Category Archives: Marketing Strategies

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

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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.

18 Beautiful New Ebook Templates [Free Download]

Did you know that landing pages have the highest conversion rate at 23% than other types of signup forms? But landing pages don’t convert visitors to leads all by themselves — without attractive and compelling offers behind them, they won’t generate the tons of leads for your sales team that you want them to.

That’s why it’s so important to create valuable content people want to download, and then package it in a way that’s visually appealing to your readers. A big part of the ebook creation process is making it look both professional and attractive so people want to read it and share it.

We know not every team has someone in-house who can (or has time to) whip up a slick, highly shareable ebook design. But we have good news: You don’t need to be a designer by trade to design beautiful ebooks yourself. With the right resources and approach, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

We created ebook templates to help make this process easier for you — and they were so popular that we decided to revamp the offer for 18 new-and-improved ebook templates for you. We hope these templates minimize the time you spend on the details of design, allowing you to concentrate on writing valuable, lead-generating content your readers will love.

Download the Templates Now

Start With One of These Free Ebook Templates

Here is a preview of some of the ebooks you’ll find in the template bundle:

1. Artistic Theme

example page from the artistic theme that reads "creative ebook template with an artistic theme" in purple along with a dynamic photo of a laptop with purple screen

This template uses white space so that you can have your colorful headers, eye-catching graphics, and stunning images do all the talking. It includes several layout options so that the design is kept fresh from one page to another.

2. Professional Theme

example page from the professional theme that reads "creative ebook template with a professional theme" along with a photo in the center and banded blue background

Create a professional but bold feel with image-based title pages and thick, bold fonts. This template also includes photo-heavy pages, making it perfect for a showcase or inspiration guide.

3. Honeycomb Theme

example page from the honeycomb theme that reads "An Intro To This Topic of Your Choosing" in yellow against a blue background where the bottom half is repeated honeycomb shapes

Speaking of geometrical shapes, this one uses hexagonal shapes in the background and for emphasis, providing a striking honeycomb theme. In addition, you’ll also find page layouts for quotes and captioned photos, making it a good choice for ebooks with a variety of types of content.

With these slick new templates, you’ll be able to:

  • Create beautifully designed ebooks without either the cost of a designer or experience with InDesign/Illustrator/Photoshop.
  • Choose from six different ebook designs across three different platforms (Adobe InDesign, PowerPoint, and Google Slides), and even add your own brand colors to any of them in a few quick steps.
  • Spend more time writing awesome content and less time getting the layout right.
  • Use all of the stock images provided in the templates, free of charge.
  • Save your ebooks as professional and attractive PDF files that are ready for download.

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

How Broadcast Journalism Helped Me Pivot to Social Media Management

Pivoting from a career in broadcast journalism was a big decision for me.

I loved everything about a newsroom environment: the breaking news, researching topics, identifying sources for stories, and feeling like I had a pulse on trends and issues taking place in the world.

I was successful at it, too. In fact, I worked at some of the biggest news corporations in the world, including CNN, ABC News, CBSLA and others.

However, at some point — because I was spending so much time on social media listening for breaking news and looking for story ideas — my interest in social media evolved.

I knew I wanted to make a transition, but I was scared of taking a leap and pivoting to social media marketing.

Today, I can tell you that I’m so happy I did. I learned that my job is not my entire identity, and through journalism, I have so many transferrable skills to thrive in any industry.

Switching careers can feel exciting, but comes with feelings of self-doubt and anxiety.

Here, I want to highlight how broadcast journalism helped me succeed in social media, and tips you can use if you’re considering a career shift of your own.

7 Takeaways From Journalism You Can Apply to Social Media

1. Ask the 5 W questions.

Who? What? Where? When? and Why? These questions are ingrained in any journalist.

The foundational questions to news gathering also apply in the context of content creation, marketing plans, and any content strategy. For instance, any marketer likely asks these questions daily:

Who is this message for?

What is the core message we want them to take away from this?

When (and where) are they most likely to be to consume this message?

Why should they care?

“Why” also goes a little deeper in social media. The internet is flooded with information and it’s your job to capture someone’s attention — and hold their attention for your content.

Why would someone click on this ad?

Why are we targeting this group?

Why is it important that they see this message?

The root of these questions have helped me cut through the jargon of promotions and company announcements to get to the root of the message in the simplest words.

Pro Tip: In journalism school, I learned to simplify the facts by “explaining this story to my mom.” This framework has really helped me simplify information down to its core. I practice this often when trying to take a complex company announcement and whittle it down to its simplest takeaway.

2. Focus on the core story, not the details.

When it comes to creating content, journalists have a unique element they bring to the table: storytelling.

Some people may get caught up in numbers, the tagline, a paragraph in an announcement, and so on.

As a former journalist, I think about the core of the message we want to convey in a social post.

The key takeaway could involve visual elements and emotional triggers, but its foundation will include a concise message or story.

3. Keep up-to-date on industry and competitor trends.

The advantage journalism has provided me when it comes to conducting research is that, even if you have an intuitive sense of your audience, your journalism instincts still compel you to “look into it” and confirm your hypothesis.

For instance, for conducing market research — including what my audience is feeling, thinking, struggling with, dreaming of, reading about, etc. — I put my “investigative” hat on and look within Facebook Groups, or other websites where people can leave comments or questions (such as Quora or Amazon reviews) to gather information about what my audience is seeing, thinking, and feeling.

Additionally, a couple of keyword searches gives me a framework to work with while doing research.

Referring to the latest studies, trends, and reports helps me identify any overlaps and enables me to be a successful social media professional because I keep a pulse on issues that are top-of-mind to my audience.

A little research goes a long way in social media content and writing.

Journalists are naturally curious people, so we sometimes find ourselves entertained by trends and topics that get people talking. We like to quickly parachute in on behavior like this and figure out what the hype is all about, source who started it, and figure out why it’s taking off.

It’s amusing, to say the least, but this innate skill in journalists has helped me in social media because I can (for the most part) keep up with the latest memes, videos, or other trending news that’s popular that day or week. It also helps me recall previous news events or trends that were popular in the past.

Context of topics, audiences, and trends helps me while making editorial or marketing decisions and creating content.

4. Create quality content, even with minimal assets.

When it comes to content creation, journalists have had to work with little or major constraints when it comes to telling a story. You might have only a few usable sound bites, poor video quality, or you’re working with only sound.

Broadcast journalism helped me feel comfortable with improvising and maximizing any assets available.

I learned how to do video, audio and photography editing. I learned different storytelling formats such as radio, TV, print, and online, as well as how to distinguish each piece (i.e. infographic, video, blog post, listicle) and how to adapt them to different social media platforms.

I learned to do this in the most concise way possible, which helped me tremendously while writing short headlines and easy-to-understand text that includes a call to action.

5. Write concisely, and make every word count.

Whether it’s copywriting, writing in a brand’s voice, creating catchy headlines and titles, creating copy that converts a user, incorporating a call-to-action, or enticing a reader to learn more … it’s all important in social media.

Broadcast journalism helped my social media career with my writing skills alone. Ultimately, packaging information in a concise way is so important in social media.

Twitter has a 280 character limit. However, I’m proud that I learned how to write tweets when it had a 140-character limit — including character counts toward photos, videos, and GIFs that were attached!

Brevity is always a best practice when it comes to writing on social media, and broadcast journalism has helped me succeed in that regard.

Effective writing helps your audience understand you, what you offer, and your value and is a critical skill for attracting an online audience.

Pro Tip: Practice reading your words out loud to catch typos or awkward sentence structures. I learned this while writing copy for TV news and it has helped me tremendously while crafting social media posts.

6. Learn how to communicate effectively in crises. 

Social media is an extension of any brand, and understanding when something is a reputational risk is important.

My career in broadcast journalism helped me identify potential pitfalls or anticipate remarks people might make. The last thing I want to do is appear tone-deaf or miss the mark with marketing messages.

Working in broadcast journalism has trained me to never lower my guard and always keep my eyes open for threats or liabilities in social posts, marketing campaigns, and imagery.

I also understand news cycles, and during a crisis, I’ve learned how to evolve and adapt to new circumstances and information.

For example, during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, there were different phases of crisis communication companies needed to understand. It was important to pause, pivot marketing and messaging, and identify pain points and re-position your brand, among other things.

Working with so many PR and marketing professionals over the years taught me about how to “own the narrative” of a brand’s story and to serve as a brand steward on social media.

7. Stay resourceful and help your audience find answers to their needs.

I say I’m a digital content strategist, but really, I’m a professional problem-solver.

If I don’t have an answer, I’ll either find the answer or find someone who does.

Broadcast journalism taught me to be resourceful, help my audience with valuable and actionable information, and think quickly on my feet and pitch smart angles.

I’ve come across so many random scenarios while working in social media, including:

  • Converting and transferring files
  • Helping people with their wifi
  • Syncing folders on Sharepoint
  • Identifying fonts
  • Pitching a story on behalf of the company
  • Finding alternative channel or format to communicate a message
  • Sourcing video to its original owner

You name it, I’ve probably helped someone figure something out, and because of it, I’m an invaluable asset to my team and my company.

I solve people’s problems (in person and online) which makes me feel like I’m doing a great social service.

Journalists have a big opportunity in the marketing, social media, content strategy, storytelling and advertising space — if you are on the fence, I encourage you to take the leap.

8 Ways Digital Rewards Can Help Marketers to Stand Out

Many of us scroll past ads in our newsfeed, delete emails, or even run to the bathroom during commercial breaks.

As consumers, we’re constantly bombarded with advertisements and calls-to-action. This is the challenge of marketing: campaigns are everywhere.

And, if campaigns are everywhere, they can be easier to tune out and ignore.

In fact, social click-through rates on ads went from 2.6% in late 2018 to 2% in late 2019, a sure sign that social media users have advertising fatigue.

Ultimately, marketers need to try increasingly new and innovative approaches to grab consumers’ attention. Marketers work hard daily to create the exception: a message that can’t be ignored.

Here, we’re going to dive into one innovative strategy that could help marketers’ stand out in 2020: digital rewards.

Digital Rewards: The Secret Weapon for Standing Out

Digital rewards are e-gift cards, either from retailers or virtual Visa/Mastercards that can be delivered in an instant via a link or email. These virtual rewards can help you stand out against competitors.

More often than not, marketers ask for consumer’s attention without much upfront benefit. Every time consumers see marketing campaigns, they make a decision within seconds — and it often follows the logic of, “if I click this Facebook ad, am I really going to buy this product?” They risk spending valuable time evaluating a purchase, but then ultimately decide not to. Digital rewards minimize that risk by creating tangible upfront value.

In addition, digital rewards are a kind gesture that lets a prospective customer know you value their time. It’s a way of recognizing their engagement and saying “thank you” for their attention. Gift giving is a classic way that humans show warmth and appreciation for others.

Digital rewards enable you to tap into this age-old societal practice and modernize it for the virtual era. By sending personalized digital rewards, you create human connections despite physical distance.

Because digital rewards are a lesser-known tool, you may be wondering how to incorporate them into your current marketing strategy. Below are eight ways to boost marketing campaigns with digital rewards to accelerate engagement and maximize campaign ROI.

Digital Rewards Strategies and Examples

1. Host incentivized webinars for your target audience.

What this looks like: “Attend our live webinar for a $10 thank you gift!”

Why you should do it: Incentivized webinars make it easier for consumers to evaluate your product. Additionally, the upfront value excites consumers and makes these webinars much more effective at lead generation than typical webinars.

Plus, the reward delivery email can be prime real estate to feature follow-up content and calls-to-action. Consumers tend to be more willing to provide data in exchange for coupons, loyalty points, or rewards, making it a powerful tool in accelerating the buyer’s journey.

2. Compensate prospects and customers for taking surveys and sharing feedback.

What this looks like: “Tell us how you’re liking our latest update for a $15 reward.”

Why you should do it: Brand goodwill will come naturally when your consumers feel that you value their time and feedback. Simply saying you appreciate their feedback doesn’t do much to motivate a survey response. Digital rewards create motivation so you can worry less about representative bias and get the answers you need.

In other words, you don’t have to worry about feedback from people who only love or hate your product. You want to capture everyone’s feelings, and digital rewards can motivate the otherwise neutral crowd. With accurate data, your company will have the insights to adapt swiftly to shifting consumer preferences. Most importantly, your consumers will know you truly value what they have to say.

3. Leverage rewards within your ABM program.

What this looks like: Asking for a meeting with a key contact and sending a $25 reward as a thank you for their time.

Why you should do it: If you know you want a customer, digital rewards are a great way to show you appreciate their time. Digital rewards can be a powerful tool to fast track an ABM campaign and get the attention of the right people. Everyone loves receiving gifts, and digital rewards can be the perfect gift for relationship building.

4. Create a referral marketing program to turn your customers into brand advocates.

What this looks like: “Get a $10 reward when you refer a friend. When your friend makes their first purchase, they will also get a $10 reward as a welcome from our team.”

Why you should do it: An effective referral marketing program turns your customers into your second sales team. A University of Chicago study found that non-cash incentives are 24% more effective at boosting performance than cash incentives. Digital rewards for referrals can be an effective lead generation tool that also establishes brand loyalty and goodwill with existing customers.

5. Boost your brand’s online reputation by rewarding customers for writing a review.

What this looks like: “Write a review of our software on Yelp or TrustPilot for a $5 reward.”

Why you should do it: Thanking customers for providing feedback builds brand goodwill. Their reviews will help you leverage word-of-mouth marketing and tap into new audiences who may be shopping for a product like yours.

6. Establish customer appreciation programs.

What this looks like: “Thanks for being a loyal customer! Here’s a $10 reward for lunch on us.”

Why you should do it: Customer appreciation programs establish brand goodwill, increase customer satisfaction, and develop long-term loyalty. Recognize and celebrate customer achievements and milestones with digital rewards. These happy customers will be more likely to engage in positive word-of-mouth marketing for your brand.

7. Reward prospects for attending a product demo.

What this looks like: “Join a brief 15-min demo for a $5 reward.”

Why you should do it: Digital rewards show people you appreciate their time right away. Pairing them with demos helps jumpstart the buyer’s journey and get your Product team the feedback they need to ensure a great product. Like the incentivized webinar, use the follow-up reward email to your advantage by offering more content and calls-to-action.

8. Host a giveaway as a reward for promoting your product or service on social media.

What this looks like: “Post about us on your Instagram to win a $20 reward!”

Why you should do it: Digital rewards can help your brand kick off an influencer marketing campaign without the transactional pressure cash creates. Plus, showing prospects you value their time and social audiences with a reward creates a positive relationship and can help your brand reach new audiences.

However, you don’t want to give $20 to everyone who posts about you on their social pages — it could result in thousands of lost revenue without much to gain.

Instead, host a giveaway where the first 100 posters will receive a reward in exchange for re-sharing your post on their story and tagging a friend in the comments. That way, everyone feels as if they have a legitimate chance to win, and you still have dollars left in your marketing budget!

With the right incentives management platform, you can easily automate these limits and avoid any budget disasters.

There’s lots of ideas above for you to consider, but here’s the good news: you’re probably already executing most of these ideas in some capacity, so just take a step back and see how you can add digital rewards into your current marketing strategy.

Digital rewards are easy to set up and a quick addition to your marketing toolbox, making them a nifty trick to keep handy when you need a boost. An extra bonus is you can easily integrate digital rewards into your HubSpot workflows. “Request to connect” our Rybbon digital rewards app found within the HubSpot Marketplace. Experiment with digital rewards in your next campaign and let the results speak for itself!

A Brief History of Productivity: How Getting Stuff Done Became an Industry

Anyone who’s ever been a teenager is likely familiar with the question, “Why aren’t you doing something productive?” If only I knew, as an angsty 15-year-old, what I know after conducting the research for this article. If only I could respond to my parents with the brilliant retort, “You know, the idea of productivity actually dates back to before the 1800s.” If only I could ask, “Do you mean ‘productive’ in an economic or modern context?”

Back then, I would have been sent to my room for “acting smart.” But today, I’m a nerdy adult who is curious to know where today’s widespread fascination with productivity comes from. There are endless tools and apps that help us get more done — but where did they begin? 

If you ask me, productivity has become a booming business. And it’s not just my not-so-humble opinion — numbers and history support it. Let’s step back in time, and find out how we got here, and how getting stuff done became an industry.

What Is Productivity?

The Economic Context

Dictionary.com defines productivity as “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.” In an economic context, the meaning is similar — it’s essentially a measure of the output of goods and services available for monetary exchange.

How we tend to view productivity today is a bit different. While it remains a measure of getting stuff done, it seems like it’s gone a bit off the rails. It’s not just a measure of output anymore — it’s the idea of squeezing every bit of output that we can from a single day. It’s about getting more done in shrinking amounts of time.

It’s a fundamental concept that seems to exist at every level, including a federal one — the Brookings Institution reports that even the U.S. government, for its part, “is doing more with less” by trying to implement more programs with a decreasing number of experts on the payroll.

The Modern Context

And it’s not just the government. Many employers — and employees — are trying to emulate this approach. For example, CBRE Americas CEO Jim Wilson told Forbes, “Our clients are focused on doing more and producing more with less. Everybody’s focused on what they can do to boost productivity within the context of the workplace.”

It makes sense that someone would view that widespread perspective as an opportunity. There was an unmet need for tools and resources that would solve the omnipresent never-enough-hours-in-the-day problem. And so it was monetized to the point where, today, we have things like $25 notebooks — the Bullet Journal, to be precise — and countless apps that promise to help us accomplish something at any time of day.

But how did we get here? How did the idea of getting stuff done become an industry?

A Brief History of Productivity

Pre-1800s

Productivity and Agriculture

In his article “The Wealth Of Nations Part 2 — The History Of Productivity,” investment strategist Bill Greiner does an excellent job of examining this concept on a purely economic level. In its earliest days, productivity was largely limited to agriculture — that is, the production and consumption of food. Throughout the world around that time, rural populations vastly outnumbered those in urban areas, suggesting that fewer people were dedicated to non-agricultural industry.

Source: United Nations Department of International Economic and Social Affairs

On top of that, prior to the 1800s, food preservation was, at most, archaic. After all, refrigeration wasn’t really available until 1834, which meant that crops had to be consumed fast, before they spoiled. There was little room for surplus, and the focus was mainly on survival. The idea of “getting stuff done” didn’t really exist yet, suppressing the idea of productivity.

The Birth of the To-Do List

It was shortly before the 19th century that to-do lists began to surface, as well. In 1791, Benjamin Franklin recorded what was one of the earliest-known forms of it, mostly with the intention of contributing something of value to society each day — the list opened with the question, “What good shall I do this day?”

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 10.29.31 AM.png
Source: Daily Dot

The items on Franklin’s list seemed to indicate a shift in focus from survival to completing daily tasks — things like “dine,” “overlook my accounts,” and “work.” It was almost a precursor to the U.S. Industrial Revolution, which is estimated to have begun within the first two decades of the nineteenth century. The New York Stock & Exchange Board was officially established in 1817, for example, signaling big changes to the idea of trade — society was drifting away from the singular goal of survival, to broader aspirations of monetization, convenience, and scale.

1790 – 1914

The Industrial Revolution actually began in Great Britain in the mid-1700s, and began to show signs of existence in the U.S. in 1794, with the invention of the cotton gin — which mechanically removed the seeds from cotton plants. It increased the rate of production so much that cotton eventually became a leading U.S. export and “vastly increased the wealth of this country,” writes Joseph Wickham Roe.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 1.55.09 PM.png
Source: Gregory Clark

It was one of the first steps in a societal step toward automation — to require less human labor, which often slowed down production and resulted in smaller output. Notice in the table below that, beginning in 1880, machinery added the greatest value to the U.S. economy. So from the invention of the cotton gin to the 1913 unveiling of Ford’s inaugural assembly line (note that “automotive” was added to the table below in 1920), there was a common goal among the many advances of the Industrial Revolution: To produce more in — you guessed it — less time.

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 2.19.12 PM.png
Source: Joel Mokyr

1914 – 1970s

Pre-War Production

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 2.25.52 PM.png
Source: Joel Mokyr

Advances in technology — and the resulting higher rate of production — meant more employment was becoming available in industrial sectors, reducing the agricultural workforce. But people may have also become busier, leading to the invention and sale of consumable scheduling tools, like paper day planners.

According to the Boston Globe, the rising popularity of daily diaries coincided with industrial progression, with one of the earliest known to-do lists available for purchase — the Wanamaker Diary — debuting in the 1900s. Created by department store owner John Wanamaker, the planner’s pages were interspersed with print ads for the store’s catalogue, achieving two newly commercial goals: Helping an increasingly busier population plan its days, as well as advertising the goods that would help to make life easier.

Wanamaker_Diary_TP2 (1).jpg
Source: Boston Globe

World War I

But there was a disruption to productivity in the 1900s, when the U.S. entered World War I, from April 1917 to the war’s end in November 1918. Between 1918 and at least 1920 both industrial production and the labor force shrank, setting the tone for several years of economic instability. The stock market grew quickly after the war, only to crash in 1929 and lead to the 10-year Great Depression. Suddenly, the focus was on survival again, especially with the U.S. entrance into World War II in 1941.

GDP_depression.svg
Source: William D. O’Neil

But look closely at the above chart. After 1939, the U.S. GDP actually grew. That’s because there was a revitalized need for production, mostly of war materials. On top of that, the World War II era saw the introduction of women into the workforce in large numbers — in some nations, women comprised 80% of the total addition to the workforce during the war.

World War II and the Evolving Workforce

The growing presence of women in the workforce had major implications for the way productivity is thought of today. Starting no later than 1948 — three years after World War II’s end — the number of women in the workforce only continued to grow, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That suggests larger numbers of women were stepping away from full-time domestic roles, but many still had certain demands at home — by 1975, for example, mothers of children under 18 made up nearly half of the workforce. That created a newly unmet need for convenience — a way to fulfill these demands at work and at home.

Once again, a growing percentage of the population was strapped for time, but had increasing responsibilities. That created a new opportunity for certain industries to present new solutions to what was a nearly 200-year-old problem, but had been reframed for a modern context. And it began with food production.

1970s – 1990s

The 1970s and the Food Industry

With more people — men and women — spending less time at home, there was a greater need for convenience. More time was spent commuting and working, and less time was spent preparing meals, for example.

The food industry, therefore, was one of the first to respond in kind. It recognized that the time available to everyone for certain household chores was beginning to diminish, and began to offer solutions that helped people — say it with us — accomplish more in fewer hours.

Those solutions actually began with packaged foods like cake mixes and canned goods that dated back to the 1950s, when TV dinners also hit the market — 17 years later, microwave ovens became available for about $500 each.

But the 1970s saw an uptick in fast food consumption, with Americans spending roughly $6 billion on it at the start of the decade. As Eric Schlosser writes in Fast Food Nation, “A nation’s diet can be more revealing than its art or literature.” This growing availability and consumption of prepared food revealed that we were becoming obsessed with maximizing our time — and with, in a word, productivity.

The Growth of Time-Saving Technology

Technology became a bigger part of the picture, too. With the invention of the personal computer in the 1970s and the World Wide Web in the 1980s, productivity solutions were becoming more digital. Microsoft, founded in 1975, was one of the first to offer them, with a suite of programs released in the late 1990s to help people stay organized, and integrate their to-do lists with an increasingly online presence.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 9.58.58 AM.png
Source: Wayback Machine

It was preceded by a 1992 version of a smartphone called Simon, which included portable scheduling features. That introduced the idea of being able to remotely book meetings and manage a calendar, saving time that would have been spent on such tasks after returning to one’s desk. It paved the way for calendar-ready PDAs, or personal digital assistants, which became available in the late 1990s.

By then, the idea of productivity was no longer on the brink of becoming an industry — it was an industry. It would simply become a bigger one in the decades to follow.

The Early 2000s

The Modern To-Do List

Once digital productivity tools became available in the 1990s, the release of new and improved technologies came at a remarkable rate — especially when compared to the pace of developments in preceding centuries.

In addition to Microsoft, Google is credited as becoming a leader in this space. By the end of 2000, it won two Webby Awards and was cited by PC Magazine for its “uncanny knack for returning extremely relevant results.” It was yet another form of time-saving technology, by helping people find the information they were seeking in a way that was more seamless than, say, using a library card catalog.

In April 2006, Google Calendar was unveiled, becoming one of the first technologies that allowed users to share their schedules with others, helping to mitigate the time-consuming exchanges often required of setting up meetings. It wasn’t long before Google also released Google Apps for Your Domain that summer, providing businesses with an all-in-one solution — email, voicemail, calendars, and web development tools, among others.

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Source: Wayback Machine

During the first 10 years of the century, Apple was experiencing a brand revitalization. The first iPod was released in 2001, followed by the MacBook Pro in 2006 and the iPhone in January 2007 — all of which would have huge implications for the widespread idea of productivity.

2008 – 2014

Search Engines That Talk — and Listen

When the iPhone 4S was released in 2011, it came equipped with Siri, “an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.” Google had already implemented voice search technology in 2008, but it didn’t garner quite as much public attention — most likely because it required a separate app download. Siri, conversely, was already installed in the Apple mobile hardware, and users only had to push the iPhone’s home button and ask a question conversationally.

But both offered further time-saving solutions. To hear weather and sports scores, for examples, users no longer had to open a separate app, wait for a televised report, or type in searches. All they had to do was ask.

By 2014, voice search had become commonplace, with multiple brands — including Microsoft and Amazon — offering their own technologies. Here’s how its major pillars look today:

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The Latest Generation of Personal Digital Assistants

With the 2014 debut of Amazon Echo, voice activation wasn’t just about searching anymore. It was about full-blown artificial intelligence that could integrate with our day-to-day lives. It was starting to converge with the Internet of Things — the technology that allowed things in the home, for example, to be controlled digitally and remotely — and continued to replace manual, human steps with intelligent machine operation. We were busier than ever, with some reporting 18-hour workdays and, therefore, diminishing time to get anything done outside of our employment.

Here was the latest solution, at least for those who could afford the technology. Users didn’t have to manually look things up, turn on the news, or write down to-do and shopping lists. They could ask a machine to do it with a command as simple as, “Alexa, order more dog food.”

Of course, competition would eventually enter the picture and Amazon would no longer stand alone in the personal assistant technology space. It made sense that Google — who had long since established itself as a leader in the productivity industry — would enter the market with Google Home, released in 2016, and offering much of the same convenience as the Echo.

Of course, neither one has the same exact capabilities as the other — yet. But let’s pause here, and reflect on how far we’ve come.

2015 to 2020

Smart Devices are Everywhere

The Amazon Echo was just the beginning of smart devices that could help us plan out our day. We now have smart thermostats that schedule our heating and cooling, refrigerators that notify us when we’re low on food, TVs with every streaming service we need, and a handful of other appliances that schedule themselves around on our lifestyle.

While some might worry that smart devices could limit our level of motivation and productivity, others might disagree. Smart devices often free us up from mundane tasks while allowing us more time to focus on more productive things that are more important.

Big Data Powers Business Productivity

With technology like artificial intelligence, automation, analytics tools. and contact management systems, we are now able to gather more data about our audiences and customers quickly with the click of just a few buttons. This data has allowed marketers, as well as strategists in other departments to build tactics that engage audiences, please customers, generate revenue, and even offer major ROI. 

Want to see an example? Here’s a great case study on how one successful agency used AI and analytics software to gather, report, and strategize around valuable client data.

Offices Rely on Productivity Tools

We’ve come a long way from Google Calendar. Each day, you might use a messaging system like Slack, a video software like Zoom, or task-management tools like Trello, Asana, or Jira to keep your work on track. 

Aside from keeping employees on task, these tools have been especially important for keeping teams connected and on the same page. As modern workplaces increasingly embrace remote and international teammates, they’re also investing in digital task management and productivity tools that can keep everyone in the loop.  

Looking to boost your digital tool stack? Check out this list of productivity tools, especially if you’re working remotely. 

Where Productivity Is Now — and Where It’s Going

We started this journey in the 1700s with Benjamin Franklin’s to-do list. Now, here we are, over two centuries later, with intelligent machines making those lists and managing our lives for us.

Have a look at the total assets of some leaders in this space (as of the writing of this post, in USD):

Over time — hundreds of years, in fact — technology has made things more convenient for us. But as the above list shows, it’s also earned a lot of money for a lot of people. And those figures leave little doubt that, today, productivity is an industry, and a booming one at that.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in January 2017, but was updated in July 2020 for comprehensiveness and freshness. 

How Video Consumption is Changing in 2020 [New Research]

In 2020, video is more important to consumers than ever before.

Each day, we stream our favorite shows, watch explainer videos on YouTube to learn something new, or follow events, Q&As, and interviews via live video.

Unsurprisingly, video content’s current popularity is due in part to millennial and Gen Z consumers. These age groups are more connected to the internet than older age groups,, and prefer to be entertained or learn new things from online videos.

At this point, marketers know that they should be leveraging video in their marketing strategy. According to HubSpot’s 2020 State of Marketing report, video beat out heavyweight contenders like email, blogging, and infographics as the most used type of marketing content.

The interest in video isn’t surprising or new. Throughout the last century, we’ve seen video move from black and white televisions to smartphones and tablets. As consumers have seen this content become more available at our fingertips, brands have discovered a number of new ways to implement video in their marketing.

Now, rather than relying on a commercial during our favorite sitcoms to learn about a product, we’re inundated with marketing videos all over social media, streaming apps, and search result pages.

Video isn’t going anywhere, but it is always expanding, changing, and evolving to fit new consumer needs and new platforms.

As this content continues to evolve with each new generation, marketers should continue researching video consumers’ interests, hobbies, and behaviors.

In this blog post, I’ll highlight six research-backed ways video consumption habits are changing and how marketers can respond strategically.

How Video Consumption is Changing in 2020

1. Consumers are beginning to rely on marketing videos from brands.

In the past, consumers would visit websites, look at online reviews, watch commercials, and maybe search out a few YouTube videos to learn about a product. Now, with video being accessible on every major social media network, they are learning to rely more heavily on this type of content in their research phase.

While brands are seeing higher engagement than ever from video marketing, consumers increasingly expect to see this type of content from brands. Even back in 2018, a whopping 87% of consumers said they wanted to see more video from brands in the next year.

In 2020, it’s likely that the expectation of brands to provide marketing videos has gotten even stronger. Each day, consumers use product demos, video reviews, and unboxings to learn about products before they buy them.

What do increasing video content expectations mean for you as a marketer? Well, if a prospect is interested in a product or service in your industry, looks for video reviews or tutorials, and can’t find any related to your brand’s offering, they might buy a product from another brand.

Why? Videos give consumers the opportunity to see how a product or service works in real life, discover any flaws before purchasing the item, and identify perks that they might not learn about in the text-based description. This content might also appear to be more authentic than a heavily edited product shot, which can boost a consumer’s trust in a brand or offering.

2. Half of Gen Z and Millennials “don’t know how they’d get through life without video.”

To some, this isn’t that much of a shock. Each new generation has watched more online video than the last. However, when it comes to those under the age of 34, videos have more of an impact on daily life than ever before. In YouTube’s survey, 50% of people in both generations said they “couldn’t live” without video in their daily lives.

Aside from using video for entertainment, both millennials and Gen Z prefer to watch videos for information gathering purposes. Even when it comes to learning about a new brand or product, these age groups prefer video explainers, product demos, or other marketing videos to simply reading about a company online.

With millennials nearing 40 and Gen Z beginning to gain full purchasing power, there’s a good chance that these two age groups will take up a major portion of your audience soon if they  aren’t already.

At this point, marketers aiming to attract these two generations should consider testing out video strategies on social media or their own websites. While these age groups might regularly use video for entertainment purposes, it’s also likely that they’ll use it to learn more about products or brands worth investing in. If there’s a great video recommendation or tutorial out there for a product they’re interested in, they might find it, watch it, and use that content to confirm that this purchase is right for them.

3. Video consumers want to relax — or escape — from daily life.

In the past, older generations might have turned on their favorite TV sitcom or gone to the movies to escape from the stresses of daily life. While the platforms have changed as younger consumers take over the video market, the instinctive need for relaxing or entertaining content hasn’t.

When asked to rank the reasons why consumers watch video content, YouTube survey participants said they primarily watch videos in order to, “relax and unwind.” Additionally, the fourth most common reason that people watch videos is that the content makes them laugh. Additionally, people cited, “Makes me forget about the world around me,” as the seventh most common reason for watching videos.

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As a marketer, you shouldn’t put all of your time and money into just creating mindless content that will relax your viewers or give them a laugh. But, you can keep in mind that many viewers are still looking to be entertained or intrigued by your content.

Even when you’re creating an informative marketing video, you can consider experimenting with funny anecdotes or adding other entertaining qualities. Interested in adding fun elements to your next marketing video? Get inspired by major brands that effectively used humor in their marketing.

4. Consumers want to learn more about their niche and passions.

Aside from looking for escapism, YouTube viewers are motivated to watch content that teaches them new things, especially when related to their passions, interests, hobbies, or social causes. While the second most common reasoning for watching a video was it, “teaches me something new,” people also said they prioritize content that allows them to “dig deeper” into their interests or “relates to” their passions.

Odds are your product relates to someone’s interests, hobbies, passions, or career. This is the type of person you’ll want to watch and enjoy your videos.

Creating a buyer persona and target audience around this type of person will help you identify video topics that they’ll value, benefit from, and remember your brand for publishing.

5. Consumers don’t care if your video looks like it has a big budget.

There’s a common misconception that marketing videos need to feature the biggest Hollywood stars and must be shot in a high-priced studio. In 2020, as marketers are increasingly producing video remotely, this myth has definitely been debunked.

But, if the evolving video marketing workforce hasn’t convinced you that low-budget videos can still be effective, here’s what YouTube discovered in its survey:

When asking consumers to rank the top reasons they watched videos, surprisingly “high production quality,” and “famous actors” neared the bottom of the list.

top reasons consumers choose to watch a video

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Aside from ranking high-budget video features as the least likely reasons for watching videos, millennials and Gen Z differ from older age groups in that they’re more accepting of user-generated content over professionally made videos. This might hint that brands can leverage content created by their own customers or fans when creating marketing videos:

Consumers views on user generated content

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At this point, there are plenty of ways to produce an affordable video with solid quality from any home or workspace. And, while it will still take time and money to launch this content, effective marketing videos made anywhere can boost your level of brand awareness.

6. Younger generations are watching longer content.

The average Gen Z member has an online attention span of eight seconds. That’s four seconds less than millennials. But although Gen Z’s attention span for general online surfing might be quite short, long-form videos that interest them can grasp their attention — and keep it.

video consumption demographics

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The adoption of long-form content with each new generation isn’t new. According to YouTube’s study, millennials also watched longer-form videos more often than their Gen X predecessors.

As a marketer, you’ll need to keep the attention spans of each new generation in mind as you set the pace for your video content.

Your video has mere seconds to catch a millennial or Gen Z member’s attention as they’re aimlessly scrolling through a social media feed. However, if your video captures viewers immediately and then continues to offer entertaining, valuable, or interesting information throughout, these age groups might watch the whole thing — even if it is on the longer side.

Before you put a marketing video online, re-watch it from the point-of-view of a somewhat busy consumer. Then, ask yourself, “Does this video pull viewers into the action quickly and keep their attention?” If you’re worried that parts of your video seem dull, you might want to shorten it. But, if your team thinks it’s entertaining or informative the entire time, you can experiment with publishing your longer-form video and learning from its results.

Navigating Video in 2020

With each new generation, the video world will continue to evolve.

However, at this point, the video landscape is changing in favor of marketers. Not only do consumers prefer to learn about brands via video content, but they use it as a necessary tool in the information-gathering phase of their buyer’s journey.

Additionally, the vast majority of video consumers now strive to learn something new about an interest or hobby, rather than just using video to entertain themselves. This means marketers can harness educational videos in their strategy and offer consumers content that relates to their niche, while also marketing a brand or product.

In 2020, you don’t need a high-priced video budget to succeed as a marketer. You just need to create content that engages, educates, and intrigues your audience.

To learn more about how to create a winning marketing video — even on a budget — check out this how-to post. For tactical promotional tips, check out The Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing.

14 Signs Your Remote Team is Communicating Ineffectively

Every weekend, my friends and I have online video calls to catch-up with each other.

Sometimes it feels like certain people dominate the conversation and others don’t feel comfortable speaking up.

These types of communication issues via remote conversations are actually normal.

In fact, for remote teams communication with co-workers is a challenge that remote workers face daily.

Additionally, according to HubSpot’s findings, non-HubSpot remote workers noted a lack of social connection (29%) and communicating with co-workers (29%) as the two biggest challenges they face being remote.

When your team can’t be in the same space, communication needs to become more intentional. So, how do you do that? And how do you know when your communication needs some work?

Below, let’s review some signs that your remote team isn’t communicating as effectively as possible.

1. Your team has too many meetings.

As a remote worker, I know I’ve had days where I jump from meeting to meeting with no time for a break. Sometimes, this can actually be a symptom of poor communication.

Typically, your team shouldn’t have to meet several times a week. In fact, plenty of meetings can be sent in an email.

Before scheduling a meeting, think about whether that meeting will waste time. If you aren’t sure, then reevaluate whether the content can be sent in an email.

Additionally, keep in mind when you schedule a meeting that every person you invited needs to be there. If not, let them know it’s optional. Plus, think about the length of your meetings. If it can be shorter, make it shorter.

Regardless, it’s important to be intentional when you’re planning remote meetings.

2. You’ve never thought about digital body language.

When you’re communicating via video conferencing, it can be easy to forget about digital body language.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that nothing on camera is subtle and it can feel like you have a spotlight on you.

That means you have to pay even more attention to body language.

For instance, you should still maintain eye contact, speak clearly, and have your video on during remote calls.

3. Team members don’t contribute during online team meetings.

Have you ever been to a meeting where the same people speak up and other team members don’t?

This can be a symptom of poor communication on your team because it might mean that some team members don’t feel comfortable talking during meetings.

On the other hand, it’s important to keep in mind that some people are more introverted than others.

To ensure that all team members are contributing, consider asking everyone a question and going round-robin so everyone has a chance to speak.

4. Your team isn’t collaborating.

Do you collaborate with your team when the opportunity arises? As a manager, do you notice that your team isn’t collaborating?

If collaboration isn’t happening, this could be a sign that team members don’t feel comfortable reaching out to each other.

Additionally, this could mean that your team doesn’t have the tools they need to collaborate effectively.

For example, on the HubSpot blog team, we use Trello to keep track of our editorial assignments. With this tool, writers can easily collaborate with other team members when they want to lean on them for expertise.

5. There’s no communication throughout the day.

In previous remote roles, I was able to go days without talking to another coworker. While the introverted part of my personality loved that, it was a sign that our team wasn’t communicating well.

The more you talk to people on your team, the more trust you’ll have. This makes it easier to reach out when you need help. That’s why it’s important to make sure your team feels comfortable communicating throughout the day — even if it’s just to send a GIF to the group chat.

While you don’t want to inundate your team with messages, checking in every so often is important for camaraderie and team communication.

6. Emails are overly complicated.

Emails should always be simple, clear, and specific. If you’re writing an email and it’s overly complicated, you might want to schedule a quick Zoom meeting with that person.

To communicate effectively, it’s important to know what channel to use to deliver your message. Sometimes it works in an email, but sometimes it requires a meeting.

7. There’s no agenda or meeting structure.

If you don’t have an agenda or meeting structure, you might not be communicating effectively during your meetings.

Meetings should be organized and structured so they’re productive. Having an agenda will keep you on track.

You might even want to schedule in the five minutes of informal chat before a meeting gets started. This will help team members self-regulate.

If it’s possible, you should always send the agenda prior to the meeting.

However, this isn’t necessary with regularly scheduled meetings. For those, just make sure you’ve set expectations.

8. Your team doesn’t use “Working With Me” documents.

Every member on your team should have a “Working With Me” document that details work habits, expectations, and even interests.

These documents are helpful for managers to learn about their team so they can properly manage communication among various team members.

Additionally, you can also share these with everyone on the team so coworkers can get to know their teammates better.

Knowing each other’s work habits will help build trust and psychological safety on your team.

Instead of spending time trying to figure people out, your team can just talk about it.

9. Norms for communication haven’t been established.

If you’ve ever been stressed about communicating with your remote team, that’s probably because norms for communication haven’t been established.

For example, everyone’s work hours and breaks should be clear. This could mean that everyone is on the same Google calendar or they’ve added a status on their Slack so people know that they aren’t available.

Whatever your team’s method is, make sure that’s communicated among everyone.

Additionally, it might be wise to set expectations in your emails. When you send an email that doesn’t need a response, you might want to call that out.

Setting expectations and norms will help improve communication immensely.

10. Your team hasn’t built psychological safety.

If there’s no psychological safety on your team, then you aren’t communicating effectively.

On remote teams, sometimes it can be hard to feel included. However, the option to be included is so important.

When people don’t feel included, they won’t feel comfortable speaking up.

To build psychological safety in a remote meeting, make sure you go round-robin so everyone has a chance to speak.

Additionally, try to focus on bigger picture conversations and ask people specific questions.

Plus, you can do a “This or That” activity. Doing a quick icebreaker where everyone has to go around and answer a question can help people feel confident about communicating with the team.

11. Your team doesn’t express appreciation for one another.

Forming connections is paramount for communication.

One of the best ways to do this is to express gratitude for each other. For example, people should feel free to congratulate each other in a group chat.

Additionally, you can send birthday cards or just create an email thread of appreciation.

Expressing gratitude is a great way to renew your energy and create a safe space on your team.

12. Managers redo work from team members.

If you’re a manager and you’ve found yourself redoing work from your team, that means you aren’t communicating effectively.

When assignments are sent back with errors, typically this means that the assignment wasn’t clear and expectations weren’t communicated.

If you ever redo someone’s work, that shows that you might not feel comfortable sending edits.

Again, the problem here is all about communication. The only way to improve this process is to … you guessed it, communicate with each other.

13. Assignments fall through the cracks.

Have you ever had an assignment just fall through the cracks? Or perhaps you’re unsure where you left off on a project.

When this happens, it’s clear that you aren’t using a great project management tool that enables communication.

With project management tools, you should be able to see what stage a project is on and collaborate with others right in the tool. By improving communication, assignments won’t fall through the cracks.

14. Your team has a high turnover rate.

If your team has a high turnover rate, that could mean that your communication isn’t effective. When this happens, it’s important to talk to your team so you can figure out what’s working and what isn’t.

While working remotely can make communication feel harder, it doesn’t have to be that way. If your team is communicating ineffectively, you can use these productivity tips to help.

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

8 Modern Tips for Marketing to Millennials

You’ve seen the articles lamenting the death of certain industries and changing consumer attitudes, all paying tribute (negatively or positively) to a certain generation born in the 80s and 90s. It seems that journalists love to write about Millennials and marketers love to analyze them. Why, though? 

Boomers hold 57% of the wealth in the U.S. and are at peak buying power. With that in mind, is there a reason we never seem to stop hearing about Millennials?

Why Millennials Are Important to Marketers

As Millennials enter their 30s and 40s, often with student loans or young children, they haven’t yet reached their full buying power compared to GenXers or Boomers. Nonetheless, there are multiple reasons to pay attention to this generation: 

1. Millennials are the most lucrative market.

Even though as a group, they haven’t reached their full buying power yet, their buying power eclipses that of other generations. They make up 25% of the population, and with an estimated annual buying power of over a trillion dollars, they are the most lucrative market. Plain and simple: Nearly every marketer today is making Generation Y a priority – or at least working to understand what drives and delights this instrumental group.

2. Millennials switch brands. 

Millennial market research performed by Daymon Worldwide suggests that only 29% of Millennials will buy the same brand, which is a much lower brand loyalty score compared to previous generations. 

This indicates that brands must do more to attract and keep Millennial customers, leading to the need for constant innovation on marketers’ and service teams’ parts.

3. Millennials are tech-savvy. 

According to Pew Research, “Almost all Millennials (nearly 100%) now say they use the internet.” Having grown up with or only slightly before the internet, Millennials are not shy about using technology. This is attractive to brands who sell technology or use technology to sell. 

4. Millennials use devices. 

Pew Research also found that 9 out of 10 Millennials have a smart phone. With widespread device ownership and use comes a higher likelihood of consuming web content, which gives rise to different modes of marketing.

One key element that justifies Millennial domination of the marketplace is the fact this new marketing style – which we’ll delve into in just a minute – isn’t just a fad. Here, we’ll discuss important tactics for marketing to the demographic of the hour and explain why these tactics are lasting ones.

1. Create authentic content.

Millennials are spending an average of 242 minutes online or using apps per day, and they’re craving content-driven media. They’re scouring websites, blogs, and social media because they feel empowered by all of the remarkable content they’re discovering. They’re also sharing, liking, pinning, tweeting, snapping, forwarding, and commenting on all of their findings to impart this sense of empowerment to the online community. So, what makes this type of content really resonate with this group? Millennials trust what they feel is authentic.

Interacting in a user-centric environment is what engages them, as 90% of Millennials say authenticity is important to them when deciding which brands they support. Today, young shoppers’ attitudes and behavior are largely inspired by people they know in person or online, or even strangers who share their interests on social networks. Millennials carry these “advisors” with them on their smartphones and everywhere they go. They trust relevant, authentic opinions from real product users they can relate to. In fact, Millennials believe that user-generated content is 35% more memorable than other media.

For brands that want to successfully reach Gen Y-ers, they simply need to speak their language. People ages 18 to 34 will perk up when hearing or reading words that could have come from the mouths of their peers, as these messages warrant comfort and trust. When you offer your audience content they would proudly share with others, you’re building a real brand-consumer relationship.

2. Ditch outbound marketing methods.

Millennials want to feel connected and involved when it comes to their purchases, and traditional marketing does not encourage this. Outbound marketing methods, like magazine ads, direct mail campaigns, and radio spots, do not impress Millennials. In the mind of a young consumer, these campaigns are impersonal and company-focused, filled with logos and void of any real substance. This generation demands more customer-driven, personalized marketing. Only 1% of Millennials say a compelling advertisement can build trust (Crowdtap).

That’s why these young consumers do a lot of their research via blogs, forums, and YouTube videos. Odds are that an intrusive ad isn’t going to be a deciding factor. While such ads may be relevant to the person’s search history and may put the idea in the their head, seeing it wasn’t their choice. Millennials feel empowered to make their own online choices – which are usually inspired by their peers or other authentic content.

3. Be informative with inbound marketing, instead.

Millennials support businesses that are dedicated to improving their customers’ lives with informative content. Rather than product and service listings, Millennials want e-books, whitepapers, blog posts, videos, and other how-to information – and that’s inbound marketing. They appreciate thought leadership and expertise, so this is your company’s chance to provide killer content that ranks highly in Google and show young consumers that you’re the industry buff.

Mac Cosmetics’ YouTube page is a great example of how brands can offer their audience how-to’s from the experts. People want helpful guidance, and when your company takes the time to provide that, they appreciate it and respect what you stand for. Mac is giving young viewers exactly what they want, where they’ll find it. 54% of Millennials check YouTube daily, so utilizing YouTube is perfect. A Millennial makeup lover is much more likely to tell her friends to check out Mac’s makeup tutorials than show her friends a print ad of Mac talking about how great they are. 

4. Put them first and connect organically.

Millennials want to feel like your content was created with their interest (not their wallet) in mind. When this is the case, they are more organically introduced to purchasing your products or services. Without ever being “pushy,” your educational content helps build strong brand-consumer relationships. People appreciate honesty, and brands with transparent campaigns win.

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And, what’s more transparent than encapsulating the spontaneous adventures of travelers in hostels – with skinny dipping? Hostelworld’s Meet the World advertising campaign, which features genuine travelers that are strangers upon meeting and share a once in a lifetime adventure of skinny dipping, celebrates real travelers in real places who crave adventures, not souvenirs. This successfully speaks to Millennials because it screams “Live!” instead of “Buy!” – and that’s something that’ll stick with them. Most young people would rather have an unforgettable experience than seek out luxury, and Hostelworld gets that. 

5. Market with intention rather than latching on to gimmicky marketing fads.

If you think content marketing is a passing trend, think again! Here are some key examples of how content marketing has succeeded over the years:

  • 1895: John Deere introduces The Furrow, a free publication with tons of farming tips and techniques to help farmers become more profitable. Today, it’s available in more than 40 countries and in 12 different languages.
  • 1900: Michelin Tires released a 400-page auto maintenance guide with everyday drivers in mind, and also included travel tips. 35,000 copies were distributed free of charge before the company started selling the manual for a profit.
  • 1904: Jell-O circulated free copies of its own cookbook, highlighting creative ways to use the unique product. In 2 years, the company saw sales increase to over $1 million annually.
  • 1966: Nike released a 19-page booklet titled Jogging. It was filled with advice on enjoying running as a recreational activity, including posture and striking tips. This brought running, as a sport, to America, and it never once mentioned a Nike shoe.

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We know that Millennial consumers value awesome, authentic content – so it looks like content marketing isn’t going away anytime soon. The inbound methodology, with its emphasis on strong and consistent content creation, is not a fad and will continue to win over your ideal customers. 

6. Be open to collaboration. 

Today, Millennials are interested in having a say and becoming product co-creators. In fact, 42 percent said they are interested in helping companies develop future products and services. In our society, companies usually create products and hope that their target market will consume them. When it comes to Millennials, they want to be more involved with how products get created. So, companies that enable them to be part of the product development process will be more successful. Marketers need to focus on building relationships with consumers by fueling their self-expression and helping them establish their own personal brand.

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Coca-Cola used online co-creation to gather expressions of its brand promise “Energizing refreshment.” They prompted their audience to unleash their creativity by interpreting Coca-Cola as an energizing refreshment in whatever style or format they wished. Coca-Cola gathered these videos, animations, illustrations, and photographs to use in its marketing campaigns worldwide. This method was mutually beneficially in that Millennials all over the world got to pour a bit of themselves into a product made for them, while helping Coca-Cola bring fresh authenticity to the market. 

7. Push the convenient and practical side.

Millennials prefer use over ownership, saying they would rather pay full price to access an item when they need it as opposed to owning it. These shoppers would rather rent, share, and barter than buy.

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In this new “sharing economy,” mobile services and apps such as Spotify and Airbnb, and fashion sites like Rent the Runway and Relapse Clothing, have taken advantage of this crucial opportunity. This is also a new trend in the automotive industry. According to an analysis recently released by car-buying platform Edmunds, Millennials are acquiring cars – they’re just not buying them. Instead, they’re opting to lease more luxurious, tech-forward cars than they could otherwise afford to buy, such as Ram, GMC, and Lexus models. Capitalizing on this “sharing” mentality is a smart move for modern businesses, especially those targeting Millennials. Offer more creative and feasible options so that, in case consumers can’t yet buy, they can at least try. 

8. Lean into the fun and the experiential.

Young consumers increasingly see the act of researching and browsing for a purchase more compelling than the purchase itself. Millennials tend to crave the experience of shopping more than the purchase. In other words, online exploration is becoming more than a means to an end, with many young shoppers viewing e-commerce as a form of entertainment. This phenomenon has been coined as “Fauxsumerism.” Pinterest is a perfect example of how the shopping journey can also become an act of personal expression. This social platform, which helps users catalog prospective purchases by curating collections of items of interest, accurately reflects the facts that 40 percent of Millennials make wish lists of products they want to buy (The Intelligence Group).

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Successful companies understand that young consumers want to have an enjoyable online browsing experience, which is why brands like Etsy show off their products on Pinterest, making perusing and pinning fun and social. No matter what platform you use, you should market to Millennials in entertaining ways in order to effectively engage them and inspire activity.

Marketing to Millennials is a long-term play because this group is wired for authentic, content-driven, honest experiences that cater to who they are and their voices they yearn to share. Empower them with the pieces they’re looking for in this puzzling world and remind them that, because of their generation, the bigger picture is looking brighter. Keep this sentiment in mind as you consider millennials as one of your buyer personas.

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

25 Stats That Prove Why You Need Link-Building in Your SEO Strategy

You probably already know how crucial SEO is for your website’s traffic.

One of the most important sub tactics within an SEO strategy is link-building. Not sure what this means? Here’s the quick explanation.

When websites link to your website, search algorithms determine that you have “authority” in  your industry because other brands are referring to you. The higher your authority gets, the better your search rankings could be. Additionally, linking to other posts within your site can also help to boost your authority as its a sign to algorithms that you’ve thoroughly covered a topic you’re discussing.

But, here’s where it gets a bit more tricky. When a more credible website, such as a notable publication with a high search ranking links to you, that link counts for more than an internal link or a link from a site with less search credibility. Also, if you link a blog post or page to a site with no or poor search authority, your ranking might go down because you aren’t linking to sources that search algorithms deem as credible.

These are just a few of the nuances that make link building difficult and time-consuming for many marketers. But, research shows that taking the time to build a solid link strategy can quickly boost your search rankings.

In fact, in 2019, most SEO experts said external links were one of the three most valuable aspects of their search optimization strategies. Meanwhile, 51% of marketers say they notice positive effects of general link building strategies within one to three months of executing on those tactics.

The above stats are just a taste of what link building can do for your web strategy. To help you understand the opportunities, challenges, common tactics, and costs behind successful link building, here are 25 helpful stats.

Link Building Opportunities and Challenges

  • Links are one of the top two criteria considered in Google’s page ranking algorithm. (Search Engine Land)
  • SEO experts say the third most important factor for search optimization is external linking. (Databox)
  • In the near future, 53% of marketers believe link building will have the same impact on search rankings, while 41% think it will have less of an impact. (Aira)
  • 52% of marketers believe brand mentions impact organic search rankings. (Aira)
  • In five years, 92% of marketers believe that links will still be ranking criteria in Google algorithms. (Aira)
  • 13% of search experts say link building is the most valuable SEO tactic. (Ascend)
  • 51% of marketers say it takes one to three months to see the impact of link-building efforts. (Aira)
  • In a study of web content, zero correlation between backlinks and social shares. (Backlinko)
  • 94% of the world’s content gets zero external links. (Backlinko)
  • Only 2.2% of content generates links from multiple websites. (Backlinko)
  • 41% of SEO experts consider link building to be the most difficult part of search optimization, (Ascend)
  • 65% of marketers measure their link quality by looking at their domain authority. Meanwhile, marketers also use domain ratings (48%) and page authority (36%) to determine link quality. (Aira)
  • If they could only choose one metric for studying link quality, 34% of marketers would look at domain authority while 22% would look at domain rating. (Aira)
  • 38% of marketers say page rankings are the top KPI they use to determine the effectiveness of their link-building efforts. (Aira)

Link Building Processes

  • 36% of businesses hire outside experts or freelancers for link building efforts. (Aira)
  • 48% of marketers report on “nofollow” links as part of their process. (Aira)
  • 42% of SEOs spend equal time on building internal and external links. (Databox)

Image Source

Link Building Costs

  • 46% of marketers spend $10,000 or more annually on link building, while 22% spend between $1,000 and $2,500. (Aira)
  • 61% of marketers say they use zero to ten percent of their total budget on link building.  (Aira)
  • It often costs brands $1,000 or more to gain a quality link. (Siege Media)
  • 41% of marketers expect the cost of link building to increase in the future. (Aira)

Common Link Building Tactics

  • 69% of marketers believe that buying links positively impacts search rankings. (Aira)
  • “Why” posts, “What” posts, and infographics received 25.8% more links compared to videos and “How-to” posts. (Backlinko)
  • Long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than short articles. Therefore, long-form content appears to be ideal for backlink acquisition. (Backlinko)

long form blog content pulls in the highest amount of backlinks

Image Source

  • 51% of SEOs say bloggers should include two to three internal links in a blog post while 36% say three to five should be included. (Databox)

How to Embrace Link Building

As you can see from the stats above, link building can be crucial for search rankings, but can also be quite challenging. Luckily, there are a few simple strategies that you can take on immediately to help boost your site’s authority through links.

For example, you can include internal links in your blog posts and web content, publish original quotes or data that people will link to, or create a basic outreach strategy that allows you to share your newest posts. To learn more about how you can start or broaden your SEO strategy, check out this detailed link building guide.

Want to learn about other search optimization techniques and tools? You might also enjoy our Ultimate Guide to SEO.

Integrations: The Newest Addition to Your Marketing Ops

Marketing isn’t just about campaigns, content, and creativity. There’s a whole lot of “getting things done” that needs to happen behind the scenes for campaigns to roll out on time and performance to scale.

This is where marketing operations comes in. Also called marketing ops or MOps, marketing operations is how a marketing team is run. It’s the processes, technology, data, and people that power a marketing strategy.

Of these key pillars of marketing operations, data sounds like the most abstract one. But getting the data right in your marketing ops is crucial.

How do you do this? By cleaning, organizing, and enriching the data in every app as well as integrating data between your apps.

An increasingly important role for any team or Marketing Operation Manager is maintaining data quality and connectedness. This not only includes marketing apps but also bridges to other departments in the organization.

Let’s dig into how to make this happen so you can scale the impact of your marketing ops.

What Are Integrations?

Integration brings different pieces of software together and enables their data to interact.

When done well, integrations enable your marketing team to:

  • Create the most holistic marketing ops strategy across your software ecosystem.
  • Allow data to seamlessly flow between key platforms and enrich each one.
  • Automate more tasks and free up time.
  • Provide stronger customer experiences with more accessible and insightful data.
  • Remove data silos and other barriers to collaboration.
  • Deliver accurate insights, reporting, and decision making.

As an example of a valuable integration, think of your CRM and email marketing app. A good email list is a marketer’s most treasured possession, but for your email marketing to be successful, you need accurate and in-depth insights into each contact’s interests, behavior, and communication preferences. You can solve this by integrating data from your CRM.

The integrations that matter most to your marketing operations depend on your organization and industry.

That said, there are certain integration best practices that businesses with strong marketing operations follow. Let’s explore those.

1. Understand the Ecosystem Your Marketing Data Lives in

A strong marketing stack that your team loves using is a pivotal part of your marketing operations management.

This can include an all-in-one marketing platform or individual systems for:

  • Content management
  • Marketing automation
  • Lead Generation
  • Email marketing
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Project management
  • Communication

One of the first steps to perfect your marketing ops is understanding the ecosystem your marketing data lives in. Some valuable questions to ask are:

  • What data are we collecting in each app?
  • How should data interact with other apps?
  • How can we sync apps to enrich the data in each one?

With answers to these questions in mind, you can decide how best to integrate your apps and allow data to flow between them.

2. Ensure Clean, Up-to-date Data in Every App

To get the best results from integrations, you need high-quality data in every app. Dirty data in one app is bad, but the negative impact is multiplied for every new app it enters.

To prevent this, clean up the data in every app before adding new integrations. This includes:

  • Duplicate contacts
  • Inaccurate contact data
  • Unsubscribes
  • Bounced email addresses

With clean data in every app, you can seamlessly integrate your marketing platforms and create the most streamlined and effective marketing ops.

3. Make Your CRM the Heart of Your Marketing Ops

There’s a high chance your sales team is already using a CRM to store all of the key insights about your customers and their interactions with your business. That’s because centralizing your data in your CRM is one of the best things you can do for strong contact management.

One way to test the strength of your CRM is by checking if anyone in your business can answer questions about a contact and their interactions with your business – whether in sales, support, marketing, or billing – just by glancing at their contact record.

To make this happen, you can use integration to bring data from other apps into your CRM. The inverse is also valuable: syncing your CRM data with your marketing apps to enrich the data in those places.

Alongside syncing names and emails, you can choose which other information makes sense to have available in your other marketing apps. This could include:

  • Lead status/stage
  • Location
  • Industry
  • Customer Success Owner
  • Business size
  • Communication preferences

4. Use Contact Segmentation

Segmenting your contacts using lists, tags, and properties is a fantastic way to deliver the most personalized customer experience. But it’s also a key ingredient for effective integrations.

With an iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) solution like PieSync, you can create customized workflows and sync data based on specific conditions. That way, you maintain the segmentation of your database across tools. These specific conditions could be configured according to If-this-then-that rules. For instance:

  • IF a contact’s Lifecycle Stage is ‘Lead’
  • THEN sync the contact to your email marketing tool and add to the list ‘List of leads

If the contact stops being a customer, you can automatically reflect that in your email marketing app, remove the ‘Customer’ tag, and no longer send relevant communications.

To create powerful if-this-then-that rules, first segment data in individual apps, and then create connections across your ecosystem.

5. Create Strong Alignment With Sales Via Integrations

Your marketing operations strategy isn’t just about marketing. It’s essential to look at the other teams in your organization and understand how to create the strongest alignment.

The most important bridge for marketers to maintain is with sales. By working collaboratively instead of in silos, marketers can deliver the perfect leads for sales and both teams can share what’s working as well as opportunities.

To optimize your bridge with sales, you can integrate your marketing software with sales apps such as:

  • Sales CRM
  • Contact Management
  • Live chat software
  • Sales automation software
  • Integrations between your marketing apps and customer support software

With your marketing and sales apps in sync, both teams are in the best position to exchange data, deliver unified reporting, and do their best work both independently and together.

6. Integrate Customer Data with Your Marketing Apps

Although marketing usually has the strongest alignment with sales, make sure not to forget about your service team.

If your data is siloed, you run the risk of the nightmare scenario of sending a promotion offer to a customer who subscribed a week ago at full price.

With integrated apps and data, you can keep your customers in mind for every marketing campaign and create personalizations based on the products, services, and upgrades that are most relevant to them.

You can align your Marketing and Service team with either:

A good starting point is to make sure that all customer interactions and support requests are synced with your CRM. Marketers can then easily use this information to personalize campaigns and workflows.

How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Integrations

You can measure the impact of integrations in your marketing operations strategy by asking if:

  • Your data is accurate, enriched, and reliable in every app.
  • You have a centralized contact database that quickly gives you a 360-degree view of each contact.
  • Your marketing team is aligned with sales and can quickly collaborate.
  • You have removed all data silos.
  • You can personalize marketing campaigns for customers or exclude them from certain messaging.
  • You have clear marketing reporting that brings together data from all channels and apps and highlights key areas for optimization.

As you optimize your marketing operations, remember to look at the holistic view of your marketing stack and the individual pieces of the puzzle. By paying attention to the two in tandem, you can understand where to connect the dots for the best overall outcomes in your marketing team and throughout your organization.

How to Use Account Mapping to Build an Effective ABM Campaign

Account-based marketing (ABM) is transforming the B2B marketing and sales world because of its effectiveness in reaching high-value target accounts — but it’s a difficult strategy to manage.

ABM has a lot of moving parts that need to move as a synchronized whole to bring success to your organization.

Fortunately, like any aspect of marketing, ABM is made easier with strategic planning.

Starting with your goals and mapping out a targeted plan is key to building an effective ABM campaign.

Here, we’ll break down the steps of how to put ABM mapping into practice within your organization and implement the right process to make it happen.

What is Account Mapping?

Account mapping involves selecting and organizing the accounts targeted within an ABM program.

After establishing goals, the next and arguably most critical step to ensuring a successful ABM campaign is selecting and mapping the accounts.

Once accounts have been selected and mapped, the sales and marketing team can build their engagement strategy and ensure both sides maximize their alignment.

How to Get Started With Account Mapping

Account mapping is an exercise in account research and documenting details that will be useful as you target an account on your journey to a successful close.

Here are the four main steps you’ll need to take when account mapping:

1. Identify Key Decision Makers and Influencers

After identifying what accounts to target through account planning, the next step is digging into the account to understand the organizational structure and how decisions are made. Starting with the top person in a functional area is an excellent place to begin mapping the functions.

The larger the account, the tougher this task, as many large organizations operate in a matrix environment where influence comes from many directions.

Nonetheless, sourcing these contacts and documenting their Buyer Role using HubSpot or alternative system of record will allow you to track and manage information related to each contact. This will also improve your ability to create unique experiences as a part of your ABM program.

It’s essential to consider buyer roles as it relates to the buying process, not a functional title.

Buyer roles to be considered include:

  • Decision Maker
  • Blocker
  • Influencer
  • Budget Holder
  • Champion
  • Legal & Compliance

Depending on the goods/service sold and the operational impact it may have in the account, there may be a need to expand the roles to meet the specific needs of the account, so you can edit or add new roles as needed.

Using tools such as LinkedIn or ZoomInfo can be helpful when researching an account and the key contacts within the account. Using the Buying Role Property within HubSpot is a great way to align your account intelligence to the contacts within the account.

During your research, you may find that one contact has multiple roles, so you can assign them accordingly as well as assign multiple contacts to the same role.

2. Gather Intel and Align Content

Understanding an account’s needs and pain points is an important input to your ABM engagement strategy. Whether it’s for content alignment or sales outreach, align relevant communications to each stage of the buyer’s journey.

While getting direct intelligence through discovery calls is an excellent way to explore account needs, you should use a wide range of sources to gather as much information as possible to fill any gaps.

Social listening, search intent, press releases, and Google Alerts are all great resources to leverage for information that can be used to gain insights into future account needs. Once well-documented, these insights can be used to map marketing content and sales playbooks to ensure each interaction with the account is meaningful.

3. Engage and Learn

Develop a plan for how and when you will engage the target account. Using a playbook for both sales and marketing engagement plans can help standardize the approach you take and identify points within the process that are working well or areas that need improvements.

Depending on where the account is within the sales cycle when you implement the ABM strategy, the engagement approach may vary. Targeting with account-based advertising may be an excellent first step to warm up the accounts if starting with cold accounts.

Many platforms can enable ABM advertising; however, using HubSpot’s Company List and its LinkedIn Ads integration provides a seamless introduction into account-based advertising without leaving HubSpot.

4. Document How Decisions are Made

Throughout the research and documentation process, you’ve been collecting data that will be useful for both marketing and sales teams. As you seek to advance the engagement process, direct outreach to contacts within the account will be required. Be sure to add value and use best practices to improve the quality of this interaction so that it’s a seamless and valuable experience for the prospect.

You have been gathering account intelligence through the planning process, so now it’s time to put those activities to work. Before reaching out, utilize LinkedIn or LinkedIn Sales Navigator to research the contact. Using the outreach activities to fill data and intelligence gaps will help improve future interactions and engagements.

Of the things you need to learn, understanding who will influence the purchasing decision is high on the list. It’s also helpful to know how the company makes a purchasing decision and their process of awarding a contract. Ensure that you’re gathering these details effectively by recording information in your CRM under the deal, company, and contact records.

Account Mapping Software

There is a long list of software applications that can assist with the account mapping process. The good news is that a lot can be done with free tools, many of which are commonly used within both small and large sales and marketing organizations.

Below is a short list of free and premium tools, along with a brief description that will get you started with ABM Mapping.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot is the centralized marketing platform that helps sales and marketing leaders execute marketing campaigns. HubSpot provides a set of tools that helps keep an ABM-centric campaign, which enables greater transparency between sales and marketing teams when compared to disparate systems.

Cost: Freemium to Paid

2. LinkedIn

The king of professional networking within a digital environment has become a dream tool for sales and marketing professionals. When targeting specific accounts, LinkedIn is a great free resource. In addition to general account research, LinkedIn also is a great integration partner for three of their paid services, which can be invaluable to ABM.

  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Sales Navigator
  • LinkedIn InMail

Cost: Varies depending on tools/service used. 

3. ZoomInfo

From prospecting to buyer intent, ZoomInfo is an excellent resource for finding and tracking companies that fit your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). In addition to identifying the account, they provide a comprehensive set of products that offer deeper account insights, including organizational charts. ZoomInfo is also a HubSpot integration partner, which makes working with the tool seamless.

Cost: Free Trial to Premium

4. 6sense

If you are seeking to take action on Buyer Intent, 6sense provides solutions that improve the transparency into the buyer’s intent using AI. It captures signals across a wide variety of channels and connects it to prospect accounts. 

When moving into the engagement stage of an ABM campaign, these tools provide the ultimate reach and scale.

Cost: Paid (Contact 6sense for pricing details)

ABM mapping can be an effective process to help sales and marketing teams navigate complex account structures. While there are great tools that provide helpful insights, the mapping process is robust and tends to be manual.

An important part of the planning process will be to gain buy in from your internal team and properly assign team members who will be part of the research and documentation process so that your organization will have access to centralized information about your target accounts and contacts within them.

The payoff can be well worth the work if you take the proper steps while developing a focused account-based marketing strategy.

How HubSpot Video Managers Coordinate and Produce Content Remotely

In early 2020, video overtook blogs and infographics as the most used type of marketing content. Around the same time, remote work grew more than ever before.

As companies quickly began to pivot to remote workspaces, video marketers were left wondering how they would create content with the same production level as something filmed in a brightly lit studio with professional equipment. Additionally, video creators who once filmed interviews or explainers featuring thought leaders needed to determine how they’d continue to incorporate talent remotely.

Despite the challenges of making videos from home, companies like HubSpot ultimately figured out processes that allowed them to keep creating helpful content for their audiences.

If you’re a video manager working remotely for the first time, you might still be learning how to navigate and produce effective content on a timeline.

To help inspire new video strategies, I spoke to HubSpot’s Academy and social media teams to get tips on how they implemented and created new remote production processes.

How to Coordinate and Create Videos From Home

1. Brainstorm content ideas that your audiences will value.

As you would with any content marketing campaign, consider topics that will educate, entertain, and delight your audiences — even when they’re clearly filmed in an at-home setting.

To come up with video ideas, schedule a virtual brainstorm with your team. Consider your brand’s goals, messaging, and problems you can solve for your audience with informative content. Then narrow down a list of topics based on their level of value and how feasibly they can be made from a remote location.

For examples of marketing videos you can easily make from home — even on a limited budget — check out this blog post.

2. Create a video production plan.

Any great content marketing strategy begins with a production plan. This was especially true for our HubSpot Academy team, which regularly films and publishes video content from our physical offices.

“We put together our plan shortly after the HubSpot offices went remote,” says Stephen Fiske, HubSpot Academy’s video producer. “We’ve typically always filmed in our studio, but knew that wouldn’t be an option for the foreseeable future. So we had to pivot quickly, and come up with a solution that allowed us to continue creating content for our customers and prospects.”

To make a solid remote video plan, go over your current production process and determine which aspects you can make virtual, such as editing, filming yourself, or adding animation. Then, talk with your team to determine workarounds for the things you’re most used to filming in-person, such as studio interviews.

For example, the HubSpot Academy team had to ask questions like, “How will we film the thought leaders or Academy professors?” or “Are there ways we can support our talent remotely?” After answering these questions, the team came up with a strategy that enables their professors and thought leaders to film themselves.

With HubSpot Academy’s process, Fiske says, “We’ve been able to continue creating content efficiently while meeting our high-quality standards.”

“We know how important our education is for customers and prospects around the world, so we created this process for them,” Fiske adds.

Around the same time, HubSpot’s social media team also worked together to create a plan for their fully remote video strategy.

“For me, most of the pre-production process hasn’t changed much. There is certainly less in-person face-to-face interaction during ideation and pre-production but the process is still the same,” says Thomas Hutchings, an associate editor and animator on the social team.

“One big change, as you can imagine, is video production itself,” Hutchings admits. “From equipment to set space, I needed to dig deeper into my creative toolbox to come up with adequate workarounds that would still serve our customers and audience to the best of my ability given the circumstances.”

While HubSpot Academy’s new process primarily involved enabling talent to record themselves, Hutchings’ involved everything from, “DIY rigs to rearranging my whole living space.”

While Hutchings has done a lot to build out his home video production process, like Fiske, he notes that teamwork has been key to video production success.

“My manager and director have both been very helpful in making sure we have what we need, so I’m lucky to have their support,” Hutchings adds.

3. Get the right equipment.

When planning out remote video strategies, one of the major questions the Academy and social teams asked was, “What equipment are we able to use?”

“All on-camera presenters were sent a remote filming care package. Our video editors would do a “virtual location scout” of their homes to determine the best location to film in. They would also walk the presenters through how to set up the equipment,” Fiske explains.

Similarly, Hutchings explains that the social media department was able to get him the equipment he needed.

But, if you work at a startup that can’t ship equipment to you — or even budget it in the first place — that shouldn’t stop you from making videos.

According to HubSpot’s video managers, you can find a number of tools at home, or purchase them affordably online. Here’s a quick list of things you’ll need:

A High-Resolution Camera

In a HubSpot YouTube video, featured below, Hutchings explains that a DSLR is the best camera to use for at-home videos, but an iPhone or other digital camera will also work.

When it came to HubSpot Academy, video creators and subjects were loaned an IPad Mini and an attachable wide-angle lens, which were both easy to use and enabled solid video recording.

Lighting Fixtures

“Lighting can make a video look almost professional, even when it’s shot on just a phone, but it’s all about the placement,” says Lindsay Daly, a video editor and animator for the social team.

If you don’t have traditional film lighting tools, you use light fixtures you have at home, such as lamps or natural light. However, the most important thing to keep in mind is the angle and positioning of the lights and camera.

“Your light source and camera lens should be pointed in the same direction on to your subject. Otherwise, that video recorded in front of your window is going to look more like an anonymous silhouette interview from a crime drama,” Daly points out.

To avoid any video mishaps in apartments with poor natural light, HubSpot Academy also sent its video subjects a straightforward lighting ring with a stand. The stand holds the ring light as well as an IPad or phone to provide professional-looking lighting.

Sound Equipment

In Hutchings’ how-to video, he also explains that you should film yourself in a quiet environment. If sound is coming through muffled on your camera or phone, you can also affordably purchase a microphone online. One mic to consider is a lavalier mic, which can clip to a subject’s shirt. This type of mic was included in HubSpot Academy’s remote video kits.

microphone used by hubspot remote video marekters

For tactical tips on creating your own home production studio, check out this video tutorial that Hutchings created for HubSpot’s YouTube channel:

4. Pick the right background.

Despite how hard we try, many of our homes aren’t aesthetically pleasing on camera. Even if we have a clean house, brand new furniture, and gorgeous curtains, our homes might have unexpected issues that make it very hard to film on camera. These issues could include distracting decor or poor lighting.

This is why HubSpot Academy made picking the right background a priority in their process. According to Fiske, each presenter that’s filmed from home does a video test with the HubSpot Academy editor. As part of the test, the presenter walks around his or her apartment and sits in a few locations while on a video call with the editor.

After the talent or subject walks around their home, the editor gives feedback on which locations work best and lighting adjustments. This ensures that all videos the editor receive won’t need to be re-shot due to background mishaps.

According to Fiske, a few great background options that you might find in your own home include bookcases, backgrounds with plants, and brick walls. You’ll want to avoid sitting in front of windows without shades which can cause lighting issues, as well as plain white walls which can be dull, might also impact the white balance of your video.

If you don’t have a video editor to help you pick out your own background, it can be a good idea to film yourself in different locations with different amounts of light. As you review each clip, ask yourself questions like, “Is my background distracting?”, “Do I look like a dark shadow due to the lighting?”, and “Do I look overexposed because of too much lighting?”

5. If you’re not the subject of a video, enable your talent or thought leaders to film themselves.

Aside from sending Academy presenters equipment and testing backgrounds with them, Fiske explains that editors and video managers would try to support their talent in other ways via video call.

For example, if a presenter needs assistance or feedback, Fiske says that “during filming, our video editors can join the shoots remotely, allowing them to direct the talent, and work with them to get the best lighting, framing, and audio.”

Hutchings says his team has also taken steps to enable talent to film themselves for HubSpot’s social channels. To him, one key to this process is using empathy whenever possible.

“I’ve had to direct videos via Zoom and troubleshoot situations for things I didn’t anticipate, like dogs barking in the background, construction noises, or poor cellphone camera angles.” Hutchings shares. “One thing that keeps me on a positive note is empathy. I know that I’m not the only person going through this. I know that we are all in this together. So if a dog barks in the background and a viewer on YouTube notices it, maybe they can relate and appreciate the authenticity behind it.”

“Many folks are going through challenges of filming remotely, and it’s not just the editors that have hurdles. It’s also your talent,” Hutchings says. “They have become more involved in the shooting process than before, which can add another level of complexity. Being patient and providing thoughtful practices goes a long way.”

6. Create a remote video production guide for internal use.

Every business is different and can vary when it comes to video production budgets and capabilities. Odds are, if another video manager or employee joins your team, they’ll have some questions about how your brand creates videos scalably and remotely. This is why Hutchings and Fiske both made internal video production guides for their teams, talent, and other HubSpot employees.

“I created a short guide and an in-depth video to help our talent navigate the process of filming themselves and how to submit their footage,” Hutchings explains. “This will save you time, so instead of repeating yourself to new talent you can send along a guide and get back to what you do best, creating. Also, in the future if remote work does in-fact become more prevalent, these guides will come in handy.”

Meanwhile, Fiske created a detailed internal guide that highlights every step of HubSpot Academy’s production process from start to finish. He then shared it with the wider company so employees outside of his department can reference and use it as needed.

Creating Valuable Video Content for Your Audience

While the HubSpot Academy and social media teams might have slightly different strategies, they’ve approached remote video with the same goal: create valuable content.

As you continue to build your remote video strategy and test out scalable marketing content, your production process will get smoother and you’ll learn what videos truly engage your audience.

“No matter how fancy or basic your set-up is, content is still king,” Hutchings concludes. “If you still forge great content that provides exceptional value to your customer and audience, viewers won’t mind some lighting issues or audio that’s of lower quality. Equipment is important, but there’s a bit of wiggle room to be creative and find solutions that will still get the job done.”

If these tips have inspired you to create a remote video production process, check out this post on three effective marketing videos you can make from home.