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Dec

5

2016

30 Secret Santa Gift Ideas Your Coworkers Will Love

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

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

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

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

30 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Your Coworkers

$10 and Under

1) Engraved Pencil Set

Price: $8.00

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

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

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2) Toaster Grilled Cheese Bags

Price: $9.99

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

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

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3) Printed Socks

Price: $8.00

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

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

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4) Sushi Pushpins

Price: $9.00

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

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

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5) Waterproof Notepad

Price: $7.00

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

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

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6) Tech Cloth

Price: $9.99

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

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

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7) Reusable To Go Box

Price: $9.99

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

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

Price: $9.99

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

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

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9) Dry Erase Sheets

Price: $6.16

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

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10) Cord Keeper

Price: $9.99

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

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

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$25 and Under

11) Salsa Grow Kit

Price: $12.00

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

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

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

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12) Wine Infused Coffee

Price: $19.95

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

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

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13) Plant Nanny

Price: $16.95

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

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

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14) Smartphone Card Game

Price: $19.99

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

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

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15) Travel Cup

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

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

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

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16) Adult Coloring Book

Price: $12.18 (Paperback)

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

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

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17) Fruit Infuser Water Bottle

Price: $18.65

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

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

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18) Musical Pillow

Price: $19.19

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

Enter: The Sound Asleep Pillow.

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

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19) Espresso Sampler

Price: $23.00

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

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$50 and Under

20) Smartphone Projector

Price: $31.95

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

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

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21) Make Your Own Hot Sauce Kit

Price: $34.95

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

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

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22) Bottle Loft

Price: $38.00

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

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

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23) Leather Mouse Pad

Price: $36.00

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

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

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24) Gourmet Marshmallows

Price: $30.00

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

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25) Streaming Stick

Price: $49.99

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

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26) Tea Drops

Price: $34.00

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

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

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27) Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

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

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

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

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28) Wireless Speaker

Price: $39.99

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

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29) Cacti Coasters

Price: $31.00

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

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

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30) Mobile Lens Kit

Price: $26.00

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

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

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

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

Dec

1

2016

15 Cheerful Examples of Holiday Homepage Designs

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

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

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

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

15 Holiday Homepage Designs to Get You in the Spirit

1) Free People

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

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

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2) PayPal

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

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

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3) Sephora

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

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

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4) Baudville

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

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

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5) La Colombe

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

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6) L.L. Bean

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

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

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

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7) The Container Store

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

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

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8) Xfinity

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

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

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

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9) J. Crew

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

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

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10) Microsoft

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

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11) Fitbit

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

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

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

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12) John Lewis

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

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

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

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13) HP

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

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

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14) Madewell

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

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

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15) Warby Parker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov

30

2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Components of Successful Facebook Ads

1) It’s visual.

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

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

2) It’s relevant.

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

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

3) It includes an enticing value proposition.

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

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

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

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

The 3 Primary Formats for Facebook Ads (With Examples)

Format 1: The Right Column Ad

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Source: Facebook

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

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


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Here’s what makes this ad great:

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

Format 2: The Desktop News Feed Ad

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Source: Facebook

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

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

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Here’s what makes this ad great:

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

Format 3: The Mobile News Feed Ad

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Source: Facebook

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

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

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Here’s what makes this ad great:

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

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

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

1) The Facebook Video Ad

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

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

kayjewelersfinalgif.gif

Why this works:

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

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

2) The Photo Ad

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

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

naturebox-1

Why this works:

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

3) The Multi-Product Ad

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

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

shutterfly

Why this works:

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

4) The Local Ad

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

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

Take this ad for example from Mizzou Campus Dining:

ScreenShot2015-03-29at2.12.59PM

Why this works:

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

5) The Offer Ad

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

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

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

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

BSCad.jpg

Why this works:

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

6) The Event Ad

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

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

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

event facebook ad

Why this works:

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

7) The Retargeting Ad

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

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

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

Adrianna Papell wedding dress ad.png

Why this works:

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

8) The Boosted Post

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

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

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

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

bustle learn more ad.png

Why this works:

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

Getting Started

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

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

Now, stop reading and start creating.

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

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

free guide to facebook advertising

 
learn the science of successful facebook ads

Nov

30

2016

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

facebook-ads-that-work.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

4 Components of Successful Facebook Ads

1) It’s visual.

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

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

2) It’s relevant.

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

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

3) It includes an enticing value proposition.

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

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

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

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

The 3 Primary Formats for Facebook Ads (With Examples)

Format 1: The Right Column Ad

Right Column Facebook Placement.png

Source: Facebook

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

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


Club W FB Ad.png

Here’s what makes this ad great:

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

Format 2: The Desktop News Feed Ad

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

Source: Facebook

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

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

amazon newsfeed litter box.png

Here’s what makes this ad great:

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

Format 3: The Mobile News Feed Ad

Mobile Facebook Ad Placement.png

Source: Facebook

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

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

NYT mobile ad.jpg

Here’s what makes this ad great:

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

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

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

1) The Facebook Video Ad

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

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

kayjewelersfinalgif.gif

Why this works:

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

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

2) The Photo Ad

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

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

naturebox-1

Why this works:

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

3) The Multi-Product Ad

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

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

shutterfly

Why this works:

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

4) The Local Ad

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

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

Take this ad for example from Mizzou Campus Dining:

ScreenShot2015-03-29at2.12.59PM

Why this works:

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

5) The Offer Ad

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

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

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

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

BSCad.jpg

Why this works:

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

6) The Event Ad

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

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

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

event facebook ad

Why this works:

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

7) The Retargeting Ad

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

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

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

Adrianna Papell wedding dress ad.png

Why this works:

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

8) The Boosted Post

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

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

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

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

bustle learn more ad.png

Why this works:

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

Getting Started

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

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

Now, stop reading and start creating.

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

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

free guide to facebook advertising

 
learn the science of successful facebook ads

Nov

29

2016

How to Validate Your Blog Post Topics: A 3-Step Process

validate-blog-post-ideas.jpg

Imagine you own a business that films and produces yoga routines for at-home practice. As search engine results pages become more crowded, your chances of ranking for a popular industry keyword — such as “yoga” — begin to diminish.

But as it turns out, that’s not the end of the world. These days people are actually conducting more specific, conversational queries — think: “how do I teach myself yoga?” — to get the information they’re looking for, faster.

Unsurprisingly, Google responded to this change in behavior by introducing RankBrain — a machine-learning artificial intelligence system — as well as Hummingbird — a search algorithm designed to focus on the meaning behind the search terms being used.

The result? An increased number of long-tail keyword variations that are regularly searched within a topic. Jackpot. Learn more about HubSpot's latest tools to power your growth here.

But with more topic opportunities on the table, how can you be sure that you’re going after the right ones? To help you avoid wasting time on topics and keyword plays that won’t generate a meaningful return for your business, we’ve put together a simple process for validating your ideas before you start writing. Check it out below. 

How to Validate Your Blog Post Topics: A 3-Step Process

1) Get to know your audience really well.

Ideally, you’re already conducting market research and thinking about your audience before you start writing a piece of content. But in case you’re not, or you need to refresh your memory, here are a few questions you should be asking when you’re brainstorming blog content ideas:

  • Who searches for information on this topic? What are their ages, job roles, and demographic traits?
  • What emotions do you want to evoke? What are their goals?
  • What do you want viewers to do with your blog posts once they read it?

When you have a clearer idea of the demographic and psychographic traits of your ideal audience, you can then use this information to substantiate your list of ideas. Chuck the ideas that don’t fit their mold, and keep the ones that do — it’s that simple.

2) Create a topic cluster based on your persona research.

Once you know who you’re writing for, figure out what questions they need answers to. To start, think about providing solutions to challenges your audience is facing.

For example, in the yoga example above, your audience’s problems might include: not having enough time to go to the gym, a lack of nearby gyms, an inability to afford a gym membership, or high levels of stress.

From there, marketers should ask questions to determine the specific angle of their content. What’s the best way to deliver this information — a blog post, an infographic, or a video? What content has already been published about the topic, and what angle can I pursue to differentiate mine?

One of the best ways to organize your thoughts and finding here is through a topic cluster a new way to strategize blog content geared toward how search has evolved.

Continuing with the yoga example, you’d want to create a topic cluster centered around “yoga” as the main topic. Then, you’d come up with subtopics that are related to yoga but based on long-tail keywords that are easier to rank for in search. These could include “at-home workouts,” “exercises for stress relief,” “yoga for beginners,” and “online yoga classes.”

Here’s an example cluster that HubSpot’s Head of Growth & SEO Matt Barby created. Notice that while the core content topic is “workout routines,” the cluster content — referred to as pillar content — spans a wider variety of related topics.

workout routines topic cluster-1.png

By clustering ideas around one core topic that is relevant to your audience, it become easier to generate content that you know will resonate.

“This is a very simplistic overview but can work as a light framework for prioritizing content ideation and production,” explains Barby in an article detailing the full process. “The role of the pillar content is to cover the core topic broadly and also perform well at converting visitors into leads (or whatever your conversion goal is). The cluster content that is built for each of the subtopics will focus on gaining greater topic visibility and funneling traffic through to the pillar content in order for them to convert.”

3) Use tools to gut check your topics.

Once you have topics in mind for blog posts, do some testing: Just because you think the topic is interesting and good for search engine optimization doesn’t always mean it will resonate with your audience.

Here on the HubSpot Blogging team, we propose blog topics and titles alongside a reason why we think they will perform well. Here are some of the tools we use to determine if an angle is worth writing up:

  • TitleTester: As the name of the tool suggests, TitleTester allows you to plug different title options into its tool to analyze which has the highest clickthrough rate. Use this tool to test different angles on a topic to see which generates the most interest.
  • Twitter Polls: Ask your followers to vote for topics they’re most interested in reading more about using Twitter Polls. Use that data to guide your topic choosing before starting to write.
  • Twitter Chats: Figure out which Twitter Chat most closely aligns with the topics you’re writing about, click on the hashtag, and see what types of questions people are asking about. That will give you an idea of a content gap that your blog post could fill with resources for your audience.
  • BuzzSumo: BuzzSumo analyzes how many times a URL has been shared via social media or linked to by another domain. Do some quick competitor analysis by dropping in links to content on the topic you’re writing about to see how different angles have performed in the past.
  • Blog Comments: Does your blog have commenting enabled? If not, it should, because feedback from your subscribers is the exact answer to the questions you’re asking — what content is my audience interested in? Take positive and constructive feedback from readers to inform your strategy.

Once you’ve aggregated responses to different tests and questions you’ve asked your audience, choose a topic and title with the greatest level of engagement and response, and start writing your blog post.

Quality > Quantity

The biggest takeaway for marketers is to emphasize blog post quality and relevance over quantity. Instead of writing multiple blog posts without a review of the strategy behind them, it will be difficult to rank in search and achieve lead generation goals.

For HubSpot customers, HubSpot Content Strategy will help guide you through the process of creating a topic cluster. Based on data from the HubSpot Keywords App, Content Strategy and the Blog Topic Generator will recommend topics that you should create content around, and advise against topics that will be hard to rank for or are unrelated to your central topic. It’s coming soon to the HubSpot software, and users can sign up for early access now.

How do you decide which topics to write blog posts about? Share with us in the comments below.

Product Launches INBOUND 2016

Nov

28

2016

How to Write an Introduction: A Simplified Guide

writing intros struggle.png

Blink. Blink. Blink. It’s the dreaded cursor-on-a-blank-screen experience that all writers — amateur or professional, aspiring or experienced — know and dread. And of all times for it to occur, it seems to plague us the most when trying to write an introduction.

I mean, you already have a blog post you want to write. Can’t you just dive in and write it? Why all the pomp and circumstance with this dag-blasted introduction?

Here’s the thing — intros don’t have to be long. In fact, we prefer them to be quite quick. They also don’t have to be so difficult, but they do have to exist. They prepare the reader and provide context for the content he or she is about to read. Download our free guide here for tips to become a better writer. 

Let’s break down exactly how to write an introduction that’s short, effective, and relatively painless. And if you’re ever having trouble churning out those intros, come back here and re-read this formula to lift yourself out of that writing rut.

How to Write a Good Introduction: 3 Components to Consider

As a lover of all things meta, I will, of course, use this post’s introduction as an example of how to write an intro. But it contains different components that create an introduction “formula” — you can refer to that when you get stuck with your own.

1) Grab the reader’s attention.

There are a few ways to hook your reader from the start. You can be empathetic (“Don’t you hate it when…?”), or tell a story, so the reader immediately feels some emotional resonance with the piece. You could tell a joke (“Ha! This is fun. Let’s read more of this.”). You could shock the reader with a crazy fact or stat (“Whoa. That’s crazy. I must know more!”).

For this intro, I went the “empathetic” route.

Intro for intros

Writer’s block stinks. Blank screens and taunting cursors — the worst. Who’s with me?

2) Present the reason for the post’s existence.

Your post needs to have a purpose. The purpose of this post is to address a specific problem — the pain in the butt that is writing intros. But, we have to do it, and therein lies the approach to something important: making writing introductions easier.

Present the Reason for the Post's Existence.png

Just because you know the purpose of your post, doesn’t mean the reader does — not yet, anyway. It’s your job to validate your post’s importance, and give your audience a reason to keep reading.

3) Explain how the post will help address the problem.

Now that the reader is presented with a problem that he or she can relate to — and obviously wants a solution — it’s time to let the audience know what the post will provide, and quickly.

In other words, the introduction should set expectations. Take this post, for example. I don’t want the reader to dive in and expect to see a list of reasons why introductions are important. I want you to expect to read about what makes a good introduction. But if I hadn’t clarified that in the introduction, you might have expected the former. After all, be honest — did you skim over or forget the title of this post already? That’s okay. That’s why we tell the reader exactly what the post will provide, and why it’s valuable.

Explain How the Post Will Help Address the Problem.png

The underlined sentenced is a way of saying, “Keep reading.” We already established that there’s a problem — here’s how I’m going to make it easy for you to solve.

Of course, there are other valid ways to write introductions for your marketing content — don’t feel the need to follow this formula for every single piece of content, as some are more casual than others. But, this guide should help provide a solid framework to follow if you’re just getting started, or if it’s just one of those days when the words aren’t flowing.

But what are some examples of great introductions in the wild? We thought you might ask — which is why we picked out some of our favorites.

5 Introduction Paragraph Examples to Inspire You

1) “Confessions of a Google Spammer,” by Jeff Deutsch

Google Spammer Intro

There are a few reasons why we love this introduction. Immediately, it grabs our attention — how the heck did this guy make fifty grand every month? And just from 10 hours a week?

But unlike some spammy comments that might contain a similar sentiment, he almost immediately serves us something unexpected — he tells us not to do that.

Then, he states the true purpose of the blog — to explain why we should “never, never ever follow in [his] footsteps.” In just three sentences, this introduction has captivated us and validated the story’s existence with a looming life lesson. The takeaway? Keep it short, but powerful.

2) “Announcing the public preview of Azure Advisor,” by Shankar Sivadasan

Azure Advisor Intro

Here’s a great example of an introduction that presents a problem and a solution to it. Sure, it’s easy to build apps on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform — but maybe you had some issues with its setup. Well, wouldn’t you know? Azure Advisor is here to address those challenges, and you can preview it for free.

But wait — there’s more. The introduction not only immediately presents a problem and a solution, but it concisely summarizes just how this product provides a fix. And, it explains why the text will be helpful, with the sentence, “In this blog post, we will do a quick tour of Azure Advisor and discuss how it can help optimize your Azure resources.”

That’s a best practice for brands that have made a mistake — even a small one. Technology is great, but it can come with bugs. That’s where an intro like this one can be so helpful. It acknowledges the problem, states what the brand has done to address it, and alerts the reader to continue to learn how that solution will work.

3) “Taste the Season at Sushi Sora,” by Chris Dwyer

Sushi Sora intro

Strong introductions aren’t just important for blogs — they’re essentially to quality editorial pieces, too. That’s why we love this introduction to an article from Destination MO, the Mandarin Oriental’s official online magazine.

Remember that thing we said about a captivating start? In addition to being empathetic or funny, visuals can be huge — not just an actual picture or video, but words that actually help the reader envision what you’re describing. This introduction does just that, with expressive phrases like, “the magical silhouette of Mount Fuji on the horizon.” Well, yeah. That does sound magical. But where can I go for such a view? None other than the “Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo,” the author tells me, especially “from the sushi counter at Sushi Sora.”

Here’s the thing about this intro — it gives the reader something to aspire to. We’ve briefly discussed aspirational marketing before, but this instance is one where it can be used in a brief introduction. After reading this first paragraph, I want to go to Tokyo. And when I’m there, I want to stay at the Mandarin Oriental. Then, I want to take in the views from its high-end sushi restaurant.

With just two sentences, I’ve gone from reading an article with my morning coffee, to fantasizing about a thousand-dollar vacation. So whenever possible, use your introduction to paint a picture, and to help your reader dream.

4) “The Secret Club of Admitting You Suck,” by Janessa Lantz

admitting you suck intro

Let’s read through this introduction from ReadThink together.

I know. I know! I once moved very far away to escape my own failure, too! But I couldn’t admit at the time that I sucked, either! Wow. Janessa Lantz really gets me.

See that? That, right there, is a resounding example of how empathy makes a profound introduction. But how did the story end? Did they buy the house? Did she admit that she sucked? Does she still suck? (Spoiler alert: I work with Janessa and can say, with great confidence, that she is far from sucking.)

The point is, I wanted to keep reading for two reasons — first, I related to the author. Second, it was just plain interesting, and it left me with a cliffhanger. It’s okay to tease your readers. Just make sure you ultimately give them what they’re seeking.

5) “Be a responsible tourist: a PSA from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” by Out of the Blue

responsible tourist intro

I’ll admit it — I’m a sucker for a good travel blog, which is why JetBlue’s official blog appeals to me. But at the same time, I also geek out for almost anything that promotes sustainability. In this piece, those worlds collide.

What makes this introduction work? Honestly, it’s scary. “Decline” and “extinction” are strong words, and absolutely present a problem. But research shows that we’re actually more inclined to keep reading bad news — in fact, a few years ago, our media consumption habits suggested that we prefer it.

But it’s not all bad — and JetBlue quickly turns around a potentially devastating situation with the language of this introduction. And, it includes the reader, by inviting travelers to be part of the solution, but joining the brand in its promotion of responsible tourism.

That’s another formula for presenting bad news to your audience, especially if you’re not the one causing it and you have a solution. Scary information + how you’re helping + how the reader can do his or her part = compelling intro.

Let’s Start

Feeling inspired? Good. Next time you find yourself face-to-face with the dreaded blinking cursor, use these resources and compelling examples to find motivation.

How do you write a good intro, and what are some of your favorite examples? Let us know in the comments.

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

free guide to writing well

 
free guide to writing well

Nov

25

2016

7 Marketing Automation Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

marketing-automation-mistakes.jpg

I have money in my savings account because my bank has a built-in auto-deposit process. I’m not logging into my account every day and moving money around, but when I do log in, I can see the progress I’ve made toward my goals by setting my account to automate deductions.

Think of marketing automation like auto-deducting money from your checking account and putting it into savings: The automatic process lets you invest in your future goals in an easier way than if you did it manually.

Marketing automation can play a significant role in the success of your inbound marketing strategy, but there is a right way and a wrong way to use it. Learn more about HubSpot's latest tools to power your growth here.

We want to help you understand marketing automation, and how and when to use it to your organization’s benefit. In this post, we’ll discuss traps marketers can fall into when incorporating marketing automation and alternatives that solve for these challenges.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Quite simply, marketing automation refers to the software that exists to automate marketing actions — actions like email, social media, and more. All of these automated actions are designed with the concept of lead nurturing in mind. In other words, marketers are creating and automating various types of content with the goal of actively attracting, qualifying, and moving prospects through the sales funnel towards a purchase.

And the marketing automation industry is huge — Emailmonday estimates that 49% of companies use marketing automation software, and Marketing Automation Insider estimates that the industry is worth $1.62 billion per year.

The trouble is, because marketing automation software has grown so significantly as a part of the inbound marketing movement, some marketers aren’t adopting it correctly. Let’s dig into some of the most common marketing automation mistakes below.

7 Common Marketing Automation Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

1) You’ve invested in marketing automation without an inbound lead generation strategy.

The Problem:

You’ve purchased and started using marketing automation software, but you don’t have a strong content strategy in place yet. As a result, you aren’t attracting enough qualified leads to your website, so the ROI of your marketing automation software is low.

To solve this problem, you might be considering buying an email contact list to build the size of your database.

The Solution:

Before you buy an email list, don’t.

You see, it’s not a sound lead generation strategy to purchase email contact lists for a few reasons. For one, people don’t generally like being contacted unsolicited, and you don’t want to irritate potential customers. Additionally, purchased email lists have generally high churn rates — because the leads are often unqualified — meaning your database won’t have the long-term growth that you’re looking for.

Instead of going that route, focus on developing an inbound marketing strategy aimed at attracting folks that actually want to hear from you. Write blog posts, create content offers, calls-to-action, and landing pages, and optimize your website so it will rank well in organic search. These efforts will ensure that your content is being discovered by your audience. Then, once you start generating more leads, you’ll be able to nurture them effectively with automated emails and social media posts.

2) You don’t have a goal for your marketing automation.

The Problem:

You’re sending out multiple automated email and social media messages without an end goal in mind. 

The Solution:

Take advantage of the ease of use marketing automation software provides and invest time and efforts into determining your goals first. Once you have them, you’ll want to assign these goals to each automated effort — social media, email workflows, and so on — to ensure it’s easy to track progress.

After all, marketers need a way to measure success when it comes to marketing automation, and one means of doing so is by evaluating goal attainment. For example, here at HubSpot, the Visual Workflows App (currently in beta) lets you set a specific goal for each automated workflow. A goal might be a new lead transitioning into a marketing-qualified lead based on certain behaviors, such as downloading a specific number of content offers.

HubSpot Visual Workflows also allows you to track the percentage of contacts in each workflow that achieve the goal, which is another great way to measure the success and ROI of your marketing automation.

3) You don’t segment your email list.

The Problem:

You have a database full of qualified leads, but you’re using marketing automation software to blast out tons of emails that aren’t customized at all. As a result, your leads are churning because your emails aren’t useful to them.

The Solution:

Develop a lead nurturing strategy that includes email list segmentation so you’re sending specific emails to specific people that they’re more likely to open.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, 77% of email marketing ROI came from targeted, segmented campaigns in 2015, and segmented emails generate 58% of all revenue. Seems like a must-have strategy, right? Unfortunately, only 42% of email marketers are sending targeted messages.

With the right marketing automation software, it’s easy to execute an email list segmentation strategy that delivers strong results. For example, HubSpot customers can use the Visual Workflows App to target their emails based on dozens of criteria, both demographic and behavioral.

Need inspiration? We recently published a blog post with 30 ideas for email list segmentation from real brands.

4) You send too many emails.

The Problem:

Perhaps your email list isn’t segmented, or maybe you’re a little overzealous with your marketing automation software. Whatever the reason, you’re annoying potential prospects by sending way too many emails.

The Solution:

Strategically send fewer emails.

When it comes to your email database, focus on quality over quantity. It’s better to have a lower volume of leads with higher engagement rates than a massive database of people who don’t open your emails.

Why? Because higher quality leads are more likely to become customers.

A staggering 78% of customers recently surveyed by HubSpot Research have unsubscribed because the brand was sending too many emails. To avoid sending one of many such emails, make sure that every single email you send provides value to leads in a way that they won’t be able to help but click.

5) You’re only automating your email marketing strategy.

The Problem:

You use your marketing automation software to send out emails, and not much else.

The Solution:

Take advantage of all of the features your software offers to maximize efficiency.

There are probably a lot of little tasks over the course of your work day that don’t seem time consuming individually. However, if you add up all of the time you spend posting on social media, updating contact information, and other tasks, you end up with a large chunk of your day spent on things that can probably be automated.

Poke around your marketing automation to see which processes you can make more efficient. For example, in the HubSpot software, users can bulk update lead contact information instead of clicking into each record and changing details there.

The more processes you automate, the more time you’ll have each day to strategize with your team about content, lead generation, and lead nurturing tactics to keep attracting quality leads to your site.

6) You’re only sharing your marketing automation efforts within your marketing department.

The Problem:

You have marketing automation set up only for email marketing, social media, and other lead activities that are only impacting your marketing team’s bottom line.

The Solution:

Use a “smarketing” approach, and make your marketing automation work for sales reps as well.

Think bigger than just the marketing team: What processes would help your sales team if they were automated?

For example, if there were a process in place that alerted reps to when their leads were checking out parts of your website, that would help inform their next call or email. When a lead fills out a form, it could trigger a specific email send from marketing and a follow-up call from their sales rep. Marketing automation software also helps users set follow-up tasks and to-do lists, which reps could use to keep track of the many leads they’re working at a given time.

Take your sales and marketing alignment to the next level by making processes easier for team members across the board to achieve their goals with the help of marketing automation.

7) You use too many different tools.

The Problem:

Roughly half of marketers use marketing automation software, and those who do often combine different strategies into a “Frankensystem” of tools to achieve their bottom line.

For example, they might start on a whiteboard, move to a spreadsheet, then shift onto an online flowchart maker, and only then will they use marketing automation software. This system is problematic in a few ways — it’s time consuming, numbers can be incorrectly analyzed, and communication is complicated.

The Solution:

Invest in all-in-one marketing automation software.

The point of marketing automation is to make things easier and more efficient, and your team won’t achieve that if you’re spending too much time updating different documents or manually targeting your leads database.

All-in-one marketing automation software offers a variety of criteria options to target your audience, as well as visualization tools so you can see how your marketing automation efforts are working together. That means you’ll be spending less time writing out numbers and emailing spreadsheets to your team members, and more time implementing strategies designed to qualify leads.

What’s the biggest challenge you encountered when you purchased marketing automation software? Share with us in the comments below.

Product Launches INBOUND 2016

Nov

23

2016

The 34 Best Tools for Improving Your Writing Skills

improve-writing-skills-1.jpg

Words are hard.

Whether you’re a published author or just getting started with blogging, it’s not always easy to string words together in a way that makes sense, sounds good, and makes the reader feel something.

But every marketer should be able to write — and, more importantly, every marketer can write. It’s just a matter of finding the writing environment that works best for you, expanding your vocabulary, asking for feedback (and listening to it), and practicing. Download our free guide here for tips to become a better writer. 

Luckily, there are a slew of great tools you can use to help improve your writing. Check out the list below, and feel free to add the most helpful ones you use in the comment section.

The 34 Best Tools for Improving Your Writing

1) Daily Page

“Writer’s block is a comforting lie we tell ourselves so we can stop writing and go do other, more pleasurable things,” said Beth Dunn, HubSpot’s UX writer and editor. “If your fingers still work, you can write. Sit down at the same time every day and start typing.”

Want to get into the habit of writing every day, but don’t know what to write about? Daily Page emails you a writing prompt every morning, and you have the rest of the day to write your response. Once you’ve written your response to the prompt, you can either share it or keep it private.

2) 750 Words 

Another way to practice your writing is to do a “brain dump” exercise using a tool like 750 Words. “Brain dumping” means getting all that stuff in your head down on paper — without having to worry about incomplete ideas, tangents, and private stuff.

It’s not blogging or status updating — it’s just you, writing whatever you want on a totally private account, without ever having to title your content or tag topics or share with your friends.

What it does do is track your word count so you’re sure to write 750 words (about three pages of writing). Plus, it’s gamified, which makes it kind of fun: You get a point for writing anything at all, two points for writing 750 words or more, and more points if you write consistently. And every time you write, it’ll give you some cool statistics on how much time you spent writing, the feelings and themes of your words, and so on.

Image Credit: 750 Words

3) Twords 

Publishing content on a consistent basis is crucial in the blogging world. Our own research concludes that companies that commit to regularly publishing quality content to their blogs tend get the most website traffic and leads — and those results continue to pay out over time. Tools like Twords can help bloggers commit to writing consistently.

Twords calls itself “the app that nudges you to write.” It notifies you when you haven’t written in a while so you can keep yourself accountable — and even gives you the option to connect with others who will help keep you accountable. It also tracks your writing so you can start to see patterns for the days you’re blogging more versus less, and so on. Finally, it includes some cool resources like a prompt library and articles about habit formation, writing resources, and so on.

Image Credit: Twords

4) Your Own “Swipe File” 

I read about a “Swipe File” on the “Kopywriting Kourse” blog and loved the idea. Basically, a swipe file is just a folder where you can curate cool stuff you come across, like advertisements, copy, emails, etc. “Save things that make you click, sign up, laugh, or go ‘whoa!'” says the post. The purpose? To flip through it for inspiration.

A swipe file can be physical or digital.

  • A physical swipe file would be something like a folder or envelope where you can keep print ads, pieces of copy, letters, and so on for inspiration.
  • A digital swipe file on desktop would be a digital folder, like one on your desktop. Whenever you see something interesting, screenshot it (by pressing Command + Shift + 4 on a Mac or Ctrl + Shift + 4 on a PC) and dragging that screenshot to your swipe folder.
  • A digital swipe on your mobile device is good for all the stuff you see when browsing the internet on your phone or tablet. The author of the post, for instance, created a specific folder in his iPhone and made a Phone Swipe File there. He stores screenshots when he sees something on mobile that grabs his attention.

Image Credit: KopywritingKourse.com

5) Help me Write 

What better way to make sure you’re writing about stuff your audience actually wants to read than by actually asking them? When you create a profile using Help me Write, you can post ideas of what you’re thinking about writing about. Then, you can share those ideas with your network via Twitter, Facebook, email, and so on — and ask your networks what they’d like to read most. They’ll be able to vote on their favorites, and you’ll be able to pick topics and better manage your time. 

Image Credit: HelpmeWrite

6) Blog Topic Generator

Do you have an overarching theme or keywords in mind for your next blog post, but you’re not sure at which angle to tackle it? HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator could come in handy. Simply type in three keywords, and the tool will auto-generate five potential topics for your post. If you’re not keen on the suggestions, you can always click “Try Again” and it’ll give you five more topics.

7) Trello

Writing efficiently and organizing well is a part of writing well. Use a tool like Trello to collect content ideas, assign them to different members of your team, attach due dates, collaborate with other team members, track their progress, and move them from conception to completion.

Here at HubSpot, we add all our blog post ideas to Trello, turning each idea into a card that we can expand on with notes and move from list to list with a simple drag-and-drop.

8) Google Docs

There are many ways you can use Google Docs to improve your writing. For example, you can use the research tool to do online research on the topic you’re writing about, find quotes or educational information, and so on (see #4 on this list). You can use it to request edits or comments from your peers. It even has a built-in dictionary.

One of my favorite ways to use Google Docs to improve my writing is by crowdsourcing ideas from my coworkers. Here at HubSpot, the blogging team uses this method all the time — and it shaves off a significant portion of research time that goes into curated posts. The result? Better examples and more comprehensive posts with less effort.

9) Quora & 10) inbound.org

Speaking of crowdsourcing, Quora is a great place to go for crowdsourced answers if you want to reach outside your network. Simply search for a keyword, follow topics related to the topics you’re interested in, and/or post your own questions.

If you’re looking for answers from inbound marketers specifically, inbound.org is a great place to source answers from professionals. Here’s an example of a post where the author asked about people’s productivity and time management habits.

11) Blog Post Templates & 12) Ebook Templates

If you’re all set on a topic but need help with organizing your writing so it’s interesting to read, you may want to check out our free, downloadable blog post templates or ebook templates, depending what you’re writing.

  • The blog post templates will give you an outline of five different types of blog posts: how-to posts, listicles, curated collections, SlideShare presentations, and newsjacks.
  • The ebook templates are available as both PowerPoint and InDesign files. All you have to do is paste in your text, drop in your images, add your company’s logo, and voila — a finished ebook.

13) HubSpot Composer

For HubSpot customers, Composer is a new distraction-free writing tool that helps writers easily turn their brainstorm ideas and research notes into a blog post. Composer handles the work of formatting drafts into blog posts — users can copy and paste text from Microsoft Word or Google Docs into Composer, and Composer will automatically reformat them for blog publication with the press of a button.

Other team members can collaborate and share comments on documents in Composer so bloggers can get team feedback prior to publishing content on their blogs. Check it out in action below:

composer.png

14) oTranscribe 

If you’re writing something that includes an interview with someone else, oTranscribe is a great tool that’ll make the transcription process much less painful — allowing more time for your own writing and analysis.

There are a lot of transcription tools out there, but this one is one of my favorites. It’s a web app for transcribing interviews created by Elliott Bentley, a graphics writer at Wall Street Journal. The audio player is integrated with the editor meaning you won’t have to click back and forth. You can pause, play, rewind, and fast-forward using keyboard shortcuts. Every second, it automatically saves the transcription to your browser’s storage. You can export it to plain text or Google Docs. Finally, it’s open source under the MIT license.

15) Coffitivity

Ready to start writing? Here’s a tool that’ll boost your productivity. A study out of the University of Chicago found that a moderate level of ambient noise, or “white noise,” helps people be more creative. While there are a lot of white noise generators out there, Cofftivity is my favorite. It offers non-stop café background sounds at varying intensities, from “Morning Murmur” and “University Undertones” to “Lunchtime Lounge” and “Brazil Bistro.”

16) E.ggtimer.com & 17) Tomato Timer

If you like to write with a little pressure (or you’re just on deadline), then tools like e.ggtimer.com and Tomato Timer are useful (and free). Both of these tools offer a “pomodoro” option, which refers to the Pomodoro technique: a time management technique created by Francesco Cirillo based on periods of distraction-free work followed by short breaks — which is supposed to be optimal for productivity.

18) ZenPen 

If you don’t do well with distractions while you’re writing on a computer, then use a tool like ZenPen to help block out all the distractions and focus on your writing. It’s a web app that gives you a “minimalist writing zone.” There are a few, minimalist features available to help you stylize the text, add hyperlinks, and block quotes. Once you’re done, simply copy the text and paste it in your blog editor or wherever you’d like it to go.

19) Power Thesaurus & 20) Thesaurus.com 

Power Thesaurus isn’t just any thesaurus: It’s a crowdsourced thesaurus that provides alternative word choices from a community of writers. The word suggestions are totally original, and are based on the editorial work of a team of writers and years’ worth of reviews visitors’ suggestions.

But hey, when you want a good ol’, regular Thesaurus, you can’t beat Thesaurus.com.

21) OneLook Thesaurus

In addition to its thesaurus functions, OneLook Thesaurus also has a “reverse dictionary”: users can type in a definition or group of words related to the word they’re searching for and find the right word for their piece. Users can also type in a category of items, and OneLook will serve up multiple words that fall under that umbrella.

For example, here’s what happens when you search for “study animals.” OneLook then ranks synonyms according to how related or distance they are from the original search query. This is a great tool for when you have that “what’s the word for this?” moment and can’t bug your deskmate.

onelook.png

Image Credit: OneLook Thesaurus

22) Twinword Writer 

Here’s another help that’ll help you if you get stuck on a word and don’t want to leave your browser or skim through synonyms. If you type using Twinword Writer, it’ll automatically sense if you pause because you’re stuck on a word. Then, it’ll analyze the context of your writing and open a box suggesting alternate words you can use. You can also click any word to get suggestions.

23) Prompts 

If you like typing out posts or ideas using your iPhone and tend to hit a wall in the middle of a thought or idea, this $2.99 iOS app may be worth the investment. It uses an algorithm to make suggestions for what you should write next. It also tracks stats about your writing habits, can remind you to write regularly if you allow it, and lets you schedule the best day and time to write based on your writing history.

Image Credit: Prompts

24) BrainyQuote 

You may also find you want to include a quote from a famous author, politician, celebrity, or other public figure to strengthen your writing or inspire your readers. BrainyQuote is a library filled with millions of interesting quips that you can search by speaker (from Aristotle to Dr. Seuss to Audrey Hepburn) or by topic (like peace, success, leadership, and more).

25) Hemingway App

Ernest Hemingway, admired for his succinct writing style, is the namesake for this handy editing app. Want to make your content more easily readable? Paste your text into this free web app and it’ll assess your writing and identify opportunities to make it simpler. First, it sums up how readable your writing is with a grade. Then, it suggests how to improve readability. (Read this blog post for more tips on simplifying your writing.)

26) AtomicWriter 

Here’s another tool that’ll assess your writing — but this time, it’ll assess it depending on your specific target audience’s reading level and which content they relate to the most. After all, writing for your target audience is an important part of content marketing.

How? Simply hook up your Google Analytics and social media accounts to AtomicWriter, and then paste your content into the app. It’ll analyze your historical data and engagement data from those accounts, and then tell you whether it’s suitable for your target audience. 

Image Credit: Jeff Bullas

27) ProWritingAid

Here’s another tool that evaluates your writing, but it boasts some unique features that differentiate it from the tools above. For example, ProWritingAid highlights overused words, redundancies, plagiarism, and sentence length, making it easy for writers to identify trouble areas and strengthen them. 

The free version of this tool only analyzes 3,000 words at a time, so the $40 investment per year for Premium may be worthwhile if users publish multiple pieces of content per month. 

Here’s an example of what ProWritingAid looks like in action:

grammarcheck.png

Image Credit: ProWritingAid

28) Grammarly & 29) Correctica

Once the actual writing part is done, it’s time to edit. While human editors will be able to catch most grammatical errors, editing tools like Grammarly and Correctica are great tools for triple-checking before you press “publish” or “send.” Both free tools check for grammatical errors — and Grammarly even checks for plagiarism.

30) Draft 

When you upload your document to draft (from cloud services like Dropbox, Evernote, Box, or Google Drive), there’s a lot you can do with it. You can edit your document, share it with colleagues or friends, and manage your friends’ suggestions — much in the same way you can with Google Docs.

One big differentiator, though? It calls itself the “Uber for copyediting”: Draft lets you call on a staff of reviewers to get suggested edits, for a price. (Learn about more features here.)

Draft Screenshot.png

Image Credit: Draft

31) Cliché Finder 

Unleashed too many clichés in your most recent piece of content? To help your writing be more specific, it’s generally best to avoid clichés. To ensure you leave no stone unturned, paste your text into Cliché Finder and it’ll highlight any you missed so you can replace them with more specific text.

32) Listly

When you’re creating list posts — like this one — it’s easy to hit a wall. Sure, you know there are other great examples out there, but you’ve already exhausted the ones you know of. With Listly, you can invite your audience to contribute to your list. The Listly community can then vote on list items to move them up the list. 

You can either embed the interactive list in your post or use it do conduct research before you publish to ensure that the examples, items, or tips you’re including are the best of the best.

33) Style Guide

The more content your business puts out, the more consistent that writing and messaging should be. This includes everything from what official names to call your products or services, down to whether to use an Oxford comma.

At some point, most companies accept that they’ll need to develop a writing style guide: a document that indicates the basic rules of writing we’ll all agree to follow (like whether I should’ve capitalized the “a” after the colon in this sentence).

Most businesses adopt either the AP Stylebook, or the Chicago Manual of Style. If you want to customize your style guide, you can download the writing style guide template we’ve created here.

34) WritePls

If you type “how to improve writing skills” into Google, you’ll notice that there are almost six million search results. WritePls has organized the best of the best articles about writing into specific categories for different writing types (fiction, nonfiction, and emails), as well as articles about general writing, growth hacking, and resources for ebooks and online education.

This is a great home base for new and experienced writers alike. Blogging and email writing are two very different crafts, and WritePls has collected a variety of great resources to help any writers working on any type of project to refer to in a one-stop shop.

Which tools for improving one’s writing would you add to the list? Share with us in the comments.

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

free guide: how to be a better copywriter

 
free guide to writing well

Nov

23

2016

Instagram Launches Live Video & Ephemeral Messages: Here’s What You Need to Know

Instagram Updates Recap.jpg

Some of the greatest discoveries of all time came to fruition at the intersection between two ideas. Think about it: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pajama jeans, and sporks … just to name a few.

This week, Instagram proved the power of cross-pollinating ideas once more when it announced the addition of live video on Instagram Stories and disappearing photos and videos in Instagram Direct.

If those new feature announcements look and feel a whole lot like the experiences you’re used to on Snapchat and Facebook Live, your instincts aren’t wrong. Instagram’s new features directly reflect a larger shift in the user’s desire to share content “freely and in the moment,” as explained in the official announcement. Download our complete guide to using Instagram for business and marketing here. While these features will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks, we wanted to make sure you were equipped with the know-how to start planning your strategy right now. Below, we’ll dive into each of the new features in detail, covering everything you need to know about what to expect, how to get started, and what this means for social media managers and marketers.

What’s Different About Instagram’s New Features?

To answer the question that everyone is asking themselves right off the bat: Yes, the live content update does seem eerily similar to Facebook Live.

But there are actually some noteworthy differences that set Instagram’s live video feature apart. And from a technical standpoint, Instagram’s live content is better represented as a healthy mix between Facebook Live and Snapchat.

The key difference between live video on Instagram Stories and Facebook Live is that live Instagram video disappears once the publisher finishes the broadcast, creating the transient experience offered by Snapchat.

“It’s a bi-directional experience, and you only get that when you’re actually live with someone,” Instagram’s Head of Product Kevin Weil told Recode.

But that’s not the only difference. According to that same Recode article, Instagram has no plans to pay media companies or celebrities to hop on a broadcast. This suggests that live Instragam content is intended to be less about creating important moments that need to be saved, and more about sharing unscripted, real-time experiences with friends and family.

Wired Staff Writer Davey Alba echoed this in her recap of the announcements:

With Instagram Stories, Facebook seems to be trying out a tack it used (to great effect) with messaging, splitting the use cases for Facebook Messenger (a tool for expression, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg explains it) and WhatsApp (a “more utilitarian” messaging app). Similarly, Facebook Live looks to be a more robust tool for archiving important video, while Instagram Stories is for your friends’ eyes only.”

As for the introduction of disappearing photos and videos in Instagram Direct, the divergence from Snapchat’s functionality is less obvious. In fact, one of the only major distinctions between the two is that Instagram makes it easier for users to continuously send disappearing messages to a set group of friends, whereas Snapchat requires you to manually select recipients each time.

In other words, the process for sending Instagram’s ephemeral direct messages mirrors a “group text” experience, which is informed by the company’s knowledge of users’ adoption of Instagram Direct over the last year. Since that launch, users have grown from 80 million to 300 million people around the world — and many of them are using the messaging feature to share content with group threads, according to the official announcement.

Ready to see these updates in action? Let’s walk through each step.

How to Get Started with Live Content and Disappearing Messages on Instagram

How to Go Live on Instagram:

1) Open the Instagram app and navigate to ‘Your Story’ in the top left corner.



Instagram Live 2.jpeg

2) Toggle left at the bottom of the screen to select the ‘Live’ option. Then, tap ‘Start Live Video.’

Slack for iOS Upload-2.(null).jpeg

Just like on Facebook Live, comments will appear in a feed at the bottom of the screen during your recording. Here’s an example we captured:

Instagram Live comments.jpeg

In the live view, you can also keep tabs on the number of viewers checking out your broadcast by referring to the number in the top right corner.

3) Once you end the broadcast, you’ll see the following screen, complete with a final view count and timestamp. To return to your feed, tap ‘Done.’

Slack for iOS Upload-3.(null).jpeg

We recommend taking note of the total number of viewers and the duration of your broadcast to inform your strategy in the future.

Looking for more ways to inspire your videos down the line? Check out the Explore tab to view live stories from others. Simply tap ‘Top Live’ to watch live stories unfold in real time, and swipe right and left to skip ahead or go back.

Top Live Stories Instagram.jpeg

How to Send a Disappearing Message on Instagram:

1) Open the Instagram app and swipe right to open the camera view. You can snap a photo by tapping the white circle button, or hold the button down to capture a video.

Instagram Message.jpeg

2) To add text or doodle on your photo or video, use the annotation icons in the top right corner.

Add Doodle Instagram Message.jpeg

(Need artistic inspiration? Check out this roundup of clever Snapchat drawings.)

3) When you’re ready to send the message, tap the white arrow button.

Send Private Instagram Message.jpeg

4) Time to select your recipients. You can either select one or several people to send the message to directly or tap ‘New Group’ in the top right corner to create a group message.

To select users to add to a direct message, simply tap the circle next to their name to turn it into a blue check mark. If you’re creating a group, tap ‘Create’ in the corner once you’re done adding recipients.

(Note: You have the option to name the group, too. This makes it easy to find and use it again when you want to send a message to the same people.)

fae4a21e-617b-4e9a-a7b6-8ee6568a6b1f_960.jpg

5) To view your direct messages, tap the new airplane icon in the top right corner of your feed or swipe left.

A few things to note about sending and viewing messages:

  • A blue ring will appear around a new message in your inbox.
  • In a group message, you can see others’ responses, as well as who else has seen them.
  • To send a response, simply tap the user’s faded profile photo.
  • You’ll be notified if a friend replays or screenshots your message.
  • You can only send disappearing messages to those you follow — regardless of whether your account is private or public.

View Instagram Messages.jpeg

So now you know how to get started, but what does this all mean for marketers and the future of Instagram? Let’s walk through all of that below.

The Era of Ephemeral Marketing Is Here

As marketers, you already know the importance of catering your social media content distribution to the platform you’re publishing on. You might turn to Twitter for snappy, 140-character breaking news, or Snapchat for a selfie of you and your coworker disguised by a funny filter. But the etiquette on Instagram was in a league of its own — until just recently, at least.

“Each social network has its differentiating factor, and Instagram has always been a place to showcase the most beautiful, curated version of your life,” explained HubSpot’s Social Media Marketing Manager Marissa Emanuele in a post following the announcement of Instagram Stories back in August.

The introduction of Instagram Stories was the social network’s first foray into a more authentic and open sharing environment, as it lowered the stakes for those feeling pressure to produce the perfect Instagram post. Unlike the traditional Instagram post, Stories could be unpolished and even a little silly.

By opening up the platform to live video and disappearing content, it’s clear Instagram is making a more aggressive shift towards becoming a network where users have the freedom to share whatever they want — whether it be raw, picturesque, or somewhere in between.

“We want Instagram to be a place where you share all of your moments,” Weil told Recode. “[That includes] the more private moments or the inside jokes that are relevant not for your entire Instagram following but for a smaller group of folks.”

Depending on your industry and audience, Instagram’s move towards a more consolidated platform for capturing and sharing moments could mean a few different things for your strategy.

“If you’re a one person marketing team, managing an ongoing Snapchat presence and an ongoing Instagram Stories presence is a little crazy,” noted Emanuele during a Facebook Live recap of the announcements yesterday afternoon. (Check that out below.)

It might not make sense for you to stretch yourself thin across every single platform. Emanuele’s rule of thumb: Don’t be on a channel just to be on a channel.

So how do you determine which channels are right for you?

“I think it’s all about testing,” explained one of HubSpot’s Content and Growth Marketers, Katherine Boyarsky, in the same live broadcast. “I probably wouldn’t [have] bet on our audience being on Snapchat. But they are,” she added.

In other words, take what you’ve learned above and give it a try — the response might surprise you, or at the very least validate your instincts about your audience’s preferences.

And whether these new features are right for you or not, Instagram’s announcement signals a larger sea change in marketing. Authenticity and real-time, ephemeral experiences are beating polished and hyper-produced content, and you should be thinking strategically about how to incorporate them into your marketing efforts.

Need help getting up to speed on some of the other real-time advancements on social media? Check out our guide to Facebook Live here, as well as our guide to Instagram Stories here. And for more on our reaction to these new Instagram announcements, check out the two-part Facebook Live recap from Emanuele and Boyarsky below:

Part One:

Part Two:

What questions do you have about the latest Instagram news? Share them in the comments.

how to use instagram for business

Nov

23

2016

Instagram Launches Live Video & Ephemeral Messages: Here’s What You Need to Know

Instagram Updates Recap.jpg

Some of the greatest discoveries of all time came to fruition at the intersection between two ideas. Think about it: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pajama jeans, and sporks … just to name a few.

This week, Instagram proved the power of cross-pollinating ideas once more when it announced the addition of live video on Instagram Stories and disappearing photos and videos in Instagram Direct.

If those new feature announcements look and feel a whole lot like the experiences you’re used to on Snapchat and Facebook Live, your instincts aren’t wrong. Instagram’s new features directly reflect a larger shift in the user’s desire to share content “freely and in the moment,” as explained in the official announcement. Download our complete guide to using Instagram for business and marketing here. While these features will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks, we wanted to make sure you were equipped with the know-how to start planning your strategy right now. Below, we’ll dive into each of the new features in detail, covering everything you need to know about what to expect, how to get started, and what this means for social media managers and marketers.

What’s Different About Instagram’s New Features?

To answer the question that everyone is asking themselves right off the bat: Yes, the live content update does seem eerily similar to Facebook Live.

But there are actually some noteworthy differences that set Instagram’s live video feature apart. And from a technical standpoint, Instagram’s live content is better represented as a healthy mix between Facebook Live and Snapchat.

The key difference between live video on Instagram Stories and Facebook Live is that live Instagram video disappears once the publisher finishes the broadcast, creating the transient experience offered by Snapchat.

“It’s a bi-directional experience, and you only get that when you’re actually live with someone,” Instagram’s Head of Product Kevin Weil told Recode.

But that’s not the only difference. According to that same Recode article, Instagram has no plans to pay media companies or celebrities to hop on a broadcast. This suggests that live Instragam content is intended to be less about creating important moments that need to be saved, and more about sharing unscripted, real-time experiences with friends and family.

Wired Staff Writer Davey Alba echoed this in her recap of the announcements:

With Instagram Stories, Facebook seems to be trying out a tack it used (to great effect) with messaging, splitting the use cases for Facebook Messenger (a tool for expression, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg explains it) and WhatsApp (a “more utilitarian” messaging app). Similarly, Facebook Live looks to be a more robust tool for archiving important video, while Instagram Stories is for your friends’ eyes only.”

As for the introduction of disappearing photos and videos in Instagram Direct, the divergence from Snapchat’s functionality is less obvious. In fact, one of the only major distinctions between the two is that Instagram makes it easier for users to continuously send disappearing messages to a set group of friends, whereas Snapchat requires you to manually select recipients each time.

In other words, the process for sending Instagram’s ephemeral direct messages mirrors a “group text” experience, which is informed by the company’s knowledge of users’ adoption of Instagram Direct over the last year. Since that launch, users have grown from 80 million to 300 million people around the world — and many of them are using the messaging feature to share content with group threads, according to the official announcement.

Ready to see these updates in action? Let’s walk through each step.

How to Get Started with Live Content and Disappearing Messages on Instagram

How to Go Live on Instagram:

1) Open the Instagram app and navigate to ‘Your Story’ in the top left corner.



Instagram Live 2.jpeg

2) Toggle left at the bottom of the screen to select the ‘Live’ option. Then, tap ‘Start Live Video.’

Slack for iOS Upload-2.(null).jpeg

Just like on Facebook Live, comments will appear in a feed at the bottom of the screen during your recording. Here’s an example we captured:

Instagram Live comments.jpeg

In the live view, you can also keep tabs on the number of viewers checking out your broadcast by referring to the number in the top right corner.

3) Once you end the broadcast, you’ll see the following screen, complete with a final view count and timestamp. To return to your feed, tap ‘Done.’

Slack for iOS Upload-3.(null).jpeg

We recommend taking note of the total number of viewers and the duration of your broadcast to inform your strategy in the future.

Looking for more ways to inspire your videos down the line? Check out the Explore tab to view live stories from others. Simply tap ‘Top Live’ to watch live stories unfold in real time, and swipe right and left to skip ahead or go back.

Top Live Stories Instagram.jpeg

How to Send a Disappearing Message on Instagram:

1) Open the Instagram app and swipe right to open the camera view. You can snap a photo by tapping the white circle button, or hold the button down to capture a video.

Instagram Message.jpeg

2) To add text or doodle on your photo or video, use the annotation icons in the top right corner.

Add Doodle Instagram Message.jpeg

(Need artistic inspiration? Check out this roundup of clever Snapchat drawings.)

3) When you’re ready to send the message, tap the white arrow button.

Send Private Instagram Message.jpeg

4) Time to select your recipients. You can either select one or several people to send the message to directly or tap ‘New Group’ in the top right corner to create a group message.

To select users to add to a direct message, simply tap the circle next to their name to turn it into a blue check mark. If you’re creating a group, tap ‘Create’ in the corner once you’re done adding recipients.

(Note: You have the option to name the group, too. This makes it easy to find and use it again when you want to send a message to the same people.)

fae4a21e-617b-4e9a-a7b6-8ee6568a6b1f_960.jpg

5) To view your direct messages, tap the new airplane icon in the top right corner of your feed or swipe left.

A few things to note about sending and viewing messages:

  • A blue ring will appear around a new message in your inbox.
  • In a group message, you can see others’ responses, as well as who else has seen them.
  • To send a response, simply tap the user’s faded profile photo.
  • You’ll be notified if a friend replays or screenshots your message.
  • You can only send disappearing messages to those you follow — regardless of whether your account is private or public.

View Instagram Messages.jpeg

So now you know how to get started, but what does this all mean for marketers and the future of Instagram? Let’s walk through all of that below.

The Era of Ephemeral Marketing Is Here

As marketers, you already know the importance of catering your social media content distribution to the platform you’re publishing on. You might turn to Twitter for snappy, 140-character breaking news, or Snapchat for a selfie of you and your coworker disguised by a funny filter. But the etiquette on Instagram was in a league of its own — until just recently, at least.

“Each social network has its differentiating factor, and Instagram has always been a place to showcase the most beautiful, curated version of your life,” explained HubSpot’s Social Media Marketing Manager Marissa Emanuele in a post following the announcement of Instagram Stories back in August.

The introduction of Instagram Stories was the social network’s first foray into a more authentic and open sharing environment, as it lowered the stakes for those feeling pressure to produce the perfect Instagram post. Unlike the traditional Instagram post, Stories could be unpolished and even a little silly.

By opening up the platform to live video and disappearing content, it’s clear Instagram is making a more aggressive shift towards becoming a network where users have the freedom to share whatever they want — whether it be raw, picturesque, or somewhere in between.

“We want Instagram to be a place where you share all of your moments,” Weil told Recode. “[That includes] the more private moments or the inside jokes that are relevant not for your entire Instagram following but for a smaller group of folks.”

Depending on your industry and audience, Instagram’s move towards a more consolidated platform for capturing and sharing moments could mean a few different things for your strategy.

“If you’re a one person marketing team, managing an ongoing Snapchat presence and an ongoing Instagram Stories presence is a little crazy,” noted Emanuele during a Facebook Live recap of the announcements yesterday afternoon. (Check that out below.)

It might not make sense for you to stretch yourself thin across every single platform. Emanuele’s rule of thumb: Don’t be on a channel just to be on a channel.

So how do you determine which channels are right for you?

“I think it’s all about testing,” explained one of HubSpot’s Content and Growth Marketers, Katherine Boyarsky, in the same live broadcast. “I probably wouldn’t [have] bet on our audience being on Snapchat. But they are,” she added.

In other words, take what you’ve learned above and give it a try — the response might surprise you, or at the very least validate your instincts about your audience’s preferences.

And whether these new features are right for you or not, Instagram’s announcement signals a larger sea change in marketing. Authenticity and real-time, ephemeral experiences are beating polished and hyper-produced content, and you should be thinking strategically about how to incorporate them into your marketing efforts.

Need help getting up to speed on some of the other real-time advancements on social media? Check out our guide to Facebook Live here, as well as our guide to Instagram Stories here. And for more on our reaction to these new Instagram announcements, check out the two-part Facebook Live recap from Emanuele and Boyarsky below:

Part One:

Part Two:

What questions do you have about the latest Instagram news? Share them in the comments.

how to use instagram for business

Nov

18

2016

Grammar Police: 30 of the Most Common Grammatical Errors We All Need to Stop Making

grammar-mistakes.png

Even after years of education, there are some things that some people still mess up. For me, it’s algebra. For others, it’s the laws of physics. And for many, it’s grammar.

It’s not easy. Words and phrases that sound fine in your head can look like gibberish when written down — that is, if you even realize you made a mistake in the first place. It’s easy for little grammar mistakes to slip by, especially when you’re self-editing.

But how do you prevent grammatical errors if you’re not even aware you’re making them? Download this free style guide to ensure you're publishing content that is  well written, persuasive, and trustworthy.

Well, you can start by reading through this post to see which common grammar mistakes resonate with you the most. (It’s okay — we’re all guilty of at least one.) Make a mental note to avoid that mistake in the future, or heck, just bookmark this page to remind yourself of them over and over (and over) again.

30 Common Grammar Mistakes to Check For in Your Writing

1) They’re vs. Their vs. There

One’s a contraction for “they are” (they’re), one refers to something owned by a group (their), and one refers to a place (there). You know the difference among the three — just make sure you triple check that you’re using the right ones in the right places at the right times. I find it’s helpful to search through my posts (try control + F on PC or command + F on Mac) for those words and check that they’re being used in the right context.

Correct Usage: They’re going to love going there — I heard their food is the best!

2) Your vs. You’re

The difference between these two is owning something versus actually being something:

You made it around the track in under a minute — you’re fast!

How’s your fast going? Are you hungry?

See the difference? “Your” is possessive and “you’re” is a contraction of “you are.” Again, if you’re having trouble keeping them straight, try doing another grammar check before you hit publish.

3) Its vs. It’s

This one tends to confuse even the best of writers. “Its” is possessive and “it’s” is a contraction of “it is.” Lots of people get tripped up because “it’s” has an ‘s after it, which normally means something is possessive. But in this case, it’s actually a contraction.

Do a control + F to find this mistake in your writing. It’s really hard to catch on your own, but it’s a mistake everyone can make.

4) Incomplete Comparisons

This one drives me up a wall when I see it in the wild. Can you see what’s wrong with this sentence?

Our car model is faster, better, stronger.

Faster, better, stronger … than what? What are you comparing your car to? A horse? A competitor’s car? An older model?

When you’re asserting that something should be compared to something else, make sure you always clarify what that something else is. Otherwise, it’s impossible for your readers to discern what the comparison actually means.

5) Passive Voice

If you have a sentence with an object in it — basically a noun that receives the action — passive voice can happen to you. Passive happens when the object of a sentence is put at the beginning of a sentence instead of at the end. With passive voice, your writing comes across as sounding weak and unclear.

Hold up. Re-read that last paragraph I just wrote — there’s waaaaaay too much passive voice. See how it seems kind of jumbled and not quite punchy? Let’s try that again.

Passive voice happens when you have an object (a noun that receives the action) as the subject of a sentence. Normally, the object of the sentence appears at the end, following a verb. Passive writing isn’t as clear as active writing — your readers will thank you for your attention to detail later.

Make sense? It’s kind of a complicated thing to describe, but active voice makes your writing seem more alive and clear. Want to get into the nitty-gritty of avoiding passive voice? Check out this tip from Grammar Girl.

6) Dangling Modifiers

I love the name of this mistake — it makes me think of a dramatic, life-or-death situation such as hanging precariously off a cliff. (Of course grammar mistakes are never that drastic, but it helps me remember to keep them out of my writing.)

This mistake happens when a descriptive phrase doesn’t apply to the noun that immediately follows it. It’s easier to see in an example taken from my colleague over on the HubSpot Sales Blog:

After declining for months, Jean tried a new tactic to increase ROI.

What exactly is declining for months? Jean? In reality, the sentence was trying to say that the ROI was declining — not Jean. To fix this problem, try flipping around the sentence structure (though beware of passive voice):

Jean tried a new tactic to increase ROI after it had been declining for months.

Better, right?

7) Referring to a Brand or an Entity as “They”

A business ethics professor made me aware of this mistake. “A business is not plural,” he told our class. “Therefore, the business is not ‘they.’ It’s ‘it.'”

So, what’s the problem with this sentence?

To keep up with their changing audience, Southwest Airlines rebranded in 2014.

The confusion is understandable. In English, we don’t identify a brand or an entity as “he” or “she” — so “they” seems to make more sense. But as the professor pointed out, it’s just not accurate. A brand or an entity is “it.”

To keep up with its changing audience, Southwest Airlines rebranded in 2014.

It might seem a little strange at first, but once you start correctly referring to a brand or entity as “it,” the phrasing will sound much more natural than “they.”

8) Possessive Nouns

Most possessive nouns will have an apostrophe — but where you put that apostrophe can be confusing. Here are a few general rules to follow:

  • If the noun is plural, add the apostrophe after the s. For example: the dogs’ bones.
  • If the noun is singular and ends in s, you should also put the apostrophe after the s. For example: the dress’ blue color.
  • On the other hand, if the noun is singular and doesn’t end in an s, you’ll add the apostrophe before the s. For example: the lizard’s tail.

Simple, right? If you want a deeper dive into the rules of possessive nouns, check out this website.

9) Affect vs. Effect

This one is another one of my pet peeves. Most people confuse them when they’re talking about something changing another thing.

When you’re talking about the change itself — the noun — you’ll use “effect.”

That movie had a great effect on me.

When you’re talking about the act of changing — the verb — you’ll use “affect.”

That movie affected me greatly.

10) Me vs. I

Most people understand the difference between the two of these, until it comes time for them to use one in a sentence. They’ll say something like:

When you get done with that lab report, can you send it to Bill and I?

But that’s wrong.

Try taking Bill out of that sentence — it sounds weird, right? You would never ask someone to send something to “I” when he or she is done. The reason it sounds weird is because “I” is the object of that sentence — and “I” should not be used in objects. In that situation, you’d use “me.”

When you get done with that lab report, can you send it to Bill and me?

Much better.

11) To vs. Too

We’ve all accidentally left the second “o” off of “too” when texting in a hurry. But in case the mistake goes beyond that, let’s review some usage rules.

“To” is typically used before a noun or verb, and describes a destination, recipient, or action. Take these examples:

My friend drove me to my doctor’s appointment. (Destination)

I sent the files to my boss. (Recipient)

I’m going to get a cup of coffee. (Action)

“Too,” on the other hand, is a word that’s used as an alternative to “also” or “as well.” It’s also used to describe an adjective in extremes. Have a look:

My colleague, Sophia Bernazzani, writes for the HubSpot marketing blog, too.

She, too, is vegan.

We both think it’s too cold outside.

You might have noticed that there’s some interesting comma usage where the word “too” is involved. We’ll cover commas a bit more later, but when you’re using the word “too” to replace “also” or “as well,” the general rule is to use a comma both before and after. The only exception occurs when “too” is the last word in the sentence — then, follow it with a period.

12) Do’s and Don’ts

I’m not talking about the do’s and don’ts of grammar here — I’m talking about the actual words: “do’s” and “don’ts.” They look weird, right? That’s because of two things:

  1. There’s an apostrophe in one to make it plural … which typically isn’t done, and
  2. The apostrophes aren’t put in the same place in both words.

Unfortunately, it’s AP Style, so we just have to live with it. It’s a hot angle for content formats, so I wouldn’t shy away from using it. But when you’re checking your writing for grammatical errors, just remember that the apostrophes should be in different places.

Note: There are different schools of thought about how to punctuate this one depending on what style guide/usage book you’re using. The Chicago Manual of Style, for instance, recommends “dos” and “don’ts.” The important thing is to be consistent and stick to one style guide, whether it’s AP Style, Chicago, or your own house style guide.

13) i.e. vs. e.g.

Confession: I never remember this rule, so I have to Google it every single time I want to use it in my writing. I’m hoping that by writing about it here, the trend will stop.

Many people use the terms interchangeably when trying to elaborate on a point, but each one means something different: “i.e.” roughly means “that is” or “in other words,” while “e.g.” means “example given” or “for example.” The former is used to clarify something you’ve said, while the latter adds color to a story through an example.

14) Peek vs. Peak vs. Pique

This mistake is another one I often see people make, even if they know what they mean.

  • Peek is taking a quick look at something — like a sneak peek of a new film.
  • Peak is a sharp point — like the peak of a mountain.
  • And pique means to provoke or instigate — you know, like your interest.

If you’re going to use one in your writing, stop and think for a second — is that the right “peek” you should be using?

15) Who vs. That

This one is tricky. These two words can be used when you’re describing someone or something through a phrase like, “Lindsay is a blogger who likes ice cream.” When you’re describing a person, be sure to use “who.”

When you’re describing an object, use “that.” For example, you should say, “Her computer is the one that overheats all the time.” It’s pretty simple, but definitely something that gets overlooked frequently.

16) Who vs. Whom vs. Whose vs. Who’s

Whoa. This one looks like a bit of a doozy. Let’s break it down, shall we?

“Who” is used to identify a living pronoun. If you asked, “Who ate all of the cookies?” the answer could be a person, like myself (“I did”), or another living being (“the dog did”).

Hey, both are realistic scenarios in my world.

“Whom” is a little trickier. It’s usually used to describe someone who’s receiving something, like a letter — “To whom will it be addressed?” But it can also be used to describe someone on the receiving end of an action, like in this sentence:

Whom did we hire to join the podcast team?

“Whose” is used to assign ownership to someone. See if you can spot the error in this question:

Who’s sweater is that?

Because the sweater belongs to someone, it should actually be written this way:

Whose sweater is that?

“Who’s,” on the other hand, is used to identify a living being. It’s a contraction for “who is” — here’s an example of how we might use it in a sentence here in Boston:

Who’s pitching for the Red Sox tonight?

See the difference? “Whose” is used to figure out who something belongs to, whereas “who’s” is used to identify someone who’s doing something.

17) “Alot” vs. A lot vs. Allot

I hate to break it to all of you “alot” fans out there, but “alot” is not a word. If you’re trying to say that someone has a vast number of things, you’d say they have “a lot” of things. And if you’re trying to say that you want to set aside a certain amount of money to buy something, you’d say you’ll “allot” $20 to spend on gas.

If you’re trying to remember to stay away from “alot,” check out this awesome cartoon by Hyperbole and a Half featuring the alot. That face will haunt you for the rest of your content marketing days.

18) Into vs. In to

Let’s clarify the “into” versus “in to” debate.

They’re often confused, but “into” indicates movement (Lindsay walked into the office) while “in to” is used in lots of situations because the individual words “to” and “in” are frequently used in other parts of a sentence. For example, “to” is often used with infinitive verbs (e.g. “to drive”). Or “in” can be used as part of a verb (e.g. “call in to a meeting”).

So if you’re trying to decide which to use, first figure out if the words “in” or “to” actually modify other words in the sentence. If they don’t, ask yourself if it’s indicating some sort of movement — if it does, you’re good to use “into.”

19) Lose vs. Loose

When people mix up “lose” and “loose,” it’s usually just because they’re spelled so similarly. They know their definitions are completely different.

According to Merriam-Webster, “lose” is a verb that means “to be unable to find (something or someone), to fail to win (a game, contest, etc.), or to fail to keep or hold (something wanted or valued).” It’s like losing your keys or losing a football match.

“Loose” is an adjective that means “not tightly fastened, attached, or held,” like loose clothing or a loose tooth.

A trick for remembering the difference is to think of the term “loosey-goosey” — both of those words are spelled with two o’s.

20) Then vs. Than

What’s wrong with this sentence?

My dinner was better then yours.

*Shudder.* In the sentence above, “then” should be “than.” Why? Because “than” is a conjunction used mainly to make comparisons — like saying one thing was better “than” another. “Then” is mainly an adverb used to situate actions in time:

We made dinner, and then we ate it.

21) Of vs. Have

I have a bad habit of overusing a phrase that goes like this: “Shoulda, coulda, woulda.” That basically means I regret not doing something, but it’s too late to dwell on it now. For example, “I shoulda done my laundry on Sunday.”

But “shoulda,” “coulda,” and “woulda” are all short for something else. What’s wrong with this statement?

I should of done my laundry on Sunday.

Since it’s so common for us to throw around fake worlds like “shoulda,” the above mistake is an easy one to make — “shoulda” sounds like a shortened version of “should of.” But really, “shoulda” is short for “should have.” See how it works in these sentences:

I should have done my laundry on Sunday.

I could have taken a shorter route.

I would have gone grocery shopping on Friday, if I had time.

So next time, instead of saying, “shoulda, woulda, coulda,” I should probably say, “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.”

22) Use of Commas

There are entire courses on correct comma usage, but let’s go over some of the most common comma use cases here.

To separate elements in a series.

Each element in a series should be separated by a comma. For example: “I brought a jacket, a blanket, and an umbrella to the park.” That last comma is optional. It’s called an “Oxford comma,” and whether you use it depends on your company’s internal style guide.

To separate independent clauses.

You can use commas to separate independent clauses that are joined by “and,” “but,” “for,” “or,” “nor,” “so,” or “yet.” For example, this sentence is correctly written: “My brother is very smart, and I’ve learned a lot from him.”

An independent clause is a sentence that can stand on its own. Here’s how to test it: Would the second part of the sentence (following one of those coordinating conjunctions) make a full sentence on its own? If so, add a comma. If it doesn’t, leave it out.

To separate an introductory word or phrase.

At the beginning of a sentence, we often add an introductory word or phrase that requires a subsequent comma. For example:

In the beginning, I had no idea how to use a comma.

Or:

However, after reading an awesome blog post, I understand the difference.

Other common introductory words and phrases include “after,” “although,” “when,” and “while.”

To learn about more use cases for the comma, check out this blog post from Daily Writing Tips.

23) Assure vs. Insure vs. Ensure

All of these words have to do with “making an outcome sure,” which is why they’re so often mixed up. However, they aren’t interchangeable.

  • “To assure” means to promise or say with confidence. For example, “I assure you that he’s good at his job.”
  • “To ensure” means to make certain. For example, “Ensure you’re free when I visit next weekend.”
  • Finally, “to insure” means to protect against risk by regularly paying an insurance company. For example, “I insure my car because the law requires it.”

24) Less vs. Fewer

You know the checkout aisle in the grocery store that says “10 Items or Less”? That’s actually incorrect. It should be “10 Items or Fewer.”

Why? Because “items” are quantifiable — you can count out 10 items. Use “fewer” for things that are quantifiable, like “fewer M&Ms” or “fewer road trips.” Use “less” for things that aren’t quantifiable, like “less candy” and “less traveling.”

25) Semicolons

Semicolons are used to connect two independent clauses that, though they could stand on their own, are closely related. For example, you could use a semicolon in the sentence: “Call me tomorrow; I’ll have an answer for you by then.”

Notice that each clause could be its own sentence — but stylistically, it makes more sense for them to be joined. (If there’s a coordinating conjunction between the two clauses — like “and,” “but”, or “or” — use a comma instead.)

You can also use semicolons to separate items in a list when those items contain commas themselves:

There are two options for breakfast: eggs and bacon, which is high in protein and low in carbs; or oatmeal and fruit, which is high in carbs but has more fiber.

26) Compliment vs. Complement

These two words are pronounced exactly the same, making them easy to mix up. But they’re actually quite different.

If something “complements” something else, that means it completes it, enhances it, or makes it perfect. For example, a wine selection can complement a meal, and two colors can complement each other.

The word “compliment” though, refers to an expression of praise (as a noun), or to praise or express admiration for someone (as a verb). You can compliment your friend’s new haircut, or pay someone a compliment on his or her haircut.

27) Farther vs. Further

People often use “farther” and “further” interchangeably to mean “at a greater distance.”

However, in most countries, there are actually subtle differences in meaning between the two. “Farther” is used more to refer to physical distances, while “further” is used more to refer to figurative and nonphysical distances. So while Paris is “farther” away than Madrid, a marketing team falls “further” away from its leads goal. (Note: The word “further” is preferred for all senses of the word in the U.K., Australia, Canada, and elsewhere in the Commonwealth of Nations.)

The word “further” can also be used as an adjective or as an adverb to mean “additionally.” For example, “I have no further questions.”

28) En Dash vs. Em Dash

Both “–” and “—” are versions of the dash: “–” is the en dash, and “—” or “–” are both versions of the em dash. You can use either the en dash or the em dash to signify a break in a sentence or set off parenthetical statements.

The en dash can also be used to represent time spans or differentiation, such as, “That will take 5–10 minutes.”

The em dash, on the other hand, can be used to set off quotation sources, such as, “‘To be, or not to be, that is the question.’ —Shakespeare.”

29) Title Capitalization

This one is tough, since so many different outlets apply different rules to how titles are capitalized. Luckily, I have a secret weapon — TitleCap.

The site outlines capitalization rules as follows:

  1. Capitalize the first and the last word.
  2. Capitalize nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions.
  3. Lowercase articles (“a,” “an,” “the”), coordinating conjunctions, and prepositions.
  4. Lowercase the ‘to’ in an infinitive (“I want to play guitar”).

Let’s use the title of this post as an example: “Grammar Police: 30 of the Most Common Grammatical Errors We All Need to Stop Making.” If left to my own devices — and remember, I write for a living — I would have left “We” lowercase. I always have to double-check, which is why guides like this one are so valuable.

30) Between vs. Among

Let’s clear this one up: The word “between” is used to refer to two (or sometimes more) things that are clearly separated, and the word “among” is used to refer to things that aren’t clearly separated because they’re part of a group or mass of objects.

So you choose between a red shirt and a black shirt, but you choose among all your shirts. You walk between Centre Street and Broad Street, but you walk among your friends.

Watch Your Language

English, like many other languages, has its own set of tricky rules and intricacies. But with a little bit of practice and help from guides like this one, you can become a grammar master.

These are just a few grammar mistakes we’ve picked up on. Which ones do you frequently catch? Let us know in the comments.

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

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Nov

17

2016

Facebook’s Miscalculated Metrics: What Marketers Need to Know

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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.

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Nov

16

2016

The Ultimate Collection of Free Content Marketing Templates

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Does any aspect of your job intimidate you?

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

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

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

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

Content Planning Templates

A Content Planning/Goal-Setting Template

(Download the content planning template here.)

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

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A Content Mapping Template

(Download the content mapping template here)

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

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A Buyer Persona Template

(Download the buyer persona template here.)

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

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3 Blog Editorial Calendar Templates

(Download the blog editorial calendar templates here.)

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

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

(Download the social media content calendar templates here.)

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

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Written Content Templates 

5 Blog Post Templates

(Download the blog post templates here.)

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

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

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

get free blog post templates

5 Ebook Templates

(Download the ebook templates here.)

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

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A Press Release Template

(Download the press release template here.)

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

download free press release template

50 Call-to-Action Templates

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

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

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

download free call-to-action templates

Visual Content Templates 

195+ Visual Marketing Templates

(Download the visual marketing templates here.)

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

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

download free Canva design templates

15 Infographic Templates

(Download the infographic templates here.)

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

download free infographic templates

100 Social Media Graphics Templates

(Download the social media graphics templates here.)

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

download free social media graphics templates

5 Social Media Cover Photo Templates

(Download the social media cover photo templates here.)

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

download social media cover photo templates

3 PowerPoint Templates

(Download the PowerPoint templates here.)

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

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

download free powerpoint templates

5 SlideShare Templates

(Download the SlideShare templates here.)

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

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

download free slideshare templates

Email Templates

15 Email Templates for Marketing and Sales

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

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

download email templates

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

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

free content creation templates

 
                                   
 
free content creation templates

Nov

14

2016

12 Great Examples That Prove the Power of Repurposing Content

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Stagnant organic traffic is the last thing you want to see when reviewing metrics, but it’s an issue that every marketer deals with at some point.

Those dips and plateaus in traffic can come from industry changes, how your audience digests content, the amount (and quality) of new content you’re producing, or how relevant your older content is.

Sometimes, all your content needs is a little refreshing and repurposing to keep your audience interested. So to inspire your repurposing efforts, I put together some benefits and examples below. Check ’em out. 

Why You Should Repurpose Content

One of my favorite tidbits of advice about content marketing comes from Social Triggers founder Derek Halpern, in a post on why bloggers fail.

“You don’t have to create content day in and day out. You just have to work on getting the content you already have in the hands of more people,” Halpern explains. 

And that’s the main idea behind repurposing content: Take something you’ve created, put a new spin on it, and give it new life.

Aside from the fact that the hard work is already done, here are a few other benefits for repurposing content:

Reaching New Audiences

When you first publish a piece of content, the performance might be average. However, over time, it gains traction and does a little better. When you repurpose that content in a new format and/or update it, you can reach new audience segments that otherwise may have never found it.

Reinforcing Your Message

When discussing the merits of repurposing content, Kevan Lee of Buffer points out that repetition is important with marketing. Marketing’s Rule of Seven states that buyers need to hear your message approximately seven times before they will close the deal.

Rather than covering a topic once and letting it disappear into the archives, repurpose your articles to consistently deliver your message to your audience. This works great if you’re starting with high-value, authoritative content. It makes it easier to find unique ways to reinforce your message.

Improved Organic Visibility

Organic search still provides the majority of site traffic. One study from BrightEdge found that organic search holds a 51% share among traffic sources. If that’s accurate, then repurposing optimized content in various formats can give you a significant lift in organic visibility and traffic.

Publishing a variety of content gives you more access to search real estate for targeted queries. If you publish your content on other sites, then you’ll also (sometimes) have the benefit of backlinks.

How to Choose Content for Repurposing

Chances are, you already have extensive archives of content on your blog. You might even have a lot of off-site content like guest posts that you can leverage.

Instead of getting bogged down with sorting through content individually to find the popular stuff, just go to your analytics. Look at specific metrics to easily sort and rank your content to find the top posts. I recommend paying attention to views, time on site, and social engagement, but you can also simplify the process by ranking content based on the total number of views and how it has declined over time.

For ranking both internal and external content, I also try to include factors such as the amount of post engagement and the quantity of shares.

Something to keep in mind while sorting: Don’t just base it on popularity. A post may have less engagement or traffic than your #1 piece of content, but if it can be updated with valuable data or leveraged around new trends to improve visibility, then it still might be a winner.

12 Examples of Strategic Content Repurposing

1) Joe Pulizzi’s Epic Content Marketing Book

In 2013, Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi had committed to publishing another book, Epic Content Marketing, but he struggled to find time to write it.

He needed 25 chapters at about 2,000 words each to complete his book. Every week, he produced content that was relevant to the chapters of his book for LinkedIn and the blog at Content Marketing Institute. As the deadline for the book neared, Joe was able to utilize those blog posts to fulfill all of his content obligations — including the new book.

2) Jay Baer: Short Videos into Multiple Content Pieces

Jay Baer, founder of Convince and Convert, creates three-minute informational videos on a variety of topics — from business to social media. To maximize the reach of this content, his team repurposes his video content into a variety of formats and content pieces to publish on his site. These include:

  • iTunes audio podcasts
  • Blog content for the Convince and Convert website
  • Blog content for the Jay Today website
  • LinkedIn Pulse posts
  • Posts on Medium
  • Promotions through various social channels

3) Copyblogger: Leveraging Slide Decks

Copyblogger’s teams are well-known for the high-quality content they produce on the subjects of copywriting, content marketing, and engaging audiences through the power of words. They’re also no stranger to the power of repurposing content. They took one blog post, The 3-Step Journey of a Remarkable Piece of Content and transformed it into a SlideShare.

That SlideShare presentation has earned 38K+ views to date.

4) Ben Hardy/Goinswriter: Expanding to New Platforms

Ben started blogging in May of 2015 with the goal of growing his audience. He knew having a large readership would help him connect with a traditional publisher, so he began posting on his own blog and repurposed that content on Medium.

Some of his content went viral on Medium, generating a massive surge in traffic back to his site. He added a call-to-action to his Medium articles to opt-in and subscribe to his blog, and within 6 months, he grew his subscriber list from 0 to 20,000.

5) Videofruit: Repurposing Content to Drive a New Product

Launching a new product can be a challenge, and creating an entirely new product is even more difficult. But Bryan Harris simplified the launch of new products with content marketing.

Pulling from his most popular posts, he compiled data that revealed the needs and interests of his followers in order to develop a new product they would be most likely to purchase. The result: He banked $10,000 within 24 hours of launch.

6) Internet Business Mastery: Creating Audio Blogs to Boost Downloads

Jeremy and Jason host the Internet Business Mastery podcast, but they also have individual blogs to maintain. They decided to run an experiment where they read and recorded their more popular blogs and then uploaded them to their podcast. Those audio blogs saw 60-100% more downloads than their featured podcasts. 

7) ProBlogger: From Blog to Ebook

Darren Rowse, founder of ProBlogger, received a lot of positive feedback on his series, “31 Days to Build a Better Blog.” To streamline the content and monetize it, Rowse packaged the series into an ebook and started selling it for $29.99. Even years after the initial launch, the book is still available, and it’s even bought and used as material in online courses.

8) Matthew Woodward: Driving Subscribers with LinkedIn

In 2015, SEO professional Matthew Woodward started using LinkedIn as a publishing platform to expand his audience reach. His strategy included repurposing previous content that had been featured and creating follow-up articles to his popular content. By recycling just a few of his popular posts, he quickly snagged over 300 new subscribers at a 76.15% conversion rate.

9) Matthew Barby: To the Frontpage of BuzzFeed

Matthew Barby, head of growth at HubSpot, managed to make it to the frontpage of BuzzFeed not once, but twice. Rather than creating brand-new content, he repurposed content into a listicle featuring high protein vegetarian recipes. With a little paid social boost, he got the attention of editors and scored over 140,000 views.

10) Backlinko: Boosting Organic Traffic

Brian Dean of Backlinko received a great case study from a user, but instead of promoting it on its own, he added it to an older post and promoted that updated content to his social followers and subscribers. With a simple update and a quick promotion, that old post saw a 111.37% increase in organic traffic.

11) Moz: Whiteboard Fridays

The team over at Moz consistently creates Whiteboard Friday videos to provide visual demonstration and engagement to their audience. Those videos are distributed individually, but they’re also turned into blog posts with video transcriptions. That’s a perfect recipe for optimization and organic traffic.

12) Buffer: The “No New Content” Challenge

The Buffer team rolled out a brief experiment in 2015 to see what would happen if they stopped producing new content and only repurposed/refreshed their existing content. This strategy involved repurposing two to three new pieces each week for one month. At the end of the experiment, organic search traffic grew over 4%. New SlideShare presentations nabbed almost 200,000 views, and one Medium post captured 2,888 views and made it into the Top 20 for a day.

Write Less, Promote More

There are tremendous benefits to repurposing content, and it’s an easy way to fill the gaps of your content schedule because most of the work has already been done.

Go back through your data, find your best-performing content, and transform it into something new that will lift your organic traffic and leads. Take a cue from all the successful examples I’ve listed here — it’s a lot easier than you think.

How have you repurposed content before? What kind of results did you see from your efforts? Share your story with me in the comments below.

free guide to historical blog optimization

Nov

11

2016

The Anatomy of a Lead-Generating Website

lead-generation-website-anatomy.jpeg

Your website is the most important tool you have for turning prospects into customers.

There are plenty of ways to increase the number of people visiting your site, but unless you convert these visitors into leads, you won’t be able to ultimately get new customers. As a result, your business won’t be able to grow at a healthy rate.

That’s why it’s so important to design your website with lead generation top-of-mind. Download the beginner's guide to converting website visitors into leads for  your business here.

Think about what your website looks like in its current state. Do each of your webpages clearly guide visitors to take action, or does they leave them wondering what to do next? Do you use a tool that automatically pulls the submissions from your forms and puts them into your contact database? Are you creating custom landing pages for every single campaign that you run? Do you have lead generation CTAs on each of your blog posts? (Do you have a blog at all?)

If you’re starting to think hard about the opportunities you have to increase conversion on your site, you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, we’ll cover the most critical components of a website optimized for lead generation. You’ll find useful tips in here whether you’re coming from a startup generating leads from scratch, or from a well-established business looking to tighten up your website to increase conversions.

The Anatomy of a Lead-Generating Website

1) Lead generation forms

Forms are the crux of any business’ lead generation efforts. Without them, you won’t be able to get contact information that your site visitors actually opt in to give you. The opting in part is important: When people voluntarily hand over their information by filling out a form, they’re actively showing interest in your business, your products, or your content. These leads are valuable because they’re more likely to turn into customers down the road.

Embedding lead generation forms directly on your website makes it easy for visitors to convert into leads. If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can create forms right in HubSpot and either add them to your webpages or embed them elsewhere. Non-HubSpot customers can turn to form-embedding tools like Contact Form 7, JetPack, or Google Forms.

Although landing pages are the most popular places to put lead generation forms, you can embed them anywhere you’d like on your site. Here are a few examples of forms from different businesses that have with different goals, starting with OfficeVibe’s homepage:

officevibe-homepage-form-1.png

On AdmitHub’s homepage, they’ve embedded a form for a demo request:

admithub-form.png

The folks at American Songwriter embedded a subscribe form in the footer of their website:

american-songwriter-form.png

Below is the form on ChoiceScreening’s “Contact Us” page. You’ll notice it’s relatively long, but for a business that runs background checks of all kinds, the form fields are likely necessary to help organize inquiries.

choice-screening-form.png

When you’re thinking about how long your forms should be, consider whether you’d rather have more inquiries coming in, or higher quality inquiries coming in. As long as you have other, easier avenues for folks to contact you, a longer form can be okay for some businesses.

2) A form scraping tool

Once you’ve created and embedded your forms, how are you going to collect and track submissions? You’ll need a tool that scrapes your forms, meaning it automatically captures the form submissions on your website and puts them into your contact database.

By consolidating your leads in one place, it’ll be much easier for you to follow up with those leads — whether it’s by sending them lead nurturing emails, tracking their future behavior on your website, or some other action.

We recommend using our free Collected Forms tool, part of HubSpot Marketing Free. Collected Forms enables you to detect form submissions on your website as they come in — even if the forms are not built with HubSpot. Then, it’ll put those submissions right into your contacts database.

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3) Primary and secondary calls-to-action on every page

When people go to a website, they’re usually trying to take some action. Sometimes, they know what that action is — like when you’re looking for a coffee grinder to buy for your spouse’s birthday and you plan to make a purchase as soon as you find one that’s good enough. Other times, visitors simply don’t know what they want to do on a website and they’re just there to browse or research.

It’s your job to guide these people forward in their research and/or buying process through calls-to-action (CTAs). Remember, your website exists to compel visitors to dig deeper into your business and offerings and move them further down the funnel. CTAs tell them what to do next so they don’t feel lost or overwhelmed. In this way, CTAs turn your homepage into a lead-generating machine.

You’ll want to create multiple CTAs for your site that speak to different parts of the buying funnel. But it’s important to have a primary CTA — one that exists above the fold of your site pages, sticks out from the others, and leads people to do the #1 thing you want them to do on each page.

What that CTA leads to will depend on your end goal. What do you want your site visitors to do most — do you want them to sign up? Create an account? Request a demo? Defining what a “lead” means to you will make your analytics goals much clearer and will help you build a more intuitive funnel.

Here are two examples of webpages that effectively use primary CTAs to direct visitors to the next logical step. The first is Mint’s homepage, where you’ll notice the free sign-up CTA immediately draws your eye:

mint-homepage-headline-example.png

Here’s another example from FreshBooks’ homepage:

freshbooks-homepage.png

Common CTA examples include “Free Trial,” “Schedule a Demo,” “Buy Now,” or “Learn More.” (Here are 30 examples of great CTAs for more inspiration.)

4) Gated offers on landing pages

We already went over the importance of embedding forms on your website in a more general sense, but landing pages deserve a section of their own. Landing pages are the hub of your lead generation efforts — which is why every marketing campaign you run and every offer you create should be tied to a custom landing page.

The more landing pages you have, the more opportunities you have to convert site visitors into leads. There’s also a huge SEO benefit to having more landing pages, which can have an impact even before visitors land on your site.

There are many elements that a top-notch landing page needs, from design to form length to navigation, share buttons, social proof, and so on. If you’re looking for detailed information on building well-designed landing pages that are optimized for lead conversion, here are a few helpful resources:

Below is a great example of a landing page from WebDAM. While it’s a solid example overall, the form might be the best part — especially the little icons in front of the text that refer to the information needed to complete it.

webdam-landing-page-example-1.png

If you’re looking for ideas for valuable content to put behind those landing pages, read this list of 23 lead generation content ideas to start you off.

5) Pop-up forms

I know, I know. “Pop-ups” can sound like a dirty word nowadays. Inbound marketers everywhere are asking themselves whether they should be using pop-up forms — and the short answer is yes, as long as you use them in an inbound-y way.

To do that, you’ll want to make sure you’re:

  • Offering something valuable and relevant so they add to your website visitors’ experience, rather than interrupting it;
  • Timing their appearance so they’re triggered by certain actions or time spent on a page in a way that feels natural and not interruptive;
  • Using language that’s actionable and human;
  • Not ruining the mobile experience.

In addition to embedded forms and traditional call-to-action buttons, you’ll also want to pick and choose pages on your website where you can place pop-up forms, which we call lead flows here at HubSpot. There are a few different types of lead flows you can choose from: welcome mats, overlay modals (which is what most people think of when they hear the term “pop-up”), banners, and slide-in boxes:

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Here’s an example of a banner on Basecamp’s homepage, which appears when you scroll a certain percentage of the way down the page:

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This overlay modal from Aquaspresso’s blog offers blog readers an avenue toward their paid products in a way that’s helpful (providing a discount):

aquaspresso-blog-pop-up.png

If you’re looking for a good free tool to get started with pop-up forms, we’d recommend you try HubSpot Marketing Free. We built the Lead Flows feature within this free tool to help marketers generate more leads across their entire website without sacrificing the user experience.

6) Intuitive design and thoughtful CTA placement

The point of your website is to guide site visitors toward the actions you want them to take. Your conversion efforts will be far more compelling when assets are easy to find and are built with a reader-centric mindset. Think about how you can use layout, CTA placement, whitespace, colors, fonts, and other supporting elements to clearly communicate your value proposition, help visitors find specific information easily, and build trust.

Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure your webpages — especially your most popular ones, like your homepage — are designed beautifully, intuitively, and with lead generation in mind. In other words, you’ll want to direct your visitors’ attention to the areas of the page that will convert them into leads.

For example, according to an eye tracking study, a website reader’s natural eye path starts in the upper left-hand corner of a website and moves on from there in an F-pattern. To take advantage of this pattern, you may want to place your most important calls-to-action somewhere within that F-pattern. (Read this blog post to learn more about designing webpages for lead generation.)

In the example below, the business’ name is in the top left, followed by the horizontal navigation bar placed on the top, and a primary call-to-action (by #4) in the second row.

f-pattern-with-content-1.jpg

Image Credit: Envato Studio

7) A blog with lead-generating CTAs

If you don’t have a business blog or aren’t using it consistently, then you’re missing out on a huge traffic- and lead-driving engine. There are many business benefits to blogging, which not only include helping drive traffic to your website, but also converting traffic into leads for your business. Just like every blog post you write is another indexed page, each post is a new opportunity to generate new leads. And thanks to the compounding value of blog posts over time, every post you write will drive value for you in the form of traffic and leads not just when you first publish it, but for years to come.

Here at HubSpot, our blog is responsible for a significant percentage of our marketing team’s incoming leads — and 76% of our monthly blog views come from posts published prior to the current month.

But in order to generate leads from your blog, you can’t just write, hit “publish,” and call it a day. You’ll need to add a lead-generating call-to-action to every blog post that points to free content gated behind a landing page (see #4). To help you create these long-form offers more easily without worrying about the design component, try downloading these 386+ free content creation templates for ebooks, infographics, and other offers.

Once you create lead-generating offers, promote them by blogging about subject matters related to them, and then put CTAs that lead to the asset’s landing page on every one of those blog posts.

8) Social proof and other trust-builders

In order for a site visitor to turn into a lead, they need to hand over some personal information — their name, their email address, and maybe even their phone number or company name. Why would they give that information to you unless they felt some sort of trust in your brand and what you’re offering them?

That’s where establishing credibility comes in. If you want to earn people’s trust enough to compel them to opt in to your emails or otherwise put their personal information into your database, you’re going to need to prove yourself somehow — especially to people who don’t know who you are quite yet. The most meaningful form of advertising is recommendations from others, and it can have a big impact on conversion rates.

There are many ways to establish credibility on your website. One effective way to show trustworthiness is by adding social proof — like customer testimonials, case studies, and prominent client logos — as well as trust seals to your site.

  • Customer testimonials are quotes from real customers you can place on landing pages, your homepage, and anywhere else on your website. Place these quotes below forms, and be sure to include a photo, name, company, and job title. Here’s a great example from Codecademy’s homepage:

codecademy-homepage.png

  • Case studies are full-fledged customer stories, either written or in video. They’re longer and more detailed than customer testimonials, and often include success metrics and positive results. You can learn more on how to create compelling case studies here.
  • Prominent client logos are when a business places the logos of some of their more well-known clients on their homepage or elsewhere on their website to show them off. According to ConversionXL, logos from prominent clients tend to be memorable to site visitors.
  • Trust seals are symbols that reassure site visitors that their sensitive information is secure with the company they’re giving it to. (Read this post to learn more about adding trust seals to your website.)

trust-seals-1.png

There you have it. Now, these are by no means the only components of a website that can or should be optimized for lead generation. But this guide will help you get started with the fundamental components you’ll need to generate more and higher quality leads.

And although we’ve gone over some overarching best practices, remember that you’ll need to continuously test and tweak your site to optimize it for leads based on your own, unique audience. If you aren’t doing that already or want to learn more about optimization, read this post to learn about A/B testing your website in more detail.

What else makes up a lead-generating website? Share with us in the comments.

Intro to Lead Gen

Nov

10

2016

The Free Growth Tools I Recommend For Modern Businesses to Grow & Scale

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If you’re growing a company, chances are you’re challenged with choosing the right tools to help you grow.

Both at HubSpot and at other businesses I’ve helped advise, I’ve seen marketing and sales teams experiment with all sorts of different tools they’ve hoped would drive growth. Some of these tools did help the team grow. Others slowed growth down or blocked it altogether. At HubSpot, we’ve seen opportunities to build new growth tools for marketing and sales teams and we’ve worked hard to fill those gaps.

One of the most important lessons I’ve taken away from growing businesses is that most growth problems come not from ideas, but from execution. You might have a growth-driven team, a great vision, and the dedication to achieve your lofty goals. But having those things isn’t enough to actually grow.

To execute on your strategy, you’re going to need a powerful set of tools that leverage every stage of the customer experience, from the first point of contact, through the sales and marketing process, and over the lifetime of the customer.

The foundation of a strong growth stack starts with the following:

  • A CRM system that serves as the foundation for all the other growth tools you’re using, which is where all of your customer data is stored.
  • A marketing platform to attract the right people, convert them as leads, and communicate with them through the purchase process and once they’re a customer.
  • A sales platform that helps your sales team identify the right people, connect with them, and close them as customers.

Some companies are in the position to implement a growth stack right off the bat and then enhance and customize it with the right collection of integrated tools. Others need to start with free tools and build to a full growth stack over time. (Note: There is a free version of the HubSpot Growth Stack.)

For those companies just getting started, here is my shortlist of the best free growth tools for modern businesses. The list comprises a blend of free HubSpot tools and those from other companies that we’ve used and recommend.

The 11 Free Growth Tools I Recommend

A Free CRM

1) HubSpot CRM

You can’t build a skyscraper without a solid foundation. A CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool) is just that — it acts as the base layer of growth where all your business functions’ information is organized and can be easily analyzed. In all honesty, it’s impossible to grow and scale your business without a CRM.

Your CRM is the software that sits at the core of your digital system. It tracks every interaction your sales team has, stores all your marketing leads and customer data, and improves communication across your organization. The more you grow, the more important this becomes.

The problem is, most traditional CRM systems are hard to implement and use — especially for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with limited time and resources. Sales teams have trouble adopting them internally, and you can bet that doesn’t help your business grow whatsoever. If you’re looking for a clean and intuitive CRM that’ll make your sales reps more efficient — regardless of their experience levels — I’m very proud of the free CRM our team at HubSpot has built.

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Free Growth Tools for Marketing

2) Trello

I’m a big fan of visualizing progress. Growth teams tend to have a lot of ideas, a lot of projects, and a lot of experiments going on at the same time. We’ve found Trello to be the best tool for tracking that progress. Each idea, project, and experiment can live on its own card, which teams can use to take notes, assign tasks, set due dates, and so on.

Here’s a real example: Our VP of Marketing Kieran Flanagan uses it to track, from start to finish, all the experiments his growth team runs. What’s especially remarkable is that his team members are located in various parts of the US and Europe, but with Trello they’re able to stay organized and effective, and make a big impact on business growth.

trello-sample-promo-board.png

The folks at Trello put together their own list of business growth apps, inspired by ours. Check it out here.

3) Hotjar Heat Maps & Visitor Recordings

Data beats intuition. You can’t really know what your audience wants without getting inside the heads of the people who already regularly visit your site to find out why they visit your site, and Hotjar’s tools are perfect for just that.

These guys are on the cutting edge of helping people figure out what drives people to different parts of their website. They’re making it possible for people to build and grow their website in a way that actually resonates with people. We actually just launched an integration with Hotjar that shows Hotjar poll responses in HubSpot users’ contact timelines.

The Heat Maps and Visitor Recordings are my favorite parts of the tool, though, and here’s why: They visualize what people are doing when they get to your site by showing clicks, taps, and scrolling behavior. This is so important for a business because each of these actions shows what people do and care about on your site. It’ll also help you find the biggest opportunities for improvement and testing. (And you should always be testing.)

hotjar-heatmaps.jpg

Image Credit: Hotjar

4) Google Keyword Planner

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to growing traffic, which is a big driver of business growth in the online age. Simply put, you need to do it, and you need to do it well. If you want more people to find you on Google, you’ll need a keyword tool to help you prioritize which keywords to focus on.

There are a few good keyword tools out there, but Google Keyword Planner is a great starting point for narrowing down the right keywords, gauging competition around each one, and learning how many people are searching for them.

google-keywords-planner-1.png

5) GrowthBot

Bots are pretty freaking cool, and there’s business value to them too — they can make simple processes more efficient, giving your team time back in your day and helping you intelligently answer questions around your business. I could not be more excited about bots. That’s why I spent a lot of time this year building a chatbot for growth professionals called GrowthBot. I originally started building it because I wanted it myself, but others have told me they find it helpful, too.

So how does it work? By connecting to a variety of marketing systems (like HubSpot, Google Analytics, and more), GrowthBot is able to give you more convenient access to information you already otherwise have, and give you access to information you didn’t know you had. In the first case, you could ask it the question, “How was organic traffic last month?” and it’ll tell you. In the second case, you might ask it, “Which public SaaS companies are using HubSpot?” or “Which PPC keywords is uber.com buying?” and it’ll spit back the answer in just a few seconds.

growthbot-examples.png

6) HubSpot Marketing Free’s Lead Flows

A big mistake I see growing marketing teams making is spending all their time driving traffic to their website, but not turning that traffic into leads. Problem is, if you’re not learning about the people who are showing interest in your business, you’re leaving critical lead and sales numbers on the table.

To help you take a page that gets a good amount of traffic and turn that traffic into leads, some really smart folks created a feature within HubSpot’s new free marketing tool called Lead Flows. Lead Flows are unobtrusive widgets — pop-ups, dropdown banners, slide-ins — that you can add to any of your website pages. Best part is that they involve no technical setup or coding whatsoever, so you can set them up in minutes (seriously, minutes) without having to make changes to your existing site. Let us know what you think of Lead Flows on Product Hunt.

hubspot-marketing-free.gif

7) Buffer

There’s a lot you can do with social without spending any money. Social media is an amplifier. It takes time, but if you build a following, it is a great way to take that awesome content you’re producing and spreading it further and wider.

For social media marketing on all the major networks, Buffer is a great place to start. It connects your business’ Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+ accounts in a single platform and lets you share text, links, photos, and videos, either immediately or to schedule for later.

buffer-schedule-posts.png

Image Credit: Buffer

8) Canva

Tools that make creating visual content easier are important for growth, especially for a business with limited design resources. Being able to create great images in a short amount of time will help make your website, your emails, your social media posts, and every other marketing asset more engaging and attractive to your audience. Simply put, better visuals = more engagement = more traffic = business growth.

Canva makes it easy and fast for people who aren’t designers by trade (like me, as my team knows well) to create visual content quickly.

canva-example-1.png

Image Credit: Entrepreneur’s Organization

Free Growth Tools for Sales

9) join.me Free Conference Calls & Screen Sharing

The easier you make it for your sales team to interact with leads and prospects, the better they’ll be at closing customers, which you most definitely need if you want to grow your business. join.me isn’t software — all your reps have to do to start a call is open up the desktop or mobile app or log in online.

There are a lot of meetings tools out there, but this one is one of the fastest, most reliable, most intuitive, and easiest to use. And if you use HubSpot’s free CRM, you can start a join.me meeting directly from your contact timeline.

hubspot-join-me-integration.png

Image Credit: join.me

10) HubSpot Sales Templates

Your sales reps are probably wasting a lot of time writing the same emails over, and over, and over again. There’s a lot of value in streamlining the emailing process while still making sure sales reps are sending high-quality emails. If your sales reps can get their hands on personalized email templates, that’ll save hundreds of hours over the long term. Templates, a feature of HubSpot Sales, lets you access personalized email templates for free from within your inbox.

What makes this tool particularly powerful for sales teams is that you can build a shared library of templates everyone can use. You can also aggregate data on how often emails with certain templates get opened or clicked, which helps you hone in on the approaches worth sharing.

HubSpot-Sales-Email-Templates.png

11) HubSpot Sales Email Open Tracking & Notifications

This is one of my favorite email tools, not just for sales teams, but for personal use. It sends instant desktop notifications when the emails you send get opened. You’ll see who opened the email, at what time, on which device, and where they were located when they opened it. If you want to look at all your notifications, or all your notifications on a specific email, then you can view the full history in a stream.

hubspot-email-activity-stream.jpg

This list of free tools is a starting point for those looking to grow from startup into sustainable. Down the road, you’ll want to integrate your growth tools together into a true growth stack. For those looking to take the next step, we’ve mapped out our version of a complete growth stack over on Product Hunt. Take a look and let our engineers know what you think.

hubspot-growth-stack

Nov

9

2016

Topics Over Keywords: A Simple Framework for More Effective Content Creation

Content Keyword Framework.jpg

Content marketing has seen a lot of changes over the past few years, in particular around the way that marketers have went about actually developing their content. A lot of this has come down to the rapidly evolving search engine landscape, as well as a huge shift in the way that people are discovering content.

All that said, I still hear the same pain points coming from content producers that I did over five years ago:

“I struggle to measure the ROI of the content I create.”

“We create great content but we still don’t seem to rank high in Google for our target keywords.”

“So, I’ve done my keyword research. Now what?”

As a response to these problems — in particular the second one — a lot of marketers will respond with increased content output. Unfortunately, creating larger volumes of the same underperforming content will often result in the same underwhelming results — just at a greater expense.

The answer to these problems spans way beyond the number of blog posts being pushed out each week; the real problem lies in the way that most content strategies are being developed.

The Search Engines Are Changing

Updates to the way that the search engines are processing and evaluating content have been tied heavily to the approaches that content publishers have been taking to get results.

One of the ways in which content producers will evaluate the performance of content is by looking at keyword rankings within the search engines. There’s been a lot of debate around the actual credibility of keyword rankings as a metric, and the reason for this largely stems from the fact that rank changes depending on context.

To put it simply, depending on how and where you’re searching from, you’ll see different search results.

where to eat pizza.png

A simple search for the term, “where to eat pizza” illustrates this perfectly. If you’re searching for this query from Boston then you’ll receive a completely different set results compared to someone searching in San Francisco. In fact, the results page for this query probably has thousands of different variations at any one moment in time.

With this in mind, how do you accurately determine your ranking for this keyword?

Outside of keyword ranking problems, the search engines have also been dictating how content should be structured, most notably with the increased appearance of featured snippets.

Google has been rolling out more and more featured snippets within the search results that try to answer the question that the searcher has without needing to navigate through to the content.

The reality is that content ranking within the featured snippet section often gets a much greater share of the traffic for the given query when compared to non-featured snippet SERPs.

Publishers now have to restructure their content to try and appear within these featured snippets, of which Wikipedia reigns supreme — owning an estimated 17.2% of all featured snippets.

On a more general level, Google in particular has been making big investments in machine learning and has introduced ‘RankBrain’ into the core algorithm it uses to index and rank content. Ultimately, RankBrain enables Google to better understand the intent behind specific queries without the search query explicitly stating them — all with the goal of providing more relevant results to the searcher.

This leads nicely onto the next big change in search: the searcher.

The Searcher is Changing

More significant than the way in which the search engines themselves are evolving is the way that the searcher is communicating with the search engines.

Amplified by the rise of mobile and voice search, queries have become more and more conversational. Google’s updates over the past 2-3 years have focused on understanding these types of queries better through natural language processing, most notably with the rollout of Hummingbird.

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced in May that that 20% of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches.

The takeaway here for marketers? The traditional view of ‘keywords’ in search has changed. Where there were maybe 10-20 ‘big keywords’ that would be sought after for ranking within a topic, there are now hundreds or thousands of long-tail variations that are regularly searched within a topic.

Content Strategy in 2017 and Beyond

Considering the advancements in the ways that both the search engines are evolving and the way that searchers are communicating with them, there needs to be a shift in the way we align our content strategies — especially if organic search is a channel you’re focused on.

The way that we approach this at HubSpot is to look at our visibility across a topic, as opposed to a specific keyword. Through building content within topic clusters, we’re able to capture a large amount of search traffic across an ever-increasing pool of relevant keywords/phrases, as well as creating a strong affinity of a topic against our brand.

A great example of this is around “inbound sales,” an area that we’ve been covering a lot. You can see from Google’s autocomplete section that there’s a number of big links into HubSpot — our Inbound Sales Day, Certification, and Methodology being the top three, as well as a direct mention of the HubSpot brand.

We’ve managed to align our brand against huge volumes of topics that directly relate to our buyer personas, and as a result we generate millions of relevant visits to our web properties.

What is a Topic Cluster?

The basic premise behind building a content program in topic clusters is to enable a deeper coverage across a range of core topic areas, whilst creating an efficient information architecture in the process.

That sounds more complex than it is in reality.

What I’m saying here is that through aligning sets of webpages into topic clusters, you can manage the internal linking between each more efficiently and also provide a better user experience for visitors.

Building a solid information architecture is incredibly important for ranking well in organic search across a broad topic area. Creating hyper-focused clusters of content geared around a specific topic will not only help solve for that, but it’ll enable you to keep focused on creating content that your buyer persona actually cares about.

The typical way that I structure a topic cluster of content is with one larger piece of content that focuses around broadly covering the core topic, otherwise known as pillar content. Linking into the pillar content is a range of content that covers individual, more specific subtopics, otherwise known as cluster content. The cluster content will link back to the core pillar and often in between other cluster content within the same topic.

Here’s an example to illustrate this:

In the above example, the core topic is “workout routines.” Each of the surrounding subtopics focuses on a more specific branch of the core topic, for example, “workout routines to build lean muscle”.

The role of the pillar content is to cover the core topic broadly and also perform well at converting visitors into leads (or whatever your conversion goal is). The cluster content that is built for each of the subtopics will focus on gaining greater topic visibility and funneling traffic through to the pillar content in order for them to convert.

The beauty of this model is that you can spend a lot more time optimizing your pillar content for conversions and your cluster content for traffic. This saves a lot of time on the traditional model of optimizing each individual post. It also makes it easier for you to give a positive user experience whilst sending a bunch of positive signals to the search engines.

More time and resources are often spent on pillar content than on the supporting cluster content. Due to the fact that they’re all interlinked, all of the content within any given topic cluster will receive a boost when one page performs well.

An example of pillar content that we’ve produced at HubSpot would be our Blog Topic Generator tool.

This pillar content brings in a substantial amount of new leads every month and gets a heap load of traffic. Tools work particularly well for pillar content because they’re often evergreen content and get shared a lot.

We’ve built out a wide range of cluster content that ties into specific subtopics. An example of this would be our blog post titled, “How to Think Up a Year’s Worth of Blog Post Topics in an Hour,” which has an internal link pointing to the Blog Topic Generator tool.

This content will drive traffic to the pillar content and push positive link signals to the search engines in the process, increasing both the organic search visibility and leads generated from the overall topic cluster.

The Process for Creating a Topic Cluster

When it comes to actually mapping out topic clusters, there’s a general process that I’ve found to work particularly well. I’ve simplified it down and listed it below so that you can get started:

  1. Map out 5-10 of the core problems that your buyer persona has (use surveys, run interviews, and do some secondary research within online communities).
  2. Group each of the problems into broad topic areas.
  3. Build out each of the core topic with subtopics using keyword research.
  4. Map out content ideas that align with each of the core topics and corresponding subtopics.
  5. Validate each idea with industry and competitive research.
  6. Create, measure, and refine.

This is a very simplistic overview but can work as a light framework for prioritizing content ideation and production. I tend to find that actually visualizing each topic group into topic clusters works particularly well.

How to Measure the Success of Your Topic Cluster

One of the most common content marketing questions that I’m asked is, “how do I measure the success of a piece of content?”

The answer to this question is complicated because for the most part it’s not a great idea to evaluate the success of your campaign on a content-by-content basis. Just looking at the success of one blog post is difficult at the best of times, but more often than not the definition of success is too narrow to account for indirect benefits that it has.

A good example of this would be with more brand-driven content. The focus here isn’t around generating sales or even capturing email addresses, but instead it can be around elevating the brand, attracting new talent, or even earning backlinks/press coverage.

If we based the success of our “Our Story” page on the number of leads it generated, it would be performing terribly. On the flip side, this page has over 5,000 backlinks from external websites and gets a huge amount of traffic from potential hires looking to join our company.

Luckily, this problem can be solved by evaluating success on a topic cluster level instead.

Measuring the entire topic cluster against all of your core business metrics will enable you to include residual benefits coming from content that doesn’t align with direct conversion goals. Let’s say one of your blog posts is a study with a bunch of original data that gets thousands of backlinks — this page will pass on authority across all the pages in the topic cluster and grow the search visibility across the whole topic cluster. That’s difficult to measure in isolation, but can be done on a topic cluster level.

Using this framework for measurement, you’ll be able to understand the following:

  • Which topics perform better at driving traffic to your web properties
  • Which topics earn you the most leads
  • Which topics drive the most revenue to the business
  • Which topics earn the most backlinks/coverage

Search Engines Aren’t Searching for Your Content, People Are

What this all works towards is ensuring that you’re actually creating content that people want to see, as opposed to content that’s designed specifically for the search engines. Don’t forget, search engines are pretty smart. In most cases, they don’t require you to ever mention a specific keyword in the copy of your content to understand that it’s relevant.

Shifting your focus to building content on a keyword-by-keyword basis and moving to owning topics is going to help you create better content, increase your visibility in the search engines and provide a much more positive experience for visitors.

What questions do you have about this framework? Share them in the comments below.

Increase SEO Traffic

Nov

9

2016

Topics Over Keywords: A Simple Framework for More Effective Content Creation

Content Keyword Framework.jpg

Content marketing has seen a lot of changes over the past few years, in particular around the way that marketers have gone about actually developing their content. A lot of this has come down to the rapidly evolving search engine landscape, as well as a huge shift in the way that people are discovering content.

All that said, I still hear the same pain points coming from content producers that I did over five years ago:

“I struggle to measure the ROI of the content I create.”

“We create great content but we still don’t seem to rank high in Google for our target keywords.”

“So, I’ve done my keyword research. Now what?”

As a response to these problems — in particular the second one — a lot of marketers will respond with increased content output. Unfortunately, creating larger volumes of the same underperforming content will often result in the same underwhelming results — just at a greater expense.

The answer to these problems spans way beyond the number of blog posts being pushed out each week; the real problem lies in the way that most content strategies are being developed.

The Search Engines Are Changing

Updates to the way that the search engines are processing and evaluating content have been tied heavily to the approaches that content publishers have been taking to get results.

One of the ways in which content producers will evaluate the performance of content is by looking at keyword rankings within the search engines. There’s been a lot of debate around the actual credibility of keyword rankings as a metric, and the reason for this largely stems from the fact that rank changes depending on context.

To put it simply, depending on how and where you’re searching from, you’ll see different search results.

where to eat pizza.png

A simple search for the term, “where to eat pizza” illustrates this perfectly. If you’re searching for this query from Boston then you’ll receive a completely different set results compared to someone searching in San Francisco. In fact, the results page for this query probably has thousands of different variations at any one moment in time.

With this in mind, how do you accurately determine your ranking for this keyword?

Outside of keyword ranking problems, the search engines have also been dictating how content should be structured, most notably with the increased appearance of featured snippets.

Google has been rolling out more and more featured snippets within the search results that try to answer the question that the searcher has without needing to navigate through to the content.

The reality is that content ranking within the featured snippet section often gets a much greater share of the traffic for the given query when compared to non-featured snippet SERPs.

Publishers now have to restructure their content to try and appear within these featured snippets, of which Wikipedia reigns supreme — owning an estimated 17.2% of all featured snippets.

On a more general level, Google in particular has been making big investments in machine learning and has introduced ‘RankBrain’ into the core algorithm it uses to index and rank content. Ultimately, RankBrain enables Google to better understand the intent behind specific queries without the search query explicitly stating them — all with the goal of providing more relevant results to the searcher.

This leads nicely onto the next big change in search: the searcher.

The Searcher is Changing

More significant than the way in which the search engines themselves are evolving is the way that the searcher is communicating with the search engines.

Amplified by the rise of mobile and voice search, queries have become more and more conversational. Google’s updates over the past 2-3 years have focused on understanding these types of queries better through natural language processing, most notably with the rollout of Hummingbird.

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced in May that that 20% of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches.

The takeaway here for marketers? The traditional view of ‘keywords’ in search has changed. Where there were maybe 10-20 ‘big keywords’ that would be sought after for ranking within a topic, there are now hundreds or thousands of long-tail variations that are regularly searched within a topic.

Content Strategy in 2017 and Beyond

Considering the advancements in the ways that both the search engines are evolving and the way that searchers are communicating with them, there needs to be a shift in the way we align our content strategies — especially if organic search is a channel you’re focused on.

The way that we approach this at HubSpot is to look at our visibility across a topic, as opposed to a specific keyword. Through building content within topic clusters, we’re able to capture a large amount of search traffic across an ever-increasing pool of relevant keywords/phrases, as well as creating a strong affinity of a topic against our brand.

A great example of this is around “inbound sales,” an area that we’ve been covering a lot. You can see from Google’s autocomplete section that there’s a number of big links into HubSpot — our Inbound Sales Day, Certification, and Methodology being the top three, as well as a direct mention of the HubSpot brand.

We’ve managed to align our brand against huge volumes of topics that directly relate to our buyer personas, and as a result we generate millions of relevant visits to our web properties.

What is a Topic Cluster?

The basic premise behind building a content program in topic clusters is to enable a deeper coverage across a range of core topic areas, whilst creating an efficient information architecture in the process.

That sounds more complex than it is in reality.

What I’m saying here is that through aligning sets of webpages into topic clusters, you can manage the internal linking between each more efficiently and also provide a better user experience for visitors.

Building a solid information architecture is incredibly important for ranking well in organic search across a broad topic area. Creating hyper-focused clusters of content geared around a specific topic will not only help solve for that, but it’ll enable you to keep focused on creating content that your buyer persona actually cares about.

The typical way that I structure a topic cluster of content is with one larger piece of content that focuses around broadly covering the core topic, otherwise known as pillar content. Linking into the pillar content is a range of content that covers individual, more specific subtopics, otherwise known as cluster content. The cluster content will link back to the core pillar and often in between other cluster content within the same topic.

Here’s an example to illustrate this:

In the above example, the core topic is “workout routines.” Each of the surrounding subtopics focuses on a more specific branch of the core topic, for example, “workout routines to build lean muscle”.

The role of the pillar content is to cover the core topic broadly and also perform well at converting visitors into leads (or whatever your conversion goal is). The cluster content that is built for each of the subtopics will focus on gaining greater topic visibility and funneling traffic through to the pillar content in order for them to convert.

The beauty of this model is that you can spend a lot more time optimizing your pillar content for conversions and your cluster content for traffic. This saves a lot of time on the traditional model of optimizing each individual post. It also makes it easier for you to give a positive user experience whilst sending a bunch of positive signals to the search engines.

More time and resources are often spent on pillar content than on the supporting cluster content. Due to the fact that they’re all interlinked, all of the content within any given topic cluster will receive a boost when one page performs well.

An example of pillar content that we’ve produced at HubSpot would be our Blog Topic Generator tool.

This pillar content brings in a substantial amount of new leads every month and gets a heap load of traffic. Tools work particularly well for pillar content because they’re often evergreen content and get shared a lot.

We’ve built out a wide range of cluster content that ties into specific subtopics. An example of this would be our blog post titled, “How to Think Up a Year’s Worth of Blog Post Topics in an Hour,” which has an internal link pointing to the Blog Topic Generator tool.

This content will drive traffic to the pillar content and push positive link signals to the search engines in the process, increasing both the organic search visibility and leads generated from the overall topic cluster.

The Process for Creating a Topic Cluster

When it comes to actually mapping out topic clusters, there’s a general process that I’ve found to work particularly well. I’ve simplified it down and listed it below so that you can get started:

  1. Map out 5-10 of the core problems that your buyer persona has (use surveys, run interviews, and do some secondary research within online communities).
  2. Group each of the problems into broad topic areas.
  3. Build out each of the core topic with subtopics using keyword research.
  4. Map out content ideas that align with each of the core topics and corresponding subtopics.
  5. Validate each idea with industry and competitive research.
  6. Create, measure, and refine.

This is a very simplistic overview but can work as a light framework for prioritizing content ideation and production. I tend to find that actually visualizing each topic group into topic clusters works particularly well.

How to Measure the Success of Your Topic Cluster

One of the most common content marketing questions that I’m asked is, “how do I measure the success of a piece of content?”

The answer to this question is complicated because for the most part it’s not a great idea to evaluate the success of your campaign on a content-by-content basis. Just looking at the success of one blog post is difficult at the best of times, but more often than not the definition of success is too narrow to account for indirect benefits that it has.

A good example of this would be with more brand-driven content. The focus here isn’t around generating sales or even capturing email addresses, but instead it can be around elevating the brand, attracting new talent, or even earning backlinks/press coverage.

If we based the success of our “Our Story” page on the number of leads it generated, it would be performing terribly. On the flip side, this page has over 5,000 backlinks from external websites and gets a huge amount of traffic from potential hires looking to join our company.

Luckily, this problem can be solved by evaluating success on a topic cluster level instead.

Measuring the entire topic cluster against all of your core business metrics will enable you to include residual benefits coming from content that doesn’t align with direct conversion goals. Let’s say one of your blog posts is a study with a bunch of original data that gets thousands of backlinks — this page will pass on authority across all the pages in the topic cluster and grow the search visibility across the whole topic cluster. That’s difficult to measure in isolation, but can be done on a topic cluster level.

Using this framework for measurement, you’ll be able to understand the following:

  • Which topics perform better at driving traffic to your web properties
  • Which topics earn you the most leads
  • Which topics drive the most revenue to the business
  • Which topics earn the most backlinks/coverage

Search Engines Aren’t Searching for Your Content, People Are

What this all works towards is ensuring that you’re actually creating content that people want to see, as opposed to content that’s designed specifically for the search engines. Don’t forget, search engines are pretty smart. In most cases, they don’t require you to ever mention a specific keyword in the copy of your content to understand that it’s relevant.

Shifting your focus to building content on a keyword-by-keyword basis and moving to owning topics is going to help you create better content, increase your visibility in the search engines and provide a much more positive experience for visitors.

What questions do you have about this framework? Share them in the comments below.

Increase SEO Traffic

Nov

8

2016

9 Places to Find Quality Email Newsletter Templates

emailnewsletter.jpg'.jpg

If you had to guess, how many email newsletters do you think you’re subscribed to? Ten? Twenty? Fifty?

To be honest, I’ve lost count … and I know I’m not alone.

Email marketers have a lot to compete with in their subscribers’ inboxes. If done well, though, email newsletters can do wonders to help you build an engaged subscriber base, keep your business top-of-mind, and nurture leads that are already making their way down the funnel.

However, “done well” means more than just serving up great content. In fact, an often overlooked component of the newsletter creation process is the design. Download this free guide to learn how to write, design, optimize, and measure  a successful email newsletter. 

Don’t have time to build out a custom template from scratch? We’ve scoured the internet for the best resources for email newsletter templates and compiled them below. Once you find one you like, download the template and customize it to fit your needs.

9 Places to Find Email Newsletter Templates Online

1) Email on Acid 

Price: Free

Email on Acid offers a free template with a basic, fluid design that’s also responsive to mobile devices. In other words, the three different “layouts” you see below trigger based on the width of the recipient’s screen.

Although there’s only one template here, you can actually mix and match each section of the layout to fit your specific design needs. The layout supports one, two, or three columns, and recipients on mobile devices will see the version that converts to a one-column layout for easy reading.

Email on Acid Newsletter 

Image Credit: Email on Acid

2) ZURB Ink 

Price: Free

ZURB Studios has five responsive email templates available for free, including the newsletter one below. It has a great, fluid layout you can customize with your own colors, images, and wording. If you want to see how each template looks on different email clients, you can check out screenshots from each template’s email client tests, which are on available the site. These layouts are optimized for most email clients — except for Outlook 2007, 2010, and 2013.

The template comes with a separate CSS stylesheet and HTML file to ease the editing process, and most clients put the CSS inline with the HTML itself after both are uploaded separately. If you’re going to add images to your newsletter, keep in mind you’ll have to create a separate folder and compress with the CSS stylesheet when uploaded. 

Zurb Studios Newsletter

Image Credit: ZURB Studios

3) 99designs

Price: Free

99designs is a growing online community and collaboration platform for designers and small businesses, and they have a great designer blog and business blog. To celebrate the launch of their Email Design category, the company ran a contest asking designers to create three email templates — a newsletter template, a promotional template, and a template for email notifications — using a set color scheme (green, blue, orange, and grey) for people to download. The folks at 99design then chose their 12 favorites and made them downloadable for free on their website. They’re compatible with all major email clients.

99Designs Email Newsletter Templates

Image Credit: 99designs

4) ThemeForest

Price: $6-23/template

ThemeForest is an awesome resource for email templates if you have some budget to spend. Their library has over 460 newsletter templates in all different colors, styles, and themes. They’re rated using a four-star system, and you can filter by rating, price, recency, and popularity.

There are a lot to choose from, but here are four of our favorites:

Market – Responsive Newsletter with Template Builder ($19)

This template has eight prebuilt layouts, 24 color variations, 24 full-layered PSD files, and more. Plus, it’s supported by all major email clients.

ThemeForest Email Newsletter Templates

Image Credit: ThemeForest

FreshMail, Responsive Email with Template Editor ($18)

Want a more minimalist look? This is a great template with minimalist design that’s also flexible and repeatable, so you can easily arrange the layout and use it to build your own unique template. Even better, it comes with helpful documentation and video tutorials to help you make the most of the design. It works for all major email clients and is responsive to mobile.

ThemeForest Email Newsletter Templates

Image Credit: ThemeForest

FancyMail – Responsive Email Template ($19)

If you’re looking for something more elegant and sophisticated, this might be the template for you. It comes in seven layout options and eight colors, along with six, fully-layered PSD files so you can customize as you wish. It works with all major email clients, is responsive to mobile devices, and includes helpful documentation so you can make the most of the template.

ThemeForest Email Newsletter Templates

Image Credit: ThemeForest

Rocket Mail – Clean & Modern Email Template ($16)

This template is great for marketers who are going for something that looks like your classic, basic newsletter design. It comes with 72 variations comprised of six color themes with six layouts each, and two backgrounds (light and dark) for each color. It has well commented HTML code to make it easier to follow along and customize. It works for all major email clients.

ThemeForest Email Newsletter Templates

Image Credit: ThemeForest

5) Antwort

Price: Free

Antwort offers three newsletter templates: one single-column, one two-column, and one three-column. They’re all responsive to mobile devices, so columns on desktop automatically condense on mobile devices. You’ll notice they’re pretty minimalist in design, which helps if you want to do a lot of customization work. They were also designed with dynamic content in mind.

On desktop, they work for major email clients like Gmail, Yahoo!, Outlook, and AOL. On mobile, they work for Mail on iOS and Email on Android.

Antwort Email Newsletter Templates

Image Credit: Julie Ng 

 

6) TemplateMonster

Price: $11-$19/template

TemplateMonster offers a variety of email newsletter templates, such as the cat-themed template pictured below, available for relatively low prices. Their templates are clean, customizeable, and easy-to-use, and they’re compatible with most major email clients, such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Additionally, the templates come with built-in responsive layouts for screen adaptability, such as on the mobile phone pictured below, and PSD sources for a litany of customization options.

cats.png

Image Credit: TemplateMonster

7) Themezy

Price: Free

Download sixteen free HTML, CSS, and PSD sources of customizable email templates on Themezy. You don’t have to submit an email address to get started, and there are various color schemes and layouts to meet your email list’s needs. Plus, they’re designed to be responsive across devices to ensure that your subscribers can read your newsletter.

themezy.jpg

Image Credit: Themezy

8) Litmus

Price: Free

Litmus offers a free email template collection — from newsletter templates to account management templates. The marketing-specific theme — referred to as “Pook” — is modern and sleek, while still being kind of fun. All of the templates have been tested with Litmus, and you can easily check out how the email will appear in different email clients here.

While you are required to create a Litmus account with your email address to access the templates, the templates themselves are free of charge.

pook.png

Image Credit: Litmus

9) HubSpot Template Marketplace

Price: Free & paid options available

For those of you who are HubSpot customers, HubSpot offers a great collection of email templates you can download or purchase from our template marketplace. Paid templates are available for as low as $1, and once you buy a template, you can start using it immediately right in HubSpot — no HTML or CSS required.

HubSpot Template Marketplace.png

Where else can you find email newsletter templates online? Share them with us in the comments.

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

free guide to creating email newsletters

 
free guide to creating email newsletters

Sep

21

2016

Want to be a Better Social Media Marketer? Listen to These 10 Podcasts

photopodcast.jpg

The last time I went on vacation, Facebook and Instagram announced two big product changes that I was left scrambling to catch up on when I returned.

Know the feeling? If you work in social media marketing, my guess is you know it all too well.

Social media is constantly evolving, making today an exciting time to work in marketing. This can also mean that you sometimes feel as if you’re falling behind on your general social media knowledge and education.

The solution? Podcasts.

In this blog post, we put together a list of 10 podcast episodes that deliver helpful and actionable guidance for social media marketers looking to brush up on their skills in a quick and entertaining way.

10 Amazing Podcasts About Social Media

1) Marketing Smarts: How ‘Dolphin Tale’ Brought 800,000 Visitors a Year to Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Click here to listen to this podcast episode

In this episode, Kerry O’Shea Gorgone speaks with Chief Marketing Officer of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Bill Potts. They discuss Winter the dolphin, whose story of recovery from losing her tail was chronicled in the movie Dolphin Tale. Thanks to their social media and public relations teams’ relentless work to get Winter’s story shared with local media outlets, she eventually became the star of a hit film (seriously, rent this movie).

In light of the Aquarium’s newfound fame, Potts talks about their strategies for maintaining the momentum of the Dolphin Tale films by investing in social media more than ever. In particular, they’ve experienced a lot of engagement by live streaming video of their animals on Facebook Live, Periscope, and Snapchat. (You can learn how to master Facebook Live with the help of this free guide.)

[Live-streams are] not super-rehearsed. They really are authentic. We focus on the animal, we focus on the story, and we don’t script it. We have an outline of what we want to be reviewed during the live webcast, but we make sure they’re naturally delivered. They’re really not rehearsed. They just happen. We do schedule and plan them, and we do know what’s going to be discussed, but we make it really authentic. It’s a one-take deal.”

Key Takeaways:

  • All organizations have a story to tell, whether it’s about their mission, an individual, or a certain achievement. Give it the direction it needs to garner attention from media.
  • Don’t just talk about yourself: Get others to talk about you on social media and in the press to earn more attention. (Here’s a handy PR guide to help with that.)
  • Live streams should be raw, unscripted, and authentic: You can practice using the technology, but ultimately, remain flexible to allow room for more genuine content. (Check out this live streaming checklist before you get started.)
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with how and where you’re sharing video content. For example, the aquarium turns over their Snapchat to trainers working with animals 1:1 so followers can see how the aquarium helps marine life up close.
  • Learn about your audience and where to reach them: For the aquarium, it’s mothers on Facebook.

Duration: 25:20

2) Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield: How to Get Started with Facebook Live

Click here to listen to this podcast episode

This episode of Amy Porterfield’s marketing podcast features Kim Garst of Boom Social, where they discuss best practices and strategies for using Facebook Live. Main themes of this episode included determining how often to broadcast, apprehension about broadcasting live and making mistakes, and uncertainty about measuring success.

I think the reason live video is so impactful (again, this is my opinion and what I’ve seen through my personal experiences and watching other people) is that people are so attracted to people who are not just real, but people that are relatable. In other words, they can see themselves having that issue.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Consistency is a contributor to successful live streams: Create a regular schedule on Facbeook Live or Periscope to expand your reach after you stop broadcasting live.
  • Carefully choose your broadcast’s headline: Remember, this is an opportunity to grab more attention from followers.
  • Incorporate an offer into pre-outreach for your Facebook Live event. For example, tell followers that you’ll be giving away promo codes, ebooks, or checklists that they can only download if they tune in.
  • Have a strategy to achieve a specific goal for every single broadcast, and don’t just talk for the sake of sharing.
  • Find a way to capture people’s attention while they scroll: Facebook only counts “Views” as users who watched for 10 seconds or more.

Duration: 55:31

3) Social Media Marketing: Content Creation Hacks

Click here to listen to this podcast episode

This episode, hosted by Social Media Examiner Founder and CEO Michael Stelzner, focuses on social media content creation with the help of special guest and social media pro, Nick Westergaard.

In the interview, Westergaard discusses the fact that everyone knows they need to create content, but not everyone knows how to do it most effectively. Many content creators don’t operate with a comprehensive strategy, which can make people object putting in the work to make content pay off. Westergaard mentions the term “checklist marketing,” which he says refers to marketers tackling every new marketing strategy like an item on a to-do list without objectives or strategy in mind.

You have to gamify it a little bit and think about, if you’re creating one thing, how many more things can I create out of this? … By planning one piece of content, I create many.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Try a team approach to social media content creation to both share the workload and curate a diverse array of content — even from colleagues who aren’t marketers.
  • Experiment with user-generated content: Develop a campaign around an event or hashtag so your followers are sharing photos and messages that you can share with your networks.
  • Repurpose content: If you’re writing a blog post or designing an infographic (here are some helpful templates for that), find a way to create smaller pieces of it that can be used as social media posts. Additionally, you can string smaller pieces of content together to create an ebook or guide.
  • Take part in #TBT: Align your older content with current events and re-share it on social media. This takes advantage of nostalgia marketing and re-promotes content you’ve already created.

Duration: 41:08

4) TED Radio Hour: Why Do We Like What We Like?

Click here to listen to this podcast episode

In this episode of the TED Talks podcast, host Guy Raz interviews several TED speakers who’ve talked about branding:

  • Filmmaker and Producer of Super Size Me Morgan Spurlock discusses how brands impact our purchasing decisions.
  • Management Advisor and Author Joseph Pine touches on the power of authenticity.
  • Ogilvy & Mather Group’s Vice Chairman Rory Sutherland explores the real versus perceived value of different products.

Their discussions are varied and well worth the full listen, but the overarching theme was how brands’ perception impacts their success (or lack thereof). Pine mentions that customers make choices because they’re bought into the dreams and imagery surrounding big brands, and that once they start using the product, they start to believe the message.

Ubiquity is the death of authenticity.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Take advantage of the opportunity to cultivate and promote what makes your brand unique. There’s always room for bragging on social media — just do it in moderation.
  • Be authentic and real, but don’t say that’s what you’re doing. Consumers want authenticity, not disingenuity.
  • Tell stories with a sense of place to drive greater authenticity: Set the stage when sharing blog posts, updates, and videos on social media so followers can see the kind of activities your organization is up to.
  • A/B test different types of post on social platforms to see how they perform comparatively: Consumers don’t objectively think a product or service is good or bad — branding and marketing messages impact their perception, and that’s in your hands.

Duration: 49:13

5) The Growth Show: Episode 100: Guy Kawasaki’s Unconventional Advice on Growth

Click here to listen to this podcast episode

In this episode of The Growth Show, HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar sat down with Canva Chief Evangelist Guy Kawasaki to discuss Instagram Stories versus Snapchat Stories, Facebook Live video, and organizational growth challenges.

During the discussion, Kawasaki admits that he prefers Instagram to Snapchat due to its superior content discoverability features and analytics options. And when it comes to Facebook Live, he is bought in.

In fact, he mentions that while taking a break from streaming on vacation, his Facebook reach was only 400,000 users, versus the 1 million users he sees when he’s streaming regularly. (Spoiler alert: He also lets listeners in on his secrets to greater engagement during live streams — but you’ll have to listen to find out what they are.)

I don’t want positive, supportive, wonderful, reinforcing engagement on social media. I want any kind of engagement.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Facebook Live drives greater engagement and reach than publishing recorded video or sharing a YouTube link.
  • When you’re streaming live on Facebook, have a second screen (and ideally a teammate) available to see what comments or questions are rolling in from your audience so you can answer them live.
  • Ask your audience questions while you’re streaming live to increase comments, Likes, and followers.
  • Publish regularly and frequently to increase engagement on social media platforms.

Duration: 35:01

6) Hashtagged: Focusing on Creating Content and Community Versus Being an Influencer with Dan Joyce

Click here to listen to this podcast episode

In this episode of Hashtagged, host Jordan Powers interviews Dan Joyce, a content creator on Instagram, about the cultivation of vibrant and engaged social media communities. Joyce was one of Instagram’s very first users.

They swap stories about how they started using Instagram first as a creative outlet, and then eventually as a tool for content creation and personal networking. As a professional content creator, Joyce initially began experimenting with Instagram, but it’s since evolved into a powerful network that photographers and other content creators can harness:

[The] platform has provided a breadth of knowledge about photography and content creation in a way that makes big social network a lot smaller … There are so many types of content being shared on Instagram, it’s created its own ecosystem.”

Key Takeaways:

  • You can’t force becoming an influencer or thought leader, even on social media. Share lots of unique and creative content to grow your social network, and followers will come after.
  • Individuals and brands can use Instagram as a more professional portfolio of photographs and Snapchat as a more lighthearted photo log of their day-to-day.
  • Experiment with the types of posts you share on Instagram: Powers found that when his posts are more about content creation than networking, they end up performing better. (Here are 18 photo and video ideas for Instagram to try.)

Duration: 40:18

7) Inbound Marketing Today: 7 Social Media Mistakes Companies Make & How You Can Avoid Them

Click here to listen to this podcast episode

Inbound Marketing Today is hosted by Neil Brown, founder of the Brown Creative Group, and in this episode, he discusses common mistakes businesses are making on social media:

  1. Treating all social media sites as if they’re the same and not changing up how you share content.
  2. Too much automation.
  3. Not posting on social media frequently enough.
  4. Not responding to questions or comments.
  5. Deleting negative posts, comments, and reviews.
  6. Trying to be active on every social media channel.
  7. Not having a lead generation strategy.

You want to use automation to make marketing more efficient, not to appear as a bot. Social media should be social.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Social media is an arm of your customer service team: Aim to be helpful, positive, and delightful to your customers.
  • It’s better for engagement to have a comprehensive strategy for only two social media platforms than to post at random on all platforms.
  • Maintain your voice’s authenticity. You’re a human speaking for an organization, so don’t forget to be real, and connect with people when they seek assistance or give feedback.

Duration: 12:14

8) Social Pros: Why Most Social Media Writing Sucks & How to Fix It

Click here to listen to this podcast episode

In this episode of Convince and Convert’s Social Pros, hosts Jay Baer and Adam Brown interview Josh Bernoff — chief troublemaker at Without Bullsh*t — about writing quality content for social media.

Bernoff’s mission is to eliminate convoluted writing from marketing, and he thinks it’s a challenge because we were rewarded for writing long papers when we first learned to write in school. Now, that experience is impacting social media posts, press releases, and blog posts in a detrimental way.

You’re not creating art. You’re creating effective communication, and there’s nothing wrong with doing that simply and directly.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Get to the point. You should aim to say what you mean in the first 2-3 sentences of whatever you’re writing.
  • Adopt Baer’s ROAM content marketing checklist: Who are the readers? What are your objectives? What follow-up action do you want to inspire from the reader? What impression will people have of your organization when they read your content?
  • Always have another set of eyes look over your content, even Facebook captions. Never publish a first draft.

Duration: 53:40

9) #AskGaryVee: YouTube Growth Strategies, Business Risks & VanyerMedia’s New Office

Click here to listen to this podcast episode

In his podcast #AskGaryVee, Digital Marketing Expert Gary Vanyerchuk answers questions from his followers (delightfully coined “VanyerPeeps”), and his entertaining responses make it worth the listen. At the beginning of this episode, Vanyerchuk answers questions from a VaynerPeep about strategies for hacking YouTube growth.

Vanyerchuk believes that for all content creation — be it blog, video, or social media — the distribution is more important than the creation, and that those priorities are often the opposite to modern marketers. It’s not enough to write a great blog post, or produce a great YouTube video: it has to be seen and picked up by the right people, and that won’t happen unless you hustle for it.

You have to continue to bring value and produce good content, but you also need people to know about it.

Key Takeaways:

  • Try collaborating with other YouTubers or influencers in your space on social media. If you can’t offer them exposure, what can you offer them in exchange for their partnership? Always offer value.
  • Use targeted hashtags on Instagram to grow your audience there. Do some research to determine which tags are generating the highest levels of engagement.
  • Join forums within your industry communities to develop a network of support that you can reach out to for social sharing, promotion, and participation in your social media campaigns.

Duration: 17:55 (YouTube answer ends at 8:00)

10) Social Media Social Hour: Behind the Data: A Quantitative Look at the Future of Social Media

Click here to listen to this podcast episode

In this episode of Social Media Social Hour, presented by Scoreboard Social and Casual Fridays, host Tyler Anderson interviews CEO of the Social Fresh, Jason Keath, to discuss the outlook of the future of social media. Social Fresh recently conducted a survey of over 500 participants about how brands are measuring, or not measuring, the ROI of their social media strategies.

Anderson and Keath discussed many of the findings in the report, with results often circling back to the outlook that video will continue to dominate social media in terms of engagement and ROI. This episode provides in-depth analysis and conversation without being too lengthy, with lots of helpful tips and actionable next steps for listeners along the way.

No one is seeing a return on what they’re doing on Snapchat right now… but people are passionate about the engagement opportunity.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Prioritize social networks that deliver the greatest ROI: According to the report, those networks are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn (in that order).
  • Instagram is projected to overtake Twitter in terms of popularity and ROI. Keath speculates that it’s because Instagram is less saturated than Twitter, which leads to greater engagement.
  • Get the ball rolling on a video strategy: The number of respondents creating video assets on a monthly basis is growing — it ranked third for assets marketers are creating after images and blog posts.

Duration: 35:10

Are you a social media marketer? What podcasts do you listen to that we missed? Share with us in the comments below.

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