this awesome salsa growing kit, complete with six seed packets for Roma tomatoes, jalapeños, verde tomatillos, cilantro, scallions, and beefsteak tomatoes.

Once the seeds sprout in the recycled egg carton planter, transfer them into larger pots until they’re ready for picking.

Not sold on salsa? There are kits available for pizza and cocktails, too.

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12) Wine Infused Coffee

Price: $19.95

Gift hunting for a coffee drinker who also loves wines? Why not pick up a bag of Merlot-infused coffee beans.

This brew is made with 100% Arabica beans that are aged in oak wine barrels. Serving as the perfect post-meal treat, this unique gift will be a hit with any adventurous coffee enthusiast.

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13) Plant Nanny

Price: $16.95

Don’t let the burden of watering plants keep your coworker from taking time off to relax and recharge. With the help of these terracotta watering stakes, they can throw on their OOO message and hit the road without having to hire a plant sitter.

How does it work? It’s simple: The stakes house a recycled bottle that’s designed to release just enough water to keep plants alive and well.  

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14) Smartphone Card Game

Price: $19.99

The name of the game is “Game of Phones.” And the rules are pretty straightforward: Grab your smartphone and have one player (the judge for the round) draw a card. Everyone else gets 60 seconds to dig up a funny response to the prompt on the card using their phone. It’s like a digital scavenger hunt — and it’s bound to be hilarious.

This one’s perfect for anyone that loves to host friends or family for game night.

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15) Travel Cup

Price: $14.99–$19.99 (+$3.99 for travel lid)

There are a ton of travel mugs out there to choose from, but Tervis tumblers seem to offer it all: customization, portable cooling, self-warming system, dishwasher armor, and a lifetime guarantee.

Whether you’re buying a gift for an avid golfer, shopper, foodie, or Patriots super fan, there’s bound to be a Tervis that lines up with their interests and personality.

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16) Adult Coloring Book

Price: $12.18 (Paperback)

Coloring isn’t just for kids anymore. Believe it or not, this trendy hobby offers more than a dose of nostalgia — adult coloring books are actually believed to relieve stress, too. In fact, while The American Art Association doesn’t think these books are enough to replace therapy for those who need it, it does support the use of coloring books for “pleasure and self care.”

There are a wide variety of books to choose from, but we recommend “Color Me Calm” by Lacy Mucklow: a Zen coloring book that supports meditation and relaxation. Trust us, your stressed out deskmate will thank you.

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17) Fruit Infuser Water Bottle

Price: $18.65

Stay hydrated and enjoy the sweet taste of your favorite fruits with this handy water bottle from Fruitzola.

Fill the inside tube with fruit or a combination of your choice — strawberries, lemons, kiwis, watermelon, and mint all work well — and enjoy the taste of fresh, flavored H20 all day.

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18) Musical Pillow

Price: $19.19

For many, listening to music, a meditation app, or a podcast before bed can make it easier to drift off to sleep. Trouble is, it’s tough to get comfortable with a pair of headphones in.

Enter: The Sound Asleep Pillow.

Deep inside this unique pillow lies a built-in speaker that connects to your phone or music player via a headphone jack. The coolest part? The sound from the speaker is only audible to the person resting their head on it, which is great if you don’t want to disturb your spouse or significant other.

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19) Espresso Sampler

Price: $23.00

Treat your coworker to this four-part specialty espresso sampler from Seattle’s world-renowned roasters. Each sampler comes with tasting notes, roaster profiles, and brewing tips. (If you’re lucky, maybe they’ll share.)

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$50 and Under

20) Smartphone Projector

Price: $31.95

Transform your smartphone into a big screen projector with this retro-inspired cardboard structure. Simply slide your device into the compartment for an instant cinema-like feel.

You can make this gift even better by throwing in a box of popcorn to complete the viewing experience.

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21) Make Your Own Hot Sauce Kit

Price: $34.95

Whether you’re making chili for a rainy day, wings for the big game, or tacos for Tuesday’s dinner, a little homemade hot sauce can make all the difference.

With this awesome kit, recipients can whip up six signature sauces that are seasoned to their exact liking. The kit even includes customizable labels for a fun, personalized touch.

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22) Bottle Loft

Price: $38.00

Seriously, how cool is this? These handy storage strips adhere to the ceiling of your refrigerator and can hold up to a six pack of bottles of your choice. Plus, the magnets are super strong: they can hold over 3X the weight of an average 12 oz. bottle.

With all the space you’ll save, you’ll have plenty of room for snacks. It’s the perfect gift for your office beer enthusiast.

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23) Leather Mouse Pad

Price: $36.00

Looking for a sophisticated, practical gift option? Grab a leather mouse pad from Ugmonk’s shop.

Not only does this sleek pad provide a smooth surface for your mouse, but the leather is also known to weather and darken slowly over time to take on a one-of-a-kind look. How cool.

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24) Gourmet Marshmallows

Price: $30.00

Step your hot chocolate game up with a box of gourmet marshmallows. From boozy flavors like bourbon to sweet flavors like eggnog, these handcrafted marshmallows are good enough to eat straight from the box.

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25) Streaming Stick

Price: $49.99

The Roku Streaming Stick works with any television that has an HDMI port, and offers over 1,200 apps, including Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and many more. It’s a perfect gift for nearly any coworker.

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26) Tea Drops

Price: $34.00

Enjoy hot and fresh tea on the go thanks to these dissolvable, pressed tea drops. Made from just a few simple ingredients — finely-sourced tea, sugar, and spices — these tiny morsels are perfect for a busy coworker looking for an easy, healthy beverage to sip on.

This particular sampler set includes five drops of each of the following flavors: citrus ginger, vanilla white, rose earl grey, sweet peppermint, and matcha green tea.

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27) Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Price: $35.00 (17 oz.) / $45.00 (25 oz.)

We’ll admit it, we actually have a crush on this water bottle from S’well. Yes, a water bottle crush. Not only is it sleek and stylish — it comes in tons of colors and prints — but it’s non-toxic, non-leaching, vacuum sealed, and BPA free.

What’s more, it keeps your drinks cold for 24 hours, and hot for 12.

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28) Wireless Speaker

Price: $39.99

Wireless speakers are the perfect gift for anyone in your office. Whether they use it to listen to podcasts while they cook, bring tunes to the beach, or create a custom surround sound movie experience, this little Jam Plus speaker packs a big punch. (Full disclosure: I love this speaker so much I bought another one … and one for my brother.)

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29) Cacti Coasters

Price: $31.00

Help your coworkers keep their desk nice and neat with this buildable set of cacti coasters.

The set comes complete with six green leaf coasters that you can mix and match to create different landscapes within the pot. Build them up or stack them close, they’re there when you need a place to put your drink — and still look really cool when you don’t.

cacti-coasters.jpg

30) Mobile Lens Kit

Price: $26.00

If you pulled your social media manager’s name out of the Secret Santa hat, we’ve got just the thing: Help them up their Instagram game with this handy mobile lens kit. The kit includes fisheye, wide angle, and macro lenses, complete with a universal clip that’s compatible with most smartphones and tablets.

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What are your go-to gift ideas? Share them with us in the comments section below.

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

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

Nov

16

2016

The Ultimate Collection of Free Content Marketing Templates

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Does any aspect of your job intimidate you?

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

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

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

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

Content Planning Templates

A Content Planning/Goal-Setting Template

(Download the content planning template here.)

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

download free content planning template

A Content Mapping Template

(Download the content mapping template here)

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

download content mapping templates

A Buyer Persona Template

(Download the buyer persona template here.)

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

get the free buyer persona template

3 Blog Editorial Calendar Templates

(Download the blog editorial calendar templates here.)

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

download the free blog editorial calendar template

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

(Download the social media content calendar templates here.)

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

get the free social media contet calendar template

Written Content Templates 

5 Blog Post Templates

(Download the blog post templates here.)

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

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

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

get free blog post templates

5 Ebook Templates

(Download the ebook templates here.)

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

get free ebook templates

A Press Release Template

(Download the press release template here.)

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

download free press release template

50 Call-to-Action Templates

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

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

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

download free call-to-action templates

Visual Content Templates 

195+ Visual Marketing Templates

(Download the visual marketing templates here.)

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

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

download free Canva design templates

15 Infographic Templates

(Download the infographic templates here.)

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

download free infographic templates

100 Social Media Graphics Templates

(Download the social media graphics templates here.)

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

download free social media graphics templates

5 Social Media Cover Photo Templates

(Download the social media cover photo templates here.)

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

download social media cover photo templates

3 PowerPoint Templates

(Download the PowerPoint templates here.)

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

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

download free powerpoint templates

5 SlideShare Templates

(Download the SlideShare templates here.)

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

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

download free slideshare templates

Email Templates

15 Email Templates for Marketing and Sales

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

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

download email templates

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

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

free content creation templates

 
                                   
 
free content creation templates

Sep

29

2016

30 Ways to Slice Your Email Database for Better Email List Segmentation

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If you’re new to the world of email marketing, you might be unfamiliar with the importance of segmenting your email lists. But it’s a big deal: According to DMA, 77% of email marketing ROI came from segmented, targeted, and triggered campaigns in 2015. 

The best part about email segmentation? There are a ton of creative ways you can segment your email list to run innovative and effective campaigns that leads and customers will enjoy, from geography and industry to content format and topic. The more information you collect about your email recipients, the more opportunities you have to tailor your emails to resonate just right. Download our complete guide to email marketing here for even more email  segmentation and optimization tips.

To get your brainstorm started, check out the comprehensive list of email list segmentation ideas below. (Then, download this email marketing planning template to keep all of your email efforts organized.)

30 Ways to Segment Your Email List for More Targeted Email Marketing

The whole point of segmentation is to provide more relevant content to your email recipients. To do that, you’ll have to take the time to craft targeted campaigns that take into account not just list segments, but also lead data, and trigger events that help customize your email campaigns further. (Our marketing team uses the Email App and the Lists App in the HubSpot Marketing Platform in combination with HubSpot CRM to accomplish this.)

Bear in mind that while some of these recommendations will work wonderfully on their own, many of them are at their absolute best when crossed with other segments, triggers, and lead intelligence data. 

1) Geography

Knowing where your contacts live can be seriously powerful information. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, you wouldn’t want to send in-store offers to out-of-towners, right? Or let’s say you’re a national franchise — you better be segmenting by zip code to ensure you’re not infringing on someone else’s territory, or worse, marketing to a location that your organization doesn’t even service yet.

Here’s a geographically-segmented email I received from Vamoose, a bus service I’ve used frequently to travel between New York and the Washington, D.C. area. (I can’t believe it’s already time to start planning travel for Thanksgiving.)

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2) Age

People of all ages have access to the internet these days, which means you could be emailing a college student, a retiree, or even a little kid. You may find knowing the general age range of the people on your list helpful to remove those not in your target audience, or to adjust the messaging of your email communications.

3) Gender

Just as you’d speak to a retiree and a college student differently, you might adjust your messaging and offers based on gender, too. If you have a wide product offering that extends across genders, consider segmenting your list in this manner — and beefing up the segmentation with other demographic and psychographic details as well.

4) Persona

Speaking of demographics and psychographics, you should have buyer personas that include information of this nature, as well as more detailed explanations of what makes these folks tick and why your solution provides value for them. If you don’t have buyer personas created already, use these free templates to create your own — and then segment your list based on them. Because each persona has different needs and value propositions, they’re all going to require different email content for the best clickthrough and conversion rates.

5) Organization Type

Do you sell to other businesses? Are they franchises? Non-profit organizations? Ecommerce companies? Enterprise organizations? Small businesses? They all have different needs, and as such, their email content should be different — so segment your list accordingly.

6) Industry

If you’re selling to other businesses, you may encounter leads and contacts across many different industries. Knowing your lead’s industry will allow you to add another level of personalization to your email marketing.

7) Job Function

As a B2B marketer, your email list could contain a whole melee of different job functions — office personnel, salespeople, marketers, consultants, developers, customer service, accountants … the list goes on. Considering the breadth of job roles within any given organization, doesn’t it make sense to segment your list accordingly?

8) Education Level

You could segment your list based on how many degrees they hold, or how educated a lead or contact is regarding your brand and the subject matter you discuss. If you segment your list based on the level of understanding they have on the topics you write about, you can tailor your lead nurturing content to speak at the right level.

Here’s an email I received from Idealist, which they sent to me based on my previous indication that I had already earned a Bachelor’s degree:

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9) Seniority Level

There are different job roles, and there are different levels of seniority. Perhaps your contact said they work in marketing, but is she the VP of marketing, or a marketing coordinator? Those two contacts will differ in years of experience, salary level, pain points, decision-making potential, and a whole host of other differences that make segmentation critical for effective email marketing campaigns.

10) Past Purchases

If a segment of your list has purchased from you before, use that information to send them emails catered to that which interests them. Then make your bottom line bigger by identifying upsell opportunities with additional services or complementary products they’d enjoy based on their past purchases.

Here’s Casper, the maker of my bed made of clouds, shooting me an email about the other products they offer:

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11) Purchase Interests

You can infer someone’s purchase proclivities from past buying behavior, or you can just ask. My colleague, Lindsay Kolowich, highlighted companies who do this in creative ways — such as with surveys — in a recent blog post about awesome email marketing campaigns to help them create better targeted emails.

12) Buying Frequency

Segment your email list based on how often someone purchases. Not only can you try to increase shopping frequency for some, but you can also reward frequent shoppers with an invitation to your loyalty program to make your brand even stickier. (Download this free guide to learn how to more effectively use and measure customer loyalty programs for your business.)

Here’s a customer loyalty email I received from my mobile provider, AT&T, about early ticket access to a concert they’re hosting. (Do you think they somehow know I attended a Panic! At the Disco concert when I was in middle school? This is embarrassing, readers.)

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13) Purchase Cycle

Do certain customers come to you on a weekly, monthly, yearly, or quarterly basis? Or perhaps they only need you at a certain time of year — a pool cleaner might see upticks in spring and fall, for example. Segment your list based on customers’ purchase cycle so you can be there right at their point of need.

14) Content Topic

Here at HubSpot, we’ve noticed that some of our leads and contacts are far more interested in certain content topics than others. There’s one segment that’s extremely interested in sales and marketing alignment, while another is far more interested in Snapchat for business. So it only makes sense that we segment our list based on the topics our contacts have showed interest in. Take a look at what content gets people clicking, and segment your list based on that.

Here an example of an email I received from Twitter featuring suggestions for who to follow next (and it worked):

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15) Content Format

You may find that specific content formats are more appealing to certain segments of your database — some like blogs, others prefer ebooks, and some may only show up when you put on a webinar. For example, in a recent HubSpot Research survey, 43% of respondents wanted to see more video content in the future. If you know how certain segments of your list prefer to consume content, you can deliver the offer content in your emails via their preferred format.

16) Interest Level

Just because someone converts on a content offer, doesn’t mean they actually liked it. Segment your list based on how interested leads are in your content. For example, we might email a segment of webinar attendees that stayed engaged for 45 minutes or more with a middle-of-the-funnel offer to help move them along in the sales cycle, while those that dropped off before 10 minutes might receive another top-of-the-funnel offer — or even a feedback survey to gauge what specifically lost their interest.

17) Change in Content Engagement Level

Have you noticed an increase or decrease in the amount of time leads are spending with your content? This is an indication of their interest in your company, and should be used to either reawaken waning interest, or move leads along through the sales cycle while they’re at their height of engagement with your content.

Here’s an example from Udemy, who segmented their email list to try to re-engage inactive users (I still highly recommend Udemy’s online classes):

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18) Change in Buying Behavior

Similar to a change in content engagement, a change in buying behavior can indicate a lead is becoming more or less interested in your company. Leads that decrease purchasing frequency, for example, might need a little extra love — and thus, a dedicated lead nurturing campaign.

I typically buy glasses and contact lenses at Lenscrafters once yearly with my vision insurance benefit, but I haven’t yet this year, so they wisely sent me this nurturing email with a gentle reminder to purchase from them:

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19) Stage in the Sales Cycle

I’ve mentioned it a little bit here and there, but the stage a lead is at in the sales cycle should determine which email segment they fall in. At the very least, set up separate lead nurturing tracks for those at the top of your sales funnel, in the middle of your sales funnel, and at the bottom of the sales funnel.

20) Email Type

There’s a lot you can tell by someone’s email address. You design your emails for different email clients if you’re really into sophisticated email design, or if they’re Gmail clients, responsive email design.

21) Satisfaction Index

Many businesses use satisfaction indexes to determine how happy their customer base is — Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a very popular one. If you’re measuring satisfaction numerically, consider sending an email segmented based on your customers’ level of happiness with your organization. Those with a high NPS score, for example, might provide opportunities to gather reviews, referrals, or even upsells. Those with lower scores, however, may get emails that give them access to educational materials that will make them happier and more successful customers.

Here’s Wayfair‘s email asking me to review how a recent purchasing and delivery experience went:

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22) Customers Who Refer

Consider creating a list segment full of those customers who repeatedly refer new business your way. These are your biggest brand advocates, and should receive emails targeted towards loyalty programs, refer-a-friend discounts, even possibly trials for new products or services you’re releasing to get honest feedback before widespread rollouts.

23) Customers Who Haven’t Reviewed

You should always be trying to get more positive reviews of your business, so why not create a list segment that targets those customers who haven’t written a review yet? You could combine this list segment with, say, those that are also social media fans and have a high NPS score. Think about it … you know they follow you on Twitter and their NPS score indicates they love you. That’s just begging for an online review email campaign. (Check out this case study guide + template to help you successfully reach out to potential participants and engage them in the process.)

Here’s LinkedIn‘s email asking me to participate in a feedback survey:

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24) In-Store vs. Webstore Visitors

If you have both a brick-and-mortar location as well as a website, segment your list based on where your customers like to shop. You can give invites to in-store events to those customers that give you foot traffic, while those that only visit your webstore might receive offers that should only be redeemed online.

25) Shopping Cart Abandonment

After analyzing 34 online studies of ecommerce shopping cart abandonment, Bamyard Institute determined that, on average, 68% of shopping carts were abandoned prior to purchase. Yikes. If you run an ecommerce webstore, you absolutely must have an abandoned shopping cart email program, and you should be segmenting your contacts based on this behavior.

26) Form Abandonment

Not an ecommerce company? You still have abandoners on your site — form abandoners. If someone starts filling out some forms on your website and then loses interest, gets busy, has a lousy internet connection, gets eaten by a zombie … you know, whatever … segment out those leads for nurturing aimed at bringing them back to your website to complete the form. The offer was interesting enough at one point in time to pique their interest, so why not try to recover some of those form abandoners?

27) Usage

Whatever it is you offer, there are some customers who you could consider “power users.” These are the ones that totally get how to navigate your website, use every feature in your software, and make the most of their relationships with your service providers. Then there are the rest of us. Segment out the power users and the strugglers, frequent users, and infrequent users; then send email content that teaches them how to be more successful with your product or service. The more customers use your product, the more likely they are to stick around: Bluenose found that lack of use was the number one driver of software customer churn.

Here’s a use-segmented email I received from MapMyRun. I feel misleading including it because I truly can’t remember the last time I went running, but it’s still a good example of list segmentation:

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28) Event Attendance

Does your organization host book signings, conferences, or social events? Don’t miss the opportunity to reach out to leads and potential customers you’ve already made a positive connection with. Segment your email list depending on the type of event, the topic or theme of your events, or even to RSVPs who didn’t make it out. You’ll be able to keep inviting them to events while sharing relevant content offers based on what you learned about them from past events. (P.S. – Have you registered for INBOUND 2016 yet?)

29) Page Views

You can tell a lot about your contacts from their behaviors, and the web pages they’re browsing are no exception. Are there certain blogs they’re reading or questions they’re asking when they come to your website? Experiment with lead nurturing campaigns dedicated to different topics your website covers to appeal to your site visitors’ patterns.

30) Call-to-Action Clicks

A clickable call-to-action is what takes your website content to the next level because it helps you generate leads and contacts. (Download 50 customizable call-to-action templates here.) You can tell which types of language work on your contacts based on what makes them click, or not click, on your CTAs. Are they more inclined toward time sensitive offers to “act now” or “try this month,” or do they prefer more explicit offers of “free” or “discounted” products? Use their clicking habits to determine how you segment your email list, and what language you use when reaching out. 

I hope this list has given you ideas for ways to segment your own lists, and most importantly, sparked some creative email campaigns you can run as a result of this new segmentation.

So what about you — what other ways can you think of to segment your email lists? Which of these segmentation ideas could you combine with others for really epic results?

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

free guide to optimizing and segmenting email

 
free guide: how to segment your email marketing

Sep

16

2016

The Future of Marketing: WordStream’s Founder & ClassPass’ CMO on Where Things Are Headed

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Inbound marketing is about matching the way you market and sell with the way people actually want to shop and buy. And after reading the 2016 State of Inbound report, it became clear that inbound was beginning to change at a pace more rapid than anything we’ve seen before.

New technologies were being introduced. Consumers’ habits were evolving. Things were different.

What does that mean for the future of this movement? Quite honestly, we believe that in five years time marketing and sales as you know it will no longer exist. To learn more about the challenges marketers face today, download the free  2016 State of Inbound report here.

To help dissect some of these future trends, we invited WordStream Founder Larry Kim and ClassPass CMO Joanna Lord to have a discussion with HubSpot’s VP of Marketing, Kieran Flanagan, via YouTube Live. This talk dives into what the future of inbound marketing might look like, as it relates to content, search, and ads.

Watch the video below to hear the full discussion:

The Future of Marketing: WordStream’s Founder & ClassPass’ CMO on Where Things Are Headed

If you didn’t have a chance to watch the full YouTube discussion, don’t worry. We’ve summarized both Kim and Lord’s thoughts and input below to make it easy for you to distill some of the top takeaways.

How do you see technology changing the way people shop and buy?

Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

According to Kim, the future of shopping online is going to be less about stumbling upon something in Google and more about customers actually expressing their preferences for brands. Marketers need to do more marketing. And that boils down to getting people familiar with your brand so that they favor you when it comes time for a purchasing decision.

If your first appearance is when a consumer finally decides to search for your products and services on their own, you’re too late. People overwhelmingly click on the things they are familiar with, so you have to get them even before that.

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

Lord mentioned that when ClassPass first started, they spent a lot of time on the consideration phase and differentiating value props. Because consumers are far more informed, they’re far more in control, and marketers really need to create that bias early. Of course it’s about being where they want you to be, but it’s also about connecting with them sooner.

What stood out to you most in the 2016 State of Inbound report?

Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

One of the things that stuck out most to Kim was that inbound marketing and advertising don’t seem to be getting along that well. Advertising is seen as being overrated and annoying — and that’s really unfortunate because, like all channels, it’s less about the medium and more about how you use it.

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

The big thing that stood out to Lord? Video as an emerging vehicle.

She went on to explain that video helps you tell a great story, but today, marketers might over-index on that being videos’ purpose: a dynamic, compelling way to tell a story. However, what came through in the different statistics in the State of Inbound report is that there’s a stickiness to video.

According to Lord, marketers need to be thinking about multiple touch points along the video journey, and different ways to build infrastructure to support and track that effectively. Marketers can’t just be ‘dabbling’ in video at this point — it has to be an all-in play.

Do you think people are frustrated with advertising because a lot of marketers are doing it poorly and not providing a great experience?

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

Lord admitted that a lot of advertising is, in fact, poor. A lot of people try to take historical advertising approaches and apply it on new platforms.

The best marketers that understand advertising will see these new and emerging platforms as a way to amplify their best content. Right now, there’s a bit of a disconnect: Marketers are trying to apply a historical approach on new platforms and they need to take a new approach on new platforms.

Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

When it comes to this debate, Kim explained that he thinks we need to be pickier in terms of what it is we’re advertising.

He went on to explain this example: If you have $1K to spend on social media advertising, and your blog puts out 10 posts a month, the worst thing could do is split the money up and use $100 to promote each post.

Why? Because some of them are going to be garbage, and one or two of them might be great.

Kim argued that what marketers need is a change in mentality. Instead of dividing the money equally, you should take the $1K and go all-in on the top performing post. Doing this will not only get you a much higher ROI, but ultimately it will help you appear less annoying in the eyes of those coming across it, as you’re promoting stuff that people actually find interesting.

Do you think that video has a place across the whole funnel, or does it work better in one part of the funnel?

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

Lord explained that while it’s probably very specific to the brand and the service or product they offer, video can be used in every part of the funnel. She followed that by stating that video is often more compelling in different phases for different brands.

For example, ClassPass is a lifestyle brand with a demographic of young urban women, which provides an opportunity to use video more often — and in more phases — than some B2B companies.

She went on to explain that one of the best places that video comes into play for ClassPass is actually in post-conversion nurturing for lifetime value, because it’s all about motivation and milestones, and that’s the voice of a customer story.

Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

According to Kim, the purpose of content marketing and advertising is to bias people. You want people to have happy thoughts about your brand and what it is you do, so later when they need to buy whatever it is you’re selling, they favor you.

When it comes to the effectiveness of video, he thinks that the message you convey through video is more memorable, inspiring, visual, and dynamic than any other medium. And from that perspective, video content is orthogonal to the funnel, meaning you should be creating video assets for every stage.

While Kim doesn’t think of bottom of the funnel or top of the funnel as being more important than the other, he does have a hard time with the costs tied to video production.

To avoid wasting budget, he suggests auditioning a lot your content to see what performs best — especially in regards of engagement. Then, transforming only the top-performing stuff into video content.

What big bets are you making at WordStream and ClassPass around marketing tactics that you think will be important over the next couple of years?

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

Lord explained that their top investment priorities are photography, video, and humanizing the brand.

People love the service when they when they sign up and when they try a class, but there’s also a lot of noise in fitness, and there are a lot of great brands to compete with. Everyone is getting into health and fitness and wellness, which is why ClassPass’ biggest investments are around differentiating the brand’s point of view. And they way they see it, photography and video are their strongest bets in terms of bringing what’s important to them and their audience — living fully and spending time of experiences that nurture you — to life.

Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

According to Kim, one of the challenges WordStream has is that they’ve kind of tapped out the market of low-funnel people — people who are actively searching for these types of pay-per-click advertising solutions.

So when he thinks of growth in 2017 and beyond, it’s all about creating demand and awareness among people who aren’t actively searching for the products and services that WordStream sells. He explains that if you’re just waiting for people to search, you’re not really growing your market — you’re just harvesting the demand of people who are already looking to buy that thing in the first place.

His goal is to create biases in people’s minds earlier on, so that when the need arises for advertising solutions, they’ll automatically think of WordStream.

What formats would you encourage marketers to invest in over the next 12-24 months?

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

According to Lord, the vehicle is important. And when it comes to vehicles and formats, video is going to be very important — especially episodic content and snippet video.

She went on to explain that episodic content is the idea that there’s a volume or a series to it. In other words, you’re telling a story over a long period of time. It’s a multi-touch approach, and that allows you to meet people earlier in the funnel, nurture them, and hopefully bias them along the way.

How important is it to publish content on external sites like Medium or LinkedIn?

Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

According to Kim, if you’re in the tech space, Medium is a fantastic outlet for content publishing and content syndication.

In the last six months, he was able to become the top 20th ranked author on Medium. (That’s about a million views of his content every month.) The best part? He said it wasn’t all that hard — all he did was syndicate existing content. And Medium makes that easy with the help of its republishing tool.

In terms of time distribution, Kim went on to explain that he spends about 20% of his time creating content for external sites. However, he also urged that the worst thing you could ever do is abandon your blog, and that 70-80% of the content you create should still be going there. 

What evolving consumer trends will disrupt marketing the most over the next year?

Joanna-Lord-Headshot.png  Joanna Lord, ClassPass

One thing Lord mentioned that she is currently focusing on is this concept of being the backdrop to a consumer’s life. As she explained it, a lot of companies are thinking about the currency of time: How can you have enough value around your core product so that it’s actually consuming more of someone’s time?

ClassPass is primarily an app-based experience, but everything they’re starting to test in the product will be peripheral and adjacent to that, so they can earn the right to have more of someone’s time. Part of that is thinking through the many times a person might need your brand or product in a day — in other words, what are they hiring you for in their day? If you uncover that, you can build it into your product road map.

Lord also stressed the importance of personification. She asked the questions, “Who does your customer want to be?” and “What will they need to hire you for in 3-5 years if you do your core job right today?”


Larry-Kim-Headshot.png Larry Kim, WordStream

The biggest thing that’s going to grow revenues for WordStream over the foreseeable future, and for their customers, is advertising. Not just advertising the same old way, but online advertising using ridiculously powerful new technologies that have been released in the last 12-18 months.

For example, they are currently focusing on the ability to target specific ads to specific phone numbers or email addresses. According to Kim, it’s kind of like email marketing, where you can target people who are on your lists and build custom audiences. What’s different is that you’re not limited to segmenting by just everyone on your lists — you can segment by behaviors and interests and demographics. According to him, it has never been easier, in the history of marketing, to go after your target market.

If you enjoyed this discussion between Larry Kim and Joanna Lord, head over to stateofinbound.com to learn more about the future of content, search and ads and how it’s evolving in 2017.

get the free 2016 state of inbound report

Sep

14

2016

17 Great Conversation Starters to Break the Ice at Networking Events

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With fall on its way, the countdown to November’s INBOUND 2016 event is in full-swing. Every year, thousands of marketers and their peers gather to learn, inspire, and network.

That last one — networking — gets a lot of us pretty excited. After all, it’s how 85% of people say they’ve landed a job. And personally, if I’m really into an event and I’m feeling super energetic, I love to network. But I don’t always feel so peppy. Then what?

Sometimes, we have to fall back on an arsenal of conversation starters. It helps to spark a discussion, even when it’s taking every ounce of willpower you have not to go home, turn on Netflix, and order sushi. Put these converstation starters to the test at INBOUND 2016. Register here.

We’ve got your back. Here are some of the conversation starters that we’ve tried and have seen succeed. Bookmark them for your next networking event — or your next night out, you scoundrel.

17 Great Conversation Starters to Break the Ice at Networking Events

1) “Hi, I’m ‘X.'”

It actually works. Just be sure you have something to follow your introduction, so that you don’t end up staring at each other in silence. And as you’ll see, that’s the key to most conversation starters — be ready with a follow-up. Saying “hi” is just your way to get the ball rolling, so be sure you can keep the exchange going and take it to the next level.

(Note: Please use your first name, instead of “X.”)

2) “Are you having issues with the Wi-Fi?”

Good news: The answer is almost always “yes.” Plus, I don’t know about you, but I think we all have war stories of when the internet stopped working for us at the worst time — those are always great conversation starters.

3) “That [food or beverage] looks great. Where did you find it?”

This question can offer a few different answers. The person might just tell you where they got it, or they could go into a description or a comment on the quality. Not sure where to go from there? Tell them about a place where you once had the best version of whatever they’re drinking or snacking on. But frame it as a question — “Have you ever been to Hawaii? I once had the best fish tacos there.”

This technique also works with neutral compliments, like telling someone that you love their laptop bag or jacket. Most people enjoy receiving positive feedback, and will probably follow up with a story about where or how they got it. (And if they don’t follow up, ask them about it — remember, keep the conversation going.)

4) “Do you know if there’s a coat check?”

I always like to leverage the communal confusion that occurs at every event. When you first arrive, no one really knows what they’re doing. But anyone who does will jump at the chance to be “in the know.”

5) “I can’t believe how cold/hot/beautiful it is today.”

Talking about the weather sounds so cliché, but it actually works — especially if people are visiting from out of town. Maybe someone from sunny California, for example, is traveling to Boston for INBOUND this year. Of course, that would require you to ask the person where they’re from, first. But once you have an answer, you can even make a joke about it — “Boy, I bet you’re glad you left Los Angeles behind for a few days of chilly New England weather.”

6) “Are you here with colleagues?”

If someone you’re speaking with is at the event with a group of people, that can allow your circle to expand — if you’re proactive about it. You can tactfully express interest in meeting someone’s co-worker by asking what the different roles are on that person’s team, and responding with something like, “You know, I’ve always wanted to learn more about X. Would you mind introducing me to your colleague who works on that?”

But if that person is flying solo, you can generate some empathy as a fellow lone wolf. That doesn’t mean you should cling to that person the entire time, but a “me, too” is always nice. Just be sure not to leave it at that — follow up with an idea of where to meet some of your fellow cohorts, like mentioning that there’s supposed to be a great breakout session later.

7) “You guys look like you’re having the most fun over here. Mind if I join this conversation?”

Of course, you’ll probably want to say that to people who actually look like they’re having a good time. And really, who’s going to say “no” to that? If they do, chances are, you’ll want to find another group to hang out with, anyway.

8) “Are you here to see anyone in particular?”

If you’re both interested in meeting the same people or seeing the same sessions, this question will help you establish that common ground. Regardless of the answer, you’ll learn more about each others’ goals and reasons for attending the event, which promotes an exchange of ideas and knowledge. And that can create opportunities, even after the event is over — you never know when that person might need your expertise down the line, or vice-versa.

9) “Did you all come here together, or did you meet here?”

This question is a great one when you’ve joined a group of strangers. It also opens up the conversation to everyone in the group, instead of limiting it to the people sitting right next to you. And the more people chatting, the better — it’s another opportunity for you to learn about everyone’s goals and exchange ideas.

10) “Well, while we’re here, I might as well introduce myself.”

If the event is big enough, chances are that you’ll have to wait in line for something — a keynote, the restroom, or food, to name a few. And, as the least patient person on the planet, I can attest to the effectiveness of using that time to do something other than focusing on how slowly the line is moving. Put that energy toward something productive, like meeting the people around you. 

11) “Did you hear X speak?”

Being at the same conference, sessions and speakers are guaranteed common ground, so use that to your advantage. It’s a great starting point that can go in a lot of different conversational directions — did you see that person speak at a different event? Did you read their work? What did you think of the talk?

12) “Have you ever been to X down the street? I’ve really wanted to check it out.”

This question is a great one when you’re attending an out-of-town event. If there’s a restaurant there that you’ve heard good things about, you can ask locals and visitors alike if they want to check it out, too.

And if you’re a local yourself, and you’re chatting with visitors, you can recommend that they see the place while they’re in town. Mention that you haven’t been there in a while, or that you’d love to go back. If there’s a shared interest in going, you can suggest heading over together or sharing a cab.

But if they’re not interested in going to that particular venue, ask them if they can recommend where to go, or if there’s another place they wanted to check out. You could suggest heading there together, too, but make sure you’re not being too pushy — sometimes, people really just want to take a break to be alone, so don’t take it personally.

13) “Are you speaking at this event?”

Be sure to have a quick follow-up if the answer is “no” — like asking if any of that person’s colleagues are speaking, or which sessions they plan on attending. Questions like that can prime you to learn more about what the person does, and how you might be able to learn from each other.

But if the answer is yes — jackpot. That’s a great opportunity to ask them what they’re speaking about, and what made them so interested in the topic. And be sure to mention you’re looking forward to attending, and what you hope to learn from it.

And if that person already spoke, but you missed it — “Bummer,” you can tell them. Just be sure to ask if there’s somewhere you’ll be able to watch it online, or when their next speaking engagement is.

14) “Is this your first time at this event”

If the answer is “yes,” use that to make the person feel like an expert, without overwhelming them. Ask them for insider tips on how to make the most of the event, what was different about it last year, and what they’re hoping to do this year. That can lay the groundwork for uncovering shared interests.

But first-timers can empathize with you, and you can even ask them some of the same questions, like what made them come to the event in the first place and how they’re liking it so far. You’re still opening up the conversation to a potential “me, too” moment, and might find an opportunity to participate in a session together.

15) “Did you understand what the speaker meant when she said, ‘X’?”

This question creates a great opportunity to start chatting with some of the people who were sitting next to you during a session, instead of silently/awkwardly shuffling out when it’s over. If you legitimately didn’t understand something, don’t be embarrassed — it might have confused other people, too. Brainstorming different interpretations of a talk can actually be kind of fun — it gives you a chance to be creative and possibly share ideas with someone who has a fresh perspective.

And even if that person did understand what was confusing you, asking them to explain it might accomplish a little bit of ego-stroking. But keep the conversation going — especially if you actually want to learn more about what that person has to say.

16) “I’m tired of talking to my colleagues — I see them all the time. What are you guys talking about?”

This one is a spinoff of a pickup line from comedian Pete Holmes’ podcast. His original version was, “I’m tired of talking to my friends, what are you guys talking about?”

It’s a line that’s effective in a number of scenarios, because it’s most likely true. It’s not that you don’t like your colleagues — but as long as you’re surrounded by new people, why not gain some of that fresh perspective I mentioned earlier? It shows an interest in getting to know the folks who are there, and sets the tone for you to exchange funny office stories, which is always a great icebreaker with someone unfamiliar.

17) “Alright, I’ve got an awesome marketing joke for you.”

This only works if you actually have an awesome marketing joke. Luckily, my colleague Corey Wainwright wrote a list for you here, so you’re all set.

Ready to Network?

Sometimes, we joke that if all else fails, you can just say to the person standing next to you, “I need a drink!” If it’s been a long day, it’s likely that the person will agree with you, and might even be interested in joining you. (But please, drink responsibly — all of your great conversation starters will go to waste if you end up overdoing it.) 

The point is, as long as you’re being appropriate, you can start a conversation about nearly anything. And if it helps to know, I thought I’d mention that my personal favorite icebreaker is the use of those neutral compliments I went over in #3. I figure, if it worked with a celebrity chef I once met at an event, it’ll work at INBOUND, right?

We can’t wait to see you there — grab your tickets, and be sure to say hi. 

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

regist

 
register for INBOUND 2016

Sep

12

2016

The State of Inbound 2016 Is Here [New Report]

SOI_Blog_Launch-Post-Hero_1.jpg

Over the past few years, we’ve observed innovations in technology that have drastically changed the digital experience for people all over the world. More people are using mobile to access the internet than ever before, newsfeeds are packed with content, and bots are redefining what it looks like to complete the most common of online tasks.

And as technology changes, the inbound marketing methodology must evolve with it.

And while we still have great benchmark data on how marketers and salespeople do their job today, we also have included new datapoints on how technology is changing consumer habits and where marketing and sales is headed in the future.

How many companies are investing in video content, social selling, and preparing for new disruptors that enter the market? Check out our biggest and most data-packed edition of the State of Inbound to find out. To learn more about the challenges marketers face today, download the free  2016 State of Inbound report here.

In addition to our new report, we’re excited to host five online events every day this week that break down the key themes in this year’s report. Tune in to hear predictions and insights from industry leaders like:

They’ll join HubSpot’s Brian Halligan (CEO), Kipp Bodnar (CMO), Meghan Keaney Anderson (VP Marketing), and Kieran Flanagan (VP Marketing) throughout the week to talk about the current and future state of marketing, sales, and business. Join us to learn:

  • Expert predictions on the next year’s biggest disruptors
  • How to improve collaboration between Marketing and Sales to increase ROI
  • What types of content consumers want to see more of in the future
  • How new technologies will affect how businesses get found
  • How to advertise in a way that aligns with inbound marketing
  • What skills marketers and salespeople should prioritize for the future of inbound

  • Monday, September 12 | State of Marketing | Facebook Live at 1 p.m. EDT
  • Tuesday, September 13 | Future of Marketing | YouTube Live at 11 a.m. EDT
  • Wednesday, September 14 | State of Sales | Tune in live for #InboundSalesDay
  • Thursday, September 15 | Future of Sales | YouTube Live at 11 a.m. EDT
  • Friday, September 16 | Future of Business | Facebook Live at 1 p.m. EDT

get the free 2016 state of inbound report

Sep

12

2016

The State of Inbound 2016 Is Here [New Report]

SOI_Blog_Launch-Post-Hero_1.jpg

Over the past few years, we’ve observed innovations in technology that have drastically changed the digital experience for people all over the world. More people are using mobile to access the internet than ever before, newsfeeds are packed with content, and bots are redefining what it looks like to complete the most common of online tasks.

And as technology changes, the inbound marketing methodology must evolve with it.

And while we still have great benchmark data on how marketers and salespeople do their job today, we also have included new datapoints on how technology is changing consumer habits and where marketing and sales is headed in the future.

How many companies are investing in video content, social selling, and preparing for new disruptors that enter the market? Check out our biggest and most data-packed edition of the State of Inbound to find out. To learn more about the challenges marketers face today, download the free  2016 State of Inbound report here.

In addition to our new report, we’re excited to host five online events every day this week that break down the key themes in this year’s report. Tune in to hear predictions and insights from industry leaders like:

They’ll join HubSpot’s Brian Halligan (CEO), Kipp Bodnar (CMO), Meghan Keaney Anderson (VP Marketing), and Kieran Flanagan (VP Marketing) throughout the week to talk about the current and future state of marketing, sales, and business. Join us to learn:

  • Expert predictions on the next year’s biggest disruptors
  • How to improve collaboration between Marketing and Sales to increase ROI
  • What types of content consumers want to see more of in the future
  • How new technologies will affect how businesses get found
  • How to advertise in a way that aligns with inbound marketing
  • What skills marketers and salespeople should prioritize for the future of inbound

  • Monday, September 12 | State of Marketing | Facebook Live at 1 p.m. EDT
  • Tuesday, September 13 | Future of Marketing | YouTube Live at 11 a.m. EDT
  • Wednesday, September 14 | State of Sales | Tune in live for #InboundSalesDay
  • Thursday, September 15 | Future of Sales | YouTube Live at 11 a.m. EDT
  • Friday, September 16 | Future of Business | Facebook Live at 1 p.m. EDT

get the free 2016 state of inbound report

Sep

9

2016

12 Clever Ways to Use Your Email Signature to Support Your Marketing Campaigns

signature-1.jpg

You know that you’re a true email marketer if every single one of your emails includes a call-to-action. And I’m not talking about email marketing blasts here. What I have in mind are the individual, personal email messages you send on an everyday basis.

Yes, your personal email signature can provide a serious marketing opportunity.

You are most likely already using your own email signature to provide information about who you are and where you work. But you can take this practice to the next level by updating your signature to reflect the marketing campaigns you are running today. Easily create your own professional email signature with our free Email  Signature Generator here.

Are you missing out on another opportunity to spread brand awareness or nurture prospective customers? Wondering what exactly you can promote through your email signature? Here are twelve awesome suggestions.

12 Professional Email Signature Ideas to Support Your Marketing Campaigns

1) Your Homepage

The least you should promote in your email signature is your company’s website. But in order for this tactic to be efficient, you have to make sure your homepage acts like a landing page.

In other words, it directs the visitor’s attention to the activity you want them to take. For instance, HubSpot’s homepage suggests that you receive a free product demo. Including your website’s homepage in an email signature also helps to expand awareness of your brand. Here’s an example (with help from our friend, Harry Potter):

harry.png2) Social Media

When it comes to the usage of social media in email signatures, you have two options. You can either include a link to your personal accounts on sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, etc., or you can include links to your company’s accounts. Both are good options. Check out how HubSpot’s Principal Marketing Manager Pam Vaughan promotes her social channels in the example below:

pamfinal.png3) Your Blog

Your blog is one of the smartest things you can include in your email signature because it provides value to the community and gets updated on a regular basis. The fresh content on your blog is more engaging than a static homepage and will most likely retain the attention of the visitor for longer.

If you do shine light on your blog, don’t forget to include calls-to-action throughout your posts to encourage readers to take the next step and become a lead. Using our email signature tool, you can create a dynamic email signature that includes an RSS feed, which shows the title of your most recent blog article and automatically updates as new articles get published. Check out my editor, Carly Stec‘s:

carly.png

4) Book

Have you written a book? Has your manager or CEO written one? Don’t be shy about it. Share a link to the book in your email signature. That will help you build authority and credibility among the people you communicate with. Here’s our own Aja Frost promoting her ebook:

aja_sig.png

5) Conferences & Events

Is there a company trade show coming up soon? Or maybe you are speaking at a conference? Change your email signature to reflect that. While your email signature might not necessarily help you generate more registrants, it will surely spread the word about the event and gain some awareness among your target audience. Here’s an event promotion signature from my colleague, Elijah Clark Ginsberg:

elijahfinalfinal.png

(P.S. – Are you registered to hear from Alec Baldwin, Serena Williams, and other marketing and sales professionals at INBOUND 2016 yet?)

6) New Marketing Offer

Have an offer that’s doing a great job of converting traffic into leads? (You can tell by looking at their corresponding landing pages’ visitor-to-submission rates in your marketing analytics). Identify your best performing offers, and then expose them to more traffic. Use your email signature to share a link to a popular ebook or a webinar. Or if you’re currently featuring a new campaign that highlights a particular offer, use that in your signature instead. Here’s an example of my own signature promoting this ebook:

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7) Industry Research

Speaking of data, don’t underestimate the impact that facts and figures can have in a marketing context. People on the web are overwhelmed with information, which encourages them to look for specifics. If you publish an industry report based on proprietary research, as Mimi An does over at HubSpot Research, consider including a link to it in your email signature:

mimi.png

8) Case Studies

Salespeople love this one. If you’re talking to potential customers, what’s better than sharing stories of successful ones?

For instance, you can mention how your product or service increased the ROI of customer XYZ, or quote a customer in your email signature to boost your company’s credibility.

hermione.png9) Free Tool

If your company happens to have a free tool, such as an ROI calculator, educational game, or blog topic generator, give it some marketing love. Free online tools have the power to engage readers and get them further interested in your product or service. Check out Eric Peters‘ signature promoting HubSpot’s free email signature generator (meta, we know):

ericfinal.png

10) Demonstration of Your Product / Free Consultation

When you are having a tough sales month, consider using an email signature that promotes a free consultation with your team or even a demonstration of your product. In that way, you’ll increase traffic to these middle-of-the-funnel marketing offers and show your sales organization that you’re taking advantage of every possible opportunity to help them out. 

dumbledore.png

11) News about Your Company

If your team or company has received recognition for exceptional work, highlight the news article or press release in your email signature. News that your company is doing exceptional work will drive traffic to your blog and promote greater brand awareness for your organization. Here’s an example from HubSpot Senior Recruiter Emily MacIntyre:

emily_sig.png

12) Promotional Videos

Has your company ever produced a promotional video? (Here’s an awesome video about HubSpot’s culture, for example.) Add a link to your company’s video so recipients can learn more about you without navigating away from the email message. You can promote a campaign, an event, or an offer in a more engaging way than a hyperlink alone. Here’s an example from our own Angela O’Dowd promoting HubSpot’s Agency Partner Program:

angelafinal.png

Ready to rework your email signature? Simplify the process using this free email signature generator.  

Have any other ideas for what your email signature can promote? Share them in the comments section below!

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

free email signature generator

 
free email sign

Sep

7

2016

18 of the Best Personal Websites We’ve Ever Seen

Personal_Websites.jpeg

Ah, the job search.

Some refer to it as a full-time job in itself, others compare it to dating, and several cats over at BuzzFeed think it just plain sucks. But it doesn’t have to be that way …

When you’re applying for a job, you’re typically asked to submit a resume and cover letter. Maybe your LinkedIn profile. But there are better ways to stand out against your competition, and building a personal website is one of them.

A personal website can serve different goals, but perhaps what it does best is provide you with an opportunity to tell your story. And with 53% of employers reporting that the resume alone did not provide enough information to determine if the candidate would be a good fit, that storytelling element can really help to improve your odds.

If you’re thinking about creating a personal website of your very own, check out the examples below that hit the nail on the head.

18 of the Best Personal Websites We’ve Ever Seen

Resumes

Whether you create a single-page site or a larger portfolio, the web resume serves as a more personalized option for sharing information and demonstrating your technological skills — and it can be used by all types of job seekers.

Even if you have very little work experience, you can leverage a website to build a better picture of your capabilities and yourself as a candidate, while leaning on your traditional resume to provide the basic background information.

1) Gary Sheng

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Unlike a standard resume document, Sheng’s website makes it easy for him to include logos and clickable links that allow his software engineering and web development skills to shine.

We love that visitors can choose to scroll down his page to view all of the website’s categories (“About Me,” “My Passion,” etc.), or jump to a specific page using the top navigation.

The “My System” section reads like a company mission statement, and this personal touch helps humanize his work and make him more memorable.

2) Raf Delorez

Raf_Final.gif

Delorez’s web resume is modern, cool, and informative. It shows off his personality, branding, and developing skills in a way that’s still very simple and clear. Not to mention, his use of color and saturation in his photo puts a face to his name in an eye-catching way.

Want to get in touch with Delorez? Simply click the CTA located under his brief bio to open up an email that’s pre-addressed directly to him. Or select one of the social media icons to connect with him on platforms like Twitter — where his cover photo happens to seamlessly align with the branding of his website. Well played, Delorez.

Rafael_Derolez__Twitter_Cover_Photo.png

3) Brandon Johnson

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Johnson’s incredible resume must be seen to be believed. Beautiful images of planets help to compliment his planetary science background, and animations make his resume more of an experience than a document.

In terms of design, the textured, multi-layered background adds greater depth to the two-dimensional page in a way that evokes feelings of space and the planetary systems, which Johnson’s work focuses on.

As an added bonus, Johnson managed to squeeze in some witty “Easter eggs,” like this message that appears when you try to select the “OFF” button that appears under the section on hyrdrocode:

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4) Quinton Harris

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Harris’ resume uses photos to tell his personal story — and it reads kind of like a cool, digital scrapbook. It covers all the bases of a resume — and then some — by discussing his educational background, work experience, and skills in a highly visual way.

Not to mention, the copy is fantastic. It’s clear that Harris took the time to carefully choose the right words to describe each step of his personal and professional journey. For example, the section on storytelling reads:

NYC, my new home, is filled with the necessary secrets to not only propel my craft forward, but my identity as an artist. With every lens snapped and every pixel laid, I am becoming me.

5) Sean Halpin

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Halpin’s resume is short, sweet, and to the point, which is authentic to his voice and personal branding outlined on the site. The white space allows his designs and copy to pop and command the reader’s attention, which helps to improve readability — especially on mobile devices:

Sean_Halpin_Mobile.pngSean_Halpin_Mobile_Site.png

Best Practices for Resume Websites

  1. Code your resume so it can be crawled by search engines.
  2. Offer a button to download your resume in PDF so the hiring manager can add it to your file.
  3. Keep branding consistent between the website and document versions: Use similar fonts, colors, and images so you’re easy to recognize.
  4. Be creative and authentic to yourself. Think about the colors, images, and media you want to be a part of your story that you couldn’t include in a document resume.

Portfolios

Building an online portfolio is a highly useful personal branding and marketing tool if your work experience and skill set call for content creation. In fact, photographers, graphic designers, illustrators, writers, and content marketers can all use web portfolios to show off their skills in a more user-friendly way than a resume or hard copy portfolio.

6) Tony D’Orio

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It’s important to keep the design of your visual portfolio simple to let images capture visitors’ attention, and D’Orio accomplishes this by featuring bold photographs front-and-center on his website. His logo and navigation menu are clear and don’t distract from his work. And he makes it easy for potential customers to download his work free of charge.

Want to give it a try? Click on the hamburger menu in the top left corner, then select + Create a PDF to select as many images as you’d like to download.

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Once you open the PDF, you’ll notice that it comes fully equipped with D’Orio’s business card as the cover … just in case you need it.

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7) Gari Cruze

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Cruze is a copywriter. But by turning his website into a portfolio featuring images from different campaigns he’s worked on, he makes visitors want to keep clicking to learn more about him.

His site’s humorous copy — specifically in the “17 Random Things” and “Oh Yes, They’re Talking” sections — serves to show off his skills, while making himself more memorable as well. These pages also include his contact information on the right-hand side, making it easy to reach out an connect at any point:

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8) Melanie Daveid

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Daveid’s website is a great example of “less is more.”

This developer’s portfolio features clear, well-branded imagery of campaigns and apps that Daveid worked on, and she shows off her coding skills when you click through to see the specifics of her work.

While it might seem overly minimal to only include three examples of her work, Daveid did her portfolio a service by including her best, most noteworthy campaigns. At the end of the day, it’s better to have fewer examples of excellence in your portfolio than many examples of mediocrity.

9) The Beast is Back

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Christopher Lee’s portfolio is busy and colorful in a way that works. When you read more about Lee on his easily navigable site, you realize that such a fun and vibrant homepage is perfect for an illustrator and toy designer.

His web portfolio highlights eye-catching designs with recognizable brands, such as Target and Mario, along with links to purchase his work. This is another gallery-style portfolio with pops of color that make it fun and give it personality, thus making it more memorable. 

Best Practices for Portfolio Websites

  1. Use mainly visuals. Even if you’re showcasing your written work, using logos or other branding is more eye-catching for your visitors.
  2. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Your personality, style, and sense of humor could be what sets you apart against other sites!
  3. Organization is key. If your portfolio is full of photos, logos, and other images, make sure it’s easy for visitors to navigate to where they can contact you.
  4. Brand yourself. Choose a logo or icon to make your information easily identifiable.

Blogs

Consistently publishing on a blog is a great way to attract attention on social media and search engines — and drive traffic to your site. Blogging is a smart way to give your work a personality, chronicle your experiences, and stretch your writing muscles. You might write a personal blog if you’re a writer by trade, but virtually anyone can benefit from adding a blog to their site and providing useful content for their audience.

10) Everywhereist

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This blog looks a bit busier, but its consistent branding helps visitors easily navigate the site. The travel blog uses globe iconography to move visitors around the site, making it easy to explore sections beyond the blog.

It also features a “Best Of” section that allows new visitors to learn about what the blog covers to get acclimated. The color scheme is warm, neutral, and free of excess clutter that could distract from the content.

11) fifty coffees

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fifty coffees chronicles the author’s series of coffee meetings in search of her next job opportunity, and it does a great job of using photography and visuals to assist in the telling of her lengthy stories.

The best part? Each post ends with numbered takeaways from her meetings for ease of reading comprehension. The high-quality photography used to complement the stories is like icing on the cake.

12) Minimalist Baker

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I’m not highlighting Dana’s food blog just because the food looks delicious and I’m hungry. Her blog uses a simple white background to let her food photography pop, unique branding to make her memorable, and mini-bio to personalize her website.

13) Kendra Schaefer

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Kendra’s blog is chock-full of information about her life, background, and professional experience, but she avoids overwhelming visitors by using a light background and organizing her blog’s modules to minimize clutter. She also shares links to additional writing samples, which bolsters her writing authority and credibility.

Best Practices for Blogs

  1. Keep your site simple and clutter-free to avoid additional distractions beyond blog posts.
  2. Publish often. Company blogs that publish more than 16 posts per months get nearly 3.5X the web traffic of blogs that published less than four posts per month.
  3. Experiment with different blog styles, such as lists, interviews, graphics, and bullets.
  4. Employ visuals to break up text and add context to your discussion.

Demos

Another cool way to promote yourself and your skills is to create a personal website that doubles as a demonstration of your coding, design, illustration, or developer skills. These sites can be interactive and animated in a way that provides information about you and also shows hiring managers why they should work with you. This is a great website option for technical and artistic content creators such as developers, animators, UX designers, website content managers, and illustrators.

14) Albino Tonnina

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Tonnina is showcasing advanced and complicated web development skills, but the images and icons he uses are still clear and easy to understand. He also offers a simple option to view his resume at the beginning of his site, for those who don’t want to scroll through the animation.

15) Bobby Kane

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Kane’s site is aesthetically beautiful. And thanks to the cool background photo and minimalist site design, his experience really stands out. He further shows off his design and coding skills at the very bottom of his site, where he demonstrates his ability to code background design changes. This small touch makes his demo more interactive and will make visitors stop and think, “that’s cool!”

Want to check it out? Pull down the arrow at the top of his site to refresh the background.

16) Robby Leonardi

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Leonardi’s incredible demo website uses animation and web development skills to turn his portfolio and resume into a video game for site visitors. The whimsical branding and unique way of sharing information ensures that his site is memorable to visitors.

17) Samuel Reed

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Reed uses his page as a start-to-finish demo of how to code a website. His website starts as a blank white page and ends as a fully interactive site that visitors can watch him code themselves. The cool factor makes this website memorable, and it makes his skills extremely marketable.

18) Devon Stank

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Stank’s demo site does a great job of showing that he has the web design chops and it takes it a step further by telling visitors all about him, his agency, and his passions. It’s the perfect balance of a demo and a mini-resume.

Plus, we love this highly personal video of Stank describing his passion:

Best Practices for Demo Websites

  1. Brand yourself and use consistent logos and colors to identify your name and your skills amongst the bevy of visuals.
  2. Don’t overwhelm your visitors with too many visuals at once — especially if your demo is animated. Be sure to keep imagery easy to understand so visitors aren’t bombarded when they visit your site.

Need help updating or building your personal website? Learn more about the specifics of writing a great bio and creating your personal brand.

What’s the best personal website you’ve ever seen? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

50 examples of beautiful website design

Aug

29

2016

17 Hidden YouTube Hacks, Tips & Features You’ll Want to Know About

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When people talk about today’s most popular social sharing websites, YouTube often gets left out of the conversation in favor of sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But don’t be fooled: YouTube has a lot going for it. Although Facebook might be the largest social networking site, YouTube has the second greatest reach after Facebook in terms of general usage. It’s also the second biggest search engine behind its parent company, Google.

And there are a ton of cool things you can do with YouTube that you might not know about, whether you use YouTube to watch videos, post them, or both. For example, did you know that YouTube automatically creates a written transcript for your videos — and that polishing them can help you get your videos found more easily in search? Or that you can use YouTube to easily create a photo slideshow, and even set it to music using their royalty-free audio library?

Mind-blowing stuff, people. To help you make the most out of the still very popular platform, we’ve put together a list of 17 of the lesser-known hacks, tips, and features YouTube has to offer. 

17 Hidden YouTube Features, Tips & Hacks You’ll Want to Know About

1) You can create a link that starts a YouTube video at a certain time.

Ever wanted to send someone a YouTube video, but point them to a specific moment? Let’s say, for example, that you’re trying to recruit your friends to learn the dance in LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” music video with you. 

Instead of sending your friends the general YouTube link and instructing them to fast-forward to the 3:39 minute mark, you can actually send them a specific link that starts the video at whatever time you choose. Click here to see what I mean. I’ll wait.

Back? Alright, here’s how to do it.

To create a link that starts a YouTube video at a certain time: Open up the video and click “Share” underneath the video title. Then, under the first tab (also labeled “Share”), check the box next to “Start at:” and type in the time (in hours:minutes:seconds) you want. Alternatively, you can pause the video at the time you want it to start and that field will autofill.

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After a few moments, you’ll see a tag add itself to the end of the generic YouTube link (in this case, ?t=3m39s). Simply copy that link and paste it wherever you’d like.

Alas, you can’t embed a video so it starts at a certain time; you can’t only link to it.

2) You can easily see the written transcripts of people’s videos.

Did you know that YouTube automatically generates a written transcript for every single video uploaded to its website? That’s right — and anyone has access to that transcript, unless the user manually hides it from viewers.

I can think of a number of different situations where video transcripts can come in handy. For example, maybe you want to write down a quote from a video, but the tedium of pausing-and-typing, pausing-and-typing would drive you up a wall. Or perhaps you need to find a specific section of a video, but don’t want to rewatch the whole thing to find it. With a transcript in hand, you can find information like this without doing it all by hand.

To see a video’s transcript: Open the video in YouTube and press the “More” tab underneath the video title. Choose “Transcript” from the dropdown menu.

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(If you aren’t seeing this option, it’s because the user chose to hide the transcript.)

The transcript will appear as a new module in the same window. In many cases, the user who uploaded the video will not have gone back and manually polished the transcript, so it won’t be perfect. But it’ll certainly save you some time and pain.

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3) You can help your video get found in search by editing or uploading a transcript.

Both YouTube and its parent company Google look at a number of factors when ranking videos in search to determine what your video is about, and your transcript is one of them. (An even bigger ranking factor is your video’s description, which is why Digital Marketing Consultant Ryan Stewart suggests that you actually paste your transcript right into the description box, too.)

To add a transcript to your video: Open the video on YouTube, and you’ll see a row of icons just below the play button. Click the icon on the far right for “Subtitles & CC.” (CC stands for “Closed Captions.)

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Set your language if you haven’t already. Then, you’ll then be prompted to choose among three different ways to add subtitles or closed captions to your video by …

  1. Uploading a pre-written text transcript or a timed subtitles file. (Learn more about the file types you can upload and more here.)
  2. Pasting in a full transcript of the video, wherein subtitle timings will be set automatically.
  3. Typing them in as you watch the video.

The folks at YouTube have done some great things to make that third option (typing as you watch) as painless as possible. For example, if you check a box next to “Pause video while typing,” it’ll make the whole process a lot faster. Here’s a GIF showing that in action:

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4) You can use YouTube to easily get free transcriptions of your videos and audio files.

This is the last one about transcripts, I promise — but I’ll bet you never thought about them this way.  As you know from #2, YouTube automatically adds a transcript to every video. But if you’re looking for a one-off transcription of an audio or video file and don’t want to pay for a service, YouTube’s built-in captioning system isn’t a bad place to start. You can always clean it up later.

To get an automated transcription for a video: Simply upload your video to YouTube, open it on YouTube’s website, press the “More” tab underneath the video title, and choose “Transcript” from the dropdown menu. The transcript will appear as a new module in the same window. If you want to clean it up, follow the steps outlined in #3 for a user-friendly experience. 

To get an automated transcription for an audio file: You’ll need to upload your audio recording to YouTube using a service like TunesToTube. It’ll take anywhere between 2–30 minutes for YouTube to upload it. Then, follow the instructions for getting an automated transcription for a video, outlined above.

5) You can create, share, and collaborate on video playlists.

Just like on your other favorite media sharing sites like Spotify and iTunes, you can create a “playlist” on YouTube — which is really just a place to store and organize the videos (your own and others’). You can keep playlists private, make them public, or even share them directly with others.

Playlists are useful for a variety of different types of users, from an individual collecting cooking videos for their upcoming dinner party to a brand segmenting their YouTube video content by topic. For example, Tasty’s YouTube playlists break up recipes by meal type, making it easier for people to browse and find what they’re looking for:

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To create a playlist on desktop: Go to your Playlists page by clicking here or clicking your account icon in the top right, choosing “Creator Studio,” clicking “Video Manager” on the left, and choosing “Playlists.” Then, click “New Playlist” on the top right and choose whether you’d like to keep it private or make it public. 

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To create a playlist on mobile: Click here for instructions explaining how to create new playlists using your iOS or Android mobile devices.

To add a video to a playlist: If you’re adding a video to a playlist while you’re watching it, click the “Add to” icon below the video title and check the box next to the playlist you’d like to add it to.

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If you want to add a video to a playlist right from your Playlists page, simply click “Add Video” and either paste in a video URL, choose a video from your uploads, or search for a video on YouTube. Once you find the video you want to add, select the “Add to” menu from that video and add it to the playlist.

Your friends can contribute to your playlists, too. All you have to do is turn on the ability to collaborate on playlists. Once you turn it on, anyone you share a playlist link with can add videos to that playlist. (They can also remove any videos they’ve added, too.)

To add friends to a playlist: Go to your Playlists page again and open the playlist you want to collaborate on. Click “Playlist Settings” and choose the “Collaborate” tag. Toggle on that collaborators can add videos to the playlist, and from there, you can send them a link where they can add videos to the playlist.

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Once your friend’s been invited to a playlist, they’ll be able to add new videos to it and remove videos they’ve added in the past. They just have to follow some on-screen instructions first to confirm they want to be a contributor and to save the playlist to their own account.

When you add a video to a playlist you’re collaborating on, your name will appear next to the video in the playlist, and everyone who’s been invited to collaborate on that playlist will get a notification that a new video has been added.

(To learn more about how to manage contributors, stop accepting contributions to a playlist, and so on, read this YouTube Support page.)

6) You can save videos to watch later.

Ever seen YouTube videos you wished you could bookmark for later? Maybe you aren’t able to turn the sound on at the moment, or perhaps you just don’t have time to watch it. Well, YouTube took a page out of Facebook’s … book … by adding something very similar to Facebook’s “Save for Later” feature (#2 in this blog post). On YouTube, you can save videos to a “Watch Later” playlist to access whenever you want.

The “Watch Later” playlist operates just like a normal playlist, so the instructions are identical to the previous step (except you can’t invite others to collaborate on your “Watch Later” playlist).

To add a video to your “Watch Later” playlist: Open the video on YouTube and click the “Add to” icon below the video title and check the box next to the playlist you’d like to add it to, just like you did in the previous step. The steps are very similar on mobile, but click here if you want the full instructions from YouTube’s Support page. 

To access those videos: Simply go to your YouTube homepage and choose “Watch Later” from the menu on the left-hand side of your screen.

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From there, you can watch the videos you were saving, as well as easily remove videos from that list that you’ve already watched.

7) You can create your own custom YouTube URL.

Want to give people an easy-to-remember web address to get to your YouTube channel? You can actually create a custom URL, which you can base on things like your display name, your YouTube username, any current vanity URLs that you have, or the name of your linked website. HubSpot’s, for example, is https://www.youtube.com/hubspot.

Important Note: Before you do this, make sure you’re positive this is the custom URL you want — because once it’s approved, you can’t request to change it, nor can you transfer it to someone else. Keep in mind that it’ll be linked to both your YouTube channel and your Google+ identity, too.

Unfortunately, not everyone’s eligible for a custom URL. To get one, you have to have 100 or more subscribers, be at least 30 days old, have an uploaded photo as channel icon, and have uploaded channel art. If that sounds like you, keep readin’.

To claim your custom URL: Open up your YouTube account settings and click “Advanced” in your name section.

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If you’re eligible for a custom URL, you’ll be prompted to claim yours by clicking a link.

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Select the box next to “I agree to the Terms of Service.” Then, once you’re super sure it’s the URL you want since you can’t ever change it, click “Change URL” to make it final.

8) You can add clickable links to your videos.

Want people to not only watch your video, but engage with it, too? On YouTube, you can add clickable links YouTube calls “annotations” to your videos. These annotations work kind of like call-to-action buttons, and you can use them to link people to subscribe to your channel, to link to merchandise or a fundraising campaign, to go to another resource to learn more, and so on.

It’s an easy way to encourage people to actually engage and interact with your videos. (For marketers, it might even be a way to send people back to your website.)

What do these clickable links look like? To see one in action, check out the video below. You’ll see it pop up at the 10-second mark — and if you click on it, you’ll see it pauses the video and opens up a new tab in your browser for you to explore.

Pretty cool, huh? Here’s how you add annotations like that to your own videos.

To add a clickable link/annotation to a video: First, make sure your YouTube account is verified and that you have external linking turned on for your account. 

Once you’ve got that set up, open up YouTube and go to your Video Manager by clicking here or clicking “Video Manager” near the top of your YouTube home page. Then, find the video you want to add links to and click the arrow next to “Edit.” Choose “Annotations” from the drop-down menu.

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Click “Add Annotation” to add a new annotation, and choose from the five annotation types in the pull-down menu: Speech bubble, Note, Title, Spotlight, or Label. For this tutorial, we chose the note option. (Read this blog post to see what each of these annotations look like.)

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Once you choose an annotation type, you can then add text, choose your font, size, background color, and transparency. Below the video, you can choose exact start time you want your annotations to start and end.

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Here’s the key part: To add a link, tick the checkbox next to “Link” and choose what type of page you’ll link to, like an “Associated Website.” (Pro Tip: Use tracking tokens on the URL to track how many people actually click it.)

When you’re done, click “Publish” — and you’re all set. You can always edit your annotations after publishing by going back into the “Edit Annotation” tool and click “Edit existing annotation.”

You can read this blog post for more thorough instructions on adding annotations to videos.

Note: Annotations appear on standard YouTube players and embedded players, but they don’t appear on YouTube chromeless players, or on mobile, tablet, and TV devices.

9) YouTube has a big library of high-quality, royalty-free sound effects and music you can browse and download.

Want to add some cool sound effects or music to your YouTube video (or any video)? YouTube is there for ya. They have a whole library of high-quality, 320kbps audio tracks and sound effects that you can download royalty-free and add to your videos. (Or listen to in your free time. We won’t judge.)

To add music or sound effects to your video: Open YouTube’s Audio Library by clicking here or opening your Creator Studio, clicking “Create” in the menu on the left-hand side, and choosing “Audio Library.”

Now, the fun begins. By default, it’ll start you on the “Sound effects” tab. Here, you can search sounds using the search bar, like I did in the screenshot below for motorcycle sounds.

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You can also toggle by category (everything from human voices to weather sounds) or scroll through favorites that you’ve starred in the past. For easy access in the future, select the star to add the track to your Favorites. The bars next to the songs show how popular a track is.

If you switch over to the “Music” bar, you can browse through all their royalty-free music. You won’t find the Beatles in here, but you will find some good stuff — like suspenseful music, uplifting music, holiday music, jazz, and more. Instead of toggling by category, you can toggle by genre, mood, instrument, duration, and so on. 

(Note: Some of the music files in there may have additional attribution requirements you have to follow, but those are pretty clearly laid out on a song-by-song-basis. You can learn more on YouTube’s Support page here.)

Once you’ve found a track you like, click the arrow to download it and it’ll download directly to your computer as an MP3 file. Then, you can do whatever you want with it.

If you want to source sounds for your videos outside of YouTube, you’ll just have to make sure to you’re following all the rules for sourcing them. Refer to this YouTube Support page for best practices for sourcing audio, and this one to learn YouTube’s music policies.

10) You can easily create photo slideshows and set them to music.

Ever wanted to make one of those cheesy photo slideshows for a birthday or a baby shower or a team party? There’s no need to download software or use an unfamiliar platform — YouTube has a special featured designed just for creating photo slideshows. And it’s really easy to use.

You can upload as many photos and videos as you’d like, and choose from hundreds of movie styles, transitions, and effects to make it look awesome.

Plus, remember YouTube’s Audio Library we just talked about in #9? You can totally source music or sound effects from that and add it to these videos without a hassle.

Here’s how you do it. (Pro Tip: I’d recommend gathering all the photos you want into a single folder on your computer before you start making the slideshow to save time selecting them.)

To create a photo slideshow: Log in to YouTube and click the “Upload” button at the top right of your screen. Normally, this is where you’d upload a pre-existing video — but instead, you’ll want to find the “Create Videos” module on the right-hand side of your screen. Find “Photo slideshow” in that module and click “Create”.

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At this point, you’ll be able to choose your photos — either ones you’ve already uploaded to Google+, or photos on your computer. If you followed my advice above and created a folder for the photos you want, then choose the tab “Upload Photos” and add the folder either by searching for it manually, or by dragging-and-dropping like I did below.

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From there, you’ll be able to rearrange the photos and add more photos if you’d like.

Press “Next” on the bottom right, and it’ll open up the video preview, where YouTube has created the transitions for you based on what’s most popular. The default option actually looks pretty good — but you can always change the slide duration, the slide effect, and the transition. You can still press “Back” if you decide you want to rearrange the photos or add more.

On the right, you’ll see a list of suggested the top ad-free songs from the audio library. Pick from this list, search the library for different ones, or check the box next to “No Audio” to keep it silent.

When you’re all set, click “Upload” on the bottom right and wait for the video to process. This could take a few minutes. While you’re waiting, you can fill out the description, add tags, choose to make it public or private, add it to a playlist, and so on.

Here’s the end result of mine, which took me a total of maybe three minutes after choosing the photos:

11) You can live stream videos to YouTube.

Live streaming video has been a big topic of conversation for the past few years. It’s seen massive growth, especially in the past few years with the advent of Twitter’s Periscope and the recent Facebook Live phenomenon.

YouTube’s been ahead of the curve, offering a live streaming option on desktop for the last few years — but in June 2016, they finally added the ability for people to live stream from their mobile devices, directly from within the app. Unfortunately, the live mobile video streaming is only open to a select few right now, and all we know about timing is that they’ll start opening it to more users “soon.”

Live streaming on YouTube is a little more complex (and confusing) than than live streaming using Facebook Live, though. On YouTube’s easier streaming option, there’s no simple “start” button; instead, you actually have to download encoding software and set it up to use live streaming at all. Luckily, YouTube has easy-to-follow instructions for how to do just that.

If you’re streaming a live event, though, all you need is a webcam. We’ll get to that in a second.

To live stream from your desktop computer: Log in to YouTube and click the “Upload” button at the top right of your screen. Normally, this is where you’d upload a pre-existing video — but instead, you’ll want to find the “Live Streaming” module on the right-hand side of your screen. Click “Get Started” in that module.

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Before you go live, YouTube will first confirm that your channel is verified and that you have no live stream restrictions in the last 90 days. Once that’s all set, you have two options for streaming: “Stream now” and “Live Events.”

Stream Now

Stream Now is the simpler, quicker option for live streaming, which is why it’s YouTube’s default for live streaming. You’ll see a fancy dashboard like the one below. (Note that live streaming is still in beta as of this posting, so your dashboard may look different from mine.)

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Again, you’ll notice there’s no “start” button on the dashboard. This is where you’ll need to open your encoder and start and stop your streaming from there. Here’s YouTube’s Live Streaming FAQ page for more detailed information.

Live Events

Live Events gives you a lot more control over the live stream. You can preview it before it goes live, it’ll give you backup redundancy streams, and you can start and stop the stream when you want.

Choose “Live Events” from your live streaming dashboard once you’ve enabled it. Here’s what the events dashboard looks like, and you can learn more about it here.

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When you stop streaming, we’ll automatically upload an archive of your live stream to your channel. Note that your completed live stream videos are automatically made public on your channel by default as soon as you’re done recording. To make them disappear from the public eye once you’re done, you can select “Make archive private when complete” in the “Stream Options” section of your live dashboard.

Want to see what live videos others are recording on YouTube? You can browse popular YouTube videos that are live right now by clicking here.

12) You can upload and watch 360-degree videos (live and pre-recorded).

YouTube first announced their support for 360-degree videos back in March 2015, and it was a total novelty — not to mention a game changer. Since then, brands, athletes, and other users have created some awesome 360-degree content, like this video from Samsung:

As you can see, the experience as a viewer is really, really cool. On desktop, you can click around the video to see all the different angles while the video plays. On mobile, it’s even cooler: You can move your camera around to change the angle. You can browse the trending 360-degree videos here.

To actually create a 360-degree video on YouTube yourself, though, you need some serious equipment. Cameras with 360-degree capability that are compatible with YouTube are listed here on YouTube’s Support page, along with how to create and upload a 360-degree video file.

What about live video in 360 degrees? That announcement would come a year after the first one, in April 2016 — the very same week Facebook announced its own design for a 360-degree camera. Luckily for the folks at YouTube, they beat out Facebook by supporting both live video and 360-degree footage all at once.

The Verge called 360 live streamed videos “the gateway drug to virtual reality” for YouTube. Without a hefty price tag (without any price tag, for that matter, other than the time it takes to watch the ads we’re already used to seeing, I have to agree. Other than the YouTube website or app, you don’t need any fancy equipment to be able to watch a 360-degree live video and feel like you’re basically there. Keep an eye on this.

13) YouTube ads target you based on an algorithm similar to Google and Facebook.

We’ve written about how Google’s algorithm works, as well as how the algorithms work on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But what about YouTube? How does it decide which ads play on the videos you watch?

Turns out it works a lot like Google and Facebook ads do. Like on other free sites, the advertisers help fund the YouTube experience in return for exposure to their ads. You’ll see certain ads over others because of your demographic groups, your interests (which is judged in part by what you search on Google and YouTube) and the content you’ve viewed before, including whether or not you’ve interacted with the advertiser’s videos, ads, or YouTube channel.

YouTube’s algorithms also try to make sure that people aren’t overloaded with ads while watching their videos — so they actually sometimes don’t know ads on monetizable videos, even when there’s a demographic match.

Here are the five ad formats you can expect to see on YouTube, and how they work:

a) Display ads, which show up next to the video and only appear only on desktop and laptop computers. The advertiser gets paid when you see or click on the ad, depending on their selection.

youtube-display-ads.png

Image Credit: YouTube’s Creator Academy

b) Overlay ads, which appear across the bottom 20% of the video window and currently only appears only on desktop and laptop computers. You can X out of the ad at any time.

youtube-overlay-ads.png

Image Credit: YouTube’s Creator Academy

c) TrueView in-stream, skippable video ads, which are most common ads. These are the ones you can skip after watching for five seconds. Advertisers can put it before, during (yikes!), or after the video plays, and they get paid only if you watch at least 30 second of the clip or to the end of the video ad — whichever comes first.

youtube-in-stream-skippable-video-ads.png

Image Credit: YouTube’s Creator Academy

d) Non-skippable video ads, which are those longer, 15-or-more-second ads you see before plays and can’t skip after any period of time, no matter how much you shout at your screen. 

youtube-non-skippable-video-ads-2.png

Image Credit: YouTube’s Creator Academy

e) Midroll ads, which are ads that are only available for videos over 15 minutes long that are spaced within the video like TV commercials. You need to watch the ad before continuing through the video. How the advertiser gets paid depends on the type of ad: If the midroll is a TrueView ad, then you’d have to watch 30 seconds of the end or the entire ad — whichever is shorter. If it’s a CPM-based ad, then you have to watch the entire ad no matter how long it is.

youtube-midroll-ads-1.png

Image Credit: YouTube’s Creator Academy

14) You can remove ads from YouTube videos (and watch videos offline) for 10 bucks a month.

Video ads are the reason you can watch videos for free on YouTube. It’s a fact many of us have come to accept. But with YouTube’s subscription service YouTube Red, that doesn’t necessarily have to be true anymore.

For $9.99 a month, you can watch YouTube videos … without any ads. And, in addition to ad-free videos, you can save videos on your mobile device and watch them in the background and/or offline, and you can use YouTube’s Music App (on iOS and Android) in the background, offline, and/or on audio mode. This is not a drill.

You’d think the lure of ad-free videos would have caused more of an uproar since its launch in late 2015, especially given YouTube’s domination in the music space. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard much noise about it. But YouTube hasn’t disclosed subscriber numbers, so it’s hard to tell how well it’s doing. Either way, it’s good to know about — especially if you like collecting songs and music videos like I do, but don’t like when they get broken up by ads.

15) You can use Google Trends to explore and compare popular YouTube search terms over time.

You might already use Google Trends to look at the popularity of specific search terms over time. (It can be a great marketing tool for making smarter keyword choices, for instance.) But did you know you can use it to compare the popularity of YouTube search queries, specifically?

All you have to do is open Google Trends and type a search term into the “Explore topics” search bar at the top. Once that page opens up, click on “Web Search” to open a dropdown menu, and choose “YouTube Search” so it filters by YouTube searches specifically.

google-trends-youtube-search-2.png

You might find that, for some search terms, the search trends are very different on Google (above) than on YouTube (below).

google-trends-youtube-search-view.png

16) There’s a “safer” version of YouTube available for your kids.

Any parent will tell you how scary it is for their kids to theoretically have access to everything public on the internet. But for your younger kids, there are ways to curb that access and have more control of what they’re watching and finding — including a kids’ version of YouTube called YouTube Kids

The folks at YouTube call YouTube Kids “a safer version of YouTube.” It’s not a wide-open library of online videos like YouTube is; instead, it uses filters powered by algorithms to select videos from YouTube that are safe for kids to watch. It’s also totally free, thanks to ads (which are regulated as carefully as possible).

You can either turn the search feature on or off, depending whether you’re cool with your kids searching for videos themselves, or if you’d rather they’re limited to a certain set of videos selected by the app, along with those the app recommends based on what they’ve watched already. You can set a timer to limit how much time a child spends on the app, which I imagine is music to many parents’ ears.

The algorithm is darn good — remember, Google is YouTube’s parent company — but, as they warn in their parent’s guide, “no algorithm is perfect.” 

17) You can learn about YouTube’s copyrights terms from a cast of ridiculous puppets.

Made it this far? Here’s a little reward: YouTube’s “Copyrights Basics” FAQ page, which is, fittingly a YouTube video — and features a pretty colorful cast of characters. It’s actually super informative, and it looks like their video team had a lot of fun making it.

My favorite line is probably, “You know there are links on this webpage, right? You don’t have to watch this.” Although the chorus of gorilla puppets was pretty great, too.

Enjoy.

We hope we’ve opened your eyes to some of the more awesome YouTube hacks, tips, and features out there that you may not have known about. Now log on to YouTube and do some exploring yourself. The platform certainly isn’t going anywhere.

Which YouTube features can you add to the list? Share with us in the comments below.

free guide to video marketing

Aug

26

2016

15 of the Best Email Marketing Campaign Examples You’ve Ever Seen

BestEmailCampaigns.jpg

At one point or another, we all need inspiration to do our jobs better. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a marketing veteran who has navigated through years of changing technology or a newbie fresh out of college — we all need examples of outstanding content. It helps us get through creative ruts, make the case to our boss for experimentation, and improve our own marketing.

Most of the time, inspiration is easy to find because most marketing content is publicly available. You can scour the internet or go on your favorite social network to see what your connections are talking about.

But there’s one marketing channel that is really, really hard to find good examples of unless you’re already in the know: email. There’s nothing casual about it — you usually need to be subscribed to an email list to find great examples of emails. And even if you’re subscribed to good emails, they are often bombarding you day after day, so it’s hard to notice the gems. Download our free guide here to learn how to create email marketing campaigns  people actually click. 

Because it’s so difficult to find good email marketing examples, we decided to do the scouring and compiling for you. Read on to discover some great emails and get the lowdown on what makes them great — or just keep on scrolling to get a general feel for each. However you like to be inspired is fine by us!

15 Examples of Effective Email Marketing

1) charity: water

When people talk about email marketing, lots of them forget to mention transactional emails. These are the automated emails you get in your inbox after taking a certain action on a website. This could be anything from filling out a form to purchasing a product to updating you on the progress of your order. Often, these are plain text emails that email marketers set and forget.

Well, charity: water took an alternate route. Once someone donates to a charity: water projects, their money takes a long journey. Most charities don’t tell you about that journey at all — charity: water uses automated emails to show donors how their money is making an impact over time. With the project timeline and accompanying table, you don’t even really need to read the email — you know immediately where you are in the whole process so you can move on to other things in your inbox.

charity-water-email-example

2) BuzzFeed

I already have a soft spot for BuzzFeed content (21 Puppies so Cute You Will Literally Gasp and Then Probably Cry, anyone?), but that isn’t the only reason I fell in love with its emails.

First of all, BuzzFeed has awesome subject lines and preview text. They are always short and punchy — which fits in perfectly with the rest of BuzzFeed’s content. I especially love how the preview text will accompany the subject line. For example, if the subject line is a question, the preview text is the answer. Or if the subject line is a command (like the one below), the preview text seems like the next logical thought right after it:

buzzfeed_inbox

Once you open up an email from them, the copy is equally awesome. Just take a look at that glorious alt text action happening where the images should be. The email still conveys what it is supposed to convey — and looks great — whether you use an image or not. That’s definitely something to admire.

Without images:

buzzfeed-email-example-1.png?noresize

With images:

buzzfeed-email-example.png?noresize

3) Uber

The beauty of Uber‘s emails is in their simplicity. They let their email subscribers know about deals and promotions by sending an email like the one you see below. We love how brief the initial description is, paired with a very clear call-to-action — which is perfect for subscribers who are quickly skimming the email. For the people who want to learn more, these are followed by a more detailed (but still pleasingly simple), step-by-step explanation of how the deal works.

We also love how consistent the design of their emails is with their brand. Like their app, website, social media photos, and other parts of their visual brand, their emails are represented by bright colors and geometric patterns. All of their communications and marketing assets tell their brand’s story — and brand consistency is one tactic Uber’s nailed in order to gain brand loyalty.

uber-email-example.png

4) TheSkimm

We’ve written about TheSkimm’s daily newsletter before — especially its clean design and its short, punchy paragraphs. But newsletters aren’t TheSkimm’s only strength when it comes to email. Check out their subscriber engagement email below, which rewarded my colleague Ginny Mineo for being subscribed for two years.

Emails triggered by milestones like anniversary emails and birthday emails are fun to get — who doesn’t like to celebrate a special occasion? The beauty of anniversary emails in particular is that they don’t require subscribers to input any extra data, and they can work for a variety of senders and the timeframe can be modified based on the business model.

Here, the folks at TheSkimm took it a step further by asking her if she’d like to earn the title of brand ambassador as a loyal subscriber — which would require her to share the link with ten friends, of course.

the-skimm-email-example.png

5) Mom and Dad Money

Think you know all about the people who are reading your marketing emails? How much of what you “know” about them is based on assumptions? The strongest buyer personas are based on insights you gather from your actual readership, through surveys, interviews, and so on, in addition to the market research. That’s exactly what Matt Becker of Mom and Dad Money does — and he does it very, very well.

Here’s an example of an email I got in my inbox a few weeks ago. Design-wise, it’s nothing special — but that’s the point. It reads just like an email from a friend or colleague asking for a quick favor.

Not only was this initial email great, but his response to my answers was even better: Within a few days of responding to the questionnaire, I received a long and detailed personal email from Matt thanking me for filling out the questionnaire and offering a ton of helpful advice and links to resources specifically catered to my answers. I was very impressed by his business acumen, communication skills, and obvious dedication to his readers.

matt-becker-email-example.png

6) Poncho

Some of the best emails out there pair super simple design with brief, clever copy. When it comes down to it, my daily emails from Poncho, which sends me customizable weather forecasts each morning, takes the cake. They’re colorful, use delightful images and GIFs, and very easy to scan. The copy is brief but clever — some great puns in there — and aligns perfectly with the brand. Check out the copy near the bottom asking to “hang out outside of email.” Hats off to Poncho for using design to better communicate its message.

poncho-email-example.png

7) Birchbox

The subject line of this email from beauty product subscription service Birchbox got my colleague Pam Vaughan clicking. It read: “We Forgot Something in Your February Box!” Of course, if you read the email copy below, they didn’t actually forget to put that discount code in her box — but it was certainly a clever way to get her attention.

And the discount code for Rent the Runway, a dress rental company that likely fits the interest profile of most Birchbox customers, certainly didn’t disappoint. That’s a great co-marketing partnership right there.

birchbox-email-example

8) Postmates

I’ve gotta say, I’m a sucker for GIFs. They’re easy to consume, they catch your eye, and they have an emotional impact — like the fun GIF in one of Postmates‘ emails that’s not only delightful to watch, but also makes you crave some delicious Chipotle.

You too can use animated GIFs in your marketing to show a fun header, to draw people’s eye to a certain part of the email, or to display your products and services in action. Here are the best places to find GIFs on the internet, and here’s an easy Photoshop tutorial for making your own.

chipotle-gif.gif

postmates-email-example.png

9) Dropbox

You might think it’d be hard to love an email from a company whose product you haven’t been using. But Dropbox found a way to make their “come back to us!” email cute and funny, thanks to a pair of whimsical cartoons and an emoticon.

Plus, they kept the email short and sweet to emphasize the message that they don’t want to intrude, they just want to remind the recipient that they exist and why they could be helpful. When sending these types of email, you might include an incentive for recipients to come back to using your service, like a limited-time coupon.

dropbox-email-example.png

10) InVision App

Every week, the folks at InVision send a roundup of their best blog content, their favorite design links from the week, and a new opportunity to win a free t-shirt. (Seriously. They give away a new design every week.) They also sometimes have fun survey questions where they crowdsource for their blog. This week’s, for example, asked subscribers what they would do if the internet didn’t exist.

Not only is their newsletter a great mix of content, but I also love the nice balance between images and text, making it really easy to read and mobile-friendly — which is especially important because their newsletters are so long. (Below is just an excerpt, but you can read through the full email here.) We like the clever copy on their call-to-action buttons, too.

invision-email-example.png

11) Warby Parker

What goes better with a new prescription than a new pair of glasses? The folks at Warby Parker made that connection very clear in their email to a friend of mine back in 2014. It’s an older email, but it’s such a good example of personalized email marketing that I had to include it in here.

The subject line was: “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring.” What a clever email trigger. And you’ve gotta love ’em for reminding you your prescription needs updating.

Speaking of which … check out the clever co-marketing at the bottom of the email: If you don’t know where to go to renew your subscription, the information for an optometrist is right in the email. Now there’s no excuse not to shop for new glasses!

warby-parker-email-example

12) Cook Smarts

I’ve been a huge fan of Cook Smarts‘ “Weekly Eats” newsletter for a while. The company sends yummy recipes in meal plan form to my inbox every week. But I didn’t just include it because of its delicious recipes … I’m truly a fan of its emails. I love the layout: Each email features three distinct sections (one for the menu, one for kitchen how-to’s, and one for the tips). This means you don’t have to go hunting to find the most interesting part of its blog posts — you know exactly where to look after an email or two.

I also love Cook Smarts’ “Forward to a Friend” call-to-action in the top-right of the email. Emails are super shareable on — you guessed it — email, so you should also think about reminding your subscribers to forward your emails to friends, coworkers, or heck, even family.

cooksmart-email-example

13) HireVue

“Saying goodbye is never easy to do… So, we thought we’d give you a chance to rethink things”. That was the subject of this automated unsubscribe email from HireVue. We love the simple, guilt-free messaging here, from the funny header images to the great call-to-action button copy.

Not only are the design and copy here top-notch, but we applaud the folks at HireVue for sending automated unsubscribe emails in the first place. It’s smart to purge your subscriber lists of folks who aren’t opening your email lists because low open rates can seriously hurt email deliverability. We sent out a similar email in December 2015 when we automatically unsubscribed people once they became unengaged, which you can read about here.

hirevue-unsubscribe-email-example.png

14) Paperless Post

When you think of “holiday email marketing,” your mind might jump straight to Christmas, but there are other holidays sprinkled throughout the rest of the year that you can create campaigns around.

Take the email below from Paperless Post, for example. I love the header of this email: It provides a clear call-to-action that includes a sense of urgency. Then, the subheader asks a question that forces recipients to think to themselves, “Wait, when is Mother’s Day again? Did I buy Mom a card?” Below this copy, the simple grid design is both easy to scan and is quite visually appealing. Each card picture is a CTA in and of itself — click on any one of them and you will be taken to a purchase page.

paperless-post-email-example

15) Stitcher

Humans crave personalized experiences. It’s science. When emails appear to be created especially for you, you feel special — you’re not just getting what everyone else is getting. You might even feel like the company sending you the email knows you in some way, and that they care about your preferences and making you happy.

That’s why I love on-demand podcast/radio show app Stitcher‘s “Recommended For You” email. I tend to listen to episodes from the same podcast instead of branching out to new ones. But Stitcher wants me to discover (and subscribe to) all the other awesome content they have — and I probably wouldn’t without their encouragement.

I think this email is also quite a brilliant use of responsive design. The colors are bright, and it’s not too hard to scroll and click — notice the CTAs are large enough for me to hit with my thumbs. Also, the mobile email actually has features that make sense for recipients who are on their mobile device. Check out the CTA at the bottom of the email, for example: The “Open Stitcher Radio” button prompts the app to open on your phone.

stitcher-email-example?noresize

These are just some of our favorite emails. Don’t just follow best practice when it comes to your marketing emails. Every email you send from your work email address also can be optimised to convert. Try out our free email signature generator now. Check out some more of our favorite HubSpot marketing email examples.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

free guide to creating email marketing campaigns

 
how to create emails people actually open

Aug

24

2016

How to Create an Engaging Snapchat Story: A Start-to-Finish Guide

Snapchat_Story.jpg

With the average attention span dipping to just 8.25 seconds — as short as that of a goldfish— today’s marketers are tasked with creating content that’s engaging enough to appeal to distracted consumers.

With that in mind, Snapchat — a real-time messaging and multimedia app — has become an increasingly attractive channel for those looking to engage the 18-34 year old demographic and grow their brand’s social media presence.

This is largely due to the fact that Snapchat content is inherently time-bound: Snapchat Stories disappear after just 24 hours. This constraint helps command the immediate attention of an audience, while forcing brands to master the art of succinct, interesting content. Download our free Snapchat guide to learn how to use it for your business. 

And while many brands are hitting the nail on the head in this space, it’s not easy. That’s why we put together this guide to dive into the nitty-gritty of how to create an effective Snapchat Story — and why it’s a feature should be leveraging.

What is a Snapchat Story?

Before we get started, let’s review the differences between a Snap and a Story:

  • Snap: A direct photo or video message from one Snapchat user to their Snapchat Friend (or several). Snaps disappear 1-10 seconds after they are first opened, and they can be customized
  • Story: A photo or video message Snapchat users can view for 24 hours and as many times as they choose within that timeframe. Brands share Stories to engage with a larger audience for a longer period of time.

In this post, we’re going to specifically zoom in on what goes into creating a successful Snapchat Story, but you can refer to our Snapchat for Business ebook for a more comprehensive look at Snapchat strategy.

How to Create a Snapchat Story

Before You Share

1) Experiment.

My colleague, HubSpot Social Media Manager Marissa Breton, recommends that before stepping behind the helm of a brand’s Snapchat, users play with the Snapchat sharing and editing functionalities with a personal account.

The most engaging Snapchat content is authentic to the voice and personality of a brand, so experimenting with what Stories your personal Snapchat friends engage with will be great preparation. To learn more about opening a personal or brand Snapchat account, check out Breton’s article on how to use Snapchat for business.

2) Adjust your privacy settings.

Additionally, you should change your Settings so Everyone can see your Stories, instead of just My Friends to promote greater visibility for your brand.

You can navigate to your Settings by pressing theGhost_white_icon-863326664.png icon at the top of your Snapchat view, then by pressing the gear icon, then adjusting who can view your Story under “Who Can…”

Creating a Snapchat Story

1) Take a Snap.

Snapchat opens to the camera view, so you can tap the Camera_circle_icon_small-595773352.jpg icon to take a photo or press and hold it to record a video.

You can add a lens if you are sharing a photo or video selfie by pressing down on your face until different lens options appear, such as the one pictured below:

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Source: Snapchat

2) Customize your Snap.

Now comes the fun part: Deciding how you want to make your Snap Story unique.

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Source: Snapchat

Once you take a Snap, you have a few options:

  • Discard your story by pressing the “X” icon in the top left.
  • Add emojis by pressing the post-it icon, then choosing a fun icon that fit your brand’s voice.emoji.jpg
  • Add a caption by tapping on the image or video and typing into the gray bar.

caption.jpg

  • Add a doodle by tapping the pencil icon and using your finger to scribble on the screen.

doodle.jpg

  • Add a filter by swiping left on your Snap. (Pro Tip: If you want to use two filters on a photo or video, hold one thumb down on the first filter, then continue swiping left until you decide on the perfect filter combo.)

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There are more filters to choose from based on where you are located while Snapping. These are called Geofilters, and they provide another layer of individualization and connection with your local audience. To access this feature, you’ll need to adjust your setting first, as shown below.

You can also pay to make a custom, on-demand Geofilter using your own design. This is a great way to engage your followers if you host an event.

Geofilter-625472783.gif

Source: Snapchat

  • Adjust the duration of how long your Story plays using the stopwatch icon. The maximum length of an individual Snap is 10 seconds, however you can create multiple Snaps to add to your Story to achieve a longer effect.

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  • Save your Story to your phone’s photo album by clicking on the icon indicated below:

save-1.png

  • Share the Snap to your Story by clicking the icon indicated below. This will share the photo or video with your Snapchat friends, or anyone if you made your account public.

story.png

  • Send your Snap to Friends and share it on your Story by tapping the blue arrow.

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When you publish a Snapchat Story, it lives on your profile for 24 hours, during which viewers can check it out as many times as they would like. Most brands and individuals publish multiple images/videos in a string that can serve as the narrative of their Story, live-sharing, or simply a fun collage.

ViewStory-attempt-265385176.gif

Source: Snapchat

You can also publish your Snapchat Story on a Live Story, a compilation of Snaps and Stories submitted by users at different events worldwide. If you’re near a location or event that is being featured on a Live Story by Snapchat, you have the option to select “My Story” and “Live Story” when selecting the blue arrow to share your Snap. If your Story is selected for the Live Story, anyone will be able to view your photo or video, and more people will be exposed to your brand.

live_story-183971940.gif

Source: Snapchat

After You Share

1) Save your Story.

Snapchat recently introduced Memories, where you can save Snaps and Stories to your account to prevent them from disappearing after 24 hours. From Memories, you can share new Stories, edit and view past ones, and re-share past Stories on your profile (for example, to commemorate events).

Memories_Resend_Snap-202194416.gif

Source: Snapchat

2) Track your results.

Breton notes in her article that one of Snapchat’s weaknesses is its analytics: The only data you can pull refer to views (Screen_Shot_2016-05-09_at_12.36.07_PM.png), replies, and screenshots (Snapchat_screenshots.png) — and those numbers are only available within the 24-hour timeframe of you publishing a Story.

To view your own Story and to pull these numbers:

  1. Swipe left on the Camera screen to reach the Stories screen.
  2. Tap the circular thumbnail of your Story, or the three gray dots on the right-hand side.
  3. Tap each individual Snap to view the number of views and screenshots.

By tracking these numbers for each Story, and viewing how they evolve over time, you can glean a rough idea of how your Snapchat influence and following is growing.

Breton suggests analyzing clickthrough rate to determine how many people are viewing every image or video that you share in your Story through to the end. Are some viewing the first Snap or two, but not the entire series? Analyzing these numbers will help you decide which types of content perform best, and how many Snaps you should be publishing in your Stories to best connect with your audience.

4 Tips for Creating Great Snapchat Stories

Content creators and community managers, rejoice: With only 10 seconds available per Snap, your Story won’t require the production lift that’s typical of blog posts, ebooks, or social media campaigns on other networks.

Take advantage of the extra time Snapchat allots you to strategize how to make your Stories as strong and engaging as possible. Here are a few suggestions to get you headed on the right path:

1) Experiment with the format.

Breton suggests taking advantage of the ease of Snap Story production by experimenting with how different types of Stories perform when you first start sharing. Test how your followers engage with:

  • Videos vs. photos
  • Selfies vs. shooting other subjects
  • Background sound vs. no sound

2) Change up the theme.

Be sure to show your followers different things each time you publish a Story to keep them wondering what’s next. Ideas for creative Snap Stories from brands include:

Spotlighting events that you’re hosting or attending to give your followers a look into the innovative ideas your brand is creating or promoting. Here’s an example from the social media team at Marie Claire (@MarieClaireMag) taking a tour of NFL Headquarters:

Teasing product launches to generate buzz and drive engagement using sneak peeks, like the folks over at Everlane (@everlane) did with their Story about denim: 

Providing a behind-the-scenes look into your organization’s culture and products to give your followers “insider” status. Here, the Taco Bell (@tacobell) team showed their followers a list of “menu hacks” so they could create their own unique, off-menu dishes:

Getting out of the office and enlisting colleagues and partners traveling on behalf of your brand to share Stories from unique locations for an added “cool” factor. For example, Marriott Hotels (@MarriottHotels) filmed a team member traveling to different boutiques in Atlanta:

Performing mini-interviews with colleagues or visitors to get a look at the faces and personalities behind the brand, as Teen Vogue (@teenvogue) demonstrates in their Story’s Q&A:

Creating how-to videos showing followers how to use products to drive engagement. In their Snapchat Story, Bustle (@bustledotcom) shared a step-by-step guide to an at-home beauty solution and used emojis and doodles to provide specific instructions:

Highlighting “newsjacks” covering breaking news in your industry that your followers will be interested in, too. TrackMaven (@track.maven) publishes a weekly Story that covers marketing news, such as the one below:

3) Have fun with stickers, filters, and doodles.

Don’t forget the editing features when you’re preparing to share your Story. Thrillist’s Dave Infante recommends using emojis as props to add an additional dynamic layer to your Story, like this:

meowtains-810665652.gif

Source: Snapchat

4) Don’t say too long, but don’t leave without saying goodbye either.

The time limit on each Snap in your Story is 10 seconds, but you can publish a series of Stories that work together to create an interesting narrative for your followers. That being said, don’t tell a story that requires too many Snaps. 

When a Story includes too many Snaps, it becomes hard to follow along with, so stick to the highlights. And don’t forget to sign off: Infante suggests a final, closing Snap at the end of your Story to make your conclusion very clear to your followers.

Ready to Get Started?

Now that you know how Stories work — and what goes into a great one, check out this post to brush up on what some of the best brands are doing on Snapchat. And if you want an even deeper dive into Snapchat strategy, download this free ebook.

(P.S. – Keep up with HubSpot on Snapchat (@hubspotinc) to see what we’re saying, too.)

What content do you like to share in your brand’s Snapchat Story? Share with us in the comments below.

free guide: how to use snapchat for business  

Aug

23

2016

11 of the Best Olympic Marketing Campaigns, Ads, Commercials & Promotions This Year

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The 2016 Summer Olympics are officially over. But for two weeks, billions of eyes from around the world watched athletes attempt to break records and bring home the gold. What a perfect opportunity for marketers, no?

Many brands jumped on the Olympics bandwagon, leveraging its popularity for their own campaigns. Some of these brands created particularly inspiring campaigns, both to viewers and marketers alike — whether for the emotion they elicit, or for the reminder of exactly how to execute a remarkable ad or marketing campaign. Download even more examples of remarkable marketing and advertising campaigns  here. 

We rounded up the ones that tugged at our heartstrings as viewers, or inspired us to be better marketers. (Sometimes both.) Check out this list of 11 of the best campaigns from the 2016 Summer Games and what made them so great.

11 of the Best Olympic Marketing Campaigns, Ads, Commercials & Promotions This Year

1) Under Armour: Rule Yourself

The Under Armour brand doesn’t just value the success that comes from hard work; it values the hard work and 24/7 dedication that leads to that success. Their emphasis is on self-improvement and self-reliance — which is why they acquired the fitness tracking platform MapMyFitness back in 2014.

Under Armour’s ad campaign for the 2016 Summer Olympics perfectly embodies these deep-seeded values. It focuses on the side of athletic achievement that no one sees. For Michael Phelps, that’s the ice baths, cupping therapy, and 12,500 calories he has to eat every day. For an ordinary person, it might be taking the stairs, getting a full night’s sleep, or tracking your meals using their MyFitnessPal app. But the message is the same, and it’s a powerful one: “It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”

2) Proctor & Gamble: “Thank You Mom”

For the 2012 Summer Olympics, Proctor & Gamble created a campaign called “Thank You, Mom” that showed flashbacks of Olympic athletes from all over the world growing up and practicing their sport with support from their mothers. That same campaign is back again this year, featuring athletes and their mothers from this summer’s Games.

This year’s campaign shows athletes’ mothers helping them through times of stress, cheering them along, and supporting them. Notice the clickable link they added to the video that takes viewers to a web page where they can send a personalized thank-you note to their own moms. Take a look … and maybe grab a tissue.

3) Panasonic UK: #Superfans

Cheering on your country is a lot easier when you’re the one hosting the Olympics, as Great Britain did in London in Summer 2012. With the Games in Brazil this year, Panasonic, a long-time official partner to the British Olympic Association, wanted to help Great Britain keep up the fan-fueled momentum. So in April 2016, they announced a crowdsourced campaign called #Superfans, which invited fans of Team GB to post pictures on social media using the hashtag to encourage engagement.

“It is a great opportunity for us to share our passion for the Olympics as a company and to connect with consumers on an emotional level,” said Managing Director of Panasonic UK Andrew Denham. “This is why Panasonic’s heritage as a global Olympic partner is so important to me – it adds some real spark and colour to the brand.”

All the fan photos posted with the hashtag #Superfans was posted on a dedicated web page on Team GB’s official site, and Panasonic UK offered extra incentives like Twitter contests.

Here’s a sampling of the fan-sourced content on Twitter:

Even the U.K.’s premiere parachute display team got in on the action:

4) Apple: “The Human Family”

What makes the Olympic Games so special? The elite athletic competition, yes — but also the bringing together of people and cultures from all over the world. And it’s that second part that the folks at Apple chose to focus on in their Olympics commercial.

The ad showcases beautiful photos and videos of people all over the world taken using an iPhone, and it’s set to Maya Angelou reading excerpts from her poem, “Human Family.” What a beautiful message.

5) Coca-Cola: #ThatsGold

Not all of us can be Olympic athletes — but the folks at Coca-Cola make the case that even ordinary people like you and me can experience the feeling of winning gold. To do this, they launched the campaign #ThatsGold, which they first integrated into a TV ad (shown below) with the “Taste the Feeling” campaign they launched in January 2016.

The Olympics commercial tied to the campaign is all about drawing a parallel between the thrill and excitement of winning a gold medal at the Olympics and the thrill and excitement of having a good time with the people in your life. They did a great job of drawing those parallels with compelling quotes and visuals, and nailed the ending with the line, “Gold is a feeling anyone can taste.”

In addition to the commercial, they set up a fully operational “real-time marketing” global hub in Rio that monitored the #ThatsGold hashtag during the course of the Olympics and created content around key moments in real time on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and more.

6) Virgin Media: #BeTheFastest

Virgin Media is all about being fast, advertising their WiFi speed as “fast,” “superfast,” even “ultrafast.” So it comes to no surprise that they chose to pay tribute to Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, for their Olympics campaign this year.

Bolt set the World Record for the 100-meter sprint at 9.58 seconds at the 2009 Berlin World Championships in Athletics. To demonstrate what 9.58 seconds feels like, Virgin Media created an advertisement that strung together ten, 9.58-second vignettes that each cast light on a different part of Bolt’s life. The purpose? Both to celebrate Bolt’s spectacular accomplishment and to emphasize the importance of speed.

7) Airbnb: “Alternative Accommodations” Sponsorship

Back in March of this year, Airbnb became the first official “alternative accommodations” sponsor of the Olympics — the first time the Olympics has ever had an alternative accommodations sponsor, according to local Olympic officials. Why’d they do it? Mashable reports that when Rio won the Olympic bid in 2009, it had just half the 40,000 beds required for the games — so it was definitely a win for the city, the games, and Airbnb.

In exchange for an undisclosed amount to local Olympic organizers, Airbnb was included in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games’ ticketing platform by way of a specific landing page where customers were able to rent private homes and apartments in Rio. They also got a link to their site on the official Olympic website, along with calls-to-action encouraging people traveling to Rio for the Olympics to use the service for rentals.

Here they are in the first spot on the official Rio Olympics 2016 website’s homepage:

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To help promote homes and apartments for rent in Rio, they created Rio-specific videos and content for their larger #StayWithMe campaign, which invites Airbnb hosts to post photos or short videos on social media to showcase their countries. Here’s one Airbnb published right before the Olympics started, in June 2016:

8) Chobani: #NoBadStuff

Goodness is a choice you make, claims Chobani with their Olympic-inspired campaign #NoBadStuff. From a literal standpoint, their campaign is about the good, healthy ingredients in Chobani yogurt; metaphorically, it’s all about having a positive attitude, working hard, treating others well, and properly fueling your body.

Their campaign has a few moving parts, starting with a page on their website where you can meet the U.S. athletes they’ve partnered with who embody the positive, hardworking attitude that defines their campaign. Each athlete’s story includes an interview about their biggest challenges, how they stay positive, their favorite meal growing up, and so on — along with, of course, a giant picture of them enjoying Chobani yogurt

chobani-no-bad-stuff-campaign.png

Their campaign also includes a TV ad, content where U.S. athletes give advice on things like how to stay cool under stress, and — my personal favorite — a few limited-edition yogurt flavors inspired by Brazil.

chobani-rio-inspired-flavors.png

9) Folger’s: “Coach”

“Olympic glory doesn’t just belong to athletes, and it doesn’t just happen every four years. It happens one morning at a time, and one cup at a time.” That’s the message coffee company Folger leaves us with in their commercial, “Coach.”

Instead of focusing on the athletes, the folks at Folgers used their ad time to focus on the coaches that help those athletes get to where they are. Specifically, it follows the relationship between a boy and the coach that helped him through every win, every loss, every injury, and every moment of glory before he was eventually chosen to represent Team USA.

10) NBC & BuzzFeed’s Olympic Parternship

NBC is known for doing a thorough job covering the Olympics, from its online live streams to its TV interviews with medalists. But their roots are deep in old-school media like cable, which isn’t the most well-used and attractive medium for the younger generation. That’s exactly why the folks at NBC decided to partner with BuzzFeed for the Olympics this summer, where they produced special Olympic features and posted them to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.

They sent “about a dozen” BuzzFeed staffers to Rio to create social media content, including a daily edition on Snapchat Discover, which is one reason this co-marketing partnership was a win-win for both brands. According to Steven Perlberg of Wall Street Journal, the President of NBC Olympics, Gary Zenkel, “wants to give BuzzFeed free rein to connect with Snapchat’s young audience.”

What kind of content did they produce? “The U.S. women’s gymnastics showed how friends have your back, like when they prevent you from texting your ex or have an extra hair tie,” wrote Perlberg. The women’s wrestling team destroyed watermelons. Swimmer Natalie Coughlin tested out waterproof makeup. The U.S. men’s gymnastics team took off their shirts, and readers were asked to guess the abs.”

Here’s a screenshot from a Snapchat Story featuring Olympic Swimmer Townley Haas, who showed off some tall people problems:

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Image Credit: BuzzFeed/NBCU

11) Budweiser: “America is in Your Hands”

Nothing says “America” like a can of Budweiser — and I mean that literally, thanks to their campaign leading up to both the 2016 Summer Olympics and November’s U.S. presidential election. In May, Anheuser-Busch announced it would be replacing the Budweiser logo with “America” on its 12-oz. cans and bottles this summer. The temporary re-packaging was accompanied by their summer campaign, “America is in Your Hands.”

The campaign itself has had mixed reviews, with complaints mostly surrounding the brand tapping into the polarized political climate. But the campaign did help increase Budweiser’s ad awareness and purchase consideration, at least initially. A week after the campaign began, the company reached its highest purchase consideration level of 2016 (i.e., the number of shoppers 21 and older who said they’d consider Budweiser the next time they bought beer), although that numbers have dropped back down since.

budweiser-america-campaign.jpg

Image Credit: STL Today

There you have it. We hope you found these examples inspiring. What other Olympics campaigns have inspired you, in 2016 or from previous Olympics? Share with us in the comments.

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

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Aug

19

2016

7 of the Coolest Experiential Marketing Campaigns We’ve Ever Seen

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Work events are really hit or miss. Let’s be honest: How many times have you found yourself anxiously fidgeting with a paper napkin in the corner of a stuffy networking happy hour?

That’s why I was not only relieved, but also surprised and delighted, when I attended a holiday party that featured a live, interactive version of an arcade game. An entire room had been curated to look like a video game setting, and people were dressed up as characters from it. There was a giant, real-life scoreboard, boppy electronic music, and best of all, there was no tedious small talk.

It wasn’t just another tired work event … it was an experience. And in our line of work, that sort of thing has a name: Experiential marketing.

While a surprising number of people haven’t heard of the concept, it’s kind of a big deal — there’s an entire three-day summit dedicated to it, and 65% of brands that use it say that it positively correlates with sales.

But what is it, exactly? And how has it been used effectively? We found seven of the coolest experiential marketing campaigns that really break down how it works, and how those lessons can be applied to marketers everywhere.

What Is Experiential Marketing?

According to Boston-based 451 Marketing, experiential marketing is the act of “creating unique, face-to-face branded experiences.” Instead of just sending a message to your audience — digitally or otherwise — you’re creating an opportunity to interact with your brand in person.

It might sound a bit like event marketing, which makes sense — experiential campaigns do tend to be event-centric. But there are also times when they have nothing to do with a specific event, as you’ll see from the examples we picked.

And when they are event-centric, they’re less dedicated to the type of event — like a concert, festival, conference, etc. — and focus more on interaction a specific brand. (If you already have an event in the works, you might want to check out this guide to adding experiential elements to it.)

These campaigns can take an integrated approach. The primary purpose is to experience a brand in a tangible, offline way, but you’ll still want an online dialogue around it. When you consider that 49% of folks create mobile video at branded events39% of which is shared on Twitter — it makes sense to incorporate a digital element. A branded hashtag, for example, can get people talking about the experience.

7 of the Coolest Experiential Marketing Campaigns We’ve Ever Seen

1) Lean Cuisine: #WeighThis

One night, when I was watching “The Bachelorette” (it’s okay — I judge myself, too) I started tallying how many commercials told women to change something about themselves. The result: I lost count after about two minutes.

That’s why it’s so refreshing to see brands like Lean Cuisine, whose marketing used to center solely on weight loss, stray from diet-centric messaging. And its #WeighThis campaign is a great example of just that.

As part of the campaign, Lean Cuisine curated a gallery of “scales” in New York’s Grand Central Station, and invited women to “weigh in.” But here’s the catch: The scales were actually small boards where women could write down how they really wanted to be weighed. And rather than focusing on their weight in pounds — or anything pertaining to body image — the women opted to be measured by things like being back in college at 55, caring for 200 homeless children each day, or being the sole provider to four sons.

What’s particularly cool about this experience is that none of the participants actually interact with a Lean Cuisine product. No one was interrupted, asked to sample something, or stopped to answer questions. In fact, no one was really asked to do anything — the display itself was enough to make people stop, observe, and then voluntarily interact.

Lean Cuisine figured out what message it wanted to send: “Sure, we make stuff that fits into a healthy lifestyle. But don’t forget about your accomplishments. That matters more than the number on the scale.” But instead of blatantly advertising that, it created an interactive experience around the message.

Still, the experience was clearly branded, to make sure people associated it with Lean Cuisine. The company’s Twitter handle and a branded hashtag were featured on the display in large text, which made it easy for people to share the experience on social media. And that definitely paid off — the entire #WeighThis campaign led to over 204 million total impressions.

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Don’t interrupt — especially if you’re trying to grab someone’s attention in New York City, like Lean Cuisine was. If you create an experience that provides value to the people who pass by it, they’re more likely to participate.
  • Figure out the message you really want to your brand to send — that may or may not be directly tied to an actual product, and it might be something that your brand hasn’t said before. Then, build an experience around it.

2) Google: “Building a Better Bay Area”

Corporate philanthropy is definitely on the rise. Between 2012-2014, 56% of companies increased charitable giving, and Google is no exception. But when the search engine giant gave away $5.5 million to Bay Area nonprofits, it let the public decide where that money would go — in an unconventional, interactive way.

Google allowed people to cast their votes online, but they also wanted to involve the Bay Area community in a tangible way. So they installed large, interactive posters — in places like bus shelters, food trucks, and restaurants — that locals could use to vote for a cause.

GoogleImpactChallenge

Source: 72andSunny

In the video below, the narrator notes that this experience reaches “people when they had the time to make a difference.” That’s a big thing about experiential marketing: It allows people to interact with a brand when they have the time. Maybe that’s why 72% percent of consumers say they positively view brands that provide great experiences.

And that concept works in this experience, because it takes advantage of a “you’re-already-there” mentality. In San Francisco, finding people waiting for the bus or going to food trucks is pretty much a given. So while they were “already there,” Google set up a few opportunities:

  1. To learn about and vote for local nonprofits
  2. To interact with the brand in a way that doesn’t require using its products
  3. To indirectly learn about Google’s community outreach

With the help of the online voting integration — and a branded hashtag: #GoogleImpactChallenge — the campaign ended up generating 400,000 votes over the course of about three and a half weeks.

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Create a branded hashtag that participants can use to share the experience on social media. Then, make sure you’ve integrated an online element that allows people to participate when they learn about it this way.
  • Keep it local! It’s always nice when a large corporation gives some love to its community — in fact, 72% of folks say they would tell friends and family about a business’s efforts like these.
  • Remember the “you’re already there” approach. Find out where your audience is already hanging out and engage them there, instead of trying to get them to take action where they don’t usually spend their time.

3) Misereor: Charity Donation Billboard

When was the last time you used cash to pay for something?

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Tough to remember, right? We’re kind of a species of “mindless swipers” — globally, an estimated 357 billion non-cash transactions are made each year. And knowing how often we whip out our cards, German relief NGO Misereor decided to put our bad habit to good use with its charitable giving billboard.

It was what they called a “social swipe”: Set up in airports, these digital posters would display images of some problems that Misereor works to resolve — hunger was depicted with a loaf of bread, for example.

But the screen was equipped with a card reader, and when someone went to swipe a card — for a small fee of 2€ — the image moved to make it look like the card was cutting a slice of bread.

Even cooler? On the user’s bank statement, there would be a thank-you note from Misereor, with a link to turn their one-time 2€ donation into a monthly one.

Needless to say, this experience required a lot of coordination — with banks, airports, and a mobile payment platform. Because of that, the experience couldn’t just be a one-time occurrence. The people who interacted with it were later reminded of it during a pretty common occurrence: receiving a bank statement.

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Visually represent the impact of participating in the experience. People interacting with this display were shown exactly where their money was going — like slicing bread for a hungry family. (Infographics work nicely here, too — check out our templates.)
  • Partner with another brand to create an even better experience. In this instance, Misereor worked with Stripe.com for the payment technology, and with financial institutions to get a branded message on users’ bank statements. (And stay tuned — we’ll talk more about the value of co-branding here later.)
  • Don’t be afraid to nurture your leads. Even if you don’t use something like a branded hashtag to integrate the experience with an online element, find a way to remind someone that they participated.

4) Guinness: Guinness Class

One of my favorite types of marketing is the “aspirational” kind — or as the Harvard Business Review defines it, marketing for brands that “fall into the upper-right quadrant.” Think: Luxury cars, haute couture, and private jets. Things we aspire to owning.

It’s that last one — private jets — that set apart the Guinness Class experience. For a few weeks, ambassadors dressed in Guinness-branded flight attendant uniforms entered bars across the U.K., where they surprised unsuspecting customers with a chance to win all kinds of prizes.

In order to participate, bar-goers had to order a pint of Guinness. After doing that, they would shake a prize-generating mobile tablet that displayed what they won. They could win everything from passport cases to keychains, but one player per night would get the ultimate prize: A free trip to Dublin — via private jet, of course — with four mates.

What we like about this experience was its ability to associate Guinness with something aspirational, like traveling by private jet. And according to Nick Britton, marketing manager for Guinness Western Europe, that held the brand up as one that doesn’t “settle for the ordinary.

That’s important — and can be tricky — for a brand that’s nearly 257 years old: to maintain its authenticity, while also adapting to a changing landscape and audience. But Guinness didn’t have to change anything about its actual products in this case. Instead, it created an experience that addressed changing consumer preferences — for example, the fact that 78% of millennials would rather spend money on a memorable experience or event than buy desirable things.

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Think about the things your target audience might aspire to, and that you’d like to associate with your brand. Then, build an experience around that.
  • If you do require a product purchase in order to participate in the experience, make it convenient. In this case, people had to buy a pint of Guinness to win a prize, but they were already in a bar that served it.

5) GE: Healthymagination

Think experiential marketing is just for B2C brands? Think again — 67% of B2B marketers say that events make for one of the most effective strategies they use.

That’s why it made sense for GE to invite industry professionals to experience its Healthymagination initiative. The point of the campaign was to promote global healthcare solutions, especially in developing parts of the world.

GEHealthymagination

Source: agencyEA

To help people see the impact of this initiative, GE worked with agencyEA to create “movie sets” that represented different healthcare environments where Healthymagination work took place: a rural African clinic, an urban clinic, and an emergency room. The idea was that doctors would share their stories — live, in front of 700 attendees — that illustrated how GE’s healthcare technology played a major role in each setting.

When people measure the success of experiential marketing, one thing they measure is how much of a dialogue it prompted. And that makes sense — 71% of participants share these experiences. In GE’s case, the point ofHealthymagination was to get people talking about a pretty important, but uncomfortable issue: Access to healthcare in impoverished parts of the world.

But when you create a way for people to become physically immersed in the issue, it also allows them to acknowledge a topic that isn’t always easy to talk about. And that can have quite an impact — this particular campaign, in fact, won a Business Marketing Association Tower Award.

But fear not: That concept also works for not-so-serious, but equally uncomfortable discussion topics. Just look at how well it worked for Charmin.

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Experiential marketing does work for B2B brands. Think about who you’re selling to, and create an engagement that would not only attract that audience, but also present an opportunity for them to experience your product or service first-hand.
  • Get uncomfortable. If your business centers around something that’s difficult or “taboo” to talk about, creating an experience around it can prompt a conversation. But make sure you keep it respectful — don’t make people so uncomfortable that they have nothing good to say about your brand.

6) Facebook: Facebook IQ Live

Facebook — who also owns Instagram — has always understood how much data it has on how people use these platforms. For that reason, it created the Facebook IQ Live experience.

For this experience, that data was used to curate live scenes that depicted the data. Among them was the IQ Mart: A “retail” setting that represented the online shopper’s conversion path when using social media for buying decisions. There was also a quintessential Instagram cafe, chock full of millennial-esque photo opportunities and people snapping them — latte art and all.

The campaign wasn’t just memorable. It also proved to be really helpful — 93% of attendees (and there were over 1500 of them) said that the experience provided them with valuable insights on how to use Facebook for business.

But what makes those insights so valuable? Momentum Worldwide, the agency behind Facebook IQ Live, puts it perfectly: “When we understand what matters to people … we can be what matters to them.” In other words, we can shape our messaging around the things that are important to our target audiences.

And by creating this experience, Facebook was able to accomplish that for its own brand. In creating this experience, it also created a positive brand perception for a few audiences — including, for example, the people who might have been unsure of how to use the platform for business.

Takeaways for marketers:

7) Zappos: “Google Cupcake Ambush”

To help promote its new photo app, Google took to the streets of Austin, Texas, with a cupcake truck in tow. But people didn’t pay for the cupcakes with dollars — instead, the only accepted currency was a photo taken with said app.

And really, what’s better than a free-ish cupcake? We’ll tell you what: A free-ish watch or pair of shoes.

That was the answer from Zappos, anyway. That’s why the brand playfully “ambushed” Google’s food truck experience with one of its own: A box-on-feet — strategically placed right next to Google’s setup, of course — that, when fed a cupcake, would dispense a container with one of the aforementioned goodies.

In order to reap the rewards of the Zappos box, people had to have a cupcake. So while only one brand came away from the experience with an epic sugar high, both got plenty of exposure. And since 74% of consumers say a branded experience makes them more likely to buy the products being promoted, Google and Zappos both stood to gain new customers from this crowd.

But what we really like about this example is how much it shows the value of experiential co-branding. Because Google and Zappos pursue two different lines of business, they weren’t sabotaging each other, but rather they were promoting each other (which is what happens when you pick the right co-marketer).

Takeaways for marketers:

  • Use experiential marketing as a co-branding opportunity:
  • Pick a partner with an audience that would be interested in your brand, but might otherwise be difficult to reach.
  • Make sure your partner would benefit from your audience, too — you want the experience to be a win-win-win: for you, your co-brand, and the consumer.
  • When you do pick a marketing partner, build an experience that requires an “exchange” of each brand’s product or service. That way, the audience is more likely to interact with both of you.
  • Clearly, taking some very calculated risks worked out pretty well for these brands. So when it comes to creating an experience with your brand, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box — and don’t be afraid to work together on it with someone else.

    Invest some time into thinking about the ways people could interact with you, even if it seems a little nutty. If it’s aligned with what you do and executed thoughtfully, people will be talking — in the best way possible.

    Have you seen a really great experiential marketing campaign? Share with us in the comments.

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    Aug

    10

    2016

    12 of the Best Facebook Post Ideas for Facebook Lead Generation

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    Most marketers know by now that Facebook is an important business tool for companies of every size and industry. With a daily active user base of 1.13 billion (1.03 billion on mobile alone), you know it can help you reach new audiences you may not have been able to reach otherwise. It can also help you get found more easily in search, create a community around your business, promote the content you create, and develop a strong brand identity.

    But what about using Facebook for lead generation? Attracting new leads using Facebook — leads that might eventually turn into paying customers — is one of the most intriguing reasons to use Facebook in your marketing.

    And yet, we find that only about half of marketers use Facebook to source leads. This needs to change. And even if you are generating leads on Facebook, we all could probably use a little boost in our lead generation efforts. Download our complete Facebook guide here for more tips on generating leads  and customers from Facebook. 

    To make sure we’re all on the same page, let’s start with what a lead is (and isn’t), and the two types of leads you can generate on Facebook.

    The 2 Types of Leads You Can Capture on Facebook

    Although definitions can vary, in general, a lead is a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service by giving you their information in some way. People can show interest in a variety of ways: filling out a form to download an ebook, requesting a demo, or completing an online survey. 

    Unfortunately, simply Liking a status update, photo, or video on your Page doesn’t make someone a lead. That type of action doesn’t indicate interest in your company or product — it’s possible they just Liked your post because it had a cute puppy in it, ya know?

    On Facebook, there are two ways you can generate leads: direct leads and indirect leads.

    Direct Leads

    Direct leads are generated by sharing content that links directly back to a form on your website where visitors can share information in exchange for an offer — whether that be an ebook, coupon, infographic, or any other piece of content. This form is housed on a landing page dedicated to that specific offer.

    Indirect Leads

    Indirect leads are generated by using Facebook on the path to conversion. For example, if you shared a blog post that had a call-to-action to a landing page at the bottom of the post, your initial Facebook share is helping direct visitors to that landing page.

    While directly promoting landing pages is an instant gratifier of leads generated, providing content without a form makes your Facebook presence a friendlier home for content that your fans will want to come back for again and again.

    Now, let’s dive into 12 ways you can capture leads, whether they are direct or indirect.

    12 Types of Facebook Posts to Help You Generate Leads From Your Business Page 

    1) Post landing pages for offers directly to Facebook.

    One of the best ways to generate leads on Facebook is simply to send people directly to landing pages for lead-generating offers. (If you don’t have many lead-generating offers yet, read this blog posts for ideas.)

    When you do this, make sure the offer has a compelling featured image that’s getting pulled into the Facebook post. To ensure Facebook pulls the right image from your blog post into your Facebook posts, you’ll need to first optimize the image size for Facebook and then add the proper open graph tags to your website, which you can learn how to do here.

    You’ll also want to make sure it’s clear to the reader where you’re sending them. If they think they’re clicking into a blog post and find themselves needing to fill out a form, they could get confused or frustrated. Use verbal phrases like “Download your ebook” or “Get your cheat sheet” to indicate where you’re sending them. 

    Here’s an example from IBM’s Facebook Page, which reads, “Explore our 2015 Corporate Responsibility Report”:

    In addition to using clear language, you may want to nix the stock photo from that image in favor of your own, custom image. Even the least design-savvy of marketers can easily create a custom image in PowerPoint that includes the name of the offer, just like we did in the example below. (Click here to browse through and download our collection of 100 free social media image templates.)

    2) Post the blog posts that generate the most leads.

    Another way of generating leads from the content your team is producing is to simply pick the blog posts that generate the most leads, and post those ones to Facebook. (Learn how to do a blog lead generation analysis here.) The topic and title of the blog post will intrigue your audience to click and read, and then they’ll find a CTA within that post — preferably high up, near the intro — to either a solution to a problem they’re having or to something they want to learn more about.

    Pro Tip: Our social media managers have found they’re able to generate more leads from Facebook by posting blog posts containing anchor text CTAs in the introduction. If you aren’t using anchor text CTAs yet, you may want to read up on the study we did on anchor text CTAs on the blog and consider adopting them yourself. In every single post we tracked for that study, the anchor text CTA was responsible for between 47% and 93% of a post’s leads.

    Here’s an example of a Facebook post linking to a blog post that includes an anchor text CTA in the introduction:

    And here’s that anchor text CTA, indicated by the red arrow:

    data-viz-anchor-text-CTA.png

    3) Include links to landing pages in your image captions. 

    Most marketers understand the importance of using visuals like images and videos in your Facebook strategy. For example, Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images. To turn these higher engagement rates into lead generation opportunities, consider including links to your website in the descriptions for your images — especially your profile picture and cover photo descriptions.

    Whether it’s to a blog post, a piece of lead gen content, or just an “About Us” page, links are opportunities for interested folks to get to know your company better, and the descriptions of your profile picture and cover photo are prime real estate to do it. That way, any time people view your cover photo directly, they can access the download link.

    Make sure you shorten your links and add UTM codes so you can track clicks on them. Shortening and tracking features are available in the HubSpot Marketing Platform and in tools like bitly.

    Here’s this practice in action on HubSpot’s Facebook Page:

    hubspot-cover-photo-link.png

    4) Use videos to promote lead gen offers.

    Facebook’s organic reach has dropped to 52% so far in 2016, thanks to the tweaks in Facebook’s algorithm to help mitigate the increasing amount of content on its platform. But videos are the big exception here. In fact, posting videos has actually helped neutralize some of that pain for marketers.

    Why? To start, Facebook’s algorithm favors video content. As a result, video posts have 135% greater organic reach than photo posts. So if you’re trying to increase your lead gen efforts on Facebook, you’ll want to start using videos to help introduce and promote those lead-generating content, whether they’re offers, events, courses, or something else.

    In addition to the text CTA you can add in the video’s description, remember to add a verbal CTA to the video to “register” or “download,” both earlier in the video and at the very end.

    Check out how L.L. Bean used a video to encourage sign-ups for their course:

    Here’s another example from us here at HubSpot, in which we used a how-to video to introduce a gated offer:

    We’ve also created videos specifically to promote lead-generating content, like we did here for our career assessment called The Next Five

    5) Use Facebook Live videos to remind people to register.

    Videos can be pretty time-intensive to create. (Not to mention intimidating.) But you don’t necessarily have to pull together the time and resources to create a perfectly scripted and edited marketing video to leverage the power of video on Facebook.

    Facebook Live is Facebook’s live video platform that lets anyone broadcast live videos from their mobile device straight to their Facebook News Feed. The best part about these live videos is that they’re meant to be a little scrappier and more spontaneous than normal marketing videos — that’s what makes live videos special.

    What’s more, Facebook Live has proven itself pretty incredible for engagement rates. Facebook’s initial data revealed that people comment 10X more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos.

    So get the conversation going about your lead gen offers by creating a live video to promote them. You might promote an event by showing the setup live, for example. Or, you might promote an offer by hosting an open Q&A on live video where you actually interact with Facebook commenters live and on camera.

    Just like you’d do with your normal videos, add a verbal CTA to the video in addition to the text CTA. In a live video, though, you’ll want to repeat that CTA even more than you would with a pre-recorded CTA. Why? Because when you first start live streaming, you may have zero people watching. Even a few seconds in, you could only have a handful of viewers.

    As people find your video on their News Feeds, they’ll join in — but that means you’ll want to repeat the CTA a few times to catch people up. You can also add a text CTA in the video’s description.

    6) Pin posts that link to lead gen offers to the top of your feed.

    Pinning a post to the top of your Page’s Timeline allows you to highlight what would otherwise be a typical post. It’ll stay at the top of your Timeline for up to seven days, after which it’ll return to the date it was published on your Page’s Timeline. A pinned post is signified by a small blue-and-white pushpin icon on the top right of the post.

    Here’s an example from Apttus’ Facebook Page:

    apttus-pinned-facebook-post.png

    You can pin any type of post, from text to images to videos; even live videos. If you pin a Facebook Live video, that video will simply show up at the top of your profile with the whole recording, indicating that the Page “was live” at a certain point. Here’s an example of what that looks like from Refinery29’s Facebook Page:

    refinery29-facebook-live-pinned-post.png

    7) Add a call-to-action button to your Facebook Page.

    Alright, this one isn’t technically a type of Facebook post, but it’s a pretty crucial lead generation tactic that no marketers will want to miss out on. Back in late 2014, Facebook added a feature to its business Pages allowing users to place a simple call-to-action button at the top of their Facebook Pages. This button is simple but powerful, and it can help drive more traffic from your Facebook Page to your website — including landing pages, contact sheets, and other lead generation forms. You can learn how to install and use the Facebook CTA button here.

    You’ll find you have seven pre-made button options to choose from: “Sign Up,” “Shop Now,” “Contact Us,” “Book Now,” “Use App,” Watch Video,” and “Play Game.” Once you choose a button and link it to a page your website, the button you chose will appear up at a fixed location right below your cover photo and to the right.

    weddingwire-facebook-page.png

    While some marketers choose a CTA and keep it the same for weeks and months at a time, consider taking your marketing game a step further and switching up that button — and the web page it links to — to match your team’s and business’ goals and the campaigns you’re running at the time. For example, you might align the CTA both with your cover photo design and a pinned post around a single campaign.

    8) Ask for input on your products.

    One way to feed two birds with one scone (as my colleague Carly Stec would say) is to post a status update to your business’ Timeline asking for feedback on one of your products or tools and linking to a landing page where people can sign up for a trial — or, if it’s free, to simply download the tool. You’ll encourage sign-ups by linking directly to the landing page, and your followers will love the opportunity to give their two cents.

    The obvious risk here is that you’ll be opening up the floodgates for negative commenters, so be selective on the tools and products you post for feedback. Make sure you’re posting something you’re proud of and ready to receive feedback for. You’ll also want to have at least one or two people ready to respond to Facebook comments as they roll in — both the positive and the negative.

    If you do receive negative feedback, respond as quickly as you can to show you care, and prevent them from turning into something more serious. If you get complaints about the product, use the “customer is always right” approach and say you’re sorry. You’ll get respect from other customers for being upfront. Share you appreciation for folks’ feedback. Finally, ask how you can help — and then actually help. Take notes on the feedback you get and send it to the people who can make things happen. (Read this post for more tips on dealing with negative comments on social media.)

    9) Run a contest or giveaway.

    People love contests and giveaways. Not only are they fun for your followers, but they can also teach you a lot about your audience — all the while engaging them, growing your reach, driving traffic to your website, and (drum roll, please) generating leads.

    If the goal of your contest is to generate leads, publish posts on Facebook (in addition to your other social media accounts) that include an attractive featured image or video, language that’s compelling and simple, and a link to your contest page where they can fill out a form. Read this post to learn more about running successful social media contests.

    (Before you start your Facebook contest, though, make sure you can actually run it legally by reading through their Page Guidelines. Facebook has cracked down on contests due to liability issues, so read through their strict rules ahead of time.)

    Below is an example from Canva’s Facebook Page. Notice they pinned the post to the top of their profile.

    canva-pinned-facebook-post.png

    And here’s another example, this time from Yoplait. They promoted their contest using a video to get more visibility on folks’ News Feeds.

    yoplait-facebook-contest.png

    10) Make a Facebook event page for your next webinar.

    While we’ve already covered sharing landing pages with dedicated content offerings such as ebooks or contests, webinars are another great format for capturing leads. While you can promote your webinar’s sign-up form by posting them to your business’ Timeline, another way to spread the word is by creating a Facebook Event with with a separate registration page on your website.

    Once you invite someone to a Facebook Event, you can encourage them to register on a separate landing page, where they’ll become a lead. In terms of reaching new audiences, Facebook Events are also more visible than standard Facebook posts on the News Feed.

    Facebook also added new features that help businesses promote their events and see how they’re performing. For example, you can create ads for the desktop and mobile News Feed that boost awareness of events and drive responses.

    facebook-event-ad.png

    Image Credit: Facebook

    If you host events and webinars often, you can also use the Events tab on your Page to share with your followers in a single view. That way, people visiting your page can scroll through your upcoming events and webinars. (If you don’t see the tab on your Page, click “Manage Tabs” at the bottom of your tabs and reorder them so Events is one of the first to appear.) Read this blog post for more tips on hosting great webinars.

    11) Run targeted ads to extend your content’s reach.

    One of the best things Facebook can do for your business is expand your reach to new audiences that are likely to be interested in your content — and possibly become followers, leads, and even customers down the road. This is thanks to Facebook’s very sophisticated targeting options, which let you target your ads to people based on things like location, age, gender, interests — even the things they do off of Facebook.

    There are three, overarching formats for Facebook ads that I’ll cover in brief here: boosted posts, right-hand column ads, and News Feed ads. The main distinction here is the placement of the ad, as well as the amount of writing and size of image that is allowed.

    1. Boosted Post: This is Facebook’s way of letting marketers turn otherwise normal Facebook posts into ads by “boosting” them. The post will show organically to some users, but to get better reach, the admin will press “boost” on the post (shown only to admins, not to other users) so it shows to a larger number of fans and to targets you can select ahead of time.
    2. Right-Hand Column Ads: This is the most traditional on Facebook, it appears on the right side of a user’s Facebook News Feed. We often see less expensive clicks and conversions when using these ads, along with more advanced testing options.
    3. News Feed Ads: These appear directly in a user’s News Feed and look more like native advertising, although you can also add a small CTA button. They’re part of a tactic called “dark posts,” which means using News Feed-style ads that don’t actually get published to the News Feed of your Page. In our experience, these ads have a higher engagement rate than right-hand column ads (which makes your Page look super healthy), but they can also be more expensive.

    While we won’t go too much more in depth on Facebook advertising (download our Facebook advertising ebook if you want to learn more), here are two examples of Facebook ads in users’ News Feeds. This first one is a boosted post that targets people based on their Facebook connections:

    infusion-soft-facebook-ad.png

    This second one is a News Feed ad, which lets you add a CTA button to the post — in this case, “Sign Up.” These CTAs are only available for News Feed ads.

    uber-facebook-ad.png

    12) Run lead ads to simplify the mobile signup process. 

    As if Facebook’s addition of CTA buttons to its link ads wasn’t exciting enough, Facebook added an entirely new feature called lead ads in 2015, which lets users sign up for lead-generating offers and content without leaving Facebook. It was created specifically to simplify the mobile sign-up processes by making it super easy for mobile users to fill out your forms.

    Why? Because the forms will autopopulate instead of mobile users having to pinch-and-zoom and type into tiny form fields. Basically, when you click on a lead ad, a form opens with your contact information automatically populated based on what you’ve shared with Facebook already, like name and email address. Talk about solving for form friction. Of course, you can edit your contact information before you click “Submit.”

    facebook-lead-ads.jpg

    Image Credit: Facebook

    We won’t go into too much detail about lead ads here, but creating them is easy: All you have to do is choose your ad creative, set your targeting and bidding type, and then customize your form fields. (Learn more from Facebook here.)

    How do you extract the leads you get from lead ads? If you’re a HubSpot customer you can integrate Facebook Lead Ads directly with your HubSpot account. If you’re not a HubSpot customer, you can export a CSV straight from your Facebook Page, download them from Ads Manager or Power Editor, or request it directly through the API

    We hope you found these ideas for ways you can generate leads from Facebook helpful. Remember, though, that Facebook is constantly changing. While the ideas here are a strong start to success, nothing beats testing each strategy for your own audience. 

    These are just a couple ways you can generate leads from Facebook, so we’d love to hear from you. How do you generate leads through Facebook? What works — and doesn’t work — for your Facebook Fans?

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

    free guide: how to use facebook for lead generation

     
    free guide to using facebook for lead generation

    Aug

    8

    2016

    NYC Sanitation, Scotch Tape & More: 10 Companies With Unexpectedly Good Twitter Content

    Twitter_Brands_Inspiration.jpg

    Back when I was in business school, just a wee lass interning for a consulting firm, one of my first assignments was to deliver a presentation on the value of social media. I had to prove why something like Twitter was actually of any use in this industry, and explain how we would leverage it to promote our company.

    At the time, it was a bit of a tall order. And my presentation was met with a lot of the questions and objections:

    • “My line of work is too boring.”
    • “I don’t have anything meaningful to contribute.”
    • “The people we want to reach aren’t on Twitter.”

    Since then, businesses have certainly warmed up to the platform — and some of them have managed to establish a really impressive presence. But there are still a lot of small- to mid-size companies that continue to question the platform’s fit for their businesses.

    Some continue to automatically push content to Twitter directly from Facebook — a big no-no in social media automation — while others start an account, only to abandon it a few weeks later.

    For those folks, I’ve put together a list of 10 brands that are tweeting out thoughtful insights on some of the most unexpected topics, from bricks to car mats. Despite the unusual products and services they’ve been tasked with marketing, they are finding unique ways to use the platform … and you should take note. (And to learn more about how to succeed on Twitter, download our introductory guide to Twitter for business.)

    10 Unexpected Companies to Follow for Twitter Inspiration

    1) NYC Sanitation

    They say that New York is the place to get the best of everything, and the city’s Department of Sanitation is no exception.

    The word “sanitation” doesn’t exactly paint the prettiest mental picture, but the department uses creative images to take away some of the ickier connotations associated with it. For example, check out this graphic they put together to promote their food waste reduction initiative:

    We’d consider this a strong post for a few reasons. For one, tweets with images tend to receive 150% more retweets than those without. Not to mention, the image communicates information in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the user with details — an important factor to consider when creating content for users who might be quickly skimming through their feeds.

    NYC Sanitation is also careful not to come off as too authoritative on Twitter, which can be tricky for a local government office. It’s able to establish itself as a source of information, rather than a domineering force, and uses the platform for its own version of customer service.

    Check out this exchange with a local resident seeking advice on how to store her compostable scraps before collection day:

    What also strikes us about NYC Sanitation is its ability to illustrate its widespread presence in the community. The department uses Twitter to join existing conversations about something everyone is talking about — without coming off as patronizing or cliché. For example, take this screen capture of a Pokémon Go creature next to a collection bin:

    It shows that there are simple ways for any brand — even one that’s known for trash pickup — to participate in a larger dialogue.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Use images to share key information in a readable format (so people don’t skim past it).
    • Don’t be afraid to use Twitter for customer service — your followers expect it.
    • Think about how your business relates to something everyone is talking about, then join the conversation.

    2) Pine Street Inn

    I’ve always had tremendous respect for the number of marketing challenges faced by nonprofits, but with the right efforts, these issues can be overcome. Pine Street Inn, a Boston-based shelter and provider of services to the city’s homeless population, has commanded a Twitter presence with some great takeaways for NPO marketers.

    To start, we can’t help but notice how infrequently Pine Street Inn tweets about donation requests. Instead, the organization chooses to indirectly encourage volunteerism or material contributions by giving serious props to corporations and individuals who help out:

    It also uses Twitter as a place to share success stories of its past residents or clients. Updates like that show the impact of fundraising, so that followers know exactly how donation dollars are put to use:

    By populating Twitter with this kind of diverse content, followers aren’t as likely to tune out tweets that do pertain to donations. That’s a principle applicable to for-profit businesses, too: When you avoid saturating Twitter with sales pitches, your audience is less likely to ignore them (or unfollow you).

    Plus, remember the love Pine Street Inn tweets for its volunteers? According to Nonprofit Tech for Good, those folks make double the fiscal donations as non-volunteers.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Don’t bombard followers with requests for donations, sign-ups, or sales.
    • Use images and stories to show how much you value your customers’ business and support, and how it’s making an impact.
    • Give props to your customers, followers, or volunteers — they’ll notice, and often reciprocate.

    3) WeatherTech

    WeatherTech, a maker of weather-proof car mats, is using Twitter to show how nifty (and definitely multi-purpose) automotive accessories can be.

    For those of us who are more accident-prone than others — myself included — it might not always be so obvious how helpful a floormat can be after something as routine as grocery shopping. But using tweets like this one, WeatherTech is able to say, “Hey, you! Yeah, the one who spills things in the car. It happens. We’re here to help.”

    WeatherTech also does a good job of working seasonality into its tweets. When something is deemed “seasonal or limited,” writes Mark Macdonald, people are inspired to get it while they can. For that reason, it’s generally a best practice to align your tweets with the time of year. WeatherTech follows that concept with photos to show how its custom-fit car mats come in handy during the summer, when road trips — as well as the sand and food that come with them — reign supreme:

    Another tactic that WeatherTech isn’t afraid to use? Tweeting with cute animals. (Yes, we’re serious.) When a brand is able to connect a bland subject with something adorable, people typically pay attention. (Think: The Budweiser puppy or Heinz’s stampede of wiener dogs.) WeatherTech combines this idea with the seasonality of its tweets in posts like this one:

    And this one:

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Show the different (counter-intuitive) ways your products can be used.
    • Keep tweets seasonal: how are your products are used during a specific time of year?
    • Use cute animals — even better if they’re interacting with your products.

    4) Scotch

    When was the last time you identified an office supply as “cellophane tape”? Over the years, Scotch Tape has become one of those brand names people use for generic terms — just like Chapstick or Kleenex. But despite the fact that it’s a household name, there are two factors to consider here:

    1. Tape isn’t typically a lengthy conversation topic.
    2. The brand makes more than just tape.

    Scotch has used Twitter to address both items. For example, this tweet visually represents how Scotch products can be applied in many scenarios, like moving:

    What makes this tweet effective is how it includes multiple pieces of information in a small, digestible format. With one post, Scotch has accomplished three-in-one communication: The practicality of its products, a link to its website, and a positive customer review.

    Scotch also plays into people’s love for visual statistics by incorporating visual content — like this micro-infographic — into their publishing mix:

    Here, Scotch is not only catering to the fact that readers tend to pay closer attention to information-carrying images than they do to plain text on a page, but this post also ties in a relatable element: Honestly, who doesn’t have Scotch Tape in their junk drawer? And tweets that are relatable have been shown to get more engagement.

    Let’s do a deeper dive into some of these images, as well as how Scotch curates them to promote its brand. Take a closer look at the colors used in the previous and following image. Do they remind you of anything?

    If you answered, “The Scotch logo,” you get an A+. Scotch has achieved consistency by incorporating the color palette associated with its brand into what it shares on social media. And since 80% of consumers say that color boosts their recognition of a brand, these images keep the brand recognizable, even when depicting something other than Scotch’s chief product offering.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Again, use images to communicate information, like statistics. If you can include multiple pieces of information in one image without crowding it with text, even better.
    • Make your tweets relatable.
    • Maintain brand consistency in the images you tweet (e.g., by making the dominant colors the same as those in your logo).

    5) TigerChef

    It’s no secret that B2B marketers can borrow techniques from their B2C peers. TigerChef, a restaurant supplier, follows that advice by taking advantage of what it has in common with the general public: An obsession with food.

    For example, food trucks have been an infatuation-du-jour for a few years now. TigerChef recognizes that growth and uses it to create blog content. Then, it uses Twitter to direct visitors there, like in this tweet:

    Check out the language used above: It’s geared toward a target audience. TigerChef makes products primarily for chefs and restaurant owners, both seasoned and aspiring. With this tweet, the brand is able to attract two types of culinary professionals: Pros who have been buying these supplies for a while and want to explore the food truck market, and industry newcomers who are starting out there.

    Here’s another key lesson from the B2C camp: Twitter can be used for customer service by B2B brands, too. When this French bakery received a defective product, TigerChef was able to respond more quickly via Twitter and send a free replacement, publicly ending its interaction with the customer on a positive note.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • If you’re B2B, don’t be afraid to borrow some Twitter best practices from B2C brands. Take something people are obsessed with — like food — and make it relevant to your brand and target audience.

    6) Northcot Bricks

    In the English language, there are a few human qualities ascribed to a pile of bricks. “Sexy” is not one of them. But at the same time, bricks surround most of us for the majority of the day. That’s something we tend to take for granted.

    Northcot, a 90-year-old British brickmaker, uses Twitter to bring that to our attention. (See? You’re never too old to tweet.) The following tweet succeeds in highlighting the beautiful architecture that was achieved using a commonly overlooked product: bricks.

    This serves as a good takeaway for businesses who aren’t sure where to begin with Twitter. If you don’t know what to say, think about the ways people interact with your product daily, and might not even realize it.

    Northcot has also figured out how to share the social love. Here, the brand tweets its congratulations to an architecture firm:

    How does that benefit Northcot? It draws attention to the fact that its bricks were used to create an award-winning design project.

    Twitter can be a valuable relationship-building tool in that way, by nurturing and drawing attention to connections with brands that can potentially use and promote a business.

    Retweeting other brands can achieve something similar. This retweet shows how other brands and people engage with Northcot. Plus, it shows that the brand isn’t afraid to have fun; it’s a reminder that brickmaking largely consists of playing with clay. And who doesn’t want to do that on a Wednesday afternoon?

    Just be sure not to retweet every tweet that mentions your brand. At that point, it starts to look like you’re showing off.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Even if you think your products are boring, think about how people come across them on a daily basis. Tweet out photos to remind your audience of that.
    • Shout out to other brands on Twitter, especially if they used your product to create something notable.
    • Retweet other brands, especially if it depicts them interacting with yours.

    7) John Deere

    Farming equipment never looked so cool. John Deere is one of those brands that has mastered Twitter in a way that makes people look at tractors differently.

    For example, here’s a great example of how a branded hashtag can create long-term engagement, when done well. For over three years, users have been uploading images labeled with #DeereSighting (a branded play on words) to show how they interact with John Deere’s products:

    Here’s what’s neat about branded hashtags. First, tweets with hashtags get twice the engagement as those without. Let’s say someone has followed John Deere for a while, but hasn’t thought to mention it on social media. Just by clicking #DeereSighting, that person sees how others show their love for John Deere in a fun way.

    And remember that image lesson from Scotch — the one that says color boosts brand recognition for a vast majority of consumers? Notice that this picture doesn’t even contain a picture of an actual tractor. It’s a lovely, floral tribute to mothers, but it still carries the identifiable green and yellow colors associated with the iconic John Deere logo:

    We also noticed that John Deere’s isn’t using Twitter to stray from the farm, so to speak. Rather, it’s paying tribute to what the business is known best for — tractors — and highlighting that legacy in unexpected ways.

    In this tweet, the brand is acknowledging the important role that young engineers will play in the company’s future. Tweets like these send a message that says, “We’re adapting to change, but we’re still the reliable brand you’ve always known.”

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Create a branded hashtag that encourages your followers to start a conversation about your products.
    • If your business is a bit older, use Twitter to let followers know that you’re adaptable to change, but can still preserve your brand’s legacy.

    8) Niagara Conservation

    Remember that earlier statistic on hashtags, and how much they can boost engagement? Niagara Conservation, a maker of water-saving toilets, shows that those numbers don’t lie. I personally discovered the brand when someone I follow on Twitter used its very eye-catching hashtag: #WhatTheFlush.

    Using the toilet is one of those things that we’re taught not to discuss openly, let alone announce on social media. But in an era where 40% of young adults say they use social media when nature calls, Niagara Conservation has leveraged Twitter in a way that gets people to broadcast their business, along with its environmental and financial implications.

    Niagara Conservation achieves a really interesting balance with its tweets. The topics are usually crucial, like natural resource depletion. But the brand is able to effectively use humor to make these subjects more approachable, and even resonate with followers more than they might have otherwise. The drought is a serious problem. Water wastage is a serious problem. And this cat on a toilet isn’t messing around:

    Another way Niagara Conservation creates a mass appeal is by addressing something everyone wants to do: Save money. (Just look how many articles come up for a search on “how to save money on Twitter.”) That’s another great use for Twitter: To highlight the benefits of your products — like how they can help your budget — in a condensed, digestible format.

    Niagara is able to achieve that with the example below. It also avoids a doom-and-gloom approach to the primary intention of its product — to solve a global water shortage — and instead uses a cartoon to illustrate how this special toilet is financially beneficial.

    And by the way, that dancing taco isn’t messing around, either.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Highlight the benefits of your product that most people seek when researching brands, like how it will save them money.
    • Inject humor into certain topics to make them more approachable. (Note: Tread lightly, as to avoid coming off as insensitive or offensive.)

    9) Roland Berger

    Management consulting is one of those lines of work that, when talked about, can quickly cure insomnia. It’s also overrun with stereotypes (I’ll never forget this 1998 Dilbert cartoon that breaks down the word “consult” as a combination of “con” and “insult”).

    But Roland Berger, a Munich-based management consulting firm, is using Twitter to reshape the perception of its industry. It uses the platform to answer some of the most common questions about management consulting, like “Why?” — namely, why talented people choose this line of work. And by accompanying their answers with rich colors and visuals — which are said to increase a person’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80% — the firm invites users to engage with them:

    At risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s worth pointing out the color scheme. The use of blue in these images fits into the brand consistency we keep mentioning, complementing the brand’s logo and creating a sense of cohesiveness throughout its Twitter presence. But there’s a lot of psychology behind color, too. Roland Berger mostly uses blue, which is known to invoke brand trust.

    There’s also a clear call-to-action in the tweet below: “Explore our new website.” Using actionable language in Tweets has been known to boost engagement, especially when used with a bold, attention-grabbing image. The word “download,” for example, is particularly effective: when used correctly, it’s shown an 11% increase in clicks.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Create myth-busting content about your line of business, then tweet it out with rich colors and visuals.
    • Understand the psychology of color, and design your Twitter visuals accordingly.
    • Include a clear call-to-action in your tweets.

    10) Poo~Pourri

    Yes, another toilet-themed brand. I know.

    From the beginning, Poo~Pourri has managed to un-taboo poo, especially for its target female audience. That makes its presence on this particular platform imperative, as 21% of online women use Twitter.

    Since joining Twitter in 2009, Poo~Pourri has achieved a type of brand authenticity that is unapologetically honest and, for its 14,300+ followers, relatable. Just look at this exchange with one follower:

    While, the customer above didn’t actually request a product replacement, and the incident described wasn’t the brand’s fault, that didn’t stop Poo~Pourri from going above and beyond to make that customer happy.

    Most of Poo~Pourri’s responses to followers are tailored to their recipients in this way. And while many of them are inherently hilarious, they’re also really smart: People who have a personalized customer service experience on Twitter are 83% more likely to be satisfied.

    Imagine if Poo~Pourri’s service was limited to phone or email? It’s highly unlikely that the customer would have shared this story through either of those methods, and the brand wouldn’t have been aware of it. So here’s a stellar example of a golden social media rule: An active and involved Twitter presence creates a huge opportunity for brands to delight customers.

    Takeaways for marketers:

    • Know your audience, and don’t be afraid to start a conversation about something they might be too shy to bring up.
    • Even if it’s not your fault, use Twitter to improve a customer’s less-than-positive experience with your products.
    • Personalize your Twitter interactions with customers.

    What are your favorite brands on Twitter? Share with us in the comments.

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