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Oct

5

2017

How to Make the Most of a 30-Minute Phone Interview

Published by in category Interviews, Popular | Leave a Comment

Hiring good people can be difficult, time-consuming, and costly. If you’re in a constant cycle of hiring, I don’t have to tell you about the time warp it can cause — but what about the cost?

The more interviews you do, the more you spend. And the more time you spend absorbed in lengthy interviews the more likely you are to take shortcuts and make mistakes. And according to Dr. John Sullivan, the hiring process is getting even harder:

“Aggressiveness, the need for counteroffers, higher rejection rates, and a renewed focus on recruiting the currently employed will all return to prominence.”

What if I told you I could help you be more efficient with your time, and get the information you need to make decisions for next steps — in about half the time you’re currently committing?Click here to download our free guide to hiring and training a team of  all-stars.

The advantage of reducing your hiring time will add to your bottom line, perhaps more than you realize. A report from UrbanBound illustrated the time demands, and how costs can add up:

“Onboarding can be an extremely time-demanding project. It can cost up to 1/3 of an employee’s salary to onboard and train new hires, especially when that employee’s job description does not have to do with onboarding. Therefore, if a small company has a flawed onboarding plan, they risk having a bad retention percentage which can be extremely costly.”

Considering this, it’s logical to believe organizations would be better off spending less time overall on interviews, but more quality time during that initial conversation. So, how would one shorten the time commitment and reduce overall costs, and give a better interview in the process? Consider my process for a 30-minute phone interview, below.

How to Run a 30-Minute Phone Interview

I know what you’re thinking … 30 minutes seems really short when you are trying to find a fabulous candidate, how do you make it worthwhile? You’re probably asking yourself:

  • What questions do I ask?
  • How do I prioritize the questions?
  • If I run such a tight agenda, how will we connect?

Okay, maybe not that last one. But if you structure a simple agenda, prepare quality questions, and are disciplined throughout your time in front of candidates, I believe you can answer all of your questions after just a few interviews. Let’s start with time management.

Managing The First 5 Minutes

If you’re going to pull off an effective interview in 30 minutes or less, you have to be organized and efficient. You’ll want to start strong and there’s no better time than the first five minutes.

4 Things to Cover in the First 5 Minutes

  • Introduce yourself: “Hi, I’m the Managing Partner of Revenue River Marketing. We’re growing quickly and I’m looking for the very best marketers in the country.”
  • State your intent: “We’re hiring for position XYZ and I’m looking for a specific type of candidate. I’d like to move quickly so we can both decide if there’s a good fit for us.”
  • Set the agenda: “I’d like to spend 10 minutes asking you a few questions, then I’ll give you an equal amount of time to ask me anything you’d like.”
  • Confirm buy-in: “How does that sound?” (If they say anything other than ‘absolutely’ or ‘I’m ready’, I’d be concerned. Anyone who just starts rambling clearly isn’t picking up on your goals.)

The Next 10 Minutes: Getting Answers to Key Questions

If you’re going to get through enough quality questions in 10 minutes, you’ll want to ensure you’re on point with your preparation. You’ll want to prepare a set of direct questions and count on the candidate being perceptive enough to answer with brevity.

I’ve noticed that observing how candidates handle the pace of this section can be very telling. If the candidate decides to grandstand during replies to your questioning, it’s a clear disqualifier.

Instead of interrupting to get through your questions efficiently, I advise you let them talk. They’ll cost themselves the chance to answer the remainder of your questions, and likely a chance at employment with your organization.

Conversely, a good candidate understands that you’ll ask follow-up questions if you want more detail. Some of our very best hires have quickly and artfully answered our most direct and pointed questions with quick-witted responses.

While I can’t provide the exact types of key questions you should ask for your own specific position, I can give you a sense of qualities you want to look for that are predominantly universal for any job.

Giving Them 10 Minutes to Pass the “Test”

Now it’s time for your candidate to impress you with their prepared questions. Your goal for this ten-minute segment is to see how prepared the candidate is and how much they want this job in particular. You want to know if they’re just looking for any job they can find, or if they’re truly interested in a career with your organization.

Good candidates prepare well. They study your website, your bio, your team, and your offering. They have a list of specific questions that demonstrate their understanding of your business, and hopefully even some observations on how they believe they can add value.

Many candidates won’t realize how important this segment of the interview is, and they’ll reveal something about themselves you missed previously. The candidates that used active listening during the first five minutes will operate at the same pace you did and respect the agenda.

Insight to Gain during Candidate Questioning

  • Did they study your website? Test them on it.
  • Do they understand what you do? Ask them questions about it.
  • Are they more interested in compensation or job duties?
  • Are they more interested in benefits and vacation or company growth trajectory?

Remaining 5 Minutes: Wrapping Up with Next Steps

Something to remember during this initial interview is that the goal is not to hire, but to qualify for next steps. Each candidate is either ready for another interview or they’re being ruled out. You’re not hiring them today, so don’t overdo it. Just get through the critical questions you think need to be answered and wrap things up.

You likely won’t have exactly five minutes here, but that’s okay. Let them know your plans for next steps and let them know your expectations for follow-up.

Follow-up should always be the responsibility of the candidate and never on the executive. I’ve been surprised by some great interviews that were followed by poor follow-up and their responsibility here allows them to demonstrate their skills further, one way or another.

5 Important Qualities To Focus On in a 30-Minute Phone Interview

1) Coachability

Employees that aren’t coachable struggle to get through tough times, and those who are receptive to instruction improve quickly. As Derek Lauber from Lightbox Leadership puts it, “Hiring for coachability can help you find those individuals with the traits necessary to becoming long-term valuable members of your organization.”

Example Question: What would you do if you found yourself struggling to meet your objectives after 90 days?

2) Transparency

You can substitute in the word “honesty” here. I love asking questions that allow the candidates the chance to prove they’re not completely honest. A transparent workplace is important in maintaining a positive culture, and you don’t want to let any bad seeds take root. Jessica Miller-Merrell of Glassdoor advises, “When one person is not aligned with the organization, it is significantly more likely that everyone below them will be out of line as well.”

Example Question: Why shouldn’t I hire you? (Please don’t tell me because sometimes you care too much)

3) Desire

People that really want something for themselves work harder than people who just want to live a life of leisure so I look for people who are hungry. These are the people you want in your organization, pure and simple.

Example Question: Why is this position the direction you want to go with your career?

4) Organizational Skills

The modern workplace is a massive game of dealing with distractions– organization creates efficiency and that means better productivity. In “Organizational Skills in the Workplace,” Rick Suttle advises, “Planning is a needed workplace skill, and it is particularly important as person advances into more supervisory or managerial roles.”

Example Question: How do you plan your day/week, and what tools have you used to do so?

5) Humility

The best players on any team have humility — ego and selfishness can cause cancerous behavior that can destroy what you’ve built. As John Baldoni put it in HBR, “Humility is more than an important characteristic for leaders, but for employees as well. It is this trait which allows leaders and employees to work well individually and as a team. A humble employee is aware of his own limitations and is willing to accept –- and give –- help as needed.”

Example Question: Those are some impressive results. To what do you owe that success?

Additional Questions & Comments

You’ll also want to spend a couple minutes on some resume specific questions. You should prepare a few direct questions about their resume you can mix in with the others. Here are a few questions I like to ask to see if I can get someone to complain, make excuses, or show inconsistencies for the character traits I’m targeting at this time.

  • How was your relationship with your boss at this job?
  • Which of these positions do you feel held your career back?

These can be clear indicators of disqualifiers for your role, so don’t shy away from them.

With Practice Comes Perfection

After you’ve used this 30-minute phone interview script with a few candidates you’ll perfect the process and refine your style. Once perfected, cutting your initial interview time in half with these concepts will save time and money while improving results during this step in the hiring process.

Start by spending a little more time setting up your own script, and you’ll be sure to benefit once you’ve applied these tactics.

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Aug

31

2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 of the Biggest Social Media News Stories This Month

Snapchat

1) Snapchat has partnered with college newspapers on Discover.

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

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

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

social_media_by_age_emarketer_01.png

Source: eMarketer/Recode

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

2) Snapchat has more users, but less value.

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

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

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

Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

video with sound facebook-1.png

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

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

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

facebook licacap2-3.gif

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

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

newsroom-hero_final-blue-11.png

Source: Facebook

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

Instagram

7) Instagram launched Instagram Live — with two users.

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

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

Source: Instagram

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

8) Instagram (and Facebook) launched comment threading.

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

instagram comment threads.png

Source: Instagram

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

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

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

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

reply-2-en.png

Source: TechCrunch

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

Pinterest

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

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

pinterest zoom-2.gif

Source: Pinterest

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

YouTube

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

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

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

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

youtube_1-7.png

Source: YouTube

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

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


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Aug

30

2017

What Makes Good Copywriting? 6 Characteristics of Top-Notch Copy

Mad Men fans everywhere remember the pivotal first scene where we learn just how talented Don Draper is at his job.

Faced with an almost-impossible copywriting task, he rose to the occasion to solve a huge problem for his client, Lucky Strike. In spite of research warning customers of the dangers of cigarettes, Draper delivered the iconic slogan — “It’s toasted” — to differentiate the brand from its competitors.

Now, we definitely aren’t advocating for smoking cigarettes (or many of Draper’s health choices). But fictional or not, you can’t deny the memorability and catchiness of that tagline.Click here to sharpen your copywriting skills with the help of our content  marketing workbook.

It’s easy to recognize good copywriting when you see it, but there are actually several characteristics that really separate outstanding writing from the rest of the pack. Want to know them? Read on below to find out.

6 Good Copywriting Examples From Real Brands

1) It tilts your perspective.

Sometimes, all a message needs to break through is a slight shift in angle. We’ve grown so accustomed to blocking out marketing messages, we don’t even see them anymore. One of the most powerful things a copywriter can do is break down a reader’s guard with an unexpected approach. Every story has a myriad of angles — your job as a copywriter is to find the one that resonates.

594ab5f61700002000102212.png
 
Source: Silence Sucks

The above ad from Sage Therapeutics pressing the importance of talking about postpartum depression works because instead of asking readers to care about something they don’t know, it puts them in the position of experiencing the struggle that mothers suffering do. Did they miss some readers who quickly passed by the ad thinking it was for adult pacifiers? Most definitely. But the ad resonated that much more thoroughly with those who read it.

The next time you sit down to write, try out this approach. Don’t take the topic head on. Instead, ask yourself why it matters. Each time you write down an answer, challenge yourself to push it further. Find the larger story happening behind your message.

2) It finds connections.

In 1996, Steve Jobs let the cat out of the bag. He was speaking with a journalist from Wired on the topic of creativity and explained:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after awhile.”

Let’s say you have to write an ad for a new pair of sneakers. You could take the assignment head on. You could write about the elasticity of the shoe’s sole or the lightweight design. Indeed, many have. Or you could put all of that aside and instead draw the connection between the product and the experience it evokes.

Run_ad

Source: Pinterest

Two things are happening in this ad. First, the copy recognizes that for many, running isn’t about running at all — it’s about solitude, peace, and restoring sanity to an otherwise hectic life. Second, not only does Nike connect the ad to the experience of running, it actually connects to the sound that those shoes make as they hit the pavement.

This ad is about the complexity of one’s life fading away and being replaced by simplicity and clarity. As the copy progresses, the sentences simplify and the copy’s complexity is slowly replaced by the simple and rhythmic pounding of words: run, run, run, run. The same rhythm one hears when all but their footsteps have faded away. That’s connection.

3) It has a stunning lead.

The following are all headlines or leading sentences from Urban Daddy, an email-based magazine drawing attention to new products, experiences, and eateries.

  • “Six days. That’s how long you have until 65% of your body is turkey.”
  • “There are 8,760 hours in a year. And just one hour in which a stand will be dispensing gratis latkes with homemade applesauce and sour cream in Harvard Square. Yeah, it’s not fair. But 60 minutes is 60 minutes.”
  • “Ewoks. Talk about living.”

What’s common among each of these leads? They make us want to read the next line. I mean, seriously, how much do you want to know where that Ewok thing is headed?

There’s an adage in copywriting that’s loosely credited to copywriter and business owner Joe Sugarman, which roughly states that the purpose of the headline is to get you to read the first line. The purpose of the first line is to get you to read the second line, and so on. In short, if your first line doesn’t enthrall your readers, all is lost.

4) It is born out of listening.

Seeing its plans to launch yet another gym in the greater Boston region, an outsider might have called the Harrington family a wee bit crazy. The market was already flush with gyms, including a new breed of luxury ones that seemed to be in an arms war for the flashiest perks. Gyms across the region were offering massage services, smoothie bars, and fleets of personal trainers. And GymIt wouldn’t have any of that.

What did GymIt have? An understanding of its core audience. Before launching its new gym, the brand did a ton of listening to its primary market of gym-goers. For many in GymIt’s target market, the added benefits associated with luxury gyms were nice to have, but came with a lot of baggage — namely expensive rates and overly complex contracts.

GymIt decided to simplify the gym-going experience for people who predominately cared about getting in and working out. The copy in its launch campaign and across its marketing materials reflects that understanding.

GymIt__gyms_in_Boston_ma__health_clubs

In an older blog post, Copyblogger‘s Robert Bruce put this nicely. “Humble yourself and truly serve your audience, listen to their needs and desires, listen to the language they use,” he said. “If you listen carefully, your audience can eventually give you everything you need, including much of your copy. Get out of their way.”

5) It avoids jargon and hyperbole.

Groundbreaking. Revolutionary. Business Solutions. Targetable Scale. Ideation. Evidence-based approaches. Industry wide best practices.

Have I lost you yet?

When writers struggle to convey what is truly special about their company, product, or service, they sometimes fall back on jargon or hyperbole to underscore their point. The truth is, good copywriting doesn’t need dressing up. Good copywriting should speak to the reader in human terms.

This isn’t to say you should never celebrate awards or achievements. Just be direct in the way you explain that achievement. This homepage from Basecamp does a nice job of highlighting its popularity in concrete terms.

basecamp-copywriting-example.png

6) It cuts out excess.

Good writing gets to the point — and that means cutting out excessive phrases, and rewording your sentences to be more direct. In an ad celebrating its “academic” readership, The Economist playfully demonstrates this below.

economist-1

How do you rid excess words from your writing? It’s half practice, half knowing where to cut. This article from Daily Writing Tips is one of the most effective summaries I’ve found on precise writing. Included in its tips:

  • Reduce verb phrases: For instance, turn “The results are suggestive of the fact that” to “The results suggest.”
  • Reduce wordy phrases to single words: You can change “in order to” into “to.” Another example: Turn “Due to the fact that” into “because.”
  • Avoid vague nouns: Phrases formed around general nouns like “in the area of” or “on the topic of” clutter sentences.
  • Read the full list of brevity tips here.

In general, if you can afford to cut without losing the meaning of a sentence, do so. Push yourself to strip down your word count. Turn 50-word homepage copy into 25, then push yourself again to make that 25-word sentence into 15 words. It’s not about brevity so much as it is about making sure every word counts in your writing.

Since my last point was about getting to the point, I’ll keep this brief: Words matter. Every time you sit down to write an ad, web page, video script, or other content for your company, you have the opportunity to break through to people. Find those opportunities in your marketing and make sure that you’ve made the most of them.

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Aug

28

2017

5 Myths About Video Marketing, Debunked

By now, you’ve probably heard video marketing is a powerful tool for generating leads and capturing new customers.

So why aren’t you using it yet?

For many small to medium businesses, the reluctance to adopt video comes from a fear of the unknown. Video marketing feels expensive, cumbersome, and difficult to track. And these would be valid reasons … if any of them were still true in 2017.

Video technology has come a long way in the past five years. We’ve gone from “put it on YouTube and hope the millennials find it” to video enablement platforms which empower small businesses to create, share, and analyze videos without the agencies, actors, or expense. Some 70% of businesses report that video now their top channel for driving conversions, according to Demand Metric.

If you haven’t seen what video can do for your company, t’s time to stop putting it off.

5 Video Marketing Myths, Debunked

1) Video is too expensive.

Sure, HBO’s Westworld may have beaten The Game of Thrones’ record with a price tag of $10 million per episode, but you don’t have to play their game. In fact, stay as far away from it as possible.

Video doesn’t have to be expensive. Today’s buyers and consumers actually appreciate authenticity over production value.

According to Fast Company, consumers prefer lower quality but “authentic” goods and services over those of a higher quality but which seem “inauthentic.”

This craving for authenticity is why we’re seeing such an explosion in micro-influencer marketing and user-generated content. With both of these marketing strategies, brands rely on their own buyers to create content, usually with little more than an iPhone.

With your own video content, don’t stress over having a low production budget if you have something valuable to say. Here at Vidyard, we produce Chalk Talks where we ask experts within our company to chat about topics like outbound sales, analytics, and video strategy in front of a chalkboard. The videos have been shared thousands of times, and the cost? A few minutes of someone’s time and a lot of colored chalk.

2) Video is cumbersome.

What many small business owners typically mean by this is “I don’t know where to begin.” When they think of video, they imagine a time-consuming process of coming up with scripts and storyboards, procuring actors and equipment, and hiring someone in jockey pants to operate the clapperboard and shout, “Action!” Yet modern video marketing is worlds apart from Hollywood and requires a lot less effort.

When it comes to camera equipment, the age-old aphorism still holds true: the best camera is the one that’s with you.

Today, most iPhone cameras rival all but the top-of-the-line DSLRs and video equipment and are a great substitute. You can easily capture videos of yourself, your office, events, and customers giving off-the-cuff testimonials when your sales and account teams pay them a visit.

And when it comes to actors, don’t worry that you can’t afford Gal Gadot: you don’t need her. Your employees will do a far better job because they actually know your products, your customers, and the details of your industry. After the initial awkwardness of seeing themselves on camera fades, you’ll have all the actors you need.

And finally, not everything needs to be scripted. Writers are great and preparation has its place but a lot of great content can be created with little or no forethought. Take entrepreneur and internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk, for example. He built a media empire from selfie videos recorded on his mobile phone. The below video of him giving advice to young entrepreneurs might be what the internet would call “potato quality” but it still gets the powerful point across.

 

 

3) Our industry doesn’t really use video.

What most brands hopefully mean by this one is “our industry doesn’t use video yet.” Video is industry agnostic and the demand is being driven not by businesses, but the people who work within them. Remember, both B2B and B2C are really just B2H (business-to-human), and humans love video. One need only look at the numbers for a reminder:

  • 82 percent of all internet traffic will be video by 2021, up from 73 percent in 2016. – Cisco
  • 55 percent of people watch videos online every day. – Invisia
  • 500 million hours of video are watched every day on YouTube alone. – Buffer

In fact, the industries with the greatest opportunities are those where video has classically been underused. Just look at the recent proliferation of online video in places like real estate, where agencies are suddenly embracing everything from drone flyovers to virtual reality walk-throughs. To see similarly outsized gains ask yourself, “what would the people who make up our customer base, business or otherwise, like to see?”

4) Video is hard to track.

Videos can indeed be difficult to track, but only if you’re using a bare bones video hosting platform like YouTube or your website’s video feature. These platforms only show you total video views which is like measuring your website’s success based solely from visits.

What if 95 percent of your video’s viewers dropped off in the first three seconds? You’d never know. A true video enablement platform, on the other hand, can give you insights into how people watch your videos, who they are, what they liked and didn’t like, and what they did afterward.

You see, video has some unique characteristics that make it highly trackable. Because it’s linear and people watch it from end-to-end, video enablement platforms can tell you what parts viewers watched, where they skipped, and where they revisited. From this, you can automatically infer an individual’s interest in particular products or value propositions that appeared in the video.

And, with CRM and marketing system integrations, you don’t have to spend all your time on these analytics. You can trigger actions based on how your viewers watched the video. Did they only complete 25 percent of it? Better send them a different video. Did another viewer rewatch the part where the product is shown over and over? Better ping your sales team because you might have a qualified lead on your hands.

5) Video doesn’t have enough uses.

Of all the excuses, this one invariably makes our editor cough and spit out her coffee in surprise. Video is perhaps the most dynamic and repurposable type of content that you have: It increases open rates for email, boosts click through rates for landing pages, encourages shares on social media, increases time on page for websites, and drives more leads than text alone. And, with a great video editing platform, you can optimize one video for all channels.

A good video editing platform provides small to medium businesses with the tools they need to easily cut up, edit, and optimize one video into many formats for many channels. This scales easily because users can easily A/B test videos just as they would an email and can render dynamic content to personalize videos to viewers, such as inserting logos, names, or even swapping out different products. With the right tools, video has more uses than you’ll know what to do with.

Video is easier than you think.

Once you have the epiphany that unscripted and low production value videos are both desirable and trackable, you’ll also realize that it’s useful for more than just marketing and sales. You can use video in your customer support to demonstrate how to use your product, in your internal communications to update your remote teams, and as a way for people within your company to communicate on a day-to-day basis.

So, knowing that video isn’t nearly as expensive, difficult, or untraceable as you previously thought, are you ready to stop putting it off?

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Aug

28

2017

12 Free Social Media and Brand Monitoring Tools We Love (and Why)

Reputation is everything. And on the internet, that couldn’t be more true.

It’s important to always know what people are saying about you — whether it’s your customers, your competitors, or the press. And on any given day, it can be tricky to keep up with what your audience is sharing across a variety of social media platforms.

So, we’ve rounded up some of the best free social media and brand monitoring tools from around the vast web of social networks.Click here to learn about using social media in every stage of the funnel.

Nearly all of these tools are free, but some offer paid versions with more features and capabilities. Let’s dive into each one — and see if you want to test them out today.

12 Free Social Media and Brand Monitoring Tools to Try

1) TweetDeck

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TweetDeck lets you create a more customized Twitter interface to monitor different users, hashtags, search terms, and lists. From one panel, you can look at Twitter content from the groups you want — whether that’s customers, competitors, or employees.

TweetDeck is a great tool to use during events or live-tweetstorms to keep up with live conversations — while also keeping an eye on you or your brand’s notifications and mentions.

2) Social Mention

socialmention-example1.png

Social Mention aggregates all of the blog, microblog, image, and video content related to the search term you provide from a variety of search engines and social networks. This makes it easier to digest and view what’s being said about your brand in one comprehensive view.

socialmention-example2.png

3) Followerwonk

followerwonk-example.png

Followerwonk lets you quickly and easily search users’ Twitter bios and profiles for mentions of you or your brand. Log in with your Twitter credentials to check it out, or subscribe to the paid versions to get even more social insights.

4) SumAll

sumall-example.png

SumAll connects to a variety of different social accounts — including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn — to provide you with insights about your followers, interactions, and engagements. The paid version provides content recommendations and automatic post scheduling.

5) Mentionmapp

mentionmapp-example.png

Mentionmapp connects to your Twitter API and see what’s going on in your Twitter network. You can see who mentions you the most, as well as who retweets you the most (using Retweetmapp). It’s interactive, too. That way, you can click through and see how your interactions are connected — if you want to keep an eye on the impact or reach a positive (or negative) tweet about your brand can have.

6) Klout

klout-example.png

Source: Klout

Klout connects to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and provides suggestions of content you should share with your network — as well as the ability to share said content natively from the app.

7) Hootsuite

hootsuite-example.png

Hootsuite works like TweetDeck — but for all of your social networks. From your Dashboard, you can carry out social monitoring, scheduling, campaigns, and analytics — all in one place. Hootsuite integrates with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+, and although it’s free for individuals’ accounts, businesses and enterprises have to purchase paid versions.

8) BoardReader

boardreader-example.png

BoardReader does what its name suggests — it crawls message boards and discussion panels to see what people are saying about you and your brand in the dreaded comments sections, which otherwise seem impossible to parse through. Commenters often have stronger words than social media posters, so make sure you have a thick skin before diving in.

9) BuzzSumo

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BuzzSumo aggregates data about the number of links to your domain and pieces of content receive — on social media, and via backlinks. These insights can help you determine which content formats perform best on each network, giving you ideas for web pages and pieces of content to replicate again. It’s freeup to a certain number of links, but after that, you have to pony up some cash for the Pro version.

10) Google Alerts

googlealerts-example.png

You can set up Google Alerts to see where people are mentioning you or your brand in search results, too. Enter specific terms that might be included in news story titles, and you’ll receive regular emails updating you to mentions from around the internet.

11) Native Analytics Tools

twitteranalytics-example.png

A few social networks provide free analytics to users — or, sometimes, analytics viewing is included in a business subscription for brands. Above is an example of what Twitter Analytics looks like for individuals, with more data and insights provided for business accounts.

12) HubSpot

hubspot social inbox example.png

If you’re a HubSpot customer, HubSpot Social Inbox lets you set up specific streams for users and search terms you want to monitor. Check out this video tour of different HubSpot tools to get an idea of how it works.

Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel

 
How to Use Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel

Aug

28

2017

5 Myths About Video Marketing, Debunked

By now, you’ve probably heard video marketing is a powerful tool for generating leads and capturing new customers.

So why aren’t you using it yet?

For many small to medium businesses, the reluctance to adopt video comes from a fear of the unknown. Video marketing feels expensive, cumbersome, and difficult to track. And these would be valid reasons … if any of them were still true in 2017.

Video technology has come a long way in the past five years. We’ve gone from “put it on YouTube and hope the millennials find it” to video enablement platforms which empower small businesses to create, share, and analyze videos without the agencies, actors, or expense. Some 70% of businesses report that video now their top channel for driving conversions, according to Demand Metric.

If you haven’t seen what video can do for your company, t’s time to stop putting it off.

5 Video Marketing Myths, Debunked

1) Video is too expensive.

Sure, HBO’s Westworld may have beaten The Game of Thrones’ record with a price tag of $10 million per episode, but you don’t have to play their game. In fact, stay as far away from it as possible.

Video doesn’t have to be expensive. Today’s buyers and consumers actually appreciate authenticity over production value.

According to Fast Company, consumers prefer lower quality but “authentic” goods and services over those of a higher quality but which seem “inauthentic.”

This craving for authenticity is why we’re seeing such an explosion in micro-influencer marketing and user-generated content. With both of these marketing strategies, brands rely on their own buyers to create content, usually with little more than an iPhone.

With your own video content, don’t stress over having a low production budget if you have something valuable to say. Here at Vidyard, we produce Chalk Talks where we ask experts within our company to chat about topics like outbound sales, analytics, and video strategy in front of a chalkboard. The videos have been shared thousands of times, and the cost? A few minutes of someone’s time and a lot of colored chalk.

2) Video is cumbersome.

What many small business owners typically mean by this is “I don’t know where to begin.” When they think of video, they imagine a time-consuming process of coming up with scripts and storyboards, procuring actors and equipment, and hiring someone in jockey pants to operate the clapperboard and shout, “Action!” Yet modern video marketing is worlds apart from Hollywood and requires a lot less effort.

When it comes to camera equipment, the age-old aphorism still holds true: the best camera is the one that’s with you.

Today, most iPhone cameras rival all but the top-of-the-line DSLRs and video equipment and are a great substitute. You can easily capture videos of yourself, your office, events, and customers giving off-the-cuff testimonials when your sales and account teams pay them a visit.

And when it comes to actors, don’t worry that you can’t afford Gal Gadot: you don’t need her. Your employees will do a far better job because they actually know your products, your customers, and the details of your industry. After the initial awkwardness of seeing themselves on camera fades, you’ll have all the actors you need.

And finally, not everything needs to be scripted. Writers are great and preparation has its place but a lot of great content can be created with little or no forethought. Take entrepreneur and internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk, for example. He built a media empire from selfie videos recorded on his mobile phone. The below video of him giving advice to young entrepreneurs might be what the internet would call “potato quality” but it still gets the powerful point across.

 

 

3) Our industry doesn’t really use video.

What most brands hopefully mean by this one is “our industry doesn’t use video yet.” Video is industry agnostic and the demand is being driven not by businesses, but the people who work within them. Remember, both B2B and B2C are really just B2H (business-to-human), and humans love video. One need only look at the numbers for a reminder:

  • 82 percent of all internet traffic will be video by 2021, up from 73 percent in 2016. – Cisco
  • 55 percent of people watch videos online every day. – Invisia
  • 500 million hours of video are watched every day on YouTube alone. – Buffer

In fact, the industries with the greatest opportunities are those where video has classically been underused. Just look at the recent proliferation of online video in places like real estate, where agencies are suddenly embracing everything from drone flyovers to virtual reality walk-throughs. To see similarly outsized gains ask yourself, “what would the people who make up our customer base, business or otherwise, like to see?”

4) Video is hard to track.

Videos can indeed be difficult to track, but only if you’re using a bare bones video hosting platform like YouTube or your website’s video feature. These platforms only show you total video views which is like measuring your website’s success based solely from visits.

What if 95 percent of your video’s viewers dropped off in the first three seconds? You’d never know. A true video enablement platform, on the other hand, can give you insights into how people watch your videos, who they are, what they liked and didn’t like, and what they did afterward.

You see, video has some unique characteristics that make it highly trackable. Because it’s linear and people watch it from end-to-end, video enablement platforms can tell you what parts viewers watched, where they skipped, and where they revisited. From this, you can automatically infer an individual’s interest in particular products or value propositions that appeared in the video.

And, with CRM and marketing system integrations, you don’t have to spend all your time on these analytics. You can trigger actions based on how your viewers watched the video. Did they only complete 25 percent of it? Better send them a different video. Did another viewer rewatch the part where the product is shown over and over? Better ping your sales team because you might have a qualified lead on your hands.

5) Video doesn’t have enough uses.

Of all the excuses, this one invariably makes our editor cough and spit out her coffee in surprise. Video is perhaps the most dynamic and repurposable type of content that you have: It increases open rates for email, boosts click through rates for landing pages, encourages shares on social media, increases time on page for websites, and drives more leads than text alone. And, with a great video editing platform, you can optimize one video for all channels.

A good video editing platform provides small to medium businesses with the tools they need to easily cut up, edit, and optimize one video into many formats for many channels. This scales easily because users can easily A/B test videos just as they would an email and can render dynamic content to personalize videos to viewers, such as inserting logos, names, or even swapping out different products. With the right tools, video has more uses than you’ll know what to do with.

Video is easier than you think.

Once you have the epiphany that unscripted and low production value videos are both desirable and trackable, you’ll also realize that it’s useful for more than just marketing and sales. You can use video in your customer support to demonstrate how to use your product, in your internal communications to update your remote teams, and as a way for people within your company to communicate on a day-to-day basis.

So, knowing that video isn’t nearly as expensive, difficult, or untraceable as you previously thought, are you ready to stop putting it off?

 

Intro to Lead Gen 

 
Free Guide Use Video in Buyer's Journey

Aug

18

2017

8 Writing Tips I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging

I wrote my first blog post two summers ago. And I wish I could erase it from the internet. Reading it is like looking at my middle school Facebook pictures — it’s almost too cringe-inducing.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, though. I had just finished my freshman year of college, and the last paper I wrote was about the Odyssey. I didn’t know what I was doing.

But after completing several content marketing internships and taking classes like business writing, electronic journalism, and creative writing, I’ve learned how to write for an audience. Blogging is almost second nature to me now.

If you’re just starting out with blogging and struggling to produce something you’re truly proud of, don’t get discouraged. You don’t need to enroll in a bunch of writing classes or join a content marketing team to become a good blogger (although it certainly doesn’t hurt). You can hone your writing skills online — and this blog post can be one of your bookmarkable resources.

Listed below are eight essential writing tips I’ve gleaned from all my classes and content marketing experience. Check them out to learn how to engage your audience with clear, concise, and compelling content — and make me even more embarrassed about the first blog post I ever wrote.

8 Essential Writing Tips for Crafting Clear, Concise, and Compelling Content

1) Trim the fat.

The more unnecessary words your trim from your writing, the easier it is to understand. Concise writing is lean. And readers can zip through it with little effort. To sharpen your writing, follow the four pointers below:

  • Avoid linking verb phrases like “Sam was writing about his van.” “Sam wrote about his van.” sounds more forceful. Linking verbs have a passive effect, which is why they can’t pack much of a punch.
  • Change prepositional phrases like “The decision of the board was final.” to “The board’s decision was final.” Prepositional phrases make sentences longer and harder to follow.
  • When a noun ends in -tion, change the noun to a verb. For example, “They will collaborate to create a new style guide.” sounds cleaner than “They will collaborate in the creation of a new style guide.”
  • Reduce verb phrases like “The results are suggestive to the fact that on-page SEO still works.” to simple verb phrases like “The results suggest that on-page SEO still works.” The latter sounds much smoother.

2) One sentence should only cover one idea.

A clear sentence that’s easy to understand covers one main idea. But sometimes writers focus too much on sounding smart rather than conveying information in a simple way. This can lead to complex sentences that confuse readers.

You must remember your readers don’t care about your writing prowess. They want to quickly understand the solutions to their own problems, and simple sentences can fulfill that need.

Use the Hemingway App to gauge whether your sentences are bold and clear.

3) Sentences don’t live in isolation.

If you want to craft a compelling sentence, you need to account for its surrounding sentences first. Using the same word in consecutive sentences or covering similar ideas in two different sentences is redundant. To create a more stimulating experience for your readers, vary your language and cut repeat information.

Use Power Thesaurus to replace overused words with dynamic synonyms.

4) Vary sentence length and structure.

I saw a graphic called “How to Write” on Twitter about a year ago, and it took my writing skills to the next level. Take a look.

How to Write.jpg

Humans crave variety. And just like how short, medium, and long sentences complement each other, simple and compound sentences complement each other too.

Your writing becomes repetitive and boring when your sentences have the same structure or length. Diverse sentences make your writing pleasant to read.

5) Scrap the cliches.

Would it be cliche to begin this paragraph with a cliche? I thought so. That’s why I didn’t do it. Cliches sap your content’s originality.

People use these phrases so much that they lose their true meaning. Some studies even claim that figures of speech like “hungry as a horse” or buzzwords like “leverage” can’t activate the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for experiencing emotions. They’re too stale to impact you.

A good way to test cliches is by asking yourself if you’ve heard the term before. If so, aim to express your idea in a new, fresh way. You can also nix cliches by filtering your content through a cliche finder tool.

6) Appeal to the senses.

Good fiction writers can make their readers experience the stories they write. By using concrete details that appeal to their reader’s senses, they can paint vivid pictures with only words.

Skeptical? Well, in a 2012 study at Emory University, researchers monitored participants’ brain activity when they read metaphors involving texture. Metaphors like “He had leathery hands,” lit up their sensory cortex, which is responsible for perceiving texture through touch. When they read a similar phrase like “he had strong hands,” their sensory cortex didn’t activate.

“Leathery” is a concrete detail that appeals to touch. And it places readers into the exact scene the writer described. Metaphors and similes also help people visualize things by comparing a concrete picture with an abstract idea.

Business writing definitely differs from creative writing, but you can still harness the power of sensory language in your blog posts. If your readers can see, hear, touch, smell, or taste your ideas, then they’ll be hooked on your content.

Having trouble grasping this concept? Here are some examples:

  • Visual: “You immediately glue your eyes to the skip button’s countdown clock and wait … until those lingering seconds finally slug by.” – Can you see how long this ad is?
  • Auditory: “But the 20 pen slips below were so hilarious and shocking that my laughter pierced through all my colleagues’ noise-canceling headphones.” – Can you hear his obnoxious laugh?
  • Touch: “Let your well-formatted paragraphs put her attention in a guillotine hold.” – Can you feel how captivated she is?”
  • Smell and taste: “Turn bland writing into zesty sound bites.” – How strong was that quip’s flavor?

7) Let things go.

When you write an elegant paragraph or sentence, your inner author latches onto it. But even if it doesn’t fit within the scope of your content, you still might try to force it in there. You can get too attached to let it go.

Paragraphs or sentences that don’t deepen your readers’ understanding of the topic, provide new information, or spark interest in the next section are just fluff. And all fluff does is muddle your writing.

Instead of building around fluff, strip it away and start something new from scratch. Abandoning beautiful writing is always hard, but if it doesn’t provide value to your readers, let it go.

8) Take a break.

Have you ever reread your final draft so much that you can’t determine whether it’s Neil Patel good or high school essay bad? You can even convince yourself that a lousy draft looks great if you’ve worked on it for long enough.

Before you submit your final draft, it’s crucial to walk away from it. Forgetting about your work will help you develop fresh editing eyes that can discover overlooked errors and new creative opportunities.

Eddie Shleyner, copywriter and content marketer at Workforce Software, follows “The Rule of 12” when he edits his blog posts. After writing his final draft, he walks away for 12 hours. Then he makes his final round of edits, where he always finds a mistake or a better way to polish his copy.

What writing tips do you find useful? Let us know on Twitter!

free guide to writing well

Aug

15

2017

How to Build a Chatbot from Pitch to Promotion

In April 2016, something happened at Facebook that would quickly result in a revolutionary paradigm shift on the horizon of online communication — from mobile to desktop, marketing to services, personal to corporate — everything, really.

Messenger opened its doors to developers with an invitation to create chatbots — something of which roughly 78% of online adults were unaware. 

Within six months, developers had created about 30,000 active Messenger bots. Today, less than a year later, that number is up 233%, with 100,000 active bots on the platform. 

But it’s not just a popular, funky thing to do. Businesses using chatbots are seeing results, like Sephora, which reportedly earns “an average spend of over $50 from clients who have booked an in-store service via its Messenger assistant,” according to VentureBeat.

In case you’re wondering what the heck a chatbot actually is, though, here’s the condensed definition: A bot is nothing more than a computer program that automates certain tasks, typically by chatting with a user through a conversational interface.

There’s a vast range of chatbots. They can be rule-based, or powered by artificial intelligence (AI), both of which will drastically change the process of developing one. And if you’re looking to formulate your own chatbot strategy — from building the bot from scratch to promoting it and getting customers to use it — we’ve developed a basic framework for just that.

Read on, and let’s start building.

How to Build a Chatbot from Pitch to Promotion

1) Decide your bot’s purpose.

Ultimately, the purpose of a bot is to provide a service people actually want to use — time and time again. No bot is meant to do everything, so when you set out to create your own, think of an existing problem that it can fix in a more efficient way.

While there are many types of chatbots, if you’re building one for the first time, you’ll likely want to choose from the following two options:

Informational bots

As the name suggests, these bots provide users with a new format of information consumption. For example, breaking news bots send developing stories as the information becomes available. TechCrunch has a bot of that nature — check it out below:

Utility bots

These bots are automated to complete tasks and answer questions. In other words, they solve a user’s problem or inquiry via a chat transaction. Customer service bots might immediately come to mind here, but a growing number of utility bots are being built for purposes like booking appointments or shopping online. One of our personal favorites is TacoBot: Taco Bell’s still-in-development bot that allows people to order food via Slack. Join the waitlist here, and check out the preview:

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Source: Taco Bell

2) Decide what messaging app your bot will live on.

Earlier, we provided examples of bots that live on Messenger and Slack, respectively. And while those are two very popular options, there are many more available — for example, Kik and Viber.

Your chatbot’s “home” will largely depend on who’s using what. You’ll want to aim for the apps with an audience that matches the one you’re trying to reach. Slack, for example, tends to be more business-focused, so productivity bots are particularly helpful there.

Sephora is a great example. While the brand has bots on both Messenger and Kik, each one functions differently. The Messenger version is used for customer service, feedback, and booking makeovers:

The Kik version, on the other hand, is designed to help users find products and makeup tips:

3) Decide which platform you’ll use to build the chatbot.

Most messenger apps have tools and documents to help developers build bots — for example, Messenger has an entire library of resources here.

However, there are numerous platforms that can also help you build your bot — in some cases, without a lot of coding required. Here are a few that we recommend:

  1. Motion AI
  2. Chatfuel
  3. Botsify
  4. Beep Boop
  5. Bot Kit
  6. Octane.ai

4) Create your bot’s personality.

Remember when we mentioned the importance of matching your bot’s home with the audience you’re trying to reach? Well, we have a similar guiding principle for your bot’s personality: It should match your brand.

One of our favorite examples here is Pegg, a financial assistant designed for startups and small businesses — but speaking as someone who recently returned from vacation, it’s helpful for anyone trying to track their spending. And while finance isn’t something that’s usually associated with a fun, playful voice, Pegg’s bot, HelloPegg, flips that connotation on its head with a cute logo and friendly voice.

5) Build your bot’s flow.

When you begin creating your chatbot, the platform you’re using should provide options on how to build out conversations. Usually, this is by way of providing the user with drag-and-drop or multiple choice responses, or frontloading the bot with if/then statements. For example, with the HelloPegg app above, the if/then flow might look like this:

If the user begins the sentence with, “Spent” — then respond with, “Who did you pay?”

It’s a way of building a series of questions that are dependent on certain input criteria from the user to reach a given response or solution. Remember, a bot is supposed to be able to understand intent and deliver a solution in the most efficient way possible — that’s the main point of building a conversational strategy. Unlike a type form, for example, not every user can receive the same questions, and each answer the user gives should alter the following question to make the conversation as productive as possible.

Chatbots don’t necessarily need to be loquacious — they serve the purpose solving real problems from real people with the same (or better) ability as a human.

Things like buttons, cards, or other UI elements can be helpful here. For example, when chatting with a friend on Messenger, you might notice that the app prompts you to do certain things, depending on what you’ve typed in — like when I used it to wish my colleague, Eric Peters, a happy birthday.

EPMessenger.png

To help you build out these various pieces, we created the conversational framework below.

Finally, you’ll need to set up your chatbot’s ability to process the natural language that most users will input — meaning, the conversational vernacular that we use day-to-day. For example, “People don’t typically chat using words like ‘affirmative’ and ‘negative’,” explains HubSpot Senior Manager of Web Development Dmitry Shamis. “They say things like ‘yup’ and ‘nah, playa’ so natural language processing allows your bot to understand the underlying message and sentiment of those words.”

The way to do this varies with each platform, so depending on what you’re using to create the bot, going about this step will vary.

6) Connect the bot to the messaging app.

Once you’ve reached this step, you’ve likely finished building your bot. Now, it’s time to connect it to the app where you want it to live.

Many of the resources we listed in section 3 will allow you to do this within the same platform you used to build the bot. Both Motion AI and Chatfuel, for instance, have buttons in the interface that allow you to simply attach your bot directly to your Messenger page. But before you commit to those options, make sure you do thorough research to make sure you won’t be expected to pay any fees to the platform in the case that your bot sees a high level of success.

There are a few tools available to help you do this, one of which is the Recast.ai Bot Connector. It’s integrated with a number of apps, including Kik, Messenger, and Slack. It’s open source and free — check out the instructions for getting started here.

7) Test and train with a beta group.

I don’t know about you, but when I’ve finished a project of which I’m particularly proud, I’m impatient to share it with the world. But as much as we want to get our work out into the hands of the adoring masses, it’s imperative to make sure it works — especially with something as highly customer-facing and interacting as a chatbot.

That’s why we recommend forming a beta group to test the bot before it’s launched for public consumption. That can be internal or external — here at HubSpot, for example, we often test new products and features by sharing them with our colleagues and asking them to check for functionality, quality, and bugs.

But whoever you choose to test your chatbot, make sure they’re not afraid to give you their honest feedback. In order to fix a mistake, it needs to be unabashedly pointed out to you first.

8) Promote your chatbot.

Once your chatbot has been thoroughly QA’d and de-bugged, it’s time to release it to the public — and, of course, promote it.

There are several ways to go about the latter, but for the sake of keeping your strategy focused, we recommend the following steps to get started.

Add it to chatbot directories and catalogs.

Not every app will have a listing like this, but if you’re using one that does, make sure your app is included. (For example, here’s Slack’s.) Otherwise, look to third-party directories like BotList or Bot Finder for such listings.

Create a dedicated, SEO-friendly landing page.

For us, there’s often nothing more frustrating than catching wind of a great chatbot and being unable to find a dedicated website for it. That’s why we encourage you to create a dedicated, central page to explain the purpose, features, and where to find/install your chatbot to avoid any difficulty finding it, or other confusion.

TOPBOTS marketing and strategy specialist Adelyn Zhou emphasizes the importance of such a page. “A dedicated landing page for your bot gives users the option to first read and understand your distinct value add,” she writes on Medium. “Without the introduction, you’re leaving them to deduce your functionality by themselves.”

Include a messaging option in your emails.

Many emails include CTAs and icons for the reader to follow the sender on social media. Now, you can also add an option for your audience to engage with you via chatbot, by including icons for Messenger and Slack, for example.

Continuing the Conversation

Before you begin, remember: The hardest part of this process is not building your chatbot.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but if you re-read the steps above, you’ll see that while the actual bot buildout isn’t without its challenges, it doesn’t present the most difficulty. Rather, the hardest part is improving your conversational strategy over time — based on how actual humans are interacting with it.

Even after you’ve completed the steps we’ve outlined, your work won’t be completely done. You’ll want to see how users are engaging with your chatbot, and if they’re not, what might be the cause of it. Is it truly addressing the problem it was built to solve? Has it turned out that your audience has other issues it wishes to resolve with a bot?

Think about these different factors once your chatbot goes live, and the various ways you can continue to make it even better.

Intro to Lead Gen

Aug

11

2017

How to Write a Press Release [Free 2017 Press Release Template + Example]

Published by in category Daily, Popular, public relations | Comments are closed

When it comes to content, sometimes old school can be a good thing (namely, when it comes to old school rap or Throwback Thursday on Instagram). But when it comes to your company’s public relations strategy, being old school isn’t advantageous for your business or your brand. 

Ten years ago, people still relied on morning papers for news. Today, the vast majority of your company’s customers and prospects scan headlines on Twitter or see what’s trending in their Facebook feed.Download our free press release template here to learn how to write a  top-notch press release. 

People now have control over where, when, and how they consume information. As a result, public relations is no longer about feeding into a traditional news cycle; it’s about providing relevant content when, where, and how your prospects, influencers, and customers will consume it.

Sounds pretty hopeless, right? Wrong. While relationship-building still helps you get into popular publications, we now have the opportunity to quit playing the waiting game and generate our own buzz. By turning your PR strategy into an inbound one, you create opportunities that weren’t there before and carve out a place for your company, building meaningful mindshare with your target audiences in the process.

One of the most crucial updates to make to your PR strategy is to think of press releases as an opportunity to connect to the audiences you care about — including, but not limited to, reporters. 

What is a Press Release / News Release?

A press release is an official announcement (written or recorded) that an organization issues to the news media and beyond. Whether we call it a “press release,” a “press statement,” a “news release,” or a “media release,” we’re always talking about the same basic thing.

Most press releases are succinct at just a page long. Two pages tops. Ultimately, companies want to provide enough information so that news outlets have sufficient material for publishing their own stories about whatever the company is announcing in the release.

And while it may be tempting to craft a press release that embellishes your company’s accomplishments or twists the facts to make a story sound more intriguing to the media, remember: Press releases live in the public domain, which means your customers and prospective customers can see them. So instead of thinking of a press release solely as a ticket to earning news coverage, you should also think of it as a valuable piece of marketing content.

How to Write a Press Release [With Example]

You’ve got your announcement in mind, and now it’s time to get it down in words to share with your community, industry, and followers.

Take Catbrella Inc., a fictitious ad agency, which just gained its 10th Twitter follower after two years of paid social media efforts. To announce its achievement, Catbrella could issue a press release like the one we’ve dissected below.*

Sample Press Release Format:

*Disclaimer: HubSpot is entirely responsible for the silliness of this faux announcement. 

press-release-example-hubspot.png

Rule 1: Make Your Headline Irresistible 

Just like writing the perfect blog post title, setting up your press release for success starts with your headline. You only have one line to work with, which can seem scary, but consider diction carefully to make your headline captivating.

Use action verbs, clear, understandable language, and keep your headline simple and short — fortune (and search engines) reward the brief, so keep your title to one line to clearly focus people’s attention on your topline message. 

Most importantly, make it interesting: Keep in mind that reporters get dozens, if not hundreds, of releases each day, so invest the time to write a compelling headline. It’s worth the time and effort on your part. 

Rule 2: Don’t Play Hard to Get

For reporters, analysts, influencers, or followers to be inclined to share your announcement, you have to tell them upfront why they should care.

The first paragraph of your release should cover the who, what, why, where, and how of your new launch, update, or development. Reporters don’t have a ton of time to sift through details and fluffy background information — they just need the facts that’ll help them tell your story to someone else from a position of authority. 

There shouldn’t be any new, crucial information covered after this section that the reader could potentially miss. 

Rule 3: Offer a Tempting Quotable 

Once you’ve set the scene, it’s time to bring your details to life with a quote that reporters can use for context around your announcement and help paint a picture of how your news affects the given industry, customer base, and landscape.

Ideally, quotes will be from key stakeholders in your company including your executive team, project leads, or those directly impacted by your announcement. Quoting key figures and authorities underlines the importance of your development. The chosen quote should shape your narrative and emphasize the core of the announcement. Don’t ask everyone in your office for a comment or feel compelled to quote all 25 people included in the acquisition — pick one or two critical spokespeople and focus the quotes around their unique perspective. 

Rule 4: Provide Valuable Background Information

In this last paragraph, keep in mind that the reader already has all of the vital details and information they need to file a story or spread the word.

It can be tempting to provide superfluous facts and tidbits about your company or the development of your announcement — we sometimes think a piece of writing is lacking if it isn’t drawn-out and just shy of being a novella. However, a press release needs to be helpful and concise.

Offer details here that strengthen your narrative, like creative or noteworthy ways your company developed the project or announcement at hand. Or, when applicable, comment on future implications of your announcement. 

Rule 5: Make the “Who” and “What” Obvious 

Twitter is chock-full of reporters lamenting press releases or pitches that don’t clearly explain what the company does or what the announcement is actually about, so instead of being the butt of a joke, make your release incredibly easy to reference. 

Describe what your company does in clear, plain English, include a link to your company’s homepage early on, and make your boilerplate succinct and straightforward. If you cite data, include a reference link for the data source, and make sure every name in the release has an associated title and company as well.

To keep yourself honest on this front, ask a friend or colleague to read the release without context and ask if they can easily and readily explain why the announcement matters, what your company does, and why the executives included are quoted. If the answer to any of those questions is no, get back to the drawing board. 

The key to keeping your PR strategy new school is forgetting preconceived notions of what public relations is and instead focusing on creating highly remarkable content. Traditional press releases can still be really valuable when executed well, so instead of ditching releases as a tactic, give them a modern makeover to make them more useful for your marketing. 

Think about how you’ve used inbound methods to transform your marketing strategies to be more personalized, approachable, and build relationships. Those same principles apply to your PR strategy: Create content to craft your own story and use tactful outreach to get reporters and analysts familiar with your brand.

When Should I Distribute a Press Release?

While there’s no cut-and-dried formula for when a press release should be written (and distributed), here’s a few reasons when it’s a good idea:

  • New product launches
  • Updates to existing products
  • Opening a new office
  • Introducing a new partnership
  • Rebranding
  • Promoting/hiring a new executive
  • Receiving an award

A regular cadence of (meaningful) news can help a company stand out and build mindshare with journalists over time, so that’s where the press release (or news announcement) comes in. 

Press Releases Can Be a Viable Content Type

Many people think press releases have to be chock full of buzzwords and branded terms. Big data anyone? Five syllable words you have to look up on Thesaurus.com? Quotes from every executive on the planet that go on for pages? We’ve seen it all. Unfortunately, so have reporters — and they are not fans. 

So instead of stuffing your next release with jargon, take a page out of our book (okay, fine, ebook), The Newsworthy Guide to Inbound Public Relations, and brainstorm some creative approaches for your next announcement. Can you include new data? A remarkable graphic or video? A shareable SlideShare? If so, a creative angle will often help carry your content and increase the likelihood of social sharing. 

Even so, a press release can still be a really valuable medium for communicating news to your audiences. You just have to make it readable, relevant, and relatable.

We have crafted this comprehensive, easy-to-follow press release template complete with a promotional plan and considerations for your next announcement. We use these same guidelines when writing and formatting our releases here at HubSpot, and created a faux, sample release to illustrate what content goes where and why.

Tips for Publishing Press Releases

Writing a press release is really only half the battle. Once you’re finished with production, it’ll be time to focus on distribution.

Of course, we’re all familiar with the traditional distribution levers we can pull, which include publishing the press release on our website/blog, as well as sharing the press release with our followers/subscribers via social media and email. But for ensuring a press release gets the maximum amount of distribution possible, here are some tips you can follow.

1) Reach out to specific journalists.

Instead of blasting a press release out to every journalist you can find an email address for, focus on a few journalists who have experience covering your industry (and company, hopefully) and send them personalized messages. Connect the dots. Show why what you wrote connects to what they write.

2) Don’t be afraid to go offline.

Most journalists have mountains of emails (and press releases) to sort through. Try sending your release through snail mail or another offline channel to differentiate yourself.

3) Send the release to top journalists the day before.

Give journalists some time to craft a story around your press release by sending it to them — under embargo — the day before it officially goes live. (FYI “under embargo” just means they aren’t allowed to share the information in the press release until the time you specify.)

4) To avoid competition, don’t publish your release on the hour.

If you’re publishing your press release on a distribution service like PR Newswire or Business Wire, avoid publishing it on the hour (e.g., 1 p.m., or 3 p.m., or 5 p.m.). The reason? Most companies schedule their releases to go out on the hour, which means if your release goes out on the hour too, it’s more likely to get lost in the shuffle. Instead, try going with a more distinct time (e.g., 1:12 p.m., or 3:18 p.m., or 5:22 p.m.).

5) Share your media coverage.

If all goes according to plan, and your press release gets picked up by the media, your job still isn’t finished. To keep the buzz going, you can release a “second wave” of distribution by sharing the specific stories that news outlets write based on your press release.

What other best practices do you follow when writing press releases? Share your thoughts with us below, and don’t forget to download our free press release template here.

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

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Aug

10

2017

How to Write a Press Release [Free 2017 Press Release Template + Example]

When it comes to content, sometimes old school can be a good thing (namely, when it comes to old school rap or Throwback Thursday on Instagram). But when it comes to your company’s public relations strategy, being old school isn’t advantageous for your business or your brand. 

Ten years ago, people still relied on morning papers for news. Today, the vast majority of your company’s customers and prospects scan headlines on Twitter or see what’s trending in their Facebook feed.New Call-to-action

People now have control over where, when, and how they consume information. As a result, public relations is no longer about feeding into a traditional news cycle; it’s about providing relevant content when, where, and how your prospects, influencers, and customers will consume it.

Sounds pretty hopeless, right? Wrong. While relationship-building still helps you get into popular publications, we now have the opportunity to quit playing the waiting game and generate our own buzz. By turning your PR strategy into an inbound one, you create opportunities that weren’t there before and carve out a place for your company, building meaningful mindshare with your target audiences in the process.

One of the most crucial updates to make to your PR strategy is to think of press releases as an opportunity to connect to the audiences you care about — including, but not limited to, reporters. 

What is a Press Release / News Release?

A press release is an official announcement (written or recorded) that an organization issues to the news media and beyond. Whether we call it a “press release,” a “press statement,” a “news release,” or a “media release,” we’re always talking about the same basic thing.

Most press releases are succinct at just a page long. Two pages tops. Ultimately, companies want to provide enough information so that news outlets have sufficient material for publishing their own stories about whatever the company is announcing in the release.

And while it may be tempting to craft a press release that embellishes your company’s accomplishments or twists the facts to make a story sound more intriguing to the media, remember: Press releases live in the public domain, which means your customers and prospective customers can see them. So instead of thinking of a press release solely as a ticket to earning news coverage, you should also think of it as a valuable piece of marketing content.

How to Write a Press Release [With Example]

You’ve got your announcement in mind, and now it’s time to get it down in words to share with your community, industry, and followers.

Take Catbrella Inc., a fictitious ad agency, which just gained its 10th Twitter follower after two years of paid social media efforts. To announce its achievement, Catbrella could issue a press release like the one we’ve dissected below.*

Sample Press Release Format:

*Disclaimer: HubSpot is entirely responsible for the silliness of this faux announcement. 

press-release-example-hubspot.png

Rule 1: Make Your Headline Irresistible 

Just like writing the perfect blog post title, setting up your press release for success starts with your headline. You only have one line to work with, which can seem scary, but consider diction carefully to make your headline captivating.

Use action verbs, clear, understandable language, and keep your headline simple and short — fortune (and search engines) reward the brief, so keep your title to one line to clearly focus people’s attention on your topline message. 

Most importantly, make it interesting: Keep in mind that reporters get dozens, if not hundreds, of releases each day, so invest the time to write a compelling headline. It’s worth the time and effort on your part. 

Rule 2: Don’t Play Hard to Get

For reporters, analysts, influencers, or followers to be inclined to share your announcement, you have to tell them upfront why they should care.

The first paragraph of your release should cover the who, what, why, where, and how of your new launch, update, or development. Reporters don’t have a ton of time to sift through details and fluffy background information — they just need the facts that’ll help them tell your story to someone else from a position of authority. 

There shouldn’t be any new, crucial information covered after this section that the reader could potentially miss. 

Rule 3: Offer a Tempting Quotable 

Once you’ve set the scene, it’s time to bring your details to life with a quote that reporters can use for context around your announcement and help paint a picture of how your news affects the given industry, customer base, and landscape.

Ideally, quotes will be from key stakeholders in your company including your executive team, project leads, or those directly impacted by your announcement. Quoting key figures and authorities underlines the importance of your development. The chosen quote should shape your narrative and emphasize the core of the announcement. Don’t ask everyone in your office for a comment or feel compelled to quote all 25 people included in the acquisition — pick one or two critical spokespeople and focus the quotes around their unique perspective. 

Rule 4: Provide Valuable Background Information

In this last paragraph, keep in mind that the reader already has all of the vital details and information they need to file a story or spread the word.

It can be tempting to provide superfluous facts and tidbits about your company or the development of your announcement — we sometimes think a piece of writing is lacking if it isn’t drawn-out and just shy of being a novella. However, a press release needs to be helpful and concise.

Offer details here that strengthen your narrative, like creative or noteworthy ways your company developed the project or announcement at hand. Or, when applicable, comment on future implications of your announcement. 

Rule 5: Make the “Who” and “What” Obvious 

Twitter is chock-full of reporters lamenting press releases or pitches that don’t clearly explain what the company does or what the announcement is actually about, so instead of being the butt of a joke, make your release incredibly easy to reference. 

Describe what your company does in clear, plain English, include a link to your company’s homepage early on, and make your boilerplate succinct and straightforward. If you cite data, include a reference link for the data source, and make sure every name in the release has an associated title and company as well.

To keep yourself honest on this front, ask a friend or colleague to read the release without context and ask if they can easily and readily explain why the announcement matters, what your company does, and why the executives included are quoted. If the answer to any of those questions is no, get back to the drawing board. 

The key to keeping your PR strategy new school is forgetting preconceived notions of what public relations is and instead focusing on creating highly remarkable content. Traditional press releases can still be really valuable when executed well, so instead of ditching releases as a tactic, give them a modern makeover to make them more useful for your marketing. 

Think about how you’ve used inbound methods to transform your marketing strategies to be more personalized, approachable, and build relationships. Those same principles apply to your PR strategy: Create content to craft your own story and use tactful outreach to get reporters and analysts familiar with your brand.

When Should I Distribute a Press Release?

While there’s no cut-and-dried formula for when a press release should be written (and distributed), here’s a few reasons when it’s a good idea:

  • New product launches
  • Updates to existing products
  • Opening a new office
  • Introducing a new partnership
  • Rebranding
  • Promoting/hiring a new executive
  • Receiving an award

A regular cadence of (meaningful) news can help a company stand out and build mindshare with journalists over time, so that’s where the press release (or news announcement) comes in. 

Press Releases Can Be a Viable Content Type

Many people think press releases have to be chock full of buzzwords and branded terms. Big data anyone? Five syllable words you have to look up on Thesaurus.com? Quotes from every executive on the planet that go on for pages? We’ve seen it all. Unfortunately, so have reporters — and they are not fans. 

So instead of stuffing your next release with jargon, take a page out of our book (okay, fine, ebook), The Newsworthy Guide to Inbound Public Relations, and brainstorm some creative approaches for your next announcement. Can you include new data? A remarkable graphic or video? A shareable SlideShare? If so, a creative angle will often help carry your content and increase the likelihood of social sharing. 

Even so, a press release can still be a really valuable medium for communicating news to your audiences. You just have to make it readable, relevant, and relatable.

We have crafted this comprehensive, easy-to-follow press release template complete with a promotional plan and considerations for your next announcement. We use these same guidelines when writing and formatting our releases here at HubSpot, and created a faux, sample release to illustrate what content goes where and why.

Tips for Publishing Press Releases

Writing a press release is really only half the battle. Once you’re finished with production, it’ll be time to focus on distribution.

Of course, we’re all familiar with the traditional distribution levers we can pull, which include publishing the press release on our website/blog, as well as sharing the press release with our followers/subscribers via social media and email. But for ensuring a press release gets the maximum amount of distribution possible, here are some tips you can follow.

1) Reach out to specific journalists.

Instead of blasting a press release out to every journalist you can find an email address for, focus on a few journalists who have experience covering your industry (and company, hopefully) and send them personalized messages. Connect the dots. Show why what you wrote connects to what they write.

2) Don’t be afraid to go offline.

Most journalists have mountains of emails (and press releases) to sort through. Try sending your release through snail mail or another offline channel to differentiate yourself.

3) Send the release to top journalists the day before.

Give journalists some time to craft a story around your press release by sending it to them — under embargo — the day before it officially goes live. (FYI “under embargo” just means they aren’t allowed to share the information in the press release until the time you specify.)

4) To avoid competition, don’t publish your release on the hour.

If you’re publishing your press release on a distribution service like PR Newswire or Business Wire, avoid publishing it on the hour (e.g., 1 p.m., or 3 p.m., or 5 p.m.). The reason? Most companies schedule their releases to go out on the hour, which means if your release goes out on the hour too, it’s more likely to get lost in the shuffle. Instead, try going with a more distinct time (e.g., 1:12 p.m., or 3:18 p.m., or 5:22 p.m.).

5) Share your media coverage.

If all goes according to plan, and your press release gets picked up by the media, your job still isn’t finished. To keep the buzz going, you can release a “second wave” of distribution by sharing the specific stories that news outlets write based on your press release.

What other best practices do you follow when writing press releases? Share your thoughts with us below, and don’t forget to download our free press release template here.

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

hubspot blogging assessment

 
free press release template

Aug

7

2017

16 of the Best Job Interview Questions to Ask Candidates (And What to Look for in Their Answers)

How lucky are you and why? How many times heavier than a mouse is an elephant? How many square feet of pizza are consumed in the United States each year?

Hiring managers have heard about using these “creative” questions to identify the best candidates. Fortunately for intelligent and qualified candidates everywhere, studies have found that the brainteaser interview questions made famous by Silicon Valley and Wall Street are just as silly as they sound. (In fact, Google started to phase out brainteasers from its interviews several years ago.)

But when you’re interviewing people to join your team, you have to get creative. After all, there’s only so much questions like “What’s your biggest weakness?” and “Are you a team player?” reveal about who your candidates truly are.

Click here to download our free guide to hiring and training a team of  all-stars.

To help give you some ideas for the next time you’re screening candidates, here are some of the best job interview questions to ask with the answers you should expect.

16 of the Best Interview Questions & Answers to Use in Your Next Job Interview

1) “Tell me about a time you set difficult goals. What did you do to achieve them? Walk me through the process and purpose.”

If you’re looking for a candidate who is goal-oriented and results-driven — as most hiring managers are — then this question will help you gauge whether they’ll be able to handle the audacious goals you have in store for them. A great answer shows they understand what difficult goals are, and they put a lot of effort into attaining their goals while maintaining a high standard of work quality.

2) “Pitch [name of your company] to me as if I were buying your product/service.”

This is a unique and more challenging approach to the generic “What does our company do?” question. It forces candidates to drum up the research they’ve done to prepare for the interview, and also to craft a compelling message on the fly.

This will come more naturally to some candidates than others — for example, someone interviewing for a sales or marketing position might find it easier than someone interviewing for a more internal-facing role — and that’s okay. You aren’t necessarily assessing their delivery. But it’ll be interesting to see how each candidate thinks through and gives their answer.

3) “Tell me about the relationships you’ve had with the people you’ve worked with. How would you describe the best ones? The worst?”

Each team is different, so this question helps you tease out whether the candidate would be happy, productive, and well liked on your team. Their answer will tell you how they interact with others — and which kinds of interactions they want to happen.

Many candidates are hesitant to bad-mouth their coworkers and bosses, so it will also be interesting for you to hear how they navigate a question about their worst working relationships.

4) “What single project or task would you consider your most significant career accomplishment to date?

Lou Adler, author of The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired and Hire With Your Head, spent ten years searching for the single, best interview question that will reveal whether to hire or not hire a candidate — and this was the one. Candidates’ answers will tell you about their prior success and sense of ownership. A great answer will show they are confident in their work and professional choices while being humble and giving credit to others.

5) “What have you done professionally that you succeeded at, but isn’t an experience you’d want to repeat?”

A candidate’s answer to this question will give you an idea of how they viewed work they weren’t very happy with, which is bound to happen to everyone in every job at one point or another. HubSpot’s VP of Global Customer Support Michael Redbord says candidates’ answers generally fall into a few categories:

  1. Something menial (e.g. envelope-stuffing). Pay attention to whether they understand the value of this getting done for the business, or whether they just think they’re too good for a job like that.
  2. Something really hard. Why was it hard? Was it because it was poorly planned, poorly executed, or something else? Where do they put the blame on it being such an unpleasant experience?
  3. Something team-related. Follow up with questions about the team, what their role on the team was, and so on.

Even the category of what they consider an experience they wouldn’t want to repeat is interesting, says Redbord. When you talk about extreme experiences that get people emotional, it can be very revealing.

6) “Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?”

For most companies, the correct answer is “good and on time.” It’s important to let something be finished when it’s good enough. Let’s face it, every blog post, email, book, video, etc. can always be tweaked and improved. At some point, you’ve just got to ship it. Most managers don’t want someone who can’t hit deadlines because they’re paralyzed by perfection.

If your candidate responds with “It depends,” then hear them out — the interview question itself is phrased in such a way that candidates can sense there is a right and wrong answer, and they’ll be looking for signs from you that they’re heading in the right direction. Try to remain neutral as they feel out their response. If their conclusion errs on the side of “good and on time,” then their priorities are probably in the right place.

7) “In five minutes, could you explain something to me that is complicated but you know well?”

This is a much better test of intelligence than a college GPA, and it’s also a great gauge of a candidate’s passion and charisma.

The “something” in this question doesn’t have to be work-related — it can be a hobby, a sports team, something technical … anything, really. Their response will tell you how well your candidate comprehends complex subjects and how well they can articulate a complex subject to someone who doesn’t know much about it. Candidates who are passionate and knowledgeable about something — and can convey that well — are more likely to be charismatic, enthusiastic, and influential at work.

8) “What’s your definition of hard work?”

Some organizations move at very different paces, and this question is an effective way to tell whether your candidate will be able to keep pace with the rest of the team. It also helps you identify someone who is a “hard worker in disguise,” meaning someone who might currently be at a slow-moving organization or in a role that is not well-suited to them, but wants to work somewhere where they can really get their hands dirty.

 

9) “If I were to poll everyone you’ve worked with, what percent would not be a fan of yours? Then, if I were to interview these people, what words would they most frequently use to describe you?”

At work, you can’t please everyone all the time. The answer to this question will help you find out if your candidate has enough drive and conviction to have alienated a small percentage of their colleagues, but not so many that they are a polarizing figure.

The word-cloud follow-up is more important than the percentage they give in the initial question. In their answers, you should be encouraged by words like “passionate” and concerned by words like “stubborn.”

10) “Tell me about a time you screwed up.”

An oldie but goodie. This is a tried-and-true test for self-awareness. (Honestly, well-prepared candidates should see it coming and have an answer ready.) Someone who takes ownership of their mess-up and learns something from it is usually humble and mindful. Candidates who blame others or give a “fake” screw-up (something like “I worked too hard and burned out.”) are red flags.

11) “Who is the smartest person you know personally? Why?”

These questions test what the candidate values and aspires to by forcing them to think of a real person they know, and then articulate what makes that person smart. Ideal answers vary, but could include specific examples of the person they’ve chosen’s ability to think ahead several steps and execute. They could also touch on the person’s decision-making skills, ability to connect, desire for learning, or application of the things they learned.

12) “What is something you’d be happy doing every single day for the rest of your career?”

While it’s important to hire for skill, it’s also important to hire someone who’s likely to be happy in the job you’re hiring for. A question like this will help uncover what makes each candidate happy at work — which is a great way to gauge whether they’d enjoy their role and stay at the company for a long time.

13) “If you had $40,000 to build your own business, what would you do?”

This question is a favorite of HubSpot Marketing Team Development Manager Emily MacIntyre‘s. First, the type of business they choose to talk about can reveal a lot about their interests, values, and how creative they are.

Second, it’ll give you insight into how business-savvy they are. By giving them a specific amount to work with (in this case, $40,000), they have the opportunity to parse out how they’d spend that money.

The best answers will get specific: They’ll offer an overview of the business, and get into the logistics of where that money would go, whom they’d hire first, and so on.

14) “What’s the biggest decision you’ve had to make in the past year? Why was it so big?”

Here’s a great way to figure out how a candidate approaches decision-making. Were they quick to make that big decision, or did it take them a long time? Did they spend most of their time reflecting on it by themselves or fleshing it out with others? How did they make a plan? Their answer could be work-related or personal — and if they ask you to specify, tell them either.

15) “What’s surprised you about the interview process so far?”

This is a question no candidate can really prepare for, and it’ll give you some indication of how candidates are feeling about the whole thing. Plus, you can see how they think on their feet. You’re looking for specifics here — something about the office space; the personality of the team; an assignment they were given to complete.

16) “Do you have any questions for me?”

This is another classic interview question, and like the one above, you’re seeing how candidates think on their feet. The answer to this question also reveals what’s important to the candidate.

Are they wondering about company culture, or compensation? Are they curious about growth potential, or learning opportunities? There are no right or wrong answers, but personality and communication style are important factors when considering hiring someone to join your team, and you can get a sense of these factors with their answer.

If you happen to be on the other side of the interview table, you can make your resume even more appealing to potential employers by becoming a certified inbound marketing professional with HubSpot’s free marketing certification. Get started here.

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

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Aug

1

2017

The 2017 HubSpot Blog Redesign: A Detailed Look At What’s New

I have a long, interesting relationship with the HubSpot Marketing Blog.

Before I became editor, I was a full-time writer for this blog. And before I was a writer for this blog, I was a guest contributor to this blog. And before I was a guest contributor to this blog, I was a fan of this blog — I learned from this blog.

So when it came time to kick off the blog redesign I’m about to walk you through, I had a lot of strong opinions (and arguably too many ideas). You see, our last redesign launched in December 2014. To give you some context, since December 2014:

  • Blog.hubspot.com has more than doubled its monthly traffic, growing from under 2 million monthly views in December 2014 to over 4.5 million.
  • There have been over 20 updates made to the Google algorithm.
  • Snapchat has more than doubled its monthly active users, scaling from 71M at the end of Q4 2014 to 166M at the end of Q1 2017.
  • Facebook Live has been invented, released to influencers, and launched to the general public.

It’s safe to say, even though it’s only been a few years, we’re living in an entirely different time than we were back then. Our team is fresh-faced. Our editorial strategy is new and improved. And our audience is continuing to grow and demand new things.

Notice something different? Click here to learn more about the HubSpot blog  redesign process.

We’ve been overdue for a change for a while now, so a change is what we brought. Now let’s talk about what’s new — and why. 

Why We Redesigned the Blog (And What’s New)

Reason #1: To set the stage for new mediums.

During the back half of last year, we started to incorporate more video and audio content into our editorial strategy. 

We’ve experimented with “posts as podcasts”:

Posts-as-podcasts.png

And short video recaps of popular articles:

This shift in strategy came at a time where you couldn't visit a marketing or tech blog without bumping into a headline like, "Why 2017 Is the Year of Video." But that wasn't the only driving force.

Around this same time, we’d just started to think about overhauling our email subscription, too. In doing so, we collected a lot of feedback from our subscribers that suggested they’d been craving different content formats — such as audio and video — for a while now.

It quickly became obvious to us that this was long overdue. We needed to refresh the blog in a way that lent it to more than just written content. We needed brand new post-level designs that were specific to the medium we were using to tell a story, teach a lesson, share a finding, etc.

How the redesign solves for this:

To create some contrast around all of the different types of content we were creating, we decided that the redesign would offers three distinct post formats: written, video, and audio. 

Written 

Prior to the redesign, this was the only post type we had — though it lacked pizzazz. The new written post design incorporates large block quotes for highlighting key quotes and stats, easily shareable text, and a whole lot of white space to make for a clean, inviting experience.

written-post-features.png

Video 

This new post format allows our video content to take center stage, so it feels less like a secondary element. The best part? When you start to scroll, the video shrinks and hops to the side of the screen so you can keep working through the content while staying tuned in. 

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 7.09.59 PM.png

Audio

Between our own audio experiments on the blog and the steady stream of amazing audio content coming from our podcast team, we needed a place to show it off. Our new audio-centric post type includes a sleek audio player that puts the focus on the medium. 

Audio Post

Reason #2: To solve for content discoverability.

After recognizing both a shift in the way search engines deliver results and the way searchers input queries, our in-house SEO experts introduced the team to a new way of looking at content mapping and search engine optimization.

The topic cluster model puts topics before keywords, allowing a single “pillar” page to serve as a hub of content for an overarching topic. From there, “cluster content” covering related long-tail keywords then links back to the main pillar to boost its authority. This approach aims to create a more intentional link structure across the blog properties, making it easier for Google to crawl and rank our content. 

Needless to say, this new approach changed the way we organize content on the blog — and ultimately helped to make related content more discoverable. With nearly 13,000 posts in just the HubSpot Marketing Blog archive alone, we’ve incorporated new functionality that helps us ensure you’re not missing out on any old hidden gems, while also helping you easily surface content you care about.

How the redesign solves for this:

Our blog posts are now systematically tagged based on their associated topic cluster. For example, all of the posts within the “Social Media Trends” cluster receive a “Social Media Trends” tag which links back to the cluster’s pillar page. This link helps to push the authority towards the pillar page, allowing it take more easily rank for the term we’re going after. 

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We also added a related articles section at the bottom of each post. This section pulls in articles from the cluster, allowing for more intentional link distribution. 

Reason #3: To introduce new ways of sharing content.

At the time of our last redesign, Slack — a real-time messaging app for teams — had just celebrated its first birthday. Since then, the platform has gained some serious momentum — so much so that it’s referred to as the fastest-growing business app of all time. Here’s proof:

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Source: Slack

As of October 2016, the platform boasts over 4 million daily active users — including us here at HubSpot. Internally, we use Slack to communicate across our global offices, spark discussions, host meetings, make announcements, and perhaps most often, to share and discover interesting content.

That’s why, when it came time to plan this redesign, we knew that we had to find a way to incorporate Slack into the blog’s functionality. 

And then there’s Facebook Messenger. With 1.2 billion monthly active users, this was another channel we’d had our eye on in terms of content distribution — especially after seeing the results from a few Messenger experiments some of my colleague ran. 

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After testing Facebook Messenger against email as a content delivery system, they saw an open rate of 80% and an average CTR of 13% — this was 242% and 609% better than the email controls.

How the redesign solved for this:

The redesign introduces both Slack and Facebook Messenger as two new channels for sharing content. These additions can be found in the sticky sharing options to the left of the content. As an added bonus, Facebook Messenger has also been added to the hovering share menu that appears when you highlight any string of text. 

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Reason #4: To refresh our branding.

A former boss once said to me, “We really need someone to come in here and call our baby ugly.”

Of course, he wasn’t referring to an actual baby. He meant our content. In a sense, it was our baby — and we’d grown so close to it that it was hard to pull out the flaws, missed opportunities, and so on. 

That was sort of the case here … except we were pretty well aware that our baby was, in fact, a little ugly.

The old blog felt dated and sort of stale. It wasn’t set up in a way that let our content shine (at least not anymore) and it didn’t mesh with some of the newer, more polished pages across the website. But perhaps most importantly, it didn’t reflect our current brand — let alone the direction our brand was going in. 

How the redesign solved for this:

If you’ve been following HubSpot for a while, you may have noticed that our branding underwent a bit of a makeover in the process of this redesign. For example, we’ve implemented new photo filters that reflect an updated color palette:

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These filters, and several other changes, serve as the first step in rolling out a larger visual brand refresh over the coming months — one that is true to our brand and values. Stay tuned. 

Feeling Inspired?

If you’re starting to think that it might be time for your own redesign, we’ve got just the thing. Check out this redesign planning guide for a behind-the-scenes look at how we tackled this project — from start to finish. We’ve peppered it with free resources — like editorial calendar templates and CRO advice — to help you kick off a redesign on the right foot.

Shoutout to the redesign dream team: Matt Eonta, Amelia Towle, Taylor Swyter, Brittany Chin, and Liz Shaw.Untitled design (25).png

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HubSpot Blog Design

 
HubSpot Blog Redesign