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May

24

2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May

10

2017

Creative Work Relies on Failure

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

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

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

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

Creativity vs. Fear of Failure

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

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

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

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

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

Letting Fear Hinder Your Creativity

Scenario

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

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

Letting Fear Dictate Your Creativity

Scenario

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

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

Why You Need Failure

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

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

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

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

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

Determining Objectives of the Situation at Hand

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

Learning to Operate From a Place of Conviction and Commitment

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

Allowing the Freedom to Fail, Learn, and Grow

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

Be Brave

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

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

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Apr

25

2017

Is an MBA Worth the Money?

Published by in category Daily, Professional Development, Tactical | Comments are closed

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Here on the HubSpot Marketing Blog, I haven’t exactly made it a secret that I went to business school. It was an experience that provided two years’ worth of fodder, lessons learned, and other actionables that I like to share here.

But there’s one question I have yet to answer, at least in this venue, about the time spent earning my MBA: Was it worth it?

It’s a question I considered even before I began applying to different business schools, and one in which I’m certainly not alone. When I asked my colleagues if any of them had experienced the great “Should I get my MBA?” debate, there was a clamor of responses. Many of us — all marketing professionals — had experienced the same decision-making process, which made us realize how many other marketers out there must be going through the same thing. Download our free SEO ebook here for more tips from experts on increasing  your search rankings. 

While the topic seems to be eternally up for debate, we agree that there are instances when people should, in fact, go for an MBA — but it’s important to have a clear idea of what those circumstances are, and if they really apply to you. And if they don’t, fear not: There are alternatives. We’ve outlined the factors that do make an MBA worth the investment — and the other things you can do until that day arrives.

When an MBA Is Worth the Money

1) When you know exactly what you want out of it.

Before I began studying for the GMAT — the required admission exam for most MBA programs — I spent about five years deciding whether or not to apply to business school. I had a lot of questions, many of which were shared by my colleague, Mimi An, when she was faced with the same decision. For her, she told me:

The biggest things to consider were if I was at a place where I couldn’t progress further in my career, if I wanted to change function or industry, if I wanted to move, and what exactly I wanted out of the degree. I couldn’t answer the last question. In fact, the answer was ‘no’ to most of my questions. I could still progress. I did not want to change function. I did not want to move. I didn’t know what I expected to get out of it.”

According to Investopedia, the average cost of an MBA is $140,000 — and $260,000 if you’re not working or earning any income while you’re in school. Think of it this way: Would you spend that much on a luxury car or new condo if you weren’t sure why you were buying it? That’s a big chunk of change to spend on something that you aren’t certain is going to benefit you in some way.

Of course, for many people, the answer to those questions is overwhelmingly “yes” — in fact, they were for me. At the time, I wasn’t progressing in my career and I wanted to move, which are two fundamental reasons why I ultimately made the decision to go to business school. But not everyone will have the same responses to those important questions, nor do they come easily to anyone — so be sure to put sufficient time into them.

2) When your work isn’t teaching you what you need to grow.

There’s an important point that An made in her quote above — how much room for growth you have in your current career trajectory, whether that means you’re able to progress in your current job, or do it elsewhere.

If you’re not getting the right learning opportunities in your current workplace, but you’re also short on some of the skills to progress in another role or company, it might be time to think about getting an advanced degree. It’s what Jim O’Neill, HubSpot’s chief information officer, realized early in his career here, when he was also considering leaving to pursue an MBA.

“I couldn’t get it out of my head that I’d be giving up more by leaving the company at that stage than I’d ever be able to learn in business school,” he said. “And while I still might want a graduate degree someday, I was lucky to stay, learn, and grow over the following six years.”

But again — everyone’s experience is different. When O’Neill was contemplating this decision, HubSpot happened to be scaling up, which forced him to learn a lot of crucial business lessons as a byproduct of being in the throes of a company’s earliest stages. Not everyone will be in that same position, and some people will have to seek the lessons O’Neill learned elsewhere.

Depending on the program you choose, an MBA could be the best place to gain this knowledge. So when you’re making this decision, carefully evaluate where you are in your career, and how much you can learn on your current trajectory without an advanced degree.

3) When you actually have the time to dedicate to it.

During my first semester of business school, I was working full-time while also completing my coursework. Granted, most of my classes were at night, which on the surface seems like a convenient arrangement. But as any student will tell you, your academic work extends far beyond the hours you spend in the classroom. There are exams to study for, papers to write, and group projects to complete.

In other words, if you add that to your current professional workload — your nights and weekends are pretty much toast. At least, that was my experience.

That may seem like a sacrifice you’re willing to make, but think about it, in the context of the previous points. Even if you’re certain of your reasons for pursuing an MBA, do you really have the time to dedicate to it? Will you also be able to sufficiently take care of yourself, and spend enough time with loved ones to maintain a measurable level of mental health?

It’s easy to think that the answers to those questions are “yes” — in fact, I told myself that I would have plenty of time to work out between classes or before work in the morning, and to cook healthy meals ahead of time on the weekends. And while that was sometimes true, it required extremely strict time management, and left precious little time to actually relax.

My colleague, Karla Cook — who’s working full-time while pursuing her master’s degree — agrees. “I tell people the only reason they should work full-time while pursuing a graduate degree is if they get offered an opportunity that falls in the ‘dream job’ category,” she explains. “If that’s not the case, then it’s probably not worth completely killing yourself over, because you will have no free time.”

But the good news is, it’s temporary. Business school doesn’t last forever — though it might seem like that while you’re going through it. But before you seriously consider going through this kind of program, have a clear idea of what’s going to make it “worth it” to you. Having that goal in mind gives you something tangible to keep you motivated during these stressful periods.

4) … And when you have the money saved.

They say that “time is money” — and just as you must be sure you’re willing to sacrifice the former, you also have to make certain that you have the latter. Remember those aforementioned dollar figures we cited about the true cost of an MBA? File this point under deciding what will make the degree “worth it,” with “it” being the hundreds of thousands of dollars that your degree will likely cost.

When you’re deciding whether or not to go to business school, ask yourself if you can afford to take on student loan debt. If you’ve just bought a house, paid for a wedding, expanded your family, or bought a car — the answer might be “no,” unless you happen to have a lot of liquid funds at your disposal.

That said, loans aren’t the only answer. You should also see what other resources might be available to you, like scholarships or fellowships, some of which might even be available through the school you end up attending.

When you begin selecting which programs you’ll apply to, explore their respective policies on merit-based financial aid — that’s the kind that you don’t usually have to repay. There are several guides to external merit scholarships available to MBA students, as well, like this one from GoGrad.org.

5) When the program’s career resources will actually help you.

At risk of sounding like a broken record, this point also speaks to the idea of what will make an MBA program “worth it.” Again, everyone’s priorities are different, but if you’re going to business school with the hope of advancing your career with a new employer, make sure the school you choose has the right resources to support your job search.

This factor is one that institutions know prospective students take seriously. In the Graduate Management Admission Council’s Alumni Perspectives Survey Report 2017, 91% of respondents indicated that they found their MBAs to be “professionally rewarding,” and many schools feel a lot of pressure to uphold that significant figure for their own students. For that reason, many graduate students have found advertised career services to sometimes be a bit embellished. Cook echoes that sentiment, and says she’s come across many graduate programs that lack “any useful career benefits,” despite what they claim.

In my own MBA experience, those services weren’t exactly embellished, but they were removed from the university’s budget after I had committed to the program. That wasn’t entirely negative — experiences like those can teach some students crucial lessons on networking and other valuable job search skills. Evaluate the resources available to you through a very fine lens, and consider how much of a priority they are in selecting a business school.

6) When your employer will cover your tuition.

This one seems a bit obvious, but it requires some reading between the lines, so to speak. If your employer will reimburse your MBA tuition, it might seem like a proverbial no-brainer to take advantage of that benefit. But understand what will be required if you do.

First, understand that you’ll most likely have to pay taxes on any amount of reimbursement you receive over $5,250. Also, some employers require you to stay with the company for a certain amount of time upon completion of your degree as a condition of receiving this benefit. Once again — ask yourself what your reasons are for pursuing an MBA. If they include progressing your career in a new work environment, taking a route that requires you to stay with the same employer for at least two years after you graduate might not be the most optimal one.

You might notice that many of these considerations work in tandem. For example, the point above about tuition reimbursement from your employer could be countered by having enough money saved to invest in the degree yourself, or being in a position to use student loans. That’s why we encourage you to spend ample time thinking about all of these factors — getting an MBA isn’t a minor decision.

When an MBA Is Not Worth the Money

1) When you should get a different degree.

Maybe — just maybe — you’ve decided against getting an MBA because it’s simply not the right degree for your career trajectory, or for what you’re hoping to do. If you’re looking to specialize in corporate communications, for example, it might be worthwhile to look into graduate programs that specialize in it, and have the catered career resources to support it.

That idea re-emphasizes the importance of knowing exactly what you’re hoping to gain from an MBA. When you outline your goals, compare them to the standard coursework required of an MBA, and see if they align. If not, it might be time to look into a different academic concentration.

2) When you can work for an emerging or early-stage business.

Remember O’Neill’s great story of how much he learned from sticking with a company that was scaling up — in lieu of pursuing an MBA? As we mentioned earlier, working with a company in its earliest stages often forces its employees, whether they like it or not, to learn a ton of business fundamentals.

In a valuable MBA program, you should learn such fundamentals as managing budgets, personnel, projects, and — when the company really begins to take off — scaling it to keep up with that growth. Sounds a lot like the type of thing that managers have to learn with a new, emerging business, doesn’t it? If that’s the type of work and knowledge you crave, it could be time to look for job opportunities with a company in these early stages.

3) When you can use individual courses to gain the skills you’re missing.

When I was in business school, I was fortunate enough to have some truly great professors. But I also learned something else — without naming names, I realized that while many academic instructors are experts in their respective fields, that doesn’t mean they excel when it comes to teaching.

That meant, for certain subjects, I sometimes had to seek outside resources to supplement classroom teachings — most notably, Khan Academy, an online provider of free classes and courses. I found out about it through a classmate in a particularly difficult class, and once I started using it for that particular topic, I saw how much knowledge the site has to offer.

And while I wasn’t about to abandon my MBA to self-teach via this resource alone, it did make me realize that, for individual areas and skills, sites like these can be a tremendous help to those who aren’t ready to pursue a full degree, but want to improve their professional credentials. And Khan Academy — despite offering a plethora of courses on subjects ranging from economics to art history — is hardly the only resource of this kind. Our favorites include Coursera, edX, HubSpot AcademyLynda, and Udemy. Even better, some of these sites, like Coursera, actually offer classes taught by faculty of some top-tier schools, including Stanford.

To B-School, or Not to B-School

Deciding whether or not to pursue your MBA is a pretty big decision — it can be a significant investment of both time and money. But, for many, it’s worth it. And now, you have a checklist to help make that decision just a little bit easier.

And as for me — the verdict is in. My MBA was worth it. In the thick of my coursework, I did sometimes question, “Why am I doing this?” Plus, I agree that there are many times when the investment just isn’t necessary. But in the end, I remain very happy with my decision to go to business school. I got to experience living in a new city, gain new skills, and figure out what I don’t want to do, which, to me, is a milestone in one’s career progression.

All in all, I think of it as a very productive use of my time — and I want it to be for you, too. You’ll make the right decision. But please, don’t make it in a hurry.

What are your thoughts on pursuing an MBA? Let us know in the comments.

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Apr

19

2017

How to Make a Good First Impression: 11 Tips to Try

Published by in category Business, Daily, Professional Development, Tactical | Comments are closed

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Did you know that it only takes a tenth of a second to make a first impression?

In other words, when you meet someone for the first time, you need to be on your game from the very beginning. This includes being aware of everything from the words you choose to the body language you convey.

Whether you’re meeting new connections, team members, potential employers, or customers, I’ve put together a list of tips designed to help you put your best foot forward and make a killer first impression.

11 Tips for Making a Good First Impression

1) Be mindful of your body language and posture.

Effective body language goes beyond simply standing up straight and having a firm handshake — although those things are definitely important, too. When you’re meeting someone for the first time, keep your posture open — don’t tightly cross your arms or legs, don’t ball your hands into fists, and don’t hunch over in your seat. Lean in when you talk to show you’re actively listening and engaged in the conversation. And don’t be afraid to take up some space at the table, either. If you normally use hand gestures or move around to communicate, don’t hold back. These nonverbal cues can make a powerful subconscious impact, so be aware of your body language and posture during meetings in general, but particularly initial pitches or interviews.

What behaviors should you aim to avoid? It’s smart to refrain from tapping, touching your face too often, placing objects in front of yourself, blinking excessively, and sitting or standing too close to others (respect the bubble, people). Some body language habits can suggest dishonesty, so be mindful to avoid those tics — avoiding eye contact, touching your mouth, and others — too.

2) Modulate your pitch and tone of voice.

A high-pitched tone of voice can make you seem childish or nervous — especially if you tend to “uptalk” or use a rising inflection at the end of your sentences. In fact, it has been shown that people perceive those who have a rising intonation as less knowledgeable, no matter what they are actually saying.

Not sure if you’re guilty of this? Try practicing your presentations or recording yourself reading aloud. You’d be surprised at how different you sound to others versus in your own head.

On the other hand, faster speakers are considered to be more confident, according to a study performed at Brigham Young University. However, even if you’re talking fast, be sure to avoid using filler words such as “um,” “ah,” “like,” and other similar phrases whenever possible, as it shows hesitation. Try practicing not relying on those filler words in front of a camera to train yourself.

3) Choose your words wisely.

Words matter even more than you think. Positive and persuasive words and phrases will often open doors and make people feel comfortable in your presence, which can ultimately make them more willing to work with you.

For instance, let’s take a look at many marketers’ favorite show: Mad Men. Some of Don Draper’s best pitches (e.g., Carousel & Lucky Strike) were full of positive language. That said, positive language doesn’t need to be cheesy or new-agey as Draper illustrates. Instead, positive language can be used to uplift your audience by simply being clear and simple.

This point is especially valuable if you’re making a first impression in a job interview. You want potential employers to find you positive, flexible, and capable, so use language that reflects optimism and agency instead of negativity.

4) Dress the part.

Regardless of how little you personally care about fashion or style, what you wear matters. While you want to look clean and neat, it’s also important to match or slightly exceed the relative level of formality of the person or business you are meeting with — whether that is business formal, highly casual, or something in between.

“You are your brand, especially if you are a business owner, so making sure that your look communicates your best self is important,” explains Laurel Mintz, CEO of Elevate My Brand.

If you want to show off your personality, try including one accessory that could be considered a memorable item or even a conversation piece. This could be anything from a unique piece of jewelry to a fancy tie to a pair of fun socks.

5) Make eye contact.

Focus on the person or people you are speaking with. It’s hard to get to know someone when you’re looking down at a screen, so make an effort to make some eye contact with everyone in the room.

However, keep in mind that eye contact can also backfire, according to a study by the University of British Columbia. If people aren’t already persuaded or inclined to be on your side, they may focus more on your mouth or any presentation materials you’re showcasing instead of your eyes, making attempts at eye contact a challenge.

6) Know your audience.

Do your research. If your meeting is planned in advance, you should know plenty about the person or business that you’re meeting with before you arrive. This might mean that you Google the people you’ll be meeting with, the company founders/co-founders, their history, their competition, their main products, and any other relevant info before you walk into the room.

Looking for a helpful tool to help you gather some background information? Check out Charlie App. This app scans hundreds of sources to uncover information about the person you’re meeting with and sends you a one-pager with all the details. Pretty cool, right? LinkedIn is also a good place to check out who you’re meeting with and learn more about them.

7) Come prepared.

There’s nothing worse than an unproductive meeting. To make a great first impression, be sure that you’re respectful of everyone’s time. If you’re meeting with someone working remotely, plan accordingly. That said, if you’re being productive and everyone has the bandwidth, it might be okay if the meeting runs long — just make sure you check in with the group before making the call.

Meeting time management is a key aspect of building an engaged group of clients or colleagues. Plus, it shows respect for their schedules.

8) Be authentic.

When you’re meeting someone for the first time, don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you don’t know the answer to something they ask, don’t fake it. The ability to lean into your weaknesses shows that you are self-aware.

However, be sure not to over emphasize your shortcomings. It might seem shockingly simple, but avoiding the “report card problem” or highlighting weaknesses and how you might fix them could cause you to only showcase the negatives, or at least make them the biggest part of your overall impression. While you don’t want to hide any weaknesses (people will likely figure it out anyways), you do want to be honest and move on to the good stuff — especially at the beginning of a business relationship.

9) Put your phone away.

That goes for tablets, laptops, and other electronics, too.

If you need to use technology to deliver a presentation, that’s one thing. But unless you’re projecting your computer or tablet screen to present to the entire room, turn off sounds and vibrations on your mobile devices, and put your screens away. Give your complete and undivided attention to the people you’re meeting for the first time to convey your commitment, focus, and let’s face it, your good manners.

10) Make a connection.

Pay close attention to who you’re meeting with for the first time and try to forge a connection based on what they share with you. Whether it’s their alma mater or their hometown, forging a connection outside of the professional conversation can be a great way to strike up a rapport.

That being said, don’t be too creepy. Avoid making comments about their appearance that could be perceived as inappropriate and stick to connections you might have in common. Those are more genuine than compliments anyway.

11) Don’t forget to follow up.

After an initial meeting, don’t forget to follow up by sending any necessary information — notes, presentation docs, next steps, and so on — or sending a thank you note.

These small gestures will help prove that you’re on the ball, and that you’re making them a priority, rather than just another task to check off your to-do list.

Sending out updated information after a meeting can also be a way to get a second chance at a first impression. How so? It helps to show another side of you or your business — perhaps a more responsible side. In fact, a Stanford study revealed that adding more external factors can actually mitigate the effect of a negative first impression.

Don’t let a negative first impression get in the way of your ability to get to know someone. Follow these nine tips to ensure that the first time you meet with someone won’t be the last.

What are your best tips for making a great first impression? Share them below.

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

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Apr

19

2017

How to Use Canva: An 8-Step Guide to Creating Visual Content

Published by in category Daily, Design, Tactical | Comments are closed

Creating-Visual-Content-with-Canva-compressor.jpg

Back in 2014, Peg Fitzpatrick and Guy Kawasaki penned a post for the HubSpot Marketing Blog that approached the topic of visual marketing as the “next big thing.” But since then, it’s gone to “here to stay.” After all, articles with an image once every 75-100 words tend to get 2X social shares than articles with fewer images.

But in the previous article, Kawasaki — chief evangelist for Canva, a remarkably simple online platform for graphic design — stressed the importance of including shareable images in blog posts, and regularly creating custom, relevant visual content for Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram posts. Admittedly, following that advice is easier said than done. It’s time-consuming and requires multiple tools. That is, without Canva.

It might seem like you need myriad resources to create just one custom graphic: Photoshop to edit an image, InDesign to lay it out, VSCO for filters, and a multitude of stock photo sites. But Canva combines all these editing and publishing tools — plus a comprehensive image library — in one online design platform. Even better, it comes equipped with a collection of templates that can be applied to a number of different industries. New Call-to-action

But whether you’re creating a Facebook banner for your retail store, or an infographic for your law firm, you might wonder where you should begin with Canva. That’s why we put together this walkthrough of how visual marketers — at any knowledge level — can use Canva. Using an animal shelter’s promotion of its weekend adoption fair as an example, we’ll guide you through the eight steps of creating visual content with these tools and templates.

8 Steps for Creating Visual Content With Canva

1) Begin with a content marketing strategy.

While we don’t think you have to go through the whole process of creating Gantt charts and editorial calendars — though they can keep you organized — it’s important to identify your content goals, and the platforms that will best suit them.

For the animal shelter’s weekend adoption event, the primary purpose is to let people — like social media followers — know about the event, and make them want to share it on social media. In this instance, we want to create a post to share on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, and a visual that would work as a poster to print and display locally.

2) Browse the templates library to find and create the right content.

Canva has a collection of specific, professional templates for a wide variety of content. The templates page is arranged into categories — types of content — and subcategories for themes or topics. For example, you can choose between templates for posters and or presentations, based on the content marketing strategy your formulated in the previous step. Plus, each one is already optimized in the right dimensions for things like banners, headers, and cover photos for specific sites like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

image00-16.png

Keep in mind that these templates are meant to be your springboard to start designing. For many creative professionals, from writers to designers, starting with a blank canvas can be one of the biggest challenges. With these templates, you don’t have to create your content from scratch, or hire a professional designer just to create your day-to-day graphics.

For our animal shelter example, we’ll start with this social media graphic template:

image02-10.png

In the next steps, we’ll show you how to edit this template using Canva’s drag and drop design tools.

3) Find the right visuals to go with your post using Canva’s built-in photo library.

Visual content is 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. And since we want our pet adoption fair to get a lot of engagement on social media, like comments and shares, we have to include the right kind of visuals in its promotion. Using Canva’s built-in media library, we’ll look for a picture of a cute kitten to catch people’s attention — and hearts.

To start, type a keyword or two into the search bar, and choose from any of the photos or illustrations — that means no more Google image searches. The extensive photo library hosts a wide variety of subjects and themes, like abstract images, textures, landscapes, people, and animals. Once you’ve found the perfect image, just drag it over to your design, and drop it where it needs to go.

Canva Image Library

Canva also allows you to upload your own images and use them on your design, which is perfect for adding your logo and other branded visuals to content. (You’ll notice the text has changed in the image below — we’ll get to that in our next step.)

Add logo

4) Marry image and text through typography.

Now that we’ve got a cute kitten image to draw attention, we need to give our audience some details about the adoption fair. And since we’re already working with a template, we can just edit the placeholder text and add in the right details.

Custom text

The best social media content is a marriage of visuals and text — remember the statistic we cited earlier about the shareability of copy that includes the right amount of imagery. However, making sure your font complements the rest of the visual content can be tricky. While some professionals have years of experience to help them pair fonts, Canva provides a shortcut: The font pairing tool.

First, pick your starter font. Then, this handy tool shows you the best font combinations for your chosen typeface, as well as real-life examples from the web.

CanvaFontPairing

5) Enhance your image with a filter.

Filters are a great tool for easily changing the tone of an image. Plus, applying a custom filter across your various posts can help to create a theme and tie your campaign together, boosting consistency and recognizability.

To add a filter, select your image, click on the filter button, then choose from any of the 14 custom filters available in Canva. Use the slider to control the intensity of the filter. There are also advanced options that allow you to play with different settings like brightness, contrast, and saturation, or to add effects like a vignette.

Canva filters

6) Resize your whole design to fit various platforms.

We’re done creating our visual. That was quick, right? Now, we have to post share it across various social media networks, and print our poster. That also means we might have to resize for those various outlets — but rather than going back and re-designing the entire visual according to the dimensions required by each one, we can use Canva’s Magic Resize tool.

The Magic Resize tool is available for Canva for Work users — a paid plan starting at $12.95 per month. But if you’re using the free tools, fear not, as we’ve included some alternative resizing directions below.

That said, Magic Resize is quite a time-saving feature that lets you copy and resize one design into formats for various channels. Just click on “File,” navigate to “Magic Resize,” then choose the different formats you want to use to adapt your visual. Then, click the “resize” button, and you’re done.

Magic resize

Users of Canva’s free tools can still resize their designs by creating a copy of the original visual. Click “File,” “Change Dimensions,” and select the format to which you’d like to resize the design.

Canva Change Dimensions

7) Collaborate with a team, or post the visual to social media.

Canva allows you to collaborate with your team or design partners on a visual, within the same platform. Simply click on “Share”, navigate to “Link,” and choose the “can edit” option to generate a link that allows others to edit your design. Alternatively, you may choose the “can view” option to allow someone to see your design, without the ability to edit it.

Otherwise, you can post your final design directly to Facebook or Twitter. There’s also an embed option, which generates the code to embed your design into your blog or website.

Share Design

For other channels, or if you want an offline copy of your design, you can download an image file in a JPG, PNG, or print-ready PDF format. For our animal shelter visual, we’ll download the flyer version of the design as a high-quality PDF file, to enhance its printed appearance.

Download canva PDF

8) Learn to create better designs with Canva’s free, interactive courses.

Nice work — you’ve made a great design, with amazingly simple tools. But maybe you want to learn more about design — and Canva’s Design School is just the place to do it.

The Design School is a resource hub for learning the basics of design — everything from essential design tools, to typography, to photo editing, to consistent branding. Some of the most popular offerings are Canva’s 30 “Design Essentials” tutorials, covering fonts, layouts, and images. Plus, you can track and share your progress as you make your way through the different lessons.

Canva Tutorials

Starting with the following tutorials can help you hone your skills in some of the visual content design steps we’ve covered today:

  1. Marrying Text and Images
  2. Brilliant Backgrounds
  3. Choosing the Right Font
  4. Enhancing Images
  5. Fantastic Photo Filters

It might also be worthwhile to check out the daily Design School blog, which takes a more in-depth look into specific subjects, like designing for social media, creating better email headers, design principles, and even design psychology.

Canva design blog

Draw Inspiration

Despite the options we’ve covered here, there are actually many more designs and tools to explore in Canva. In addition to promotional visuals like the animal shelter example we used, you can create presentations, infographics, brochures — and a lot more.

One of Canva’s most differentiating factors, however, is that the above steps are pretty much the same across these different types of documents, thanks in large part to the ready-made templates. So don’t let visual content design intimidate you. It’s more than achievable — and we can’t wait to see what you come up with.

What are some of your favorite visual content creation tools? Let us know in the comments.

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Apr

14

2017

What Do Snapchat Emojis Mean?

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

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There are hundreds of emojis available on iOS and Android mobile device keyboards. Everything from tacos to national flags to artists is represented in cartoon emoji form.

But let’s be real here: Most of us just use the same few emojis over and over.

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If you know me, you know I love two things more than anything: cats and sleeping. So it’s fitting that the two emojis I use most often in my texting keyboard are:

                                                       cat_emoji sleep_emoji

Another thing you may already know about me is that I love using Snapchat. So when emojis started popping up in my list of chats with friends in the app, I needed to get to the bottom of it.

In this post, we’ll dive into the history of Snapchat emojis and what they all mean. Bear in mind that these emojis vary slightly across iOS and Android devices, so we’ve written out what the faces look like, too.

What Do Snapchat Emojis Indicate?

Snapchat emojis track the activity and behaviors between Snapchat users and their friends. The frequency, timing, and pattern of your Snapchat interactions with other users will determine which emojis, if any, appear in your list of Snapchat chats.

Not sure what I mean? Check out my list of Snapchats, along with a few different emojis you might see in your own app. To access this page, open up your Snapchat app, and swipe right.

snapchat_emojis_chat.png

When Snapchat was first created, the app used to show who users’ best friends were publicly (best friends are the users they sent the most Snaps back and forth with). You can imagine why users took issue with this. Can you imagine the awkwardness of finding your best friend or significant other was best friends on Snapchat with somebody else?

So in 2015, Snapchat (now Snap. Inc) axed this feature in the name of user privacy and hid the lists of other users’ best friends — to more outraged reactions. Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel has said that the app will bring back public best friends, but so far, that hasn’t happened.

In the meantime, the friend emojis we decode below have replaced the list of best friends — and provide greater detail. Now, there are more insights into how users interact with friends — you just need to know how these behaviors are represented in the app.

Let’s dive into understanding your Snapchat contacts list better. And remember: These emojis are only visible to you.

What Do Snapchat Emojis Mean?

1) Smiley Face Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: This user is one of your best friends on Snapchat. You frequently send Snaps back and forth to each other.

2) Yellow Heart Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: This user is your #1 best friend. You send the most Snaps to this user, and they send the most Snaps to you.

3) Smirking Face Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: You’re one of this user’s best friends, but they aren’t one of your best friends. They send you more Snaps than you send them.

3) Grimacing Face Emoji on Snapchat

snapchat_grimace.png

What it means: Your #1 best friend is their #1 best friend, too. You both send lots of Snaps to the same user.

4) Sunglasses Face Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: One of your best friends is one of their best friends. You send a lot of Snaps to someone they also send a lot of Snaps to. 

6) Red Heart Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: You’ve been #1 best friends (yellow heart status) with this user for two weeks in a row.

7) Pink Hearts Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: You’ve been #1 best friends with this user for two months in a row.

8) Fire Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: You and this user are on a Snapstreak — you’ve been sending each other Snaps for several days in a row. The number of days you’ve been on a Snapstreak will appear next to the fire emoji.

9) 100 Emoji on Snapchat

snapchat_100.png

What it means: You’ve been on a Snapstreak with this user for 100 days in a row.

10) Hourglass Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: Your Snapstreak with this user will end if you don’t send them a Snap very soon. You can send them a Snap or a Chat to keep it going.

11) Baby Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: You and this user have recently added each other as Snapchat friends.

12) Gold Star Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: Someone has replayed this user’s Snap within the past 24 hours.

13) Gold Sparkles Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: You’re in a Snapchat Group Chat with this user. Learn how to start a Snapchat Group in this article.

14) Birthday Cake Emoji on Snapchat

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What it means: Today is this user’s birthday. This emoji will only appear if the user indicated their date of birth in their Account information. Learn how to add your birthday to your account in this article.

How to Customize Snapchat Emojis

If these emojis aren’t speaking to you, you can change them within your Snapchat account. For example, your best friends could be represented by a pizza slice instead of a yellow heart if you really love pizza (and your friends, I suppose). Here’s how it’s done:

1) Open up your Snapchat app and swipe down. You’ll see your profile screen and Snapcode.

2) Tap the Settings gear in the upper right-hand corner.

snapchat_snapcode_settings.png

3) Select “Manage” under the “Additional Services” menu.

snapchat_addtional services.png

4) Select “Friend Emojis.”

snapchat_friend emojis.png

5) From there, you can tap into each signifier and choose a new emoji to represent what it means.

snapchat_emojilist.png

Source: Snapchat Support

And there you have it. We’ll keep this post updated with new developments in the world of Snapchat emojis. In the meantime, keep snapping to see how your emojis change, and let us know how long your longest snap streak is.

What’s your greatest Snapchat emoji achievement? Share with us in the comments below.

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Apr

11

2017

6 Phrases to Demonstrate Active Listening — at Work, or Elsewhere

Published by in category Daily, Professional Development, Tactical | Comments are closed

A few weeks ago, I had an alarming revelation: I’m a crappy listener.

That came to light when someone important to me pointed out that I don’t seem to have any interest in what he does for work. “Your eyes just glaze over whenever I talk about my job,” he told me.

I couldn’t deny that. And it wasn’t limited to him — whenever someone spoke to me about something that I found less than fascinating, I had a tendency to tune it out. In reality, I could learn to appreciate my friend’s line of work, for example, if I learned to listen actively.

It’s an imperative skill — at work, and in your personal life. After all, if you’re never paying attention to what your boss, your significant other, or your kids are saying to you, how are they supposed to take you seriously? How can you expect them to come to you for advice, or with important information? When you don’t listen, you set the precedent that you can’t be trusted to absorb what matters to other people. Download our complete productivity guide here for more tips on improving your  productivity at work.

That’s why it’s imperative to learn how to listen actively. It’s one thing to sit and make eye contact with the person speaking to you. But are you really absorbing what they’re saying? And moreover, are you responding in a way that communicates that you’re actually listening — and that you have something worthwhile to say in return? 

There are a few key phrases out there to demonstrate that you’re listening actively. And it’s true — you’re not going to care about every conversation that someone initiates with you. But even if the topic isn’t important to you, the person sharing it might be. Read on to learn how to pay better attention, and how to show that you’re doing so.

How We Listen

The Process

To listen, according to Merriam-Webster, is “to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, or true.”

It’s that second part of the definition that stands out to me — especially when it comes to active listening. It’s the genuine absorption of what someone is saying to us that reinforces and communicates how seriously we’re taking it, or appreciate its importance.

Of course, there are many reasons to listen. It helps us to satisfy different physiological goals. We listen to alter our moods, stay alert, and figure stuff out — in humans, that’s been the case for pretty much as long as we’ve existed. The process starts when we receive auditory stimuli. Then, our brains have to interpret that stimulus. That’s enhanced by other senses — like sight — which help us better interpret what we’re hearing. That’s important. When someone is sharing information with us, our non-verbal reaction also communicates to that person how actively we’re listening.

Once we receive and interpret auditory signals, we follow a series of steps that consist of recalling, evaluating, and responding to the information we consume:

Hurier_Listening_Process.png

Source: Matthew Edward Dyson

All three of those steps are imperative to active listening. Numerous studies have discovered how listening triggers a widespread network of activity throughout the entire brain — and it’s why auditory stimuli is often strongly linked to memory.

When We Don’t Listen

Of course, we have to be paying attention in order to be able to recall, evaluate, and respond to what someone tells us. And even if we are, how we respond can send a variety of signals back to our conversational counterpart. Statements like, “I see,” or, “Cool,” for example, aren’t exactly active phrases. Rather, they exhibit a state of passive listening that communicates we hear the person, but probably don’t care.

And that’s not how anyone — let alone important people in your life, like your family or your boss — wants to be treated. Even if your significant other is telling you about his day, responding with something like, “Mm-hmm” doesn’t exactly send the message that you have great concern for what’s being said.

And even then, our intentions might be good. According to a coaching presentation created by Viorica Milea, there are many non-malicious explanations behind why we don’t listen. These are things like distractions, which abound in today’s device-centric world, and our tendency to start thinking ahead while the person is still talking — what Milea calls “judging,” which happens when we’ve preemptively “made assumptions” about what the person is going to say.

The Mutual Benefit of Active Listening

That’s why active listening is good for both parties in a conversation. It benefits the person speaking by helping to insure that she’s actually being heard. But it also benefits the listener — learning to put distractions and preemptive judgments (well-intended or not) aside will not only prevent you from missing important details, but also, can help teach you how to tune out unnecessary interruptions while focusing on other important tasks.

Practicing the incorporation of these phrases into conversations is a great way to get started. When someone is speaking to you, keep these in mind — if you feel your attention start to drift, or a notification appears on your phone, or you begin thinking ahead, come back to your mental inventory of these phrases to demonstrate and execute active listening.

6 Phrases to Demonstrate Active Listening

1) “Do you mean … ?”

Why

Sometimes, it seems like life is one long game of Telephone. Even if we interpreted something one way, the person who said it may have meant it completely differently.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re getting the full story from the person you’re listening to, and understanding it correctly. By asking for clarification, you’re not only encouraging more details from someone who might be timid about bringing something up, but also, you’re making sure you actually heard a statement as it was intended.

Alternatives

  • “I’m not sure I understand.”
  • “Could you tell me a bit more about that?”

2) “It sounds like … ”

Why

This phrase is another one that helps to provide clarification by demonstrating your empathy. But be careful with this one, and make sure you’re not telling your counterpart how she feels, but rather, phrasing it as an expression of how you interpret her emotions.

I have a tough time admitting when I’m upset about something, especially in a professional setting. But my manager happens to excel at active listening, and is very good at reading what I’m not saying in a conversation — and responding in kind. When I was disappointed about the outcome of a project, for example, I didn’t exactly say so, but she said, “It sounds like you’re feeling a little defeated.” I was, and having her say that to me out loud helped me take a proactive approach to the project moving forward.

Alternatives

  • “What I’m hearing is … “
  • “You seem a bit … ”

3) “Really?”

Why

This phrase is one that Milea helps to demonstrate encouragement during a conversation. It reminds the person speaking that you’re paying attention by encouraging them to elaborate on something they’ve said to you.

Alternatives

  • “When?”
  • “How?”
  • “You’re kidding.”

4) “I’ve noticed that … ”

Why

Here’s another term that shows how much attention you’re paying. By pointing out your observations about someone’s behavior or tendencies while she’s speaking, you’re not only fully absorbing her words — you’re also taking the non-verbal communication into consideration.

Instructors at the University of Central Florida use the example of, “I’ve just been noticing that when you talk about your conclusions, you smile. That makes me think you’re comfortable with the direction.” Making sure you know what someone means isn’t limited to the spoken word — you want to clarify what nonverbal behavior could indicate, too.

5) “Let me make sure I’ve got this right.”

Why

Another method of active listening is checking in with your counterpart to summarize what you’ve heard them say thus far. By repeating back something to the person you’re listening to, you’re not only demonstrating that you’ve been paying attention, but also, you’re further ensuring that you understand what the person actually means, and that you heard her correctly.

Alternatives

  • “These are the main points I’ve heard you make so far.”
  • “Let’s make sure I’m hearing you correctly.”
  • “Let’s pause to make sure we’re on the same page.”

6) “I’m sorry. That really sucks.”

Why

I joke about this one with my colleagues a lot. It goes back to the big idea of empathy and those occasions when, for just a moment, you want to have a pity party, rather than receiving proactive advice. Of course, you’re ready for that advice eventually, but not right away.

That’s why, when someone is sharing his frustrations with you, one of the most impactful things you can do is verbally acknowledge how crummy the situation is. Rather than invalidating the person’s emotions by immediately launching into suggestions for what she should do, you’re pausing to provide empathy, and to allow the person to work through what’s bothering him.

Alternatives

  • “I’m sorry you’re going through that.”
  • “What a crappy situation to be in. I’m sorry.”
  • “That’s rough. How can I help?”

Listen Carefully

We get it. You’ve got enough on your plate. There’s always a deadline, and there’s always somewhere you need to be. It can be hard to genuinely pay attention, especially when you’ve got a long to-do list that’s occupying your mental energy.

But as we’ve mentioned, active listening doesn’t just benefit your conversational counterpart — you also stand to gain from it. From making sure you don’t miss important details, to exercising focus for any important task, putting these phrases into practice can help you become a proactive, empathetic listener.

What are your go-to phrases to demonstrate active listening? Let us know in the comments.

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Mar

25

2017

The Ultimate Social Media Holiday Calendar for 2017 [Resource]

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

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Whether it’s International Cat Day, Pizza Day, or Talk Like a Pirate Day, it seems like almost every day, the internet is celebrating a holiday.

Whenever I log onto Twitter, I quickly scan what’s trending on the left-hand side of the screen. Have you ever had this experience — when you see an obscure holiday or observance day trending, and you think to yourself “Yup, I’m celebrating that”?

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Some of these holidays might be simply too silly for your brand to engage with (and we certainly don’t suggest sharing content on social media and then tacking on a completely irrelevant hashtag for the sake of traffic — that’s just plain annoying). But others might not be. You could be missing valuable opportunities to take advantage of trending topics with fun and relevant “holiday” content on social media.

From food to politics to animals and everything in between, there is a plethora of observance days worldwide during which marketers can share content relevant to their industries, get involved in a movement, or simply generate more awareness.

To help you plan for trending holidays, we created a list that you can bookmark, as well as a downloadable calendar so you can get automatic reminders. The list isn’t exhaustive (there are a lot of food-specific holidays out there) and these dates and hashtags may still be subject to change. But this is a great starting point for social media marketers who want to learn more about what’s trending and how they can plan their content in a way that will be fun and engaging on Twitter and other social platforms.

Tap the + symbol in the lower right-hand corner of the calendar below to add it to your own Gmail calendar.

Downloadable Holiday Calendar

National & Global Holiday Calendar: 2017-2018

March 2017

April 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

February 2018

March 2017

1: National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day #PeanutButterLoversDay

2: National Read Across America Day #ReadAcrossAmerica & #DrSeuss

3: National Day of Unplugging #NationalDayOfUnplugging

4: National Grammar Day #NationalGrammarDay

6: National Dentist’s Day #DentistsDay

7: National Be Heard Day #NationalBeHeardDay

National Cereal Day #NationalCerealDay

National Pancake Day #NationalPancakeDay

8: International Women’s Day #BeBoldForChange

National Proofreading Day #NationalProofreadingDay

9: Popcorn Lover’s Day #PopcornLoversDay

10: National Pack Your Lunch Day #NationalPackYourLunchDay

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day #NWGHAAD

11: National Worship of Tools Day #WorshipOfToolsDay

12: National Girl Scout Day #GirlScoutDay

Daylight Savings #DaylightSavings

13: National Napping Day #NationalNappingDay

14: Potato Chip Day #NationalPotatoChipDay

Pi Day #PiDay

15: World Consumer Rights Day #WCRD2017

16: National Freedom of Information Day #FreedomOfInformationDay

17: St. Patrick’s Day #StPatricksDay

World Sleep Day #WorldSleepDay

18: Awkward Moments Day #NationalAwkwardMomentsDay

19: National Let’s Laugh Day #NationalLetsLaughDay

20: International Day of Happiness #InternationalDayofHappiness

World Storytelling Day #WorldStorytellingDay

First Day of Spring #FirstDayofSpring

21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination #RacialDiscriminationDay

World Poetry Day #WorldPoetryDay

22: World Water Day #WorldWaterDay

23: National Puppy Day #NationalPuppyDay

24: Red Nose Day #RedNoseDay

25: Earth Hour Day #EarthHour

Tolkien Reading Day #TolkienReadingDay

26: National Spinach Day #NationalSpinachDay

Purple Day #PurpleDay

28: American Diabetes Association Alert Day #AmericanDiabetesAssociationAlertDay

30: Doctor’s Day #NationalDoctorsDay

National Take a Walk in the Park Day #NationalWalkInTheParkDay

31: World Backup Day #WorldBackupDay

Transgender Day of Visibility #TDOV

April 2017

1: April Fools Day #AprilFools

2: World Autism Awareness Day #WAAD

3: Find a Rainbow Day #FindARainbowDay

4: Hug a Newsperson Day #HugANewsperson

5: National Walking Day #NationalWalkingDay

7: World Health Day #LetsTalk

10: National Siblings Day #NationalSiblingsDay

Encourage a Young Writer Day #EncourageAYoungWriterDay

11: National Pet Day #NationalPetDay

12: International Day of Human Space Flight #InternationalDayOfHumanSpaceFlight

14: Equal Pay Day #EqualPayDay

16: National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day #PJDay

17: Haiku Poetry Day #HaikuPoetryDay

18: National Columnist Day #NationalColumnistDay

National Tax Day #TaxDay

20: National Look-Alike Day #NationalLookAlikeDay

Get to Know Your Customers Day #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay

National High-Five Day #NH5D

22: Earth Day #EarthDay2017

23: National Picnic Day #NationalPicnicDay

World Book Day #WorldBookDay

25: National Telephone Day #NationalTelephoneDay

World Malaria Day #EndMalariaForGood

26: National Administrative Professionals Day #AdministrativeProfessionalsDay

27: National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day #COUNTONME

Denim Day #DenimDay

28: Arbor Day #ArborDay

29: International Dance Day #InternationalDanceDay

30: National Honesty Day #NationalHonestyDay

National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day #AdoptAShelterPetDay

International Jazz Day #JazzDay

May 2017

1: May Day #MayDay

International Workers Day #IntWorkersDay

2: Thank a Teacher Day #ThankATeacher

World Asthma Day #WorldAsthmaDay

3: World Press Freedom Day #WPFD2017 #PressFreedom

4: World Password Day #WorldPasswordDay

Star Wars Day #StarWarsDay

International Firefighters Day #InternationalFirefightersDay

5: Cinco de Mayo #CincoDeMayo

Space Day #SpaceDay

6: National Nurses Day #NursesDay

7: National Lemonade Day #NationalLemonadeDay

9: Europe Day #EuropeDay

10: National Receptionist Day #NationalReceptionistDay

12: National Limerick Day #NationalLimerickDay

14: Mother’s Day #MothersDay

15: International Day of Families #FamilyDay

16: Love a Tree Day #LoveATreeDay

17: International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia #IDAHOT2017

19: National Bike to Work Day #BTWD

Endangered Species Day #EndangeredSpeciesDay

21: National Memo Day #NationalMemoDay

24: National Scavenger Hunt Day #NationalScavengerHuntDay

26: Heat Awareness Day #NoFryDay

27: National Hugging Day #NationalHuggingDay

28: Hamburger Day #NationalHamburgerDay

29: Memorial Day #MemorialDay #MDW

Paperclip Day #PaperclipDay

31: World No-Tobacco Day #NoTobacco

June 2017

1: Global Day of Parents #GlobalDayOfParents

International Children’s Day #ChildrensDay

2: Leave The Office Early Day #LeaveTheOfficeEarlyDay

National Donut Day #NationalDonutDay

4: Civic Day of Hacking #HackForChange

National Cancer Survivor’s Day #NCSD2017

5: World Environment Day #WorldEnvironmentDay

6: Higher Education Day #HigherEducationDay

8: World Oceans Day #WorldOceansDay

Best Friends Day #BestFriendsDay

14: World Blood Donor Day #GiveBlood

National Flag Day #FlagDay

18: Father’s Day #FathersDay

20: World Refugee Day #WithRefugees

21: National Selfie Day #NationalSelfieDay

World Music Day #WorldMusicDay

International Yoga Day #InternationalYogaDay

First Day of Summer

23: Take Your Dog to Work Day #TakeYourDogToWorkDay

27: National Sunglasses Day #NationalSunglassesDay

29: National Handshake Day #HandshakeDay

30: Social Media Day #SMDay

July 2017

1: National Postal Worker Day #NationalPostalWorkerDay

2: World UFO Day #WorldUFODay

4: Independence Day

7: World Chocolate Day #WorldChocolateDay

11: Cheer Up the Lonely Day #CheerUpTheLonelyDay

12: Malala Day #MalalaDay

15: Give Something Away Day #GiveSomethingAwayDay

17: World Emoji Day #WorldEmojiDay

18: Nelson Mandela International Day #MandelaDay

20: Get to Know Your Customers Day #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay

Moon Day #MoonDay

28: Talk in an Elevator Day #TalkInAnElevatorDay

30: International Day of Friendship #DayOfFriendship

August 2017

1: Respect for Parents Day #RespectForParentsDay

2: National Coloring Book Day #NationalColoringBookDay

8: International Cat Day #InternationalCatDay

9: National Book Lovers Day #NationalBookLoversDay

10: National Lazy Day #LazyDay

11: National Sons and Daughters Day #SonsAndDaughtersDay

12: International Youth Day #YouthDay

World Elephant Day #WorldElephantDay

13: International Lefthanders Day #LefthandersDay

15: National Relaxation Day #NationalRelaxationDay

16: National Tell a Joke Day #NationalTellAJokeDay

19: World Photo Day #WorldPhotoDay

World Humanitarian Day #WorldHumanitarianDay

20: National Radio Day #NationalRadioDay

23: National Hug Your Boss Day #HugYourBossDay

26: National Dog Day #NationalDogDay

National Women’s Equality Day #WomensEqualityDay

September 2017

4: Labor Day #LaborDay

National Wildlife Day #NationalWildlifeDay

5: International Day of Charity #CharityDay

6: Read a Book Day #ReadABookDay

8: Stand Up To Cancer Day #KissCancerGoodbye

International Literacy Day #LiteracyDay

10: National Grandparents Day #NationalGrandparentsDay

11: National Day of Service #911Day

12: National Day of Encouragement #DayOfEncouragement

National Video Games Day #NationalVideoGamesDay

19: Talk Like a Pirate Day #TalkLikeAPirateDay

21: International Day of Peace #PeaceDay

Miniature Golf Day #MiniGolfDay

22: Car-Free Day #CarFreeDay

Hobbit Day #HobbitDay

First Day of Fall

25: Family Day #FamilyDay

26: European Day of Languages #EDL2017

27: World Tourism Day #WTD2017

National Women’s Health and Fitness Day #FitnessDay

28: World Rabies Day #WorldRabiesDay

National Good Neighbor Day #GoodNeighborDay

30: International Podcast Day #InternationalPodcastDay

October 2017

1: International Day of Older Persons #UNDOP

International Coffee Day #InternationalCoffeeDay

World Vegetarian Day #WorldVegetarianDay

2: International Day of Nonviolence #InternationalDayOfNonviolence

World Habitat Day #WorldHabitatDay

3: National Techies Day #TechiesDay

4: World Animal Day #WorldAnimalDay

National Taco Day #NationalTacoDay

5: World Teachers Day #WorldTeachersDay

6: World Smile Day #WorldSmileDay

10: World Mental Health Day #WorldMentalHeathDay

11: International Day of the Girl #DayOfTheGirl

12: World Sight Day #WorldSightDay

13: National Train Your Brain Day #TrainYourBrainDay

14: National Dessert Day #DessertDay

15: Global Handwashing Day #GlobalHandwashingDay

16: World Food Day #FoodDay

Bosses Day #BossesDay

Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day #CleanYourVirtualDesktopDay

17: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty #EndPoverty

19: Get to Know Your Customers Day #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay

20: World Statistics Day #StatisticsDay

21: Reptile Awareness Day #ReptileAwarenessDay

24: United Nations Day #UNDay

25: Greasy Foods Day #GreasyFoodsDay

29: Internet Day #InternetDay

30: National Publicist Day #NationalPublicistDay

Checklist Day #ChecklistDay

31: Halloween #Halloween

November 2017

1: World Vegan Day #WorldVeganDay

National Authors Day #NationalAuthorsDay

National Cook For Your Pets Day #CookForYourPetsDay

3: National Sandwich Day #NationalSandwichDay

4: Stress Awareness Day #StressAwarenessDay

National Candy Day #NationalCandyDay

5: Daylight Saving Time Ends #DaylightSavings

8: National Cappuccino Day #CappuccinoDay

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine (STEM) Day #STEMDay

11: Veterans Day #VeteransDay

13: World Kindness Day #WKD

14: World Diabetes Day #WDD

15: Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day #CleanOutYourRefrigeratorDay

America Recycles Day #BeRecycled

16: International Day for Tolerance #ToleranceDay

17: International Students Day #InternationalStudentsDay

19: International Men’s Day #InternationalMensDay

20: Universal Children’s Day #UNChildrensDay

21: World Hello Day #WorldHelloDay

National Entrepreneurs Day #EntrepreneursDay

23: Thanksgiving Day #Thanksgiving

24: National Day of Listening #DayOfListening

25: Small Business Saturday #ShopSmall

26: National Cake Day #NationalCakeDay

27: Cyber Monday #CyberMonday

28: National Day of Giving #GivingTuesday

29: Electronic Greeting Card Day #ElectronicGreetingCardDay

30: Computer Security Day #ComputerSecurityDay

December 2017

1: World AIDS Day #WAD2017

National Pie Day #PieDay

3: International Day of Persons with Disabilities #IDPWD

4: National Cookie Day #NationalCookieDay

5: World Soil Day #WorldSoilDay

6: Microwave Oven Day #MicrowaveOvenDay

8: Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day #PretendToBeATimeTravelerDay

10: Human Rights Day #HumanRightsDay

Nobel Prize Day #NobelPrize

11: International Mountain Day #InternationalMountainDay

21: Crossword Puzzle Day #CrosswordPuzzleDay

First Day of Winter

29: No Interruptions Day – Last Work Day of the Year #NoInterruptionsDay

31: New Year’s Eve #NYE

January 2018

2: Science Fiction Day #ScienceFictionDay

4: National Trivia Day #NationalTriviaDay

5: National Bird Day #NationalBirdDay

8: Clean Off Your Desk Day #CleanOffYourDeskDay

11: Human Trafficking Awareness Day #HumanTraffickingDay

13: National Sticker Day #NationalStickerDay

15: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day #MLKDay

National Hat Day #NationalHatDay

18: Get to Know Your Customers Day #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay

20: Cheese Lovers Day #CheeseLoversDay

World Day of Social Justice #SocialJusticeDay

24: National Compliment Day #NationalComplimentDay

25: Community Manager Appreciation Day #CMAD

Opposite Day #OppositeDay

28: Data Privacy Day #PrivacyAware

February 2018

2: Groundhog Day #GroundhogDay

World Wetlands Day #WorldWetlandsDay

4: World Cancer Day #WorldCancerDay

Super Bowl Sunday #SB52

5: National Weatherperson’s Day #NationalWeatherpersonsDay

7: National Send a Card to a Friend Day #SendACardToAFriendDay

8: National Boy Scouts Day #BoyScoutsDay

9: National Pizza Day #NationalPizzaDay

11: Inventors Day #InventorsDay

13: Mardi Gras #MardiGras

World Radio Day #WorldRadioDay

14: Valentine’s Day #ValentinesDay

16: Chinese New Year #YearOfTheDog

17: Random Acts of Kindness Day #RandomActsOfKindnessDay

18: National Battery Day #NationalBatteryDay

19: Presidents Day #PresidentsDay

20: Love Your Pet Day #LoveYourPetDay

21: International Mother Language Day #IMLD

Sources: National Day Calendar, Sprout Social, TrackMaven, Holiday Insights, Brownielocks, National Peace Corps Association, Sparkflow

Which national holidays does your organization acknowledge on social media? Share with us in the comments below.

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January 2018

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Mar

23

2017

4 Ways to Use Audio in B2B Marketing

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

b2baudiomarketing-compressor.jpg

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

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

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

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

The Listening Process

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

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

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

Hurier_Listening_Process.png

Source: Matthew Edward Dyson

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

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

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

4 Ways to Use Audio in B2B Marketing

1) Podcasts

Branded Podcasts

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

EdisonPodcast listenership.png

Source: Edison Research

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

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

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

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

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

Repurposing Blogs as Podcasts

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

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

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

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

2) Audiograms

Snippets

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

“But what’s an audiogram, Amanda?”

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

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

… Or Longer

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

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

3) Facebook Audio

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Source: Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) Other Spoken Content

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

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

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

Start Talking

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

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

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

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

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Mar

21

2017

What Is Guerrilla Marketing? 7 Examples to Inspire Your Brand

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

GuerillaMarketingCamo-compressor.jpg

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

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

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

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

What Is Guerrilla Marketing?

Roots of Warfare

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

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

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

Budget-Friendly

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

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

Types of Guerrilla Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 Guerrilla Marketing Examples to Inspire Your Brand

1) Bounty

bounty02.jpgSource: TOXEL.COM

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

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

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

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

2) The GRAMMYS

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

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

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

3) Frontline

ad-mall-frontline.jpgSource: Marketing Ideas 101

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

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

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

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

4) Burger King

1487011320-bk.jpgSource: seventeen

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

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

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

5) UNICEF

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

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

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

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

6) GoldToe

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

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

Really, we can’t make this stuff up.

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

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

7) Greene King

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

  1. Food
  2. Drink

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

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

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

Guerrillas in the Wild

Starting to make a little more sense?

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

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

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

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Mar

18

2017

The Best 2017 Networking Events for Marketers

Published by in category event marketing, Professional Development, Tactical | Comments are closed

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At some point in one’s life and career, it seems that networking events have earned a bit of a shabby image. They seem to conjure images of awkward handshakes, bad wine and, if you’re lucky, a stale cheese plate. And where’s the appeal of that?

The truth is, not all events fit that stereotype. Some draw people from around the globe and provide content that makes the journey worthwhile. They’re tremendously informative. They’re wildly entertaining. And they’re listed below.

The thing is, we’ve been to enough — to put it kindly — less-than-stellar events to know what a remarkable one looks like. And to help you avoid the trouble of canvassing the web to find the best ones, we compiled this list for you. Get 32 examples of enviable inbound marketing campaigns here.

Whether you’re a content marketer looking to enhance what you’re creating, or want to learn SEO on a borderline-obsessive level, there’s an event out there for you. By no means do we suggest you attend all 25 of the events listed below — rather, we recommend taking inventory of what sort of engagements are available to help you become a better marketer, depending on your specialty or where you’d like to improve. So look no further — we’ve got you covered.

15 Networking Events for Marketers in 2017

1) Adobe Summit

March 19-23, 2017 | Las Vegas, NV | Pricing Info

AdobeSummitFront

Adobe Summit boasts being one of the largest digital marketing conferences in the U.S. It largely centers around Adobe’s technology, and how marketers can make the most of its Marketing Cloud platform. But it’s more than just a multi-day advertisement for Adobe’s software. Rather, it’s a collection of keynotes and breakout sessions that help marketers keep their projects up-to-date with the constantly and rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Attend this event if you:

  • Want to know the latest and most sustainable ways to reach a target audience
  • Are juggling several campaigns and want to know how cloud technology can help you more seamlessly manage them
  • Like big names — speakers include actor Kate McKinnon and the CMO of the National Basketball Association

2) Social Media Marketing World

March 22-24, 2017 | San Diego, CA | Pricing Info

Source: Social Media Examiner

While we can’t corroborate Social Media Marketing World’s claims of being the “world’s largest social media marketing conference” off-hand, the fact that it’s hosted by the online publication Social Media Examiner makes us inclined to agree. But despite its name and description, the event is hardly one-size-fits-all. Rather, the agenda seems to contain a little bit of something for everyone, whether you’re looking to polish your knowledge of social media basics, or an expert looking to learn about the latest and most advanced best practices in this realm.

Attend this event if you:

  • Want to become a thought leader or otherwise build your following on social media
  • Are looking to use social media to build customer loyalty and ambassadorship
  • Would like to meet like-minded peers at any social media knowledge level

3) Digiday Publishing Summit

March 29-31, 2017 | Vail, CO | Pricing Info

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Digiday hosts quite a few marketing-centric events throughout the year, which is why you’ll see its name quite a bit throughout this list. Each event, however, focuses on a specific marketing practice and caters its content according to that audience.

For its Publishing Summit, Digiday places a large amount of focus on digital distribution — that is, online publishing in a variety of formats and outlets. The event description summarizes it nicely: Platforms “like Snapchat have become media outlets of their own,” and marketers need to figure out how to leverage them accordingly.

4) Next10x

April 5, 2017 | Boston, MA | Pricing Info

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There’s digital marketing — and then, there’s mobile digital marketing. That’s the focus of the Next10x event, hosted by digital marketing firm Stone Temple Consulting.

With mobile usage now surpassing that of desktop, learning how to best use that medium for marketing is no longer just nice-to-have. Mobile marketing is necessary, especially for SEO — just look at this recent announcement from Google about how a poor mobile user experience will negatively impact rankings. For that reason, it makes sense to have an expert from Google at an event like this one — that could be why Gary Illyes, Google’s webmaster trends analyst, is one of the featured speakers.

Attend this event if you:

  • Think you might be a little behind the curve on mobile marketing — or think you could be doing a little better.
  • Want to learn how mobile marketing aligns with social and SEO efforts
  • Aren’t entirely sure where content marketing and mobile intersect

5) Content Marketing Conference

April 11-13, 2017 | Boston, MA | Pricing Info

There may have once been a time — a simpler time — when content marketing was such a new concept that it seemed pretty singularly-faceted. Create good content and the search traffic will come. But today, things look a lot different. Good content marketing can require a multi-pronged approach, and even has different sub-categories. There’s the creation of good content — be that words, audio, or visual. Then, there’s the distribution. And what’s more, there’s content created specifically for or on a given platform.

Overwhelmed? Don’t worry. That’s why these events exist, especially the Content Marketing Conference. In fact, its hosts have so much faith in the expertise of the event’s speakers and workshop leaders, they’re assigned the label of “superheroes” — they’re here to save the day for many smart marketers who simply aren’t sure how to manage the many pieces of content marketing.

Attend this event if you:

  • Want to learn about a specific side of content marketing — this conference allows attendees to choose tracks that focus on one area
  • Are also into comedy — there’s an entire portion of the conference dedicated to comedy for marketers
  • Like comics — this event’s superhero theme seems to permeate almost every element of it.

6) Experiential Marketing Summit

May 3-5, 2017 | Chicago, IL | Pricing Info

We’re not bashful about our love of creating good experiences around here. We love the idea of marketers creating a good story — not just through their digital content, but through real-life opportunities for the public to interact and engage with their specific brands. And while we’ve written about the way that can be accomplished, it can help to have it explained and carried out in front of you.

That’s why the Experiential Marketing Summit is so helpful. It not only celebrates remarkable work done within the category, but helps marketers learn how to do it themselves.

Attend this event if you:

  • Think experiential marketing is really cool, but you’re not sure you have the knowledge to pull it off independently
  • Have heard of experiential marketing, but have yet to actually experience it yourself — no pun intended
  • You want to learn from the masters, and gain one-on-one insights from experts from major brands who have accomplished remarkable experiential marketing

7) SEJ Summit

May 11, 2017 | Chicago, IL | Pricing Info

One of our favorite resources for the SEO-specific news outlets is the Search Engine Journal, which provides the “latest search news, the best guides and how-tos for the SEO and marketer community.” So when a publication like this one hosts an event dedicated entirely to what it knows best, chances are the attendees are going to come away with a great deal of knowledge.

The headline for the event is “Actionable Marketing Education.” That’s our favorite kind — the education that gives people something tangible to implement after walking away from a teachable moment. And while SEJ hasn’t yet announced its 2017 speaker lineup (as of the publication of this post), some of the experts from previous years, who you can see in the video above, leave us confident about this year’s roster.

Attend this event if you:

  • Prefer events of a smaller scale — this one tends to cap at 200 people
  • Learn best from keynotes, since they make up the majority of this event’s content
  • Stand to gain from SEO-specific education, whether you want to learn the basics or want to enhance your current knowledge level

8) Digiday Video Anywhere Summit

May 17-19, 2017 | New Orleans, LA | Pricing Info

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By now, there should be zero doubt among marketers of the importance of video. After all, 4X as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, and 43% of people want to see more content in this format from marketers. So if you haven’t figured out how to incorporate video into your overall content strategy — get on it.

We get it, though. As a marketer, you’ve got a lot to do, and sometimes, something like video might not seem like it should take priority. But if those statistics have convinced you to get the ball rolling and you’re not sure where to begin, it might be a good idea to check out an event dedicated to this type of marketing — like Digiday’s Video Anywhere Summit, which takes many of those most perplexing video-related questions faced by marketers and addresses them head-on with keynotes and workshops.

Attend this event if you:

  • Are good at making video content, but aren’t sure how to monetize it.
  • Want to learn how outlets like Refinery29 and POPSUGAR approach content marketing
  • Don’t have anyone to go with — this particular event has agenda items like “dinner with strangers” for attendees who are flying solo

9) C2

May 24-26, 2017 | Montréal, QC | Pricing Info

We don’t always get “event envy” around here, but if we did, it would probably be the result of C2: The self-described “three-day immersive event that will transform the way you do business.” Have you ever wondered what the most absurd yet effective brainstorming environment would be for you? We haven’t either. But the minds behind C2 have, which is why each year they have a new “experimental brainstorming” setting, to help attendees become their most creative in the most unusual of surroundings, like in a row of chairs suspended 18 feet off the ground.

Even we can’t make that up. And that example is highly illustrative of C2’s unconventional nature, which is what we love most about it. It’s a great opportunity to learn — after all the agenda includes master classes and workshops — but it’s also been known to include an enormous playground-like setting with a ferris wheel and other attractions for attendees to experience.

Attend this event if you:

  • Really don’t like networking events, as this one pushes every boundary it can
  • Enjoy the intersection of marketing and pop culture, and think you could learn something from leaders at brands like Apple and Cirque du Soleil
  • Like an event with a theme — C2 has a different one each year, and the 2017 theme is “ecosystems”

10) Savage Marketing

June 13-14, 2017 | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Pricing Info

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 8.03.13 AM.png

Here’s the thing about marketing: As we mentioned before, there’s no one single type. There’s marketing for different industries, business sizes, formats, and media. There are so many different levels of marketing expertise, how could you possibly expect to fit them all into one event? It’s an effort that some people might even call — wait for it — “savage.”

That’s why the name of this event is so fitting. It examines the marketing best practices for a number of different industries — like sports — and concentrations, like SEO, data-driven, and customer experience. They’re the important pieces of marketing that, when you’ve got an overflowing plate, can be easy to overlook.

Attend this event if you:

  • Are so caught up in your day-to-day responsibilities as a marketer, that you forget about some of the sub-topics listed above
  • Work in advertising — this event has an AdTech track
  • Are especially curious about the overall role of tech in marketing

11) MozCon

July 17-19, 2017 | Seattle, WA | Pricing Info

Source: Moz

SEO, like many other pieces of marketing, is one of those things that can seem really tricky. Just look at how many changes have been made to Google’s algorithm since 2000.

Now, have another look — and note who compiled that timeline. Why, it’s the good people of Moz: The providers of endless SEO learning resources. So when this brand hosts a three-day event dedicated to SEO, we think everyone stands to benefit from it.

Attend this event if you:

  • Want to learn anything and everything about SEO
  • Like plenty of socialization built into your networking events — this one has plenty of end-of-the day activities
  • Are curious where and how SEO fits into any marketing role

13) INBOUND

September 25-28, 2017 | Boston, MA | Pricing Info

Here at HubSpot, INBOUND season practically has us singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” An entire multi-day event dedicated to inbound marketing? Sign us up.

Last year, the event boasted over 19,000 attendees, and for good reason — it’s not just a networking event. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with like-minded marketing professionals, but INBOUND offers a plethora of learning opportunities from interviews with some of notable, knowledgeable figures, like Alec Baldwin.

Attend this event if you:

  • Enjoy a side of “party” with your networking event — this one offers plenty of opportunities to kick back, as well as learn
  • Want to gain unexpected knowledge in unconventional parts of marketing that can actually be applied to your work
  • Like some entertainment — like live music and standup comedy — mixed with your networking

14) MarketingProfs’ B2B Marketing Forum

October 3-6, 2017 | Boston, MA | Pricing Info

As many marketing events as there are, it seems like those dedicated to B2B are few and far between. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and MarketingProfs is doing its part to make sure that’s no longer the case with its B2B Marketing Forum. “This is your event,” the homepage reads. And it’s true — how many times have you come across a marketing resource with a plethora of consumer-centric learnings and takeaways only to think, “But what about me?” MarketingProfs has heard you, and has built a rather impressive event presence to address your needs.

Attend this event if you:

  • Think that B2B marketing is capable of being just as sexy as the B2C kind, and want to hear more people talking about it
  • Like examples of good B2C marketing in practice, but want to know how you can apply it to your B2B brand
  • Want to hear about more than just the good stuff, and learn how to address and resolve the biggest challenges faced by B2B marketers

15) Growth Marketing Conference

2017 date not yet scheduled | Silicon Valley, CA | Reserve your seat

Source: Growth Marketing Conference

Growth: It’s one of the most important things that, as a marketer, you need to make sure your brand experiences. That’s why we think of HubSpot as a growth stack — it’s a collection of Marketing, Sales, and CRM software that all combine to help you, above all else, grow.

So when we heard about an entire event dedicated to growth marketing, naturally, our interest was piqued. And while no date has been set for the 2017 edition of this conference, there is an option to “reserve your seat” for it on the homepage, suggesting that it will most likely take place late in the year.

Attend this event if you:

  • Want to hear inspiring stories from organizations that have started small, but experienced measurable, sustainable growth
  • Also want to hear how they did it, and how you can accomplish the same
  • Can’t make it to MozCon — you’re likely to hear similar content here

Conclusion

No offense to the cheese plate, but most of these event features are much more our style. Of course, we won’t dismiss free snacks and the ability to exchange a handshake, but now you see — it doesn’t have to be stuffy or awkward.

Go forth, and network. We hope to see you there.

Which marketing networking events will you attend this year? Let us know in the comments.

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Mar

15

2017

How to Use Wistia: A Step-by-Step Guide

Published by in category Tactical, Video | Comments are closed

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Whether you’re a B2B or B2C business, videos can help you strengthen relationships with your customers, save time, and boost conversion rates. And if you haven’t experimented with this powerful medium yet, you’re missing out — 66% of B2B marketers are already creating video content to support both their marketing department goals and larger business initiatives.

When it comes to the use cases for video, the possibilities are endless across your organization: Sales teams can close deals with personalized video voicemails, support teams can walk customers through frequently asked questions with engaging tutorials, and HR teams can onboard new teammates with ease. But that’s just the beginning. Businesses that have fully adopted video are constantly coming up with new ways to make meaningful connections with their audiences through video content.

In this post, we’re going to review the business value of video and walk you through a step-by-step guide for using Wistia — a video hosting platform — to create video content for all of your marketing and business needs.

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Why Video Content

In case you or your boss need some convincing, here are four of the biggest reasons why a video strategy is now a necessity for every company.

1) Video allows you to create an emotional connection with your audience.

Video is arguably the most “human” medium. With visual and auditory elements, it speaks to your audience’s psyche in more nuanced and powerful ways than words and images can. It cuts through the noise and conveys trust, friendliness, and a sense of humanness. Because of this, video is an optimal tool for delighting, teaching, and influencing your audience, regardless of your topic or focus.

By establishing a more personal connection with your visitors, you can gain their trust faster and increase familiarity with your brand. And perhaps best of all, one video can speak to thousands of customers. In fact, some of your customers might even start to feel like they know you.

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At Wistia, we like to capitalize on this idea by including videos on our landing pages for upcoming webinars. These videos lead to higher sign-up rates — and according to EyeView, a video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by up to 80%. They also help our audience put faces to the names of the webinar hosts and establish our presenters as credible experts.

2) It’s easy to measure the ROI of video.

It’s easy to prove ROI and measure your results with video. In-depth analytics can tell you how your viewers engage with your content and whether or not they take action. Talk about measurable. We’ll cover this in-depth later in the post.

3) Video can improve your website’s SEO.

Every online business wants to drive more traffic from search, and quality videos on your site can help you achieve this goal. When it comes to SEO, video has been a competitive differentiator for a long time, and video SEO could end up making the difference in your prospects choosing one search result over another.

Since video is such a rich medium (it closely resembles face-to-face interaction), Google will reward you for including it on your page, especially if you’ve optimized your video for search.

4) Visitors spend more time on your website watching video.

How can video impact the user experience on your website? We looked at the 100 most-visited pages on our website between 2013 and 2016 to compare the average of the total time spent on pages with video versus those without. We learned that visitors to our site spent more time on pages with video — about 2.6 times more time, to be exact. That’s a huge number that speaks directly to video’s superpowers.

Ultimately, the data reveals video on a page correlates with more time spent on that page. This gives you a higher chance of engaging visitors with your content and increases the likelihood they’ll follow whatever action you prompt them to take.

Why Use Wistia

Marketers starting out with video often wonder if they should just use YouTube to host their brand’s videos.

“YouTube is free, and it has over 1 billion users. So why would I use Wistia?”

Great question.

If growing your website’s traffic, improving your conversion rates, and increasing overall engagement with your content are priorities for your business, Wistia is your best bet. Ready to learn why? Hold onto your hat. You’re in for a wild ride on the Wistia express.

Help drive visitors to your website.

YouTube is designed to serve content creators who want to monetize videos and organizations who build brand advertising campaigns. For famous vloggers like Casey Neistat, YouTube makes perfect sense. These individuals’ businesses are fueled by brand impressions and ads served on YouTube. Similarly, for companies like GoPro and Patagonia, YouTube is the ideal option for advertising—think about all of those eyeballs.

But here’s the catch: YouTube is designed to keep people on YouTube.

While video platforms like YouTube are designed to serve content creators who want to monetize videos and organizations who build brand advertising campaigns, Wistia is focused specifically on helping you drive traffic to your website. And with Wistia’s automatic video SEO, your pages will rank higher in search engine results pages. The best part is, you don’t need any SEO expertise — it all just works on its own.

If you’re curious about how Wistia’s video SEO works, allow our developers to explain:

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To sum it up, our video SEO feature uses JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD) to inject schema.org markup into the head of your page. If that sounds like a bunch of nonsense to you, rest assured all of that fancy stuff just means your Wistia videos are crawlable and indexable for Google — which means they contribute to your site’s authority and relevance to searches.

Video works across teams in your organization.

Wistia’s features help marketers achieve impressive results with video, but many businesses use Wistia to power other departments as well. The following are just a few examples of how teams use Wistia to work better and faster.

Sales

Using Wistia’s Turnstile email collector and integrations with marketing automation platforms, businesses generate qualified leads right from within videos and automatically pass them onto sales.

Support

Whether you hope to delight a customer with a friendly, personalized video or teach them how to use a tool with a quick screencast, Wistia makes it easy to create and share video content right within your emails.

Human Resources

With Wistia’s chapters, variable playback speeds, and annotation links, growing companies can train new employees with video. You can link out to in-depth resources with annotation links, use chapters so new employees can skip to what they need, and offer them the option of speeding up (or slowing down) the pace of the run-through.

In-depth analytics from Wistia lead to great results.

Wistia’s analytics provide much more detail than other platforms. You can quickly determine how your audience consumes and interacts with your videos, get an aggregated view of a video’s performance with our Engagement Graphs, or drill down to see how individual viewers watch your videos with our heatmaps … more on that later.

With all of these metrics at your fingertips, you can improve your video efforts and use specific data to drive other parts of your business.

How to Use Wistia to Make Videos

Now that you’ve seen how accessible video is for every business and marketing strategy, you can capitalize on that knowledge by taking advantage of the Wistia platform and creating a free account.

Not sure where to begin? Here’s a quick guide to help you get started with Wistia.

Step 1: Make a Video

First things first: you need a video. We know what you might think — creating video content sounds intimidating, time-consuming, and expensive.

We hear you. Those are all valid concerns when you first dip your toe into the video waters. If you don’t have an in-house video team or a budget, no worries. You can use an iPhone to make your first video.

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If you’re making your first video for your business, think “short and specific.” Try answering a frequently asked question from your customers or spicing up a blog post with a short video introduction from the author or interviewee. Your first video doesn’t have to be cinematic, but it should serve a particular purpose.

For the easiest possible solution, you can also use Wistia’s Record feature to quickly shoot something with your computer’s camera — no editing necessary. This tool is perfect for answering a support question or leaving a video voicemail to lend an extra personal touch.

Video Best Practices:

  • Write a scriptThe more you think about things like tone and word choice ahead of time, the better your end product will be.
  • Pay attention to lightingThere’s no need to break the bank on lighting. For under $100, you can build our DIY lighting kit and start looking like a pro in no time. If you need a quick solution, you can also set yourself up facing a bright window.
  • Stabilize your shotThere are many ways to battle camera shake, and many of them are completely free! If you’re willing to spend some money, we highly recommend investing in a tripod.
  • Loosen upFor non-actors, getting in front of a camera can be tough. The key to a natural on-screen performance is to not take yourself too seriously.

Step 2: Upload it to Wistia and Customize

Once you produce your first video, you can drag it from your computer desktop right into a Wistia Project. Or, if you used the Record feature, your video will automatically appear within your Project as soon as you’re done. It’s like magic … software magic.

Now comes the fun part. Wistia’s Customize tools allow you to control the look and feel of your video content. If your video were a plain chocolate cake, the tools in Customize would be the frosting, sprinkles, and candles. Let’s explore the Customize tools in greater detail below. 

Choose an Enticing Thumbnail

The video thumbnail is the first impression viewers have of your video. It’s your chance to wake a visitor up from their scrolling stupor and entice them to click play. And ultimately, there’s no point in making quality video content if no one presses play.

So what makes a good thumbnail? We pulled the data on this and found that, across all the videos hosted on our system, ones with a custom thumbnail had a 34% higher initial play rate. That’s huge.

By this point, you probably already know it’s best to include a friendly human (or baby animal) face in your thumbnail. But what else can you do to encourage your audience to play your video?

  • Convey action (when it makes sense). Don’t settle for dull.
  • Use an image with overlaid text to better communicate the content within the video.
  • Make sure your thumbnail isn’t blurry. This might mean going the extra mile to take a photo specifically for your thumbnail to make it as high-quality as possible.

It’s also important to consider the message of your video and make sure your thumbnail accurately represents the content. It might be tempting to create a crazy thumbnail so you’ll get a higher play rate, but this will likely result in disappointed viewers. You might have a higher play rate, but your engagement rate will plummet.

You can choose any frame in your video as your thumbnail or upload a new image into Wistia.

Wistia_Appearance.png

Match the Color Player With Your Brand/Design

With Wistia, you can adjust the color of the player to match your unique branding. Whether you favor a more muted tone or a brighter, cheerier palette, there’s a color for you.

Adjust the Controls

You can tweak your video by adding or removing buttons. Don’t want viewers skipping important parts of your video? Take out the Play Bar. Or maybe you need to autoplay your videos to grab your viewers’ attention from the get-go. If so, check the Autoplay box and you’ll be set. You can make all of these changes and more in the Customize sidebar. 

Chop It Up With Chapters

If your video is long enough and it makes sense to break it up into separate sections, add Chapters to help your viewers navigate to the information most relevant to them.

Step 3: Embed the Video

For most websites, copying and pasting a Wistia embed code will do the trick. You can use our lightweight, responsive inline embed, or a popover embed if you want your video content to pop over the rest of your content (baking supplies not included). You can also check out Wistia for Chrome to embed videos with one click on websites like Medium, Squarespace, and WordPress.

Step 4: Share It With Your Audience

Now that you’ve crafted the perfect video and customized it to give it that extra special touch uniquely fitted to your brand, it’s time to share it with the world. No matter how you want to share it, Wistia has the tools to make sure your video gets in front of the right eyes.

We’ve always believed video and email are a powerful duo. Email helps videos gain exposure, and videos help email get opened, read, and clicked.

Here are three email and video tactics we’ve found particularly effective:

  1. Let people know there’s a video inside your email (whether that’s in the subject line, email text, or play button on a thumbnail).
  2. Choose an enticing thumbnail from your video to include in your email (hint: friendly faces attract clicks).
  3. Link that thumbnail to a page on your website.

Why are we such big advocates of video thumbnails? For one, including a play button on top of a cool image is an effective invitation for readers to click, especially when the text in the email is direct and concise. 

wistia_videothumbnail.png

Since Wistia has integrations with most major email service providers, you can simply copy and paste an email merge tag right within your email to generate a gorgeously crisp thumbnail.

Want to use a video thumbnail in Gmail? With Wistia’s Chrome extension, you don’t have to fuss with any embed codes. Gorgeous Gmail emails are just a few clicks away.

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Step 4: Start Generating Leads

Pair your Wistia account with a marketing automation platform (like HubSpot software) or an email service to make your videos work harder for you.

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If your goal is to generate leads, Wistia’s built-in email capture tool, Turnstile, makes it simple. You can add a Turnstile at the beginning, middle, or end of your video, and adjust the accompanying text to suit your needs. Here’s an example of what it looks like:

Capture leads with your videos, automatically pass viewing data into your CRM of choice, and score, segment, and assign leads to your sales team. You can better understand your customer acquisition funnel, work out which videos help drive the most conversions, and craft more personalized follow-up emails with access to in-depth video analytics.

Wistia_enteryourinfo.png

You can also add a call-to-action directly into your video if you want to point your viewers to an external link, like a landing page or a related piece of content. If you’d rather not disrupt the flow of your video, use an Annotation Link. This lets you point to another resource without interrupting your video.

Yes, these are all more advanced ways to use video. But once you put all of the pieces together, you can officially call yourself a video superstar.

Step 6: Watch the Views Roll In

Now that you’ve done the hard work to get your video up and running, it’s time to sit back and wait for the views to stack up on your Stats page.

At the most basic level, you can keep an eye on the Total Plays to see how many people have watched your video. If you’re eager to dive deeper into your video stats, check out the Play Rate and discover the percentage of page visitors who clicked play and started watching. It’s a great way to make sure you’ve placed your video on the most relevant part of your page.

Individual heatmaps (shown below) will clue you into more detailed data. Easily see which parts of your video each viewer has watched, re-watched, and skipped over, and learn what resonates with your target audience.

wistia_heatmap.png

Additionally, be sure to check out the Average Engagement  the average percentage of a video a viewer watches. This can be more helpful than the view count because it clues you into the quality of your views. Once people pressed play, how much of your video did they stick around to watch? Did they find the content helpful? With your video’s Engagement Graph (see below), you can easily identify trends in viewing behavior, including where your viewers are re-watching.

wistia_weddinginvitevideo.png

In addition to metrics related to viewing behavior, you can also use Wistia to keep track of conversions happening right inside your player. Remember those Timeline Actions from up above? Any time a viewer engages with your video via one of those puppies, their clicks and responses are recorded in your stats. Whether they clicked on an Annotation Link or filled out a Turnstile, you’ll be able to see the data right on your Stats page. That way, you can see which videos were most impactful for your business. In the example above, 22% of the folks invited to my wedding clicked on the CTA linked to our wedding website.

Got all that? Time to throw a party to celebrate your video triumphs. And if you’re a HubSpot customer, you can learn more about our integration with HubSpot software here.

Do you have any questions about how to use Wistia? Share with us in the comments below.

free guide to video marketing

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Mar

11

2017

How to Grow Your Audience on Snapchat, According to Data From 217,000 Snaps

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

grow_audience_snapchat_compressed.jpg

Most of us have learned by now that we should be using Snapchat. We know it’s popular among teens and millennials. We know visual, ephemeral content performs well.

What we may not be as clear on is how to grow our audience on Snapchat — and how to keep them engaged.

Download our free Snapchat guide to learn how to use it for your business. 

It’s a challenge to grow a new social media audience from scratch — and to do it well. And unlike Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, discoverability is a challenge on Snapchat. There’s no news feed where Snapchat users can share cool content with their friends. There’s no trending tab to see what other users are Snapping about. So how do you grow your audience?

Snaplytics provides account management and analytics for brands using Snapchat, and it recently produced a report on how different organizations are using Snapchat. The report reveals insights about how brands are growing Snapchat followings and how exactly marketers are posting content on the platform. Let’s dive into how to ramp up your business Snapchat approach with help from data from Snaplytics.

How to Achieve Snapchat Audience Growth

In this report, Snaplytics analyzed over 500 brands, more than 24,000 Snapchat Stories, and 217,000 total snaps to determine how brands use Snapchat and what levels of engagement were achieved.

Building Followers

The bad news? There’s no quick and easy solution to gaining more followers on Snapchat. The good news? It is possible.

Among the brands it analyzed, Snaplytics learned that 64% of Snapchat followers found the brand on Snapchat by searching for its username. This large percentage is the result of brands cross-promoting Snapchat accounts across other social media channels. Awareness and discovery of brand Snapchat channels happen primarily on other social channels and content assets, such as blog posts and videos.

Snaplytics cites this cross-promotion as integral to growing a following on the platform and states discoverability will decline if this doesn’t happen consistently. The report also advocates publishing external content bearing brands’ Snapcodes — unique QR codes that allow Snapchat users to follow accounts by simply opening the app and scanning the code. Here’s what ours looks like:

snapcode_example.png

Snaplytics found Snapcodes made up 25% of new Snapchat follower acquisition, so marketers should share and promote their brands’ Snapcodes to cross-promote Snapchat accounts on other web assets.

Snaplytics_NewFollowers_data.png

Source: Snaplytics

Once brands earn new followers on Snapchat, marketers can expect 54.8% of them to watch Snapchat Stories every time the brand posts. That’s a lot of engagement. Marketers should maintain a cross-promotion strategy to encourage existing social media followers to follow newer channels like Snapchat. The next task is creating Snapchat content those followers will love.

Optimizing Snapchat Stories

According to the data, there are several elements to a successful Snapchat Story marketers and creators should consider.

Frequency

Snapchat Stories — strings of photos and images shared on Snapchat viewable for 24 hours — should do what the name implies and tell a story. Among the 500 brands surveyed, Snaplytics found brands shared an average of 13 Stories per month, or roughly two or three Stories per week.

Additionally, Snaplytics noted most Stories were shared between Wednesdays and Saturdays.

snaplytics_storyfrequencyweekdays.png

Source: Snaplytics

Duration

The report shows the average Snapchat Story of the brands surveyed contained 11 snaps (images and videos) in total. It also notes the degree of variance across industries. For example, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had the longest number of snaps in Stories, and marketing and advertising brands sometimes only posted six snaps at a time.

From this result, marketers can surmise that the duration of a Snapchat Story should match the subject matter. If a Snapchat Story is focused on a single product or item that can be easily told with fewer videos and images, then keep it short and sweet. If you’re interviewing people, giving a behind-the-scenes tour, or breaking down complicated topics, expand the Snapchat Story so viewers can follow along.

snaplytics_snapstoriesbyindustry.png

Source: Snaplytics

Content Type

Snaplytics saw a gradual increase in brands sharing video content more than photos, and at the end of 2016, 61% of brands’ Snapchat content was comprised of videos.

Just like with Snapchat Story duration, Snaplytics saw variation in the content split across industries. Industries showcasing more static products (Luxury Goods, Food & Beverage, and Fashion & Lifestyle) favored photos over videos on Snapchat. Other industries, such as NGOs, Broadcasting & Entertainment, and Beauty produced more video content on Snapchat — likely featuring interviews, demonstrations, and events better told in video format.

Marketers should consider how stories should be best told for engagement and interaction on the platform. For example, here at HubSpot, we sometimes ask Snapchat followers to take a screenshot of a snap, so photos are a better choice. Other times, we demonstrate how different products work, in which cases video is the best pick.

snaplytics_mediatypebyindustry.png

Source: Snaplytics

Testing Is Key

Ultimately, Snaplytics recommends brands conduct significant testing to determine a Snapchat strategy. Snapchat Story completion rate varied widely over the course of the study, so testing different Story elements, such as content type and frequency, will help marketers fine-tune how followers want to interact with a brand.

snaplytics_correlation.png

Source: Snaplytics

In general, Snaplytics found shorter Stories led to higher completion rates (the percentage of viewers who watched a brand’s Snapchat Story from start to finish). But even still, only about 55% of Snapchat followers watched brands’ Stories in the first place, so testing and re-testing strategies to attract and engage new followers is key.

Learn more about what Snaplytics learned from the yearlong study by downloading this report, and when you’re ready for more ideas for a successful brand Snapchat strategy, check out our free guide.

What strategies have brought you success on Snapchat? Share with us in the comments below.

free guide: how to use snapchat for business

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Dec

6

2016

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

Mobile-First-Google-compressor.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Is Mobile-First Indexing?

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

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

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

What About #Mobilegeddon?

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

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

See the below conversation with Illyes for more:

Mobile-Indexing.png

How You Can Prepare For the Mobile-First World

1) Ensure you have a mobile-friendly website.

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

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

2) Consider if content should be adjusted for mobile.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

free guide: guide to mobile marketing

Nov

22

2016

4 Common A/B Testing Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

AB Testing Mistakes Carl.jpg

When you’re creating content for the web, it’s easy to make assumptions about what you think your audience might respond to — but that’s not necessarily the right mentality.

Enter A/B testing: one of the easiest and most popular forms of conversion rate optimization (CRO) testing known to marketers. And while many businesses have seen the value in using this type of validation to improve their decision making, others have tried it, only to be left with inconclusive results — which is frustrating, to say the least. Download our free introductory guide to A/B testing here.  <http://offers.hubspot.com/an-introduction-to-ab-testing/> ” src=”https://no-cache.hubspot.com/cta/default/53/db238795-8fb2-4ed9-916d-c978f32aaeae.png”> </a></p>
<p>The trouble is, small mistakes made during A/B testing can lead to round after round of incremental optimizations that fail to producing meaningful results. To combat that, I’ve outlined some of the most common A/B testing mistakes (as well as their remedies) below. These tips are designed to help you keep your testing plans on track so you can start <a href=converting more visitors into customers, so let’s dive in …

4 Common A/B Testing Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

Problem #1: Your testing tool is faulty.

Popularity is a double-edged sword — it’s true for high schoolers and it’s true for A/B testing software.

The ubiquity of A/B testing has led to a wide range of awesome, low-cost software for users to choose from, but it’s not all of equal quality. Of course, differing tools offer differing functionality, but there can also be some more tricky differences between tools. And if you’re unaware of these differences, your A/B tests may be in trouble before you even get started.

For example, did you know that some testing software can significantly slow down your site? This decrease speed can have a harmful impact on your site’s SEO and overall conversion rates.

In fact, on average, just one second of additional load time will result in an 11% decrease in page views, and 7% decline in conversions. This creates a nightmare scenario where the websites you were hoping to improve through A/B testing are actually hindered by your efforts.

It gets worse: Your selection of A/B testing software can actually impact the results of your tests, too. Entrepreneur and influencer, Neil Patel, found that the A/B software he was using was showing significant differences, but when he implemented the new page he failed to see conversions change. His problem turned out to be a faulty testing tool.

So with all these hidden pitfalls, what can you do to make sure your A/B testing software is working fine?

The Fix: Run an A/A test.

Prior to running an A/B test, you should run an A/A test with your software to ensure it’s working without impacting site speed and performance.

For the uninitiated, an A/A test is very similar to an A/B test. The difference is that in an A/A test both groups of users are shown the exact same page. That’s right, you need to literally test a page against itself. While this may seem silly at first, by running an A/A test you will be able to identify any distortionary effects caused by your testing software.

An A/A test is the one time you want your results to be boring. If you see conversion rates drop as soon as you start testing, then your tool is probably slowing down your site. If you see dramatic differences between the results for the two pages, then your software is likely faulty.

Problem #2: You stop testing at the first significant result.

This is the statistical equivalent to taking your ball and going home. Unfortunately, when it comes to A/B testing, stopping your test as soon as you see a statistical significant result is not just bad sportsmanship, but it also produces completely invalid results.

Many tools encourage this behavior by allowing users to stop a test as soon as statistical significance has been hit. But if you want to drive real improvement to your site, you need to fight the urge to end your tests early. This may seem counterintuitive, but the more often you check your test for significant results, the more likely you are to see incorrect results.

The issue here is false positives: these are results that incorrectly show a difference between pages. The more often you check your results, the more likely you will hit a result that has been thrown off by false positives.

This isn’t an issue if you stay calm and don’t end your test early. However, if you end your test at the first sign of a significant result then you’ll likely fall victim to deceptive false positive outcomes.

Analytics firm Heap published the results of a simulation, which displays how ending your test early compromises your results.

Using standard significance testing, results from a 1,000-user test are checked once there is a 5% chance of false positive. If the tester checked the same group of users 10 times, the chance of a false positive result balloons to 19.5%. If checked 100 times, our 5% chance of a false positive increases eight fold to 40.1%.

These are good numbers to remember next time you get excited about early promising results.

The Fix: Stick to a predetermined sample size.

To combat false positives, discipline is key. You should set a sample size in stone prior to running an A/B test and resist the urge to end your test early (no matter how promising your results look).

Don’t fret if you’re scratching your head on how large your sample needs to be. There are plenty of tools available online for calculating a minimum sample size. Some of the most popular are from Optimizely and VWO.

One last note on sample size: Keep in mind that you’ll need to pick a realistic number for your page. While we would all love to have millions of users to test on, most of us don’t have that luxury. I suggest making a rough estimate of how long you’ll need to run your test before hitting your target sample size.

Problem #3: You’re only focusing on conversions.

When you’re deep in the weeds of an A/B test, it’s easy to focus on the trees and miss the forest. Put more literally, in A/B testing, it is easy to concentrate only on conversions and lose sight of the long-term business results produced.

While adding new copy to your site may produce higher conversion rates, if the converted users are of lower quality then a higher conversion rate may actually create a negative result for the business.

It can be easy to fall victim to vanity metrics while A/B testing, yet these metrics will distract your focus away from the actual revenue-driving results. If you’re testing a call-to-action that leads to a landing page, you should not just focus on conversions to the landing page. Instead, measure the leads produced from the page and ideally try to tie those leads to the revenue they produce.

The Fix: Test a hypothesis.

Before you start your A/B test you should outline a hypothesis you wish to validate or disprove. By focusing this hypothesis on a KPI that drives actual business results, you’ll avoid being distracted by vanity metrics.

Your A/B test should be judged on its ability to affect this KPI, and not its impact on other associated figures. So if your goal is to increase sign-ups, always judge success by measuring sign-ups, not on clickthrough rates to the sign-up page.

When working to validate or disprove your hypothesis, don’t just throw out any results that aren’t statistically significant — use these results to inform your later tests, instead. For example, if a change to your page’s CTA showed a small, statistically insignificant improvement, then this could be a sign that you might be onto something. Try running further tests on your CTA and see if you can hit on one that produces a significant improvement.

Problem #4: You only test incremental changes.

The button color test may have ruined A/B testing, as this test’s popularity has made it the frame of reference for understanding how A/B testing should be utilized. But there’s more to the practice than that. In fact, while a large website might see a big return from adjusting something small like button color, for the vast majority of us, these small, incremental changes are not going to produce meaningful results.

A/B testing can force us to aim for miniscule improvements, but by focusing only on the incremental, we may be missing a much larger opportunity.

The Fix: Periodic radical testing.

A good rule of thumb? Periodically test radical changes to your page. (This practice has since been coined radical testing.) If you’re seeing weak conversion rates, then it’s probably a sign you should invest time in testing out a radical change rather than incremental changes.

Think of your testing efforts like a poker game, you’ll need to periodically bet big if you want to see a big return.

But before you run off preaching the accolades of radical testing, be aware that it has some drawbacks. First, it requires more upfront labor than A/B testing. Radical testing requires that you invest time drafting a major page redesign. Because of this time investment, I recommend only periodically conducting radical tests.

An additional pitfall to radical testing is that it makes it hard to pinpoint what factors are having the largest impact on your site. What radical testing does allow you to do is determine if a large page rehaul will impact your conversions, but it won’t allow you to pinpoint which individual changes might be driving these results — so keep that in mind before you get started.

These are a few of the most common A/B testing mistakes but there are many, many more. Share your thoughts below some of the missteps you’ve seen.

free guide to a/b testing

Nov

22

2016

4 Common A/B Testing Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

AB Testing Mistakes Carl.jpg

When you’re creating content for the web, it’s easy to make assumptions about what you think your audience might respond to — but that’s not necessarily the right mentality.

Enter A/B testing: one of the easiest and most popular forms of conversion rate optimization (CRO) testing known to marketers. And while many businesses have seen the value in using this type of validation to improve their decision making, others have tried it, only to be left with inconclusive results — which is frustrating, to say the least. Download our free introductory guide to A/B testing here.  <http://offers.hubspot.com/an-introduction-to-ab-testing/> ” src=”https://no-cache.hubspot.com/cta/default/53/db238795-8fb2-4ed9-916d-c978f32aaeae.png”> </a></p>
<p>The trouble is, small mistakes made during A/B testing can lead to round after round of incremental optimizations that fail to producing meaningful results. To combat that, I’ve outlined some of the most common A/B testing mistakes (as well as their remedies) below. These tips are designed to help you keep your testing plans on track so you can start <a href=converting more visitors into customers, so let’s dive in …

4 Common A/B Testing Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

Problem #1: Your testing tool is faulty.

Popularity is a double-edged sword — it’s true for high schoolers and it’s true for A/B testing software.

The ubiquity of A/B testing has led to a wide range of awesome, low-cost software for users to choose from, but it’s not all of equal quality. Of course, differing tools offer differing functionality, but there can also be some more tricky differences between tools. And if you’re unaware of these differences, your A/B tests may be in trouble before you even get started.

For example, did you know that some testing software can significantly slow down your site? This decrease speed can have a harmful impact on your site’s SEO and overall conversion rates.

In fact, on average, just one second of additional load time will result in an 11% decrease in page views, and 7% decline in conversions. This creates a nightmare scenario where the websites you were hoping to improve through A/B testing are actually hindered by your efforts.

It gets worse: Your selection of A/B testing software can actually impact the results of your tests, too. Entrepreneur and influencer, Neil Patel, found that the A/B software he was using was showing significant differences, but when he implemented the new page he failed to see conversions change. His problem turned out to be a faulty testing tool.

So with all these hidden pitfalls, what can you do to make sure your A/B testing software is working fine?

The Fix: Run an A/A test.

Prior to running an A/B test, you should run an A/A test with your software to ensure it’s working without impacting site speed and performance.

For the uninitiated, an A/A test is very similar to an A/B test. The difference is that in an A/A test both groups of users are shown the exact same page. That’s right, you need to literally test a page against itself. While this may seem silly at first, by running an A/A test you will be able to identify any distortionary effects caused by your testing software.

An A/A test is the one time you want your results to be boring. If you see conversion rates drop as soon as you start testing, then your tool is probably slowing down your site. If you see dramatic differences between the results for the two pages, then your software is likely faulty.

Problem #2: You stop testing at the first significant result.

This is the statistical equivalent to taking your ball and going home. Unfortunately, when it comes to A/B testing, stopping your test as soon as you see a statistical significant result is not just bad sportsmanship, but it also produces completely invalid results.

Many tools encourage this behavior by allowing users to stop a test as soon as statistical significance has been hit. But if you want to drive real improvement to your site, you need to fight the urge to end your tests early. This may seem counterintuitive, but the more often you check your test for significant results, the more likely you are to see incorrect results.

The issue here is false positives: these are results that incorrectly show a difference between pages. The more often you check your results, the more likely you will hit a result that has been thrown off by false positives.

This isn’t an issue if you stay calm and don’t end your test early. However, if you end your test at the first sign of a significant result then you’ll likely fall victim to deceptive false positive outcomes.

Analytics firm Heap published the results of a simulation, which displays how ending your test early compromises your results.

Using standard significance testing, results from a 1,000-user test are checked once there is a 5% chance of false positive. If the tester checked the same group of users 10 times, the chance of a false positive result balloons to 19.5%. If checked 100 times, our 5% chance of a false positive increases eight fold to 40.1%.

These are good numbers to remember next time you get excited about early promising results.

The Fix: Stick to a predetermined sample size.

To combat false positives, discipline is key. You should set a sample size in stone prior to running an A/B test and resist the urge to end your test early (no matter how promising your results look).

Don’t fret if you’re scratching your head on how large your sample needs to be. There are plenty of tools available online for calculating a minimum sample size. Some of the most popular are from Optimizely and VWO.

One last note on sample size: Keep in mind that you’ll need to pick a realistic number for your page. While we would all love to have millions of users to test on, most of us don’t have that luxury. I suggest making a rough estimate of how long you’ll need to run your test before hitting your target sample size.

Problem #3: You’re only focusing on conversions.

When you’re deep in the weeds of an A/B test, it’s easy to focus on the trees and miss the forest. Put more literally, in A/B testing, it is easy to concentrate only on conversions and lose sight of the long-term business results produced.

While adding new copy to your site may produce higher conversion rates, if the converted users are of lower quality then a higher conversion rate may actually create a negative result for the business.

It can be easy to fall victim to vanity metrics while A/B testing, yet these metrics will distract your focus away from the actual revenue-driving results. If you’re testing a call-to-action that leads to a landing page, you should not just focus on conversions to the landing page. Instead, measure the leads produced from the page and ideally try to tie those leads to the revenue they produce.

The Fix: Test a hypothesis.

Before you start your A/B test you should outline a hypothesis you wish to validate or disprove. By focusing this hypothesis on a KPI that drives actual business results, you’ll avoid being distracted by vanity metrics.

Your A/B test should be judged on its ability to affect this KPI, and not its impact on other associated figures. So if your goal is to increase sign-ups, always judge success by measuring sign-ups, not on clickthrough rates to the sign-up page.

When working to validate or disprove your hypothesis, don’t just throw out any results that aren’t statistically significant — use these results to inform your later tests, instead. For example, if a change to your page’s CTA showed a small, statistically insignificant improvement, then this could be a sign that you might be onto something. Try running further tests on your CTA and see if you can hit on one that produces a significant improvement.

Problem #4: You only test incremental changes.

The button color test may have ruined A/B testing, as this test’s popularity has made it the frame of reference for understanding how A/B testing should be utilized. But there’s more to the practice than that. In fact, while a large website might see a big return from adjusting something small like button color, for the vast majority of us, these small, incremental changes are not going to produce meaningful results.

A/B testing can force us to aim for miniscule improvements, but by focusing only on the incremental, we may be missing a much larger opportunity.

The Fix: Periodic radical testing.

A good rule of thumb? Periodically test radical changes to your page. (This practice has since been coined radical testing.) If you’re seeing weak conversion rates, then it’s probably a sign you should invest time in testing out a radical change rather than incremental changes.

Think of your testing efforts like a poker game, you’ll need to periodically bet big if you want to see a big return.

But before you run off preaching the accolades of radical testing, be aware that it has some drawbacks. First, it requires more upfront labor than A/B testing. Radical testing requires that you invest time drafting a major page redesign. Because of this time investment, I recommend only periodically conducting radical tests.

An additional pitfall to radical testing is that it makes it hard to pinpoint what factors are having the largest impact on your site. What radical testing does allow you to do is determine if a large page rehaul will impact your conversions, but it won’t allow you to pinpoint which individual changes might be driving these results — so keep that in mind before you get started.

These are a few of the most common A/B testing mistakes but there are many, many more. Share your thoughts below some of the missteps you’ve seen.

free guide to a/b testing

Nov

21

2016

Why Data Is The Real MVP: 7 Examples of Data-Driven Storytelling by Leading Brands

Data Storytelling Examples.jpg

Data-driven content strategies are a hot marketing industry trend at the moment, but this is a trend that has some legs. After all, why not make all the data you gather from current and potential customers work for you?

You see, data is the real MVP of marketing: It can be used to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, track the overall health of your brand, and (when used properly) it can help to spark new content ideas.

And if you need some inspiration, I put together a roundup of some brands that are using data to fuel really compelling and sharable stories. Check them out below.

7 Examples Of Data-Driven Storytelling By Leading Brands

1) OkCupid

OkCupid has all the demographic and connection information that one would expect from an extremely popular online dating site. But instead of keeping this info totally internal, it uses the trends and statistics to create interesting, data-driven posts that are also extremely popular on social media due to the compelling topics.

And let’s not forget the funny, clever, and insightful quizzes that users can and do answer, and how OkCupid uses that data to craft equally funny, clever, and insightful posts. 

Recommended Content:

One popular post — “Don’t Be Ugly By Accident” — talks about crafting great profile pictures for online dating, but the advice is applicable to virtually anyone who wants to put their best foot forward online, whether it is a dating site, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

OkCupid Graph Screenshot.png

2) GrubHub

The folks at GrubHub know what you eat, where you eat it, and when you order it. While this might seem a little mundane, the food delivery app mines this data and turns it into unique content like quizzes, contests, polls, and special offers.

GrubHub also partners with various publishers who use the data to create compelling native advertising that hardly feels like stereotypical sponsored content.

Recommended Content:

Leading up to the U.S. Presidential election, GrubHub created a quiz together with Time Magazine to see whether or not your dietary preferences were Democrat or Republican based on user data overlaid with voting/polling data for the same area.

Grubhub Graph Screenshot.png

3) Jawbone

The team behind Jawbone wants people to be healthy and live better lives. Beyond enabling users to track their own personal data through the fitness band, Jawbone uses that data to support its content creation efforts. 

The content produced typically involves making predictions and then providing corresponding advice based on the research it does into its user bases’ behavior.

The key takeaway for other brands here? Look for ways to use your data and the learnings you take away from it to provide actionable tips and advice that make a real difference in your user’s lives.

Recommended Content:

How University Students Sleep” discusses the sleep trends on some of America’s premier campuses and shows how sleep can affect learning and performance — a topic that’s directly tied to the data Jawbone collects. This information is relevant to almost everyone, but perhaps particularly relevant to younger demographic — one that is likely interested in using the product. 

JawBone - How University Students Sleep.png

4) Zillow

Real estate has always been a data-centric profession — from pricing data to demographic data, and much more. And Zillow takes it to the next level by leveraging the vast amounts of data in its real estate platform to create content that is useful and compelling for current buyers, sellers, and real estate agents, as well as others with a general interest in the industry. 

Take a lesson from Zillow and use your data to tell stories that have a broader appeal than your exact target demographic who is ready to convert. Make your content interesting on its own, and position yourself as an authority in your space or community. 

Recommended Content:

Everyone wants to add value to whatever it is they are promoting or selling, so Zillow used content from successful listings to determine what words they all had in common. The result? This article: “15 Words That Could Add Value To Your Listing.” Straight to the point and actionable, this is news that Zillow’s audience can certainly use, and it has the data to back it up.

Zillow Keywords That Add Value.png

5) Spotify

The popular music app Spotify does more than provide you with some excellent tunes. Instead it takes things a step further by using to data to create custom playlists based on your listening activity, the time of day, current season, and so on. 

They also compile “year of” playlists showing not only the most popular songs of the year, but also when they were popular — sparking memories and happy reminiscing.

Recommended Content:

An oldie (for the internet at least) but a goodie, this 2013 post outlining how Spotify uses analytics and data to produce playlists and other content is still pretty darn relevant and useful.

Spotify Screenshot.png

6) Uber

Having an online newsroom or company announcement page is pretty standard, but the tremendously popular peer-to-peer ridesharing service Uber features much more than the expected updates or self-promotional posts.

Instead, it uses its vast amount of data to show users the value of its service and make connections where most brands wouldn’t — sparking a conversation that is not only about its drivers and riders, but about society and human behavior in general.

Recommended Content:

Ten facts you may not know about Uber drivers,” is not only interesting in a slice-of-life type of way (who doesn’t want to know more about the people driving you around) but points to major societal trends as well. Even if you don’t use Uber, the article provides a compelling story about the types of people working as drivers.

For instance, did you know that 24% of Uber drivers are entrepreneurs using the flexibility and steady income from the app to support their own business development? 

Uber Screenshot.png

7) Mint

As the personal finance gurus of the millennial generation, Mint often uses its vast amounts of data about its audience’s finances and spending habits to create infographics centered around timely topics. 

The lesson? Take a look at Google Trends or use anything you’ve noticed in the news or our collective internet pop culture, see what statistics or behaviors from your users might apply or be connected to it somehow, and make it a story. Bonus points for creative and shareable visuals, and finding ways that your data satisfies the innate curiosity about what our fellow human beings are up to.

Recommended Content:

Mint’s Millennials and Charity Infographic — timed for and posted during the holiday season — might be the perfect mix of data, trends, and a compelling, relevant, and newsworthy topic. 

Mint Infographic.jpg

Ready to tell your data’s story?

Of course, you might not have the budget or access to the sheer volume of user data that some of these relatively big brands do, but nearly all marketers, content creators, and business owners have access to data that can be used to tell a story.

For instance, restaurant owners know what the most popular dishes are, boutique owners know the latest trends amongst their crowd (e.g., microtrends in a given neighborhood or amongst a given style subset), and B2B brand marketers probably have an idea of where the industry is going based on the questions their customers are asking and the keywords that drive users to their websites and landing pages.

Every type or marketer works with data all the time, whether that means using analytics to track user behavior and conversions to analyzing statistical information about the target audience and their interests and demographic make-up. It’s a fundamental aspect of the business, and we all use it to inform our process and measure our efforts — but companies like the aforementioned brands can and do take it to the next level.

What are your favorite examples of data-driven storytelling? Share them in the comments.

how to use customer loyalty programs

Nov

21

2016

Why Data Is The Real MVP: 7 Examples of Data-Driven Storytelling by Leading Brands

Data Storytelling Examples.jpg

Data-driven content strategies are a hot marketing industry trend at the moment, but this is a trend that has some legs. After all, why not make all the data you gather from current and potential customers work for you?

You see, data is the real MVP of marketing: It can be used to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, track the overall health of your brand, and (when used properly) it can help to spark new content ideas.

And if you need some inspiration, I put together a roundup of some brands that are using data to fuel really compelling and sharable stories. Check them out below.

7 Examples Of Data-Driven Storytelling By Leading Brands

1) OkCupid

OkCupid has all the demographic and connection information that one would expect from an extremely popular online dating site. But instead of keeping this info totally internal, it uses the trends and statistics to create interesting, data-driven posts that are also extremely popular on social media due to the compelling topics.

And let’s not forget the funny, clever, and insightful quizzes that users can and do answer, and how OkCupid uses that data to craft equally funny, clever, and insightful posts. 

Recommended Content:

One popular post — “Don’t Be Ugly By Accident” — talks about crafting great profile pictures for online dating, but the advice is applicable to virtually anyone who wants to put their best foot forward online, whether it is a dating site, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

OkCupid Graph Screenshot.png

2) GrubHub

The folks at GrubHub know what you eat, where you eat it, and when you order it. While this might seem a little mundane, the food delivery app mines this data and turns it into unique content like quizzes, contests, polls, and special offers.

GrubHub also partners with various publishers who use the data to create compelling native advertising that hardly feels like stereotypical sponsored content.

Recommended Content:

Leading up to the U.S. Presidential election, GrubHub created a quiz together with Time Magazine to see whether or not your dietary preferences were Democrat or Republican based on user data overlaid with voting/polling data for the same area.

Grubhub Graph Screenshot.png

3) Jawbone

The team behind Jawbone wants people to be healthy and live better lives. Beyond enabling users to track their own personal data through the fitness band, Jawbone uses that data to support its content creation efforts. 

The content produced typically involves making predictions and then providing corresponding advice based on the research it does into its user bases’ behavior.

The key takeaway for other brands here? Look for ways to use your data and the learnings you take away from it to provide actionable tips and advice that make a real difference in your user’s lives.

Recommended Content:

How University Students Sleep” discusses the sleep trends on some of America’s premier campuses and shows how sleep can affect learning and performance — a topic that’s directly tied to the data Jawbone collects. This information is relevant to almost everyone, but perhaps particularly relevant to younger demographic — one that is likely interested in using the product. 

JawBone - How University Students Sleep.png

4) Zillow

Real estate has always been a data-centric profession — from pricing data to demographic data, and much more. And Zillow takes it to the next level by leveraging the vast amounts of data in its real estate platform to create content that is useful and compelling for current buyers, sellers, and real estate agents, as well as others with a general interest in the industry. 

Take a lesson from Zillow and use your data to tell stories that have a broader appeal than your exact target demographic who is ready to convert. Make your content interesting on its own, and position yourself as an authority in your space or community. 

Recommended Content:

Everyone wants to add value to whatever it is they are promoting or selling, so Zillow used content from successful listings to determine what words they all had in common. The result? This article: “15 Words That Could Add Value To Your Listing.” Straight to the point and actionable, this is news that Zillow’s audience can certainly use, and it has the data to back it up.

Zillow Keywords That Add Value.png

5) Spotify

The popular music app Spotify does more than provide you with some excellent tunes. Instead it takes things a step further by using to data to create custom playlists based on your listening activity, the time of day, current season, and so on. 

They also compile “year of” playlists showing not only the most popular songs of the year, but also when they were popular — sparking memories and happy reminiscing.

Recommended Content:

An oldie (for the internet at least) but a goodie, this 2013 post outlining how Spotify uses analytics and data to produce playlists and other content is still pretty darn relevant and useful.

Spotify Screenshot.png

6) Uber

Having an online newsroom or company announcement page is pretty standard, but the tremendously popular peer-to-peer ridesharing service Uber features much more than the expected updates or self-promotional posts.

Instead, it uses its vast amount of data to show users the value of its service and make connections where most brands wouldn’t — sparking a conversation that is not only about its drivers and riders, but about society and human behavior in general.

Recommended Content:

Ten facts you may not know about Uber drivers,” is not only interesting in a slice-of-life type of way (who doesn’t want to know more about the people driving you around) but points to major societal trends as well. Even if you don’t use Uber, the article provides a compelling story about the types of people working as drivers.

For instance, did you know that 24% of Uber drivers are entrepreneurs using the flexibility and steady income from the app to support their own business development? 

Uber Screenshot.png

7) Mint

As the personal finance gurus of the millennial generation, Mint often uses its vast amounts of data about its audience’s finances and spending habits to create infographics centered around timely topics. 

The lesson? Take a look at Google Trends or use anything you’ve noticed in the news or our collective internet pop culture, see what statistics or behaviors from your users might apply or be connected to it somehow, and make it a story. Bonus points for creative and shareable visuals, and finding ways that your data satisfies the innate curiosity about what our fellow human beings are up to.

Recommended Content:

Mint’s Millennials and Charity Infographic — timed for and posted during the holiday season — might be the perfect mix of data, trends, and a compelling, relevant, and newsworthy topic. 

Mint Infographic.jpg

Ready to tell your data’s story?

Of course, you might not have the budget or access to the sheer volume of user data that some of these relatively big brands do, but nearly all marketers, content creators, and business owners have access to data that can be used to tell a story.

For instance, restaurant owners know what the most popular dishes are, boutique owners know the latest trends amongst their crowd (e.g., microtrends in a given neighborhood or amongst a given style subset), and B2B brand marketers probably have an idea of where the industry is going based on the questions their customers are asking and the keywords that drive users to their websites and landing pages.

Every type or marketer works with data all the time, whether that means using analytics to track user behavior and conversions to analyzing statistical information about the target audience and their interests and demographic make-up. It’s a fundamental aspect of the business, and we all use it to inform our process and measure our efforts — but companies like the aforementioned brands can and do take it to the next level.

What are your favorite examples of data-driven storytelling? Share them in the comments.

how to use customer loyalty programs

Nov

17

2016

Facebook’s Miscalculated Metrics: What Marketers Need to Know

Facebook Metrics.png

Over the past couple of months, you may have heard some things about Facebook’s metrics.

There was talk of numbers — lots of them. Things were overestimated. Others were underestimated. People were kind of upset. But mostly, they were confused. What the heck happened? How was Facebook going to respond? And at the end of the day, what did it mean for marketers? Breathe, and don’t panic — we’re here to answer all of that. But before we dive in, let’s make one thing clear — none of it is the end of the world. Download our free guide for more data-backed tips on creating the optimal  Facebook Ad. In fact, most of the issues have already been addressed and repaired; at this point, the most important item on our agenda is to clarify what’s actually going on.

What Happened?

It started with video

The drama began in September 2016, when Facebook revealed that there was a problem with its video viewership metrics — the average time that users spent watching videos was being largely overestimated.

Mathematically, Facebook wrote in a statement, that metric should have been the resulting figure from dividing the total time spent watching a video by the total number of people who played it. Instead, the total viewing time was divided by the number of times the video was watched for three seconds or more.

So, let’s say a video received a total viewing time of five hours, or 300 minutes, and it was watched by a total of 1,000 people, 700 of whom watched it for at least three seconds. The viewership metric should be 30%. Instead, Facebook was dividing those 300 minutes by 700, resulting in a larger metric of nearly 43%. And, says the Wall Street Journal [WSJ], that went on for nearly two years.

For a social media platform that boasts how effective its video tools are for marketers, the announcement was an embarrassment. The advertising world was especially unhappy about it — Publicis Media, an ad-buying agency, told its clients that Facebook indicated viewing time overestimates of up to 80%. There were calls for third-party metric verification protocols to be put in place, and while Facebook said that it fixed the error and would be looking into such improvements, the metric misfortune didn’t end there.

A bit of a bug

In fact, just yesterday, Facebook announced that it discovered a bug in its Pages Insights that’s been lurking since May. The summary displaying seven- or 28-day organic page reach was incorrectly added up as the sum of daily reach over that period. That means duplicate visitors were being counted in every instance, leading to a number that was 33% higher than it should have been for seven-day summaries, and 55% for the 28-day ones. Facebook clarified that this error would not impact paid ads.

Here’s how Facebook visually represented the error — the red circle indicates where the duplicate viewership would have appeared.

Facebook Page Insights

Source: Facebook

But you’ll notice that there are green circles in that image, too. Those indicate the insights that were unaffected by the bug — which was the “vast majority” of them — and includes the following measurements:

  • All graphs
  • Daily and historical reach
  • Per-post reach
  • Exported and API reach data
  • All data on the Reach tab

What else was impacted?

In addition to the Page Insights, the bug really only impacted a total of four out of Facebook’s 220 measured metrics, according to WSJ. The remainder included:

More video miscalculations.

This time, the “video views at 100%” — which has been renamed to “video watches at 100%” — metric was impacted, thanks to a glitch that sometimes causes a video’s audio and visual components to be unsynced.

That means that even though the visual is played to completion, the audio may continue after the visual stops. But since about 85% of Facebook video is consumed without sound, viewers are likely to stop watching the video before this latent audio completes. As a result, “video watches at 100%” metrics might now increase by an estimated 35%.

Instant articles.

Here’s another case of Facebook’s overestimations. The average time spent reading Instant Articles — a method by which Facebook displays news articles at a rate 10X faster than a typical mobile web browser — was reported to be 7-8% higher than the actual length of time per article.

Referrals.

In Facebook’s Analytics for Apps dashboard, “referrals” are intended to measure the number of clicks on a post that were directed to an app or website. But it turns out that the “referrals” metric was counting more than that, and inaccurately also included clicks on the same post to view media, like photo or video. That led to an overestimate of referrals by about 6%.

Facebook’s Response

In Facebook’s defense, significant measures have been taken to resolve all of the above issues.

For some, the errors pertaining to ads seem to be the most pressing, which could be why the social media platform has dedicated an entire page to the updates around ads reporting alone. Most of those changes are intended to provide clarification over what exactly is being measured and how — mostly in the interest of “fairness and transparency,” Mark Rabkin, Facebook’s VP of core ads, told WSJ.

Plus, Facebook claims to be taking the feedback to implement third-party measuring protocols seriously, and aims to further clarify how it’s going to calculate ad viewership, as well as the source of that data. Some of it will be coming from Moat and Integral Ad Science — platforms that are used to measure ad and content engagement — which will be used to measure display ad campaigns (previously, those platforms were only available to measure video campaigns).

But Facebook is also enlisting the help of a true viewership pioneer: Nielsen.

Nielsen has its own Digital Content Ratings metric, which Facebook will be implementing to count video viewership — both on-demand and live. That comes with Nielsen’s Total Audience Measurement, which helps marketers compare digital metrics to those from TV.

There’s also a new blogging property launching — Facebook’s Metrics FYI — which will contain regular updates about any and all changes to the platform’s metrics henceforth.

These efforts are all compounded by the formation of a Measurement Council — or, as we like to call it, Facebook’s jury of peers. The Council will be comprised of “business and measurement executives,” and is a bit of an extension of Facebook’s existing Client Council, which helped to develop the tools that help businesses measure ROI.

What It All Means for Marketers

So just how seriously should we be taking it? Well, in short, marketers have reason to be happy about the improvements that Facebook is making, but shouldn’t freak out over the miscalculations.

Why is that? According to Daria Marmer, HubSpot’s social product manager, “Most of the metrics in question are what we’d call vanity metrics. Views and impressions are important, but don’t have a huge impact on your business at the end of the day.”

And while Marmer echoes the benefits of Facebook’s measures to fix these discrepancies, “We really encourage marketers to tie their social efforts to more concrete metrics,” she said, “such as website visits, downloads, new leads.”

She adds, “The social data from Facebook in HubSpot customers’ portals won’t change based on these updates.”

We’ve got you covered. And, we’ll continue to bring you updates to all things social as they emerge.

What do you think of Facebook’s latest announcements, and what sort of action are you taking? Let us know in the comments.

free ebook: future of Facebook advertising


free guide to using facebook for business and marketing

Nov

17

2016

Facebook’s Miscalculated Metrics: What Marketers Need to Know

Over the past couple of months, you may have heard some things about Facebook’s metrics.

There was talk of numbers — lots of them. Things were overestimated. Others were underestimated. People were kind of upset. But mostly, they were confused. What the heck happened? How was Facebook going to respond? And at the end of the day, what did it mean for marketers? Breathe, and don’t panic — we’re here to answer all of that.But before we dive in, let’s make one thing clear — none of it is the end of the world. Download our free guide for more data-backed tips on creating the optimal Facebook Ad. In fact, most of the issues have already been addressed and repaired; at this point, the most important item on our agenda is to clarify what’s actually going on.

What Happened?

It started with video

The drama began in September 2016, when Facebook revealed that there was a problem with its video viewership metrics — the average time that users spent watching videos was being largely overestimated.

Mathematically, Facebook wrote in a statement, that metric should have been the resulting figure from dividing the total time spent watching a video by the total number of people who played it. Instead, the total viewing time was divided by the number of times the video was watched for three seconds or more.

So, let’s say a video received a total viewing time of five hours, or 300 minutes, and it was watched by a total of 1,000 people, 700 of whom watched it for at least three seconds. The viewership metric should be 30%. Instead, Facebook was dividing those 300 minutes by 700, resulting in a larger metric of nearly 43%. And, says the Wall Street Journal [WSJ], that went on for nearly two years.

For a social media platform that boasts how effective its video tools are for marketers, the announcement was an embarrassment. The advertising world was especially unhappy about it — Publicis Media, an ad-buying agency, told its clients that Facebook indicated viewing time overestimates of up to 80%. There were calls for third-party metric verification protocols to be put in place, and while Facebook said that it fixed the error and would be looking into such improvements, the metric misfortune didn’t end there.

A bit of a bug

In fact, just yesterday, Facebook announced that it discovered a bug in its Pages Insights that’s been lurking since May. The summary displaying seven- or 28-day organic page reach was incorrectly added up as the sum of daily reach over that period. That means duplicate visitors were being counted in every instance, leading to a number that was 33% higher than it should have been for seven-day summaries, and 55% for the 28-day ones. Facebook clarified that this error would not impact paid ads.

Here’s how Facebook visually represented the error — the red circle indicates where the duplicate viewership would have appeared.

Facebook Page Insights

Source: Facebook

But you’ll notice that there are green circles in that image, too. Those indicate the insights that were unaffected by the bug — which was the “vast majority” of them — and includes the following measurements:

  • All graphs
  • Daily and historical reach
  • Per-post reach
  • Exported and API reach data
  • All data on the Reach tab

What else was impacted?

In addition to the Page Insights, the bug really only impacted a total of four out of Facebook’s 220 measured metrics, according to WSJ. The remainder included:

More video miscalculations.

This time, the “video views at 100%” — which has been renamed to “video watches at 100%” — metric was impacted, thanks to a glitch that sometimes causes a video’s audio and visual components to be unsynced.

That means that even though the visual is played to completion, the audio may continue after the visual stops. But since about 85% of Facebook video is consumed without sound, viewers are likely to stop watching the video before this latent audio completes. As a result, “video watches at 100%” metrics might now increase by an estimated 35%.

Instant articles.

Here’s another case of Facebook’s overestimations. The average time spent reading Instant Articles — a method by which Facebook displays news articles at a rate 10X faster than a typical mobile web browser — was reported to be 7-8% higher than the actual length of time per article.

Referrals.

In Facebook’s Analytics for Apps dashboard, “referrals” are intended to measure the number of clicks on a post that were directed to an app or website. But it turns out that the “referrals” metric was counting more than that, and inaccurately also included clicks on the same post to view media, like photo or video. That led to an overestimate of referrals by about 6%.

Facebook’s Response

In Facebook’s defense, significant measures have been taken to resolve all of the above issues.

For some, the errors pertaining to ads seem to be the most pressing, which could be why the social media platform has dedicated an entire page to the updates around ads reporting alone. Most of those changes are intended to provide clarification over what exactly is being measured and how — mostly in the interest of “fairness and transparency,” Mark Rabkin, Facebook’s VP of core ads, told WSJ.

Plus, Facebook claims to be taking the feedback to implement third-party measuring protocols seriously, and aims to further clarify how it’s going to calculate ad viewership, as well as the source of that data. Some of it will be coming from Moat and Integral Ad Science — platforms that are used to measure ad and content engagement — which will be used to measure display ad campaigns (previously, those platforms were only available to measure video campaigns).

But Facebook is also enlisting the help of a true viewership pioneer: Nielsen.

Nielsen has its own Digital Content Ratings metric, which Facebook will be implementing to count video viewership — both on-demand and live. That comes with Nielsen’s Total Audience Measurement, which helps marketers compare digital metrics to those from TV.

There’s also a new blogging property launching — Facebook’s Metrics FYI — which will contain regular updates about any and all changes to the platform’s metrics henceforth.

These efforts are all compounded by the formation of a Measurement Council — or, as we like to call it, Facebook’s jury of peers. The Council will be comprised of “business and measurement executives,” and is a bit of an extension of Facebook’s existing Client Council, which helped to develop the tools that help businesses measure ROI.

What It All Means for Marketers

So just how seriously should we be taking it? Well, in short, marketers have reason to be happy about the improvements that Facebook is making, but shouldn’t freak out over the miscalculations.

Why is that? According to Daria Marmer, HubSpot’s social product manager, “Most of the metrics in question are what we’d call vanity metrics. Views and impressions are important, but don’t have a huge impact on your business at the end of the day.”

And while Marmer echoes the benefits of Facebook’s measures to fix these discrepancies, “We really encourage marketers to tie their social efforts to more concrete metrics,” she said, “such as website visits, downloads, new leads.”

She adds, “The social data from Facebook in HubSpot customers’ portals won’t change based on these updates.”

We’ve got you covered. And, we’ll continue to bring you updates to all things social as they emerge.

What do you think of Facebook’s latest announcements, and what sort of action are you taking? Let us know in the comments.

free ebook: future of Facebook advertising

free guide to using facebook for business and marketing


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