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Dec

8

2016

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

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

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

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

Social Media, SEO, Content Sourcing, Blogging, Productivity

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

28 of the Most Useful Google Chrome Extensions for Marketers

Social Media

1) bitly

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

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Image courtesy of bitly.com

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

2) BuzzSumo

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

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

3) Pinterest

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

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Price: Free

4) Save to Facebook

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

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Price: Free

5) RiteTag

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

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

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Price: Free

6) List Builder for Twitter

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

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

Price: Free

7) Instagram for Chrome

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

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Price: Free

SEO

8) MozBar

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

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Image courtesy of Moz

Price: Moz subscriptions start at $99/month

9) Check My Links

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

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Price: Free

10) NoFollow

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

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Price: Free

11) Impactana

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

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Price: Impactana subscriptions start at $99/month

Content Sourcing

12) HubSpot Collect

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

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Price: HubSpot Marketing Software starts at $200/month

13) AwesomeScreenshot

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

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 Price: Free

14) Evernote Web Clipper

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

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Price: Free

15) Giphy for Chrome

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

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Price: Free

16) Bookmark Manager

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

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Price: Free

17) OneTab 

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

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Price: Free

Blogging

18) Grammarly

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

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

19) Google Dictionary

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

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Price: Free

20) Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides

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

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Price: Free

21) QuickWrite Text Editor 

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

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Price: Free

Productivity

22) ToDoist

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

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

23) Rapportive

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

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Price: Free

24) Momentum

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

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Price: Free

25) StayFocusd

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

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Price: Free

26) LastPass

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

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Image courtesy of LastPass

Price: Free

27) Add to Trello

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

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

28) Extensions Manager

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

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Price: Free

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

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

Learn about all the product launches from INBOUND 2016

Dec

8

2016

How to Write the Perfect Marketing Email [Free Ebook]

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

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

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

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

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

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

write the perfect email

Dec

8

2016

6 Steps to Save a Project That’s Gone Off the Rails

No matter how much careful planning goes into a project, disaster can still strike when you least expect it. And when it does, it’s important for project managers to know how to minimize the damage and keep the team moving forward.

Sometimes, the signs are obvious: deadlines are being missed, your communication channels aren’t keeping everyone on the same page, and team members are confused about the scope of their individual responsibilities.

Other times, the signs a project is headed for trouble are more difficult to spot. Maybe team morale is a little lower than usual, or the project’s output doesn’t exactly meet your agency’s quality standards.

If your latest project seems like it’s spinning out of control, we’re here to help. We’ve outlined a basic project recovery plan to stop the bleeding and steer your team back on track. It won’t necessarily fix everything, but it’s a good place to start. 

How to Save a Project That’s Gone Off the Rails

1) Acknowledge that things aren’t going so great.

It might seem painfully simple, but admitting there’s a problem with the project’s current trajectory is the first (and often most difficult) step to getting things back on course.

Whether you’re dealing with a big problem or some smaller difficulties, the earlier you acknowledge them, the better. If you leave those seemingly less urgent issues to fester, they could cause major project disruptions down the line. Be vigilant for signs of potential catastrophe. 

Avoid playing the blame game. Gather your team for an emergency meeting to discuss exactly what’s going wrong and assess the damage. As the project manager, it might mean an ego hit to call out a project’s shortcomings, but it’s a necessary blow to get things back on the right path.

2) Reevaluate the project’s core objectives.

The best way to get things rolling again is to bring your team’s attention back to the project’s original purpose and primary goals. When things get chaotic, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, and people can get bogged down in the stressful details. The purpose can get lost in the frantic shuffle. 

As the project manager, it’s your job to keep an eye on the ultimate goal — especially when the project isn’t headed in the right direction. At the kickoff meeting, you likely went over the project’s targets and milestones with your team — but it might be time for a refresher.

When you meet with your team, don’t just rehash everything from the initial kickoff meeting — make sure you take the time to identify where things have fallen off course. Are there any particular areas of your project plan that now seem unattainable? Any areas that require some careful reevaluation? Maybe something you thought would be a small component is actually demanding a lot more attention. 

At this point, you can’t be afraid to be flexible.

It can seem absolutely terrifying to pull a 180-degree pivot midway through an important project, but sometimes it’s the only way to salvage things. Think about it this way: You know more about the project now than you did at the outset. At this point, you know what doesn’t work, which makes you better equipped to formulate a better — more realistic and informed — approach.

3) Audit your team’s communication channels.

If your project isn’t going as planned, there’s a good chance that poor communication deserves a significant chunk of the blame. It’s pretty simple: For your project to succeed, you need to have a communication infrastructure that allows team members to stay on the same page, even when they’re working on different areas of the project.

Take the time to examine your current communication process and look for any gaps or weak spots. What channels is your team currently using to communicate? How are you sharing information about individual team members’ work? Is there a central place where team members can track the project’s overall progress? How often are you checking in as a group?

One of the easiest ways to keep your team connected is investing in a project management tool. There are a ton of tools available at various price points, making it a great option for agencies of all sizes.

If onboarding your entire team onto a new piece of software midway through a project sounds like it might overcomplicate things, make the best of your existing tools and channels. Create a single place (such as a shared document) where team members can report on their progress and keep track of how the project is doing overall. Establish regular times to meet in person and discuss what’s working, and what isn’t.

4) Schedule one-on-one meetings with team members.

Group meetings are a great way to share information and confirm everyone is focused on working towards the same goals, but individual, one-on-one meetings are still necessary to ensure the project is headed in the right direction.

If you haven’t already been doing so since the outset of the project, set up weekly one-on-one meetings with each of your team members. Regular one-on-ones give your team the chance to discuss how they’re feeling, how their work is going, and what they need from you to be successful.

These meetings also give you the opportunity to get a feel for where the project currently stands and address any concerns directly and discreetly. If a project isn’t going well because a few people seem to be slacking in their contributions, this is your opening to dig into why, and help them start pulling their weight again. 

5) Address stakeholder concerns.

When a project starts going south, it’s your responsibility to keep your client (and any other relevant stakeholders) in the loop. Transparency and honesty are key here. If you attempt to hide the project’s issues, things will only get worse down the road.

Acknowledge any mistakes that might have occurred, and own up to them — don’t try to pass the blame or throw around excuses, because they won’t be received well. Instead, explain the issues straightforwardly and share your action plan for getting everything back on track.

The most important thing to emphasize here is that you fully understand the situation and you’re in control of it. It’s much better to inform your client something will be a little late and explain why, rather than keep them in the dark and have them get frustrated when the deadline is missed.

6) Learn from it.

It’s important to fully recognize what exactly went wrong so you can do your best to prevent it from happening again in the future.

After the project is over, you should orchestrate a project post-mortem with your team. Send out a simple questionnaire before the meeting to give team members the opportunity to reflect and share insights they might not feel comfortable sharing in front of the whole group. This is a great chance for people to dig into both the project’s weak points and successes (however small).

The post-mortem meeting itself should ultimately be a frank but civil discussion of the project from start to finish. Try to acknowledge even seemingly small points of frustration, and plan on putting processes in place to avoid issues in the future.

Remember: This meeting isn’t the time to put anyone on the spot, point fingers, or assign blame. It’s ultimately a chance to unpack the project’s trajectory and make your team is stronger for next time.

website-redesign-cta

Dec

7

2016

Putting Meaning Back Into Marketing

Marketing

Everyone in an organization is (hopefully) aware that marketing is essential to a company’s success. However, when asked to define what the marketing team does and how it impacts business, answers tend to come up short.

Responses such as “social media, graphic design, advertising, emails and brochures,” are going to be most common – but chances are, if someone isn’t on the marketing team or doesn’t deal directly with the department, there’s probably some mystery to what’s being done there.

What Do Other Departments Think Marketing Does?

In fact, a recent survey revealed that only 13% of non-marketing employees think marketing drives business strategy, with 53% saying marketers are responsible for advertising and promotion and 43% saying its brand management. Marketing was noted as the least important department within the organization. As marketers, we know this simply isn’t true.

While all departments have their individual functions, without marketing, a company would be an anonymous entity operating with a limited customer base. The purpose of marketing is to bring in more customers, encourage and cultivate growth and discover how to better serve customers.

To do that effectively, marketers must make the rest of the organization aware of their jobs, their importance and their function in conjunction with each separate department.

Marketers have undoubtedly mastered their field and are constantly evolving it to be more insightful and efficient. Now it’s time to put the same amount of energy into informing the company about what marketing does well – and how they can collaborate as a team to increase the role the department plays in driving strategic change.

Data Analysis and Insight

One of the most crucial shifts in marketing has been the advent of data analysis to gain customer insight. It is also one of the lesser-known activities of marketers – with only 18% of non-marketers identifying it as a marketing function.

Within a business, 48% of data analytics are used to gain a better understanding of the customer. Much of that usage falls to the marketing department, who then becomes responsible for collecting and mining the data for better insights into how customers are responding to the company’s offering and what they are looking for from the industry.

Non-marketers are aware that customer insight is critical to achieving competitive advantage, but what they don’t realize is that the marketing department is the one that puts it in action. 

Analytics help improve the overall view of a company’s performance and are used to develop content and strategies that resonate with customers to generate leads and increase revenue.

For 58% of CMOs, analytics are important for SEO and email marketing research. Another vital area that benefits from data is customer segmentation, with 49% of CMOs citing this as a key marketing function. Knowing which customers are relevant to which areas of the business can make a huge difference in reaching them effectively.

If a company wants to know what their customers are feeling, thinking and saying about their products and services, marketing analytics serve as the direct line between an organization and its customers. Marketers need to bring this to the forefront of their responsibilities to prove to the company that the department is invaluable to overarching success.

Marketing the Marketing Department

To say it’s only the fault of the non-marketers for not knowing why marketing is essential is a false sentiment. It is a shared failure between marketers and their colleagues alike.

Just as a company shares customer-facing mistakes, they should also own up to their internal ones. Members of the company are only familiar with website copy, email marketing and social media because these are the most visible aspect of marketing.

Likewise, marketing is probably only familiar with R&D’s end product because it’s what they interact with most. With this logic in mind, marketing must do more to share their ways of working, their successes and their failures with the rest of the company. That takes increased dedication to internal communications.

It’s acceptable to be narrowly focused on customer-facing material, but it shouldn’t be the sole focus of marketing. Outlets like intranets, forums and internal newsletters help spread the word about all on goings of an organization. Even better than those options, marketers should be participating in presentations or discussions.

To improve internal communication, marketing needs to start small, think creatively and lead the organization with innovation and approachable subject matter. Instead of presenting those important analytics in detail, simply give the bullet points and summarize the resulting benefits.

Once you’ve gained the attention of the company, you can tailor the communications to their interests and  avoid useless weekly reports by taking a step back and looking at the big picture scale.

Driving Strategic Change

Once you’ve acquired the attention of the other departments and have effectively communicated the results created by the marketing team, you can drive strategic change.

Strategy is very much a collaborative process that takes into account all the diverse aspects of a company’s performance and needs.

Marketing is positioned to have the most influential effect on the strategy. Armed with insight about customers gained from data analysis and a general understanding of the other departments, marketing can inform the strategy to be grounded by analytics, customer demands and operational efficiencies.

Marketing holds the cards for both analytical insight and creative power. Approaching strategy with these two ways of thinking can lead an organization to more innovative and effective solutions for serving customers and increasing the bottom line.

It’s also a strong way to make decisions and help other departments develop their own strategic plans. But to leverage that power, marketing must establish themselves as a go-to entity and a critical piece of organizational change.

Marketers excel at making the unknown not only known, but also popular. They must start thinking of themselves as a product that needs launching across the company.

Using the foundation of data and insight, strengthening internal communications and playing an active role in developing company strategy, marketers can deliver lasting results and become the most well known group within the company.

Customer service, sales, finance and R&D will no longer wonder what’s behind the graphics and catchy copy. They’ll understand that marketing is in the game to help the company achieve its fullest potential.

Penguin Strategies

Dec

7

2016

How to Create an Annual Marketing Plan [Free Tool]

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Do you take a good, hard look at your team’s marketing strategy every year?

You should. An annual marketing plan helps you set your marketing on the right course to make your company’s business goals a reality. Think of it as a high-level plan that guides the direction of your team’s campaigns, goals, and growth.

Without one, things can get messy — and it’s nearly impossible to put a number on the budget you’ll need to secure for the projects, hiring, and outsourcing you’ll encounter over the course of a year if you don’t have a plan.

Of course, this type of planning takes a lot of time and effort. So if you’re strapped for time before the holidays, give our new Marketing Plan Generator a try. This tool simplifies yearly planning and lays your strategies, initiatives, and goals out in a template so you can identify what’s most important for the coming year.

Once you’ve filled in your information, you’ll come away with a plan that helps you:

  • Outline your annual marketing strategy
  • Identify your most important annual initiatives
  • Nix the projects that won’t help you hit your 2017 goals
  • Track the right metrics throughout the year
  • Align your team through a common mission

Pro Tip: The best way to set up your 2017 marketing plan is to start with quick wins first, that way you can ramp up fast and set yourself (and your team) up to hit more challenging goals and take on more sophisticated projects by Q4. So, what do you say? Are you ready to give it a spin?

You can find our Free Marketing Plan Generator right here.

Marketing Plan Generator

Dec

6

2016

Google Is Shifting to a Mobile-First Index: What Marketers Need to Know to Prepare

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We’re living in a mobile-first world. For most of us, that means from the moment you wake up in the morning, your phone becomes a part of your daily routine — from silencing your alarm, to reviewing the daily news, to checking email, and so on.

And search engines are seeing the result of this trend: search queries on mobile have now surpassed desktop-based queries.

Now you may be thinking, my website is already mobile-friendly … so I’m set, right?

Sure, you are ready for mobile visitors, but your content may not be optimized for the new realities of search. What exactly do we mean by that? Download our free guide here to learn how to design your own mobile-friendly  website. 

Well, Google recently announced that its search results index is essentially being flipped and will prioritize mobile results first:

With Google currently experimenting with this change, there’s a lot you need to know to ensure you’re prepared. But don’t panic, we’ll walk through it all below.

What Is Mobile-First Indexing?

As Google’s Gary Illyes said, this is a big change, so let’s start by discussing some of the details first. Keep in mind this update is currently in testing so you may not notice any differences at the moment.

  1. Mobile-friendly websites matter, regardless of technology. Google has previously stated their preferred method of a mobile-friendly website was responsive design. For this change to mobile-first indexing, Illyes stated that specific mobile site versions and responsive design will work.
  2. SERPs will now be primarily based on mobile content. Today, if you have a page that shows some specific content to desktop-based visitors, but excludes content for mobile visitors, you may notice a change in results because of the mobile-specific content. Because results will start to primarily use mobile content first, you should consider what, and how much content, to add to your mobile version.
  3. AMP-enabled pages are treated as mobile content. If you have Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for your website, or blog, these pages will be treated as other mobile pages and will be indexed first.

Again, this update is still being tested and is likely still “months away” so many details are still emerging and being worked out. In the meantime, it’s worth starting to prepare for mobile-first indexing.

What About #Mobilegeddon?

One of the primary premises behind the mobile algorithm update, affectionately referred to as Mobilegeddon, was that Google was beginning to establish a separate mobile-index for results.

While it seems that Google may continue to build a separate mobile index, the key part here is that they will flip the indexing from desktop-first to mobile-first.

See the below conversation with Illyes for more:

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How You Can Prepare For the Mobile-First World

1) Ensure you have a mobile-friendly website.

Google’s preferred technology utilizes responsive design so your website adapts to the screen-size of the visitor, but if you have a dedicated mobile website (m.example.com) that is fine, too.

HubSpot Customers: Any of your content created using the HubSpot software will utilize responsive design and, as a result, you should be prepared for mobile-first content indexing.

2) Consider if content should be adjusted for mobile.

Most content created specifically for mobile is naturally shorter. You should ensure that your page is still seen as the authoritative source on the content topic you’re writing about, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be long-form content.

Don’t be afraid to consider other types of content — like video and audio — that you can integrate into your strategy. These additional content types can be better for the user experience, and a transcript can be included on the page to ensure the maximum impact for SEO.

Any content you have on pages that is incompatible with mobile devices — i.e., Flash videos — should be replaced as soon as possible.

If you do not have a mobile-friendly website, Google will still index your website but the mobile crawler may appear in your Search Console. Not sure if your website is mobile-friendly? Get your website graded to find out.

3) Prioritize the factors that are important in this new mobile-first index.

What are those factors? Here are two you’ll want to keep a close eye on:

  • Site speed has always been important, but now with a mobile-first index, it’s become even more crucial. This also means you need to be aware of the weight of content on a page, which can drastically affect page speed and has a cascading effect on user experience. More on that here.
  • User experience and engagement have become increasingly important signals for search engines. If a visitor comes to your page and leaves within a few seconds, it’s an indication they didn’t quite find what they were looking for. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if the visitor stays on your page and engages with various links and resources, they are likely highly engaged. In a mobile-first world, consider the experience of that one page, but also how users travel between pages and their experience between each step.

Again, these updates are still actively being discussed, but in the meantime, get involved in the discussion and ensure your website is mobile-friendly.

What questions do you have about the mobile-first shift? Share them in the comments below.

free guide: guide to mobile marketing

Dec

6

2016

A Brief History of Social Advertising [Infographic]

Social advertising is a big business.

Over the past two years, social media advertising budgets have doubled worldwide, from $16 billion U.S. in 2014 to $31 billion in 2016.

While Facebook currently claims nearly 70% of the social advertising market, it’s starting to get some serious competition from younger networks. Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat are all vying for their piece of the social ads pie, and advertisers today have more options than ever before to promote their brands on social.

From mobile to live video and everything in between, we’ve documented some of the most significant milestones for both these top networks as well as social advertising in general.

Check out the below infographic on the history of social advertising and consider: What opportunities and challenges will brands face in the next 10 years?



market-your-agency

Dec

6

2016

A Brief History of Social Advertising [Infographic]

Social advertising is a big business.

Over the past two years, social media advertising budgets have doubled worldwide, from $16 billion U.S. in 2014 to $31 billion in 2016.

While Facebook currently claims nearly 70% of the social advertising market, it’s starting to get some serious competition from younger networks. Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat are all vying for their piece of the social ads pie, and advertisers today have more options than ever before to promote their brands on social.

From mobile to live video and everything in between, we’ve documented some of the most significant milestones for both these top networks as well as social advertising in general.

Check out the below infographic on the history of social advertising and consider: What opportunities and challenges will brands face in the next 10 years?



market-your-agency

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.

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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.

Dec

5

2016

How the Brain Processes Different Types of Content [Infographic]

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

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

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

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

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15 free infographic templates in powerpoint

Dec

5

2016

Animal Influencers: The Stories Behind 11 Famous Pets on Instagram

They command international attention, have amassed millions of followers on social media, and collaborate with the world’s biggest brands.

But you still have to pick up their poop.

Animal influencers are undeniably on the rise. These pampered pets (and their owners/handlers/entourages) enjoy a level of social media fame usually reserved for well, human celebrities, and bring in real revenue through their high-profile partnerships with brands like Zappos, Mercedes-Benz, Purina, and even Google. 

In other words, these adorable fluff balls make more money on a single Instagram post than you, a human, will probably ever make on a single Instagram post. Let that sink in for a minute.

According to Create&Cultivate, social media influencers (animal or otherwise) can expect to earn around $3,000 per sponsorship deal when they hit between 150,000 and 250,000 followers. Many of the pets on this list have over one million followers.

So why the sudden demand for four-legged brand ambassadors?

“People have this innate perception that pets generate warm, happy, fuzzy feelings,” said Loni Edwards — owner of Chloe (as in Instagram-famous @chloetheminifrenchie) — to Digiday. “Brands are starting to reach out because they make people genuinely happy, and they want their ads to make people happy.”

It turns out people really like cute animals — even if those animals are promoting things. “You don’t notice that you are getting advertised to, or you don’t care, because you’re seeing a super cute dog,” Katie Sturino (owner of another famous pooch, @toastmeetsworld) explained to Fortune

In addition to sponsorship deals, many of these pets generate income from their own branded products, such as books, calendars, apps, clothing, mugs … you name it, and somebody has plopped a cute animal on it and sold it on the internet.

Is this whole thing a little weird? Maybe. Did I follow all of these animals on Instagram? Absolutely I did.

Read on to see how 11 of these furry social celebrities are building their brands and growing their empires.

11 Famous Animal Influencers

1) Harlow, Indiana and Reese: @harlowandsage

Number of Instagram followers: 1.4m

This adorably photogenic trio consists of one very tolerant Weimaraner (Harlow) and two rambunctious Miniature Dachshunds (Indiana and Reese). In what is possibly the cutest rise-to-fame story ever, the three pups became an international internet sensation by snuggling.

Their owner, Brittni Vega, has made sure the cuddly canines use their fame for good. They recently partnered with dog food brand Purina to benefit the Canine Health Foundation, and have worked with Love Your Mellon, a cancer charity.

Harlow, Indiana, and Reese have also worked with Clorox to raise awareness about Parvovirus, a potentially fatal virus for dogs, and Petfinder, to help shelter dogs find homes. Other promotional clients include Petco, Figo Pet Insurance, and the Subaru Puppy Bowl.

Vega even spun the dogs’ popularity into a second Instagram account, @harlowandfriends, which exclusively features photos of dogs available for adoption.

  
 

2) Loki: @loki_the_wolfdog

Number of Instagram followers: 1.3m

When Mercedes-Benz needed a rugged, handsome new spokesmodel for the 2017 GLS SUV, they didn’t reach out to any old movie star — they got Loki, a Husky/Arctic Wolf/Malamute mix, to be the face of their latest campaign (Move over, John Hamm).

“Loki and his story aligned particularly well with our SUV portfolio,” said Mark Aikman, general manager of marketing services for Mercedes-Benz USA, to Digiday. “Our research has shown that a large number of SUV owners have pets.”

Known on Instagram as “Loki the Wolfdog”, this gentle giant spends his days traversing the great outdoors with owner Kelly Lund, who donates the revenue generated from Loki’s merchandise and sponsorships to two animal charities: Canine Support Teams and Eagle Trail Mountain Wolf Sanctuary.

Loki has become a magnet for brands looking to promote an outdoorsy lifestyle, including REI (he’s a social media sponsor for their annual #OptOutside campaign), GoPro, Rigid Industries LED Lighting, and Google Photos.

  
 

3) Nala: @nala_cat

Number of Instagram followers: 3.1m

This cross-eyed feline is closer to matching Kim Kardashian’s 88.3m Instagram follower count than you, probably.

Meet Nala, a six year old Siamese and Tabby mix with baby blue eyes and short, chubby legs. Since she first popped up on Instagram back in 2012, this remarkably photogenic cat has been racking up followers and brand sponsorships left and right.

She’s been featured on media outlets like BuzzFeed and Daily Mail, and has sponsorships with major brands like Friskies, Persil ProClean, and Zappos. She even recently ran a giveaway for Google’s new Pixel smartphone, which the brand gave her as a gift. 

It doesn’t hurt that Nala’s owner, Los Angeles resident Varisiri Methachittiphan (known by her nickname “Pookie”) has an MBA and strong business acumen. She’s even started an empire for her other cat, Mr. White, who has a respectable 1.3m Instagram followers of his own under the handle @white_coffee_cat_.

  
 

4) Pumpkin: @pumpkintheraccoon

Number of Instagram followers: 1m

How does it feel to be less popular than a raccoon? Because unless you have one million Instagram followers, you’re losing the social media rat race to a plump raccoon named Pumpkin. 

Pumpkin is a domesticated raccoon living a charmed life in the Bahamas with her owner, Laura Young, and canine siblings Toffee and Oreo. Her favorite activities include lounging on the couch, eating avocados, and petting dogs.

While her Instagram account is noticeably devoid of sponsored posts for now (besides a few posts promoting animal rescue charity BAARK), Pumpkin is a personal branding machine. She has a book — Pumpkin: The Raccoon Who Thought She Was a Dog — and has been featured on CBS, ABC, EW, and TV specials for BCC and Animal Planet.

And yes, Pumpkin is eating popcorn out of a Pumpkin the Raccoon branded bag in one of the below photos.

  
 

5) Chloe: @chloetheminifrenchie

Number of Instagram followers: 147k

A burgeoning fashion icon, Chloe has been featured in major publications like Martha Stewart and Vogue. She has her own line of fancy dog scarves (a collaboration with luxury human scarf brand Donni Charm) and Pawtty Bags, which her website describes as “essentially little dog purses to hold poop bags.”

For her second birthday, Chloe’s owner/manager, Loni Edwards, went all out, throwing a charity bash to raise money for the Humane Society of NY. The party was sponsored by BarkBox, Kind Bars, and Bloomingdale’s, among many others.

Edwards, a lawyer turned entrepreneur, started Chloe’s Instagram initially as a way to share photos of the ridiculously cute pup with her friends and family. In just a few short years, managing Chloe’s social media presence and endorsements has evolved into her full-time job.

“It became more than me and my friends following her — there were strangers appreciating her cuteness,” Edwards said to Racked about Chloe’s rapid rise to stardom.

  
 

6) Bodhi: @mensweardog

Number of Instagram followers: 289k

Clothing brands like Coach, American Apparel, and Brooks Brothers have a new muse: a gentlemanly Shiba Inu named Bodhi. Thanks to his affinity for perfectly tailored suits and brooding stare, this photogenic pooch has made a big splash in the fashion world, starring in major campaigns and even posing for exclusive fashion spread in the New York Times.

Bodhi’s fame was no accident. His owner and full-time handler, Yena Kim, quit her job at Ralph Lauren to focus on building her dog’s brand online. What seemed like a gamble at first has really paid off for Kim and her husband, graphic designer David Fung. 

Bodhi’s big break came in the form of a viral Tumblr post, and soon brands were reaching out to Kim and Fung as if they were like any other human fashion blogger seeking promotions. Today, Bodhi is sponsored by brands like Rockport Shoes and Gentleman’s Box on Instagram, and has his own fashion book. 

“He’s the dog version of the Dos Equis guy,” Fung said to Business Insider, “the most interesting dog in the world.”

  
 

7) Tuna: @tunameltsmyheart

Number of Instagram followers: 1.8m

Just like many human social media influencers, Tuna, a Chihuahua Dachsund mix with an undeniably endearing overbite, strives to project an authentic image across his many social platforms. And that means being very selective about the brands he chooses to work with.

“It’s enticing when you are offered big posting deals,” Tuna’s owner, Courtney Dasher, told Vice. “But if I’m not at peace with the idea or think it’s not a good fit with Tuna and the brand of Tuna, then I politely decline.”

The pint-sized pup mainly partners with animal rescue organizations and charities, but he also has an online shop that sells mugs, shirts, and other goods emblazoned with his toothy visage. If you’re really feeling that Tuna fever, you can even purchase an oxidized bronze ring shaped like his entire head. Because why not.

  
 

8) Toast: @toastmeetsworld

Number of Instagram followers: 370k

Toast, who is a dog, reportedly wore a custom Marchesa gown and $139,000 diamond necklace to her wedding, which was covered by Newsweek, People, and Town & Country. Toast (who, again, is a dog) married Finn Hearst (also a dog) after the two met at a charity gala and really hit it off, apparently.

The wedding was a charity fundraiser and promotional stunt for Zola, a wedding registry site, and it was hardly Toast’s first foray into the realm of brand promotions. Toast, who is represented by DBA (Digital Brand Architects), is an eyewear spokesmodel for Karen Walker, and has promoted big brands like Febreeze and Swiffer. She’s also currently the face of The Shelter Pet Project’s latest campaign, appearing in print ads and billboards around the country.

The toothless Cavalier King Charles Spaniel — who was rescued from a puppy mill — gained popularity on Instagram for her iconic floppy tongue and apparent tolerance of being dressed up.

Toast’s owner, Katie Sturino, told Newsweek she’s aware some people might find her profession a bit strange, but she’s managed to use her dog’s fame for good, raising awareness for the deplorable conditions at puppy mills.

  
 

8) Hamlet: @hamlet_the_piggy

Number of Instagram followers: 305k

While the vast majority of animal influencers are dogs and cats, some pigs are getting in on the action too. Hamlet, a charismatic mini pig who enjoys wearing wigs and having maple syrup poured directly into her mouth, has found unexpected fame on Instagram and Snapchat.

Hamlet’s owner, Melanie Gomez, adopted the unusual pet as a support companion after her epilepsy became hard to handle on her own (her husband is extremely allergic to dogs, so a pig was the next best option). She began posting Hamlet’s photos online as a way to make others happy, and never expected that the petite piglet would become an internet superstar.

Now a few years into her social media career, Hamlet has been spotted showing off a handful of products on Instagram, including Tostito’s snacks, Bose’s line of NFL headphones, and the Ollo Clip iPhone lens.

  
 

9) Lil Bub: @iamlilbub

Number of followers on Instagram: 1.4m

It would be an understatement to call Lil Bub a viral social media celebrity. The toothless tabby cat — born with a short lower jaw which exposes her tongue — was arguably one of the first big animal influencers on the scene, right up there with the ubiquitous Grumpy Cat.

Just a quick scan of Lil Bub’s extensive Wikipedia page reveals just how weirdly famous the quirky, stubby-legged cat has become. Here are a few highlights:

  • In 2015, a group of scientists crowdfunded $8,225 to sequence Lil Bub’s genome. The project was called LilBubnome.
  • Lil Bub is credited on the 2015 electronic album Science & Magic as a vocalist.
  • Vice produced a feature length documentary on Lil Bub in 2013 called Lil Bub & Friendz. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and Lil Bub got to meet Robert DiNero.

Name any object, and it’s probably sold with Lil Bub’s face on it. The cat has a series downloadable ringtones, a weather app, and a line of watches. Way to go, Lil Bub — you’re more successful than most startups.

  
 

10) Doug the Pug: @itsdougthepug

Number of followers on Instagram: 2.2m

Doug the Pug, the self-declared “King of Pop Culture”, is just like us. He likes to unwind after a long day with a hot bubble bath and a glass of pinot noir.

Unlike us, Doug the Pug has millions of followers on social media, a book deal, and a close friendship with Chrissy Teigen.

Doug’s owner, Leslie Mosier, got her start in the music industry before becoming a full-time “momager” for her dog. She applied her PR background to Doug’s career, and the pug was quickly featured on Mashable and BuzzFeed. One Facebook video in particular — a 16-second clip of Doug playing with a pug balloon — went viral overnight, skyrocketing Doug to 2.2 million followers on Instagram and over five million Facebook likes.

When Doug isn’t promoting his book, calendar, or collection of stuffed animals, he can be found promoting brands like Febreeze and repping Dentastix at the Country Music Awards.

  
 

11) Lionel: @lionelthehog

Number of Instagram followers: 95.9k

Instagram does not discriminate by species. If you are a cute animal and you like wearing little hats or holding little umbrellas, the followers will come.

Say hello to Lionel, an adventurous hedgehog with a taste for the finer things in life. Lionel’s owner, Anna Mathias, works full-time in PR, and began Lionel’s Instagram account as a side project to show off her social media chops. In a few short weeks, he was featured on BuzzFeed, and the rest is history.

On Instagram, Lionel represents brands like The Book of the Month Club, Daniel Wellington watches, and Style&co, a (human) clothing retailer. This year, he even collaborated with West Elm and the ASPCA to release a custom holiday ornament and tea towel.

  
  

Who are your favorite animal influencers? Let us know in the comments.

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Dec

2

2016

How to Build a Memorable Personal Brand on Twitter

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Imagine that you’re within 140 characters of connecting with a customer, prospect, or influencer. How can you afford not to reach out?

We’re talking Twitter, of course: the 300-million strong whirlpool of information that has emerged as a personal branding, relationship-building nirvana.

Twitter pros have found ways to use the platform to score business and media deals — they’ve even built relationships through developing successful Twitter personal brands. Yet, too many people have joined the community simply because they know they should be there, not because they’re strategic or focused.

When it comes to those that have managed to scale their following and build a reputable brand on Twitter, there’s a lot we can learn. To do this, I decided to go straight to the source, interviewing some well-known names with as many as hundreds of thousands of followers.

Thanks to their insights and generosity, I put together a eight-step road map for developing your personal brand on Twitter. Check it out below.

How to Build a Memorable Personal Brand on Twitter

Step #1: Follow the leaders.

Cheryl Burgess, author and CEO of Blue Focus Marketing, said she started off as a listener on Twitter, following people she admired like Kent Huffman, Tom Peters, and David Edelman, among others.

You see, the beauty of Twitter is that you don’t have to go far to discover a successful marketing playbook. The platform gives you free reign to observe how the pros do it.

Similarly, Neal Schaffer, CEO of Maximize Your Social and cofounder of The Social Tools Summit, says to follow people who are sharing a lot of content and who are omnipresent on Twitter. For Schaffer, that’s folks like Jeff Bullas, Mark Schaefer, Pam Moore, Lilach Bullock, Marsha Collier, and Glen Gilmore.

Over time, in addition to observing Twitter luminaries at work, start to engage them. Influencers, like anyone, appreciate praise. But don’t expect an immediate home run. If the influencer eventually follows you — or even better mentions you — you’ve scored a coup.

If you do directly reach out, see what you can offer in return – a mention in a blog post or article for instance. Burgess said she developed a relationship with Tom Peters by following him on Twitter and also recognizing him as part of a Twitter awards program she was running.

If you’re wondering what impact influencers can have, consider this: Nearly 40% of Twitter users say they made a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer.

Actionable Takeaways:

  1. Create Twitter lists of your mentors whom you can then easily monitor. Think of it as having a front row seat to your favorite performers. “Grouping my audience into categories, I see what’s happening across the world quickly and seek opportunities to help and respond,” says Mark Schaefer.
  2. Visualize your Twitter ecosystem using a tool like Mentionmapp.Mentionmapp helps me decide whom to follow and the conversations I need to be part of,” says Burgess.

Step #2: Define your brand.

Clarify the type of person you want to be on Twitter. Think of this as an opportunity to showcase your capabilities, passions, and interests.

Peg Fitzpatrick, social media speaker, trainer, and author, refers to this exercise as “defining the seeds of your brand.” Fitzpatrick advises selecting two or three main topics for your brand content — for her personal brand, she zeroes in on media, her role as author (and speaker), and marketing.

Peg Fitzpatrick Twitter.png

Mari Smith, social media speaker, trainer, consultant, and author, has done this beautifully, explaining that she shares “quality, cherry-picked content pertaining to social media, business development, and time and life hacks with a sprinkling of spiritual uplift and a daily dose of motivational quotes.”

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Focus on three seeds, or go super-niche with one main focus. Do this and “you’ll build a solid Twitter following that will love your content,” says Fitzpatrick.

Step #3: Sharpen your profile.

Don’t leave your Twitter profile to chance or whim. It’s your face to the world on Twitter. While most people will find you through your content, they’ll then check out your Twitter profile.

Ensure that it defines your brand. Dump the default Twitter egg and use an image that highlights your brand, advises Burgess.

Burgess’ own profile leaves no doubts about her accomplishments and her focus:

Cheryl Burgess Twitter.png

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Avoid the pet photos. “Unless you’re a veterinarian or your social media goals aren’t especially business related,” says Burgess, “it’s probably better to go with something else.”

Step #4: Create and curate great content. Repeat.

Tweet negative things and you’ll be seen as a naysayer. Tweet helpful, insightful content and you’ll grow your reputation. If there’s a common thread among those with impressive Twitter brands, it’s that they all post a steady stream of valuable content.

“You can’t tweet enough,” urges Schaffer. This doesn’t mean that you should aim for 100 tweets a day, but if you’re seeing positive engagement, keep it going.

The lesson? Find your rhythm. For example, Michael Brenner, author and CEO of Marketing Insider, says he tweets every hour typically from his smart phone while reading. “I’m a big fan of email newsletters,” he says. “I scan the headlines and if I read the article, I share it.”

While it’s tempting to rely solely on curated content, if you’re serious about building your personal brand, try to post some original content. “The fuel of social media is content,” says Schaefer. “I devote an enormous amount of time to creating original content on my blog which then becomes something I can deliver on Twitter that is helpful and unique.”

Smith says she likes to spotlight up-and-coming bloggers and experts that not many people are tweeting about. “I want to give people a leg up and not just share the same super popular blog posts others were sharing,” she says.

Actionable Takeaways:

  1. Don’t share content without identifying the source or the author, says Schaffer. Don’t simply say via @HubSpot or @HuffingtonPost. Take the trouble to also identify the author, who will appreciate the mention.
  2. Tweet with an image whenever possible. Posts with images on social media are 40X more likely to get shared. “I tweet 100% of my tweets with images,” says Schaffer.

Step #5: Engage.

Twitter is a two-way street: If you reach out, people are likely to engage with you.

“Put aside some time to reach out and engage with the tweets of your followers as well as influencers you would like to build a relationship with,” says Melonie Dodaro, a social selling speaker and trainer and author.

Smith says she “takes a quick peek at someone’s bio and recent tweets to find something to compliment or talk about to create a connection.”

Don’t expect, however, that you can outsource your engagement and be effective. All of the experts I spoke to, despite having massive number of followers, handle responses themselves.

Keep this in mind: “The heart of the brand is you,” says Schaffer, “and your engagements are you.”

Brenner calls relating in social “Give to Get (G2G)”: “Karma works in the social world,” he says. “Share the work of people you admire and they will take a second look at your own work. Over time, you will become an authority yourself.”

“Be yourself. It’s okay to mix business and personal,” adds Gini Dietrich, author and CEO of Arment Dietrich. “People want to know the person behind the brains. And you have to just do it. So many people overanalyze it and overthink it. Just jump in and start tweeting.”

Actionable Takeaways:

  1. Avoid tactics that look like spam on Twitter. “At first I thanked every single person who retweeted my content,” says Brenner. “But then I just felt like a robot, blindly sending ‘thanks for the RT’ messages. Now I focus on those people who really seem interested in connecting.”
  2. Don’t automate direct messages. Dietrich’s pet peeve is the auto direct message that encourages you to buy something from the person you just followed.
  3. Don’t be blatantly promotional. Don’t say something like “buy my stuff,” says Brenner. “That’s the quickest way to lose followers and anger people.”

Step #6: Test and analyze.

Twitter gives you practically instant feedback. Almost as soon as you post something, you can see how it performs.

“Twitter is my number one platform where I share the most content and also the platform where I test content,” says Schaffer. “When I see what resonates, I know what to share on my other platforms, for my newsletter, blog posts, books, and other projects.”

Schaffer says he aggressively uses hashtags on Twitter so he can be found and manage his content, and also so he can compare how tweets with a certain hashtag perform against other hashtags.

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Take time to find the right tool for measuring and analyzing. “Find the one that makes sense to you and you’re comfortable with,” says Burgess, who uses Triberr for posting, RiteTag for finding the best hashtags, as well as several analytic tools.

Step #7: Outsource strategically, if at all.

According to Schaffer, you don’t need to outsource any of your Twitter efforts in the beginning. But once you start to scale your followers, consider outsourcing some of the administrative work.

“Outsourcing content curation is one of the first areas busy business owners ought to consider. It’s highly worthwhile and ensures your Twitter presence stays active and relevant,” says Smith. “I’m the only one that replies and engages, though,” she adds, “as I never actually delegate my conversations. I also live tweet events.”

At the same time, don’t outsource so much that your authenticity is lost, says Burgess. “To those that are considering outsourcing, first I’d recommend simplifying. You don’t need to tweet every five minutes and you don’t need to reply to every mention.”

Schaefer says, “I do 100% of my own tweets. I feel strongly that I don’t want to disappoint anybody. I never want to be in a position where somebody is engaging with me and then they discover that it’s not really me.” Schaefer says the only thing he outsources is some of the administration on his account, like managing followers.

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Find a system to help you find, curate and share content, says Neal Schaffer, who personally uses Sprout Social. Schaeffer says you don’t need a monitoring tool unless you’re a well-established brand. “The @ mentions of your name are enough for most people.”

Step #8: Commit.

Now that you know what to do, you need to devote time each day to just doing it.

Brenner’s advice? “You have to find the time to make small investments in social every day,” he says.

“Tweet once a day. Blog once a week (if that’s all you have time to do). Do whatever works for you and be realistic. It’s amazing what happens after a year. You’ll have sent hundreds of tweets, created dozens of blog posts, connected with lots of great people and learned more than you would have ever imagined.”

Actionable Takeaway:

  1. Find your focus by following one course until successful and stick to it, says Smith. “Publish daily tweets around your chosen focus. But don’t forget to engage, too.”

Building Your Brand

These Twitter brand experts have cracked the code. And so can you if you follow these seven steps. Remember the adage: Success is no accident. You have to work at it.

What are your best tips for building a memorable brand presence? Share them below.

free guide: how to get twitter followers

Dec

2

2016

How to Increase Engagement Using Video Thumbnails in Your Emails [Live Event]

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Are you looking for new ways to experiment with your email marketing and increase engagement and conversion?

With video in general becoming a more and more important content format for marketers, we put our heads together with the folks at Wistia to see how using video thumbnails in your email marketing affects engagement. Spoiler alert: It makes a huge difference, and we want to share the results with you.

Join HubSpot Marketing Manager Chelsea Hunersen and Wistia Partner Coordinator Margot Mazur on Wednesday December 14 at 1 p.m. EST for the big reveal of brand new data. They’ll show you how to successfully incorporate video thumbnails in your brand’s email and marketing strategies.

More specifically, you can expect:

  • Never before seen data on video thumbnails in email
  • Wistia & HubSpot’s own experiment results
  • Tips on how to include video thumbnails in your email and marketing strategy
  • Bonus: Answers to questions submitted by actual audience members!

Save your seat now, and don’t forget to submit your questions.

email engagement using video

Dec

1

2016

15 Cheerful Examples of Holiday Homepage Designs

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A lot of eyes are going to be on your website in the upcoming weeks. A National Retail Foundation survey found that more than 56% of holiday shoppers will purchase gifts online. What’s more, almost 80% of shoppers are heading to the internet to research gifts, even if they end up actually purchasing the item in-store.

Those numbers are only going up. The smartest marketers will prepare for this not only by prepping their website for higher-than-normal traffic and optimizing it for mobile devices, but also by giving their website design a dose of holiday cheer. Download more holiday resources to help your business succeed this season from  HubSpot's #HolidayHub

It all starts with the homepage: The first page many people will see when they come to your website. How have other companies redesigned their homepages for the holidays? Let’s take a look.

Note: Businesses change their homepages on a regular basis. The examples below may not be current.

15 Holiday Homepage Designs to Get You in the Spirit

1) Free People

When your business has a loud personality like American bohemian retail company Free People does, making a big first impression on your homepage can be a great thing. Free People’s redesign is all-encompassing, starting with a large, high-definition image of models wearing some of its latest festive holiday apparel.

We especially love the whimsical, fun font it used in the headline, “The Gift Shop 2016.” For certain brands, decorative fonts like these can be a great seasonal touch to the style of your homepage. (Get tips for using fonts in your web design in our free do-it-yourself design guide.)

FreePeople_holiday.png

2) PayPal

Who ever said online money transfer websites can’t have fun at the holidays?

PayPal’s holiday homepage works because it still looks like PayPal — just a little more festive. It’s still easy to navigate but adds seasonal flair with a clever spin on a lyric from “Jingle Bells” as its holiday slogan. The whitespace encourages visitors to focus on the happy models in the image, putting human faces to an industry that’s businesslike and technical.

paypal holiday.png

3) Sephora

Like PayPal, Sephora didn’t make many changes to the overall look and feel of its website. What it did do was feature a holiday edition of its highest-rated products and editors’ picks, specially curated for different gift recipients, price ranges, categories, and so on.

By putting editors’ picks front and center, Sephora is reminding customers how much the company values customers’ success. Plus, we love the sprinklings of gemstones throughout the page — it’s a cute, festive way to separate modules on the page.

Sephora holiday homepage.png

4) Baudville

While seasonal website redesign is often dominated by B2C companies, a few B2B businesses have been known to dress up websites a bit too. Baudville, an employee recognition solution, is one.

While some web designers like to add a ton of new elements to their holiday designs, Baudville shows you don’t have to. Something as simple as adding a holiday gift shop slide to your homepage photo banner can be enough to warmly welcome users to your site during this time of year.

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5) La Colombe

La Colombe’s holiday homepage design features soft, wintry hues and festive lighting. Visitors are greeted with high-definition photography of people enjoying La Colombe coffee products around a shared table. This webpage is another example of a business staying true-to-brand with an added holiday touch.

La Colombe _ Holiday.png

6) L.L. Bean

For a U.S. outdoor retail company like L.L. Bean, the holidays mean winter … which means cold. (For most of us, unfortunately.) It keeps the holidays out of the seasonal redesign completely: The featured photo on the homepage is a model wearing apparel in front of pine trees covered in show, which is in keeping with the brand’s outdoorsy theme.

L.L. Bean shares a list of holiday gift ideas featuring some of its most popular and beloved products. The seasonal homepage slogan — “Gifts That Last Beyond the Present” — reminds visitors of L.L. Bean’s amazing satisfaction guarantee.

If you’re more attracted to a winter-themed seasonal redesign, consider using winter-themed stock photos for your homepage. You might also consider cooling down the color scheme of your whole site for the holiday season. This means using cooler tones like blues, purples, and greens to give it a more “wintry” feel. (You can read more about cool color schemes in this blog post about color theory.)

llbean holiday.png

7) The Container Store

This homepage is a fantastic move for the holidays because it is chock-full of goodies for visitors. Every module on this homepage has something helpful to offer customers — stocking stuffers, gift ideas, luggage for holiday travel, party favors, and DIY projects.

The various CTAs on the homepage are clear and tell visitors everything they need to know about what’s on the rest of the site. The geometric shapes organize all of the content cleanly, so despite the fact that the homepage has several different offers on it, it’s not cluttered.

Container Store_holiday.png

8) Xfinity

Between sporting events, holiday movies, and making your family binge-watch your new favorite TV series, with holidays comes lots of screen time. This homepage reminds visitors to be prepared for fun with their families.

The primary CTA isn’t just “Deals to save you money!” or “Deals to get you to buy from our website!” Instead, this homepage advertises its “Ready for the Holidays Sale” alongside images of families having fun spending time together, some with screens.

Thanks to this positioning, the message feels less like a way to make money, and more like an nod to holiday family time that includes a lot of togetherness, and probably some TV in between.

xfinity holiday.png

9) J. Crew

J. Crew’s holiday homepage goes above and beyond expectations for a clothing store. The whitespace on the page is simple and lets the clothing and accessories stand out on the page to prospective shoppers while keeping the website true to brand.

Its homepage advertises “Present-Topia,” a Gift Guide that breaks down J. Crew products by age, gender, and price for ease of shopping. The black callout box advertises a sale it’s running that includes seasonal clothing. J. Crew also published curated looks that visitors can browse or directly shop from to make the shopping experience easier and more visual. This homepage redesign prioritizes the user experience while still keeping the site beautiful and on-brand.

jcrew holiday.png

10) Microsoft

We like Microsoft’s minimalist holiday homepage because it stays true to brand and uses whitespace to showcase the new products it’s promoting this season. The simple red banner draws attention to their holiday shopping CTA and reminds people to think about products their friends and families might want. Then, there’s another CTA reading “Shop Now” that drives home the need to click around and start shopping.

microsoft holiday.png

11) Fitbit

The dark background of Fitbit’s homepage lets the festive gold color scheme and the products shine. The photography styling positions Fitbits as a gift similar to jewelry in beautiful boxes, rather than a piece of sporting equipment, to make Fitbit products appeal to a wider variety of shoppers and not just athletes.

fitbit holiday final.png

The primary CTA is to “Shop The Gift Guide,” which leads visitors through all of the products with descriptions that suggest who they might purchase it for, making it easy for shoppers to imagine their family and friends using the product.

Additionally, the site has a neat feature where visitors can hint to someone that they themselves want to get a Fitbit as a gift.

fitbit gift guide.png

12) John Lewis

British retailer John Lewis didn’t give its homepage a holiday makeover, but by tailoring each module to the season, it makes it hard for site visitors to navigate away before looking at the brand’s products and projects ideas.

The main module above the fold features festive holiday decorations with a suggestion to look into the kitchen and home goods to prepare for big family meals. Just below, John Lewis features helpful information about delivery dates for ordering holiday gifts and the bonus that it offers free shipping.

We also love the “Be Inspired” section featuring travel and style ideas that don’t advertise John Lewis products outright but instead, provide helpful content in the true inbound marketing way.

johnlewisholiday.png

13) HP

We can’t guarantee that HP’s holiday homepage video won’t make you cry, but we can say that it’s a unique and heartfelt spin on traditional holiday marketing. HP’s homepage is another example of a site keeping the page minimally decorated with only their featured video, “Reinvent Giving,” above the fold.

The touching video features a brother using HP technology to come up with the perfect gift for his brother, who is hard of hearing — a guitar set that displays flashing lights when played so his brother can see himself playing music, even if he can’t hear it. Emotion in advertising is effective, especially around the holiday season — everyone has a friend or family member they want to find the perfect gift for.

hp holiday.png

14) Madewell

The image and header on Madewell’s homepage are very much in line with the company’s typical branding: a model wearing a gorgeous dress in front of a neutral background, accompanied by a holiday spin on their name in festive, embellished font.

This is both attractive to first-time visitors who are greeted with simple imagery and user experience, as well as returning users, who expect a design like this but still appreciate the added holiday touches. The #giftwell hashtag prompts visitors to start a conversation about their shopping experiences on social media, which fosters a sense of brand loyalty.

Madewell_Holiday.png

15) Warby Parker

Warby Parker stuck to the basics of beautifully simple design in its seasonal homepage redesign. “Winter 2016” is the simple headline, which showcases a man dressed in winter apparel, set with a whole lot of negative space to draw attention to the details of his outfit — and namely, his glasses.

While the primary CTA is still its usual “Shop Now,” you’ll notice a secondary CTA as you scroll that introduces “We Like It, We Love It: Warby Parker Editions.” This social proof compels visitors to click, leading them to a curated list of fun holiday gift ideas, such as dog toys and books, including one the brand published called “50 Ways to Lose Your Glasses.” This section is unique because Warby Parker is selling items different from what it usually sells to help valued customers fulfill their holiday shopping lists, which is a neat way to foster brand loyalty.

warbyholidayhomepagefinal.png

Finally, Warby Parker’s responsive design gives mobile users a pleasant holiday shopping experience. According to Google, 53% of people who shopped online in 2014 used smartphones or tablets, and mobile searches about products while shoppers are still in the store have increased 30%.

The numbers are expected to rise this year, especially now that more people are searching Google on their smartphones than on desktop, so be sure your website is mobile-friendly in time for the holidays.

warbyparker-1.png

(To see more examples of ways ecommerce businesses have redesigned their websites for the holidays, check out this library of examples on Crayon.co.)

Oh, and one more thing: As you plan your own website design strategy for the holidays, be sure to plan and prepare your site for higher-than-normal traffic. The last thing you want is for your site to go down during a time when you hope to be doing great business.

What great homepage redesigns have you see this holiday season? Share with us in the comments.

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

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

Dec

1

2016

Mapping a #GivingTuesday Follow-up Plan

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Giving Tuesday is one of the biggest donation days of the year. Once it’s over, don’t let its impact fade away. Sure, you’ve seen a boost in donations off your Giving Tuesday campaign, but you’ve also gotten so much more value you can use to advance your organization’s mission.

Once the Giving Tuesday campaign itself is over, have a follow-up plan that keeps the value growing throughout the next year. Here are four pieces to a successful post-Giving Tuesday plan.

1) Run An Engagement Campaign For People Who Donated On Giving Tuesday

Donating is a strong expression of interest. Run a targeted campaign for the Giving Tuesday donors to get them further engaged with your organization. This is not a campaign asking for more money. Too soon.

A Giving Tuesday donor campaign can start with a special thank you for making the day so special. Share some details about what was achieved that day: how much was donated, where that money is going and whom it will help.

Create some image or emoji-laden social content that announces what a rock star they are for having given to your organization on Giving Tuesday. Then encourage them to share the pre-fabbed social content via their own social media profiles. Instead of “I voted” stickers we get on election day, these are the “I donated…” or “I gave to…” social media updates.

If you have events or volunteer opportunities, you might center your campaign around getting them involved in them. Frame it as not just an opportunity for them to be involved, but for your organization to be able to meet its great donors in person and thank them personally.

2) Build Content About How The Donations Will Be Used, Showing Maximum Impact

Some of this content can be used in your Giving Tuesday donor campaign, as well as other targeted campaigns or general social media content.

Start with an eye-catching infographic that shares interesting tidbits about what you raised on Giving Tuesday and how that translates to the good your nonprofit does. Does your program run a program providing after-school tutoring to students in need? How many more students and tutoring hours will the donations support? Let people see what the money will do.

Will the money be used for building improvements or at a physical location? Take a video and give a tour of where and how the money will create more or enhanced resources for the community. As the improvements get made, post update videos they can share too.

3) Plan How To Re-Engage This Year’s Donors For Other Giving Occasions

Just because you’re not asking your Giving Tuesday donors for another donation right now, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. You’d be silly not to prep them for a future ask. 

When you think about a donation campaign for this group, it might be worthwhile to segment them further. For example, new donors and repeat donors, by amount of donation, whether they engaged with your engagement campaign, or got involved in other ways with your organization since their Giving Tuesday donation. It makes sense that these different groups would get different messaging.

What you know they all have in common is that they’re motivated by group action and social media events. You might think about building a donation campaign around another meaningful event or even otherwise ordinary social media meme (#WednesdayWisdom, anyone?). An animal rescue group might build something around National Puppy Day (it’s coming up in March). There’s day for everything. Find one that’s relevant to your group.

If you have an annual event that attracts higher dollar donors, put together a prep email campaign for the Giving Tuesday donors that were on the high end. The email campaign can start with content from previous years’ events and build up to the save the date and ask. 

4) Report On Your Giving Tuesday Results So You Know Which Marketing Efforts Worked Best

Run. Analyze. Refine. That’s the mantra for every marketing campaign and it’s no different for Giving Tuesday. Hopefully, you set some campaign goals and identified important metrics pre-campaign. Regardless of outcome, look at each piece of content and point of outreach to see how well it performed. Or who it performed well with and who it didn’t.

What devices did most of your converted traffic come from? Which social media channels were most responsive? Did videos perform better than blog posts? How did the conversion rates on different Giving Tuesday emails vary? 

What can you learn about the new donors each campaign tactic attracted? What are the common demographic or psychographic denominators you can find? 

Do a post-mortem that ends with actionable takeaways you can implement right now and to execute an even better Giving Tuesday campaign next year.

You Don’t Have To Wait ‘Til Next Year

We’re not just talking to you Cubs fans out there. Giving Tuesday might just be an annual campaign, but you can incorporate it into marketing campaigns all year long. From content you can build around its impact on your mission to leveraging the new donor data gathered – Giving Tuesday is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Blogging for Nonprofits

Dec

1

2016

How to Fix Your Agency’s Low Morale Problem

As an agency leader, do you have a plan for what you’d do if 30-50% of your employees quit?

You might be at risk right now, according to the latest Campaign US survey on agency employee morale.

To summarize from this recent HubSpot article on the growing agency morale problem:

  • Nearly half of all agency employees report having “low” or “dangerously low” morale in 2016 — up from one-third in 2015.
  • Roughly 30% of agency employees are actively looking for new jobs. (I venture that even more would leave if approached with a strong opportunity.)
  • The top three causes of low morale were company leadership (73%), lack of advancement (45%), and dissatisfaction with work (38%).

Now that we know there’s a problem, how do we solve it? Subscribe to HubSpot's Agency newsletter today.

The good news is that the top causes of low morale are primarily within your control — so you can fix them at your agency.

How to Fix Your Agency’s Low Morale Problem

1) Assess your own management and leadership skills.

As Manager Tools notes: “The definition of an Effective Manager is to achieve results while retaining your team members.”

Be honest with yourself — are you getting results and retaining your team? If you’re seeing only one of those (or neither), you probably have gaps as a leader and manager.

According to Glassdoor, a former agency owner spent most of his time at the race track instead of leading his agency. That’s not a good message for employee morale.

You may need to get perspective from someone outside your agency — we often lack perspective on ourselves. You can reach out to a business partner, your romantic partner, a business coach, or a “frenemy” at another agency. But you have to make it safe for them to share honest feedback, or else you’re defeating the purpose.

Be aware that their perspective may hurt at first. In my first 360 review as a manager, current and past colleagues said I was good at getting things done… but not at making it fun for everyone else. That wasn’t fun to hear, but taking it to heart meant I could start improving.

2) Hire people to fill in your gaps as a leader.

Improving your weaknesses only goes so far. I believe managers should focus on maximizing their strengths, and then recruit others to balance out their weaknesses.

If you’re great at sales and big-picture thinking, but you struggle with operations, you’ll probably never become great at operations. And you’re also unlikely to enjoy operations anyway. Instead, hire a great operations personsomeone who excels at the things you don’t enjoy.

If you’re great at operations but struggle at people-related nuances, get help. At the very least, seek out insights from someone with better people skills before you roll-out an agency-wide initiative that might make people unhappy.

Reflect for a moment: What are your gaps as an agency leader? How might you ask current and future team members to help you fill those gaps?

3) Help your middle managers upgrade their management skills.

When I speak with front-line employees at agencies, I see a pattern of problems around middle management. Often, the executive leadership team is good at managing people — but the middle managers aren’t always as competent.

Part of the issue is usually the agency’s fault. If you promote people who aren’t ready to manage others, it’s not surprising that your new managers will struggle. Give your middle managers the tools they need to succeed, and be ready to coach them on coaching their employees.

Don’t assume they know what you’ve learned over the years. I share 31 tips for managers in my book Made to Lead, but knowing is only the beginning — people still need to practice management every day.

Find ways to observe your middle managers as they manage. Management is a “learn by doing” profession. You want to provide spot feedback (privately) to help people improve while situations are fresh.

4) Show employees how they fit into your agency’s future.

When I do anonymous Employee Culture Surveys at agencies, I often get feedback that employees feel confident about their agency’s future… but they’re unclear how they fit into that future.

Alleviating employee stress around the future depends on your agency’s headcount and your growth plans. When an agency has 10 people, there’s not much room for promotions — everyone’s doing a bit of everything, and it doesn’t make sense to have a large layer of middle managers. In contrast, a 50-person agency typically has plenty of room for employee advancement.

If you’re currently small and likely will be for the immediate future, be honest about your plans. Some people will choose to leave, but you can turn it into a controlled departure instead of a sudden departure.

If you’re growing, map out the future org chart and team structure. Identify where you’re going, and what the transition roles might look like. Then, speak with employees about the agency’s future, along with each person’s individual professional goals.

5) Commit to improving work/life balance.

Work/life balance was the key factor among high-morale employees in the Campaign US survey. Improving work/life balance won’t fix morale if you’re also a terrible manager, but it’s the next place to look once you’ve started to improve yourself.

How many hours are your employees working? According to my research on agency workloads via Inbound.org, most agency people are working less than 50 hours a week. A significant minority (23%) are working more than 60 hours a week, but that’s not the norm.

Apart from occasional spikes, long workweeks may be a sign that you’re understaffed, that people aren’t billing enough, or that you’re doing a bad job at project management.

Work/life balance is about flexibility, too. Are you focused on results… or expecting butts-in-seats facetime? The workweek can feel longer when employees feel unnecessarily chained to their desk.

6) Send (and act on) employee satisfaction surveys.

If you don’t know how your team is doing, it’s harder to improve. Keep in mind that perception is reality — employee morale is about what employees think and feel, not what you think and feel as an agency leader.

Because I want my team to be happy, I regularly check-in to ask how things are going by sending a “satisfaction check-in.” I ask team members the following five questions to find out how happy they are with their work, and what I can do better as a leader.

  1. What’s working?
  2. What’s not working?
  3. What should I do differently?
  4. Do you see any opportunities or gaps in the business that I am (or might be) missing?
  5. Anything else you’d like to share?

Based on their answers, I can improve my leadership and management, as well as improve the business overall.

You can conduct simple employee surveys yourself, or you can use an employee engagement tool.

7) Invest in professional development.

Spending cash and time on professional development pays off in two ways. First, it helps employees improve their skills — which means they’re better at helping your agency’s clients. Second, it shows employees you’re investing in their future — whether they stay or go.

The right budget and time allocation will depend on your agency’s lifecycle. But regardless of the amount, I typically see a strong payoff for agencies.

Don’t forget to include management and leadership coaching. Once you equip your team with more skills and experience, it also makes it easier to promote from within — which helps solve the “lack of advancement” morale problem.

8) Conduct (and act on) exit interviews.

Your best efforts won’t keep everyone — and that’s okay. It’s normal to have at least some employee turnover. (You might expect 10-25% annual employee turnover, depending on the size of your agency.)

When someone says they’re leaving, don’t try to convince them to stay — they’ve already made up their mind. But you can use their experience to prevent other good team members from leaving.

Use exit interviews to find what you’re doing wrong, and fix whatever the problem is as well as you can.

It’s important that you act on what you learn. If you tend to take things personally, you should delegate the exit interview process to another member of your leadership team.

Applying These Tactics at Your Agency

If you’ve observed an employee morale problem — or suspect one is festering — you can solve it.

To do this, you need to identify the underlying cause(s) and then take action. The solutions are often free or inexpensive, but they require you to commit to improving as a leader and a manager.

Don’t underestimate the time it will take to fix things — some changes can happen immediately, but others can take months of consistent action, especially when it involves regaining employees’ trust.

Leadership development can feel painful at first, but it pays off with better employee retention and results. Ultimately, you’ll enjoy work more — and you can see a higher payday if you ultimately choose to sell your agency.

What will you change first at your agency to boost employee morale? Let us know in the comments.

creative-brief-cta

Nov

30

2016

8 Proven Ways to Stay Focused in A Busy Office

ThinkstockPhotos-506435716-519714-edited.jpgIt can be hard to stay focused in a busy office. There’s always something going on–meetings, conversations, or donuts to eat in the kitchen. Not to mention your coworkers coming up to you to ask about your job. The nerve people have! Fortunately, you don’t actually have to be available to your coworkers all the time. There are proven ways to keep yourself on task while keeping others away from you at the same time.

You’re not wrong if you think you might be spending a bit too much time on non work related tasks. A study found 89% of employees admit to wasting time at work, and of those, 2% waste 5 hours a day. There’s a chance there’s a guy hanging around your office getting paid to pretend to work.

Before we discuss how to keep yourself on task, you might be wondering what people are doing all day if they aren’t working. The study also uncovered that:

  • A married employee was looking at a dating web site and then denied it while it was still up on his computer screen
  • An employee was caring for her pet bird that she smuggled into work
  • An employee was shaving her legs in the women’s restroom
  • An employee was laying under boxes to scare people
  • Employees were having a wrestling match
  • A sleeping employee claimed he was praying
  • An employee was changing clothes in a cubicle
  • An employee was printing off a book from the Internet
  • An employee was warming her bare feet under the bathroom hand dryer

So, in an effort to protect you from yourself and those around you, here are some ways to stay focused.

1) Put On Headphones

Headphones tell the world, I am too busy for other people’s noise. Become visibly annoyed if anyone requests you remove them. Bonus points if you play them loudly enough that it sounds like your own personal desk concert.

2) Grow Plants

Try creating a forest around you made of various plants, or perhaps grow a hedge. You won’t be able to look out, and no one will be able to look in. Is she or he in the office today? Everyone will wonder, no one will know.

3) Practice Quiet Hours

If you can’t beat ‘em, set strict rules they must follow. Enforce quiet time for a few hours a day to give everyone the chance to listen to Jerry’s heavy breathing. No chips or crunchy snacks allowed. Be very fanatical about it so people know you’re serious.

4) Change Your Environment

Outside influences like air temperature, air quality, smells and colors can affect your focus. Take it upon yourself to make office updates. Purchase air filters, light Pine scented candles (the scent is proven to increase alertness!), and paint the walls around you a productive shade of blue.

In an effort to not cut into your work time, make your renovations at night when everyone else has gone home for the day. What a surprise when they show up in the morning! Don’t worry, your company will surely foot the bill.

5) Use Privacy Accessories

2414194397_70687f33c2_o.jpg

Pick up a computer privacy hoodie. This guarantees no will try to talk to you – not now, not ever!

6) Write a To-Do List

And then throw it out the window! Clients and coworkers will ask you to complete other high priority tasks that they need RIGHT THIS MINUTE PLEASE. This is okay. The point is, for a few moments while writing out your list you will feel in charge of your life.

7) Keep Your Desk Organized

Keep your desk clean and your mind uncluttered. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to clean your desk just so and to put things back where they belong. Inspect each item’s placement carefully. If they are moved the next morning, you know Susan has been messing with your things and she had better stop calling you paranoid.

8) Drink Coffee

Drinking coffee helps you concentrate and keeps you alert. Just be sure not to drink it within the first two hours of waking up, as this is when your body’s natural adrenaline keeps you awake and coffee can interrupt this cycle. Also avoid drinking it before any big meetings or on an empty stomach – you don’t want to be running to the bathroom all meeting, or coming across as a jittery or anxious. Never drink coffee after 1pm, it can keep you from falling asleep at night and cause a vicious cycle of becoming exponentially more tired with every day that passes!

If you really are looking for some ways to stay productive, Hubspot Partner Big Sea put together the tips their team of designers, developers, and marketers uses to get stuff done.

Nov

30

2016

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

facebook-ads-that-work.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

4 Components of Successful Facebook Ads

1) It’s visual.

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

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

2) It’s relevant.

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

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

3) It includes an enticing value proposition.

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

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

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

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

The 3 Primary Formats for Facebook Ads (With Examples)

Format 1: The Right Column Ad

Right Column Facebook Placement.png

Source: Facebook

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

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


Club W FB Ad.png

Here’s what makes this ad great:

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

Format 2: The Desktop News Feed Ad

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

Source: Facebook

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

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

amazon newsfeed litter box.png

Here’s what makes this ad great:

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

Format 3: The Mobile News Feed Ad

Mobile Facebook Ad Placement.png

Source: Facebook

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

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

NYT mobile ad.jpg

Here’s what makes this ad great:

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

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

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

1) The Facebook Video Ad

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

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

kayjewelersfinalgif.gif

Why this works:

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

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

2) The Photo Ad

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

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

naturebox-1

Why this works:

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

3) The Multi-Product Ad

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

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

shutterfly

Why this works:

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

4) The Local Ad

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

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

Take this ad for example from Mizzou Campus Dining:

ScreenShot2015-03-29at2.12.59PM

Why this works:

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

5) The Offer Ad

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

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

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

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

BSCad.jpg

Why this works:

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

6) The Event Ad

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

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

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

event facebook ad

Why this works:

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

7) The Retargeting Ad

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

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

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

Adrianna Papell wedding dress ad.png

Why this works:

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

8) The Boosted Post

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

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

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

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

bustle learn more ad.png

Why this works:

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

Getting Started

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

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

Now, stop reading and start creating.

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

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

free guide to facebook advertising

 
learn the science of successful facebook ads

Nov

30

2016

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

facebook-ads-that-work.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

4 Components of Successful Facebook Ads

1) It’s visual.

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

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

2) It’s relevant.

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

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

3) It includes an enticing value proposition.

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

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

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

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

The 3 Primary Formats for Facebook Ads (With Examples)

Format 1: The Right Column Ad

Right Column Facebook Placement.png

Source: Facebook

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

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


Club W FB Ad.png

Here’s what makes this ad great:

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

Format 2: The Desktop News Feed Ad

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

Source: Facebook

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

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

amazon newsfeed litter box.png

Here’s what makes this ad great:

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

Format 3: The Mobile News Feed Ad

Mobile Facebook Ad Placement.png

Source: Facebook

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

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

NYT mobile ad.jpg

Here’s what makes this ad great:

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

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

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

1) The Facebook Video Ad

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

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

kayjewelersfinalgif.gif

Why this works:

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

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

2) The Photo Ad

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

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

naturebox-1

Why this works:

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

3) The Multi-Product Ad

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

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

shutterfly

Why this works:

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

4) The Local Ad

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

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

Take this ad for example from Mizzou Campus Dining:

ScreenShot2015-03-29at2.12.59PM

Why this works:

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

5) The Offer Ad

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

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

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

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

BSCad.jpg

Why this works:

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

6) The Event Ad

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

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

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

event facebook ad

Why this works:

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

7) The Retargeting Ad

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

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

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

Adrianna Papell wedding dress ad.png

Why this works:

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

8) The Boosted Post

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

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

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

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

bustle learn more ad.png

Why this works:

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

Getting Started

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

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

Now, stop reading and start creating.

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

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

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Nov

30

2016

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

phone-interview-questions.jpg

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

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

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

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

PHONE-INTERVIEW-1.png

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

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