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May

24

2017

9 Inbound Marketing Stats You Need to Know in 2017 [New Data]

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

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The inbound movement has always been about one thing: being relevant and truly helpful to your audience.

This approach shouldn’t change, but as technology and internal company relationships change, marketers and salespeople must learn how to adapt to better serve their customers.

To better understand how our relationships with consumers and coworkers are changing, we collected data from more than 6,300 marketers and salespeople from around the globe, which we’ve compiled in the 2017 State of Inbound report. It examines the relationship between company leadership and employees, details on collaboration between marketing and sales teams, and a look at what the industry’s foremost marketers are adding to their strategy in the coming year.

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Check out the full report here, or view some of the most interesting highlights below.

9 Stats You Need to Know From the 2017 State of Inbound Report

1) 68% of inbound marketers believe their organization’s marketing strategy is effective. [Tweet this]

Last year, we started to examine marketers’ thoughts on their organizations’ marketing strategy and found that inbound marketers are much more likely to be satisfied with their organization’s approach.

We’re happy to report that this trend continued. 68% of inbound marketers believe their organization’s marketing strategy is effective. However, the majority of outbound marketers (52%) do not think their strategy is effective.

2) 1/3 of marketers think outbound marketing tactics are overrated. [Tweet this]

It’s not simply the effectiveness of the inbound philosophy that encourages us, but the success of inbound when compared to alternative methods. Each year, marketers tell us that outbound practices are overrated.

While we admit we might be a bit biased, when we cut the data, marketers agreed. According to this year’s data, 32% of marketers rank outbound marketing practices such as paid advertising as the top waste of time and resources.

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3) C-level executives and individual contributors disagree about the effectiveness of their organizations’ marketing strategy. [Tweet this]

Over the years, we’ve continued to examine the relationship between marketers and salespeople. This year, we discovered an interesting trend in the data: Company leadership and individual contributor employees are struggling under a growing corporate chasm.

This means that leadership and employees often view their company, its performance, and its future very differently. For example, while 69% of C-level executives believe their organizations’ marketing strategies are effective, only 55% of individual contributors agree. Leaders who want their business to grow must learn how to effectively communicate the organization’s vision and goals with their employees.

4) Marketers struggle most with metrics-driven challenges. [Tweet this]

Marketers find tracking and making sense of their metrics a challenge. This year, 63% of marketers admit that their top challenge is generating enough traffic and leads. This is followed by 40% who struggle proving the ROI of marketing activities and 28% who are trying to secure enough budget.

All three of these top challenges are metrics-driven. Without the proper tools to track concrete campaign results, these areas will continue to be a struggle.

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5) Organizations with an SLA are more than 3X as likely to be effective. [Tweet this]

When we began publishing this report nine years ago, much of our data revolved around the adoption of inbound marketing. As the message spread, we began to see why it’s crucial for both marketing and sales teams to adopt the inbound methodology together. One of the main ways this is done is through a service-level agreement (SLA).

Despite the fact that only 22% of organizations say they have a tightly-aligned SLA, the benefits of having one are clear: 81% of marketers with as SLA think their marketing strategy is effective. In fact, there is no combination of factors more strongly correlated with marketing success than being both inbound and having an SLA.

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6) 38% of salespeople say getting a response from prospects is getting harder. [Tweet this]

While marketers struggle with tracking the metrics of their campaigns, salespeople admit that getting a response from prospects is a growing challenge. However, as you dive deeper into the data, you see the problem starts long before salespeople begin contacting prospects.

38% of salespeople say that they struggle most with prospecting. While there is an abundance of new technology and platforms to help salespeople connect and develop relationships with prospects, many are finding it difficult to incorporate this technology into their daily routine. In fact, 19% of salespeople say they’re struggling to incorporate social media in their sales process, and 13% say using sales technologies is now harder than it used to be.

7) Marketers think video and messaging apps have the potential to disrupt. [Tweet this]

As marketers prepare for the future, many plan to use a variety of content publishing platforms. In the past, content marketers poured their efforts into their email, website, and blog strategies. But with the rising trend of content decentralization, marketers are now seeing the benefit of publishing on a variety of channels.

In our study, marketers are paying more attention to video’s global appeal, with 48% planning on investing in YouTube and 39% looking to add Facebook video to their strategy. In addition, many marketers are experimenting with messaging apps, while others continue to focus on more visual platforms such as Instagram.

But don’t think the age of the blog is over. 53% of respondents say blog content creation is one of their top inbound marketing priorities.

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8) 45% of salespeople say they spend over an hour performing manual data entry. [Tweet this]

Getting a response from prospects is not the only challenge salespeople are facing. According to our 2017 data, 45% of salespeople say they spend over an hour performing manual data entry. Another 23% of salespeople say their biggest challenge using their CRM is manual data entry.

The more time salespeople spend on data entry, the less time they have to do what they are skilled at: closing deals. Not only is manual data entry time consuming, it can also be detrimental to the business. Storing contacts in an unorganized way or not properly using a CRM can lead to a disjointed sales strategy. Businesses should look to sales tools that include automation, integrate with their other platforms, and provide insight into the full customer journey.

9) Marketers and salespeople don’t see eye to eye on the quality of marketing-sourced leads. [Tweet this]

We know there’s a disconnect between marketing and sales teams around the definition of a quality lead, but this year’s report shows a drastic gap.

59% of marketers say they provide salespeople with very high-quality leads, but only 25% of salespeople agree. In fact, the majority of salespeople — from the C-suite to individual contributors — rank marketing leads last, behind referrals and sales-sourced leads. This data continues to highlight the importance of SLAs.

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Want more data-backed insights? This is just a preview of the State of Inbound report. Download the report for free to discover how inbound marketing and sales is evolving.

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

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May

23

2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


B2B Customer Marketing Trends


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May

17

2017

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

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

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

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

The way your customer shops and buys is drastically changing.

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

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

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

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

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

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May

16

2017

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

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

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

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

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

What Is Account-Based Marketing?

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

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

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

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

Are Inbound Marketing and Account-Based Marketing Antithetical?

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

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

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

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

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

Where Do Inbound Marketing and Account-Based Marketing Diverge?

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

They diverge in two places.

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

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

How Can I Do Account-Based Marketing?

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

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

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Identify

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

Expand

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

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

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

Engage

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

Advocate

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

Measure

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

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

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May

10

2017

Creative Work Relies on Failure

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

Everyone wants to be creative, yet many of us are too fearful to pursue our most creative ideas. Why? Our fearful reaction is not a matter of choice — it’s often a knee-jerk reaction that can be attributed to our biology.

According to Adobe’s State of Create report, “At work, there is tension between creativity and productivity.” That could have something to do with previous research indicating that there’s a natural association of uncertainty with ideas labeled as “creative,” and that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

So when you’re pursuing a creative path, this hurdle can feel insurmountable. How do you tackle and, ultimately, dismantle it?

Creativity vs. Fear of Failure

In my experience — and that of many creative professionals — the most familiar form of fear come is really that of failure. It’s a hesitancy to branch outside the norm and risk exposing yourself to the judgment of others. But that fear alone is not what inhibits your path to creativity. Not acknowledging is what’s truly damaging. Nelson Mandela summarized that notion quite well: 

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

The traditional narrative about the creative process tends to leave out fear. We hear about and romanticize the lone genius’ bursts of inspiration but that isn’t always accurate. As David and Tom Kelley note in Creative Confidence, “A widely held myth suggests that creative geniuses rarely fail.” They go on to cite UC Davis Professor of Psychology Keith Simonton, who found that many of the world’s most famous creative people — like composer Wolfgang Mozart and scientist Charles Darwin don’t give up at the first sign of failure. Rather, they keep experimenting until they find what works.

That’s one of the things that makes fear a necessary and important part of creative work — learning how to work with it. Unfortunately, in many organizations, fear tends to dominate, often stifling what could have been some of our most creative work. Only 4 in 10 employees would even describe themselves as creative, and out of those who do, less than half think they’re “living up to their creative potential.” Those are forms of fear, and even if you’re not aware of it, you’ve likely let it take control before. 

But how do you recognize it? Here are some familiar “traps” you might be falling into.

Letting Fear Hinder Your Creativity

Scenario

In the middle of a brainstorm, someone pitches an off-the-wall idea that the whole team thinks is edgy and hilarious. These ideas are often followed by a flurry of enthusiastic statements that start with things like, “what if we….” or, “imagine if…”. Despite the team’s excitement, you decide the client will think it’s too offbeat, so you pitch your safer — a.k.a., less creative — plan B.

When you focus on what seems like the safer path and make decisions purely based on risk-avoidance, you lose sight of supporting your actual objective. That’s common in group dynamics, and even has a name: Groupthink, which occurs “when a group values harmony and coherence over accurate analysis and critical evaluation,” according to Psychology Today. It’s often masked as rational thinking, but playing it safe is actually the enemy of good creative work — the more you stay in the same place, the less effective your work becomes. Conversely, doing good creative work requires comfort with risk.

Letting Fear Dictate Your Creativity

Scenario

Your competitor releases a new product or service, or updates its branding/website, thereby staking its claim as the industry leader. Your fear of being outshined prompts a response focused solely on beating your competition, instead of doing what’s going to benefit your customers — and therefore, your business — the most.

While most people are aware that their respective brands must constantly innovate and evolve, letting fear control your efforts is also dangerous. When fear fuels your motivation and objectives, your work can become less meaningful due to a lack of passion or enthusiasm behind it. Plus, spending an unbalanced amount of time trying to keep up on every trend saps your resources and focus. When you succumb to fear, you often end up paying the price in the long run, with results like a bad user experience or looking like a copycat. As Karen Martin wrote in her book The Outstanding Organization, “When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.”

Why You Need Failure

Yes, there is a right way to fail. When you creatively experiment — just as Mozart and Darwin did — there are times that you will fail. But when you fail in this manner, you learn from it. For this reason, it is important to accept and even honor your creative failures. View them not as a hindrance to creative success, but as a powerful conduit that gets you closer to your goal next time around. Accept that failure is an option, and one that you are quite capable of recovering from, with the right perspective.

In my experience, the only way to overcome your fear — or at least prevent it from sabotaging your day-to-day — is to reframe it. When you think of the framework for failure, replace the word “failure” with “learn.” That approach encourages confidence and a willingness to learn, which are vital for high-quality creative work.

At my company, C5, our vision is to help build a world where everyone can have a healthy and fulfilled life. We take this mission seriously in the work we create, the clients we work with, and the way we interact with each other. But “healthy” and “fulfilled” don’t have to translate to “rainbows and sunshine.” Fulfillment really comes from the fruit of your labor, which only grows through hard work and, sometimes, results that you weren’t hoping for. Knowing that, we believe that sometimes rising to the challenge is its own reward.

In our organization, we are pursuing an effort to remove unnecessary sources of fear and anxiety from how we approach our work. Letting our creativity come to front doesn’t mean we do things flippantly, take uncalculated risks, or play roulette. But we do cultivate environments in which we can take intentional risks.

We’ve outlined some of the pieces that, to us, comprise a calculated risk.

Determining Objectives of the Situation at Hand

Naturally, your actions are influenced by your goals. But creativity can always be cultivated within confines. In fact, structure is often beneficial. Just because you have always done something one way, doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it. When strategizing how best to achieve a goal, consider alternate solutions, try new methods, and conducts A/B tests. For example, when Microsoft Internet Explorer requested an infographic from our agency, we ended up pitching a video concept, instead, because we felt it would deliver the message more effectively. The client agreed, and the “Child of the ‘90s” spot we created for them garnered over 49 million views.

Learning to Operate From a Place of Conviction and Commitment

If you have a unique or unusual creative idea, lead with confidence. Whether you’re pitching it to a client or trying to secure budget from management, if you drown in self-doubt at every stage, it’s likely to show. You should certainly listen to valid objections, but remember that passion and enthusiasm are contagious. Again — Microsoft would have surely rejected our pitch had we not made a well-supported, confident case for it.

Allowing the Freedom to Fail, Learn, and Grow

Nurturing an environment that not only encourages but demands experimentation is vital to push your creative boundaries. You can help cultivate this at every touch point in your organization, whether it means building out longer timelines, schedule regular out-of-the-box brainstorms, or encourage employees to work on their own passion projects. Pushing your team to experiment will only benefit you. Our agency has even closed up shop for a “hack day,” during which everyone — from accountants to designers — collaborated on creative solutions in a consequence-free environment.

Be Brave

As you face creative challenges, I encourage you not to give into fear — in fact, give it a chance. Without fear, there is no bravery. And without bravery, no risks are taken. And you can’t improve if you aren’t taking risks. Learn from what doesn’t work, and use it to build something even better.

What are some of the creatively-charged risks you’ve taken? Let us know in the comments.

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May

4

2017

How to Design & Optimize Landing Pages [Free Ebook]

Published by in category Inbound Marketing, Landing Pages, lead generation | Comments are closed

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Landing pages are an essential component of any well-crafted, effective inbound marketing strategy. Whether your goal is to generate leads, sell products, or collect data, your landing pages are where the action happens.

With the growing challenge of attracting and holding people’s attention online, it’s more important than ever to design your landing pages to trigger instant conversions. Otherwise, you won’t be able to gather information about the people visiting your website — which will in turn make it very difficult to understand them, market to them, nurture them, determine how fit they are for your product or service, and ultimately convert them into paying customers.

Want to start generating as many leads as you can for your business? Then it’s crucial that your landing pages are planned, designed, executed, and always working correctly. If you want to learn more about how to do just that, then you’ve come to the right place. We just released a brand new guide: How to Design & Optimize Landing Pages. 

This free ebook will teach you:

  • What landing pages are and why they’re important.
  • What an optimized landing page looks like (with examples).
  • How to A/B test your landing pages.
  • How to measure the success of your landing pages.

Ready to build high-converting landing pages for your website? Download our free introductory ebook on landing page design and optimization and you’ll have all the knowledge you need to start boosting your site conversions today.

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Apr

29

2017

9 Link Building Email Outreach Templates That Actually Work

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

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Thanks for joining me here on the HubSpot Marketing Blog today. I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you all a few things you might not know about me.

I’m ambidextrous (I can write with both hands), I’m the adoptive mother of three cats (one of whom is named Kitty), and before coming to HubSpot, I spent a lot of time writing and sending link building outreach emails.

New Call-to-action

Inbound links back to your website play an important role in achieving your inbound marketing goals. They also require strategy and diligent work to come by. I would know — I worked very hard to earn inbound links for a long time.

Whether you’re just starting out with inbound link building or you’re getting fatigued by nobody replying to your outreach emails, I wanted to help you out. I’ve created nine different templates for killer outreach emails that you can borrow and adapt for your own link building strategy.

What Is Link Building?

Before we dive into the templates, let’s quickly review the basics of inbound link building. If you’re already caught up to speed, skip ahead to check out the templates.

Inbound links, otherwise known as backlinks, are links pointing toward your website from another website.

Here’s an example: Check out this publishing volume experiment analysis on the Moz Blog. If you’ll notice, the previous sentence contains a link pointing toward Moz’s website. That’s a backlink. And if you read the article, you’ll notice it contains a link pointing back to our website here at HubSpot. That’s a backlink, too.

Now that we all understand what inbound links are, why are they important?

  1. Inbound links drive traffic to your website. In the example above, the HubSpot blog earned traffic from any of Moz’s blog readers who followed the link to HubSpot’s website.
  2. Inbound links improve your search engine rankings. Inbound links tell search engines that your website knows what it’s talking about — otherwise, why would someone link to it? The more inbound links you earn from high-quality sites, the higher your website will rank in search engine results pages (SERP).

To sum up, inbound links are valuable because they help your website rank higher in search, which helps more people find your organization, start clicking around, and eventually become a lead.

Link building is the process of obtaining those inbound links. When your website is a high-powered, well-respected content engine, other sites and individuals online will link to your content organically — without you having to ask. But if you’re like a lot of other inbound marketers out there, your website still has a ways to go.

A dedicated link building strategy starts with an ask — usually via email — and that’s where these templates come in.

Link Building Outreach Rules

But before we get to the templates, some rules.

There are right and wrong ways to go about improving your site’s SEO, and inbound link building — when done correctly — is generally regarded as one of the right ways. You’re pitching your content to publications that might be interested in sharing it with different audiences. A backlink is just the cherry on top.

However, there are wrong ways to go about asking for inbound backlinks, and I want to make sure you sure understand the rules of the road before you start emailing.

1) The best way to generate quality backlinks is to publish exceptional content publishers organically cite.

That being said, a dedicated backlink outreach strategy can be helpful for newer websites or if you’re promoting a specific piece of exceptional content. The more content you produce and, in turn, promote with social media content and backlinks, the more search engine authority your site will accumulate.

2) Only pitch guest posts or backlinks that add value for the reader.

Instead of asking your contacts to randomly link back to your site somewhere on theirs, ask publishers if you can write for their blogs or conribute new ideas and data for content they’re already working on. Offers such as these will result in quality backlinks that provide readers with valuable information.

3) Send individualized emails to specific publishers.

Never, and I mean never, mass email an enormous contacts list with a pitch template. It’s spammy, impersonal, and likely won’t get you the results you want anyway. Adapt the templates below if you like them, but it’s critically important to individually craft specific emails for particular publishers.

The first step of your outreach process should always be researching publications and specific people who might be interested in your content. You shouldn’t start with typing up an email and sending it to everyone in your industry with a website. Read on for new ideas for how to ask for an inbound link — in ways that are polite, clever, and might just get you that backlink.

Note: These email templates are based on emails I’ve sent and received. Any references to industries, companies, or individuals are meant to illustrate these fictitious email examples.

9 Link Building Outreach Email Examples to Try

1) The preview

If you don’t have any connections with the person you’re pitching, offering a preview might be an effective way to share your content. With this type of email, you’re asking first if the recipient would like to see the piece of content you’d like them to link to. The key to getting a reply is making sure you’ve personalized your email and enticed the reader with enough details to get them to reach back out.

Interest in new infographic about social media stats?

Hi Sophia,

Happy Friday! I’m reaching out because I’m an avid reader of your work on the SocialVille blog — I loved your latest piece about social media news.

I just followed you on Twitter, and I saw you’ve been tweeting about Facebook’s F8 conference. What did you think of the event?

I work over at SocialWorld, where we conduct market research and collect data for social media analysts and experts. We recently produced an infographic detailing a breakdown of the social media market and what changes you can expect over the next year.

Would you be interested in checking it out? I’d love to see what you think.

Let me know if you’re interested, and I can send you the infographic to take a look.

Best, Jack

2) The exclusive offer

If you’ve produced new research or data with surprising or intriguing results, it might be worth pitching your content as an exclusive before pressing publish on your own blog. An exclusive offer to a top-ranking publication in your industry could get you a lot of traffic from a single link, so it might be worth adjusting or reconsidering your own publication schedule.

When pitching to top journalists whose inboxes are probably flooded, keep your subject lines detailed and your emails short to communicate as much information in as few words as possible.

Exclusive: New data about Snapchat ads

Hey Sophia,

I’ve been reading your coverage of the competition heating up between Snapchat and Instagram, and I wanted to let you know that we’re releasing new data about Snapchat ad usage this week.

Among other insights, we found a surprising number of brands and publishers that were regularly advertising and publishing on Snapchat have started transitioning over to Instagram, where they achieve higher ad clickthrough rates.

I’d be happy to give you exclusive early access to our full report to be the first to write about it on the blog this week — what do you think?

Best, Jack

3) The DYK

Everyone likes to learn a fun fact. Couch your pitch as a “did you know” moment to pique the recipient’s curiosity to read the rest of your content for more fun and new information. If you were able to teach them something new, they may want to feature your fresh insight for their own readers.

DYK bots are more popular than blogs?

Hi Sophia,

Did you know that there are more than 100,000 active bots on Facebook Messenger?

If you aren’t already communicating with your audience via Facebook Messenger, you could be missing out on an opportunity to provide better customer service — and faster.

We rounded up more Messenger bot usage stats in a new report that I’ve attached below. Do you think it would be a good fit for an article on the SocialVille blog? Thanks in advance for checking it out, and let me know if you have any questions.

Best, Jack

4) The personalized pitch

The most critical part of a successful outreach email is personalization. I’m not talking about addressing your email to the correct name and spelling everything correctly — although you should definitely do both of those things. By showing the recipient that you know who they are and what they’re about, your pitch reads as genuine, and you read as a comprehensive possible partner.

It’s easy to write, “I loved your last article about [subject],” but it takes some digging and understanding to write, “I love reading your monthly social media news series. Did you catch the latest Facebook update that came out today?” Make sure your email shows that you’ve taken the time to understand what the person is all about and what they regularly cover.

Hi from a fellow Snapchat diehard

Hi Sophia,

I know you’ve been closely following the social media smackdown between Snap Inc. and Facebook — and I know who we’re both rooting for. So I wanted to show you this interactive timeline we created that compares the growth trajectories of the two companies.

Snap Inc. is similar to Facebook in a lot of ways, but its path to growth into the billions is mired with more competition. But this competition hasn’t limited Snapchat’s engagement — users are spending up to half an hour a day inside the app.

I noticed that you publish a social media news roundup every month featuring the latest stories and research, and I wondered if you thought this timeline could be a good inclusion. Let me know if you have any questions about the data!

Thanks, Jack

5) The offer

Nobody likes having extra work on their plate, so why not pitch doing the work for them? If you pitch a great idea alongside an offer to write a guest post, the recipient might be more inclined to say “yes.” But remember to do your due diligence before pressing “send.” If the person you’re pitching has already written about a specific angle a few times before, make sure you’re pitching something new and different to avoid getting ignored.

Offer to write up new report for SocialVille?

Hey Sophia,

You’ve written previously about successful Facebook ads and headlines, and I wanted to share some new research my team has put together about effective Facebook ad copy. We found that Facebook ads under 20 words in length performed significantly better than longer ads, along with a ton of other eye-opening stats.

Do you think this would be a good fit for the SocialVille blog? I’d be happy to write it up for you to take the legwork out of it. Let me know if you’d like me to get started.

Thanks for your consideration, Jack

6) The mention

Everybody likes to see their name in print. A clever way to angle for a backlink is to mention a product or an individual in a published piece, then circle back and share it with them. Ask for their feedback to get them reading the post, and they might link to it or share it on social of their own accord.

Your data featured in our latest report

Hey Sophia,

I love reading your stuff on the SocialVille blog! In fact, we featured your recent data about the impact of tools on productivity in our report on the growth of productivity as a business — I’ve attached the PDF below, and we’ve also shared it on Twitter.

I wonder if you’d be able to check out the report and let me know what you think or if I missed any important stats.

Thanks in advance for checking it out, and thanks for such an interesting write-up.

Best, Jack

7) The social proof

Social proof is the concept that consumers will be influenced by what others are already doing. For example, if you head to the bottom of this blog post, you’ll notice that we ask you to subscribe, noting that 300,000 marketers have already subscribed. That’s social proof in action: You might be more likely to subscribe now that you know hundreds of thousands of people are already doing it.

So, if you’ve published a great piece of content that people are responding positively to, tell people that when you pitch it for backlinks. They might be more inclined to cite you if other people in their field are already doing so.

Guide to Instagram ad analytics

Hi Sophia,

I’m sure you get a lot of content submissions, but I wanted to bring to your attention to a new guide we released about the ins and outs of Instagram ad advertising.

This helpful how-to guide tells you everything you need to know about advertising on Instagram and how to drive ROI, in addition to sharing real-world examples of ads that delivered results. Shameless #humblebrag here — the guide has been downloaded more than 5K times and has been retweeted more than 4K times — so I wanted to make sure you had a chance to check it out.

Do you think it would be a good fit for the SocialVille blog? I’d love to get your thoughts.

Best, Jack

8) The joke

Tread carefully with humor, but if you’ve perused their social media and they seem like they would appreciate a goofy joke, it could be a smart way to get your recipient’s attention.

As in the rules of the workplace or cocktail parties, avoid making jokes about politics, religion, or anything rated PG-13 and up.

What do cats, cooking videos, and your latest blog post have in common?

… they all went viral on social media!

Forgive the silly joke, but I knew cats would get your attention. I loved your recent piece about social media predictions for the coming year, and I wondered if you’d given any thought to predictions for where SEO is headed, too.

Here at SearchWorld, we predict that AMP and machine-learning will take center stage in Google’s quest to make search easier and more intuitive for the searcher.

We put together a report about how SEO has evolved and other predictions for where we think it’s headed next, and I think it would be a great reference if you decide to write a follow-up piece about the future of SEO. I’ve attached the report below — take a look, and let me know if there are any changes you’d suggest!

Thanks in advance, Jack

9) The response

This is another risky outreach strategy, but it could pay off if you do it properly.

The ultimate way to demonstrate that you’re an avid reader (instead of just saying so) is to respond to someone’s work with an opinion — even if it’s divergent. Other options besides the counterpoint in the example below could include:

  • A case study of you taking their advice and applying it to your brand
  • A different content format on the same subject — for example, a video explainer instead of a blog post
Quick question about your Facebook F8 recap

Hey Sophia,

Thanks for writing such a thorough recap of Facebook’s F8 conference. It was super helpful for those of us who couldn’t attend in person or watch the live stream!

I thought you made an interesting point about the competition heating up between Facebook and Snap Inc., but I think you could be missing a bigger idea here. I think it’s not as much a competition for users as it is a competition for features innovation vs. features execution.

I wrote up my take on the brands’ competition on our blog today and cited your recap — would you like to take a look? Maybe we could collaborate together on a blog post or video on how social media marketers should best evaluate the two companies’ competing apps.

Thanks, Jack

Email Link Building Best Practices

So, you might have noticed that these aren’t the traditional templates you can copy and paste into your own inbox.

And that’s because I don’t want you to simply plug in these emails and replace them with your own pitch. Part of the reason successful link building takes time and effort is because you have to craft a personalized email every time. You should use the guidelines I’ve outlined above, but copying and pasting the same exact message is just bad news for all involved. Don’t do it.

Below are more of my link building outreach email best practices:

1) Edit, then edit again.

Nothing makes me less interested in responding to a pitch email than when there is immediately a typo or grammatical error as early as the subject line — or my name. Double-check to ensure that all names are spelled correctly, that capitalization is perfect (Hubspot vs. HubSpot), and that punctuation is perfect.

On the other side of editing, cut your email down wherever you can. It’s better for your email to be on the shorter side than too long, so try to delete any extra words and phrases that aren’t completely necessary.

2) Keep your subject lines short and sweet.

My rule of thumb for subject lines is to avoid making them complete sentences. Stick to the important details to communicate as much enticing information in as few words as possible. If your brand name is recognizable, make sure to name drop yourself, too.

3) Don’t fake flattery.

If it’s easy to tell when someone’s compliments are inauthentic in person, it’s even easier to tell via email. Don’t flatter people you’re contacting for the sake of it — genuinely compliment their work, their insights, or their achievements, and take the compliment a step further to add value with your own content.

4) Do the legwork before you send.

Demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about by doing your research before you press “send.” When you think you’ve found the right person to pitch, take some time to research what they’ve written about in the past and what they discuss on social media. Pay attention to timing, too. If an author has just written about social media statistics, they might not want to write about the same angle one week later, so try to bring a new or related pitch to the table.

5) Don’t follow up more than once or twice.

Let’s face it — we’re all busy. Even if your outreach email is impeccable, it could get lost in someone’s inbox during a busy morning. You should feel free to reach out once to follow up, but don’t go overboard in pestering someone if they’re not getting back to you. After one or two follow-ups, let your pitch go, and reach out to them with another pitch further down the line.

For more link building strategies and best practices, the pros over at Moz can point you in the direction of more replies and backlinks and fewer ignores and “no”s. For more must-have SEO strategies to tackle in 2017, check out our free guide here.

Do you have an email link building outreach email that got you great results? Share with us in the comments below.

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Apr

1

2017

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

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

digitaltrends2017-compressor.jpg

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

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

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

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

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



Digital_Trends_2017_green_pink.png


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Mar

29

2017

My Campaign Sucks…Now What?

Published by in category Inbound Marketing | Comments are closed

BestEmailCampaigns.jpgWe’ve all been there.

It took three months to launch that marketing campaign from start-to-finish.  Yes, there were many hurdles along the way, but you pulled it together with the help of your team and even launched on time. You pop the champagne and toast to a job well done.

A week goes by.  There is a little bit of action…maybe a top of the funnel (TOFU) form fill or two, but nothing to write home about.  After all, you’ve not collected nearly enough data to start compiling reports and making decisions.

A month passes. The campaign numbers still aren’t great.  Panic starts to set in.  Your client, your boss, and your team are getting antsy.  But has your campaign even run for long enough at this point to know whether or not it is performing well?  What does “long enough” mean?  Hell, what does “performing well” even mean?

Let’s get acclimated

Now, before we jump into campaign optimization or how to analyze performance, let’s make sure we’re talking apples to apples. I will start by defining what I mean by a “campaign” and touch on the evolution (and importance) of the buyer’s journey.

I appreciate the thoroughness but… I just want to optimize my campaign

Is your idea of a campaign the same as mine?

Let’s get aligned on this whole campaign idea. The word “campaign” is defined differently depending on your industry and your typical marketing practices.  To set a baseline, here is a definition that I like to use:  

Campaign (n.): A multi-touch digital ecosystem, aligned with the buyer’s journey, that helps marketers capture lead information, nurture and qualify leads, and finally empowers both the lead and the salesperson for a sales conversation.

Here are the key parts:

1) Multi-touch:

Your campaign should live across the various channels where your target personas spend their time (i.e. your website, paid advertising platforms, social media platforms, etc.) and include multiple touch points per channel.  One form on a single landing page is not a campaign.

2) Digital ecosystem

All pieces of your campaign should work together and constantly communicate with one another.  Ideally, the pieces are strategically managed via a clearly defined marketing-technology stack.  Check out the example below:

digital ecosystem.png

3) Aligned with the buyer’s journey

Your campaign should facilitate a seamless buyer’s journey, and more importantly, a journey that a consumer actually wants to go through.

buyerjournet.png 

4) Capture lead information

A typical lead capture transaction occurs when the marketer provides something of value to the potential lead in exchange for their contact information.

5) Nurture and qualify leads

This is the most complex part of a campaign (so we found a video to better explain below).  A good measure of how well you are doing with nurturing is the quality of your sales conversations.  The golden rule is: not everybody is ready to buy because they gave you their email, and you shouldn’t sell to somebody just because they are interested in your product. 

6) Empowers both the lead and salesperson

Primarily, your objective as a marketer is to prepare the lead for a sales conversation.  Secondly, to prepare your salesperson to have an effective sales conversation catered towards the potential buyer’s objectives (depending on your average sales cycle this process can take a day or several months).

If your campaign meets the above criteria, fantastic!  We are aligned.  If it doesn’t quite match up, no worries, I promise there are still plenty of valuable takeaways (including a free campaign optimization checklist).

Why should you care about the buyer’s journey?

If your campaign does not support the way your target persona wants to buy, it will be nearly impossible to see positive results.

The buyer’s journey has fundamentally changed.  Think about it, compare how you would buy a car today compared to ten years ago?  Or even how your parents bought their first car?

Things are changing in the world of buying and selling, and they’re changing at an exponential rate.

But why?

Two words: access & information.  One of my favorite marketing/sales influencers, Daniel Pink, sums it up nicely in his book “To Sell is Human.” 

Pink sums up his argument with the term “information asymmetry.”  Essentially, the cause of the change in buyer behavior is a result of the gradual shift of an informational advantage from the seller to the buyer.  In today’s economy, the buyer has all the power! 

What does this mean for our marketing?  Well, we need to ensure that our campaign is aligned with the way modern consumers make purchases.  If not, it is destined to fail.  So, before you worry about optimization, ensure your campaign assets and tone reflect this “seller beware” world.

For more information on how the buyer’s journey is evolving, and what we should do as marketers and salespeople, take a moment to watch the video below:

What should I do before my campaign launches?

Before a campaign ever launches it’s imperative to get our ducks in a row from an expectation standpoint.  Aligned expectations will improve the likelihood of a successful campaign.

The first step is to establish your campaign benchmarks—what you expect/desire to happen. These are your “expected values.” There are a several sources you can use to determine those benchmarks.

1) Your company’s historical campaign data (preferred)

No two businesses or industries are the same, so what better to use as a benchmark than your own company’s past performance?

2) Your closest competitor’s data

If you are fortunate enough to have access to this information, it’s a huge competitive advantage.  There are also tools out there, like SpyFu, to help you gather some key data points.

3) An Industry Standard

While industry averages are often grossly simplified, they are better than nothing at all!

Bonus: HubSpot recently launched a great tool that allows you to get benchmark data for email open rate across various industries.

4) Your best guesstimate

This is your last resort, but if necessary, make your best guess based on heuristics and what you know.  Here is a cool article on how heuristics can be applied to marketing.

What should you benchmark?

You should establish benchmarks for all key campaign metrics.  Some examples include: email open rate, form conversion rate, social media impressions, average time on page, etc.  However, they will vary based your specific campaign’s infrastructure. 

The golden rule: If a metric can be analyzed and potentially contribute to the success of a campaign’s objective, benchmark it!

Speaking of Campaign Objectives…

Yes, it’s true that most businesses market with the intention of increasing revenue.  But, not all campaigns are designed with this as the primary intention.  Other campaign objectives include increasing brand awareness, event attendance, asset downloads, and more.  Before determining the tactics and building the campaign infrastructure, ensure that all the stakeholders are aligned on its objectives.

Now, there are a few different values that will help you determine if you’ve reached your campaign objectives:

1) Goal valuesideal (but achievable) campaign performance metrics

2) Expected values – an accurate prediction of your campaign performance metrics

Hint: these are your benchmarks established in the “What should I do before my campaign launches?” section

3) Observed values – the real-world metrics you observe from your campaign

Let’s put numbers two and three aside for now, we’ll need them for statistical analysis later, and discuss establishing goal value statements.  Although it may be a little cliché, assure your goal statements meet the criteria of the tried and true S.M.A.R.T acronym.

Long story short, if your goal value statements match the S.M.A.R.T framework, you are off to a good start.  Rather than bore you with the gory details (here is a crash course on SMART goals), I’ll provide you with a quick example instead.

A bad goal value statement is: Achieve a good email click-through-rate for campaign nurture emails.

A good goal value statement is: Achieve a click-through-rate of 2% on nurture email #3 within 90 days of campaign launch.

After you have established all the necessary goal value statements, be certain your stakeholders are also aware of them.  You can do document these in your marketing automation software portal.  If you are a HubSpot customer, you’re in luck – there is a built in goal setting feature for campaigns.

goals-5.png

Get your campaign optimization checklist 

Now can we see if my campaign needs to be optimized?!

Yes, let’s get to it!  First, you need to determine if your campaign needs optimization by comparing our observed results to what we expected (our benchmarks).  We are going to use the chi-square goodness of fit statistical test to compare these two values. Here’s the formula to calculate Chi-square:

equation.png

Assuming you already launched your campaign (and completed the recommended pre-launch work) you should have all the variables needed. (O is observed value and E is expected value, or your benchmark)

For more in depth coverage of using this test you can watch the tutorial below.

Let’s jump into an example to make this more concrete.  We’ll use the same numbers in the video walkthrough below for consistency. As a marketing strategist, you want to know if a recent campaign email is performing well, or if you should take action to optimize it. 

Let’s say you sent a campaign related email to 1000 people and 3% of people clicked through the email to your landing page.

This gives you an observed value of 30 or O = 30

Since this is your first campaign, you are comparing your email performance to industry benchmarks.  After doing some research, the industry benchmark you found is 1.1% for email click through rate.  If we sent an email to a 1000 people in our industry, we would expect 11 to click through.

This gives you an expected value of 11 or E = 11

Now, plug it into the formula and solve!

equation solvedd.png

Get 33.18?  Great, but we’re not finished yet.

Now, to see if the campaign email needs to be optimized, we need to compare our observed chi-square to a critical value for chi-square critical.  Looking at those old handy chi-square distribution tables I see the critical value is 3.84 at with a significance level of .05 (recommended).

33.18 > 3.84

Result: Your email is significantly outperforming your established benchmark so you should not focus on optimizing it at this time and spend your resources elsewhere.

Luckily, there is a savvy chi-square goodness of fit tool from Social Science Statistics that does the calculations and compares them to critical value for you (especially if you are like me and just hate distribution tables).

Understand that you only analyzed one specific part of your campaign, but this methodology can be applied to nearly any measurable campaign statistic with a discrete outcome (i.e., convert vs did not convert).

Now you can be confident that you are spending your resources on optimizing the right campaign piece.

OK, I have a list of what I should optimize, where do I start?

With our nifty campaign optimization checklist of course!  You may be thinking, “but I have several underperforming pieces, how do I prioritize them?”  A good place to start at the beginning of the buyer’s journey, starting from from left to right.  Or, in HubSpot terms, optimize the campaign assets associated with the Awareness Stage first, then the Consideration Stage, and finally the Decision Stage.  Which makes sense. If your awareness stage is broken, most people aren’t converting to the Consideration Stage in the first place.  Why optimize something for such a small subset of your potential leads?

Another way to think about optimization priorities is to order them by potential positive impact on campaign results.  While this is good in theory, it doesn’t account for other important variables such as the time and effort it would take to complete the task. Fortunately, to set priorities, you can use a process that is simple as P.I.E.

P.I.E stands for Potential (what is the potential positive impact on the campaign results), Importance (how critical is it to your overall business objectives), and Ease (how difficult is the task to complete).

For more information on PIE or to learn other prioritization methods check out ConversionXL’s comprehensive article on the subject. 

In order to determine the priority order of your campaign optimization task list, assign each letter of P.I.E. a score of 1-10, then take the average of those three numbers.  Organize those averaged numbers by activity from largest to smallest, you will have your list of priorities!

Campaign Optimization Checklist

When analyzing campaign performance, it is easy to get lost in the weeds.  Always remember the big picture!  If you are worried about your campaign’s performance, likely you are experiencing one of the following challenges:

1) You do not have enough eyeballs on your campaign.

2) You aren’t converting those who do engage with your campaign into leads.

3) You aren’t properly nurturing and qualifying leads for sales conversations.

The Campaign Optimization Checklist was built, and even color-coded, with these three challenges in mind.  As a bonus for making it all the way to the end of this article, I have included the first pages here.  There are even more tips and tricks in the full version!

Remember that pressing the launch button is never the final step in a campaign. There is always an email subject line to improve, a form to optimize, and a nurture workflow to refine.

Now what are you waiting for, get the full checklist and start optimizing!

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Mar

25

2017

What Can Your Business Learn From Restaurant Marketing? [Infographic]

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

learnfromrestaurantmarketing-compressor.jpg

In February 2016, the U.S. magazine Bon Appétit released its inaugural culture-themed issue, in which it explored — among other topics — just how we became so obsessed with food.

Some believe it began with food permeating popular culture — for example, with televised cooking and restaurant exploration shows. Whatever it is, this obsession has left marketers from several other industries wondering, “Can I do that?”

Actually, you can. There’s a lot of advice out there about restaurant marketing — how chefs and owners of these establishments can not only brand themselves to reach celebrity status, but also how they can, you know, grow these businesses in the first place. The following infographic from our friends at Oddle is just one example.  Download our step-by-step guide to creating your digital strategy here.

But as it turns out, many principles of restaurant marketing can be applied to other industries — including those within the B2B sector. After all, we want to accomplish the same things, like establishing a strong digital presence, creating a great experience (online and off) for customers, and gaining word-of-mouth traction. So which restaurant marketing best practices can be applied to your business? Read on to find out.



Ultimate+Guide+To+Restaurant+Marketing.jpeg


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Mar

23

2017

4 Ways to Use Audio in B2B Marketing

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

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When you’re trying to get somewhere — by foot, train, bus, or car — how do you pass the time?

I’m one of those people who always has to be listening to something. Whether it’s a new Spotify playlist or the latest episode of a podcast, I use pretty much every opportunity to consume audible content.

I’m hardly the only one who’s partial to audio in this way. According to the 2016 Edison Research Infinite Dial report, despite our content consumption becoming increasingly digital, we still love sound and sound alone. Online radio listenership, for example, has increased by 35% since 2005. But what does that have to do with us?  Manage and plan your social media content with the help of this free calendar  template.

We believe that this listening behavior creates a tremendous opportunity for marketers — especially those in the B2B sector — to create branded, audible content. Audio is often associated with consumer marketing, but those kind of assumptions create a missed opportunity for B2B brands. After all, here at HubSpot, we create content for marketing and sales professionals in a variety of formats, and if you read our blog, it’s no secret that we’re constantly nagging you to do the same — even with audio. So let’s explore the ways that can be done, starting with a look at the science behind the act of listening.

The Listening Process

Before you start creating audio content, it might be helpful to understand how and why people listen. The act of listening, according to Merriam-Webster, is “to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, or true.”

It also helps satisfy different physiological goals. We listen to alter our moods, stay alert, and figure stuff out. In humans, that’s been the case for pretty much as long as we’ve been in existence. The process starts when we receive auditory stimuli, which our brains then have to interpret. That’s aided by other senses — like sight — and helps us better figure out what we’re hearing.

Once our brains have interpreted these auditory signals, we follow a series of steps that consist of recalling, evaluating, and responding to the information we consume:

Hurier_Listening_Process.png

Source: Matthew Edward Dyson

It’s that third step in the process — recalling — that might be the most important one for marketers. Numerous studies have discovered how listening triggers a widespread network of activity throughout the brain. That activity is what links auditory stimuli so strongly to memory.

That might be why we love to talk about things we’ve heard, like a great song, for example. We’re actually sharing a story about our memory of what we heard. And that comes back around to what we do as marketers. We share the stories of and about our brands in a way that will get people to pay attention and listen to us.

So, let’s get started, and begin creating content that people will listen.

4 Ways to Use Audio in B2B Marketing

1) Podcasts

Branded Podcasts

According to Edison Research, podcast listenership has been on a steady rise since 2006 — in fact, it’s grown by 25 percentage points. 

EdisonPodcast listenership.png

Source: Edison Research

People often make the mistake of thinking that podcasts are largely consumer-facing. We think of those that are aired on public radio or hosted by celebrities for the masses of bored commuters trying to pass the time. But in reality, there are a number of B2B podcasts out there, like Duct Tape Marketing, ZenDesk’s Relate, and HubSpot’s The Growth Show.

But when it comes to creating branded podcasts, many B2B marketers make similar objections that we used to hear about blogging — such as, “I don’t have time,” or, “I don’t have anything to say.” Podcasts, like blogs, follow the pillars of inbound marketing, in that you’re creating valuable, educational content for people who are searching for information on what your business does best. That’s one way The Growth Show works, for example. Because HubSpot’s marketing, sales, and CRM software comprise a growth stack, we use our podcast to discuss related topics with business leaders who have accomplished notable growth, and who have good stories.

“Companies — especially B2B companies — have such a hard time telling their organization’s story,” says Kierran Petersen, The Growth Show’s associate producer. “Creating a branded podcast is the perfect opportunity to do that. It’s such a personal way to give people insight into what you do, by showing your audience who you actually are.”

That’s where the answer to the second objection — “I don’t have anything to say” — comes in. When people tell us that’s why they can’t invest time in blogging, we usually say, “Write what you know.” The same thing goes for podcasting, but instead of writing, you’re speaking about what you know. And for some, that might even come easier than writing.

Of course, creating a branded podcast isn’t as simple as recording 30 minutes of stream-of-thought remarks on your business. It helps to approach this content creation the same way you would for a blog, and create an editorial calendar to plan and outline different topics, as well as people who you’d like to interview. You should also consider how you’re going to distribute that content and the different platforms that your audience can use to consume the podcast. For beginners, we recommend free tools like SoundCloud, or experimenting with different ways to share the audio across social media.

Repurposing Blogs as Podcasts

If you’re still feeling a bit uncertain about creating an original podcast, you can start on a smaller scale by repurposing your existing content. On some blogs, you may have come across the option to listen to an audio version of the post. That’s one fairly easy way for businesses to create original audible content — take what you’ve already written, and turn it into a spoken-word version.

There are several ways to pull that off. Some brands turn their blog posts into full-blown podcasts of varying length, complete with an introduction, music, quotes, and sound effects. That’s what National Public Radio — better known as NPR — often does with its various news stories. Notice how this piece, for example, has both full text and audio, the latter of which can be heard below.

But others, like The Atlantic, take a different approach, and dictate the full text of articles, treating it like an audiobook. Check it out:

There’s no “right” way to repurpose existing content for audio this way — that largely depends on the length of the piece, or if you want to abridge the writing for the spoken word. The important thing to remember is that it’s not impossible, and with a bit of creativity, there are numerous ways for B2B marketers to create audible content of this kind.

2) Audiograms

Snippets

In February, you may have noticed that HubSpot’s co-founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, penned a special post on the Marketing Blog dedicated to the 2016 year in review. But it didn’t end there. Across our online presence, HubSpot distributed year-in-review messages in various formats, including nifty little audiograms.

“But what’s an audiogram, Amanda?”

I thought you might ask that. Well, an audiogram is a snippet of — imagine that — audio that overlays a still image. We curated a collection of these on our website, and posted some on Facebook, like this quote from Bertie Ocampo, Hubspot’s APAC event & field marketing manager.

Audiograms can be shared on Instagram, too, which is “mobile first, so odds are good that folks will have their headphones in,” says Marissa Emanuele, HubSpot’s social media manager. But she encourages providing context — don’t just post a snippet over a picture and expect people to understand its purpose. “Audiograms are always better,” she explains, “if they incorporate text or captioning of some kind.”

… Or Longer

This strategy can also work with longer audio files, says Chelsea Hunersen, a social media manager at HubSpot. “We’ve shared some videos,” she says, for example, “that play an episode of The Growth Show, with an image that says, ‘this is audio’.”

That means you can use this same technique with audio samples that are “longer than 30 seconds,” says Hunersen. So when you’re thinking about ways to distribute your podcasts, here’s one — consider turning them into audiograms, or pairing them with these images-as-video.

3) Facebook Audio

finalhero.png

Source: Facebook

In December 2016, Facebook announced its latest live content feature: Live Audio. “Sometimes,” read the official announcement, “publishers want to tell a story on Facebook with words and not video.” That’s usually due to two reasons:

  1. Audio is often a bit lower-maintenance than video, in that it requires less hardware — like cameras — and lower connectivity.
  2. It’s also a bit easier on the listener. “Audio is a really low commitment way to consume content,” explains Hunersen. “I can have the audio open in my browser and listen to something like I would a podcast, even if I don’t watch it at the same time on Facebook.”

Facebook Live Audio has flown a bit under the radar since this announcement, and it’s unclear whether or not it’s actually available to marketers yet — so far, we haven’t seen it used. Plus, Hunersen explains, “It’s supposedly only available on Android” devices.

But it does present another audio content distribution option for marketers, however: To double a podcast recording as a Facebook Live broadcast.

How does that work, exactly? Well, perhaps you’ve seen videos of radio hosts broadcasting live videos of themselves in the recording studio, and sharing a visual version of the interviews they’re conducting, for example. Here’s one example of a German radio station that created this kind of content with independent musician Astronautalis:

While that example might fall into the B2C realm, it can easily be adapted by B2B organizations. It also shows how a Facebook Live stream of your podcast recording or interview can be repurposed as pre-recorded video later on. Film a brief intro from your guest, and follow it with a clip of one of the most interesting moments from the conversation. It also brings up a great way to keep the audience engaged — ask them for questions they’d like to ask your guest in real-time.

4) Other Spoken Content

When marketers set out to create content, accessibility isn’t always something that’s top of mind. For individuals with visual impairment, for example, something like an infographic or a flowchart isn’t the most consumable piece of content.

That’s just one reason why adapting your visual and written content into audio versions can be so valuable. Not only does it create a way to consume what you’ve created in a portable way, but also, you’re making it available to a broader audience.

It’s like creating audible versions of books, for example — that allows people to enjoy or consume novels or nonfiction when reading isn’t an option, like while driving. B2B marketers can do the same thing with their ebooks and whitepapers. But be certain that it’s still interesting to the listener. There’s nothing less engaging, for example, than a computerized dictation of written content. When you record the spoken versions of this content, make sure it’s read aloud by someone who can bring energy to the words, instead of just reciting them in a monotone fashion.

Start Talking

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited. I feel a newfound motivation to get out there and create something for people to listen to, and I hope you do, too.

As these examples show, using audio in B2B marketing doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking — it can be as simple or as large-scale as you want, depending on your resources. You can create something completely new, or repurpose what you’ve already got.

Just remember: Always keep it engaging. And whatever you create, we can’t wait to hear it — we’ll be here, listening.

How have you used audio in your marketing? Let us know in the comments.

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Mar

21

2017

What Is Guerrilla Marketing? 7 Examples to Inspire Your Brand

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

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The word “guerrilla,” in its written form, seems very intense. It conjures images of rebellion and conflict. Put it next to the word “marketing,” and it makes a lot of people ask, “Huh?”

But guerrilla marketing isn’t some sort of combative form of communication. After all, that would be highly disruptive, which violates the inbound methodology. In fact, it’s actually a very unconventional form of inbound marketing, in that it raises brand awareness among large audiences, without interrupting them.

Because it’s so unconventional, however, it’s not the easiest concept to explain. Guerrilla marketing is often best understood when it’s observed, so that’s how we’re going to approach its best practices and takeaways here.  Get our

We’ll start with some basics around where it came from and how it works, followed by an examination of how it’s been carried out successfully.

What Is Guerrilla Marketing?

Roots of Warfare

When we hear the term “guerrilla marketing,” it’s hard not to think of guerrilla warfare — which makes sense, since that’s where this style of marketing got its name. In the warfare context, guerrilla tactics depend largely on the element of surprise. Think: “Ambushes, sabotage, raids,” according to Creative Guerrilla Marketing.

But how does that translate into the work we do every day? In marketing, guerrilla techniques mostly play on the element of surprise. It sets out to create highly unconventional campaigns that catch people unexpectedly in the course of their day-to-day routines. You’ll see what that looks like in some the examples below.

The term itself was created in the early 1980s by the late business writer Jay Conrad Levinson, who wrote several books about guerrilla tactics in a number of professional areas. Of course, at that time, marketing in general looked very different, and while guerrilla marketing is still used today, the ever-growing digital landscape is changing what it looks like. Again — you’ll see what that looks like in some of the examples below.

Budget-Friendly

What marketers really enjoy about guerrilla marketing is its fairly low-cost nature. The real investment here is a creative, intellectual one — its implementation, however, doesn’t have to be expensive. Michael Brenner summarizes it nicely in his article on “guerrilla content,” where he frames this style of marketing in the same context as repurposing your existing content, like taking certain segments of a report, and expanding each one into a blog post. It’s an investment of time, but not money, per se.

In a way, guerrilla marketing works by repurposing your audience’s current environment. Evaluate it, and figure out which segments of it can be repurposed to include your brand.

Types of Guerrilla Marketing

As niche as it might seem, there are actually a few sub-categories of guerrilla marketing, as outlined by the firm ALT TERRAIN:

  • Outdoor Guerrilla Marketing. Adds something to preexisting urban environments, like putting something removable onto a statue, or putting temporary artwork on sidewalks and streets.

  • Indoor Guerilla Marketing. Similar to outdoor guerrilla marketing, only it takes place in indoor locations like train stations, shops, and university campus buildings.

  • Event Ambush Guerilla Marketing. Leveraging the audience of an in-progress event — like a concert or a sporting game — to promote a product or service in a noticeable way, usually without permission from the event sponsors.

  • Experiential Guerilla Marketing. All of the above, but executed in a way that requires the public to interact with the brand.

We know — without context, the whole idea of guerrilla marketing can be a little confusing, so let’s see how it’s been executed by a few other brands.

7 Guerrilla Marketing Examples to Inspire Your Brand

1) Bounty

bounty02.jpgSource: TOXEL.COM

Here’s a fun fact about your neighborhood marketing blogger: I. Spill. Everything. Coffee? Check. Olive oil? You got it. Generally, I am simply a mess, and like to have paper towels nearby at all times.

Naturally, I couldn’t help but be impressed by this guerilla marketing installment from paper towel company Bounty. By installing life-sized “messes” throughout the streets of New York — a giant, knocked over coffee cup and a gigantic melting popsicle — the brand found a unique way to advertise its product and the solution it provides, with minimal words.

You might ask, “Wouldn’t a concise billboard ad accomplish the same thing?” Well, not really. Culturally, we’re starting to opt for every possible way to eradicate ads from our lives. That’s why we love things like DVR and ad-free options on streaming services like Hulu and YouTube. This campaign, unlike an ad, isn’t as easy to ignore. After all, if you stumbled upon a melting popsicle the size of your mattress on your way to work, would you stop and look? We would.

The big takeaway: Identify the biggest problem that your product or service solves. Then, find an unconventional way to broadcast that to the public — preferably without words.

2) The GRAMMYS

Okay, this one might not be entirely fair, since it wasn’t pulled off “in real life.” But how cool would it be if it was? To promote the nominees for its Album Of The Year category, the GRAMMYS music awards show created a video to show what would happen if posters for the nominated artists just began singing.

It might sound impossible to actually carry out something like that. But imagine — what if you could create musical posters for your brand? Again, it’s different than a billboard ad, because when we walk by a wall of paper advertisements in, say, New York City, we don’t expect them to start moving. Now, we’ll admit that this idea isn’t exactly a budget friendly one, as it might require some technical work to bring to fruition. But even if you could include a single moving or digital image among a sea of still ones — in a place where it would come as a surprise, like a brick wall — it would catch people off guard and, therefore, get their attention.

The big takeaway: Think about the things that your audience might just pass by every day — and make those things do something that’s both unexpected and interactive.

3) Frontline

ad-mall-frontline.jpgSource: Marketing Ideas 101

When I first saw this photo, I’ll admit that I fell for it. “Someone, get that dog away from those flies!” I frantically thought. Then, I realized that the dog wasn’t real, and neither were the flies. The former was a photo, and the latter were actually humans.

That’s because Frontline, the makers of flea and tick prevention products for dogs, were able to fill the entire floor of this large, public space with this image. The brand knew that many people walk across that space every day, and that a good number of people would also see it from the building’s upper levels, creating the dog-and-insect illusion. It’s hard to miss — and to not look twice.

Again, this campaign is different than traditional marketing, because it’s not just plastering a single message somewhere that’s likely to be ignored. It creates a form of accidental human interaction that reminds the viewer what the product does.

The big takeaway: Figure out how humans might involuntarily interact with your marketing messages. While your product or service may not address the issue of, say, insect removal, there are ways to make people part of the campaign.

4) Burger King

1487011320-bk.jpgSource: seventeen

Breaking up is hard to do in person, let alone when it’s publicly played out online. That’s what happened — allegedly — when one Instagram user left a comment on this post sharing a tale of his “girl” procuring food from Burger King. There was just one problem. This guy does have a girlfriend, but she was nowhere near a Burger King. So, who was he referring to? The drama ensued, via Instagram comments:

BG_IG_Breakup.jpg

After the comments began to make headlines, many speculated that the entire exchange may have been staged by Burger King. And if it was, we can’t help but salute them — what a way to get your brand into the zeitgeist. Burger King has roughly one million followers on Instagram. Compare that to the 2.1 million followers of its chief competitor, McDonald’s. And while we’re not sure how many followers the former had before this famous breakup, it makes sense to assume that this at least drew more attention to its social media presence, at least on this particular platform. People may have already been observing the brand on Instagram, but before now, were they actively discussing it?

The big takeaway: Guerrilla marketing has gone digital. Think about where your audience already exists digitally — then, give ’em a show. While we can’t condone lying, we can applaud creativity, so don’t be afraid to use the comments to get people talking.

5) UNICEF

I’m as guilty as anyone of wasting money on bottled water. I have no excuse. I have a reusable one. My workplace offers filtered water from a machine, not a traditional cooler, and yet, it remains a bad habit.

That’s why this guerrilla marketing campaign from relief organization UNICEF resonated with me. It posed the question, “What if those bottles of water you waste money on were filled with dirty water?” It was a way of reminding the privileged masses that in too many parts of the world, entire populations have no access to clean drinking water.

So instead of frivolously spending that money on bottled water, UNICEF suggested putting it toward efforts to bring clean drinking water to these areas. It did so by creating makeshift vending machines that sold bottled dirty water, with each button labeled as a disease caused by a lack of clean drinking water.

The big takeaway: Guerrilla marketing works in the not-for-profit sector, too. And while scary, saddening images are often an impactful way of communicating your mission, there’s a way to convey it by creating something less in-your-face and interactive for the public.

6) GoldToe

guerrilla-marketing-company-new-york-city.jpgSource: ALT TERRAIN

Are you an underwear company looking for an unconventional way to market your product? Why, just try placing an enormous pair of briefs on an iconic charging bull statue.

Really, we can’t make this stuff up.

It’s so simple, in theory, that it sounds like fiction. But when the GoldToe brand needed a way to tease and promote the launch of its new undergarments, that’s exactly what it did — casually placed these new items of clothing on statues throughout New York. And while we can’t be sure that it’s the route GoldToe took, we sincerely hope that those bull-sized briefs were made with leftover manufacturing fabric, helping to make this campaign even budget-friendlier.

The big takeaway: Don’t overthink it. Sometimes what looks like your silliest idea might be the best one.

7) Greene King

When you make plans to catch up with friends and family, what are the two things around which you inevitably gather? We’ll take a stab at guessing:

  1. Food
  2. Drink

When pub and brewing company Greene King feared that small, neighborhood establishments — notably, the pub — would start to be overtaken by large corporate retail, it launched a campaign to communicate just how important these local businesses really are. Even better, the content was almost entirely created by those who understand this predicament best: Pub owners, bartenders, and patrons.

These individuals were given cameras to capture video of the most meaningful moments and gatherings they’ve experienced inside these local pubs — from weddings, to funeral receptions, to birthdays. These videos were shared on Greene King’s YouTube profile and posed the question, “Without these neighborhood meeting places, where would we share these moments?”

The big takeaway: It’s okay to get a little sentimental with guerilla marketing. Think about the emotions invoked by what you offer. Then, invite your audience to create content around what your brand means to them.

Guerrillas in the Wild

Starting to make a little more sense?

When we set out to write this post, we were disappointed with just one element of it — we found virtually no B2B examples. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible within that sector. It just requires extra creativity.

Hopefully, you’ll be inspired by these examples, especially if you’re promoting a smaller brand. Don’t be afraid to crowdsource the content for these campaigns, for example — after all, it’s creative approaches to your work that help maintain guerrilla marketing’s budget-friendly, inbound nature. Remember: Catch people where they are, and insert your brand there. Don’t interrupt, but invite them to participate.

How have you used guerrilla marketing? Let us know in the comments.

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Mar

16

2017

Good Bots vs. Bad Bots: How to Tell the Difference

Published by in category Canonical, Inbound Marketing, productivity | Comments are closed

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Navigating the web these days can make a person feel like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.

There’s so much to be seen here that — until somewhat recently — was fairly unheard of. And we don’t know what’s good or bad. It’s as if we’re constantly coming across a new cast of characters and are forced to ask, “Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?”

Replace the word “witch” with “bot,” and you might be summing up the modern digital landscape. There’s a lot of talk about AI, but it can be confusing. Is it helpful, or harmful? Is it going to make us better at our jobs, or take them away from us? And these bots of which we’re constantly speaking — which are good, and which are bad? Download our free guide to web design here for more tips on designing a  user-friendly website. 

As it turns out, there are ways of distinguishing them. It requires a bit of a discerning eye, but you certainly don’t need to be an expert — you just need the right information. So, without further ado, allow us to present our tips for distinguishing good bots from bad bots. 

Good Bots vs. Bad Bots

The Good Bots

Copyright Bots

These bots search the web for content that’s potentially been plagiarized. Think: Illegal uploads, copying someone else’s work without proper attribution, or other improper use of proprietary content. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, these bots are commonly used within the realm of social media, especially where original content creation is a major part of the platform’s use. One prime example is YouTube’s Content ID, which is assigned to copyright owners on the network.

Data Bots

According to eZanga, data bots are those that provide up-to-the-minute information on things like news, weather, and currency rates. With that criteria, tools like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Siri could be classified as data bots — especially since eZanga also calls these “media” bots. However, one technology developer, Botler, classifies one of its products as a data bot — “a new way to quickly store and access info that is important.” Its primary use, it appears, is for the academic sector, as it allows course information to be easily shared between students and faculty.

Botler.pngSource: botler

Spider Bots

Think about what a spider does — it crawls. Search engines do the same thing, by crawling the web’s content to produce query results, and using spider bots to do so. Google, for example, has its very own Googlebot, which uses the constantly-evolving Google algorithm to determine which sites to crawl.

These days, spider bots aren’t limited to search engines. The Siemens Robotics Lab, for example, has developed spider-shaped robots that combine the ability to autonomously perform physical tasks with information-crawling capabilities. How does that work, exactly? Siemens Research Scientist Hasan Sinan Bank explains:

The robots use onboard cameras as well as a laser scanner to interpret their immediate environment. Knowing the range of its 3D-printer arm, each robot autonomously works out which part of an area – regardless of whether the area is flat or curved – it can cover, while other robots use the same technique to cover adjacent areas.”

Trader Bots

These bots might be my favorite. They’re the ones that crawl the web to help you find the best deals on something you might be looking to buy online. eZanga notes that these bots are used by consumers and retailers alike — for the latter, the biggest advantage is their ability to “help inch out the competitor by posting a better price.

As for the consumer, these bots come to mind with tools like Honey: A browser extension that automatically presents coupons and discount codes when you’re about to initiate a site’s checkout process. Here’s how it works on Amazon, for example:

HoneyTraderBot.gifSource: botler

The Bad Bots

Click Bots

Each year, Incapsula publishes a Bot Traffic Report, which measures and analyzes the website traffic generated by bots. And in 2016, bad bots accounted for 28.9% of that traffic — outnumbering the good bots by 6%.

One of those bad bots is often found to be the click bot — the kind that fraudulently click on ads, causing data reported to advertisers to be skewed. But not only does that result in misinformation for marketers, but if you’re using pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, those clicks add up to wasted dollars on fake visits that didn’t even come from humans, let alone your audience.

Download Bots

Similar to click bots, download bots also fraudulently game engagement data, but for download counts, instead of website visits. If it sounds familiar, it might be because of a 2012 incident involving Apple, in which many iPhone app developers were using “third-party advertising services guaranteeing top rankings,” according to AdWeek.

Imposter Bots

It’s easy to confuse imposter bots with click bots, since the former work by “masking themselves as legitimate visitors,” according to the Incapsula report. But the intention of imposter bots is much more malicious than generating a false clickcount. Instead, their purpose is to bypass online security measures. And of the aforementioned traffic generated in 2016 by bad bots, imposter bots accounted for over 84% of it. They’re often the culprit behind distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks — in fact, you might recall a day in October 2016 when it seemed like half of the internet, including Twitter, stopped working. That was a DDoS attack, and an imposter bot dubbed Mirai was responsible for it.

bot-report-2016-graph-2.pngSource: Incapsula

Scraper Bots

Web scrapers achieve the opposite effect as copyright bots. Rather than protecting proprietary content, scraper bots are designed to steal and repurpose it elsewhere, often unbeknownst to its owner.

itemeditorimage_55b0075c5aaaa.pngSource: Distil

Spam Bots

You would think that spam bots (often spelled “spambot”) have been around long enough that they would have become a thing of the past, like VCRs and the plague. But it seems that they’re just getting smarter, and finding new ways to permeate our lives.

These are the bots that basically distribute “spammy” content like unwarranted emails, or senseless comments on articles and blog posts. More recently, you’ve probably come across them on social media — one 2015 study found that nearly 8% of Instagram accounts, for example, are actually spambots.

It’s worth noting that in 2014, Instagram made efforts to purge the network of millions of spam accounts — but people were less than thrilled about it. Even if they weren’t “real,” it seems that many Instagram users were upset to see their followings drastically shrink.

instagram.0.0.jpgSource: The Verge

Spy Bots

Have you ever received an email from a complete stranger, and wondered how that person got your contact information? Maybe the sender got it from someone you know, or is just particularly good at research.

But it also might be the work of a spy bot, which is the kind that mines data about individuals (or businesses) and often sells it. There’s a reason, after all, why the HubSpot Email Marketing Software prohibits the use of purchased or third-party lists. Emailing people who didn’t ask or expect to be contacted by you completely contradicts the inbound methodology.

Zombie Bots

Contrary to what the name might suggest, zombie bots don’t try to eat humans. Rather, they’re the kind that find a way to permeate your computer’s security system, but take it a step further than imposter bots — once they gain access, they operate in the background, often using your computer to transmit viruses and other malware.

It might begin with one machine, but often this type of bot activity leads to an “army” of zombie bots — a.k.a. a “botnet” — which Cloudbric describes as “a network of zombified sites [that] receive commands from the head zombie, who is likely a spammer, a hacker, or a mercenary.” Many times, the motivation behind this is financial, as these “head zombies” have been known to sell this type of hacked computer access to others, allowing them to use it for similarly malicious distribution.

But Don’t Be Afraid

As terrifying as some of these bad bots might sound, don’t let them scare you — there are ways to prevent them from encroaching on your content and technology.

First, awareness is a good first step. Now that you’ve reviewed the different types of bots out there, you might be able to more easily recognize any potentially harmful activity. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and if you suspect any malicious bot activity, let your network administrator know as soon as possible.

But try to prevent these attacks before they can even start. Always make sure your antivirus software is up-to-date, and learn more about the security protocols available for your iOS, web hosting platform, or internet service provider.

What other bots should marketers be aware of? Let us know in the comments.

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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.

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Nov

24

2016

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family This Thanksgiving

InboundThanksgiving.png

When Thanksgiving rolls around, there are a few questions that we don’t exactly look forward to hearing. “When are you getting married?” “When am I getting grandchildren?” “Have you been moisturizing?”

And yet, none of those oh-so-polite questions even come close to the complexity of explaining what, as an inbound marketer, you actually do for a living.

It’s not that inbound marketing requires a long, drawn-out answer — after all, it can be described in 140 characters. But explaining it requires some fundamental knowledge of how technology, marketing, and the internet work. You know, the things that your grandparents might not fully grasp in one fell swoop. Download more holiday resources to help your business succeed this season from  HubSpot's #HolidayHUB

Good news — all you really need are a few storytelling strategies. We found five ways you can explain inbound marketing to your family. And sure, some of these are useful, and some are just sarcastic. But hey, family is family, right? They’ll still love you.

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family This Thanksgiving

1) The Food Analogy

Pumpkin Pie

Source: Giphy

In the U.S., Thanksgiving typically consists a few staples — turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, to name a few. And while it might sound strange, you can use that knowledge to your advantage by using food preparation as an analogy for different aspects of inbound marketing.

To explain lead nurturing, you can use the pumpkin pie. Sending unnurtured leads to sales is like giving an unbaked pumpkin pie to your guests. I suppose the pumpkin pie could be eaten raw, but … gross. Instead, you should bake the pumpkin pie — that ultimately makes it richer and more palatable.

Nurturing leads before sales contacts them works in the same way. It warms them up to your brand, and starts to qualify them with better information on what they might need. “Warm” leads, like the cooked pie, are already familiar with your business, and will close at a much higher rate than those that are “cold.”

Use whatever analogy you like to describe inbound marketing — it clarifies confusing issues by comparing them to something that, quite literally, is right in front of everyone.

2) The Real-Life Scenario

Telemarketers

Source: Giphy

When I’m asked about inbound marketing, I like to use real-like examples of interruptions that they’ll likely recognize, and explain how the inbound methodology pertains to it. It usually sounds something like this:

Amanda: Hey, Dad. You know how much you hate telemarketers calling you in the middle of dinner?

Dad: Yes. Hate it. Why? Is that what you do for work?

Amanda: No, actually. Inbound marketing is the exact opposite. That’s interruptive marketing. They literally interrupt you. So annoying, right?

Dad: Yes. I’m surprised they’re not interrupting us right now.

Amanda: Well, in my job, I create marketing that doesn’t interrupt what people are doing. In fact, I create content that people are actively looking for, because it’s helpful, entertaining, or informative. Instead of a telemarketer was calling to sell you spoons, I create stuff that someone looking for information about spoons might be searching for on the internet.

Dad: So I would find you, instead of you calling to bother me?

Amanda: Yes! I provide you with actual value from my company, which makes you more interested in what my company sells.

The keys here: 1) Identify which interruptive media your dinner guests are familiar with, and 2) play into their pain points when dealing with that media. Inbound marketing is much more logical when you explain it that way — even if your family doesn’t work marketing or communications.

3) The Theatrics

Thanksgiving theatrics

Source: Giphy

If you’re feeling especially creative — and you have at least one Thanksgiving guest who is willing to participate — you could set up a roleplay. There are lots of scenarios you can act out, but a classic one would be the telemarketer/dinner guest scenario.

Let’s use the telemarketing example above — and be warned, it might require a few minutes of planning before everyone sits down to dinner. You play the role of the telemarketer, and your dinner guest can be, well, the dinner guest. First, put his or her phone’s ringer on the highest volume possible. Then, as soon as someone asks you about your job, excuse yourself and duck out to a quiet area with your own phone. Then, call the dinner guest, have him or her answer the call on speaker, while you pretend to be a telemarketer selling something completely unnecessary at that point — Halloween costumes.

Be sure your dinner guest uses key phrases like “You’re interrupting me in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner with this irrelevant call,” or, “Don’t you think it’s a little late to be calling me about Halloween?” or, if you really want to go nuts, “I wish you had sent me a targeted, personalized email in October about those costumes — I would have bought them.”

Then, have them slam down the phone on the table. You can return from your “bathroom break” and say, “See? Telemarketing, or any type of interruptive marketing like that, is profoundly annoying. In my job, I create marketing that helps people — not annoy them.”

End scene.

Depending on the talent of your guest, you might be able to improv the entire thing. Otherwise, you might want to type a script out and email it to the guest beforehand. And if you really want to go overboard, stay in character the entire dinner. The sight of you dressed up as a skeezy telemarketer with a headset will be just too intense to forget — that is, at least, until your mother requests, “Please remove your headset from the table.”

4) The Puzzle Pieces

Puzzles

Source: Webnode

This technique boils down to an age-old philosophical question — is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? Aristotle thought so, but when you’re describing inbound marketing to an unfamiliar audience, it’s probably okay to explain each tool that goes into it.

Try isolating inbound marketing into the different pieces that pull it off — things like blogging, email marketing, social media, closed-loop analytics, and call-to-action buttons. The folks who haven’t worked in marketing might not know what these are, either. In that case, try using the analogy technique we opened with to explain them. In fact, you can even act out something like social media, by taking a picture of a decadent cranberry relish and showing how you would share it on Instagram in real time.

5) The “I Write Articles on the Internet”

Writing on internet

Source: imoviequotes

If the previous four have all failed, you can always say, “I write articles on the internet for a living.” I mean, it’s somewhat accurate — you drive real business results with inbound marketing, and you don’t just spew out nonsense blogs about your feelings to get paid — but it can get your family off your back, especially if you’re not sure they’d be interested in hearing the whole shebang. If you choose this path, be prepared to hear how easy it is to blog, and how many of your family members wish they could get paid to do it.

Then, try to switch the subject quickly to something everyone can relate to. “Hey, Uncle Eddie, I’d love to get your amazing stuffing recipe.” Trust us — it works every time.

We’re Grateful for You

Good luck out there. And remember: There are so many people who want to know what you do — which, admittedly is why we love writing about it every day.

We always give thanks for you, our amazing readers. And to express our gratitude, we put together what we hope is a hilarious video of what our families think we do. Happy Thanksgiving!

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

What other strategies do you use to explain inbound marketing to folks who’ve never heard of it? Let us know in the comments.

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

Nov

24

2016

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family This Thanksgiving

InboundThanksgiving.png

When Thanksgiving rolls around, there are a few questions that we don’t exactly look forward to hearing. “When are you getting married?” “When am I getting grandchildren?” “Have you been moisturizing?”

And yet, none of those oh-so-polite questions even come close to the complexity of explaining what, as an inbound marketer, you actually do for a living.

It’s not that inbound marketing requires a long, drawn-out answer — after all, it can be described in 140 characters. But explaining it requires some fundamental knowledge of how technology, marketing, and the internet work. You know, the things that your grandparents might not fully grasp in one fell swoop. Download more holiday resources to help your business succeed this season from  HubSpot's #HolidayHUB

Good news — all you really need are a few storytelling strategies. We found five ways you can explain inbound marketing to your family. And sure, some of these are useful, and some are just sarcastic. But hey, family is family, right? They’ll still love you.

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family This Thanksgiving

1) The Food Analogy

Pumpkin Pie

Source: Giphy

In the U.S., Thanksgiving typically consists a few staples — turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, to name a few. And while it might sound strange, you can use that knowledge to your advantage by using food preparation as an analogy for different aspects of inbound marketing.

To explain lead nurturing, you can use the pumpkin pie. Sending unnurtured leads to sales is like giving an unbaked pumpkin pie to your guests. I suppose the pumpkin pie could be eaten raw, but … gross. Instead, you should bake the pumpkin pie — that ultimately makes it richer and more palatable.

Nurturing leads before sales contacts them works in the same way. It warms them up to your brand, and starts to qualify them with better information on what they might need. “Warm” leads, like the cooked pie, are already familiar with your business, and will close at a much higher rate than those that are “cold.”

Use whatever analogy you like to describe inbound marketing — it clarifies confusing issues by comparing them to something that, quite literally, is right in front of everyone.

2) The Real-Life Scenario

Telemarketers

Source: Giphy

When I’m asked about inbound marketing, I like to use real-like examples of interruptions that they’ll likely recognize, and explain how the inbound methodology pertains to it. It usually sounds something like this:

Amanda: Hey, Dad. You know how much you hate telemarketers calling you in the middle of dinner?

Dad: Yes. Hate it. Why? Is that what you do for work?

Amanda: No, actually. Inbound marketing is the exact opposite. That’s interruptive marketing. They literally interrupt you. So annoying, right?

Dad: Yes. I’m surprised they’re not interrupting us right now.

Amanda: Well, in my job, I create marketing that doesn’t interrupt what people are doing. In fact, I create content that people are actively looking for, because it’s helpful, entertaining, or informative. Instead of a telemarketer was calling to sell you spoons, I create stuff that someone looking for information about spoons might be searching for on the internet.

Dad: So I would find you, instead of you calling to bother me?

Amanda: Yes! I provide you with actual value from my company, which makes you more interested in what my company sells.

The keys here: 1) Identify which interruptive media your dinner guests are familiar with, and 2) play into their pain points when dealing with that media. Inbound marketing is much more logical when you explain it that way — even if your family doesn’t work marketing or communications.

3) The Theatrics

Thanksgiving theatrics

Source: Giphy

If you’re feeling especially creative — and you have at least one Thanksgiving guest who is willing to participate — you could set up a roleplay. There are lots of scenarios you can act out, but a classic one would be the telemarketer/dinner guest scenario.

Let’s use the telemarketing example above — and be warned, it might require a few minutes of planning before everyone sits down to dinner. You play the role of the telemarketer, and your dinner guest can be, well, the dinner guest. First, put his or her phone’s ringer on the highest volume possible. Then, as soon as someone asks you about your job, excuse yourself and duck out to a quiet area with your own phone. Then, call the dinner guest, have him or her answer the call on speaker, while you pretend to be a telemarketer selling something completely unnecessary at that point — Halloween costumes.

Be sure your dinner guest uses key phrases like “You’re interrupting me in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner with this irrelevant call,” or, “Don’t you think it’s a little late to be calling me about Halloween?” or, if you really want to go nuts, “I wish you had sent me a targeted, personalized email in October about those costumes — I would have bought them.”

Then, have them slam down the phone on the table. You can return from your “bathroom break” and say, “See? Telemarketing, or any type of interruptive marketing like that, is profoundly annoying. In my job, I create marketing that helps people — not annoy them.”

End scene.

Depending on the talent of your guest, you might be able to improv the entire thing. Otherwise, you might want to type a script out and email it to the guest beforehand. And if you really want to go overboard, stay in character the entire dinner. The sight of you dressed up as a skeezy telemarketer with a headset will be just too intense to forget — that is, at least, until your mother requests, “Please remove your headset from the table.”

4) The Puzzle Pieces

Puzzles

Source: Webnode

This technique boils down to an age-old philosophical question — is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? Aristotle thought so, but when you’re describing inbound marketing to an unfamiliar audience, it’s probably okay to explain each tool that goes into it.

Try isolating inbound marketing into the different pieces that pull it off — things like blogging, email marketing, social media, closed-loop analytics, and call-to-action buttons. The folks who haven’t worked in marketing might not know what these are, either. In that case, try using the analogy technique we opened with to explain them. In fact, you can even act out something like social media, by taking a picture of a decadent cranberry relish and showing how you would share it on Instagram in real time.

5) The “I Write Articles on the Internet”

Writing on internet

Source: imoviequotes

If the previous four have all failed, you can always say, “I write articles on the internet for a living.” I mean, it’s somewhat accurate — you drive real business results with inbound marketing, and you don’t just spew out nonsense blogs about your feelings to get paid — but it can get your family off your back, especially if you’re not sure they’d be interested in hearing the whole shebang. If you choose this path, be prepared to hear how easy it is to blog, and how many of your family members wish they could get paid to do it.

Then, try to switch the subject quickly to something everyone can relate to. “Hey, Uncle Eddie, I’d love to get your amazing stuffing recipe.” Trust us — it works every time.

We’re Grateful for You

Good luck out there. And remember: There are so many people who want to know what you do — which, admittedly is why we love writing about it every day.

We always give thanks for you, our amazing readers. And to express our gratitude, we put together what we hope is a hilarious video of what our families think we do. Happy Thanksgiving!

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

What other strategies do you use to explain inbound marketing to folks who’ve never heard of it? Let us know in the comments.

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

Nov

24

2016

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family This Thanksgiving

InboundThanksgiving.png

When Thanksgiving rolls around, there are a few questions that we don’t exactly look forward to hearing. “When are you getting married?” “When am I getting grandchildren?” “Have you been moisturizing?”

And yet, none of those oh-so-polite questions even come close to the complexity of explaining what, as an inbound marketer, you actually do for a living.

It’s not that inbound marketing requires a long, drawn-out answer — after all, it can be described in 140 characters. But explaining it requires some fundamental knowledge of how technology, marketing, and the internet work. You know, the things that your grandparents might not fully grasp in one fell swoop. Download more holiday resources to help your business succeed this season from  HubSpot's #HolidayHub

Good news — all you really need are a few storytelling strategies. We found five ways you can explain inbound marketing to your family. And sure, some of these are useful, and some are just sarcastic. But hey, family is family, right? They’ll still love you.

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family This Thanksgiving

1) The Food Analogy

Pumpkin Pie

Source: Giphy

In the U.S., Thanksgiving typically consists a few staples — turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, to name a few. And while it might sound strange, you can use that knowledge to your advantage by using food preparation as an analogy for different aspects of inbound marketing.

To explain lead nurturing, you can use the pumpkin pie. Sending unnurtured leads to sales is like giving an unbaked pumpkin pie to your guests. I suppose the pumpkin pie could be eaten raw, but … gross. Instead, you should bake the pumpkin pie — that ultimately makes it richer and more palatable.

Nurturing leads before sales contacts them works in the same way. It warms them up to your brand, and starts to qualify them with better information on what they might need. “Warm” leads, like the cooked pie, are already familiar with your business, and will close at a much higher rate than those that are “cold.”

Use whatever analogy you like to describe inbound marketing — it clarifies confusing issues by comparing them to something that, quite literally, is right in front of everyone.

2) The Real-Life Scenario

Telemarketers

Source: Giphy

When I’m asked about inbound marketing, I like to use real-like examples of interruptions that they’ll likely recognize, and explain how the inbound methodology pertains to it. It usually sounds something like this:

Amanda: Hey, Dad. You know how much you hate telemarketers calling you in the middle of dinner?

Dad: Yes. Hate it. Why? Is that what you do for work?

Amanda: No, actually. Inbound marketing is the exact opposite. That’s interruptive marketing. They literally interrupt you. So annoying, right?

Dad: Yes. I’m surprised they’re not interrupting us right now.

Amanda: Well, in my job, I create marketing that doesn’t interrupt what people are doing. In fact, I create content that people are actively looking for, because it’s helpful, entertaining, or informative. Instead of a telemarketer was calling to sell you spoons, I create stuff that someone looking for information about spoons might be searching for on the internet.

Dad: So I would find you, instead of you calling to bother me?

Amanda: Yes! I provide you with actual value from my company, which makes you more interested in what my company sells.

The keys here: 1) Identify which interruptive media your dinner guests are familiar with, and 2) play into their pain points when dealing with that media. Inbound marketing is much more logical when you explain it that way — even if your family doesn’t work marketing or communications.

3) The Theatrics

Thanksgiving theatrics

Source: Giphy

If you’re feeling especially creative — and you have at least one Thanksgiving guest who is willing to participate — you could set up a roleplay. There are lots of scenarios you can act out, but a classic one would be the telemarketer/dinner guest scenario.

Let’s use the telemarketing example above — and be warned, it might require a few minutes of planning before everyone sits down to dinner. You play the role of the telemarketer, and your dinner guest can be, well, the dinner guest. First, put his or her phone’s ringer on the highest volume possible. Then, as soon as someone asks you about your job, excuse yourself and duck out to a quiet area with your own phone. Then, call the dinner guest, have him or her answer the call on speaker, while you pretend to be a telemarketer selling something completely unnecessary at that point — Halloween costumes.

Be sure your dinner guest uses key phrases like “You’re interrupting me in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner with this irrelevant call,” or, “Don’t you think it’s a little late to be calling me about Halloween?” or, if you really want to go nuts, “I wish you had sent me a targeted, personalized email in October about those costumes — I would have bought them.”

Then, have them slam down the phone on the table. You can return from your “bathroom break” and say, “See? Telemarketing, or any type of interruptive marketing like that, is profoundly annoying. In my job, I create marketing that helps people — not annoy them.”

End scene.

Depending on the talent of your guest, you might be able to improv the entire thing. Otherwise, you might want to type a script out and email it to the guest beforehand. And if you really want to go overboard, stay in character the entire dinner. The sight of you dressed up as a skeezy telemarketer with a headset will be just too intense to forget — that is, at least, until your mother requests, “Please remove your headset from the table.”

4) The Puzzle Pieces

Puzzles

Source: Webnode

This technique boils down to an age-old philosophical question — is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? Aristotle thought so, but when you’re describing inbound marketing to an unfamiliar audience, it’s probably okay to explain each tool that goes into it.

Try isolating inbound marketing into the different pieces that pull it off — things like blogging, email marketing, social media, closed-loop analytics, and call-to-action buttons. The folks who haven’t worked in marketing might not know what these are, either. In that case, try using the analogy technique we opened with to explain them. In fact, you can even act out something like social media, by taking a picture of a decadent cranberry relish and showing how you would share it on Instagram in real time.

5) The “I Write Articles on the Internet”

Writing on internet

Source: imoviequotes

If the previous four have all failed, you can always say, “I write articles on the internet for a living.” I mean, it’s somewhat accurate — you drive real business results with inbound marketing, and you don’t just spew out nonsense blogs about your feelings to get paid — but it can get your family off your back, especially if you’re not sure they’d be interested in hearing the whole shebang. If you choose this path, be prepared to hear how easy it is to blog, and how many of your family members wish they could get paid to do it.

Then, try to switch the subject quickly to something everyone can relate to. “Hey, Uncle Eddie, I’d love to get your amazing stuffing recipe.” Trust us — it works every time.

We’re Grateful for You

Good luck out there. And remember: There are so many people who want to know what you do — which, admittedly is why we love writing about it every day.

We always give thanks for you, our amazing readers. And to express our gratitude, we put together what we hope is a hilarious video of what our families think we do. Happy Thanksgiving!

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

What other strategies do you use to explain inbound marketing to folks who’ve never heard of it? Let us know in the comments.

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

Nov

22

2016

8 Interesting Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Google’s Algorithm

Fun_Facts_Algorithm.png

It’s not often that you see the word “fun” and “algorithm” in the same sentence. (Okay, fine. Maybe you do, if you’re a marketing nerd like I am.) But think about this: Google has really been around for over two decades. With a history like that, there’s got to be at least some compelling trivia, right?

Believe it or not, algorithms are really cool. I mean, they get us our search results, after all.But how does Google’s algorithm work? And how has it evolved over the course of so many years? Download our free on-page SEO template here to help you plan and organize your  blog's SEO strategy. 

We thought you might ask that, so we put together some fun facts about Google’s algorithm, and how it’s shaped the way we search today.

What the Heck Is an Algorithm, Anyway?

To quote Google itself, “Algorithms are the computer processes and formulas that take your questions and turn them into answers.” They cut through its estimated “trillions” of web pages in existence to find the information you’re looking for.

Think about that for a second. “Trillions.” One trillion, numerically, looks like this:

1,000,000,000,000

Imagine if there were no algorithms, and we had to somehow sift through that amount of information ourselves. Luckily, Google has developed an algorithm that can read — at a pace few of us can begin to fathom — different signals from these pages that indicate how likely they are to answer your search query.

But it’s not just about the words on the page. Algorithms can also read how recent the content is, how likely it is to be spam, and how it pertains to your location.

As marketers, all of this stuff matters. Where and how your pages rank in Google can make or break your organic search traffic, so it’s important to understand how the algorithm works and how to ethically optimize for it. What’s more, it’s crucial to be adaptable — the Google algorithm has changed a lot over the years, and will continue to do so as it becomes even more user-friendly.

8 Fun Facts About Google’s Algorithm

1) Google’s overall algorithm has had one name since 2013: Hummingbird.

Source: Search Engine Land

If you do keep up with the changes to Google’s algorithm, you’ve probably seen some colorful names assigned to them — Panda, Penguin, and Pigeon to name a few.

However, those names have only been assigned to updates made to the overall algorithm itself — which today is called Hummingbird. It was formally announced in September 2013 and created to make search results more “precise and fast” like the bird itself, according to Search Engine Land [SEL].

SEL has one of the best analogies we’ve seen to describe the algorithm at-large — Hummingbird is a “recipe” with hundreds of “ingredients.” These ingredients are the different pieces that help the algorithm determine the quality of those trillions of pages, and how well any one of them might answer your search.

2) Google makes changes to its algorithm roughly 500 times per year.

Source: pyxle

SEO community Moz states that Google makes between 500-600 changes to its algorithm annually, most of which are so minor that the public doesn’t usually hear about them.

Even without those minor changes, however, Moz has recorded no less than 140 updates to the Google algorithm since 2000.

Because the list was fairly dense, I enlisted the help of a colleague to count the items accurately. In splitting it up into two sections — the eight years before and after 2008, respectively — we noticed something interesting. The first eight years only listed 25 updates of note, whereas the latter had 115.

So why have there been so many more updates in the recent years? It could have something to do with the massive increase in users. But it could also be about changes to the way we search. For one, we’re searching on our phones a lot more — 51% percent of digital media is consumed via mobile — which has led to more than one crackdown by Google on pages that aren’t optimized for such platforms.  

We’re also starting to see an uptick in voice search. And while there currently aren’t precise formulas to plan or rank for those kinds of searches, we imagine that Google will start changing its algorithm for them — after all, it’s seen a 3400% increase in voice queries since 2008.

Like we said — understanding the algorithm requires agility. It’s only going to continue to change, so in order to maintain good search standing, marketers should learn to adapt.

3) One of the original goals was to cut through spammy content from advertisers.

Original algorithm paper

Source: Stanford InfoLab

Google’s “history in depth” dates back roughly 20 years — in 1997, co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were working on their first search engine, which they then called BackRub.

Then, in 1998, the pair published a paper at Stanford titled “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine.” That’s where we see one of the first mentions of PageRank, which is the technology that Google continues to use to help rank search results.

But there’s one thing in the admittedly dense text that really stood out. At the time of writing the paper, Page and Brin noted, “the predominant business model for commercial search engines is advertising. The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users.”

We can’t help but geek out over the fact that Google remains loyal to that thesis. When I previously interviewed my colleague Marcus Andrews about the algorithm, he told me, “Google is very focused on the user.”

In fact, you could say that’s why Google has continued to make so many changes to the algorithm. It’s finding new ways to get the best content to users.

Just have a look at the search engine’s “Steps to a Google-friendly site” — one of the first things listed is to “provide high-quality content on your pages.” Eighteen years later, Google is working toward the original vision of its founders.

4) PageRank was named after Google co-founder Larry Page.

Google_Founders.png

Source: Stanford InfoLab

When the name “PageRank” is assigned to the technology that helps Google rank pages, it seems fairly intuitive. But it was actually named after one of Google’s co-founders, Larry Page, whose young mug can be found to the right in the image above.

PageRank itself has quite a history. While its technology was in many ways beneficial, it was also very confusing, even to some expert SEOs. That’s why SEL published the in depth article, “What Is Google PageRank?” — very few people understood it.

Google says that PageRank is what “looks at links between pages to determine their relevance.” But SEL says it’s more like a voting system, in which inbound links to a given page count as votes toward its authority. So, the more votes, the more authority. The clincher? Anyone could view a site’s PageRank.

In spring of 2016, Google announced that while it would still be using PageRank technology to internally adjust its algorithm, the public would no longer be able to able to view any of its data. For some, that was happy news, according to SEL and its “retrospective on how [PageRank] ruined the web.” Apparently, PageRank’s emphasis on being linked to created a lot of annoying, borderline spammy behavior — like links becoming available for purchase.

Today, the technology for ranking has become more discerning, thanks in large part to MozRank, which is a “link popularity score.” To learn more about using MozRank for SEO and tracking competition, check out our HubSpot Academy guide here.

5) There’s a Google Dance — but it’s not what it sounds like.

Google dance

Source: Search Engine Land

Our inner marketing nerds wish that “The Google” was actually a physical dance move. In actuality, though, Google Dance was actually the name applied to the sudden changes to its rankings, back when the algorithm used to majorly change every month.

Marketing Land credits forum WebmasterWorld for originating the term, and also for assigning different geographically-inspired names to each dance, like “Boston” in February 2003 and “Florida” later that year. But Florida, it seems, was the last dance — or the last salient one, anyway. That’s when Google stopped making major updates to its algorithm every month, and instead started making the general under-the-radar adjustments it does today.

But to keep track of these changes, especially the minor ones, it can help to keep an eye on the MozCast Google Weather Report. It assigns a temperature that indicates how much the algorithm has changed since the previous day — the higher and stormier the conditions, the greater the shift to Google’s rankings.

Don’t be sad — earlier this year, Google hosted an event at the SMX West conference called “Google Dance” to celebrate “an annual gathering for search marketers.” 

6) There isn’t *really* a reason behind the names for updates.

Google_Names.jpg

Source: Wade Creative Network

I would really love to think that there’s an adorable story behind assigning the name “Penguin” to an algorithm update. But according to Moz, there isn’t really a formal naming method.

Similar to the names for Google’s “dance moves,” WebmasterWorld users also named most of the other updates — “Boston,” because it was announced at SES Boston, and others in the same way that hurricanes are named, though it’s rumored that “Dominic” came from a Boston pizza place

Moz also reports that some of the self-named algorithm updates, like “Caffeine,” “Panda” and “Vince” came from Google itself, and that the latter two were named after Google engineers. 

7) Algorithms are also getting smarter for image searches.

Google cloud vision API

Source: Forbes

Recently, Google announced the debut of the Pixel, its newest smartphone. Among its brag-worthy features? “The highest rated smartphone camera. Ever.

Part of what makes the camera so great are its “its world-class software algorithms,” said Google camera product lead, Isaac Reynolds. That can be attributed to Pixel’s HDR+ algorithm, which helps users capture the best quality photos, despite lighting or movement conditions.

What does that have to do with Google’s search algorithm? Well, nothing directly. But it does show even more progress toward the quest to yield the best content for users, including images. In the realm of visual searches, it’s all about the Cloud Vision API — the technology that allows Google to analyze and determine the content of images.

Late in 2015, Google made that API accessible to the public, which allows geeks like myself to play with it and see how it reads the content of their own photos. Naturally, I had to take it for a spin, first with an image of my dog:

Screen_Shot_2016-10-12_at_11.25.56_AM.png

Next, I tried it with this nice photo of HubSpot’s blogging team: 

blogging team labels

Blog team facial analysis

Whoa. How did it know that I had, in fact, uploaded a photo of a black dog? And how did it know that the second photo was of a team experiencing joy?  

It’s that sneaky, remarkable algorithm, which has been programmed — we predict using tons of existing images with various facial expressions, objects, landmarks, and more — to detect and recognize the elements and objects within an image.

Cool, huh? Give it a try here.

8) There’s a human side — the “search evaluators.”

searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.png

Source: Google

Google enlists the work of human beings to evaluate the quality of search results. Each year, there are roughly 40,000 of these “precision evaluations,” as Google calls them, in which search evaluators determine the quality of results for different searches .

There’s a 146-page document that explains the guidelines used by search evaluators when rating results. It seems to be largely intended for people who are interested in becoming evaluators. But upon exploring the guidelines, the information might also help developers and marketers determine what constitutes search quality.

Different sections of it can even be useful to people who are just getting started with SEO. Have a look at the “Your Money or Your Life” section, which goes into evaluating a page’s potential implications for a user’s health and finances, for example. Some of the criteria might look like common sense, but it also provides some unique insights on how to keep your content accountable, especially if you’re giving advice.

There are also three different sections each dedicated to the highest, lowest, and medium quality pages. Again, what might seem like common sense can actually serve as valuable information to marketers — for example, if a page is deemed to have a “true lack of purpose,” it will be classified as “lowest quality.”

That’s something to keep in mind as you develop and manage your content. Have a read, and see if anything on your pages needs to change.

Have Fun With Search

So, there you have it — algorithms can be fun, after all, especially when you get to play with photo recognition API.

But with a history as rich as the one belonging to Google’s algorithm, there’s sure to be some interesting trivia, and just a splash of drama along the way.

We can’t wait to see what’s next. And, as always, we’re here to keep you posted.

What are your favorite pieces of the Google algorithm history? Let us know in the comments.

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Nov

22

2016

8 Interesting Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Google’s Algorithm

Fun_Facts_Algorithm.png

It’s not often that you see the word “fun” and “algorithm” in the same sentence. (Okay, fine. Maybe you do, if you’re a marketing nerd like I am.) But think about this: Google has really been around for over two decades. With a history like that, there’s got to be at least some compelling trivia, right?

Believe it or not, algorithms are really cool. I mean, they get us our search results, after all.But how does Google’s algorithm work? And how has it evolved over the course of so many years? Download our free on-page SEO template here to help you plan and organize your  blog's SEO strategy. 

We thought you might ask that, so we put together some fun facts about Google’s algorithm, and how it’s shaped the way we search today.

What the Heck Is an Algorithm, Anyway?

To quote Google itself, “Algorithms are the computer processes and formulas that take your questions and turn them into answers.” They cut through its estimated “trillions” of web pages in existence to find the information you’re looking for.

Think about that for a second. “Trillions.” One trillion, numerically, looks like this:

1,000,000,000,000

Imagine if there were no algorithms, and we had to somehow sift through that amount of information ourselves. Luckily, Google has developed an algorithm that can read — at a pace few of us can begin to fathom — different signals from these pages that indicate how likely they are to answer your search query.

But it’s not just about the words on the page. Algorithms can also read how recent the content is, how likely it is to be spam, and how it pertains to your location.

As marketers, all of this stuff matters. Where and how your pages rank in Google can make or break your organic search traffic, so it’s important to understand how the algorithm works and how to ethically optimize for it. What’s more, it’s crucial to be adaptable — the Google algorithm has changed a lot over the years, and will continue to do so as it becomes even more user-friendly.

8 Fun Facts About Google’s Algorithm

1) Google’s overall algorithm has had one name since 2013: Hummingbird.

Source: Search Engine Land

If you do keep up with the changes to Google’s algorithm, you’ve probably seen some colorful names assigned to them — Panda, Penguin, and Pigeon to name a few.

However, those names have only been assigned to updates made to the overall algorithm itself — which today is called Hummingbird. It was formally announced in September 2013 and created to make search results more “precise and fast” like the bird itself, according to Search Engine Land [SEL].

SEL has one of the best analogies we’ve seen to describe the algorithm at-large — Hummingbird is a “recipe” with hundreds of “ingredients.” These ingredients are the different pieces that help the algorithm determine the quality of those trillions of pages, and how well any one of them might answer your search.

2) Google makes changes to its algorithm roughly 500 times per year.

Source: pyxle

SEO community Moz states that Google makes between 500-600 changes to its algorithm annually, most of which are so minor that the public doesn’t usually hear about them.

Even without those minor changes, however, Moz has recorded no less than 140 updates to the Google algorithm since 2000.

Because the list was fairly dense, I enlisted the help of a colleague to count the items accurately. In splitting it up into two sections — the eight years before and after 2008, respectively — we noticed something interesting. The first eight years only listed 25 updates of note, whereas the latter had 115.

So why have there been so many more updates in the recent years? It could have something to do with the massive increase in users. But it could also be about changes to the way we search. For one, we’re searching on our phones a lot more — 51% percent of digital media is consumed via mobile — which has led to more than one crackdown by Google on pages that aren’t optimized for such platforms.  

We’re also starting to see an uptick in voice search. And while there currently aren’t precise formulas to plan or rank for those kinds of searches, we imagine that Google will start changing its algorithm for them — after all, it’s seen a 3400% increase in voice queries since 2008.

Like we said — understanding the algorithm requires agility. It’s only going to continue to change, so in order to maintain good search standing, marketers should learn to adapt.

3) One of the original goals was to cut through spammy content from advertisers.

Original algorithm paper

Source: Stanford InfoLab

Google’s “history in depth” dates back roughly 20 years — in 1997, co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were working on their first search engine, which they then called BackRub.

Then, in 1998, the pair published a paper at Stanford titled “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine.” That’s where we see one of the first mentions of PageRank, which is the technology that Google continues to use to help rank search results.

But there’s one thing in the admittedly dense text that really stood out. At the time of writing the paper, Page and Brin noted, “the predominant business model for commercial search engines is advertising. The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users.”

We can’t help but geek out over the fact that Google remains loyal to that thesis. When I previously interviewed my colleague Marcus Andrews about the algorithm, he told me, “Google is very focused on the user.”

In fact, you could say that’s why Google has continued to make so many changes to the algorithm. It’s finding new ways to get the best content to users.

Just have a look at the search engine’s “Steps to a Google-friendly site” — one of the first things listed is to “provide high-quality content on your pages.” Eighteen years later, Google is working toward the original vision of its founders.

4) PageRank was named after Google co-founder Larry Page.

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Source: Stanford InfoLab

When the name “PageRank” is assigned to the technology that helps Google rank pages, it seems fairly intuitive. But it was actually named after one of Google’s co-founders, Larry Page, whose young mug can be found to the right in the image above.

PageRank itself has quite a history. While its technology was in many ways beneficial, it was also very confusing, even to some expert SEOs. That’s why SEL published the in depth article, “What Is Google PageRank?” — very few people understood it.

Google says that PageRank is what “looks at links between pages to determine their relevance.” But SEL says it’s more like a voting system, in which inbound links to a given page count as votes toward its authority. So, the more votes, the more authority. The clincher? Anyone could view a site’s PageRank.

In spring of 2016, Google announced that while it would still be using PageRank technology to internally adjust its algorithm, the public would no longer be able to able to view any of its data. For some, that was happy news, according to SEL and its “retrospective on how [PageRank] ruined the web.” Apparently, PageRank’s emphasis on being linked to created a lot of annoying, borderline spammy behavior — like links becoming available for purchase.

Today, the technology for ranking has become more discerning, thanks in large part to MozRank, which is a “link popularity score.” To learn more about using MozRank for SEO and tracking competition, check out our HubSpot Academy guide here.

5) There’s a Google Dance — but it’s not what it sounds like.

Google dance

Source: Search Engine Land

Our inner marketing nerds wish that “The Google” was actually a physical dance move. In actuality, though, Google Dance was actually the name applied to the sudden changes to its rankings, back when the algorithm used to majorly change every month.

Marketing Land credits forum WebmasterWorld for originating the term, and also for assigning different geographically-inspired names to each dance, like “Boston” in February 2003 and “Florida” later that year. But Florida, it seems, was the last dance — or the last salient one, anyway. That’s when Google stopped making major updates to its algorithm every month, and instead started making the general under-the-radar adjustments it does today.

But to keep track of these changes, especially the minor ones, it can help to keep an eye on the MozCast Google Weather Report. It assigns a temperature that indicates how much the algorithm has changed since the previous day — the higher and stormier the conditions, the greater the shift to Google’s rankings.

Don’t be sad — earlier this year, Google hosted an event at the SMX West conference called “Google Dance” to celebrate “an annual gathering for search marketers.” 

6) There isn’t *really* a reason behind the names for updates.

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Source: Wade Creative Network

I would really love to think that there’s an adorable story behind assigning the name “Penguin” to an algorithm update. But according to Moz, there isn’t really a formal naming method.

Similar to the names for Google’s “dance moves,” WebmasterWorld users also named most of the other updates — “Boston,” because it was announced at SES Boston, and others in the same way that hurricanes are named, though it’s rumored that “Dominic” came from a Boston pizza place

Moz also reports that some of the self-named algorithm updates, like “Caffeine,” “Panda” and “Vince” came from Google itself, and that the latter two were named after Google engineers. 

7) Algorithms are also getting smarter for image searches.

Google cloud vision API

Source: Forbes

Recently, Google announced the debut of the Pixel, its newest smartphone. Among its brag-worthy features? “The highest rated smartphone camera. Ever.

Part of what makes the camera so great are its “its world-class software algorithms,” said Google camera product lead, Isaac Reynolds. That can be attributed to Pixel’s HDR+ algorithm, which helps users capture the best quality photos, despite lighting or movement conditions.

What does that have to do with Google’s search algorithm? Well, nothing directly. But it does show even more progress toward the quest to yield the best content for users, including images. In the realm of visual searches, it’s all about the Cloud Vision API — the technology that allows Google to analyze and determine the content of images.

Late in 2015, Google made that API accessible to the public, which allows geeks like myself to play with it and see how it reads the content of their own photos. Naturally, I had to take it for a spin, first with an image of my dog:

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Next, I tried it with this nice photo of HubSpot’s blogging team: 

blogging team labels

Blog team facial analysis

Whoa. How did it know that I had, in fact, uploaded a photo of a black dog? And how did it know that the second photo was of a team experiencing joy?  

It’s that sneaky, remarkable algorithm, which has been programmed — we predict using tons of existing images with various facial expressions, objects, landmarks, and more — to detect and recognize the elements and objects within an image.

Cool, huh? Give it a try here.

8) There’s a human side — the “search evaluators.”

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Source: Google

Google enlists the work of human beings to evaluate the quality of search results. Each year, there are roughly 40,000 of these “precision evaluations,” as Google calls them, in which search evaluators determine the quality of results for different searches .

There’s a 146-page document that explains the guidelines used by search evaluators when rating results. It seems to be largely intended for people who are interested in becoming evaluators. But upon exploring the guidelines, the information might also help developers and marketers determine what constitutes search quality.

Different sections of it can even be useful to people who are just getting started with SEO. Have a look at the “Your Money or Your Life” section, which goes into evaluating a page’s potential implications for a user’s health and finances, for example. Some of the criteria might look like common sense, but it also provides some unique insights on how to keep your content accountable, especially if you’re giving advice.

There are also three different sections each dedicated to the highest, lowest, and medium quality pages. Again, what might seem like common sense can actually serve as valuable information to marketers — for example, if a page is deemed to have a “true lack of purpose,” it will be classified as “lowest quality.”

That’s something to keep in mind as you develop and manage your content. Have a read, and see if anything on your pages needs to change.

Have Fun With Search

So, there you have it — algorithms can be fun, after all, especially when you get to play with photo recognition API.

But with a history as rich as the one belonging to Google’s algorithm, there’s sure to be some interesting trivia, and just a splash of drama along the way.

We can’t wait to see what’s next. And, as always, we’re here to keep you posted.

What are your favorite pieces of the Google algorithm history? Let us know in the comments.

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The Ultimate Collection of Free Content Marketing Templates

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Does any aspect of your job intimidate you?

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

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

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

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

Content Planning Templates

A Content Planning/Goal-Setting Template

(Download the content planning template here.)

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

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A Content Mapping Template

(Download the content mapping template here)

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

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A Buyer Persona Template

(Download the buyer persona template here.)

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

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3 Blog Editorial Calendar Templates

(Download the blog editorial calendar templates here.)

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

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

(Download the social media content calendar templates here.)

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

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Written Content Templates 

5 Blog Post Templates

(Download the blog post templates here.)

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

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

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

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5 Ebook Templates

(Download the ebook templates here.)

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

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A Press Release Template

(Download the press release template here.)

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

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50 Call-to-Action Templates

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

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

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

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Visual Content Templates 

195+ Visual Marketing Templates

(Download the visual marketing templates here.)

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

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

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15 Infographic Templates

(Download the infographic templates here.)

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

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100 Social Media Graphics Templates

(Download the social media graphics templates here.)

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

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5 Social Media Cover Photo Templates

(Download the social media cover photo templates here.)

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

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3 PowerPoint Templates

(Download the PowerPoint templates here.)

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

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

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5 SlideShare Templates

(Download the SlideShare templates here.)

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

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

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Email Templates

15 Email Templates for Marketing and Sales

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

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

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

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

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