Category Archives: Marketing Strategies

6 Ways to Support Black-Owned Businesses During the Holidays

2020 has presented unprecedented challenges for businesses. COVID-19 has forced most to pivot their strategies online and adapt to a growing digital landscape. While some have been able to stay afloat, others haven’t been as successful and many have had to close their doors permanently as a result.

Black-owned businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the global pandemic. In the United States, 26% of Black-owned businesses closed their doors permanently between February and May of 2020, compared to 11% of white-owned businesses.

That’s why, this holiday season, HubSpot is joining Google, the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and other companies participating in Black-owned Fridays — an initiative to drive visibility and support for Black-owned businesses.

I spoke with Gianne Doherty, Founder of Organic Bath Co., to learn more about what businesses, and consumers, can do to support Black-owned businesses during this holiday season. Below are a few thoughts she offered during our conversation.

How to Support Black-Owned Businesses

1. Tell someone about a business or product.

Doherty started by saying that the simplest way to support Black-owned businesses during the holiday season is to tell people about their products. When you buy something cool or get a good deal, tell a friend. Online customer reviews are great, but a one-on-one interaction is usually the best way to convince someone to check out a business or product you love.

If you don’t know of any Black-owned businesses in your area, Doherty recommends heading to Google and doing a quick search. There are plenty of resources that can direct you to a Black-owned business in your area — one of which is the Official Black Wall Street Directory.

She also proposed searching social media sites to find Black-owned businesses online. For instance, if you search “#BlackOwnedBusiness” on Twitter, you can find plenty of accounts managed by Black business owners — liking, reposting, and sharing their content is also a great way to support these businesses.

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2. Refer customers to Black-owned businesses.

Word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly important for small businesses, especially if you’re operating in a B2B setting. Doherty noted that customer referrals make a huge impact on buying decisions, because customers will trust each other’s recommendations more than they’ll trust your brand’s advertisements. If you have the opportunity this holiday season, refer a Black-owned business to your customers or peers and help promote their brand.

Doherty also emphasized the importance of focusing on the value of the products and services you’re referring — and not just the fact that they’re Black-owned. After all, “shopping Black or shopping small doesn’t mean lower quality,” as she put it. When making a referral, Doherty encouraged people to highlight the benefits of the product or service along with the fact that they have been created by individuals who have been historically underfunded.

3. Shop early during the holidays.

The holidays are already a busy time for small businesses, and COVID-19 has made it even more difficult to keep pace with customer demand. In the United States, 99% of minority-owned businesses are small businesses, which means that many don’t have their own shipping operations like Amazon or Walmart.

Most small businesses in the United States use the United States Postal Service (USPS) when shipping their products, which can lead to delays as orders pile up around the holidays. Doherty recommends that customers try to buy their products early in the holiday season to avoid any potential problems that might occur with shipping.

4. Be patient with small businesses.

Alongside shopping early, Doherty also noted that customers will need to be a little more patient with small businesses this year. The holidays are already busy as it is and now, with COVID-19, many businesses are still learning how to adapt their marketing, sales, and customer service strategies. There are likely to be some new roadblocks to tackle this year, and customers need to be patient with small businesses as they work to overcome those challenges.

Black-owned businesses have already saw an increase in customer demand this year when searches for Black-owned businesses increased by over 7,000% between May and July. Unfortunately, this growth has declined since, creating a greater need for buyers to support Black-owned businesses during the holidays. While it’s wonderful to see a sudden spark of interest over the summer, Doherty encouraged buyers to continually support Black-owned businesses year-round and not just when it’s trendy.

5. Partner with Black-owned companies.

If you’re a business owner, one way you can partner with black-owned businesses is on promotional campaigns. Doherty, for example, has been partnering with other Black-owned businesses to hold giveaways. She’ll give away another brand’s product while that brand will give away one of hers. This is a great way for each company to raise awareness for the other among their customer bases.

Here’s one example from her company’s Instagram page, where she partnered with two other Black-owned beauty brands to give away products.

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6. Buy from Black-owned businesses.

At the end of the day, the best way to support Black-owned businesses is to buy their products. Doherty said, “We’re voting with our dollars.” The businesses where we spend our money will be the ones that grow and thrive. If we don’t consciously shop at Black-owned businesses, we will continue to lose them at a disproportionate rate. If you really want to support Black-owned businesses this year, go out and purchase one of their products and tell a friend about them, too.

These are just a few of the ideas that Gianne Doherty wanted to share for Black-owned Friday. We hope it brings some attention to Black-owned businesses, especially those that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.

If you’re a Black business owner and are looking for ways to optimize your visibility this season, below are a few resources from Google that can help you reach new customers.

How to Get Support If You’re a Black Business Owner

Here are three things that Google recommends doing if you’re a Black business owner.

 

How to Get Started With CRM-Powered Advertising [+ Why You Should]

HubSpot was founded during a time when people were under constant attack from aggressive outbound marketing tactics.

I’m sure nobody misses the unwanted ads, spam emails, and cold calls that used to interrupt their day back in the mid-00s.

Ad retargeting wasn’t a thing, so we all had to settle for repeatedly seeing the same ads for products we had absolutely no interest in.

Marketing has changed a lot since then. Thankfully.

Nowadays, companies have the ability to develop engaging advertising campaigns that complement their inbound strategies and speak directly to their audiences’ needs. The concept of journey-based advertising has been widely adopted and marketers can now create customized content for individuals at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

Targeting has become more sophisticated, meaning that ads are now less interruptive and more informative — so sophisticated, in fact, that that we now take for granted the quality of the ads we get served in our Instagram feeds and YouTube videos.

Dare we say it — in some cases, the ad suggestions are actually really useful: “Oh, hey ad for that new running watch that I didn’t know I needed but now am obsessed with.” There is still a lot of bad advertising and mediocre marketing out there, but it’s important to recognize just how far we’ve come.

But, as advertising capabilities have evolved, so too has the digital landscape. And that has created a host of new challenges for marketers.

Cutting Through the Noise

There’s more choice online now than ever before, and what was previously helpful has, in many cases, become noise. Where we were once served two ads a day for a new jacket, we’re now served 22. Where there was once three restaurants in the local area offering takeaway menus, there’s now 30.

In 2020, this trend has accelerated due to COVID-19, as more and more businesses have moved online and added to the ever-increasing competition for attention. This increased volume of noise is causing consumers to tune out, and customer acquisition costs to go up. And marketers are struggling to make an impact.

To overcome these new challenges, marketers need a new approach — one that allows them to adapt the way they advertise to how consumers like to buy.

Today, the buyer’s journey is rarely linear. Consumers now interact with brands on laptops and smartphones and via social media, websites, and third-party influencers on the path to a purchase. And they still expect a consistent brand experience throughout.

Nowadays, the only way advertisers can break through the noise online and deliver a seamless experience across multiple touchpoints is with extreme relevance: both in terms of content and location.

Relevant messaging is the key to grabbing consumers’ attention, engaging them, and guiding them to the next stage of the buyer’s journey. The first step towards delivering this is meeting the audience where they are. With over four billion people worldwide now working from home, consumers’ purchasing behavior and content consumption habits are changing rapidly.

In the U.S., staying home has led to a 60% increase in the amount of content consumed — Americans are now watching roughly 12 hours of media content a day, according to Nielsen data. Knowing where an audience is paying attention is as important as knowing what messaging is likely to resonate.

Once a marketer understands where their target audience is spending their time, the next challenge is to create ad content that addresses their needs in an engaging way and is tailored to whichever stage of the buyer’s journey they are at.

For example, if a prospect is at the attract stage, an ad that helps them become more familiar with a brand name and core value proposition would probably perform much better than a niche ad that highlights a specific new feature. That type of ad would likely work better with audiences that are much closer to a purchase decision and comparing the feature sets of different products.

However, most companies today are struggling to deliver the type of relevant, engaging ad content that resonates with consumers. And, in most cases, the cause can be traced back to a disconnection between their marketing, website, and sales efforts.

When these elements aren’t working in unison, it becomes extremely difficult for marketers to get a clear view of where prospects are spending their time and which stage the buyer’s journey they are at. This makes it virtually impossible for them to deliver relevant messaging and leaves them with little choice but to resort to those dated outbound tactics I mentioned earlier.

In 2021, the secret to delivering better advertising lies in marketers’ ability to unlock the data at their disposal and leverage it to deliver hyper-relevant messaging and a unified buying experience.

At HubSpot, we call it ‘CRM-powered advertising.’

A Data-Driven Approach to Advertising

CRM-powered advertising enables marketers to create more relevant, engaging ads for prospects in three key ways:

  1. By providing them with up-to-date customer data, which allows them to understand their audiences’ preferences and purchase intent.
  2. By giving them reliable reporting based on holistic customer data, which provides insights into what’s working and what’s not.
  3. By enabling them to automate their ads based on live CRM data, which allows them to continually deliver relevant ads as prospects move to different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Say you’re a demand generation specialist working at a B2B company. Competition is rising in your industry and you’ve seen a decline in the number of qualified leads coming from your ads each month. You know that a more targeted and personalized approach is needed. And you turn to CRM-powered advertising.

As a first step, you create a different campaign for each stage of the buyer’s journey. For the attract stage, for example, you use data in your CRM to create a lookalike audience based on your happiest customers. This will be your target audience. You know that your company’s security features are a key differentiator in the market so you create ads that highlight that aspect of your value proposition.

Because the target audience you’ve created is reflective of your best customers, you get a high percentage of click-throughs. This leads prospects towards the next stage of the buyer’s journey, where they get the opportunity to download an ebook to learn more about your company’s products and services. Your software gives you the ability to create custom fields on the download form, which helps you to gain more granular preference data, and ultimately, get to know your prospects better.

You have set up your campaign to automatically route these new leads to your sales team, and because you’re working out of a shared CRM, you see a number of prospects move into the “demo” stage of their journey.

Again, using your CRM data, you sync these lifecycle stages to the display network you’re using, which automatically begins to serve a new set of ads to prospects based on the next stage of their journey. This allows you to deliver hyper-relevant messaging that addresses the pain points that are specific to prospects who are on the verge of making a purchase decision, such as social proof from happy customers.

As deals close, you then use attribution reporting to see exactly which new customers engaged with your ads and report to your leadership team on the number of deals your CRM-powered strategy influenced.

How to Get Started With CRM-Powered Advertising

HubSpot’s Marketing Hub is built to enable marketers to launch CRM-powered advertising campaigns and deliver a seamless experience for prospects — from the first time they see an ad to the moment they become a customer and beyond.

It offers ads tools that allow marketers to build deeply segmented audiences, serve different ads for different stages of the buyer’s journey, and precisely measure the performance of every campaign — all informed by rich CRM data.

Advertising has come a long way since the days of interruptive, irrelevant, and irritating content that once dominated our screens. A new era is unfolding — one in which consumers expect relevant messaging across every touchpoint and in which companies must find new ways to cut through the ever-increasing volume of noise online.

A CRM-powered advertising strategy, driven by a CRM platform built with this purpose in mind, empowers marketers to not only gain deeper insights into their customers’ needs, but to turn those insights into engaging content with the potential to delight prospects at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

What Is a Focus Group in 100 Words or Less [+ Pros and Cons]

In an ideal world, you’d know just how your product or business idea would be perceived before it’s released. This knowledge could help you make alterations to what you’re offering for the best possible reception, and better inform your sales projections and marketing strategy.

Sadly, you’ll never know exactly how what you’re selling will be received by your target audience, which is why companies conduct market research.

But, while mass data collection through surveys provides you with necessary quantitative information, it doesn’t offer as much qualitative insight into your target market’s view or opinion of what you’re selling.

This is where a focus group comes in.

So, what is a focus group, and how can it help you navigate your market research? Let’s explore those two questions, next.

What is a focus group?

In the context of market research for businesses, a focus group is a cohort of individuals participating in a guided discussion about a business, brand, product, and/or service.

Typically, a focus group is facilitated by representatives from the business and is composed of individuals in the business’s target market who share their thoughts and opinions on the topic or offering in question.

A focus group is usually moderated by a representative or representatives of the company, who ask 5-10 questions to the participants over the course of 30-60 minutes, with another facilitator keeping notes on the focus group questionnaire.

Follow Along With a Free Focus Group Questionnaire Template

HubSpot’s Market Research Kit includes a questionnaire template to use in your focus groups, as well as four more templates to aid you in your market research efforts. You can download the kit here to help you plan your focus group and market research.

You can also read more about the process of conducting an effective focus group in our blog post, How to Run a Focus Group for Your Business.

Next, let’s explore the pros and cons of a focus group. 

The Pros of a Focus Group

1. You get the story behind the data.

In focus groups, qualitative data takes center stage. Survey data is unbelievably powerful, but it’s hard to understand the rationale for the numbers without context. Focus groups are a way to understand how someone truly feels about your business and provide the why behind the data.

If someone answers a question in a way that interests you, you’ll have the chance to dig deeper. Ask “Why?” See how the other participants feel about the specific answer. Gauge facial expressions and tone of voice to see how people react to what you’re talking about. You’ll end up with the emotional input from your target market that your surveys may not be able to provide.

2. Focus groups are interactive.

Those responding to a survey or a questionnaire can’t pick up your products or use them, but they can in a focus group. If the subject of your focus group is tangible, observe and ask questions about how participants use the product and feel about the packaging and design.

Here, you’ll see your product through the end-users’ eyes, which can help you realize something you hadn’t before.

3. They’re more efficient than interviews.

Interviewing individuals can take much longer than running focus groups with the same amount of people. Say you want to interview 100 people, and each interview or focus group takes one hour. Getting the opinions of those 100 people would take 100 hours if interviewed, but only 20 hours if participants were broken up into groups of five.

This way, you can get qualitative feedback from multiple people in a shorter amount of time — an enormous time saver, especially if most of your participants think alike.

The Cons of a Focus Group

1. They’re not entirely representative.

What you gain from depth of opinion from focus groups, you lose in sample size.

Because focus groups take longer than surveys, you’ll hear from dozens or hundreds of people in more time than it could take you to hear from thousands of people through your own surveys or exploring secondary research, such as previously conducted studies or surveys.

This constricts the amount of people whose input you’ll receive, which means your findings may not represent the opinions of your entire target market.

2. They could encourage groupthink.

Have you ever been in a meeting where one or two people voice an idea you disagree with, but everyone else agrees with the idea before you have the chance to say your piece?

As a result, maybe you decide to go along with the idea … even though you’re not its biggest fan?

That’s called groupthink, and it happens when a group rallies behind a vocalized idea that not everyone believes is correct for the sake of moving on or attempting to avoid a conflict.

Focus groups can quickly turn into one or two participants providing the bulk of the answers while the other four or five silently nod in agreement. The problem is you’re now only getting input from two participants – not the entire focus group, as intended.

You can avoid this by calling on specific group members to answer in-depth, but some may be reluctant due to shyness or disinterest.

3. Your focus group moderators may have confirmation bias.

Focus group moderators are often attached to the project in question, and can come into the session with an idea of where they think it will — or want it to — go.

For example, one moderator may want a product to be priced, packaged, or colored a certain way, and can lead the discussion towards that conclusion. This is known as observer dependency.

For instance, let’s say one moderator wants a product to be colored blue, and poses the open question to the group: “What color should this be?”

After everyone responds — and no one says blue — she might ask, “What about blue, would that work?” Everyone silently nods, and she notes that the group agreed blue would be a good color, despite that being far from the perfect truth.

To overcome this, focus group moderators should be explicitly instructed to put their personal preferences aside and act as an objective group facilitator. You could also work with a market research firm, which typically has less interest in the product or subject than those from the business who are actually creating it.

Focus groups may not be the most efficient source of gathering data, but when used appropriately, they can put a face and an emotion behind the statistics and quantitative data you’ve gathered to better inform your business, marketing, and product development.

Remember, focus groups are most effective when moderators organize their thoughts ahead of time and take notes during the session on a focus group questionnaire — which you can access for free here in our Market Research Kit.

Beyond Responsive Design: How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile Users

Everyone can acknowledge the importance of a mobile-friendly website, especially after Google’s Mobilegeddon algorithm update.

Mobile optimization is here to stay, and it’s demanding more and more of businesses and their websites. But mobile optimization is about more than just a responsive website design.

In this article, we tell you why and how to adopt a mobile-first mindset for your website.

Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm change in 2015 (and a few more since then) was evidence that the search engine recognizes its responsibility to surface websites that painlessly get users what they need at the time that they need it.

Google doesn’t want to send mobile users to websites that provide a frustrating browsing experience — that would damage its promise to its users to always deliver helpful, relevant content.

Moreover, this algorithm change was and is a signal of a much larger shift that’s afoot — consumer behavior is changing, and it’s your job to adapt.

Building a mobile-friendly website is step one, but tweaking your website will not keep you ahead of consumers’ changing behavior and expectations.

In short, you have to infuse your marketing strategy with a mobile-first mindset. Here’s how.

1. Map your customer journey.

Imagine the experience of Sally, a young marketer who has just moved to Chicago. While out for a walk, Sally passes by a hair salon and realizes she needs a haircut. She pulls out her phone a search for hairstylists in Chicago who specialize in curls and color. Her Google search pops up Joann’s Stylez.

She flips through the website quickly and wants to research more, but it’s too hard while on the move — so she texts herself a link. When she gets home, she opens her texts on her tablet and quickly checks Yelp reviews, examines her calendar, and then books an appointment using the simple form on the Joann’s website.

When Sally loads up her laptop later that night to check her email, she discovers an email from Joann’s that confirms her appointment and gives her the option to add it to her calendar. The next day, 30 minutes before her appointment, she receives a push notification on her work computer reminding her of the appointment.

The next day, Sally receives a mobile email asking for feedback on the cut and offering to set up a recurring appointment at a discounted rate. She’s sold.

Sally’s experience is illustrative of the cross-device, omnichannel journey that many customers now make as they move through the marketing funnel. Every day, consumers switch a handful of different devices when completing common tasks such as online shopping, readying blog posts, booking appointments, or communicating with each other.

HubSpot’s Blogging Software equips you to publish relevant, conversion-optimized content you can preview on any device — allowing you to engage with customers wherever they are.

Consumers now expect this type of experience from all of their digital interactions. They want to be able to accomplish whatever fits their fancy on whatever device is at hand. This means that simply adapting your site to look nice on different devices is not enough. As a marketer, you must dig deeper into your customers’ and prospects’ lives.

For example, at HubSpot, we know that a visitor on a mobile device is very unlikely to fill out a long form on one of our landing pages. So we started using Smart Content to automatically shorten the form when a mobile viewer is looking at it. By doing this, our mobile prospects increased by 5x.

2. Seize intent-rich micro-moments.

You’ve likely already developed a strong set of buyer personas. You’ve conducted user research and testing to understand which content and CTAs to present to each persona as they move down the funnel. You must now go a step further. You must understand both the rhythm and rhyme to when, why, with what, and from where people are interacting with your website and content.

Google encourages marketers to identify the “micro-moments” in a customer’s journey:

Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device — increasingly a smartphone — to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped.

A number of brands have figured out how to anticipate and capitalize on these micro-moments. Apple Passbook loads up your Starbucks card when you’re near a coffee shop. Hertz sends you an email when your plane lands to let your know that your car is ready. Starwood allows you to check in and open your hotel room with your smartphone.

Consumers are increasingly becoming acclimated to companies offering such intimately responsive experiences. 59% of shoppers say that being able to shop on mobile is important when deciding which brand or retailer to buy from, and 39% of smartphone users are more likely to browse or shop a company or brand’s mobile app because it’s easier or faster to make a purchase.

How can you figure out these micro-moments and design your content to meet prospects’ intent? Tap into your data. Here are three analyses you should start with:

  • Search: Which queries, ads and keywords are bringing users on different devices to your website and landing pages? Once they land on your site, what types of searches are users on different devices performing?
  • Content: Examine the content that users access by stage in the funnel and by device. Is there a trend around what prospects on their phones are downloading? Sharing?
  • Flow: Dig into a flow analysis segmented by device. What is the path mobile-using prospects follow? What is the path tablet-using customers follow? From what sites and sources are these visitors arriving?

After building your trove of micro-moments, it would be easy to think: “Okay, we just need to strip our website down to the specific things our visitors will mostly likely want to access on the go.”

But mobile users are not limited to completing short, simple tasks. The device does not directly imply location or intent.

A busy professional may use her commute time to conduct in-depth industry research on her phone, process her email inbox on her tablet while watching a movie with her family, and browse the websites of potential contractors while flying across the country.

Confirming this intuition, the Pew Research Center’s study of U.S. smartphone found that 99% of smartphone owners use their phone at home, 82% use their phones while in transit, and 69% use their phone at work each week. (This study was conducted in 2015, but we believe it’s still relevant, if not more so, today.)

People don’t want a stripped down set of content. Instead, they want quick and easy access to the materials they need on whatever device they happen to be using.Thus, while you want to optimize your site, landing pages, emails, etc. for micro-moments, you do not want to force visitors into a box from which they cannot escape.

3. Consider (and reconsider) your metrics.

The metrics you established in the desktop-centric days may not seamlessly translate to our new multi-device, micro-moment world. For example, you might have fought tirelessly to find ways to increase visitors’ time on your site, recognizing that more time means higher engagement, which translates to higher conversion.

The micro-moments you identify for mobile visitors, however, might suggest that you want a lower time-on-site. A prospect visiting the website of a consulting firm may be looking for:

  • An infographic they want to show a coworker
  • The bio of a partner with whom they are about to meet
  • A case study to read while traveling

In order to meet this prospect’s expectations for their mobile experience, you must design your website to quickly and intuitively help them find the specific piece of information for which they are looking. If their mobile visit is distracting, frustrating, or too time consuming, you’ve damaged their perception of your brand.

4. Embrace the intimacy of mobile.

For better or worse, I go to bed with my phone (reviewing tomorrow’s schedule and reading a nighttime meditation) and I wake up with my phone (silencing the alarm and checking the weather). I communicate with my partner and my best friends everyday — all through my phone. When my MBA classmate sends a GIF of Tyra Banks being sassy, I turn my phone to the person next to me, and we have a good laugh together.

Day-in and day-out, these interactions create an intimate connection between my phone and me. And I’m not alone: Most consumers imbue their mobile experiences with more intimacy than desktop experiences. The Pew Research Center found that Americans view their smartphones as freeing, connecting, and helpful, and associate their phones with feelings of happiness and productivity. These associations can inspire greater engagement with and interest in content.

As marketers, we should take advantage of these trends and consider how to make our prospects’ mobile experience more personal and social. Perhaps change your website to increase the proportion of social CTAs you display when someone arrives on mobile.

5. Remember the basics and think ahead.

Overall, embracing the mobile mindset means ensuring that the entire customer journey is responsive, relevant, actionable, and frictionless. As a marketer, you want to help consumers quickly and easily find what they want to find and do what they want to do. Again, this means thinking ahead, understanding when, with what device, and from where your prospects will interact with your content.

This can seem daunting, but mostly it means diligently applying the basics across channels. For example, since nearly half of all emails are opened on mobile, ensure your emails are mobile optimized. We recommend doing the following:

  1. Use large, easy-to-read text.
  2. Use large, clear images and reduce file sizes.
  3. Keep layouts simple and invest in responsive templates.
  4. Use large, mobile-friendly calls-to-action and links.

Recognizing the personal associations people have with their phones, you’ll want to ensure that the “From” name is familiar and that the preview text is inviting. And think ahead: Don’t email a link to a form or an event registration landing page that is not mobile-friendly.

Use HubSpot’s Free Landing Page Builder to launch landing pages that look perfect across devices and automatically change content based on who’s viewing your page.

Over to You: Time to Optimize

Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to living the mobile mindset and weathering the change in consumers’ digital behavior. Move quickly and your organization could be at the head of the pack.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

13 Businesses With Brilliant Global Marketing Strategies

Guess what? Global marketing is no longer reserved for brands with deep pockets, nor is it a huge hassle for already over-burdened marketing managers.

In fact, a global presence is possible for any business with a creative strategy and an understanding of world markets.

What Is Good Global Marketing?

Global marketing is the act of focusing a product on the needs of potential buyers in other countries. 

Like most types of marketing, though, a global marketing strategy comes down to one thing: audience. Knowing who needs your product, in what form to deliver it to them, and how to do it in a way that strengthens the brand are core ingredients of awesome global marketing.

Typically, a global marketing strategy requires a business to do new market research, identify countries where the business’s product might be successful, and then localize the brand to reflect the needs of those communities. However, localization is not always necessary. Some brands adopt a global standardization strategy instead.

In contrast to localization, where there’s a more differentiated marketing approach to each market, global standardization provides significant cost benefits as a result of less messaging and fewer campaigns.

However, the key is in knowing when a global standardization strategy will be effective. Because it banks on a universal appeal despite cultural or locational differences, you’ll need to research whether customers use or think about your products differently depending on their market. If there’s no difference between the usage and understanding from country to country, a global standardization approach is practical.

Choosing localization or global standardization is one aspect of creating a great global marketing strategy.

 

To give you an idea of what a great global marketing strategy looks like, we’ve compiled a list of brands that totally “get it.”

From adapting their social strategies to translate across multiple languages to adjusting their menus to appeal to the cravings of a diverse group of people, these brands are taking positive steps toward creating a solid presence across the globe.

So, if you’re looking for inspiration on how to craft a successful international marketing strategy and expand your business’ reach, check out these examples from these successful companies.

1. Red Bull

Austrian company Red Bull does such a great job with global marketing that many Americans assume it’s a local brand. How?

One of its most successful tactics is to host extreme sports events all over the world. From the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix to the Red Bull Air Race in the United Kingdom to the Red Bull Soapbox Race in Jordan, the brand’s powerful event marketing strategy takes them here, there, and everywhere.

Red Bull website showing global map of extreme sports events

Aside from events, Red Bull’s packaging also plays a part in its global appeal.

“Red Bull really looks like a product from a global economy. It doesn’t look like a traditional American soft drink — it’s not in a 12-ounce can, it’s not sold in a bottle, and it doesn’t have script lettering like Pepsi or Coke. It looks European. That matters,” explains Harvard Business School professor Nancy F. Koehn in a 2001 article. Though it’s since diversified its product selection since that article was published, the fact remains that Red Bull’s consistent packaging has helped this brand go global.

2. Airbnb

Airbnb, a community marketplace for people to list and book accommodations around the world, was founded in 2008 out of San Francisco, California.

Since then, Airbnb has grown to 1,500,000+ listings in 34,000+ cities worldwide. A large contributor to the company’s explosive global success? Social media.

In January 2015, Airbnb launched a social media campaign around the hashtag #OneLessStranger. The company referred to the campaign as a “global, social experiment,” in which Airbnb asked the community to perform random acts of hospitality for strangers, and then take a video or photo with the person and share it using the hashtag.

Just three weeks after the launch of the campaign, over 3,000,000 people worldwide engaged, created content, or were talking about the campaign.

3. Dunkin Donuts

In case you missed it, National Donut Day was last June. And while we were getting our hands dirty with a Boston creme (or two) here in the states, Dunkin Donuts China was serving up a fresh batch of dry pork and seaweed donuts.

Global marketing strategy by Dunkin Donuts to celebrate National Donut Day in China

With over 3,200 stores in 36 countries outside of the U.S., Dunkin Donuts has evolved its menu to satisfy the sweet tooth of its global customers.

From Korea’s Grapefruit Coolata to Lebanon’s Mango Chocolate Donut to Russia’s Dunclairs, it’s clear that Dunkin Donuts isn’t afraid to celebrate cultural differences in an effort to strengthen its international presence.

4. Domino’s

Similar to Dunkin Donuts, Domino’s has prioritized menu innovation as a means of increasing international interest and awareness.

“The joy of pizza is that bread, sauce, and cheese works fundamentally everywhere, except maybe China, where dairy wasn’t a big part of their diet until lately,” explains Domino’s CEO J. Patrick Doyle.

“And it’s easy to just change toppings market to market. In Asia, it’s seafood and fish. It’s curry in India. But half the toppings are standard offerings around the world.”

Domino's website with pizza catering to international tastes

By making a conscious effort to gain a better understanding of the preferences of the markets it’s trying to break into, Domino’s can deliver pies diverse enough to gain international attention.

5. Rezdy

Some companies may not be trying to attract global markets directly, but if their clients are, they better know how. Rezdy is an Australian-based reservation software designed to make online booking smoother for tourists and agents alike.

Though Rezdy’s clients are Australian-based, the company needs to cater to its clients’ international visitors. Click on the screenshot to check out this fun video on Rezdy’s homepage:

The first feature the video spotlights is “Internationalisation.” The video walks us through how easy the service is for users, but is sure to emphasize the language and currency customization tool upfront. Even if your company is marketing to other regional companies, consider their global customers as if they were your own.

6. World Wildlife Foundation

WWF took its Earth Hour initiative — a voluntary worldwide event where participants turn off their lights for an hour to show how easy it can be to battle climate change — and brought it to Norway’s mobile audience.

Scandinavian countries like Norway experience extreme daylight hours in different seasons, making the country a prime candidate for WWF’s Blackout campaign. Using digital agency Mobiento, the nonprofit placed the Blackout Banner across Norway’s top media sites to promote Earth Hour. With one tap of the banner, the screen went black. Finger swiping the black screen slowly revealed the Earth Hour countdown. The banner attracted roughly 1,000,000 impressions and the campaign received three MMA Global Mobile Marketing Awards back in 2012.

WWF earth hour campaign banner with plug strips

Image Source

Have a cool idea? Don’t be afraid to try it out on one international market — just make sure it’s the appropriate audience. (Also, don’t be afraid of the dark.)

7. Pearse Trust

With offices in Dublin, London, Vancouver, Atlanta, and Wellington, Pearse Trust has grown to be an international authority on corporate and trust structures. But it takes more than offices all over the map to reach an international audience.

That’s why Pearse Trust keeps content flowing on its Facebook page that engages its various markets. In this screenshot below, you can see Pearse Trust posts lots of content featuring international affairs relating to the company’s practice.

pearse trust facebook post regarding international affairs webinar

It also levels out external articles with Pearse Trust content, featuring news from places like Germany, Ireland (where it has a Dublin office), and the U.K. (where it has a London office). This is a great example of focusing on common interests shared among your company’s various markets while also making the content relatable to customers by region.

8. Nike

Nike has been able to evolve its global presence through the careful selection of international sponsorships such as its previous long-standing relationship with Manchester United.

Although sponsorship spending can be fairly unpredictable — demand costs tend to surge due to triggers like championships and tournaments — these partnerships have certainly helped the brand capture the attention of a global audience.

Nike’s NikeID co-creation platform serves as another strategy that the company is using to appeal to international markets.

Nike ID website allowing global users to customize shoes

By putting the power of design into the hands of the consumer, Nike is able to deliver customized products that align with different cultural preferences and styles.

9. McDonald’s

We all know McDonald’s is a successful global brand, so unlike its menu, I’ll keep it light.

While keeping its overarching branding consistent, McDonald’s practices “glocal” marketing efforts. No, that’s not a typo. McDonald’s brings a local flavor, literally, to different countries with region-specific menu items. In 2003, McDonald’s introduced the McArabia, a flatbread sandwich, to its restaurants in the Middle East.

McDonald’s has also introduced macaroons to its French menu:

And added McSpaghetti to its menu in the Philippines:

Global McDonald's advertisement for the Philippines

This “glocal” approach has helped put McDonald’s at
#9 on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2014.

10. Innocent Drinks

Innocent Drinks is the leading smoothie company in the U.K., but that’s not the only place you’ll find its products. In fact, Innocent products are now available in 15 countries across Europe.

And despite its widespread reach, the company’s “chatty branding” remains consistent across the board. For instance, the website is very bubbly, with contact information that reads “call the banana phone” or “visit the fruit towers.”

European global marketing strategy by Innocent Drinks

While global expansion and rapid growth can sometimes distract a company from consistent branding, Innocent Drinks has managed to remain true to itself. By ensuring that the brand’s voice is interpreted the same way around the world, Innocent is able to create a more recognizable brand.

11. Unger and Kowitt

The phrase “glocal” can be defined as “Think Globally, Act Locally.” But what happens when you switch the two around.

Whoa, fasten your seat belts — literally. Unger and Kowitt is a traffic ticket law firm based in Fort Lauderdale defending drivers in the state of Florida. Not very global, right? Well, Unger and Kowitt understands that America is a melting pot and that Florida is bursting at the seams with different cultures and languages.

Website of Unger Kowitt showing global marketing strategy in user experience

Though a domestic service, the firm’s website is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Creole. With these options, Unger and Kowitt can cater to Florida’s nearly 3.5 million Floridians who speak Spanish, Portuguese, or Creole. Don’t miss out on expanding your client base — sometimes you don’t have to look far to attract international business.

12. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is a great example of a brand using international marketing efforts. Though a large corporation, Coca-Cola focuses on small community programs and invests a lot of time and money in small-scale charity efforts.

For example, in Egypt, Coca-Cola has built 650 clean water installations in the rural village of Beni Suef and sponsors Ramadan meals for children across the Middle East. In India, the brand sponsors the Support My School initiative to improve facilities at local schools. Not to mention, the brand sticks with selling an emotion that can’t get lost in translation: happiness. Now, tell me this doesn’t look like fun:

13. Spotify

As of 2018, Spotify was newly considered one of the best global companies in the world, according to Interbrand. We’ve all heard of Spotify (no pun intended), but how did it suddenly, and so quickly, expand from Sweden into other countries?

Spotify’s business model is focused on helping you find something new.

spotify diverse genresIt’s one thing to select a genre of music to listen to — it’s another thing to select a “mood” to listen to. The screenshot above is part of Spotify’s “Browse” page, where you can listen not just to “country” and “hip-hop,” but also music that caters to your “workout” or “sleep” preferences.

By changing how they describe their content, Spotify gets users to listen to music that goes beyond their favorite genres, and instead satisfies habits and lifestyles that people share all over the world. This allows international artists to access listeners from other countries simply because their product is being categorized a different way.

Spotify now has offices in 17 countries around the world.

If you have global aspirations for your business, you need to find out what customers in different communities have in common — and how to localize your product for these different markets. Your first step? Take inspiration from one of the businesses above.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

The Ultimate Guide to Integrations and Why Your Business Needs Them

Have you ever found yourself working on a project in which you had to toggle between different software and applications? Perhaps you had to plug data from one system into another or rewrite the same content over and over again to ensure it was in multiple locations.

Although few people have the time or patience for this type of tedious work, it’s common and often critical to your business’s success — these mundane tasks need to get done.

What if there was a way to connect your software to the applications you use in a way that successfully brings them together? This would mean all of your information and data would live in a central location with no manual entry required, even if those applications don’t actually come with the software itself … sound nice?

Well, good news! This type of solution exists … it’s called an integration.

Integrations are a complex topic to understand. So, let’s simplify the concept with the help of an analogy we can reference throughout this guide.

Let’s pretend you want to plug your MacBook laptop into your TV using a connector cable so you can watch reruns of Friends on Netflix on the big screen. And integration kind of works like this — I’ll explain more as we go.

Back to our analogy: If your software is your laptop, you’ll use a connector cable, or integration, to then watch Friends on the TV, or application.

example of an integration

Now, let’s run through some commonly asked questions about integrations to help you get a better grasp on what they are, how they work, and why your company needs them.

Why use integrations?

Integrations solve and simplify your need for new software as your business grows and evolves. They allow you to keep the system you’re currently using by simply adding connections to third-party applications to enhance system functionality and provide additional features you may need but aren’t able to build within your software. You can keep your current laptop and TV, and simply use the connector cable to watch Friends on the big screen.

By leveraging integration connections across your systems, you can power your business to achieve a much wider range of tasks on your software as you enhance its functionality. This is especially helpful as your business expands since your needs are bound to change.

Although your software may have the functionality you need when you start your business, you’re likely going to want additional applications to provide the features you end up needing later on, as you grow.

There are many types of integrations, each of which has specific functions to help meet different needs. The easiest way to think about the various types of integrations is by category. Some integrations have several functions, meaning they could technically fit into many categories because they serve more than one main purpose. Other integrations have one specific function.

Who needs integrations?

Integrations are helpful tools for virtually every business, no matter the size or industry. There are integrations suited for every type of company (startups, SMBs, and enterprise companies) with any purpose (advertising, analytics, or content).

If you sell software, as we do at HubSpot, you’ll find yourself not only using connections for your internal software but also for your customers to use along with your software. This is because your software may not have every feature and function your customers need to run their business. So, by adding an integration, they’ll get that added feature or function while continuing to use your software.

Referring back to our analogy, without the integration, or connector cable, your laptop wouldn’t be able to communicate with your TV to allow you to watch Friends on the big screen. You need that integration, or cable, to allow for added functionality and watch the show on TV — without it, this wouldn’t be possible.

How do you get integrations?

Integrations are almost always located in some type of marketplace, where customers can review and browse all of their options. The HubSpot App Marketplace is an example of this. Our marketplace allows visitors to search and learn more about the various integrations and their functions, and then connect HubSpot to their integration of choice.

(No, you can’t go to Best Buy to pick up your integration as you would with your connector cable to watch Friends on your TV… you’re right, the example doesn’t quite work here.)

How do integrations work with APIs?

API stands for application programming interface. An API is an interface that software uses to receive information (whether that’s data, servers, applications, etc.).

All of the integrations we’re going to discuss below are built on APIs. By building integrations on APIs, you can connect your integrations to your software and use them in tandem with one another. The integration allows for the flow of information to and from apps and devices in real-time — APIs allow them to talk to one another.

Think about this in terms of our analogy from above: The application is the TV, the programming allows your laptop to communicate with the TV, and the interface is how you (the user) are able to interact with the application (by watching Friends on your TV). In this example, the API is the port on the side of your laptop in which you actually insert your integration (the cable) to then connect your laptop to your TV.

Integration vs. iPaaS Solution

If you’ve heard of integrations before, chances are you’ve also heard about iPaaS, or Integration Platform as a Service. The difference between the two is an important distinction to make when determining which one you need for your business. While an integration is a one-to-one, direct connection solution, an iPaaS solution is not.

Instead, iPaaS is a cloud-based platform that connects your applications and systems — whether that’s in the cloud or on-premise — between an organization and third-party software without the use of middleware.

So, if you look for an integration solution on your software’s marketplace and don’t find the connection you’re looking for, then you’d turn to an iPaaS solution to solve your need for that connection. There are a few integrations available today (called “connector integrations”, which we’ll look at an example of below) that can help you build custom integrations..

So, which integrations should you actually use? Let’s look at a list of some of the most popular integrations available.

Popular Integrations

The following integrations are categorized by business need to help you browse through your options. (Almost all of these integrations fit into multiple categories, as they have functions that allow them to do multiple things. Below, we placed them in the category they’re best suited for.)

It’s important to note these are just some of today’s popular integrations — there are hundreds of more integrations to learn about and choose from as your business grows.

The list we’ve compiled below is of integrations that connect with HubSpot. This isn’t to say these HubSpot integrations don’t also work with other software. In fact, most of these integrations are compatible with dozens of programs in addition to HubSpot.

Let’s take a look.

Advertising Integrations

Advertising integrations help you market to and reach your target audience. Data about the success of your ads and/ or the leads obtained from them is automatically added to your HubSpot CRM so you can learn more about the people who interact with your ads and nurture them into customers.

1. Facebook Ads

The Facebook Ads integration allows you to connect your Facebook Ads account to HubSpot. This integration gives you the ability to attribute your ads directly to the contacts who interact with them. It also allows you to review real data about which ads impact your bottom line. This simplifies the reporting process for all of your Facebook Ad efforts.

2. AdRoll

Different businesses and products have various buyer personas. The AdRoll integration gives you the opportunity to create personalized retargeting ads for different lead segments in your HubSpot contacts. You can personalize several parts of the ads, such as content and formatting, that will best relate to your prospect.

This allows you to focus on your audience’s attributes so you can effectively reach your prospects — you can gather intricate details about your prospects from your CRM via the integration so you’re able to successfully retarget them.

3. Instapage

If you’re not a developer, creating your website’s landing page might sound like an overwhelming task. The Instapage integration provides a straightforward option for anyone who wants to create and personalize their landing page and then send lead information straight to HubSpot. These details are automatically placed under the associated contact in HubSpot for you— meaning, there’s no need to perform this transfer manually.

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Integrations

ABM stands for account-based marketing. ABM integrations help you leverage your account and audience data so you can tailor your messaging, CTAs, and marketing strategies to close deals and attract customers.

1. OrgChartHub

The OrgChartHub integration allows you to efficiently build customer organization charts without ever leaving HubSpot. You can create customer organization charts while in HubSpot so you’re able to easily identify unknown contacts, visualize key stakeholders, and customize your sales personas without manually sending any of this information back and forth.

2. CaliberMind

With the CaliberMind integration, you’ll be able to look at your cross-channel account engagement and create alerts for your reps about which deals they should focus on closing to meet quota. The integration takes your contacts directly from HubSpot and automatically matches them to their associated accounts so you don’t have to.

3. Metadata

The Metadata integration provides account-based advertising services. You can automatically identify specific target accounts and contacts from HubSpot to create personalized advertisements at scale to help you close more deals and reach your target audience more effectively.

Analytics and Data Integrations

These integrations help you measure your success across a number of analytics platforms. You can look at your data in different ways and ensure all of this information is well-organized in HubSpot so your team can review it at any time. These integrations help you learn more about which of your efforts are working and which ones need to be modified.

1. Databox

With the increase of remote employees across businesses and the number of people who access their work while on-the-go, having the ability to review and manage your key performance indicators (KPIs) from anywhere can be quite helpful.

The Databox integration provides you with access to all of your analytics data in HubSpot from a wide variety of sources including Google Analytics, SEMRush, mobile, desktop, Facebook, and more.

2. Hotjar

In a world where many website visitors are uninterested in completing forms and providing their personal information, Hotjar is a great way to learn about who your visitors are and what they’re looking for on your site. The Hotjar integration gives you insight into who your website and mobile visitors are and what their needs consist of directly from HubSpot.

3. Klipfolio

The Klipfolio integration shows you your most important metrics in real-time and creates easy-to-read dashboards in HubSpot so you can track and analyze performance across all of your platforms from one location. This allows you to improve your data transparency and reach your targets faster.

Calling Integrations

Whether it’s a meeting with fellow employees or your prospective and current customers, calling integrations will make all phone and video call interactions simple. Your contact’s information and details about the call will be recorded in HubSpot for easy access. This also provides sales reps and support team members with the necessary background information to assist the prospect or customer appropriately.

1. UberConference

With UberConference, it takes just seconds to schedule your meetings with colleagues and prospective customers so you can focus on tasks that require more attention. The integration allows you to schedule meetings quickly and easily without ever having to leave your HubSpot portal.

2. Aircall

Phone calls remain one of the most effective ways to interact with your prospective and current customers. Whether it’s a sales or support call, the Aircall integration allows you to manage your call flows and attentively assist your leads and customers all within HubSpot so your contact’s information lives in one, central location.

3. CallRail

The CallRail integration is a call tracking and analytics system which allows you to customize segments and actions based on your specific calls with prospects and customers. All of your call and text data will automatically be added and organized in HubSpot under the associated contact so you don’t have to manually enter any data.

Connector Integrations

Connector integrations provide you with access to dozens of applications which sync to HubSpot to save you time and add functionality. Some connector integrations offer a wide range of applications and some have more specific types of applications. Additionally, some connector integrations can assist in creating a custom integration to suit your needs.

1. Automate.io

The Automate.io integration connects to HubSpot to give you access to over 80 applications. By syncing with these apps, you’ll be able to transfer data to them to create customized integrations so you can manage all of your data in a way that works for your business all within HubSpot.

2. Zapier

The Zapier integration allows you to automatically connect your software to over 1,000 applications. It links your apps to HubSpot for you in just a few clicks to save you time. There’s no coding required and your apps will be able to begin sharing data in an easy-to-read workflow format in your HubSpot portal.

3. PieSync

The PieSync integration provides real-time, two-way contact sync. This means every time you add a contact to HubSpot, it automatically syncs to an application (such as Google Contacts or Outlook), and vice versa — you don’t need to worry about any importing or exporting, expediting and simplifying your contact syncs.

Content Integrations

Content integrations help you create, design, and share custom content for your website. They also help you learn about who’s interacting with the content and how they’re interacting with it. That information is then synced to HubSpot so you can organize it and add it to specific contacts.

1. Beacon

If your website has a collection of blog posts, the Beacon integration might be a good option for you. The integration ensures your content looks professional and allows you to drive more leads by getting more value out of your existing content — it connects to HubSpot to automatically convert your blog posts into downloadable content such as eBooks.

2. briX

The briX integration connects to HubSpot so you can design and personalize web pages for your site. You don’t need a background in web design or coding to create beautiful pages — the drag-and-drop template and 100+ customizable features make it easy to organize your content in any way you choose. This integration is ideal for easily designing and personalizing web pages directly from HubSpot.

3. Belch.io

Customized landing pages, web pages, and emails provide a professional look and feel for your visitors, leads, and customers while interacting with your business online. The Belch.io integration connects to HubSpot so you can personalize and brand all of these things in just minutes.

It’s a great option for anyone without a background in coding or web development who wants to design and customize their site pages and emails to complement their brand all from HubSpot.

Customer Success Integrations

Customer success integrations connect to HubSpot to make your internal and external interactions with employees (cross-team) and customers straightforward. They simplify communication and help you share information and/or data when you need to.

1. Slack

The Slack integration is a digital workspace and communication tool that allows you to connect and talk with your team members. The integration is ideal for team collaboration and coordination from anywhere.

By connecting the integration to your software, you can use Slack’s and HubSpot’s features in either the application or the software so you don’t have to waste time toggling back and forth — the same information will be found in both locations in real-time.

2. Zendesk

Zendesk offers a ticketing system to keep track of customer inquiries and allows you to keep details about all of your customer interactions in one place. It helps you provide consistent customer experiences among your fellow employees and customers.

By connecting HubSpot to the Zendesk integration, you’ll be able to bring the work of your sales, marketing, and support teams together in a central location. It also allows these departments to communicate with each other while in HubSpot as well.

3. LiveChat

The LiveChat integration allows you to communicate with potential customers in real-time when they need assistance or guidance while on your website from HubSpot. Whether it’s a question about your product or the need for help in the checkout process, LiveChat allows you to walk them through the information they need to help you boost conversions and build strong relationships with prospects and customers.

Ecommerce Integrations

If you have an online store, ecommerce integrations are a great way to learn about what your customers and visitors are doing while they’re on your website. By connecting these integrations to HubSpot, you’ll know when your visitors are most frequently abandoning your site or their carts so you can create re-engagement content to regain their interest.

1. Shopify

The Shopify integration allows you to easily incorporate all of your ecommerce data and customer data within HubSpot. It automatically syncs customer, product, and deal information in HubSpot under the associated customer’s profile, so your entire team can view all of these details in one location. You can also create cart abandonment nurturing tactics, re-engagement ads for your website from HubSpot once you connect the integration to the software.

2. Typeform

The Typeform integration helps you create and design web and mobile forms for your leads. You can create contact forms, sign up forms, quizzes, and more, and all of your responses will automatically be sent directly to HubSpot so you can easily review your results and responses and compile them under the associated contact in HubSpot.

3. Magento

The Magento integration helps you create and send upsell, cross-sell, and reorder emails as well as develop abandoned cart nurturing tactics to boost your conversions. It automatically sends all of your customers’ ecommerce-related data, as well as emails between you and your customers, straight to their respective HubSpot contact record.

Email Integrations

Email integrations help you track a prospect’s interactions with sales reps, personalize your email automation with certain contacts, and measure the success of your email campaigns among your target audience — all from HubSpot.

1. MailChimp

The MailChimp integration allows you to sync HubSpot with your email service provider. You can build email campaigns and rest easy knowing the Intelligent Error Handling feature will continue engaging your contacts even if a syncing error occurs between the software and application.

By connecting MailChimp to HubSpot, you’ll have the ability to automatically add contacts from HubSpot into your application’s email lists and vice versa so you never have to do it manually.

2. Privy

Privy helps you make more sales and turn more prospects into delighted customers. The integration uses targeted pop-up ads, banners, bars, and more to help you boost conversions and decrease page abandonment. It also automatically syncs all of your new leads from your website to HubSpot so the software can help you nurture them and convert them into customers.

3. Front

The Front integration is a collaborative inbox, meaning all members of your team can see and access your contacts, review deals, and see all activity history while working in HubSpot. All of these details are automatically synced in Front and your CRM. This helps you improve your customer experience and ensure it remains consistent no matter which employees your customers work with.

Event and Webinar Integrations

Whether it’s an in-person event, a webinar, an online meeting, or a video conference, the following integrations simplify every aspect of hosting an event. They allow your contacts to book meetings with you and you can update all information related to your contacts post-event or meeting in HubSpot.

1. Eventbrite

Eventbrite helps you use inbound marketing tactics to attract more prospects and customers to your in-person events. Once connected to your software, the integration automatically takes data from your contact lists in HubSpot to help you uncover effective ways to connect with your target audience, face-to-face.

2. GoToWebinar

No matter the type of event you’re hosting, the GoToWebinar integration automatically syncs all of your registrant and participant information in HubSpot under the associated contact. You’ll never have to worry about manually importing data about your webinar contacts again — instead, you’ll have more time to focus on the event itself.

3. Setmore

The Setmore integration simplifies appointment scheduling for you. It automatically imports your booked appointments (and information about the customer who booked the appointment) to HubSpot under the correct contact’s profile so you don’t have to do it manually.

Lead Generation Integrations

Lead generation integrations help you transition early-stage leads into delighted customers. All of your leads’ information will automatically be synced to HubSpot so you can view it at any point during the buyer’s journey. This is helpful to learn more about your target audience and to manage customer information so your sales and support teams can refer to it if needed, all from one location.

1. WordPress

The WordPress integration helps you optimize and align your WordPress website with the data about your contacts and business goals you have in HubSpot. Your HubSpot account and all of your growth tools will automatically be connected to your WordPress site so you can work to attract, engage, and delight site visitors and customers on your site from either WordPress or HubSpot.

2. Unbounce

The Unbounce integration helps you with the lead capturing and nurturing processes. You can create lead generation forms and send all data collected about your leads directly to HubSpot. At any point in time, you can take this data about your leads and use it to create campaigns. You’ll also have the ability to export any data in just seconds from your Unbounce account and share it anywhere.

3. SurveyMonkey

With the SurveyMonkey integration, you can create and distribute custom surveys to your prospects and customers, collect all data obtained, and view your responses within HubSpot. This is ideal because you can then segment and organize all your contacts based on their survey responses to easily manage the type of content and/or follow up they receive.

Live Chat Integrations

By adding live chat integrations to your website, you’ll be able to communicate with prospects in real-time and nurture them into customers. You can answer their questions, respond to their concerns, and assist them in their purchase decisions. Then, this data is compiled into HubSpot under the specific contact it belongs to so you can follow up appropriately.

1. Intercom

The Intercom integration allows you to capture new leads and prospective customers with the help of live chat on your website. Intercom allows you to convert more leads by actively engaging with them at any time while they’re on your website once connected to HubSpot. You can then qualify your leads with custom bots, talk with them directly, and track them — then, all of this information is automatically organized under their contact in HubSpot.

2. ManyChat

Once connected to HubSpot, the ManyChat integration allows you to automate your messenger marketing so you can easily organize, nurture, and track your leads from the software. You can also take any HubSpot form and submit information obtained from it by sending custom field data to HubSpot Form Submissions.

3. Drift

The Drift integration provides live chat for your website so you can assist your leads in real-time form HubSpot. The integration allows you to watch and save all of the lead’s activity on your site in HubSpot under the correct contact. Additionally, your sales reps can use Drift to customize their outreach and follow-ups based on that activity to improve the chances of conversion.

Sales Integrations

Sales integrations help you bring your sales tools, tactics, and prospects’ information together using HubSpot. You’ll be able to keep your marketing, support, and sales details in a central location for all teams to access, analyze, and refer to as needed.

1. HelloSign

Once connected to HubSpot, you’ll automatically be notified of any action a prospect takes on any document you send them with the HelloSign integration. Examples of the actions you’ll be notified about include when a prospect or customer receives, opens, or signs the document.

Then, this activity data is sent to the contact it belongs to in HubSpot so reps know where the prospect or customer is in the buyer’s journey and how they should go about following up with them.

2. Salesforce

If you’re a Salesforce user, you can automatically sync all of your contacts’ information from the database into HubSpot once connected to the Salesforce integration. This allows you to work with reps to get strong lead intelligence and revenue reporting. You can mesh your marketing and sales work, content, and information so you and your team can access any information from either system at any point in time.

3. PandaDoc

When it comes to sales work, there are many tasks involved that don’t necessarily include the process of actually closing a deal. The PandaDoc integration automatically organizes and reviews information from HubSpot about your prospect to help you with non-selling tasks like creating and sending quotes, proposals, and contracts.

Social Media Integrations

Understanding your social media following is a huge part of successful marketing. Social media integrations help you learn about your followers, understand the type of content they interact with and share, and automate specific parts of your social media strategy.

1. Facebook

With the Facebook integration, you can automatically connect your business’s Facebook account to HubSpot. Schedule Facebook posts ahead of time analyze and measure post’s performance. This integration is ideal if you want to manage your Facebook marketing strategy alongside your other social media marketing strategies directly from HubSpot.

2. LinkedIn

By connecting your LinkedIn account to HubSpot through the LinkedIn integration, you can easily engage with your network and communicate with all of your contacts from HubSpot. You can also auto-publish your blogs and share specific content with your followers to nurture them into leads and customers. This integration is also great for tracking engagement along with all of your other social media channels and marketing efforts all from HubSpot’s social media tool.

3. Twitter

Schedule Tweets ahead of time, monitor Twitter streams, view Tweets and Twitter interactions of your competitors, and monitor accounts that are important to your brand from HubSpot with the Twitter integration. All information about your current and new followers will be added to your contact lists in HubSpot so everything is organized appropriately.

Video Integrations

With the rise of video and video marketing in business today, integrations that help you incorporate this media on your website have become quite useful. They allow you to create and implement videos on your site pages and forms as well as measure the success of your video marketing efforts.

1. Wistia

The Wistia integration provides you with the ability to integrate videos on your website, and then incorporate HubSpot forms with those videos to improve video engagement (and hopefully, conversion) rates. If any lead converts on a video, their information is automatically sent to HubSpot so you’ll have their video-viewing data paired with their contact details.

2. YouTube

The YouTube integration connects your YouTube channel to HubSpot. This way, you can easily report on your video and channel success and compare this data to that of your other social platforms using HubSpot’s analytics and social media tools and dashboards.

3. Promo

With the Promo integration, you can choose from over three million clips, templates, and music options to use to create a video for your site directly from HubSpot. You can easily throw in custom messaging, branding, or logos to personalize the video for your business based on a specific prospect’s needs and interests, found under their specific contact in HubSpot.

Get Integrated to Grow Better

Integrations have the power to enhance all aspects of your business. No matter the software you use to run your company, you can find integrations that can help simplify your processes, optimize your efforts, and empower your fellow employees. So, find the right integration marketplace for your software and begin connecting to the applications suited for your business needs.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

20 Stats About Australian Instagram Users & Trends

In July, nearly 41% of Australia’s population was on Instagram.

And, with Australia being one of the biggest internet and social media growth regions, its Instagram audiences are likely to keep getting bigger.

Yes. No matter what country you’re marketing in, Instagram’s platform is primed for brand awareness. You might think with growth stats like this, Australian brands are rushing to Instagram.But that’s not the case — many Australian businesses are actually missing out on the opportunities Instagram offers. In fact, recent research reveals that only 32% of Australian SMBs use it in their social media strategy.

Although Instagram sounds promising, SMBs with limited time, budget, or bandwidth might be hesitant to add any new social platform.

Why? Even though an Instagram account can majorly boost local and global brand awareness, building a scalable strategy for it can seem intimidating and time-consuming for smaller brands.

Luckily, Australian businesses don’t just have to launch an Instagram account and hope it works. In 2020, there’s plenty of data that can help these brands determine if the platform is appropriate for their goals, and how to engage Australian audiences once they’ve made a Business page.

If you’re an Australian social media marketer looking to improve your Instagram strategy or are working to boost a brand’s Australian presence from afar, here are 20 stats to know about Australian Instagram usage, marketing, and peak engagement times.

Australian Instagram Usage Stats to Know

Australian Instagram Users

  • There were 10.45 million Instagram users in Australia in July 2020: roughly 40.8% of its entire population. (NapoleonCat, 2020)
  • Australian Instagram users grew from just over 9 million to 10.45 million between May 2019 and July 2020. (NapoleonCat, 2020)
  • 46% of Australian social media users say they regularly use Instagram, making it the second most popular channel in the region. (Yellow Sensis Social Media Report, 2018)

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  • Most Australian Instagram users are women, with the highest ratio of women to men being in the 45-to-54 age group. (NapoleonCat, 2020)
  • More than 3.2 million Australian Instagram users are 25 to 34, making them the largest user group. (NapoleonCat, 2020)
  • Roughly 9.1 million Instagram users are listed as over 18. (Laurel Papworth, 2020)
  • 48% of Australian Instagram users follow a brand on the platform. (Yellow Sensis Social Media Report, 2020)
  • Instagram is the third-most-used non-gaming mobile app in Australia. (We Are Social, 2019)

Instagram User Behavior in Australia

  • More than 51% of Australian Instagram users log on to the app at least three to five times a week. (Statista, 2018)

Most Australian Instagram users log on to the app at least once daily.

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  • Three regularly-trending Instagram hashtags in Australia are #photography, #Australia, and #Sydney, which have 450 million, 55 million, and 28 million posts associated with them, respectively. (Talkwalker, 2019)
  • 45% of Australian social media users have taken a selfie for platforms such as Instagram. Selfies posts are more common among men and 18 to 29-year-olds. (Yellow Sensis Social Media Report, 2018)
  • Roughly 40% of Australian social media users have posted a picture of food on channels such as Instagram. (Yellow Sensis Social Media Report, 2018)

Australian Business on Instagram

  • 22% of Australian SMBs have advertised on Instagram (Yellow Sensis Social Media Report, 2020)
  • 32% of Australian SMBs have an Instagram account, compared to 90% and 33% respectively on Facebook and LinkedIn. (Yellow Sensis Social Media Report, 2020)
  • Instagram influencers whose accounts were about yoga experienced 127% growth in overall Australian engagement in March 2020. (Statista, 2020)
  • Also in March 2020, hotel-related Instagram accounts experienced a 100% decrease in Australian engagement. (Statista, 2020)

Peak Engagement Times in Australian

  • When using Instagram in any global region, the best time to post to get local post engagements is 2 PM and 3 PM in your brand’s timezone. (HubSpot, 2020)
  • The best day to post on Instagram in Australia is Thursday in the AEDT timezone. (ShareMyInsights, 2020)
  • Weekday posts on Instagram get more impressions from Australians than weekend posts. (ShareMyInsights, 2020)
  • When aiming for global post engagement, the best times to post on Instagram from Australia are 12 AM to 2 AM, 6 AM to 8 AM, and 9 PM to 10 PM AEDT. (ShareMyInsights, 2020)

Growing Australian Brand Awareness with Instagram

From looking at the data above, it’s clear that Australian businesses can benefit from Instagram, which has a huge pool of users that will follow, engage with, and potentially purchase products from all sorts of brands on the platform.

But, simply creating an Instagram account and forgetting about it won’t boost your brand awareness. To truly gain audience engagement, you’ll want to create an active account with content that entertains users, grabs their attention, and educates them about your brand and your products.

If this list has inspired you to get ahead of the one-third of Australian SMBs missing out on Instagram, check out this guide or the free resource below for proven tips on building an effective Instagram strategy.

6 Reasons You Really Need to Write A Business Plan

Starting a business can be a daunting task, especially if you’re starting from square one.

It’s easy to feel stuck in the whirlwind of things you’ll need to do, like registering your company, building a team, advertising, the list goes on. Not to mention, a business idea with no foundation can make the process seem incredibly intimidating.

Thankfully, business plans are an antidote for the new business woes that many entrepreneurs feel. Some may shy away from the idea, as they are lengthy documents that require a significant amount of attention and care.

However, there’s a reason why those who take the time to write out a business plan are 16% more likely to be successful than those who don’t. In other words, business plans work.

What is a business plan, and why does it matter?

In brief, a business plan is a roadmap to success. It’s a blueprint for entrepreneurs to follow that helps them outline, understand, and cohesively achieve their goals.

Writing a business plan involves defining critical aspects of your business, like brand messaging, conducting market research, and creating pricing strategies — all before starting the company.

A business plan can also increase your confidence. You’ll get a holistic view of your idea and understand whether it’s worth pursuing.

So, why not take the time to create a blueprint that will make your job easier? Let’s take a look at six reasons why you should write a business plan before doing anything else.

1. Legitimize your business idea.

Pursuing business ideas that stem from passions you’ve had for years can be exciting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a sound venture.

One of the first things a business plan requires you to do is research your target market. You’ll gain a nuanced understanding of industry trends and what your competitors have done, or not, to succeed. You may find that the idea you have when you start is not likely to be successful.

That may feel disheartening, but you can always modify your original idea to better fit market needs. The more you understand about the industry, your future competitors, and your prospective customers, the greater the likelihood of success. If you identify issues early on, you can develop strategies to deal with them rather than troubleshooting as they happen.

It’s better to know sooner rather than later if your business will be successful before investing time and money.

2. Give your business a foundation for success.

Let’s say you’re looking to start a clean beauty company. There are thousands of directions you can go in, so just saying, “I’m starting a clean beauty company!” isn’t enough.

You need to know what specific products you want to make, and why you’re deciding to create them. The Pricing and Product Line style=”color: #33475b;”> section of a business plan requires you to identify these elements, making it easier to plan for other components of your business strategy.

You’ll also use your initial market research to outline financial projections, goals, objectives, and operational needs. Identifying these factors ahead of time creates a strong foundation, as you’ll be making critical business decisions early on.

You can refer back to the goals you’ve set within your business plan to track your progress over time and prioritize areas that need extra attention.

All in all, every section of your business plan requires you to go in-depth into your future business strategy before even acting on any of those plans. Having a plan at the ready gives your business a solid foundation for growth.

When you start your company, and your product reaches the market, you’ll spend less time troubleshooting and more time focusing on your target audiences and generating revenue.

3. Obtain funding and investments.

Every new business needs capital to get off the ground. Although it would be nice, banks won’t finance loans just because you request one. They want to know what the money is for, where it’s going, and if you’ll eventually be able to pay it back.

If you want investors to be part of your financing plan, they’ll have questions about your business’ pricing strategies and revenue models. Investors can also back out if they feel like their money isn’t put to fair use. They’ll want something to refer back to track your progress over time and understand if you’re meeting the goals you told them you’d meet. They want to know if their investment was worthwhile.

The Financial Considerations section of a business plan will prompt you to estimate costs ahead of time and establish revenue objectives before applying for loans or speaking to investors.

You’ll secure and finalize your strategy in advance to avoid showing up unprepared for meetings with potential investors.

4. Hire the right people.

After you’ve completed your business plan and you have a clear view of your strategies, goals, and financial needs, there may be milestones you need to meet that require skills you don’t yet have. You may need to hire new people to fill in the gaps.

Having a strategic plan to share with prospective partners and employees can prove that they aren’t signing on to a sinking ship.

If your plans are summarized and feasible, they’ll understand why you want them on your team, and why they should agree to work with you.

5. Communicate your needs.

If you don’t understand how your business will run, it’ll be hard to communicate your business’s legitimacy to all involved parties.

Your plan will give you a well-rounded view of how your business will work, and make it easier for you to communicate this to others.

You may have already secured financing from banks and made deals with investors, but a business’ needs are always changing. While your business grows, you’ll likely need more financial support, more partners, or just expand your services and product offers. Using your business plan as a measure of how you’ve met your goals can make it easier to bring people onto your team at all stages of the process.

6. It makes it easier to sell your business.

A buyer won’t want to purchase a business that will run into the ground after signing the papers. They want a successful, established company.

A business plan that details milestones you can prove you’ve already met can be used to show prospective buyers how you’ve generated success within your market. You can use your accomplishments to negotiate higher price points aligned with your business’ value.

A Business Plan Is Essential

Ultimately, having a business plan can increase your confidence in your new venture. You’ll understand what your business needs to succeed, and outline the tactics you’ll use to achieve those goals.

Some people have a lifetime goal of turning their passions into successful business ventures, and a well-crafted business plan can make those dreams come true.

How to Increase Your Instagram Engagement Rate

Instagram turns 10 in 2020. It was launched in October of 2010, where its app store
debut prompted 25,000 downloads in just one day. Two years later, Facebook purchased the app for $1 billion.

In 2020, the app has grown larger than expected, with 500 million daily users. Its popularity has led it to become a source of income for content creators and brands worldwide, many using the app as their sole source of income.

Since the potential to make money, connect with your audience, and build a reputable brand on Instagram is so high, understanding how to use it is essential. While there are various ways to market yourself or your business on Instagram, it’s impossible to do so without first understanding your Instagram engagement rate.

Why does Instagram engagement rate matter?

Instagram engagement rates are significant because they measure an audience’s interest, brand relevance, and social authority.

Audience Interest

If your content appeals to your target audience, your engagement rate will be higher. If you take the time to review your best performing content, i.e., posts with the most likes, shares, saves, and comments, you’ll get a feel for what your users want to see. It’s important to note high impressions may indicate that your content has been viewed a lot, but engagement is typically defined as concrete interactions with your posts.

Relevance

If you have a high engagement rate, it’s likely your audience sees you as a relevant source of information. They may favor your content over competitors because your content sets you apart. However, if you have a high engagement rate now, will it stay the same in three months? Is it higher than it was last year? If you aren’t monitoring your engagement rate and using it as a benchmark for relevance, your score can decline.

Social Authority

While you’ve probably already identified your target instagram audience, it’s never bad to add new followers and fans to the list. These new users will take notice of your engagement — your followers, likes, comments, etc. — to decide whether or not to follow you. They’re likely to move on to your competitors if they notice your brand’s engagement, a.k.a. social authority is not strong.

What is the average Instagram engagement rate?

There is no one-size-fits-all definition of a “good” engagement rate. They vary by industry and depending on your strategic goals.

However, Instagram does have higher engagement rates than other social media networks. According to the HubSpot Instagram Engagement Report, posts on the platform generate 23% more engagement than Facebook, even though Facebook has 2x more monthly users.

If you want a numerical value to compare your score to, Rival IQ found that the average engagement rate across all industries is 1.22%. Specific sectors have higher rates, like higher education with 3.57%, sports teams with 2.33%, and influencers with 1.67%.

Because of this, it’s safe to assume that an engagement rate of around 1% is a good engagement rate.

If you’ve already run the numbers and found that your engagement rate is significantly lower than average, don’t fret. There’s room for improvement — but maintain a healthy perspective. Assess how your engagement rate has changed over time and begin devising strategies to raise your score. Start this process by calculating your engagement rate.

How To Calculate Your Engagement Rate On Instagram

There is debate among marketers on the best way to calculate your Instagram engagement rate, as different industries define success in different ways. Your preferred method depends on your goals as a brand or influencer.

Calculating Instagram engagement rate for brands

This formula is best for brands on Instagram because it considers the number of people who have seen a piece of content (impressions) rather than the total number of followers.
 
 
Brands typically convert more leads via exposure first, rather than follower count. When branded advertisements get viewed, engagement rates go up, especially if they follow the advertisements to Instagram profiles and become followers. Note that Instagram accounts need to be public
Business Profiles to see impressions.

Calculating Instagram engagement rate for influencers

Since sponsors often recruit influencers on Instagram based on their likes and follower count, their engagement rates incorporate these two factors. Since this metric doesn’t require any personal data, it’s possible to compare your engagement rates to competitors.

formula to calculate influencer instagram engagement rate

No matter your engagement rate, there are always steps to be taken to raise your score.

1. Maintain consistent branding.

Maintaining consistency with your content is extremely important, and there are a variety of actions you can take to do so.

Firstly, your username should be similar or the same to your other social media usernames. For example, if your twitter handle is @greenbookworm, your Instagram handle should be the same if it’s available (or something very similar).

You should also make sure that your content is visually consistent as well, and you should have a format that you use for all of your posts. Take a look at Nike’s Instagram, for example. nike instagram profile

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Whenever they post content that includes typography, they use the same backgrounds and font. When they post photos, they’re high quality and use the same filter.

nike instagram text post brand consistency

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When your content has a similar look, your profile becomes aesthetically pleasing, and users can recognize your photos as a consistent brand. If they come across your content on another social media site and can realize that it’s yours, they may follow you there as well.

There’s data to back this up — WebDam found that 60% of the best-performing brands on Instagram used the same filter every time they post.

2. Understand your audience.

You can’t begin creating content without knowing your intended audience. Developing Instagram personas is a helpful tool for increasing your engagement rate. If you know who your followers are, creating content that they want makes them more likely to engage with you. Take the time to monitor your audience statistics, and update your personas accordingly.

You can use Instagram insights to get a demographic understanding of your followers. If you have an Instagram business account, navigate to the audience tab from the Insights menu. 

instagram audience insights to increase instagram engagement scoreFrom here, you can see the top locations your users are in, your users’ age ranges, and their gender. All this information will give you an understanding of your users.
instagram insights for followers gender, age range, and top locations If you’re a HubSpot user, you can utilize the Social Reports data to find these same insights.

Regardless of your target audience, your content needs to be accessible. Utilizing Instagram’s accessibility tools is crucial, and you can use it to add image alt text, subtitles, and captions to your content.

3. Post regularly.

Once you know your target audience, post content they’ll enjoy and do it regularly. In 2018, 60% of Instagram users reported visiting the site daily, and 38% of those users visited multiple times a day.

The number of times you post depends on your marketing strategy, but the average brand posts 1.5 times per day. Again, this metric is an average, and it may not work for everyone. Posting too much content can overwhelm your users, and they won’t hesitate to unfollow if their feed is clogged.

It’s also important to know the best times to post for your followers. Instagram insights will also tell you the best days and hours to post.

instagram insights for best time and day to post on instagram to increase engagement rate

Do keep in mind that quantity doesn’t equal quality, which brings us to the next engagement raising strategy.

4. Create better captions.

Unless you’re @world_record_egg, who posted a photo of an egg with no caption that has generated over 12 million likes, you need to focus on your captions. Use the brand voice you’ve developed to sound consistent and keep your intended audience in mind. You can create short captions that are serious or light-hearted.

You can also create longer captions that tell stories and take your users on a journey. Take the instagram account @humansofny as an example. They regularly feature the personal stories of people around the world.

humansofny long instagram caption

Since engagement metrics factor in the length of time users spend on your posts, consider alternating shorter and longer captions.

Hand-in-hand with writing better captions is using quality hashtags — Instagram was built on them, after all. It’s still the algorithm’s primary method of filtering through content. If you’re unfamiliar with hashtags, here’s a summary.

Captions can hold up to 30 hashtags per post, but there must be a balance. Hashtag dumping, which is similar to keyword stuffing, may make the algorithm think you’re spamming for engagement, and you can be shadowbanned. The goal is to figure out what works for you and stick to it.

Your hashtags should be a mix of popular and specific, long-tailed keywords. For example, if you’re running an Instagram for your hotel, you’ll want to use common hashtags like #hotel and #travel. However, those are also very broad, as a search for the #hotel tag has 31 million posts. Be more specific and targeted towards your needs, and maybe say #hotel, #travel, and #hotel + your hotel name + the name of the city you’re in. So, for example, #hotellisamiami.

You can discover the best hashtags to use by doing keyword research and categorizing those that work best for you and your brand. You may also want to consider coming up with a brand-specific hashtag that users can recognize as yours.

5. Engage with your followers.

After you post, engage with your followers. While Instagram has the ‘Turn off comments’ feature, opt to keep them on.

Reply to comments that your followers make. Maybe they’re asking questions or proclaiming their excitement for your product. Paula’s Choice, a beauty brand, is an excellent example of this.

paula's choice replying to follower instagram comment

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They regularly host Instagram Q&A’s, where users ask questions and they answer them on their Instagram stories.

They’re taking actions that they know will entice their audience into interacting with their Instagram content, which factors into engagement rates.

Engaging with your followers also entails sharing their content on your site, known as user-generated content (UGC). Surfing through your brand-specific hashtags can help you find users that are posting about you. You can screenshot their content to share on your story, and even post on your feed.

Your followers will be excited that you interact with them, as engagement may signify a personal relationship with your brand. Here’s an example of Paula’s Choice posting UGC.

paula's choice instgram user generated content post to increase instagram engagement rate

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6. Engage with similar accounts.

There wouldn’t be a point to using Instagram if you’re not following and interacting with other accounts.

Using the platform to engage with accounts similar to yours is extremely important. If you’re a brand, this can mean partnering with influencers in the same industry. If you share products with them, they’ll post content wearing your brands. If they tag you, their followers will see your account, and many may follow you—all of these metrics factor into your engagement rate.

Emma Chamberlain is a popular YouTuber, holding almost 10.4 million Instagram followers at only 19-years-old. She regularly posts sponsored content, and her sponsors post her. She entices her followers to interact with those brands, and vice versa.

emma chamberlain sponsored content instagram postSource

This establishes trust between brands, influencers, and their followers, which paints a picture of ‘high engagement’ to those browsing Instagram, and they’ll follow you in return.
 
In addition to influencers, simply engaging with brands within your industry is essential as well. Commenting on industry-standard accounts can give you exposure to users in that same comment section, and they may click your profile and become new followers.

7. Create mixed content.

When the app was first launched, all you could do was post photos. Now, there are five types of content posts supported on Instagram: photos, videos, Instagram TV (IGTV), Instagram Reels, and Instagram Stories.

It’s no longer enough to just post photos; you need to do all of it.

Videos

Zenith Media estimated that the average person would spend 84 minutes a day watching videos in 2020. That’s a significant amount of time spent watching videos, so use it to your advantage.

There are five video options within Instagram: Reels, IGTV, Story videos, Instagram Live, and video posts. You’ll need to decide which method is best for you, but a well-rounded Instagram strategy will include all. If people are watching content on your page, they’re spending more time on your site, factoring into your impressions rate.

If you’re a sports brand, post enticing videos of recognized athletes using your equipment to practice their sport.

Stories

Instagram Stories are essentially the same as Snapchat stories. HubSpot’s Instagram engagement report found 22% of users watched branded content Stories from a company, business, or brand more than once a week, and 36% liked, commented, or shared branded Stores.

You can take advantage of these numbers and use this feature to draw attention to your new posts by sharing them on your Story or simply posting Story exclusive content.

This feature can also be used to engage with your audience. Post quizzes and questions and make them shareable for other users. Stories can also be used to get feedback from customers, asking them to submit experiences with your products and services.

Circling back to influencer sponsorships, having them go live on your account via Instagram Live is a great strategy. Instagram Live’s can also be saved to your account, so new users can watch them even if they occurred three months before.

8. Use calls-to-action (CTAs).

A CTA is an image, line of text, hashtag, or swipe-up-link that is meant to entice your audience to take action — hence the call-to-action.

The specific action you’re asking users to take should be decided based on your brand, service, or influencers’ needs. This may mean notifying them of a sale by including a swipe up link in your Instagram story, asking them to tag a friend in the comment section, or sharing links to partner-posted content.

While links to other sites don’t directly impact your Instagram engagement rate, they still require users to spend more time on your profile, and you can convert them into leads on other platforms. Here’s an example of National Geographic advertising a new product on their story using a swipe-up CTA.

national geographic instagram story swipe up call to action

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9. Track your statistics.

Why would you bother taking action to improve your engagement rate if you’re not taking the time to understand if it’s working? Tracking your progress is extremely important, and it should be something you focus on.

Trial and error is expected, and it should be used to inform your current and future strategies. Use your preferred CRM to find your most effective posts or pieces of content, and use the strategy employed in those for your next content posts.

After you’ve calculated your engagement rate for the first time, you should devise a timeline in which you’ll recalculate it again. Maybe you’ll set a goal of raising your score by .10% in a year, so you may plan to re-calculate the numbers every three months. This can also help you understand what isn’t working — if your numbers haven’t budged, something needs to change.

All in all, Instagram engagement rate is a measure of how your audience interacts with your content. Your rate is an indication of your Instagram profiles’ social authority, relevancy, and audience interest.

If your content is good and your followers are engaging, your engagement rate will demonstrate that. When you spend time working on your engagement rate, you collect valuable data to inform your entire Instagram marketing strategy.

You should see your engagement rate as a benchmark for customer loyalty and satisfaction.

If your users like you, it’ll show.

7 Tips for Running Engaging Instagram Giveaways (+Tools to Get You Started)

With 80% of Instagram users following at least one business, it makes sense you want to increase your own visibility and reach on the platform — but with such immense competition, it can be a difficult task to accomplish.

Fortunately, there are a few specific Instagram marketing strategies you can implement that have proven effective. For instance, you might optimize your posting times to ensure maximum engagement, partner with an influencer to spread awareness, or designate a content creator to craft more compelling content.

Additionally, to delight your current followers and attract new visitors to your page, you might consider hosting an Instagram giveaway.

Simply put, an Instagram giveaway allows you to offer something for free in exchange for an Instagram like, comment, or other pre-determined requirement.

For instance, take a look at this giveaway from Fabletics:

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There are a few reasons why this giveaway works — first, Fabletics partnered with Blissworld, which enables both businesses to reach the other brand’s audience. Second, Fabletics asked viewers to “tag your bestie” and follow both brands. This doubles the reach they might’ve had if they’d only asked one follower to comment.

When done correctly, giveaways can help you establish your brand on Instagram, cultivate a loyal following, and share your impressive products or services with a larger audience than you could organically.

Here, we’ve created a complete guide on how to run your own giveaway, to ensure you’re able to delight and engage both new and existing followers on Instagram.

1. Choose the prize for your giveaway.

The first thing you’ll want to do is decide on the product, service, or experience you’ll giveaway as your prize. This will vary depending on your goal — if you want to spread awareness around a product launch, for instance, you’ll likely want to giveaway that specific product as your prize.

Alternatively, perhaps you want to partner with a brand and create a unique prize that will appeal to each of your audiences.

Lastly, you might try offering an experience instead of a specific product or service — like a weekend trip, a spa day, or the chance to meet a leader in your industry.

2. Determine the entry-criteria for your contest.

Your entry-criteria depends, again, on your ultimate goal. For instance, if you simply want to spread brand awareness, you might ask each participant to like your post and comment with the name of a friend — this allows you to increase your reach quickly, and could result in new followers.

Alternatively, maybe you want to draw attention to your blog, or another page on your website. If this is the case, you might ask participants to go to your blog or web page to find entry-criteria there — such as a question you then want them to answer in your Instagram comments section.

Lastly, perhaps you’ve partnered with a brand and, in exchange for one of their products as a prize, they’ve asked you to include a request to follow their brand as part of your entry-criteria.

3. Decide on a goal for your Instagram contest.

By determining a specific goal, you’re able to tailor your strategy more specifically and keep track of whether or not your giveaway was successful.

Your goal might be an increase in website traffic, more followers, an increase in engagement, or a boost in sales — it’s to you to choose what makes the most sense for your brand.

4. Consider a brand partnership.

To explore the benefits of brand partnerships for Instagram giveaways, I spoke with Conor Janda, an Associate Manager of Marketing Partnerships at Chomps. He told me, “A giveaway is a nice way to align with peer brands and partners, and drive traffic to your account.”

Janda also mentioned giveaways are particularly successful when new brands partner together. “For instance, a brand might post a recipe, and then mention specific brands in the ingredients section,” he told me. “A successful giveaway is typically when a brand partners with a content creator or influencer to make something specific, and then they push that prize out through both of their channels.”

Ultimately, a giveaway could allow you to reach a similar brand’s followers, and vice-versa — a win, win.

5. Select a campaign hashtag.

On Instagram, hashtags help your content surface on Explore channels, and oftentimes increase visibility on the platform. Consider creating a compelling and unique campaign hashtag to help spread awareness of your giveaway. For instance, along with #giveaway, you might include #winitwednesday #[yourbrand]giveaway #[yourbrand]contest, or something of similar nature.

6. Put a time-limit on your contest.

Tell your participants how long they have to complete your requirements by putting a time limit in your caption, and then adding “Giveaway Closed” at the end of that time. For instance, you might put, “Giveaway! Over the next 24 hours, please tag a friend in the comments and include your favorite place to travel for a chance to stay overnight at one of our resorts.”

The time-limit will ideally create a sense of urgency, and incentivize followers to engage with your post more quickly — which will also help your giveaway stay at the top of your followers’ Instagram feeds.

7. Launch and promote your Instagram contest.

Once you’ve chosen your prize, entry-criteria, potential partners, hashtag, time-limit, and goal, you’re finally ready to launch and promote your post! Remember, Instagram users favor posts during a certain time in the day, so you’ll want to plan wisely.

Additionally, you’ll likely attract further attention to your giveaway if you also post giveaway details on a blog post, Facebook page, or another social channel. Consider where else you can promote your giveaway for optimal results.

Instagram Giveaway Rules

Instagram’s rules are relatively simple when it comes to giveaways.

First and foremost, it’s critical you include a statement like the following, so viewers know your promotion is not tied to Instagram:

“Per Instagram rules, this promotion is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm that they are 13+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s terms of use.”

Additionally, you’ll want to ensure you don’t ask participants to tag themselves in your content, or tag something that isn’t in the photo — Instagram will penalize you for this.

Take a look at Instagram’s promotion guidelines for a full list of rules and regulations.

Instagram Giveaway Ideas

Once you’re ready to post your giveaway, there are a few different action items you might ask your participants to accomplish in exchange for the chance to win.

Here’s a list of some of the more common giveaway ideas:

  1. Like to win: Have followers like your post for a chance to win a free product or service. This helps you boost engagement.
  2. Tag a friend to win: Have followers tag one of their friends in the comments section for a chance to win. This allows your brand to reach new potential leads on Instagram and grow your audience.
  3. Like and share to win: You might ask followers to like your giveaway and repost it on their own channels for the chance to greatly expand your brand’s reach — if ten followers with 100 followers each re-post, that’s a chance to reach 1,000 new people.
  4. Follow to win: Ask followers to follow your brand, or a partner (or both) for the chance to win. This is a popular tactic since it’s an easy way to increase your follower count.
  5. Photo contest: Ask participants to upload a photo of themselves using your product or service. This is another easy opportunity to spread brand awareness, since your participants’ posts will be seen by their own network of followers and friends. You should ask participants to include your brand’s hashtag, or tag your brand, for optimal visibility.
  6. Caption this: Some brands post images and leave the caption section blank with a “Caption this for a chance to win” command. Your participants will enjoy the chance to offer creative captions for your image, and you’ll be able to add the caption to your post with credit to the winner once your giveaway ends.

Instagram Giveaway Picker Tools

Once you’ve closed your giveaway contest, it’s time to pick a winner — but how can you do that and ensure fairness?

There are a few tools you can use to truly randomize your winner. Here are a few options:

1. Use a free number generator.

While admittedly tedious, particularly if you have hundreds of entries, you might consider counting the total number of participants who engaged with your giveaway, and then using a number generator to select your winner.

For instance, let’s say you count 500 participants in your comments section. Go to Google and type “random number generator” into the search box, and Google’s number generator will appear as a box in the search results (you can also use another number generator tool, if you want).

Your minimum should stay 1, and your maximum should be the total number of participants. When you click “Generate”, the tool will provide a random number. Now, simply go back to your comments section and count until you land on the username that matches that number.

2. Use Easypromos’ Instagram Sweepstakes App.

You might consider using a tool like Easypromos’ Instagram Sweepstakes App to organize your giveaway, which can help you ensure fairness and efficiency when choosing a winner.

With Easypromos’ app, you can filter finalists based on number of mentioned friends. Once you’ve closed your giveaway, the tool can randomly select between one and 1,000 winners, and alternate winners automatically. The tool provides a test run that you can try before the final draw.

Best of all, Easypromos’ offers a link to a certificate of validity that guarantees the draw has been random, ensuring a level of transparency and honesty between you and your participants. You can customize the certificate for your brand.

3. Use a random name picker.

This last option is likely the most tedious, but if your giveaway participant pool is relatively small, you could consider using a random name picker to choose your winner by username instead of number. Particularly if you’ve already compiled your list of names into a spreadsheet, this could be a good option for you.

To use a random name picker, go to a website like Miniwebtool.com and input all usernames, each on a separate line, into the text box. Then click the “Pick a name” button.

1. Wishpond

Wishpond is a great tool that can help you organize and track your Instagram giveaways.

With Wishpond, you can run an Instagram hashtag giveaway and view all the entrants on your dashboard. You can even add a voting capability for users to vote on the best entry.

The goal of this type of tool is to help you take your giveaway and promotions to the next level. If you want to run regular contests on Instagram, it might make sense to invest in a platform like this.

2. Easypromos

Similar to Wishpond, Easypromos makes running an Instagram giveaway or contest a seamless process.

This tool will help you track comments on one or several posts. It will help you determine if people tagged the right amount of friends in the comments section and help you randomly choose the winner.

The basic plan is affordable, with no-frills added. This is a great option if you want to run simple giveaways without adding on landing pages or marketing automation.

Alternatively, if you are running enterprise level giveaways, there are other paid options that will include the features you need.

3. Woobox

With Woobox, you can easily create and run successful contests, giveaways, polls, coupons, forms, and more.

You can download your Instagram comments and pick one or several random winners. Additionally, this tool allows you to easily collect winner contact info and export Instagram comments.

If you’re looking to use an affordable tool, this is an excellent option. There is a free plan for smaller giveaways, but also an enterprise level power plan for larger contests.

Using a tool is a great way to organize and track your giveaways. Now, let’s see what a giveaway looks like in action.

Instagram Giveaway Examples

1. Domino’s

Dominos Instagram giveaway.

One of the more impressive giveaways in this list, Domino’s offered the chance to win $10,000 for any participant who followed @Dominos, posted a picture to prove they’re a superfan, and used the hashtag #PieceofthePieContest.

With simple, clear instructions, I’m willing to bet this was a successful giveaway as followers quickly spread the word about their love for Dominos — and likely incentivized followers to order a pizza from the brand.

2. Ali Fedotowsky

Ali Fedotowsky hosts an Instagram giveaway.

Ali Fedotowsky, a lifestyle and fashion blogger and ex-Bachelorette, partnered with Sole Society to giveaway a pair of loafers and a purse. Since she’s also well-known as an affordable fashion influencer, the partnership makes sense, and likely resulted in new followers for both Ali and Sole Society.

Additionally, Ali wisely instructed participants to check out her blog for the final requirement, likely resulting in an up-tick in traffic.

3. Cakesmiths

Cakesmiths hosted an Instagram giveaway.

Cakesmiths does a giveaway every Friday and uses the same hashtag, #FridayFavourite, to evoke loyalty and engagement from their Instagram followers. Cakesmiths is proof you don’t need any outrageous prizes for a giveaway — sometimes, a simple treat will do.

4. Dig Local Asheville

Dig Local Asheville Instagram giveaway.

Dig Local Asheville partnered with @findyourspiritfest to inspire people to visit distilleries in the local Asheville, N.C. area. This is a good example of how you might use your giveaway to increase awareness and excitement regarding one of your company’s upcoming events.

5. SojoS Vision

SojoS Vision sunglasses giveaway on Instagram.

SojoS Vision cleverly asked participants to like six of their photos instead of just one, which likely helped them increase their Instagram engagement rates. Additionally, SojoS included ‘Giveaway’ text at the top of the image — if your followers don’t often stop to read captions, this is a smart way to draw more attention to your giveaway.

If you’re interested in learning more about Instagram marketing, consider taking an online course, like HubSpot’s Instagram Marketing Course.

Ultimately, running a social media giveaway should help you increase your brand recognition and attract more followers.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

How to Do Market Research: A Guide and Template

Today, consumers have a lot of power — they can research your product or service and make purchase decisions entirely on their own. And rather than talking to one of your sales reps, they’re more likely to ask for referrals from members of their networks or read online reviews. 

With this in mind, have you adapted your marketing strategy to complement the way today’s consumers research, shop, and buy?

In order to do just that — and to meet your potential buyers were they are — you must have a deep understanding of who your buyers are, your specific market, and what influences the purchase decisions and behavior of your target audience members.  Enter: Market Research. 

Whether you’re new to market research, this guide will provide you with a blueprint for conducting a thorough study of your market, target audience, competition, and more.

What is market research?

Market research is the process of gathering information about your business’s buyers personas, target audience, and customers to determine how viable and successful your product or service would be, and/or is, among these people.

What does market research tell you? 

Market research provides insight into a wide variety of things that impact your bottom line including (but not limited to):

  • Where your target audience and current customers conduct their product/ service research
  • Which of your competitors your target audience looks to for information, more options, or to make a purchase
  • What’s trending in your industry
  • Who makes up your market and what their challenges are
  • What influences purchases and conversions among your target audience 

As you begin honing in on your market research, you’ll likely hear about primary and secondary market research. The easiest way to think about primary and secondary research is to envision to umbrellas sitting beneath market research: one for primary market research and one for secondary market research.

Beneath these two umbrellas sits a number of different types of market research, which we’ll highlight below. Defining which of the two umbrellas your market research fits beneath isn’t necessarily crucial, although some marketers prefer to make the distinction.

So, in case you encounter a marketer who wants to define your types of market research as primary or secondary — or if you’re one of them — let’s cover the definitions of the two categories next. Then, we’ll look at the different types of market research in the following section

Primary vs. Secondary Research

There are two main types of market research that your business can conduct to collect actionable information on your products including primary research and secondary research.

Primary Research

Primary research is the pursuit of first-hand information about your market and the customers within your market. It’s useful when segmenting your market and establishing your buyer personas. Primary market research tends to fall into one of two buckets: exploratory and specific research.

Exploratory Primary Research

This kind of primary market research is less concerned with measurable customer trends and more about potential problems that would be worth tackling as a team. It normally takes place as a first step — before any specific research has been performed — and may involve open-ended interviews or surveys with small numbers of people.

Specific Primary Research

Specific primary market research often follows exploratory research and is used to dive into issues or opportunities the business has already identified as important. In specific research, the business can take a smaller or more precise segment of their audience and ask questions aimed at solving a suspected problem.

Secondary Research

Secondary research is all the data and public records you have at your disposal to draw conclusions from(e.g. trend reports, market statistics, industry content, and sales data you already have on your business). Secondary research is particularly useful for analyzing your competitors. The main buckets your secondary market research will fall into include:

Public Sources

These sources are your first and most-accessible layer of material when conducting secondary market research. They’re often free to find and review — lots of bang for your buck here.

Government statistics are one of the most common types of public sources according to Entrepreneur. Two U.S. examples of public market data are the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor & Statistics, both of which offer helpful information on the state of various industries nationwide.

Commercial Sources

These sources often come in the form of market reports, consisting of industry insight compiled by a research agency like Pew, Gartner, or Forrester. Because this info is so portable and distributable, it typically costs money to download and obtain.

Internal Sources

Internal sources deserve more credit for supporting market research than they generally get. Why? This is the market data your organization already has!

Average revenue per sale, customer retention rates, and other historical data on the health of old and new accounts can all help you draw conclusions on what your buyers might want right now.

Now that we’ve covered these overarching market research categories, let’s get more specific and look at the various types of market research you might choose to conduct. 

1. Interviews

Interviews allow for face-to-face discussions (in-person and virtual) so you can allow for a natural flow or conversation and watch your interviewee’s body language while doing so. 

2. Focus Groups

Focus groups provide you with a handful of carefully-selected people that you can have test out your product, watch a demo, provide feedback, and/or answer specific questions.

3. Product/ Service Use Research

Product or service use research offers insight into how and why your audience uses your product or service, and specific features of that item. This type of market research also gives you an idea of the product or service’s usability for your target audience. 

4. Observation-Based Research

Observation-based research allows you to sit back and watch the ways in which your target audience members go about using your product or service, what works well in terms of UX, what roadblocks they hit, and which aspects of it could be easier for them to use and apply. 

5. Buyer Persona Research

Buyer persona research gives you a realistic look at who makes up your target audience, what their challenges are, why they want your product or service, what they need from your business and brand, and more. 

6. Market Segmentation Research

Market segmentation research allows you to categorize your target audience into different groups (or segments) based on specific and defining characteristics — this way, you can determine effective ways to meet their needs, understand their pain points and expectations, learn about their goals, and more. 

7. Pricing Research

Pricing research gives you an idea of what similar products or services in your market sell for, what your target audience expects to pay — and is willing to pay — for whatever it is you sell, and what’s a fair price for you to list your product or service at. All of this information will help you define your pricing strategy

8. Competitive Analysis

Competitive analyses are valuable because they give you a deep understanding of the competition in your market and industry. You can learn about what’s doing well in your industry, what your target audience is already going for in terms of products like yours, which of your competitors should you work to keep up with and surpass, and how you can clearly separate yourself from the competition

9. Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Research

Customer satisfaction and loyalty research give you a look into how you can get current customers to return for more business and what will motivate them to do so (e.g. loyalty programs, rewards, remarkable customer service). This research will help you discover the most-effective ways to promote delight among your customers.

10. Brand Awareness Research

Brand awareness research tells you about what your target audience knows about and recognizes from your brand. It tells you about the associations your audience members make when they think about your business and what they believe you’re all about.  

11. Campaign Research

Campaign research entails looking into your past campaigns and analyzing their success among your target audience and current customers. It requires experimentation and then a deep dive into what reached and resonated with your audience so you can keep those elements in mind for your future campaigns and hone in on the aspects of what you do that matters most to those people. 

Now that you know about the categories and types of market research, let’s review how you can conduct your market research.

Here’s how to do market research step-by-step.

1. Define your buyer persona.

Before you dive into how customers in your industry make buying decisions, you must first understand who they are.

This is where your buyer personas come in handy. Buyer personas — sometimes referred to as marketing personas — are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.

Use a free tool to create a buyer persona that your entire company can use to market, sell, and serve better.

They help you visualize your audience, streamline your communications, and inform your strategy. Some key characteristics you should be keen on including in your buyer persona are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Job title(s)
  • Job titles
  • Family size
  • Income
  • Major challenges

The idea is to use your persona as a guideline for  how to effectively reach and learn about the real audience members in your industry. Also, you may find that your business lends itself to more than one persona — that’s fine! You just need to be  thoughtful about each specific persona when you’re optimizing and planning your content and campaigns.

To get started with creating your personas, check out these free templates, as well as this helpful tool. 

2. Identify a persona group to engage.

Now that you know who your buyer personas are, use that information to help you identify a group to engage to conduct your market research with — this should be a representative sample of your target customers so you can better understand their actual characteristics, challenges, and buying habits.

The group you identify to engage should also be made of people who recently made a purchase or purposefully decided not to make one. Here are some more guidelines and tips to help you get the right participants for your research. 

How to Identify the Right People to Engage for Market Research

When choosing who to engage for your market research, start by focusing on people who have the characteristics that apply to your buyer persona. You should also… 

  • Shoot for 10 participants per buyer persona: We recommend focusing on one persona, but if you feel it’s necessary to research multiple personas, be sure to recruit a separate sample group for each one.
  • Select people who have recently interacted with you: You may want to focus on people that have completed an evaluation within the past six months — or up to a year if you have a longer sales cycle or niche market. You’ll be asking very detailed questions so it’s important that their experience is fresh.
  • Aim for a mix of participants: You want to recruit people who have purchased your product, purchased a competitor’s product, and decided not to purchase anything at all. While your customers will be the easiest to find and recruit, sourcing information from those who aren’t customers (yet!) will help you develop a balanced view of your market. Here are some more details on how to select this mix of participants:
    • Pull a list of customers who made a recent purchase. As we mentioned before, this is usually the easiest set of buyers to recruit. If you’re using a CRM system, you can run a report of deals that closed within the past six months and filter it for the characteristics you’re looking for. Otherwise, you can work with your sales team to get a list of appropriate accounts from them.

    • Pull a list of customers who were in an active evaluation, but didn’t make a purchase. You should get a mix of buyers who either purchased from a competitor or decided not to make a purchase. Again, you can get this list from your CRM or from whatever system your Sales team uses to track deals.
    • Call for participants on social media. Try reaching out to the folks that follow you on social media, but decided not to buy from you. There’s a chance that some of them will be willing to talk to you and tell you why they ultimately decided not to buy your product.
    • Leverage your own network. Get the word out to your coworkers, former colleagues, and LinkedIn connections that you’re conducting a study. Even if your direct connections don’t qualify, some of them will likely have a coworker, friend, or family member who does.
    • Choose an incentive. Time is precious, so you’ll need to think about how you will motivate someone to spend 30-45 minutes on you and your study. On a tight budget? You can reward participants for free by giving them exclusive access to content. Another option? Send a simple handwritten ‘thank you’ note once the study is complete. 

3. Prepare research questions for your market research participants.

The best way to make sure you get the most out of your conversations is to be prepared. You should always create a discussion guide — whether it’s for a focus group, online survey, or a phone interview — to make sure you cover all of the top-of-mind questions and use your time wisely.

(Note: This is not intended to be a script. The discussions should be natural and conversational, so we encourage you to go out of order or probe into certain areas as you see fit.)

Your discussion guide should be in an outline format, with a time allotment and open-ended questions for each section.

Wait, all open-ended questions?

Yes — this is a golden rule of market research. You never want to “lead the witness” by asking yes and no questions, as that puts you at risk of unintentionally swaying their thoughts by leading with your own hypothesis. Asking open-ended questions also helps you avoid one-word answers (which aren’t very helpful for you).

Example Outline of a 30-Minute Survey 

Here’s a general outline for a 30-minute survey for one B2B buyer. You can use these as talking points for an in-person interview, or as questions posed on a digital form to administer as a survey to your target customers.

Background Information (5 Minutes)

Ask the buyer to give you a little background information (their title, how long they’ve been with the company, and so on). Then, ask a fun/easy question to warm things up (first concert attended, favorite restaurant in town, last vacation, etc.).

Remember, you want to get to know your buyers in pretty specific ways. You might be able to capture basic information such as age, location, and job title from your contact list, there are some personal and professional challenges you can really only learn by asking.

Here are some other key background questions to ask your target audience:

  • Describe how your team is structured.
  • Tell me about your personal job responsibilities.
  • What are the team’s goals and how do you measure them?
  • What has been your biggest challenge in the past year?

Now, make a transition to acknowledge the specific purchase or interaction they made that led to you including them in the study. The next three stages of the buyer’s journey will focus specifically on that purchase.

Awareness (5 Minutes)

Here, you want to understand how they first realized they had a problem that needed to be solved without getting into whether or not they knew about your brand yet.

  • Think back to when you first realized you needed a [name the product/service category, but not yours specifically]. What challenges were you facing at the time?
  • How did you know that something in this category could help you?
  • How familiar were you with different options on the market?

Consideration (10 Minutes)

Now you want to get very specific about how and where the buyer researched potential solutions. Plan to interject to ask for more details.

  • What was the first thing you did to research potential solutions? How helpful was this source?
  • Where did you go to find more information?

If they don’t come up organically, ask about search engines, websites visited, people consulted, and so on. Probe, as appropriate, with some of the following questions:

  • How did you find that source?
  • How did you use vendor websites?
  • What words specifically did you search on Google?
  • How helpful was it? How could it be better?
  • Who provided the most (and least) helpful information? What did that look like?
  • Tell me about your experiences with the sales people from each vendor.
Decision (10 Minutes)
  • Which of the sources you described above was the most influential in driving your decision?
  • What, if any, criteria did you establish to compare the alternatives?
  • What vendors made it to the short list and what were the pros/cons of each?
  • Who else was involved in the final decision? What role did each of these people play?
  • What factors ultimately influenced your final purchasing decision?
Closing

Here, you want to wrap up and understand what could have been better for the buyer.

  • Ask them what their ideal buying process would look like. How would it differ from what they experienced?
  • Allow time for further questions on their end.
  • Don’t forget to thank them for their time and confirm their address to send a thank-you note or incentive.

4. List your primary competitors.

List your primary competitors — keep in mind listing the competition isn’t always as simple as Company X versus Company Y.

Sometimes, a division of a company might compete with your main product or service, even though that company’s brand might put more effort in another area.

For example. Apple is known for its laptops and mobile devices but Apple Music competes with Spotify over its music streaming service.

From a content standpoint, you might compete with a blog, YouTube channel, or similar publication for inbound website visitors — even though their products don’t overlap with yours at all.

And a toothpaste company might compete with magazines like Health.com or Prevention on certain blog topics related to health and hygiene even though the magazines don’t actually sell oral care products.

Identifying Industry Competitors

To identify competitors whose products or services overlap with yours, determine which industry or industries you’re pursuing. Start high-level, using terms like education, construction, media & entertainment, food service, healthcare, retail, financial services, telecommunications, and agriculture.

The list goes on, but find an industry term that you identify with, and use it to create a list of companies that also belong to this industry. You can build your list the following ways:

  • Review your industry quadrant on G2 Crowd: In certain industries, this is your best first step in secondary market research. G2 Crowd aggregates user ratings and social data to create “quadrants,” where you can see companies plotted as contenders, leaders, niche, and high performers in their respective industries. G2 Crowd specializes in digital content, IT services, HR, ecommerce, and related business services.
  • Download a market report: Companies like Forrester and Gartner offer both free and gated market forecasts every year on the vendors who are leading their industry. On Forrester’s website, for example, you can select “Latest Research” from the navigation bar and browse Forrester’s latest material using a variety of criteria to narrow your search. These reports are good assets to save on your computer.
  • Search using social media: Believe it or not, social networks make great company directories if you use the search bar correctly. On LinkedIn, for example, select the search bar and enter the name of the industry you’re pursuing. Then, under “More,” select “Companies” to narrow your results to just the businesses that include this or a similar industry term on their LinkedIn profile.

Identifying Content Competitors

Search engines are your best friends in this area of secondary market research. To find the online publications with which you compete, take the overarching industry term you identified in the section above, and come up with a handful of more specific industry terms your company identifies with.

A catering business, for example, might generally be a “food service” company, but also consider itself a vendor in “event catering,” “cake catering,” “baked goods,” and more.

Once you have this list, do the following:

  • Google it: Don’t underestimate the value in seeing which websites come up when you run a search on Google for the industry terms that describe your company. You might find a mix of product developers, blogs, magazines, and more.
  • Compare your search results against your buyer persona: Remember the buyer persona you created during the primary research stage, earlier in this article? Use it to examine how likely a publication you found through Google could steal website traffic from you. If the content the website publishes seems like the stuff your buyer persona would want to see, it’s a potential competitor, and should be added to your list of competitors.

After a series of similar Google searches for the industry terms you identify with, look for repetition in the website domains that have come up.

Examine the first two or three results pages for each search you conducted. These websites are clearly respected for the content they create in your industry, and should be watched carefully as you build your own library of videos, reports, web pages, and blog posts.

5. Summarize your findings.

Feeling overwhelmed by the notes you took? We suggest looking for common themes that will help you tell a story and create a list of action items.

To make the process easier, try using your favorite presentation software to make a report, as it will make it easy to add in quotes, diagrams, or call clips.

Feel free to add your own flair, but the following outline should help you craft a clear summary:

  • Background: Your goals and why you conducted this study.
  • Participants: Who you talked to. A table works well so you can break groups down by persona and customer/prospect.
  • Executive Summary: What were the most interesting things you learned? What do you plan to do about it?
  • Awareness: Describe the common triggers that lead someone to enter into an evaluation. (Quotes can be very powerful.)
  • Consideration: Provide the main themes you uncovered, as well as the detailed sources buyers use when conducting their evaluation.
  • Decision: Paint the picture of how a decision is really made by including the people at the center of influence and any product features or information that can make or break a deal.
  • Action Plan: Your analysis probably uncovered a few campaigns you can run to get your brand in front of buyers earlier and/or more effectively. Provide your list of priorities, a timeline, and the impact it will have on your business.

Lastly, let’s review a resource that can help you compile everything we just discussed in a simple yet effective way (plus, it’s free!).

Market Research Report Template

Within a market research kit, there are a number of critical pieces of information for your business’s success. Let’s take a look at what those different kit elements are next. 

Pro Tip: Upon downloading HubSpot’s free Market Research Kit, you’ll receive editable templates for each of the give parts of the kit as well as instructions on how to use the templates and kit, and a mock presentation that you can edit and customize. 

Download HubSpot’s free, editable market research report template here. 

free, editable and downloadable market research template

Source

1. Five Forces Analysis Template

five forces analysis template

Use Porter’s Five Forces Model to understand an industry by analyzing five different criteria and how high the power, threat, or rivalry in each area is — here are the five criteria: 

  • Competitive rivalry
  • Threat of new entrants
  • Threat of substitution
  • Buyer power
  • Supplier power

Download a free, editable Five Forces Analysis template here. 

2. SWOT Analysis Template

free editable swot analysis template
 
 A
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis looks at your internal strengths and weaknesses, and your external opportunities and threats within the market.
A SWOT analysis highlights direct areas of opportunity your company can continue, build, focus on, and work to overcome.
 

3. Market Survey Template

Both market surveys and focus groups (which we’ll cover in the next section) help you uncover important information about your buyer personas, target audience, current customers, market, competition, and more (e.g. demand for your product or service, potential pricing, impressions of your branding, etc.).

Surveys should contain a variety of question types, like multiple choice, rankings, and open-ended responses. Ask quantitative and short-answer questions to save you time and to more easily draw conclusions. (Save longer questions that will warrant more detailed responses for your focus groups.)

Here are some categories of questions you should ask via survey: 

  • Demographic questions
  • Business questions
  • Competitor questions
  • Industry questions
  • Brand questions
  • Product questions

4. Focus Group Template

Focus groups are an opportunity to collect in-depth, qualitative data from your real customers or members of your target audience. You should ask your focus group participants open-ended questions. While doing so, keep these tips top of mind:

  • Set a limit for the number of questions you’re asking (after all, they’re open-ended). 
  • Provide participants with a prototype or demonstration.
  • Ask participants how they feel about your price.
  • Ask participants about your competition.
  • Offer participants time at the end of the session for final comments, questions, or concerns.

Conduct Market Research to Grow Better

Conducting market research can be a very eye-opening experience. Even if you think you know your buyers pretty well, completing the study will likely uncover new channels and messaging tips to help improve your interactions.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January, 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look into HubSpot's Newest Content Marketing Strategy (Part 1 of 3)

This post is a part of Made @ HubSpot, an internal thought leadership series through which we extract lessons from experiments conducted by our very own HubSpotters.

How do customers discover new products nowadays? Despite there being many ways of becoming aware of a product, there is a simple route to considering it for purchase.

If you’re like me, you do it every time you’re looking to buy or try something new:

You turn to your friends (and in many cases, Google) and ask, “What are the best X products?”

If you’re using Google, your query looks something like this:

  • Best form builder
  • “Best fitness tracker”
  • “Best business scanner app
  • “Best restaurants in Dublin”
  • “Best bars in Boston”

Although sometimes, you drop the qualifier (the “best” of) and simply search for a broad transactional category:

  • Marketing automation software”
  • “Hotels in Tallinn”
  • “Language learning apps

surround sound strategy hubspot best form builder

Sometimes, these exploratory keywords exist in relation to an existing solution:

  • “Canva alternatives”
  • “Mailchimp competitors”
  • “Ahrefs vs SEMRush”

surround sound strategy hubspot best canva alternatives

Image Source

As marketers, we know search queries like these are important for two main reasons.

  1. The customer journey — the one we write about at HubSpot quite a bit — includes a Consideration stage, where customers attempt to educate themselves about the available solutions on the market, and perhaps the pros and cons of each.
  2. We have some good ol’ quantitative data about how much search volume these keywords get and what the estimated CPC is for bottom funnel search terms.

Take, for example, a term like “form builder.”

surround sound strategy hubspot form builder ahrefs

It has a high volume and high CPC. This means it’s both a high traffic and high intent keyword. That’s relatively rare but certainly a sweet spot.

Same goes for a term like “best red wine.” I Googled it and took the top ranking URL and put it into Ahrefs. Here’s the data:

surround sound strategy hubspot best red wine ahrefs

One can assume this blog post has a pretty solid ROI.

Without even looking at any data, you know how you can tell these keywords are high value? Just look at any website that monetizes via affiliate partnerships.

Examples like adamenfroy.com, ryrob.com and GrowthMarketingPro come to mind, where the majority of their content follows this format.

surround sound strategy hubspot growthmarketingpro

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Now, I’m not breaking any news to marketers with more than a few years experience — of course it’s important to find business critical keywords like this. It’s important to build out product pages for decision-level keywords, architect a pillar and cluster content strategy, build some links, and try to rank for these terms.

What I am saying is that just ranking your page isn’t enough. Rather, you want to appear everywhere a customer is searching when they seek out products like yours. You want your brand to turn on surround sound.

How People Discover (and Buy) New Stuff

Imagine you’re at a proverbial cocktail party, and you want to know what your fellow companions have been reading lately. You ask the group, “What have you been reading? What should I read next?”

surround sound strategy hubspot

A few years ago, at least one person in the group would pipe up and say, “Sapiens. You have to read Sapiens.”

surround sound strategy hubspot

Now, if only one friend out of your whole group recommends that you read Sapiens, it’s probably not going to stand out above the noise (depending on how much you like your friend, I suppose). The book is now on your radar, but it’s no more or no less prominent than any other book you’ve heard about.

surround sound strategy hubspot

Now, imagine everybody else in the group suddenly chimes in and agrees, “Yes! You need to read Sapiens. Best book I’ve ever read.” It’d be like a chorus effect (one might even say a “surround sound” effect).

surround sound strategy hubspot

In this case, if you’re not at least a little bit curious about reading Sapiens, then you’re insane. It’s highly probable, if you respect your friends, trust their suggestions, and have the money to buy it, you’ll buy Sapiens and check it out.

surround sound strategy hubspot

Our proverbial cocktail party represents a myriad of different influences in the real world. These include podcasts, newspaper articles, book bibliographies, and, yes, friend suggestions as well.

surround sound strategy hubspot

With this in mind, we can say that “Surround Sound” strategy means:

“The more frequently someone hears about your product from multiple sources, the more likely they are to buy your product.”

Note: I’m borrowing this idea from Tim Ferriss when he talks about product launches: “Especially on the first few days of your launch, you want people to see your project everywhere – on blogs, Facebook, Twitter…everywhere.”

This is not a new idea in marketingget lots of people to talk about you favorably, preferably around the same time. In the next section, I’ll cover more of the theory from advertising as well as search on why this works (and how it can work for many different channels and companies).

I eventually bought Sapiens, by the way, because this CRO guru and fellow Austinite raved about it on Facebook and at happy hours enough times:

surround sound strategy hubspot sapiens

Think about the last book you read, TV series you watched, or new piece of consumer tech you purchased. I bet it followed a similar trajectory (recent examples that come to mind are Sapiens, Tiger King, Game of Thrones, and the Oura Ring — at least in the circles I run in.)

People Comparison Shop (and Frequency Matters)

We’ve walked through my anecdotal journey to purchasing and enjoying Sapiens. Now, here’s the data that backs this up on a broader spectrum.

First off, in advertising, it’s common wisdom that repetition is a variable by which you can predict the success of a campaign. Media buyers traditionally look at two things:

  • Reach (who you are targeting)
  • Frequency (how often they see/hear your ad)

As it turns out, frequency of messaging leads to higher levels of awareness and purchase intent. The more you hear or see an ad, the more likely it is to be effective.

surround sound strategy hubspot awareness and intent increases with exposure

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Clearly there are nuances here; it’s not always the case that the effectiveness of a campaign increases linearly with each additional exposure (it’s almost never that case, actually). But it’s a good rule of thumb and a simple heuristic when thinking about capturing your target audience’s attention.

The other fact I want to point out is about comparison shopping. Anecdotally, you know you visit multiple websites before making a purchase. It’s absolutely unsurprising, then, that there’s data to back this up.

Research says that, on average, consumers visit three websites before making a purchase. The same study tells us that the more websites a consumer visits, the more money they are likely to spend.

Google is also putting out some cool research on the customer journey nowadays, and again, it’s unsurprising in its winding and comparative shape:

surround sound strategy hubspot car buying process

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So, we’ve got three pieces of data:

  1. Product or service-related keywords with high traffic and high intent exist (at least for most categories)
  2. People view many different sites before they purchase or try a product
  3. The more frequently someone hears about a product from multiple sources, the more likely they are to buy it.

Put all of these together, and the thesis is quite clear: appear on all of the search results for one of these keywords.

The Surround Sound Strategy for Search Engine Optimization

If you’re selling a consumer product, like a book, maybe your potential customers read a few magazines and a few podcasts. You can easily find this data using Google Surveys (or analyzing your own personas’ preferences like I outlined here) and finding predictive clusters of different publications people consume.

When you find which publications people consume, you craft a plan of attack, and near your launch, you find a way to appear in all of them. This creates a surround sound effect.

The search keywords that correspond to HubSpot products tend to have pretty good search volume, and content marketing is a pretty big channel for us.

So the surround sound, for us, means that when someone searches a product-related keyword (e.g. “best help desk software” or “best live chat software”), they see this:

surround sound strategy hubspot

There are two reasons for this:

  1. We can capture more click-through rate and conversions for the same amount of search traffic.
  2. Being on multiple lists has second order conversion rate effects because comparison shoppers trust that we are a top solution. (This is the surround sound effect!)

For the first one, it’s a matter of what percentage of searchers click on the first, second, or third (or more) URLs on a given search engine results page (SERP). If we can appear on more of the results, we can get more traffic back to our product page, and we can convert more searchers into product users.

I’m not the only person to have noticed this cumulative effect of owning multiple search results. Nick Eubanks wrote about the “SERP Monopoly” strategy and explains that the more spots you can occupy on page #1 of a given SERP, the more clicks you get, the more traffic you get, and the more revenue you get:

surround sound strategy hubspot ranking CTR traffic

Smage Source

This means that, with each additional mention, we get a linear average increase in click-through rate to our site (which translates directly to portal signups, and thus, revenue). Keep in mind these numbers are averages, and if you have good brand recognition, titles, or meta description, you can increase your click-through rate from the SERP.

surround sound strategy hubspot serp spots

If the goal of appearing on all of the results doesn’t seem feasible or appealing, imagine the inverse: What if you appear on none of the results? You’re not in the conversation.

Appearing on one result is like one friend piping up and saying you should read Sapiens when you ask a group of people what to read next. Appearing on all results is like everyone in the group telling you to read Sapiens because it’s the best book ever.

Qualitatively, SERP domination seems like a worthy goal.

How to Build Your Own Surround Sound Strategy

Follow this approach to create your own Surround Sound Strategy:

  1. Research your buyer’s journey.
  2. Map influential touchpoints.
  3. Find a way to appear on all of them.

surround sound strategy hubspot getting started

When I write it out in steps like that, it can seem a bit banal and perhaps vague. Research the buyer’s journey? How do you do that?

First, get to know your target customers and how they make purchasing decisions. Then, tactically figure out how to appear in those places (could be ads, could be SEO, PR, guest blogging, affiliate, influencer marketing, etc. — it all depends on the specific situation).

To illustrate this in action, in our case, we want to appear on all the URLs that rank for high intent product keywords (again, things like “form builder”). Virtually all of these SERPs have some combination of three page types:

  • Product pages
  • Listicles
  • Review sites/forums

So, the playbook is to rank the product page (not easy to do, obviously), get mentioned on all the listicles that rank, and get featured (prominently) on all review sites.

It’s important to track this over time, as well. We always keep an eye on our SERP real estate (doing so through a cool tool we built in R and host via Shiny). We can pull any keyword and see how much of the SERP we occupy, and then we can see a table for which URLs rank and if we appear on that page:

surround sound strategy hubspot

As you can see, the strategy is simple; the execution is where you break a sweat.

Note: Stay tuned for the follow-up blog post where we outline our execution and results.

Conclusion

The Surround Sound Strategy is a predictable and obvious play, given our parameters:

  • We understand our customer and where they seek advice or influence on product purchase decisions
  • We map out this customer journey and find the most influential and high impact touchpoints
  • We seek to appear favorably in all of these places.

Where some of your marketing activities will fall into a more experimental bucket, the Surround Sound approach can be likened to the low volatility assets in a financial portfolio. Execute strongly, and the ROI will be stable and predictable throughout time.

This article walked through the theory of this strategy. Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 that will dive into our results as well as the technical details on how we built internal tools to help us accomplish these feats.

Everything Our Paid Team Learned From Attempting a Reddit Advertising Strategy

With a ranking as one of the top ten most popular sites on the internet, Reddit is undoubtedly an intriguing channel for advertising purposes.

However, the site can often seem intimidating, and perhaps even too random to create a cohesive advertising strategy. Plus, since its primary purpose is to expose viewers to the top-trending content of the moment, Reddit users are notoriously anti-marketing.

Regardless of its challenges, its potential advantages proved too good an opportunity to pass up. At HubSpot, we decided to implement a strategy to see for ourselves whether Reddit can serve as a promising channel for the future.

Here, learn what our team figured out about advertising on Reddit, and whether it’s worth the attempt for your own company. Plus, we’ve provided a step-by-step tutorial on how you can advertise on Reddit if you determine it’s a valuable option for your own company. 

The Strategy Behind Reddit Advertising

1. Identify subreddit topics which are well-aligned with your target audience.

To investigate the benefits of advertising on Reddit, I first spoke with Josh Chang, a Senior Marketing Manager at HubSpot. He told me HubSpot’s initial strategy on Reddit involved highly targeted campaigns on specific subreddits, including r/entrepreneur and r/sales.

“The goal of the campaign,” Chang explained, “was to drive awareness and conversion for our products. In terms of results, we saw cost-per-acquisition similar to what we’ve achieved on Facebook in North America, although we did notice a lower activation rate from Reddit — suggesting lower-quality conversions.”

If you’re interested in testing out a campaign for yourself, then, you’ll want to start by identifying subreddits which can likely help foster genuine connections between your brand and your ideal audience. Consider topics your target audience is most interested in, and make a list. Then, narrow your list by investigating how many subscribers each subreddit topic has, whether it’s relatively active, and whether self-promotion or sharing content is allowed on the subreddit topic.

Chang told me, “One of the main things we learned was targeting subreddits specifically was much more effective than broader interest targeting. However, this strategy requires a lot of research, and getting to know which subreddits are most relevant to your audience.”

Additionally, Chang said, “We noticed tailoring our ad creative for individual subreddits helped improve our conversion rates.”

2. Begin engaging with your subreddit communities.

Once you’ve cultivated a list of subreddits that are likely of interest to your target audience, it’s time to start engaging with those subreddit communities.

However, it’s critical you don’t begin by promoting your own content.

To build a level of trust and authentic connection, begin by upvoting other submissions you find interesting and that align well with your brand. Next, share valuable content — but not your own. Instead, post interesting content produced by other media outlets or blogs that you believe will be useful to your subreddit community.

It’s vital you genuinely use the Reddit platform as an opportunity to get to know your target audience before you offer them your own content. Not only will this show your community you’re not simply joining the site to self-promote, but it will also help you tailor your content more accurately down-the-road.

3. Begin promoting your own content, paid or otherwise, on the subreddit platforms.

At this point, you might consider simply posting valuable content from your company that you feel will benefit your community — for free.

However, you might alternatively try spending money on a paid sponsored post, which essentially guarantees your post will be pinned to the top of the subreddit. Here’s what a sponsored post looks like, for context:

In many ways, this post looks similar to all other Reddit content. However, there’s a blue “Promoted” tag in the top left, signifying it’s a paid ad.

In HubSpot’s case, we decided to test out the power of paid advertising on the site. However, it’s still critical you follow the steps listed above to cultivate authentic relationships with your subreddit communities.

Think of it this way — if I begin engaging with a brand on one of the subreddit groups I’ve joined, and notice they typically post helpful content (including content from other publications), then I’m much more likely to take notice when they pay for a sponsored post. If they appear out of nowhere, I have no sense of brand awareness and probably won’t trust the advertisement.

Reddit Advertising Cost

As of right now, the minimum daily spend for an ad on Reddit is $5.

Additionally, Reddit FAQ states, “The Reddit Ads platform uses a second price auction based system, which means you pay a cent higher than the next highest bidder. Because we are using an auction based system, there is a risk of 20% over-delivery when setting up an individual campaign.”

However, as of January 2019, Reddit changed their pricing model from CPM (cost-per-impression) bidding to CPC (cost-per-click). The CPC model will likely make it easier for brands to track conversion or traffic goals, and could result in changes in prices over time.

Advertising on Reddit: Worth it?

When I asked Chang whether he felt advertising on Reddit is a worthwhile investment, he offered a candid response, admitting HubSpot has temporarily halted its efforts on Reddit.

“We saw promising results,” Chang told me, “But because we were targeting specific subreddits, it wasn’t crazy volume that could really move the needle. However, we have on our docket to re-test Reddit to see if we can improve performance and scalability in the future.”

It’s important to note, there have been success stories — Findlay Hats, for instance, drove $28,000 in sales from one viral Reddit post.

However, most brands see better results simply by relying on Reddit for community engagement and brand awareness. Alex Berman found one of his free, unpromoted videos got 25,000 views when it hit the top of a subreddit — but, when he put $250 behind his Reddit posts, he acquired zero leads.

1. Make a company profile.

You’ll want to ensure you’re running advertising campaigns on your company profile, not your personal Reddit account.

Along with evoking a sense of professionalism, a company Reddit profile is necessary since users can click on your account and see other content you’ve viewed and upvoted — so you want to ensure that content aligns well with your brand. Additionally, when responding to comments on your ad, you’ll want to be able to respond from a company profile, not a personal one.

To set up a profile, go to https://ssl.reddit.com/login and fill out the Sign Up form, shown below:

advertise-on-reddit-step-one

2. Set up an advertising account.

To start advertising on Reddit, you’ll need to set up an advertising account. To do this, go to ads.reddit.com and fill out the necessary fields:

advertise-on-reddit-step-two

Once you’ve inputted your information and selected “Sign Up”, you’ll see an advertising dashboard, as shown below:

advertise-on-reddit-step-three

Before you can begin advertising on Reddit, you’ll want to add your billing information by clicking the drop-down menu on your username and selecting “Billing”:

advertise-on-reddit-step-four

Additionally, if multiple people on your team will be involved in advertising on Reddit, ensure you add users by clicking “Manage permissions” underneath your username, and then adding their emails and permission level (including “Analyst”, “Creator”, and “Administrator”):

advertise-on-reddit-step-five

Once you’ve clicked the blue “Invite” button, your colleagues should receive an email with next steps.

3. Find your audience on subreddits.

It’s important to note, you don’t want to spend money advertising on the homepage of Reddit. Reddit users visit the homepage to browse popular posts and trending news, so it’s too big of an audience for you to target your ideal persona.

Instead, you’ll want to explore subreddits to find your ideal Reddit audience. For instance, let’s say you sell e-commerce software. To find an interested audience, then, you’ll want to explore retail-related subreddits, such as r/retail (8.2K members), r/AskRetail (4.5K members), or even r/retailmemes (733 members).

Make a list of subreddits that might fit your audience, and then spend some time perusing the content that already exists on that subreddit. Does it seem to match content your customer would be interested in? Additionally, does it look like the subreddit community could be filled with high-intent prospects (like a retail advice subreddit), or is it too superficial for your needs (like retail memes)?

To help you find your audience, try a tool like RedditList to sort through various reddit communities and find the ones of highest value for you.

4. Ensure the subreddit(s) you find have enough page views.

This is important enough to warrant its own section: you can’t necessarily advertise on any subreddit you want. Once you make your list of potential subreddits, you’ll need to ensure it has enough page views to be eligible for advertising.

To figure out whether a subreddit has enough page views, consider that one Reddit advertising campaign has a minimum spend of $5, and it costs $0.75 per thousand page views. Additionally, you can purchase up to three months out.

With those requirements, you’ll need roughly 6,700 page views over three months to achieve the $5 minimum spend.

To figure out how many page views you’re likely to receive on a subreddit, take a look at how many users are currently on the subreddit. For instance, you can see at 2 p.m. on a Monday, there are roughly 2K users on the r/marketing subreddit:

advertise-on-reddit-step-six

Dividing 6,700 by 90, you’ll note you need roughly 74 viewers per day on a subreddit to reach the minimum requirement — r/marketing, then, is way over the daily required page views, but there are other smaller subreddits with only 5-10 users per day, which could make it more difficult for you to reach minimum spend. Plus, you want to choose subreddits that enable you to have the highest reach possible.

5. Set up your campaign.

Once you’ve chosen your subreddits, it’s now time to set up your campaign. In your account, start by clicking on “Dashboard” in the top left of your screen, and then select “Create Campaign”.

advertise-on-reddit-step-seven

Next, you’ll need to create a name for your campaign, a funding instrument, and a campaign objective:

advertise-on-reddit-step-eight

After you click “Continue”, you’ll need to narrow down your audience — including interests, communities, and device type — your budget, and your bid (the maximum price you’re willing to pay per 1,000 impressions). Additionally, you’ll need to figure out a schedule for your ad, including what time(s) of day you want it to appear, and when you want your campaign to end.

advertise-on-reddit-step-nine

Once you click “Continue” again, you’ll be able to add third-party trackers to distinguish how many unique web page visits or social media viewers you’ve gained from your Reddit advertisement.

Here, you’ll also either create a new post or upload an existing advertisement that you might’ve designed for another platform. Feel free to take a look at Reddit’s internal advertising resources — including Reddit’s Advertising Help page — to learn best practices when designing an ad for Reddit.

Once you’re happy with the creative assets, click “Review”:

advertise-on-reddit-step-ten

Once you’ve reviewed all the information regarding your campaign and have determined it’s accurate, click the blue “Submit” button to submit your advertisement for consideration. You’ll get an email once your ad is live.

6. Analyze your campaign performance to improve over time.

Once your campaign is up-and-running, you’ll want to track its performance. You can monitor within the Reddit advertising dashboard itself, as well as through third-party tools like Google Analytics. Additionally, ensure you’re taking the time to respond to any comments left on your ad.

As with any advertising campaign you run, you’ll want to use analytics on this campaign to iterate and improve for the next one.

Ultimately, it’s worth considering using Reddit as a platform for sharing content for the sake of helpfulness and audience engagement, rather than as a cost-effective advertising strategy.

Where and How Often Do Consumers Watch Live Video? [New Data]

By 2027, the live video market is expected to surpass $184 billion. And brands are taking notice.

By the end of 2018, marketers were using live video as part of their social media strategy. Since then, this number has likely grown as brands continue to use a number of online platforms to stream virtual events, Q&As, and other content that their audiences will value.

Although brands are jumping on the live video bandwagon, you might still wonder if live video is really worth investing in. After all, creating any video costs your company time and money. Additionally, measuring the ROI of a live video can be tricky.

Before you decide to implement live video planning and production into your strategy, you’ll need to learn more about this content’s consumers, how often they watch this content, and which platforms they primarily use to stream it.

Learning about your prospective audience’s live video behaviors will allow you to consider a strategy that offers them valuable content while meeting them on the platforms they’re already on.

To give you insight on how often and where general internet users watch live video, I conducted a survey of more than 400 people using Lucid software. In the survey, I asked two questions: “How often do you watch live videos?” and “Where do you watch live video most often?”

How Often Consumers Watch Live

When I asked consumers how often they were watching live video, I didn’t expect a large percentage to say they were consuming it more than once or twice weekly. As a marketer and social media user, I was expecting that only a few people would regularly stop everything and devote time to watching streams on fast-paced online platforms.

However, when I looked at the results, I was surprised by how frequently consumers were actually watching live videos.

According to the data, 57% of those surveyed watch live video at least three times per week, while only seven percent said they never watch live video.

Data Source

While the result above is fascinating to think about, you should keep in mind that this is just a survey of one small group of consumers rather than a representation of the global internet user population. Additionally, just because our pool of consumers regularly watches live content, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re watching branded content.

Although you should take this result with a grain of salt, the data above, combined with mounting research that shows how live video is growing, signifies that this format might be more than just a trend. .

Although you should consider your budget, audience, and the time involved in a live video strategy before your create or plan content, this result indicates that you might want to keep this tactic on your radar.

Where Consumers Watch Live Video

Now that you know live video is capable of generating solid viewership, you might be wondering where the best place to stream your first video actually is.

You’ll want to pick a platform with a high user base, but you’ll also want to make sure that the site you choose has an audience that aligns with the audience you want to engage with..

When you start by picking the best platform for your brand and audience, you can learn what it takes to be engaging on this site, and adapt your content from there.

But, simply choosing a platform can be easier said than done.

At the moment, almost all of the top social media platforms — including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, and now even TikTok — have live streaming features. Additionally, emerging platforms like Twitch.tv have gained notoriety for primarily hosting live content.

To help you identify a few platforms worth looking into, I asked the same Lucid participants. “Where do you watch live videos most often?”

While the results about how often consumers watched live video surprised me, I wasn’t as shocked when I discovered where they were watching their content.

The platforms with the biggest audiences, and the most mature live streaming tools, took the lead. These platforms were YouTube (48%), Facebook (20%), and Instagram (13%).

most popular live video platforms

Data Source

One thing that did surprise me was that fewer people were viewing live videos on Twitter. Although the platform isn’t primarily known for live streaming, Twitter’s company was one of the first to invest in it with the 2015 acquisition of Periscope.

Although some platforms were less popular than others in this poll, you shouldn’t necessarily rule them out. For example, if your most engaged audience is already on Twitter, or your followers love your B2B content on LinkedIn, you could consider testing those platforms first since you might already have a great sense of what those audiences will engage with.

Or, if you’re selling a B2C product, you might want to focus on the bigger, broader networks like Facebook or YouTube since they have a large range of audience demographics.

As you plan your next live video event, here’s a look at what other brands are doing on popular live video platforms.

The Top 3 Platforms Consumers Use to Stream Live Video

1. YouTube

As the world’s second-largest search engine, YouTube’s more than 2 billion-person user base is incredibly broad. This means that almost anyone will log on to YouTube and search its content for a number of different reasons.

Aside from being one of the oldest and biggest online platforms out there, YouTube’s also offered a live stream feature, called YouTube Live, since 2011.

YouTube Live allows users to broadcast live content to viewers. With this live video feature, you can share unfiltered moments, as well as allow the audience to participate with real-time comments and reactions. Live videos on YouTube are recorded, appear on profiles and feeds like any other video upload, and can be watched even after the stream has ended.

Below is a great example of a live video launched by Adobe as part of its Sketch Party series. During each Sketch Party stream, Adobe films a graphic designer sketching or designing something with Creative Cloud software, such as Adobe Illustrator. While the artist is sketching something visibly on screen, they read comments and answer questions from viewers.

 

This stream allows Adobe to engage with audiences, highlight the raw talent of graphic artists, and show off how its software works at the same time.

2. Facebook

Today, more than one-quarter of videos uploaded to Facebook are live. This, plus the fact that one in five of the consumers we polled watch videos on Facebook Live most often, show that this platform might be incredibly useful for live video strategies.

Like YouTube, Facebook has the benefit of having a giant global audience that represents different ages, interests, and cultural backgrounds. While this broad audience has allowed B2B and B2C brands to effectively grow audiences on the platform, many companies have also developed successful Facebook Live tactics, too.

In the branded Facebook Live example below, a clothing store called By Alexa Rae Boutique highlights some of the clothing products that can be purchased from the store’s website.

The video is formatted like a show you’d see on the Home Shopping Network as the host shows each clothing item to the camera, explains the perks of each, and notes when items are close to sold out to encourage urgency

3. Instagram

According to our survey above, 13% of people say they watch live video on Instagram most often, making it the third most popular live platform among the group we surveyed.

Instagram has been rising in popularity for years, especially to millennial and Gen Z audiences. The success of the overall app is due in part to Stories, live video, and IGTV.

Instagram’s Live feature allows you to film streams that show up in your following’s Stories feed for 24 hours before disappearing.

Stories navigation bar on Instagram mobile app

These videos are often filmed vertically, but have similar features as YouTube Live. For instance, those recording live video are able to see and respond to questions from viewers.

Before putting time and effort into creating an Instagram Live video, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

First of all, although Instagram will show followers that you’re live through the Stories feed and via app notifications, the live symbol — as shown above — can be very subtle and easy to miss. This is unlike Facebook, which might prioritize a live video on your followers’ News Feeds.

Another thing to note is that your content will disappear within 24 hours. However, you can send your pre-recorded streams to the IGTV tab of your profile when you’re done with them. Although these videos would no longer be live, presenting them on IGTV might get them more additional views after they’ve aired.

Non-verified users can post a video between 10 seconds and 15 minutes to IGTV, while users who are verified or have more than 10,000 followers can publish videos or streams up to one hour long to this tab.

At this point, a number of brands have already gone live on Instagram and later added this content to their IGTV tab. Below is just one example of a live post that was later shared on IGTV. In the video, a representative from Providence, R.I.-based Bolt Coffee walks viewers through how to brew iced coffee with the brand’s products:

Other Platforms for Live Video Streaming

Twitter

While Twitter allows you to connect with friends on its social network, many use the platform to follow news, trends, and topical discussions. This is why a large portion of the live videos you’ll see include news coverage, video of current events, or someone discussing a hot trend.

Despite much of the live video being dedicated to news or trends, some brands have experimented with streaming content on Twitter. One example of a brand that’s done this is Coinbase — a platform for storing and selling cryptocurrency. In a recent live stream, Coinbas’s CEO did an AMA — or Ask Me Anything — session where he answered questions submitted live by users.

Although Twitter owns Periscope, a live video streaming app, you can go live directly through the Twitter app. To do this, tap the “Compose” button, then tap the “Upload” icon which looks like a camera. Once you’re in camera mode, you can toggle from “Capture” to “Live” mode.

how to go live on twtter app

If you want to add a second video box where other Twitter users can stream with you at the same time, tap the symbol with two smiley faces in the upper right hand corner to invite guests.

Before you go live on Twitter, you should keep in mind that the platform doesn’t center around live video. While it algorithmically might show your content in a followers’ feed, Twitter does not have a specific home for past-recorded live videos like Facebook Live or YouTube Live does. This means that to see your video after it’s streamed, users will have to go to your profile or search for it.

You should also note whether one of the other platforms above might be better suited for your audience targets. While Twitter does have a large audience, consumers — such as those who took our survey — might think of Twitter as more of a general social media network rather than a live video platform.

Reddit

While Reddit was later to the game by launching live video in 2019, brands have still leveraged it quite a bit to engage with the platform’s niche communities, or subreddits.

One way brands have leveraged live streaming is by hosting live AMAs with celebrities, company leaders, or thought leaders. The AMA format originally started as text-based discussion threads in subreddits. For example, to promote Microsoft and his non-profit organizations, Bill Gates has published a number of threads in technology-related subreddits that asked his fans to ask him anything. From there, fans added their questions and he tried to answer as many as possible.

Since live video launched on Reddit, brands have re-formatted traditional AMAs into video streams. For example, Audi recently posted a series of live streams called “Think Faster.” In each live stream, celebrities sped around in one of Audi’s newest cars while answering Redditor questions. Here’s a screenshot from one of the events which featured actress, Olivia Munn.

Reddit branded live AMA stream

Twitch.tv

Twitch is one of the newest platforms on this list. However, the live-streaming site has notably gone viral as video gamers have been using it to stream their sessions.

But Twitch isn’t just for gamers anymore. At this point, a number of marketers and brands have identified ways to leverage the platform.

One major brand that won a Clio for its Twitch-based campaign was the fast-food chain, Wendy’s. In 2019, a mission set in the popular video game Fortnite, told players to harvest beef and place it in freezers of nearby restaurants to collect coins.

Because Wendy’s claims to sell, “Fresh, Never Frozen Beef,” its marketing team decided to launch a nine-hour Twitch stream where a Fortnite avatar dressed like Wendy ran around the video game attempting to destroy freezers. As a Fortnite player, you could join Wendy and help her smash the appliance.

According to the Clio sizzle reel, the Wendy’s stream began to go viral as more people logged in to watch and post in the comment thread. Gamers also began to start attacking freezers to help Wendy’s avatar.

Building a Live Video Strategy

Although live video might seem like a great opportunity to engage with your audience, it still could cost time and money to plan and produce. Like any marketing strategy, you’ll want to research the tactic before diving into it.

As you determine if live video is right for you, and identify the platforms you’ll experiment on first, it’s important to lay out what goals you’ll want to achieve with the content.

For example, if you’re interested in pulling in views or awareness from broader, more general audiences, YouTube or Facebook might be the perfect live platforms for you. Or, if you’re interested in pulling in a younger audience, you might want to consider Instagram, which has a slightly younger audience.

To help you learn more about the live video platforms and strategies out there, check out this list of live video stats.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

8 Innovative & Inspiring Examples of Augmented Reality in Marketing

For now, augmented reality (AR) is still largely a novelty — AR’s newness alone contributes to its ability to surpass print, online, and television advertisements in terms of shock-factor. As The Drum reports, AR can capture people’s attention for over 85 seconds, increase interaction rates by 20 percent, and improve click-through rates to purchase by 33 percent.

Right now, people will stop and look at AR-inspired experiences, regardless of the campaign’s overall quality. But as more companies incorporate AR into their marketing strategies, and as AR technology becomes more ubiquitous, you’ll need to produce more thoughtful campaigns to impress your audience. Eventually, AR will become mainstream, and its prevalence in the industry will make it harder to compete.Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has said that AR will one day be as important in our everyday lives as “eating three meals a day.” So, the question is — how can your marketing strategy effectively capture an audience’s attention, once AR has become commonplace?

Here, we’ll look at eight companies that use AR in innovative and inspiring ways. These examples should be all the inspiration you need to brainstorm and execute a brilliant long-term AR marketing strategy.

Augmented Reality Examples

Augmented Reality for Product Marketing

1. Home Depot

Decorating a home isn’t easy — how do you know if you’ll actually like the yellow paint that looks beautiful online, but might be too bright in your bathroom? What if that coffee table doesn’t fit in your living room like you’d hoped?

In 2015, Home Depot released their Project Color app, which uses patent technology to show users what a paint color will look like in their home. The AR technology takes into account lighting, objects, and shadows in the room, so you can see how that yellow shade will look in real life. If you don’t trust your own judgment, you can also share images from the app on social media, to get a friend’s opinion.

In 2017, Home Depot took it a step further — now, you can also use their app to check out how objects like patio furniture, faucets, and other products look in your home.

Home Depot isn’t the only home furniture store to use AR to create value for their users — Lowe’s and Ikea have similar AR technology built into their apps.

2. Timberland

If you’re anything like me, the idea of trying on items in the dressing room can sometimes deter you from shopping at all. More than once, I’ve said, “I’ll buy it, try it on at home, and return it if I don’t like it,” just to avoid the hassle of carrying a pile of clothes into a dressing room line.

In the interest of convenience and comfortability, Timberland created a virtual fitting room in Moktow Gallery in 2014. Using Kinect motion sensing technology, Timberland’s virtual fitting room allowed shoppers to see an image of their face, and a similarly-sized model body, in different outfits.

If you’re going to use AR, you’ll want to brainstorm unique ways to help your customers avoid an otherwise burdensome process. While fitting rooms might not be the end of the world (first-world problems?), Timberland stands out as a helpful brand by offering customers a fun and useful alternative.

3. Sephora

There’s a reason many women don’t buy makeup products online — it’s impossible to know if you’ll like the lip color or foundation coverage if you don’t try it on, in-store.

Sephora understands this struggle, and created an augmented reality experience, Virtual Artist App, with ModiFace to ensure Sephora app users can see how makeup products will look on their face via their phone’s camera. Users can also find out which tools or products they’ll need to apply certain products.

Additionally, Modiface’s augmented reality technology can show users the effects of months of skincare on their skin — a visual they won’t find in-store.

Bridget Dolan, Sephora’s head of innovation, appreciates the necessity of a long-term AR strategy. “When it comes to augmented and virtual reality, it can only be successful if it’s truly useful,” Bridget told Glossy. “We weren’t interested in just buzzy. A lot of things like technical accuracy and timing had to come together, and there was a time last year when, during testing, we hit a tipping point.”

Sephora’s use of augmented reality isn’t just helpful for users — it also drives sales by appealing to Sephora’s more tech-savvy consumers, and encouraging those consumers to become brand ambassadors by recording and sharing their augmented reality experiences online.

4. AMC Theaters

Delivering a message when and where your audience wants to receive it is a critical component of a successful marketing strategy. This is especially true when it comes to AR.

AMC Theaters, understanding their audience is most interested in upcoming movie trailers when they’re at the movies, incorporated AR technology into their AMC app. When a user sees a movie poster in a theatre, they can open the AMC app on their phone, scan the poster, and receive relevant information, including a cast list and a trailer.

If they’re interested in the movie after scanning, they can also purchase a ticket immediately, within the app.

Ultimately, AMC Theatres is providing optimal convenience with their use of AR — while a user can YouTube a trailer or Google a review, there’s an added incentive to check the movie out and purchase a ticket when the user can do it all in one place.

5. Taco Bell

There are two big reasons you’d visit a Taco Bell in 2012 — to try their new Doritos taco shell, or to play with their augmented-reality packaging.

Taco Bell placed an AR feature on each Locos Tacos box and soda cup for their Doritos shell campaign. When a user scanned the box with the Taco Bell app, they could see product-related Twitter and Facebook content on their phones.

By connecting their users with live social media content, Taco Bell successfully used AR to cultivate a stronger sense of community. They also showcased their brand as a major player in innovation, particularly in the fast-food industry.

6. StubHub

Augmented reality enables you to both visualize and interact with a space — two critical functions when choosing how much you’re willing to pay for a stadium seat.

For Super Bowl LII, StubHub introduced an AR feature on their mobile app that allowed ticket buyers to see a virtual 3D model of the U.S. Bank Stadium, as well as nearby parking garages and concession stands. This enabled potential buyers to visualize their full experience before purchasing, and minimized the risk of paying for a subpar seat.

StubHub’s reliance on AR solved for a common customer problem — as StubHub CTO Matt Swann points out, “We’re solving for real pain points, not just tech for the sake of tech. For a lot of people, it’s not an event you just show up for, it’s kind of a bucket list item.”

Particularly for out-of-towners, the ability to virtually compare different seat locations adds a level of comfort for hesitant buyers.

Back in 2016, the company also introduced a “virtual view” option on their app, letting ticket buyers preview their view from their seats before purchasing. The results were tremendous — StubHub saw app engagement more than double within one year.

AR and Experiential Marketing

7. Netflix

To market season two of the Netflix original series Stranger Things, the streaming company launched a series of AR/VR lenses on Snapchat. With the lens shown in the video below, users could record videos of themselves walking through one of the houses seen in the show, as monsters called Demigorgons pop out of the wall. 

Aside from this lens, which is incredibly immersive for a mobile app, Netflix has also leveraged AR filters to promote its content.  The video below highlights just a few that were featured on apps like Facebook and Snapchat. 

8. Pepsi

In 2014, Pepsi installed AR technology in a London bus shelter, making it appear as if a lion, UFOs, flying saucers, and other objects were headed straight for Londoners.

The production showcased Pepsi’s playful personality and provided the audience with an exceptional experience. Afterwards, a video of the bus shelter’s AR technology attracted over six million views on YouTube — making it one of YouTube’s most viewed advertising campaigns.

Pepsi’s campaign highlights the effectiveness of AR when a company truly knows their audience. Pepsi didn’t need to use AR to advertise their products — instead, they trusted their consumers to appreciate the surreal experience and naturally share the story with friends, creating buzz around their brand as a result.

The State of AR in Marketing

While a number of brands still can’t access AR quite yet, marketers can still take a note from how these brands creatively implemented a new technology into their content marketing strategies. 

Ultimately, as the media landscape changes and technology gets more advanced, marketers at business of different sizes might have more opportunities to implement technology. And, when they do, they’ll need to think creatively and innovatively about how they invest in it. 

To learn more about AR in marketing, check out this ultimate guide. If you want to dive deeper into virtual reality, you might enjoy this list of examples.

 

The Ultimate Timeline of Google Algorithm Updates (+ Recommendations)

Google is a fickle beast. The search engine is imperative to the success of your web content, but no one truly knows how the Google algorithm works (except for the elusive Google search-quality team, of course).

Google’s search engine is also ever-changing. Google didn’t become the number one search engine in the world without prioritizing its user experience. It achieved this leading position by continually updating its algorithm to meet its user’s needs and delivering the best possible results (not to mention engaging users with new daily doodles on the Google homepage).

If your content doesn’t keep up with these Google algorithm updates, you risk losing valuable space on the search engine result page (SERP) … as well as potential visitors, leads, and customers.

In this guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know about the Google algorithm, its nine most recent updates, and how your company and content can follow suit.

While the exact number isn’t certain, SEOs believe there are certain ranking signals that Google considers when displaying results. These include factors like keyword usage, domain history, site usability, and more.

This is why, as businesses and marketers, we must optimize our on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO to make it easier for our pages to rank and so consumers can find our content.

Did you know over 3.5 billion Google searches are made every day? The search engine is by far the most popular among its competitors, which means the vast majority of your audience (and potential audience) is actively searching Google for information your website or blog can deliver.

How can you ensure your content ranks high enough on the SERPs to get your audience’s attention? By adhering to the Google algorithm and its updates.

Since its conception twenty years ago, Google has made thousands of updates to how its search engine works, including the ones in this timeline. In fact, the team makes small updates to its algorithm on an almost-daily basis.

Google also releases Core Updates a few times a year — you can read about Google’s recommendations on those here.

In this post, I’ve detailed nine of the biggest and most impactful Google algorithm updates in chronological order. 

1. Google Panda (2011)

Release date: February 23, 2011

Google released the Panda Update to combat thin, duplicate, or plagiarized content, keyword stuffing, content farms, websites with high ratios of ad-to-content, and other quality issues. It was also released to reward unique, high-quality content.

Google Panda gives every web page an internal quality score that attempts to mimic human qualification, i.e. how a human might respond to and rank a piece of content. This score is then factored into how each website ranks on the SERPs.

Panda was originally introduced as a filter for search engine results, but in January 2016, it was added to the core algorithm.

How to adjust for the Google Panda Update:

  • Use a site crawler like Botify or Screaming Frog to identify thin (e.g. low word-count or duplicative) content on your website and blog. If you find any, consider combining and/or archiving those pages.
  • Ecommerce sites are especially vulnerable to duplicative content — in these cases, use canonical URLs to indicate to Google which version of each page should be prioritized in the SERPs.
  • Rewrite and update content to reflect better grammar, syntax, and language. Keep content formatting consistent.
  • Remove or rework any low-quality or underperforming content. (You can identify this content based on low traffic and/or low conversion rates.)
  • Focus on creating genuinely unique content that provides unique value to your visitors and customers. Google provides 20+ questions to help you determine quality and value.

2. Google Penguin (2012)

Release date: April 24, 2012

The Google Penguin Update was released to combat black-hat link building techniques, such as spammy links, link directories, and keyword-stuffed anchor text. Google calls them “black hat webspam” and defines them as “techniques that don’t benefit users, where the intent is to look for shortcuts or loopholes that would rank pages higher than they deserve to be ranked.”

Prior to the Penguin Update, link volume — regardless of quality — was a heavy influence on how pages ranked on the SERPs. Penguin attempts to better understand how websites were earning their links and ensure that only high-quality, trustworthy, and relevant links were rewarding the sites they led to.

Google Penguin only affects inbound links — the links leading to a site, not away from it. Penguin monitors for black-hat link building techniques and over-optimized anchor link text. This is when too many inbound links for one website contain the same anchor text, which can alert Google that the links aren’t natural or earned.

Penguin was also added to the core algorithm in late 2016.

How to adjust for the Google Penguin Update:

  • Follow white-hat link building techniques to build high-quality, relevant backlinks.
  • Don’t participate in Private Blog Network (PBN) link schemes, which often lead to site penalties.
  • If you hire an agency or freelancer for link-building, make sure you ask how they’re building links. No money should be exchanged between the agency and the person or organization linking to your site.

3. Google Hummingbird (2013)

Release date: August 20, 2013

Google released the Hummingbird Update to provide a more conversational, human search experience. Google wanted to better understand the context of what people were searching for — versus the specific terms within their search query.

The Knowledge Graph was introduced the year before, but Hummingbird improved upon this feature. This update also brought about Google Authorship, which was discontinued in 2014.

Hummingbird uses natural language processing that includes semantic indexing, synonyms, and other features to interpret queries and produce results. It weeds out keyword-stuffed, low-quality content to create a more personalized, accurate search process and show SERP results that matched searcher intent.

How to adjust for the Google Hummingbird Update

  • Focus on conceptual content, not simply keyword-driven content. Expand your keyword research to include different phrasing, commonly asked questions, and similar terms.
  • Use tools like AnswerthePublic to expand on context when doing keyword research.
  • Conduct competitive analysis by searching your keywords on a new Google SERP and see what related content and SERP features (like Knowledge Graphs or featured snippets) pop up.

4. Google Pigeon (2014)

Release date: July 24, 2014 (in the US) and December 22, 2014 (in the UK, Canada, and Australia)

Google released the Pigeon Update to better calibrate the local algorithms with the core algorithm. The goal of this update was to reward local businesses that have a strong organic presence with better SERP visibility. It was also to answer user search queries with accurate local results influenced by traditional web search ranking signals.

Pigeon treats local search the same as traditional organic search, just with local cues. It considers searcher location when displaying SERP results, and allows searchers to treat Google Search and Google Maps the same. For example, you can search “best accountant near me” in both engines, and the results should be similar.

How to adjust for the Google Pigeon Update

  • Leverage on-page SEO and off-page SEO tactics to ensure Google recognizes your business’s location and other local ranking factors.
  • Create content and media that associates your business with a specific location, such as a neighborhood, town, or city. This will help improve your local SEO.
  • Register with Google My Business to manage how your business information appears on Google SERPs. Create and manage profiles on other important directories like Apple Maps, Facebook, Factual, Foursquare, Superpages, and Yelp.
  • Make sure your location information is consistent across all your web properties, i.e. your website, social media, Yelp listings, etc.

5. Google Mobilegeddon (2015)

Release date: April 22, 2015

The Google Mobile Update (nicknamed “Mobilegeddon”) officially incorporated mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. The update prioritized mobile-friendly websites on mobile SERPs, and the sites that weren’t mobile-friendly were either penalized or removed from the SERPs altogether.

Mobilegeddon was yet another effort by Google to continue providing the best possible search experience for its users. “When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps,” Google announced in 2015.

Mobilegeddon penalizes websites that aren’t mobile-responsive and rewards those that are. It only affects mobile searches and individual web pages (not entire websites), and it affects queries and websites globally, in all languages.

(Since Google moved to mobile-first indexing, however, the mobile-friendliness of your site now impacts how you rank for every query.)

How to adjust for the Google Mobilegeddon Update

6. Google RankBrain (2015)

Release date: October 26, 2015

The Google RankBrain Update was part of Hummingbird. RankBrain is a machine-learning powered component of Google’s algorithm that works to better understand searcher intent and deliver the most accurate, relevant SERP results.

Many SEO strategists believe it serves to measure how searchers interact with search results and then ranks the results accordingly. (This could explain why your SERP looks different when you search for the same thing multiple times.)

It has also been theorized that the RankBrain algorithm identifies relevance features for the websites that rank for a given query, establishing query-specific ranking factors and signals.

Google has called RankBrain the third-most important ranking signal.

How to adjust for the Google RankBrain Update

7. Google Snippet Length Increase (2017)

Release date: November 30, 2017

Google’s Snippet Length Increase Update increased the Google meta description length from 155 to 300, almost doubling the word count. The goal of this update was to provide more useful descriptions of web pages and help searchers better understand how a result might be relevant to their query.

For about six months, meta description lengths were reported to be between 160-300 characters (depending on the search and resulting content), but as of May 13, 2018, Google rolled back most snippet lengths to about 150 — where they originally were.

How to adjust for the Google Snippet Length Increase Update

  • Given that Google rolled back their meta descriptions to their original length of ~150, we don’t recommend changing your snippets at this time.
  • Keep your descriptions under 150 characters to ensure the full snippet shows up on SERPs.

8. Google Mobile-First Indexing (2018)

Release date: March 26, 2018

The Mobile-First Indexing Update was another nod from Google to those websites that are using a mobile-friendly website.

Here’s how Google explains: “[Historically,] our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.”

When producing search results, Google will continue to pull from a single index of data; this update means they’ll be populating more of this index with mobile versions of website content. Also, this update primarily affected how websites are indexed, not how they are ranked — but that’s not to say it’ll affect rankings down the line.

“Having mobile-friendly content is still helpful for those looking at ways to perform better in mobile search results,” Google says. “[But] we may show content to users that’s not mobile-friendly or that is slow loading if our many other signals determine it is the most relevant content to show.”

How to adjust for the Google Mobile-First Indexing Update

  • As always, ensure your website is mobile-friendly. (If you have AMP and non-AMP pages, Google will prefer to index the mobile version of the non-AMP page.)
  • If you have separate URLs for your mobile site (an m-dot site), confirm that your mobile page reflects the same content as your desktop site. (Google prefers to index your mobile URL.)
  • Make sure structured data and metadata are used on both your desktop and mobile versions.
  • Read through Google’s best practices for how to prepare for mobile-first indexing.

9. Google Medic Update (2018)

Release date: August 1, 2018

The Google Medic Update was the third, broad, core algorithm update of 2018. The disproportionate impact it has on sites in the health and wellness industries is how it received its nickname. However, it didn’t target those industries; it also had a large impact on websites in all other industries.

In general, SEO specialists theorized that the Medic Update was another update that targeted “quality” issues like thin, duplicate content, slow load times, inaccurate title tags, and bad user experience.

Unlike the other updates on this list, the Medic Update didn’t target a specific type of web content or release a new part of the core algorithm. However, Google released an official statement about it: “There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”

How to adjust for the Google Medic Update

  • Make sure your off-page SEO and technical SEO are intact and that there are no underlying issues.
  • Continue to produce helpful content that provides unique value to your visitors.
  • Follow white-hat link building techniques.

10. Google BERT Natural Language Processing Update (2019)

Release date: October 25, 2019

The Google BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) update was an effort by Google to better understand the language in which people search. It’s similar to RankBrain and serves as an additional effort to understand searches; it didn’t replace it.

BERT was a significant search algorithm update. As reported by Google: “With the latest advancements from our research team in the science of language understanding … we’re making a significant improvement to how we understand queries, representing the biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.”

In short, BERT helps Google users find useful and accurate information. The update allows Google to capture more of the nuance and context in queries and not lean so heavily on the use of prepositions or phrasing to clarify questions. (Check out some live examples of BERT here.)

BERT was also applied to featured snippets in over two dozen countries and languages.

How to adjust for the Google BERT Update

Grow Better with Google Updates

As a business owner and marketer, these Google updates may seem repetitive, detailed, and a lot of work. You’re not wrong. When I first reviewed these and considered the changes I needed to make to my website, I’ll admit I was a little overwhelmed.

But it’s important to remember that Google wants to create a fantastic search experience for its users … including you and me. These algorithm updates are designed to prune out the lazy, low-quality, and illegal content that’s not only filling up our search queries but also competing with our own business and marketing content.

In short, these algorithms are good things! It’s up to you to use them to your advantage.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

How Facebook Ads Have Evolved [+What This Means for Marketers]

According to a recent study from Statista, Facebook has an estimated 2.7 billion monthly active users worldwide, including roughly two-thirds of the US population. There’s no social media platform more prominent or ubiquitous. No other online destination offers you more potential exposure to prospects.

A well-maintained Facebook presence is central to many — if not most — companies’ social media strategies. It’s a key factor in processes like conducting outreach, projecting legitimacy, generating interest, and driving traffic to other content and company resources.

One avenue businesses can leverage to make effective use of Facebook as a marketing tool is paid advertisements — a format that has moved through several iterations over the years.

Here, we’ll get a timeline of some of the most important, interesting milestones in Facebook ads’ evolution, a picture of what the future might hold for the medium, and what this all means for marketers.

The History of Facebook Ads

2004: Facebook first starts generating ad revenue with its “Flyers” project.

Roughly two months after Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin launched Facebook in February 2004, the two took some minor steps to monetize the platform — just enough for a small financial cushion to help while the company got off the ground. 

As Zuckerberg said in an interview with the Harvard Crimson shortly after the platform went live, “It might be nice to get some ads going to offset the cost of the servers.”

That April, Facebook started selling bits and pieces of ad space to companies promoting moving services, T-Shirts, job listings, and other offerings for students.

The ads themselves weren’t particularly sophisticated, and the founders didn’t have much of a firm grasp on digital advertising. Still, the project represented a milestone in the history of Facebook advertising.

Image Source: Business 2 Community

It was the first time the platform tried to make money from the platform through ad sales. Unrefined and seemingly uncoordinated as it might have been, the Flyers project still helped keep the platform afloat during its early days and warrants a mention on this timeline.

2007: Facebook officially launches its Facebook Ads platform.

Some three years after Facebook’s initial launch, the company introduced a large-scale, official ads program to the platform. It gave businesses the space to create individual profiles — just like standard users — to post content, share photos, and engage with Facebook users.

As Zuckerberg put it, “The core of every user’s experience on Facebook is their page, and that’s where businesses are going to start as well…The first thing businesses can do is design a page to craft the exact experience they want people to see.”

The new program also introduced “Social Ads” — ads that combined social actions from a user’s friends, like a recent purchase or review of a business, with an advertiser’s message.

This allowed advertisers to deliver more specific, targeted ads to users that included information from their friends. These ads appeared either within a user’s news feed or in the site’s designated ad space.

The history of Facebook Ads 2007

Image Source: CNN

At Facebook Ads’ official launch — 2007’s Facebook Social Advertising Event — Zuckerberg summed up his vision for the program, “Facebook Ads represent a completely new way of advertising online. For the last hundred years, media has been pushed out to people, but now marketers are going to be a part of the conversation.”

2011: Facebook launches its desktop ad program called “Sponsored Stories.”

In 2011, Facebook introduced its “Sponsored Stories” project — a program that placed paid advertisements directly on users’ news feeds. Initially, the company pledged to only show users just one sponsored story on their news feeds per day. Those stories also stemmed solely from friends or pages users already liked.

The history of Facebook Ads sponsored stories

Image Source: Mashable

As a product manager from Facebook described it, “Anything that one of your friends is seeing as a sponsored story which features some of your content is actually something they would have already seen in their news feed. A sponsored story never goes to somebody who is not one of your friends.”

The history of Facebook Ads sponsored stories 2

Image Source: TechCrunch

Though it was impossible for users to opt-out of the program entirely, they still had the option to close out individual ads. “Sponsored Stories” certainly rubbed some users the wrong way, but advertisers saw it as a big win. Finally, they had the space to display their ads directly in the mix of social content and consumers’ news feeds — a wildly valuable stretch of virtual real estate.

2012: Facebook launches its mobile ads program.

Up until 2012, Facebook’s mobile app didn’t actually make money. It didn’t feature ads, and the move to incorporate them was considered a risky play. Consumers weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of having ads take up space on their mobile feeds.

The history of Facebook Ads mobile

Image Source: VentureBeat

Facebook opted to subtly ease advertisements into users’ feeds. Its mobile ads plan borrowed heavily from the desktop platform’s “Sponsored Story” strategy — seamlessly blending in paid promotional content and having it look like standard statuses or other user-generated content.

The company’s mobile advertising strategy aimed to make ads as discreet as possible. It provided limited real estate to advertisers, pressing businesses to create engaging, interesting content to capture consumer attention within tight confines. The strategy ultimately proved successful and further drove advertisers’ collective need to optimize for mobile.

2014: Facebook rolls out its three-level advertising campaign structure, offering “campaigns” and “ad sets” — on top of standard ads.

In March 2014, Facebook introduced its new ad structure. Until that point, the platform’s campaign structure consisted of two levels: campaigns and ads.

Campaigns — the overarching plans that correspond to specific advertising objectives — were designed to help users optimize, and measure results of individual ads. With this new development in Facebook advertising’s evolution, a buffer was put between those two levels.

Ad sets — subsets of a campaign that could feature their own budgets and target separate audience segments — were introduced. Those sets gave advertisers a new level of structure for honing in on, best appealing to, and better understanding demographics of particular interest.

The history of Facebook Ads ad set

Image Source: Facebook

According to a Facebook press release, the program was designed to “make it easier for advertisers of every size to organize, optimize and measure their ads.” It was a game-changing milestone for the platform — one that made its advertising infrastructure more thoughtfully regimented and easier to navigate.

2016: Facebook introduces bots to its Messenger platform.

In 2016, Facebook made a push to capitalize on the tremendous advertising potential of its siloed mobile messaging function. One of the ways the company looked to take advantage of the system was through the incorporation of chatbots. Facebook offered businesses two paths for bot incorporation — “Sponsored Messages” and “Click-to-Messenger” ads.

“Sponsored Messages” are ads that appear directly in a user’s Messenger inbox — ones that allow users to automatically communicate with a chatbot by clicking them.

The history of Facebook Ads chatbot

Image Source: BotsCrew

“Click-to-Messenger” ads leverage CTAs to place ads in users’ Messenger inboxes. A business will draw users in with some sort of incentive — like a discount or piece of content — on the original Facebook platform and automatically send them a message via chatbot once they click on the offer.

2018-2020: Facebook expands its ad formats, featuring eight separate advertising options.

Over its history, Facebook has consistently expanded its available advertising formats, aiming to effectively monetize the platform without compromising user experience. As of 2020, the company offers eight different advertising options:

As time goes on, you should expect to see this list expand and the nature of mediums it covers shift and progress. New technology and trends will bring new formats to explore and familiar processes to refine.

The Future of Facebook Advertising

If there’s anything to learn from Facebook advertising’s evolution, it’s that the processes and practices behind the concept will never remain stagnant. Mark Zuckerberg will never look at the platform’s advertising infrastructure and say, “Yeah, I think we nailed it. We’ll never need to change any of this ever again.”

Advertising on Facebook will continue to evolve and adapt as new ad formats emerge, privacy and data regulations loosen or constrict, its user base changes, and social media trends come and go. There are too many factors at play to expect anything but constant, likely significant changes in the practice as time goes on.

So, what can marketers take away from this article? Is there any recurring theme underlying success across every phase of Facebook advertising’s evolution?

As Facebook advertising has progressed, the companies that thrived in every stage were the ones that shared high-quality, engaging content that wasn’t too abrasive.

Consumers aren’t using the platform because they want to see ads. That’s why the content you share on the platform has to come across as natural, interesting, and not too jarring.

If you prioritize producing and sharing valuable, interesting advertisements that won’t overwhelm or frustrate your target audience, you’ll put yourself in the best position possible to thrive as Facebook advertising continues to progress.

8 Really Cool Ways to Use Video in Email Marketing

This morning, as usual, I started my day by checking my emails.

While this process doesn’t usually excite me and is just my method for waking up, I came across a subject line that made my heart race with excitement:

Knowing that I would be starting my day with a new music video from one of my favorite bands made me smile. It also made me feel valued as a subscriber to their record label’s emails — with just one video, Specialist Subject Records strengthened the consumer relationship I have with them.

This is why video email marketing is such an effective strategy. With a simple embed and subject line, you can build stronger relationships with customers, generate leads, and strengthen the content behind your brand.

Let’s talk a little more about it.

What is video email marketing?

Video email marketing is simply including videos in email marketing. If you’re unsure about how to do that, we have a quick how-to post here.

Because video is an extremely popular medium in marketing, (in fact, 83% of marketers feel its importance is only growing) including it in your email marketing can engage your subscribers and increase your conversions.

Additionally, did you know that over 80% of businesses use video in their marketing efforts? This is likely because of the results video implementation gives them. While using video in email can seem like a taboo topic, it can be very effective.

By using video, you can tap into the imagination of an audience that absorbs information visually — sometimes text just doesn’t do it. With video, you have a chance to make dense topics more compelling for your audience.

Next, let’s talk about ways you can use it in your next email campaign.

How to Use Video in Email Marketing

Videos can dramatically increase click-through rate (CTR).

For example, B2B software company Igloo Software decided to show off their workplace culture by creating 200 videos in three months for future email content. This approach doubled their CTR.

This is one way to use video in email marketing — showcase your brand in email and use it to increase CTR. We have six more, which we’ll explore now.

1. Use video for bonus content to delight your subscribers.

Consider using emails to give subscribers bonus content. Email subscribers are likely to enjoy a variety of your content, so going the extra mile with a surprise bonus could delight your audience. 

For instance, if you share weekly newsletters about Instagram content, you can add a link for early access to a live webinar you’re hosting about Instagram Stories at the end of the month. That way, you can build interest for the event, keep subscribers in the loop about things going on within your company, and give them an incentive to keep checking your emails. 

Alternatively, you can use emails to alert subscribers about bonus material you offer through other channels. For instance, this is an email I received from creators I subscribe to on Patreon, a subscription-based content service:

LGTC video email marketing example

The email served as a reminder to check my Patreon dashboard to see other offers. I could also play the video directly in the email, which is a great method for email deliverability and personalization. It was a wonderful surprise, and kept the email format readable. 

2. Make emails a more personalized experience.

Do you have a backlog of video content on your website? Consider using that to your advantage and sending personalized emails.

For instance, let’s say someone watches a portion of a video on your website that they don’t finish, and you’re noticing this is a pattern when you analyze your website data. Marketo‘s formula is to automatically send that video in an email to remind that user to finish.

By doing this, Vidyard reported that Marketo raised their CTR by over 144% due to the personalization of that email. If I were sent a video I meant to finish in an email, I’d surely open it to complete that video. I’d also feel pretty important to the company as a customer.

From a business perspective, this means more clicks for you, a better relationship with the customer, and more views on videos.

3. Display company culture with a video.

If you’re struggling with thinking of out-of-the-box ideas for email content that shows off company personality, consider heading to YouTube. 

Yes, you read that right: YouTube. 

What better way to show subscribers the culture in your company than going straight to the source? Let’s look at this email from beauty company, Glossier, to illustrate: 

Example of Glossier inserting a YouTube video into email marketing.

This email embeds a simple video from a Glossier influencer, showing viewers her morning routine using the company’s products. If you click on the video’s image, you’re taken to a YouTube playlist that highlights the makeup routines of Glossier affiliates, celebrities, and employees.

Getting a peek into how Glossier employees use the skincare and makeup in their daily routines adds a sense of normalcy and relatability to the company. I got to see the people behind the marketing emails, and what I saw were employees who were just like me.

Framed as a fun, “TGIF!” email, this messaging also had a promotion. If you click on the CTA, you’re brought to Glossier’s main product page with a reminder to spend Friday’s payday at the company’s ecommerce store. 

Email marketing doesn’t have to be a blatant show of products. Sometimes, you can subtly promote your products within a display of company culture. Try experimenting with a blend of public-facing content to promote your brand, like Glossier. 

For example, let’s say you want to bring attention to that new advertising metrics tool you’ve just launched. You might consider asking your marketing team to film a short video of the product’s daily value. Then, you can embed the product page in the video’s thumbnail. (Consider giving employees a heads-up that their response might be part of a marketing email). 

4. Announce an event with a video. 

If your company hosts events, whether internal or external, take videos of the events for a recap to send subscribers. This way, you can give subscribers a taste of how your brand works in-action and build interest in your company’s events overall.

For instance, do you host or participate in quarterly industry mixers? Try including a video in an email about the most recent one, along with a CTA for subscribers to learn more about the next one. The video can also serve as social proof that these events are well-attended and informative for other people in your industry.

5. Announce a product line or launch with a video.

Confession: I’m a little obsessed with makeup company, Fenty Beauty. When it was first announced, I immediately signed up for emails. It seems fitting, then, that the team at Fenty Beauty teamed up with Fenty Skin for its initial launch.

Fenty Beauty subscribers were sent an exclusive video from CEO, Rihanna, about the new company and what it would entail. It’s a great strategy to market complementary products through email, since  subscribers are already interested in what your company offers.

Using video email marketing for a product launch.

If you’re launching a new product in the upcoming quarter, maybe it’s a good idea to include email subscribers in the pre-launch phase. For instance, if you’re launching a chatflow bot as part of a CRM update, let email subscribers know first. That way, dedicated customers can express their interest in the product and bring in that word-of-mouth marketing

6. Send out newsletters with videos. 

If you’re giving subscribers scheduled newsletters with no video, you’re missing out! There’s a lot of ways to include video in newsletters so they can be effective. Video-heavy businesses can benefit from newsletter video embeds so subscribers can catch up on content they may have missed — especially if your subscribers prefer watching over reading.

Another way to use video in newsletters is to round-up popular videos in your industry. If your company doesn’t do many videos, this is an excellent avenue for you. Alternatively, if a member of your team is interested in a routine video schedule, try filming a round-up of weekly content in video-form.

For instance, if there was a commercial that rocked your industry recently, include that video in your newsletter with a corresponding blog post about your thoughts to increase traffic on your blog.

7. Move leads along their customer journey. 

Email marketing isn’t just limited to loyal customers — you can also use it to nurture leads. Just use workflows in your CRM to automate videos that will move them along the customer journey. This works with forms you can add right into that video. 

These forms might give your sales team enough information to follow up with interested customers. Or, give leads an opportunity to watch your latest crash course in SEO link building — in exchange for the completed form fields, of course. 

If you’re currently thinking, “I’m no tech wiz, how do I do that?”, don’t worry. HubSpot’s integration with Wistia makes it easy to add this widget into your marketing emails. Check with your CRM software to see if it offers something similar. 

Using Wistia to include video email marketing in a campaign.

Image Source

With this integration, you can add HubSpot forms into a Wistia video for higher engagement. If a lead converts within the video, their viewing data will sync with their contact record. This can be useful for future customer research with video marketing campaigns.

Think about piloting a video email marketing campaign for conversion. If you download viewing data, you can see how to tweak video content to further delight your customers. 

8. Include video in email subject lines.

Formatting is super important in emails and it starts with the subject line. As a consumer, if I see an email with emojis in the subject line, I’m immediately more interested in the email because emojis stick out to me and feel more inviting.

Try including “Video” or a corresponding emoji in your subject line to entice subscribers to open it. You’ll likely want to A/B test a variety of subject lines in the beginning to figure out what your readers prefer.

Another important formatting tip is to embed the video in the email in a place that keeps readers interested. Putting videos at the beginning of an email is a good idea, but placing it near the end invites readers to keep reading to better understand the video.

Video is an incredible way to engage subscribers, old and new. I just received a new one in my inbox, and I’ll prioritize that over other emails. If it sounds pretty hectic to produce new videos for email campaigns, think about using the ones you already have. You may be able to repurpose them into great content for your audience.

 

Do AR Product Previews Actually Lead to Purchases [New Research]

According to a recent Retail Dive survey, 55% of consumers still prefer to shop in stores because they like to see or test out products before they buy them.

But, if consumers could see or try products virtually from home, would they still need to go to the store before making a purchase?

This question has been asked by companies like Amazon, Warby Parker, and IKEA which have embraced AR product reviews. With these previews, ecommerce visitors can see an item of clothing on a photo of their body, preview what furniture will look like in their bedroom, and even size themselves to ensure they’re buying a product with the best fit.

But is this virtual experience really as effective as a traditional store or fitting room at getting people to buy?

Skeptics might say no. With AR being costly to implement and product viewings only requiring a physical store location, many marketers think that this technology isn’t worth the fuss.

However, as the world grows more and more digital, each new generation is making even more online purchases. They’re also embracing technologies like AR/VR for entertainment or retail purposes.

Not to mention, while holidays like Black Friday cause a burst in foot-traffic, retail businesses are finding it more challenging to keep people coming into stores throughout the rest of the year.

While AR might have been inaccessible to retail marketers in the past, could it be a revenue-generating opportunity at some point in the near future?

To determine if augmented reality was actually a beneficial marketing technology, I asked 300 consumers about their experiences with AR product previews using Lucid survey software.

In the survey, consumers were asked, “Have you ever purchased a product (such as furniture or clothing) after seeing an augmented-reality preview of what it would look like in real life?”

Since the technology is still rather new, you might expect consumers to say they’ve never used an AR product preview. However, you might also be wondering if those who’ve used an AR product preview actually converted.

If you think that the general population hasn’t used this new retail technology, you might be surprised by the result below.

Data Source: Lucid

According to the survey, 52% of consumers have purchased at least one item after seeing an AR preview of how it would look in real life. Over 30% of that group have purchased multiple products after previewing them with AR.

So, what does this mean for small or medium-sized retailers?

Understandably, you might not be able to afford AR technology to highlight your products just yet. However, the fact that more brands are using this feature to influence purchasing decisions means that technology and personalized digital marketing tactics like AR previews will likely become more prominent.

Just because you can’t afford AR now, doesn’t mean you’ll be unable to leverage it in the future. As augmented reality grows more prominent and more valuable to businesses, AR ecommerce tools might become more accessible or competitively priced. This is a theme we’ve seen with the influence of artificial intelligence.

While the technology was pricey and inaccessible to small-to-medium businesses at first, there are now a number of affordable out-of-the-box tools that marketers and businesses can leverage.

Even if you can’t take advantage of the latest marketing technology today, it’s still important to keep up with how other retailers are using it — especially if they’re selling products in a similar category as you.

Below, I’ll walk you through a few AR strategies that effectively benefit retailers now, or could be a vital product marketing tactic in the future:

3 AR Product Marketing Strategies to Watch in 2020

Mobile Previews on Ecommerce Sites

With this strategy, a mobile ecommerce website visitor can find a product they’re interested in, open a camera when tapping an AR preview button, and then view how the product — such as furniture — will look in the room they’re in. Some ecommerce platforms also allow prospects to see what an accessory such as glasses, will look on their face. If a customer likes what they see in an AR preview, they can exit the preview and make a purchase without setting foot in a store.

With increasing mobile ecommerce, this strategy allows visitors to discover a product through mobile search or an app, visit an ecommerce site, get an idea of what it looks like in real life, and then smoothly purchase it wherever they are. It also eliminates key friction points that could halt a purchase such as going to the store or not finding a product in the right size or color in a physical retail location.

At the moment, we’re already seeing corporations like IKEA, Home Depot, and Amazon embrace AR product previews on mobile sites and apps. But, this strategy might not be totally inaccessible to smaller businesses.

For example, a small bicycle retailer called PureCycles wanted to improve its website’s mobile experience and conversions. With a large catalog of bicycle product shots taken from multiple angles, they created AR previews with Shopify.

PureCycles says its use of virtual previews improved the customer experience on mobile-optimized browsers and allowed customers to answer key questions about their products, such as “Will this bicycle fit in my small apartment?”

Virtual Mirrors

Ever seen a shirt you loved in a clothing store but couldn’t find it in your size? Or, have you ever wanted to test out expensive makeup before buying it? These are two business cases that could call for AR mirrors, often called “virtual” or “magic” mirrors.

With AR mirror technology, you can stand in front of a screen in selfie mode, and see an overlay of how products in the store’s catalog will look on you in the right size or shade.

After your virtual experience, some virtual mirrors will allow you to order the product or send yourself a link for it so you can order it later. This prevents any additional friction related to having to wait until the item comes back in stock.

This virtual process also allows you to see products that the store sells but might not sell in the store due to seasonality or space-related limitations.

This strategy is used by Charlotte Tilbury, a UK-based beauty retailer.

Virtual mirrors, purchased and installed by Holition, line the boutique’s walls. When a customer looks into one, the camera and software scan the measurements and skin tone of their face. From there, the customer taps different makeup items on the screen to see how the products will look on their face. Here’s a quick video demonstration of how the software works:

Social Media Filters

Have you ever launched Instagram or Facebook Stories and noticed new AR filters that allowed you to test out products directly through your app? If not, you’ll definitely see more of this soon.

Recognizing the low-hanging fruit of AR previews in ecommerce, Facebook and Instagram, are actively taking steps to provide more commerce that leverage this technology. For example, in late 2019, Facebook made AR filter ads available in Facebook Ads. These ads allow users to test out products in Facebook Stories and its News Feed.

Here’s an example of what one of these ads might look like:

AR social media product filters

Image Source

Leveraging product-centric AR filters on social media provides the perks of the mobile AR previews without relying on shoppers to actually visit an ecommerce site.

As social media users tap through their friend’s Stories or content, they might notice a Story with an AR product in it or discover and AR preview that they can experience. These types of experiences are much more natural than seeing an influencer posting about a dress or makeup item, visiting the ecommerce site, and then doing added research to see if it’s the right shade.

While social AR previews are still in early phases, platforms like Facebook are already identifying types of retailers that could thrive with these tools. For example, AR features that allow users to preview products via social media could be a game-changer in the world of fashion and beauty. In 2018, this industry already saw a 164% social media revenue increase from paid promotions.

With social media users actively engaging with paid beauty ads, brands that are able to leverage AR on Facebook and Instagram would be able to reach social-media-friendly audiences on popular platforms and allow them to try new products.

One company that’s already leveraging AR to highlight products on social media is Dior, which allows users to try looks from its Fall/Winter fashion line on their Instagram Stories camera.

product try on AR filters

Image Source

As social media and mobile surfing continue to dominate how millennials and Gen Z spend their time, the need to invest in clever mobile advertising, such as AR ads, will also grow. .Although the combination of AR tactics and social media is still new — and not worth blowing your budget on just yet — you should still continue to follow brands and competitors that leverage it in case this technology becomes more accessible in the future.

What AR Success Means for Retailers

While the growth of AR shows how businesses are using new technology to benefit the customer journey, the effectiveness of AR and other retail technologies shows that customers are increasingly looking for digital, personalized, and frictionless shopping experiences.

And this makes sense. More and more, people are using mobile ecommerce stores and online social platforms to find, vet, and ultimately purchase products.

Even if you do have a physical store, you’ll need to embrace highly digital tactics to ensure that you’re gaining brand awareness from people online along with people in your neighborhood.

And while you shouldn’t spend all of your money investing in AR, there are other tactics you can take on to inform your audience about your products or services. These include highlighting your products on social media, launching a small but scalable ecommerce store, or sending customers personalized emails about products they might like based on what they’ve already purchased from your store.

How to Design Content Remarketing Campaigns That Actually Work

You know content marketing works, so you’ve been plugging away at blog posts, ebooks, and other valuable, educational content for your potential customers.

And people come — they find your content in search results and in their social media feeds. But they may not fill out a form and become a lead right then and there. It’s not always because they’re not interested in your message — so how do you recapture those viewers who left your site?

Recapturing audience attention to turn lookers into leads is an effective marketing tactic, and if you’re not doing it, you’re leaving money on the table.

Let me outline for you the sections I’m going to cover in this post:

  1. What the Heck is Remarketing?
  2. What Is the Google Display Network?
  3. Remarketing Campaign Examples
  4. How to Set Up a Remarketing Campaign

Remarketing gives you the opportunity to appear in front of people who have already expressed an interest in your website. They could be checking their email, reading the news, watching a YouTube video… and there you are, with something new and awesome to show them. It could be a reminder to complete an action they had started, or a new piece of content to further a buying decision, and so on.

Remarketing provides the opportunity to:

  • Turn bounced website visitors into leads.
  • Increase brand recall (and thus increase branded searches).
  • Increase repeat visitor rates and engagement.
  • Increase the effectiveness of search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing.

A common stat in the industry is that 96% of people who visit a website leave without completing the action the marketer would have liked them to take. Remarketing gives you a second chance to make that first impression (and even a third, and a fourth). We can’t afford to be forgettable — we have to make our content more sticky.

Alright, so we understand both the problem and the opportunity. Now, let’s dive into the solution. You’re going to learn how to use remarketing strategies with the Google Display Network to dramatically increase the effectiveness of your inbound marketing efforts.

What Is the Google Display Network?

The Google Display Network is a group of websites where your Google display (banner) ads can appear.

More than 2 million sites are in the network, including heavily trafficked ones such as YouTube. Google estimates that the GDN can reach 90% of people on the internet.

Who you reach and how often will depend on your ad targeting (more on that later).

graphic that shows google display network's reach in the US across millions of sites, videos, and devices including LinkedIn, CNN, lastfm, eHow, xe, howstuffworks, The New York Times, YouTube, Blogger, Gmail, Google Finance, and Google maps

Remarking Campaign Examples

To further underscore the opportunity that remarketing has to offer, there are some really cool campaign types that you can dig into.

Online Activity

By far the most common remarketing tactic is creating an audience based on their behavior on your website. Your options here are virtually endless — with parameters such as by number of page views (indicating a high level of interest) or by which pages viewed (indicating intent).

Here are some ideas for using this type of campaign:

Targeting by Buyer’s Journey Stage

Your blog posts are earlier in the buyer’s journey than other pages on your site. That means you’d match their intent with an ad that moves them further down their journey rather than one that sells. Targeting by topic or category-say you run a bakery. Why run general ads to audiences that landed on your wedding-related content? Instead, you’d target them with more personalized ads around wedding cakes and desserts.

Targeting by Intent

Aside from just topic, there’s a lot you can learn from your audience’s site behavior. For example, visiting a product page indicates interest, but not making it to checkout could mean a price objection or other friction. This means you need to sweeten the deal in some way (like a promo or discount).

Past Purchases

You can also target those that did make it through your purchasing process and target them with ads to earn an upsell.

YouTube TrueView

The human race spends billions of hours every month watching YouTube ads. You may have your own YouTube content, but perhaps your viewing metrics aren’t quite as high as you’d like them to be, or perhaps your users have no idea you have interesting video content to share.

Using YouTube TrueView ads, you can target your audiences as they are watching other videos on YouTube.

Take the screenshot below, for example. I’m trying to watch a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle video and it’s showing me an ad for a tourism company in Italy. Why? Because I was planning a trip to Florence at the time I took this screenshot, and they’re remarketing to me.

image ad in youtube video

The cool thing about TrueView videos is that you only pay if people view your video content. There’s no cost if the person clicks on the “skip ad” button. If you’re creating video content, why wouldn’t you pay a few bucks to promote it?

Video Views

Speaking of YouTube, your visitors don’t even need to make it to your website in order for you to retarget them. If you have a solid YouTube presence, you can create an audience based on video views. If someone watched one of your videos, you can create a display campaign that shows them your ads even beyond the YouTube platform.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)

Here’s another interesting but advanced thing you can do. It’s a little complicated, but I promise it’s awesome. It’s called Remarking Lists for Search Ads.

RLSA lets you target people in your audiences with customized ads when they perform searches for specific keywords on Google. 

graphic illustrating RLSA process: users visit your site, get added to your remarketing list, then you show them customized ads when they search on Google

Say, for example, someone visits your site. You tag them, and now they’re in one of your audiences.

That person then searches for a competitor of yours. This probably means they’re doing some comparison shopping.

Using RLSA, you can target that comparison shopper with a specific ad, like a 10% discount code or something similar. Knowing that the person visited specific pages on your site and is now performing specific searches, it’s possible to come up with very specific and compelling ad copy.

Bonus: Remarketing With Facebook

Noticeably absent from the GDN is Facebook, the other big player on the web, and that’s because they have their own remarketing system through Facebook Custom Audiences.

It works in much the same way — the difference being that ads are shown to users within the Facebook platform.

How to Set Up a Remarketing Campaign With Google Ads

Like I said earlier, using the GDN for remarketing gives you a great deal of reach. Generally, you can find your tagged site visitors on the network many times per day, several days per week, and across many different sites. 

1. Define your audience.

One of your first steps in remarketing is to define the specific audience(s) you want to remarket to. For example, you could create an audience for people who visited your blog or for people who visited specific pages on your website, like your pricing page. This will enable you to reach out to just those people with offers and messaging to suit their interests.

To define an audience, create a new remarketing list in Google Ad. Google will take care of setting all of the cookies; all you need to do is specify which website visitors to include or exclude from your audience. 

new remarketing list interface within google ads

Segmenting different lists of users enables you to show different ads, depending on which section of your site they visited.

A secondary benefit is that you can bid more aggressively to get more impressions and higher ad positions, and to get visitors to the higher value sections of your website. For example, your data might show that visitors to your pricing or product page are more valuable than your blog visitors.

Another creative remarketing strategy for content marketers is to define audience categories in Google Ads based on the different post categories in your blog. If you already have a ton of blog content that is classified by topic, leverage those existing classifications in your remarketing audience definition strategy.

3. Set audience membership duration.

In remarketing, the audience membership duration is the number of days that you follow a user around with your ads. For example, if I set my audience membership duration to 60 days, then users who visit my site will see my ads for 60 days. You can test and tweak this number to see what’s right for your audience.

Ad fatigue is a real thing in every industry and across every medium: TV, radio, print … and, yes, display ads. 

Now, I’d like to address a concern I’ve heard from some fellow marketers: that overly aggressive remarketing will make your prospective customer feel uncomfortable. Let’s look at a few facts and see just how “creepy” remarketing really is.

According to
Kenshoo, retargeting can lift ad engagement rates up to 400%, 60% of consumers are neutral about the topic of retargeting ads, and 25% say they actually like them.
Wishpond reports that the average click-through rate for retargeted ads is 10 times that of a regular display ad, and retargeting can lead to a 726% lift in site visitation after four weeks of exposure.

So, be bold! People visited your site for a reason, and past browsing history is among the strongest predictors of future purchasing intent. It’s worth testing out remarketing with relatively higher impression caps and membership durations and seeing what happens. As long as your offers and messaging are on target and you’re providing value, it’s not creepy. I would suggest:

  • Try setting your audience membership duration to an amount equal to 3x your average sale cycle length.
  • If it typically takes an average of one week to go from first touch to sale, set the audience membership duration to three weeks.
  • Don’t worry too much about impression caps. (Remember, more impressions means higher conversion rates. Consider rotating though multiple ads per campaign to combat ad fatigue.)

3. Create a killer ad.

Now that we’ve talked about defining an audience to remarket to, let’s focus on how to create killer remarketing ads.

Understand Ad Formats on the GDN

There are several different display ad formats on the Google Display Network, some of which are shown below.

examples of google display ads responsive formatsImage Source

Type Dimensions
Mobile 300×250, 320×50, 320×100, 250×250, 200×200
Desktop 300×250, 336×280, 728×90, 300×600, 160×600, 970×90, 468×60

Ad formats matter to marketers because of how the ad auction works. Different ad formats do not compete against each other for positioning, as shown in this screenshot:

example webpage with multiple display ads: shows that different ad formats do not compete against each other but same format ads still do

Write Copy That Resonates Emotionally

According to neurosciencemarketing.com, an emotional approach in advertising is nearly twice as effective as a rational approach. The same emotions that draw people to your content will drive people to click on your ads. 

The key here is to create ads that resonate with users on an emotional level. Stay away from boring, plain, informational ads that look the same as every other ad out there. Instead, create ads that appeal to your audience on an emotional level.

Content marketers are uniquely qualified to become fabulous PPC marketers. Why? Because so much of the success and failure of PPC marketing relies on the creativity of your ads.

For example, look at these ads for a search of “Big Data Solutions” — the ads are essentially all the same:

ads for "big data solutions" where none of the competing advertisers have unique ad headlines

Content marketers, on the other hand, tend to have a few creative bones in their bodies. I call this a Google Ads Jackpot because it reminds me of hitting a row of lucky 7s in Vegas — I just hit a Big Data Solutions jackpot! If you can come up with an emotionally charged, totally different and stand-out ad, you can blow away the competition.

4. Perform ongoing CTR optimization.

Google doesn’t make money by showing ads no one clicks on, so it makes sense for them to show ads that are more likely to get clicks. They use an algorithm called Quality Score to determine which ads to show, what position each will display in, and how much to charge the advertiser for each ad click.

To provide an incentive for advertisers to create great ads, they give out huge discounts for ads with high clickthrough rates… and dish out huge penalties for ads with low clickthrough rates.

This all sounds good in theory, but how do you create an ad with high clickthrough rate?

1. Send people to your high-value offers. 

What should you be featuring in your image ads? The most common tactic is to simply promote your highest value offers, like a free trial of your product, a request for a demo, etc. This is my top-performing ad: 

remarketing ad from wordstream with a puppy on it that says "my dog ate my ppc! no more excuses for poor results"

Of course it has a cute puppy. How could it not? Make people love your ads, not dread them.

2. Do a conversion path analysis.

The goal here is to figure out which pages on your site, if visited during a user’s session, result in a much higher probability of the user converting to a lead or a sale. For example, the highest converting page on your site could be your product overview page. Come up with a list like this one and target those pages in your remarketing audience.

excel spreadsheet showing different pages and their conversion rates, indicating the top converting pages are ideal for remarketing

3. Send people to your best content.

Check out this ad from my colleague Marty Weintraub at AimClear, which sends anyone who clicks to his PPC analyses.

remarketing ad at the top of a page that says "10 kevlar ppc analyses and process for a bulletproof account"

But how do you know what content to feature in your ads?

4. Analyze social shares on your blog content.

If you analyze your blog content, what you’ll usually find is that around 5% of your pages generate half of the shares on social media.

For example, I analyzed all of the articles on one business blog over the last year and found that on average, a typical article gets several hundred shares on social media. However, the top 5% of articles gets tens of thousands of social shares. Not surprisingly, we found that the same stories that work well on social media also tend to do very well as featured content within ads.

5. Get strategic with bid management.

Now that you have remarketing audiences and ads down to a science, let’s turn our attention to bid management strategies. 

Remember, in PPC marketing, you have to pay for each click. The advertiser specifies a maximum cost per click that they’re willing to pay, but the key here is not to buy every possible click. Rather, you want to be super picky and just cherry-pick the clicks that are the most relevant to your business. The way to do this is through bid management.

It doesn’t make any sense to remarket ads to everyone in your audience. Why? Because not everyone who visits your website is a qualified buyer.

With Google Ads, you can overlay user demographic information on top of your remarketing audiences to find the needles in the haystack. For example, someone from Zimbabwe could visit your site — but they can’t convert if you can’t ship there.

Here’s when it comes in handy to know a thing or two about your target customer persona.

  • What are the ages?
  • Parental status?
  • Where do they live?
  • Gender?
  • What time do they search for your products?
  • What is their income?

You can be very picky, and just bid for the people in your audience who also meet your demographic filters.

You’ve done your research, you know your topic, you have something interesting and entertaining to say — but sometimes you need that extra push. As individuals and brands have become publishers, the game has been upped big time. Competition is fierce.

With remarketing, we at WordStream increased our repeat visitors by 50%, tripled our average time on site, and saw a huge increase in direct visits to our site.

In short, content remarketing enabled us to maximize the value of every piece of content we put out. We were able to get each piece in front of the audience with the most intent, at the right time, and via the right channels.

You can achieve this kind of success too with a killer remarketing campaign and the right advertising plan.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.