Category Archives: Marketing Strategies

9 VR Marketing Examples That You'll Want to Steal for 2019

I won’t lecture you on the importance of incorporating virtual reality (VR) into your marketing strategy.

What I will do, however, is share a few fun facts about VR and show you nine examples of this technology used for marketing a product or a brand.

  • By 2020, the economic impact of virtual and augmented reality is predicted to reach $29.5 billion.
  • By the end of 2017, the number of shipped units of VR software and hardware from Sony, Oculus, HTC, and others totaled $2.4 million, up from $1.7 million in 2016.
  • By 2020, the number of VR headsets sold is predicted to reach 82 million — a 1,507% increase from 2017 predicted totals.

VR is being adopted quickly, and adding it to your marketing channels is something you should definitely think about for the coming year.

What Is VR?

VR, short for virtual reality, is a form of interactive software that immerses users in a three-dimensional environment — usually by way of a headset with special lenses — to simulate a real experience. Ideally, VR allows people to simulate the experience in 360 degrees.

Numerous industries are now finding uses for VR in order to transport people to places they might otherwise have to travel to, or simply imagine. While movie companies, for example, are giving audiences the opportunity to experience the movie as if they’re a character in the scene, conventional businesses are now using VR to demonstrate and promote their products to potential customers.

Before we dive into some of the businesses that have found success injecting their marketing with a dose of VR, it’s worth noting that virtual reality has a few key differences from another term you might’ve heard before: augmented reality. Find out what these differences are in the video below.

Seeking inspiration for your own VR marketing campaign? Look no further. Below are nine of our favorite VR marketing campaigns and how they served the company’s marketing strategy.

1. Key Technology: VERYX Food Sorting

Key Technology, a manufacturer and designer of food processing systems, created a Virtual Reality demo that would allow attendees of the Pack Expo food packaging trade show to experience a detailed, hands-on look at how the company’s VERYX digital food sorting platform works. It was part of a comprehensive B2B campaign to grow brand awareness among a target audience of food manufacturers, and VR gave participants a highly unique look at what exactly the process looks like inside of the machine.

While this 360-degree video doesn’t completely replicate the experience, it does indicate the differentiating way brands within such B2B industries as manufacturing can leverage VR to immersively demonstrate their sophisticated technologies and capabilities.

2. Defy Ventures and Within: Step To The Line

When my colleague attended Oculus Connect in October, the most memorable experience for her was, by far, the event’s VR For Good exhibit: a showcase of creative work that used Oculus and VR technology for social- and mission-focused ventures.

One such example of that work was Step To The Line: A short film (that was immersively viewed on a VR headset) documenting the lives of inmates at California maximum-security prisons. It was created by Within, a VR storytelling production company, in partnership with Defy Ventures, an entrepreneurship and development program for men, women, and youth who are currently or were formerly incarcerated.

With this unique watching experience, viewers were able to uniquely see what life is like within the walls of these correctional facilities, from the yard, to the cells, to the conversations that take place there.

3. Limbic Life: Project VITALICS

For far too many people, injuries, age, and disease can diminish mobility and equilibrium to the point where walking ranges from extremely painful to nearly impossible.

That’s why the folks at Limbic Life created the Limbic Chair, in partnership with the VITALICS research being conducted by RehaClinic. Pairing this special chair with a Gear VR headset allows users to more intuitively move their bodies (thanks to the chair’s combined neuroscience-based and ergonomic design) while virtually experiencing day-to-day experiences with a rehabilitative use of their hands and legs.

While the research is still underway and no definitive conclusions have been drawn, my coworker had the opportunity to use the chair at the 2017 Samsung Developer Conference and speak with the chair’s creator, Dr. Patrik Künzler.

“Patients enjoy being in the chair and the freedom of movement it allows. They enjoy VR a lot, especially the flying games,” he told Samsung Business Insights. And not only can the VR technology help them physically heal, but it also contributes to emotional rehabilitation.

“When they get up from the chair,” Künzler said, “they’re in a good mood and feel happy.”

Learn more about the conceptualization behind the Limbic Chair from Künzler’s TEDxZurich talk below.

4. Lowe’s: Holoroom How To

Anyone who’s gone through the existential angst of being a first-time buyer knows the unfathomable power of paperwork and finances to undermine the fun of designing or decorating a new home.

That is, until you walk into one of 19 Lowe’s stores that features the Holoroom How To VR experience.

Some homeowners are lucky enough to pay a professional to renovate their home when it needs to be. For others — Lowe’s core buyer — the next stop is the world of do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement, which comes with its own hefty dose of stress.

That’s why Lowe’s decided to step in and help out homeowners — or recreational DIY enthusiasts — with a virtual skills-training clinic that uses HTC Vive headsets that guides participants through a visual, educational experience on the how-to of home improvement.

5. Boursin: The Sensorium

One of my colleagues recently pledged to give up dairy — okay, 48 hours ago — and she already claims to miss cheese, a lot.

You can imagine her happiness, then, when she discovered that the cheese brand Boursin once created a VR experience to take users on a multi-sensory journey through a refrigerator to shed light on its products’ flavor profiles, food pairings, and recipe ideas.

The goal: to raise awareness among U.K. consumers of Boursin’s distinct taste and product selection.

While the VR installment was part of a live experiential marketing campaign, the rest of us can get a taste — pun intended — of the virtual experience via this YouTube video.

6. Adidas: Delicatessen

In 2017, Adidas partnered with Somewhere Else, an emerging tech marketing agency, to follow the mountain-climbing journey of two extreme athletes sponsored by TERREX (a division of Adidas).

And what good is mountain climbing to an audience if you can’t give them a 360-degree view of the journey?

Viewers were able to follow the climbers, Ben Rueck and Delaney Miller, literally rock for rock and climb along with them. You heard that right — Using a VR headset and holding two sensory remote controls in each hand, viewers could actually scale the mountain of Delicatessen right alongside Rueck and Miller.

This VR campaign, according to Somewhere Else, served to “find an unforgettable way to market TERREX, [Adidas’s] line of outdoor apparel & accessories.” What the company also did, however, was introduce viewers to an activity they might have never tried otherwise. Instill an interest in the experience first, and the product is suddenly more appealing to the user.

Check out the campaign’s trailer below.

7. Toms: Virtual Giving Trip

Toms, a popular shoe company, is well known for donating one pair of shoes to a child in need every time a customer buys their own pair. Well, this charitable developer found a new way to inspire its customers to give — wearing a VR headset.

The Toms Virtual Giving Trip is narrated by Blake Mycoskie, the founder and Chief Shoe Giver of Toms, and one of his colleagues.

As they describe the story of Toms’ founding, their VR experience takes viewers on a trip through Peru, where Blake and the shoe-giving team visit a school of children who are about to receive the shoes they need for the first time.

What Toms’ VR campaign does so well is something cause-driven organizations all over the world struggle to do: Show donors exactly where their money is going. Even without a VR headset, the video below gives you an experience that’s intimate enough to put Toms on your list for your next shoe purchase.

8. DP World: Caucedo Facilities Tour

DP World is a global trade company that helps businesses transport goods around the world. As the company opens new terminals, however, they need a way to show their customers what DP World’s property has to offer.

DP World’s recently opened Caucedo facility in the Dominican Republic is just one of several DP World properties that uses VR to promote its large and often mysterious ships and land masses as they suddenly appear in a community.

Is trade logistics a sexy industry? Not to everyone. But that’s exactly why a 360-degree tour of DP World’s terminal is so valuable here. Show people just how efficient, safe, and crucial these properties are to certain businesses — without making them put on a hardhat and walk through the port itself — and you can gain massive community support.

9. TopShop: Catwalk VR Experience

Just because you couldn’t attend TopShop’s fashion show during London’s Fashion Week doesn’t mean you couldn’t still “be there.”

TopShop, a women’s fashion retailer, partnered with Inition, an emerging tech agency, to give customers a “virtual” seat of their fashion show by wearing a VR headset connected to the event as it was happening.

The groundbreaking campaign put viewers right next to the fashion runway and the seats of the celebrities who were attending. Talk about making sure your brand is inclusive …

Check out the video below, recapping the experience.

Want to see how other emerging technologies will impact your marketing? Check out A Practical Approach to Emerging Tech for SMBs: AI, Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, IoT, and AR/VR.

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19 of the Best Personal Websites to Inspire Your Own

Some refer to it as a full-time job in itself. Others compare it to dating. And several cats over at BuzzFeed think it just plain stinks.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When you’re applying for a job, you’re typically asked to submit a resume and cover letter, or maybe your LinkedIn profile. But there are better ways to stand out from your competition, and building a personal website is one of them.

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Why You Need a Personal Website

Here’s the thing about resumes and cover letters: No matter how unique you try to make your own, for the most part, they tend to read dry. And there’s a good reason for it: It’s supposed to be a single, no-frills page that documents your work experience. And while being concise is good, there’s very little opportunity to convey your uniqueness, or for your personality to shine through at all for that matter.

While a resume is a sole, largely unchanging document, a personal website can be customized and updated according to what you’re working on, or what you want to emphasize. It’s both fluid and current.

Overall, a personal website can serve different goals, but perhaps what it does best is provide you with an opportunity to tell your story. And with 53% of employers reporting that the resume alone did not provide enough information to determine if the candidate would be a good fit, that storytelling element can really help to improve your odds.

If you’re thinking about creating a personal website of your very own, check out the examples below that hit the nail on the head.

Resumes

Whether you create a single-page site or a larger portfolio, the web resume serves as a more personalized option for sharing information and demonstrating your technological skills — and it can be used by all types of job seekers.

Even if you have very little work experience, you can leverage a website to build a better picture of your capabilities and yourself as a candidate, while leaning on your traditional resume to provide the basic background information.

1. Gary Sheng

Personal website of Gary Sheng with a picture of him on the homepage followed by details of his resume

Unlike a standard resume document, Sheng’s website makes it easy for him to include logos and clickable links that allow his software engineering and web development skills to shine.

We love that visitors can choose to scroll down his page to view all of the website’s categories (“About Me,” “My Passion,” etc.), or jump to a specific page using the top navigation.

The “My System” section reads like a company mission statement, and this personal touch helps humanize his work and make him more memorable.

2. Raf Derolez

Personal website of Raf Derolez with black background and large white font creatively outlining his resume

Derolez’s web resume is modern, cool, and informative. It shows off his personality, branding, and developing skills in a way that’s still very simple and clear. Not to mention, his use of unique fonts and geometric overlays ascribes personality to his name in an eye-catching way.

Want to get in touch with Derolez? Simply click the CTA located at the bottom of the page to open up an email that’s pre-addressed directly to him. Or select one of the social media links to connect with him on platforms like Twitter — where the look and feel of the visual assets happens to seamlessly align with the branding of his website. Well played, Derolez.

Twitter profile of Raf Derolez

3. Brandon Johnson

Personal website of Brandon Johnson with black and white resume and space theme

Johnson’s incredible resume must be seen to be believed. Beautiful images of planets help to complement his planetary science background, and animations make his resume more of an experience than a document.

In terms of design, the textured, multi-layered background adds greater depth to the two-dimensional page in a way that evokes feelings of space and the planetary systems, which Johnson’s work focuses on.

4. Quinton Harris

Personal website of Quinton Harris with resume details including personal photography and storytelling

Harris’ resume uses photos to tell his personal story — and it reads kind of like a cool, digital scrapbook. It covers all the bases of a resume — and then some — by discussing his educational background, work experience, and skills in a highly visual way.

Not to mention, the copy is fantastic. It’s clear that Harris took the time to carefully choose the right words to describe each step of his personal and professional journey. For example, the section on storytelling reads:

NYC, my new home, is filled with the necessary secrets to not only propel my craft forward, but my identity as an artist. With every lens snapped and every pixel laid, I am becoming me.

Finally, at the final navigational point (note the scrolling circles on the left-hand side of the page), users are redirected to quintonharris.com, where he goes on to tell his story in more detail.

Website homepage of Quinton Harris that says 'Griot in Training' across the front

5. Sean Halpin

Personal website of web designer Sean Halpin with soft white and green colors and personal avatar

Halpin’s resume is short, sweet, and to the point, which is authentic to his voice and personal branding outlined on the site. The white space allows his designs and copy to pop and command the reader’s attention, which helps to improve readability — especially on mobile devices:

Sean_Halpin_Mobile.pngSean_Halpin_Mobile_Site.png

Best Practices for Resume Websites

  1. Code your resume so it can be crawled by search engines.
  2. Offer a button to download your resume in PDF so the hiring manager can add it to your file.
  3. Keep branding consistent between the website and document versions: Use similar fonts, colors, and images so you’re easy to recognize.
  4. Be creative and authentic to yourself. Think about the colors, images, and media you want to be a part of your story that you couldn’t include in a document resume.

Portfolios

Building an online portfolio is a highly useful personal branding and marketing tool if your work experience and skill set call for content creation. In fact, photographers, graphic designers, illustrators, writers, and content marketers can all use web portfolios to show off their skills in a more user-friendly way than a resume or hard copy portfolio.

6. Tony D’Orio

Personal portfolio website of Tony D'Orio showing portraits of people

It’s important to keep the design of your visual portfolio simple to let images capture visitors’ attention, and D’Orio accomplishes this by featuring bold photographs front-and-center on his website. His logo and navigation menu are clear and don’t distract from his work. And he makes it easy for potential customers to download his work free of charge.

Want to give it a try? Click on the hamburger menu in the top left corner, then select + Create a PDF to select as many images as you’d like to download.

Link to create a PDF from Tony D'Orio's personal online portfolio, featuring tiled images of his photography

Once you open the PDF, you’ll notice that it comes fully equipped with D’Orio’s business card as the cover … just in case you need it.

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7. Gari Cruze

Personal website portfolio of Gari Cruze with tiled images of his photography and links to his work

Cruze is a copywriter. But by turning his website into a portfolio featuring images from different campaigns he’s worked on, he makes visitors want to keep clicking to learn more about him. Also, there’s a great CTA at the top of the page that leads visitors to his latest blog post.

His site’s humorous copy — specifically in the “17 Random Things” and “Oh Yes, They’re Talking” sections — serves to show off his skills, while making himself more memorable as well. These pages also include his contact information on the right-hand side, making it easy to reach out and connect at any point:

Gary_Cruze.png

8. Melanie Daveid

Personal website portfolio of Melanie Daveid with script font and simple illustration theme

Daveid’s website is a great example of “less is more.”

This developer’s portfolio features clear, well-branded imagery of campaigns and apps that Daveid worked on, and she shows off her coding skills when you click through to see the specifics of her work.

While it might seem overly minimal to only include three examples of her work, Daveid did her portfolio a service by including her best, most noteworthy campaigns. At the end of the day, it’s better to have fewer examples of excellence in your portfolio than many examples of mediocrity.

9. The Beast Is Back

Personal website portfolio of The Beast Is Back, also known as Christopher Lee, with tiled images of colorful design work

Christopher Lee’s portfolio is busy and colorful in a way that works. When you read more about Lee on his easily navigable site, you realize that such a fun and vibrant homepage is perfect for an illustrator and toy designer.

Known by his brand name, “The Beast Is Back,” Lee’s web portfolio highlights eye-catching designs with recognizable brands, such as Target and Mario, along with links to purchase his work. This is another gallery-style portfolio with pops of color that make it fun and give it personality, thus making it more memorable.

10. Daniel Grindrod

This freelance videographer is another example of a simple but sleek portfolio, organizing the many types of media Daniel’s done into the categories by which his potential clients would likely want to browse. The opening video spot on the homepage — labeled “Daniel Grindrod 2018,” as shown on the still image — also ensures his site visitors that he’s actively creating beautiful work.

daniel-grindrod-portfolio

Best Practices for Portfolio Websites

  1. Use mainly visuals. Even if you’re showcasing your written work, using logos or other branding is more eye-catching for your visitors.
  2. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Your personality, style, and sense of humor could be what sets you apart from other sites!
  3. Organization is key. If your portfolio is full of photos, logos, and other images, make sure it’s easy for visitors to navigate to where they can contact you.
  4. Brand yourself. Choose a logo or icon to make your information easily identifiable.

Blogs

Consistently publishing on a blog is a great way to attract attention on social media and search engines — and drive traffic to your site. Blogging is a smart way to give your work a personality, chronicle your experiences, and stretch your writing muscles. You might write a personal blog if you’re a writer by trade, but virtually anyone can benefit from adding a blog to their site and providing useful content for their audience.

11. Everywhereist

Personal blog of Everywhereist with green and red homepage

This blog looks a bit busier, but its consistent branding helps visitors easily navigate the site. The travel blog uses globe iconography to move visitors around the site, making it easy to explore sections beyond the blog.

It also features a “Best Of” section that allows new visitors to learn about what the blog covers to get acclimated. The color scheme is warm, neutral, and free of excess clutter that could distract from the content.

12. fifty coffees

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The website fifty coffees chronicles the author’s series of coffee meetings in search of her next job opportunity, and it does a great job of using photography and visuals to assist in the telling of her lengthy stories.

The best part? Each post ends with numbered takeaways from her meetings for ease of reading comprehension. The high-quality photography used to complement the stories is like icing on the cake.

13. Minimalist Baker

Personal food blog of Minimalist Baker with yellow and white website theme

I’m not highlighting Dana’s food blog just because the food looks delicious and I’m hungry. Her blog uses a simple white background to let her food photography pop, unique branding to make her memorable, and mini-bio to personalize her website.

14. Kendra Schaefer

Personal blog of Kendra Schaefer

Kendra’s blog is chock-full of information about her life, background, and professional experience, but she avoids overwhelming visitors by using a light background and organizing her blog’s modules to minimize clutter. She also shares links to additional writing samples, which bolsters her writing authority and credibility.

15. Mr. Money Mustache

Personal finance blog of Mr. Money Mustache with wood themed background and illustrated logo

Mr. Money Mustache might take on an old-school, Gangs of New York-style facade, but his blog design — and the advice the blog offers — couldn’t be more fresh (he also doesn’t really look like that).

This financial blog is a funny, browsable website that offers sound insight into money management for the layperson. While his personal stories help support the legitimacy of his advice, the navigation links surrounding his logo make it easy to jump right into his content without any prior context around his brand.

Best Practices for Blogs

  1. Keep your site simple and clutter-free to avoid additional distractions beyond blog posts.
  2. Publish often. Company blogs that publish more than 16 posts per months get nearly 3.5X the web traffic of blogs that published less than four posts per month.
  3. Experiment with different blog styles, such as lists, interviews, graphics, and bullets.
  4. Employ visuals to break up text and add context to your discussion.

Demos

Another cool way to promote yourself and your skills is to create a personal website that doubles as a demonstration of your coding, design, illustration, or developer skills. These sites can be interactive and animated in a way that provides information about you and also shows hiring managers why they should work with you. This is a great website option for technical and artistic content creators such as developers, animators, UX designers, website content managers, and illustrators.

16. Albino Tonnina

Personal demo of web developer Albino Tonnina with animated homepage showing his work

Tonnina is showcasing advanced and complicated web development skills, but the images and icons he uses are still clear and easy to understand. He also offers a simple option to view his resume at the beginning of his site, for those who don’t want to scroll through the animation.

17. Robby Leonardi

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Leonardi’s incredible demo website uses animation and web development skills to turn his portfolio and resume into a video game for site visitors. The whimsical branding and unique way of sharing information ensure that his site is memorable to visitors.

18. Samuel Reed

Personal demo of Samuel Reed with plain code themed homepage

Reed uses his page as a start-to-finish demo of how to code a website. His website starts as a blank white page and ends as a fully interactive site that visitors can watch him code themselves. The cool factor makes this website memorable, and it makes his skills extremely marketable.

19. Devon Stank

Personal demo of Devon Stank with black homepage and 'Let's Build Something Amazing Together' written across the front

Stank’s demo site does a great job of showing that he has the web design chops and it takes it a step further by telling visitors all about him, his agency, and his passions. It’s the perfect balance of a demo and a mini-resume.

Plus, we love the video summary. It’s a consumable summary that at once captures Stank’s personality and credentials.

Best Practices for Demo Websites

  1. Brand yourself and use consistent logos and colors to identify your name and your skills amongst the bevy of visuals.
  2. Don’t overwhelm your visitors with too many visuals at once — especially if your demo is animated. Be sure to keep imagery easy to understand so visitors aren’t bombarded when they visit your site.

The Ultimate Guide to Viral Campaigns

  

“He once ran a marathon because it was on his way. Sharks have a week dedicated to him. Mosquitoes refuse to bite him purely out of respect.”

Have you heard of him before? Yes, he’s “The Most Interesting Man in the World”— a fictional character that drinks Dos Equis beer and stars in the company’s viral commercials.

The commercials — which make me laugh every time — are part advertisement, part comedy skit and have a similar theme so fans always know when they’re watching a Dos Equis advertisement.

The company targets its audience of sophisticated beer drinkers in an engaging, creative, and humorous way through TV, social media, and YouTube. The unique campaign created fans around the world that helped spread it across multiple platforms, so much so that people even dress up as the commercial’s main character for Halloween

Dos Equis may not have been 100% sure that their campaign would take off the way it did, but they had a good idea about its potential popularity. 

Similarly, there is no guaranteed way to ensure your content goes viral, but there are certain steps you can take to give your marketing campaign the best chance at success.

 

Many marketers hope for a campaign to go viral — meaning it’s recognized, widely-accepted, and influential. But there’s no guaranteed formula. However, if you think about some of your favorite viral marketing campaigns, you’ll notice some common features. Marketers wanting to reach a bigger audience should keep these attributes in mind when creating their next campaign:

1. It appeals to a target audience.

A successful viral marketing campaign considers the target audience. For any campaign to go viral, it needs to resonate with the audience and make them feel so strongly about your content that they decide to share it with their family, friends, and followers.

Determine who your target audience is in the earliest stages of your campaign creation. To achieve this, ask questions such as: Who do I want to connect with? What content would they feel passionate about? What are their hopes, dreams, and values? Why would they care about my campaign? What will can I do to make them want to share my content with their social network?

2. It has a strong visual strategy.

Viral marketing campaigns require a visual strategy — this guides potential customers to understand your brand through the use of images.

A campaign should tell a story and that story is best told using visual elements that resonate with your audience. Your visual strategy needs to be compatible with your brand and target audience — it should be interesting, informative, and contain some element of intrigue, such as humor or hope.

3. It’s highly creative.

Think about your favorite viral marketing campaign. What sets it apart from others?

Marketing campaigns don’t go viral unless they have a unique, interesting, and innovative idea behind them — your campaign needs to be something new and attention-grabbing.

4. It has emotional appeal. 

Have you seen the Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign? It makes you feel frustrated, insecure, strong, and confident in just a few minutes.

Each commercial shows a person sitting behind a curtain describing their appearance while an artist — who cannot see them — draws their portrait. After the individual is done describing his or her features and the portrait is complete, the curtain is removed. The artist then draws a second portrait of the individual based off what they actually see.

After the second portrait is finished, the artist places the two drawings next to each other. As you can probably imagine, the portrait derived from the individual’s self-description is less attractive than what the artist draws in the second portrait.

In fact, in each video throughout the campaign, the portrait that the artist creates is a much brighter and more realistic depiction of the individual. This is a message about self-esteem and the beauty within all of us.

The campaign went viral because of its relatability and emotional appeal. You need to make your audience feel something — otherwise, why would they want to share your content?

5. It’s easy to share and promote.

Thanks to the internet and social media, sharing and promoting your content with the rest of the world is pretty simple. You don’t need huge sums of money to produce successful photo or video content that can be consumed by the greater population. 

For something to actually go viral, it needs to be shared over and over again. This means you and your company need to share the content first in as many places — and in as many ways — as possible. Then, you need to make it easy for your audience to share it as well.

Enable sharing, embedding, and downloading capabilities on all of your content so your viewers can tag their parents on Facebook, message their best friends on Instagram, or download your video so they can easily turn your content into a memorable GIF. Create calls-to-action or elements that encourage people to send it to their friends. 

Think about asking a celebrity to promote your content if an influencer would fit with your overall message and add value to your campaign. For example, viewers may find your insurance commercial more entertaining and share-worthy if Peyton Manning or Brad Paisley are singing.

6. It’s published at the right time.

You should also consider the date and time that you share your content. Marketers use major holidays — such as Christmas — as well as major events, like the presidential race and the Super Bowl, to their advantage.

More people are scrolling through their social media feeds, watching TV, and keeping up with current events during these times which causes marketers to spend more money on their campaigns. 

Similarly, anyone who uses a platform like Instagram knows what I’m talking about when I say the date and time of your posts matter.

For example, if you post on a Saturday at 8 p.m., most people are out at dinner, seeing a movie, or just hanging out with friends — meaning they are most likely not browsing their newsfeed … at least not as much as they do on Tuesdays

After all of this sharing and promoting, you need to wait and see whether or not people latch onto your content. If so, you could have created a viral campaign. If not, you may have to try again.

Read this blog to learn about the reasons why some older campaigns stand the test of time.

The Advantages of Viral Marketing Campaigns

Creating a viral marketing campaign isn’t an easy or predictable achievement. But if your campaign does go viral, it can mean thousands or even millions of new people being introduced to your brand and buying your products — money in the bank!

For example, the Dollar Shave Club’s campaign video went viral, which made them a household name. They were then acquired by Unilever for $1 billion — not bad.

Here are a few more advantages of producing viral content:

1. They can build your brand.

When a marketing campaign goes viral, your audience automatically learns about your company, products, services, and brand. This includes people who may not have ever heard about your company otherwise. This is how some small companies make their “big break” and how large companies stay relevant.

2. They don’t require a large budget.

Some of the most successful viral content is created on a low budget. These days, individuals and companies of any size can film high-quality video and take professional-looking photos all on an iPhone.

Many content creators, or people who simply upload a random video, have found themselves become famous almost overnight. It’s not about the resources and budget — it’s all about what catches the attention of the internet. Marketers don’t always need a large-scale production with a celebrity to make their campaign funny, surprising, relatable, or informational. 

Fun fact:Jonathan Goldsmith, the man behind the “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials, had only done a few gigs prior getting his big break when the campaign went viral. 

3. They get your brand in front of a new (and larger) audience.

Campaigns are considered “viral” when they have a large reach. Companies may experience an increase in sales, greater engagement on social media, and a boost in conversation about their brand and products.

This is exactly what happened for Smart Water when they brought Jennifer Aniston on board for their campaign in 2012. The video has over 6 million views on YouTube, and their humorous campaigns have done so well with the public that Aniston was featured in them through 2017.

3 of the Most Famous Viral Campaigns

Now that we have reviewed the features of successful viral campaigns and how to launch one yourself, let’s dive into some of the most popular viral campaigns ever created.

Old Spice: “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”

Old Spice found that women are the ones to purchase men’s personal hygiene products, so they created an ad that spoke directly to this audience.

The “Old Spice Man” talks directly to the audience in a bold, confident, and humorous way. He tells women that anything is possible when your man uses Old Spice — all while he sails the ocean shirtless, turns sports tickets into diamonds, and rides a white horse on the beach.

This campaign went viral because … well … humor works. It was so successful that it even increased sales for the brand. The commercial has received over 55 million views on YouTube, won an Emmy for Outstanding Commercial at the Creative Arts Primetime Emmy Awards, and won the Film Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

ALS: “Ice Bucket Challenge”

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge began four years ago and was created to raise awareness for the debilitating disease. For the challenge, you had to pour ice cold water over your entire body and then nominate a friend to do the same. This became a movement that raised $115 million in the summer of 2014 alone. Because … who doesn’t want to watch a family member or friend pour freezing cold water on their head?

Celebrities from around the world started participating, challenging their famous friends, donating, and raising awareness. There was an Ice Bucket Challenge hashtag that gained popularity allowing for the videos to spread easily over multiple social media channels.

Most importantly — the challenge is fun and makes participants feel like a part of a bigger movement, which is why it remains relevant years later.

Always “#LikeAGirl”

This video became a major hit because it directly addressed how phrases that are so commonly used can be detrimental to someone’s self image and confidence. In the video, various men, women, and young boys are asked to “run like a girl” or “fight like a girl”. Then young girls are asked to do the same, with a very different approach: They show strength and confidence in their movements. 

It made viewers recognize how quickly we use female-oriented phrases as insults, and that doing something #LikeAGirl should be seen as inspiring and brave. 

The original TV commercial that came out in 2014 has over 65-million views on Youtube, and the hashtag — #LikeAGirl — remains popular today.

For more great examples of viral video marketing campaigns, check out this blog.

Conclusion

There is no roadmap for making your content “go viral.” You can review what has been successful in the past and try to emulate this, but ultimately, it’s about creating great content that connects with your audience and makes them want to share it. Do this, and you just might find that your brand is the one everyone is talking about. 

What You Missed This Month in Google

It’s hard to believe we’re approaching Labor Day weekend here in the U.S. — the unofficial “end” of summer — but alas, here we are, with another recap of the month’s top Google news items.

What You Missed Last Month in Google

1. The Big August Algorithm Update

Google globally rolled out a core algorithm update on August 1 — nicknamed, according to Search Engine Land (SEL), the “Medic Update.”

While Google hasn’t confirmed what percentage or type of pages have been impacted by the update, SEL’s analysis points to sites concerning health and lifestyle showing the greatest shift — specifically, those “that offer medical or health information that could impact your physical well-being” or “offering advice on major life decisions, such as pages on parenting, purchasing a home, a vehicle and so on.”

These are often referred to as “your money or your life” pages [YMYL], which Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines define as sites that “could potentially impact the future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety of users.”

Here’s a look at the top 20 “losing” sites following the algorithm — many of which offer alternative or so-called “natural” health advice:

Source: Sistrix

As with all of Google’s algorithm updates, the change was likely made to improve the quality of Google’s search results. Read full story >>

2. Mr. Page Is Cordially Invited

Larry Page, CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., has been formally invited by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to testify at a September hearing on foreign influence on social media.

Should Page accept, he will testify alongside Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on the topic.

Hearing details for the foreign influence operations and their use of social media platforms

Source: Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Media Advisory

This visit to Washington, D.C. is the latest for many Silicon Valley executives over the past year, especially since it was discovered that social media sites were weaponized by Russian actors to spread misinformation and influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Since then, Facebook has uncovered similar election interference activity on its site — and all three companies (Google, Twitter, and Facebook) recently purged several accounts from their sites after discovering coordinated misinformation campaigns based in Iran.

Google has not yet confirmed if Page will appear at the hearing, which is scheduled for September 5. Read full story >>

3. The Pixel 3 Is (Probably) Coming

Earlier this month, The Verge reported that Google is likely to release the latest generations of its Pixel smartphones — the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL — and that it’s rumored to do so a major press event this fall.

The official product announcement, it’s speculated, will take place on October 9 in New York.

But for reasons unknown, the Pixel 3 XL has been plagued with leaks ranging from product photos to an official “unboxing” video.

Why so many product launch leaks? Apparently, a number of units were stolen and sold on the Ukrainian black market for a cool $2,000 each. (The actual price of the Pixel 3 XL is yet to be determined, but the current generation — the Pixel 2 — currently retails for $649.) Read full story >>

4. Make Google Say It

Earlier this week, Google announced a number of updates to its Cloud Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text technologies — namely, that its WaveNet machine learning capabilities can now translate written text to spoken work 17 new (less robotic-sounding) voices, as well as new languages.

Another update: the ability of users to optimize the audio output for wherever it’ll be played — like speakers or headphones.

Want to take it for a spin? You can do so right here.

Meanwhile, with speech-to-text, TechCrunch reports that it’s now easier to transcribe multi-person conversations, like a meeting or conference where several people might be speaking at once. Those different voices can now be distinguished by the technology — as long as you let it know how many different voices exist within the audio sample. Read full story >>

5. Good News

Google Assistant has a new skill — and it’s sharing news that’s a bit more, well, feel-good than some recent dominating headlines.

With a simple command of, “Hey Google, tell me something good,” Assistant users can get the day’s roundup of positive news stories. (In its official statement, Google used the example of beekeepers who are helping to recover the bee population in Detroit.)

The stories are curated — from a vast range of news sources, the company says — by the Solutions Journalism Network, a not-for-profit organization with the mission of fighting “negative news fatigue.” Read full statement >>

Until Next Month

As always, we’re watching all things Google. We’ll continue to pick out top news items, algorithm updates, and trends.

See you next month, and until then — have a fabulous rest of the summer.

Featured image credit: Google

27 Fun Corporate Team-Building Activities & Outing Ideas Everyone Will Enjoy

Starting to notice some droopy shoulders around the office? Sounds like it’s time to plan a team outing.

Team outings are a great way to facilitate bonding with your team members, reduce employee stress, and give them the chance to get to know one another outside of the office.

And, you know, they’re really fun.

But how do you find ideas for a great team outing? Maybe you start with a Google search for “team outing ideas” and stumble upon an article that suggests “field trips” and “professional development activities.” Sounds like a starting point, but where’s the real excitement?

Next time you plan an outing for your team, cut the trust falls and get one of these ideas on the calendar instead.

Large Group Games

1. Scavenger Hunt

Find a beautiful day, break everyone out into groups, and have a scavenger hunt around the city. You can organize one yourself, or use an app like Stray Boots. Your team will feel nice and rejuvenated after some fresh air and fun challenges. Be sure to take plenty of silly pictures — you can even have a slideshow when everyone regroups at the end.

Four people on a scavenger hunt, a team building activity for large groups

2. What’s My Name?

You might have seen this game played before. It goes by different names, and the more people who play, the better it is.

What’s My Name is an activity where each player is assigned the name of a person — dead or alive — and displays that name on their back, head, or part of their body such that only the other players can read the name. You can write these names on index cards or Post-it notes. Once everyone has been assigned a name, the players mingle with one another, treating their coworkers the way they’d treat the person listed on that coworker’s card. They can also ask questions about their own hidden identity until they correctly guess who they are.

What’s My Name has no complicated rules or potential for competitiveness. It’s simply an empathy-builder — a critical ingredient of good company culture — allowing employees to find out what it would be like to be treated the way someone very different from them might be treated every day.

3. Cook-Off

Here’s a culinary team-building activity that could end in dessert or disaster — in a fun way. Creating new dishes together requires creativity and will require everyone to put their team and leadership skills into action. Divide your team into smaller teams, pick a food category, and challenge each team to whip up something delicious. The category could be anything from ice cream, to salsa, to pizza.

One fun twist you could add? Pick a single ingredient that all teams must use, like maple syrup or Oreos. Or, have each team get creative with the shape of its food — you can make pizzas into almost any shape.

Group of female coworkers in an ice cream cook-off

Source: Teambonding.com

4. Sneak a Peek

What do you get when you add a test of memory to a game of pictionary? Sneak a Peek. In this game, people break off into groups of at least four and take turns recreating objects from memory.

Using LEGOs, clay, building blocks, or a similar set of construction items, one game leader will craft an object or structure for every group to recreate. A member of each group then has 10 seconds to “sneak a peek” at the structure (which is concealed from view), return to their groups, and describe what they saw to their group members so they can recreate it.

Each group has their own LEGOs, clay, or building blocks. If after a minute of recreating the structure, it isn’t complete, another member of each group sneaks a 10-second peek at the game leader’s object and comes back to further instruct the group. This rotation continues until a group is confident they have recreated the item. The object of the game? Be the first group to recreate it.

Not only does this game help employees practice project management, but it shows you how to accomplish tasks using input from a variety of sources. It’s also just a fun way to see how good your coworkers are at retaining information.

5. Board Game Tournament

Here’s one way to spark your team members’ competitive sides without having to leave the office. Organize a team-wide board game tournament. Especially if your team is pretty big, it might be easiest to pick a single game, then have people sign up for specific time slots when they’re free to leave their desks and spend some time playing the game.

Some great games with reasonable play times include Boggle, Jenga, or even games using good ol’ playing cards. Don’t forget to incentivize with prizes for first, second, and third place.

Three male coworkers playing in a board game tournament

Source: Glassdoor

6. Office Trivia

Who says trivia night only takes places at the bar? Office trivia is the perfect way to bring a large group of colleagues together and challenge the brain in areas that don’t necessarily apply to their daily jobs. Break the company into teams of four or more and offer small prizes for the teams who score the most points.

Want to write your own trivia questions? For reference, trivia questions are generally sorted into categories — four or five trivia questions per category — with optional bonus questions at the end of the game. While you can give each question a point value, you can also assign each team a certain amount of points per category that they can bet, instead. Each team can then bet as many or as few points as they want per question until they’ve used all their points for that category.

Not prepared to create your own trivia questions? Hire a trivia organization to host a trivia night at your office. There are tons of national trivia companies who’d be happy to host an event right on site — District Trivia, The Trivia Factory, and the Big Quiz Thing are just a few of them.

Small Group Activities

7. Improv Workshop

Comedy and improv events are fun, interactive experiences that’ll have your employees roaring with laughter while teaching them useful communication and soft skills, like focus and trust. Depending on your budget, you could do anything from simply playing improv games with your employees to bringing in professionals to run competitive, fast-paced activities.

Improv workshop with a small group of coworkers

Source: Al-Jazeera

8. Two Truths and a Lie

This is a classic house party game, but it’s also an excellent icebreaker when integrating coworkers who don’t yet know one another.

Two Truths and a Lie is simple: Start by organizing the group into a circle and give each person the floor to introduce themselves. In addition to giving their name, however, each employee also says three things about themselves — only two of which are true. It’s up to everyone else in the circle to guess which statement is the lie.

9. Karaoke Night

What better way to get your employees to break out of their shells than to have them get up and sing some karaoke? You can even have a contest for best group karaoke performance. Bonus points if there are feather boas and cowboy hats involved. This works best for a more extroverted group, so if your team isn’t into strutting their stuff on stage, consider an idea on this list that caters more toward those personalities.

Head of a microphone used for karaoke night, a team building activity for companies

Source: derekgavey

10. The “Suddenly” Story

If you’ve ever told stories around a campfire, you might have told a variation of The “Suddenly” Story. This activity is the choose-your-own-adventure book of team building activities. You’re not just telling a story — you’re piecing a story together using the (often hilarious) imaginations of your coworkers.

To tell The “Suddenly” Story, gather your team in a circle, and offer the opening three sentences to a story about anything. At the end of the three sentences, say “Suddenly …” and pass the story onto the person next to you. It’s their job to take your three sentences and build on the story with another three sentences, followed by “Suddenly …” Each mention of “Suddenly” allows the story to take a turn. What that turn looks like is up to the next person in the circle.

The “Suddenly” Story helps people find ways of building on content that came before them, while also being creative when all ears are on them. Try it the next time you want to get your department together for a break, and you’re sure to get everyone laughing.

11. Go-Kart Racing

Nothing like a little competition to bond a group together. An adrenaline-pumping event like kart racing is a great way to get employees to interact with one another in a totally new and fun way. Just make sure everyone pays attention during the safety lecture.

Small group of coworkers going go-kart racing in red uniforms

12. Concentration (Marketing Edition)

Here’s a professional spin on the 1960s game show. The original game show, called Concentration, put 30 numbered tiles up on a board, each tile with an identical tile somewhere else on the board. What made them identical? They had matching prizes on the back. Over time, as contestants opened up more tiles, they had the opportunity select tiles they knew would match up and win the prize written on the back.

Businesses — especially marketing departments — can have a field day putting logos, slogans, and company names on the back of their own tiles and having players match up every piece of the brand. As your business grows, you can even put the names of your own products, employees, and job titles on the backs of your tiles to see how well your coworkers know the company they work for.

Teamwork Games

13. Professional Development Workshop

Want to encourage your employees to bond while providing them with an opportunity to learn and further their career? Offer a shared learning experience either at your office, or at an off-site workshop or conference. The activity could be specifically related to your employees’ jobs, or it could be something broader, like a negotiation or leadership skills workshop.

Coworkers sitting around a lecturer hosting a professional development workshop

14. Jigsaw Puzzle Race

Jigsaw puzzles can be a tedious thing to put together alone. Maybe you have one set up at home and make progress on it for a couple of hours every weekend. Put your numerous brilliant colleagues on the case, however, and a jigsaw puzzle becomes a fun problem-solving challenge. Break the company into teams for a multi-puzzle race, and suddenly you have a test of teamwork that electrifies the entire office.

Grab several copies of the same jigsaw puzzle and turn your weekend activity into a contest to see which team can complete the puzzle first. Offer prizes just like you would in a game of office trivia. Just be sure each team has the same number of people and choose your puzzle size wisely. A 1000-piece puzzle, for example, might be a bit time-consuming for a team of just five or six people.

15. Room Escape Games

Here’s a great bonding activity that requires leadership skills, teamwork, logic, and patience. Room escape games — Escape the Room, Puzzle Break, AdventureRooms, etc. — have become a wildly popular team-building exercise for groups around the globe.

Here’s how it works: A group of people gets “locked” in a room for one hour. During that one hour, they have to find hidden objects, solve puzzles, and figure out clues to locate the key that will set them free. And it’s not easy: Only 20% of players actually make it out before the hour is up.

Escape the Room

Source: Escape the Room St. Louis

16. The Egg Drop Challenge

Chances are, you played this in school or summer camp. The Egg Drop Challenge is a beloved tradition that challenges teams of kids to create small structures around an uncooked egg in order to protect the egg from a high fall onto hard ground. Each team is given specific items they can use to build the structure that protects the egg, but nothing more. So, why not offer the same challenge to your coworkers?

Straws, newspaper, tape, and cardboard are just some common items provided during the Egg Drop Challenge — as you can see in the sample egg fortress below. For your coworkers, however, consider making it even more challenging and allow them to use simply anything available in the office.

The height of the fall is up to you, too, but be sure to set an altitude that’s consistent with the materials each team has to work with.

Egg taped to four toilet paper rolls and a sponge for an egg drop challenge

Source: Buggy and Buddy

17. Laser Tag

Another great way to get your adrenaline pumping? A good old game of laser tag. Not only is it great fun, it’s also an opportunity for employees to exercise their strategy and logic skills, as well as teamwork skills. Bonus: Determine teams ahead of time and have people dress up.

Group of coworkers playing laser tag as a teamwork game

18. Catch Phrase

In this classic party game, players team up and take turns describing words and phrases to their teammates without saying the word or phrase itself. Phrases can include celebrities, expressions, or just simple things found around the house. If my phrase is “needle in a haystack,” for example, a clue I might give to my teammates could be “a pointy object buried inside farm equipment.”

Catch Phrase is the perfect way to get your employees together and teach them how to communicate with one another. (Don’t worry, everyone will be having so much fun, they won’t realize that’s what you’re doing.)

This game is often played with a basket of phrases on slips of paper, but it became so popular, Hasbro made an electronic version.

Outings and Events

19. Volunteer

Giving time to support a good cause isn’t just good for the soul; it’s also a great way for your team members to bond. Place-based volunteering ideas include things like volunteering at a local soup kitchen, helping build a Habitat for Humanity house, or delivering gifts to children’s hospitals during the holidays. Skill-based volunteering is a cool way to stretch your employees’ expertise: It’s when your team volunteers its time and uses its professional skills — anything from marketing to app development to writing — to help a nonprofit.

Try VolunteerMatch.org for either type of volunteering opportunities, and Catchafire.org for skill-based volunteering opportunities.

People standing outside with shovels and wood chips while volunteering, one of many team building activities for companies and corporations

Source: VolunteerSpot

20. Mystery Dinner

Mystery dinners are one of the most beloved traditions here at HubSpot. On a single night, you send a group of folks from different teams within your company to dinner somewhere in your city (or at someone’s house). The dinner is hosted by one of your company’s leaders and paid for by the company. These dinners allow random groups of people from the same company to spend an evening chock full of good food and conversation together.

What makes them a mystery dinner? The only thing participants should know about the dinner ahead of time is the date and time. Then, on the afternoon the dinner is supposed to take place, send each group an email with the name of the restaurant they’re going to and who they’ll be going with, so they can arrange transportation together.

Optional: Give every dinner host the name of a restaurant or bar to invite everyone to congregate at once the dinners are over.

Mystery Dinner

21. Kayaking/Canoeing

Nothing says “let’s work together” quite like trying not to end up in the water. Want to take advantage of the outdoors? Grab a paddle and head down to the closest river for a great spring or summer outing.

Many public rivers and ponds have boat houses where you can rent kayaks and canoes — and you can encourage folks to rent multi-person ones and pair up with people they don’t usually work with.

Five coworkers kayaking on a company outing

22. Trampoline Park

Hey, who says trampolines are just for kids? Take your team to a trampoline park for some jumping fun and a chance to work off the day’s stress. Many cities have local places with trampoline activities — if you’re in the Boston area, check out Skyzone for trampoline dodgeball and basketball games.

Team Outing Ideas: Trampoline Jumping

Source: Mustbeart

23. Something Touristy

Embrace your city! Pick a hot tourist destination and go as a team. You can even do a Segway tour. (Fanny packs: optional.) It’ll be fun to laugh at how silly it feels to be a tourist in your own city, and you might even learn something new.

Yellow Duck Tour boat on the water

Source: Wikimedia

24. Painting Class

If you’re looking for a slightly more relaxing activity, take a group painting class. Paint Nite hosts painting classes by local artists at various bars throughout major cities for painting on canvases, wine glasses (like in the picture below), and so on. It’s a great way to let your team members unwind, catch up over some drinks, and express their creativity.

paint-nite.jpg

25. Cooking Class

In the mood for something a little more… culinary? Change up the usual outing to a bar or your local restaurant, and try a cooking class. Through a service such as Kitchensurfing, you can hire a professional chef to come cook a fancy meal for you in your home or office kitchen. Between the multiple courses prepared before your eyes, your team will have plenty of time to strike up a conversation and enjoy the delicious aromas.

HubSpot employees taking a cooking class

26. Explore a New Place

Few things more fun than getting out of the city and exploring for a day. So, why not do it with your team?

For bigger events — maybe on a quarterly basis, when you have more budget to use for outings — charter a bus and take your team to a new place. You can all take a historical tour of the new place, grab lunch at a restaurant serving the town’s finest, or take in a local attraction together.

ptown-outing.jpg

27. Sports Game

Round up the team and head out to a sports game. What a fantastic way to rev up team spirit while combining both competition and camaraderie.

team_outings_baseball_game

Source: Wikimedia

Now you’re ready to show your team a great time while increasing their happiness and creating a great company culture. And hey, you might just be the “cool boss” now. How cool would that be?

Want more? Read The Power of Teamwork: 31 Quotes That Celebrate Collaboration.

download free guide to company culture

Your Cheat Sheet for Posting GIFs on Instagram

GIFs are fun, digestible, and, most importantly, relatable — that’s why everybody loves them and shares them on social media so much.

And since Instagram is the top social media platform for visual content, your followers expect your brand to post more compelling content than the photos of your company’s complimentary lunch each week.

Your audience want to feel something when they scroll through Instagram, and GIFs can forge that emotional connection with them.

Below, we’ll show you how to post a GIF on Instagram — with a series of GIFs — and share some of the social network’s best GIF apps.

Here’s a series of GIFs that will show you exactly how to post a GIF on Instagram:

Open GIPHY

Search for a GIF

giphy

Press the “More Options” button and then press the “Instagram Share” button

giphy

Post the GIF to your Instagram story or feed

giphy

The 6 Best Instagram GIF Apps

1. GIPHY

GIPHY has the world’s largest library of animated GIFs and stickers.

Free on IOS and Android

4.7/5.0 Rating

2. Giphy Cam

On Giphy Cam, you can record your own GIFs and add filters or special FX to them.

Free on IOS and Android

4.8/5.0 Rating

3. ImgPlay

ImgPlay lets you turn your own videos, live photos, photos, and burst photos into GIFs or videos. You can also add captions and filters to your GIF, edit its frame sector and order, and control its frame speed and direction.

Free on IOS and Android

4.7/5.0 Rating

4. GIF Maker

With GIF Maker, you can convert your photos or videos into GIFs, Boomerangs, and memes.

Free on IOS and Android

4.6/5.0 Rating

5. Momento

Momento lets you use your live photos and videos to create GIFs and stop motion videos. You can also add augmented reality, filters, music, stickers, effects, text, and zoom to them.

Free on IOS and Android

4.6/5.0 Rating

6. Gifnote

Apple featured Gifnote on their “New Apps We Love List” last year. And it was included for good reason. The app has a licensed music library full of modern and classic hits that you can add to their collection of GIFs or your own created GIF. But if you don’t feel like making your own GIF-music combination, you can just select and send one of their trending Gifnotes to your friends.

Free on IOS

4.8/5.0 Rating

7 Free Project Management Software Options to Keep Your Team On-Track

59% of U.S. workers say communication is their team’s biggest obstacle to success, followed by accountability.

Managing multiple projects at once, delegating tasks, and collaborating across teams is difficult on a good day — but can become downright impossible when unforeseen obstacles get in the way.

Miscommunication and inefficiencies in your project management process can lead to confusing and stressful experiences for your employees, and hinder your company’s ability to satisfy your clients’ needs or hit end-of-year goals. This can lead to major losses over time.

Fortunately, there are plenty of free project management software options to keep your team on-track without breaking the bank. To streamline your process and ensure everyone on your team is on the same page, take a look at these seven exceptional free project management tools.

1. Teamweek

Teamweek is an effective project management tool to automate your task delegation process, and visualize which project tasks have been completed and which haven’t. If your team often collaborates with other departments on projects, this could be a useful tool for you.

Features include:

  • Gantt-chart visualization to track important deadlines and projects
  • Integrations with Slack, Github, Evernote, and others
  • Team collaboration option through shared calendars and task notes

Cost: Free for an unlimited number of projects for up to five team members

2. Zoho Reports

Zoho Reports is easy to use and lets you create comprehensive dashboards and data visualizations to ensure your projects are on-track. You can import data from outside files, cloud drives, applications, and in-house apps, enabling you to create more accurate cross functional reports. (Zoho Reports is a HubSpot integration partner).

Features include:

  • Easy drag-and-drop interface with BI visualization tools
  • Ability to share and collaborate on reports and dashboards with colleagues privately.
  • Cloud BI reporting tool embedded within your own website or product
  • Integrations with Slack, Google Apps, and Dropbox, as well as mobile apps, making team collaboration easier.

Cost: Free for one project with multiple users, storage up to 10 GB

3. Asana

Asana, one of the most popular project management solutions used by millions of people across 192 countries, has a clean and user-friendly interface. The all-in-one tool lets you create boards to visualize which stage your project is in, and use reporting to keep track of finished tasks and tasks that need your attention.

Features include:

  • The ability to create templates to automate mundane tasks
  • The ability to collaborate and share information across the team, privately and securely
  • The option to set security controls and designate admins
  • Over 100 integrations for a more efficient start-to-finish process
  • Custom project fields, share documents, and filter tasks

Cost: Free for unlimited projects for teams up to 15 people.

4. Teamwork

Teamwork, a project management tool that specializes in bringing together remote workers, allows you to create team member status updates so your remote and flexible teams know their coworkers’ schedules. It also provides customer service functions, including the option to assign tickets or view customer emails in one place. (Teamwork is a HubSpot integration partner).

Features include:

  • Customizable navigation to prioritize your team’s needs
  • Gantt chart for visualizing due dates and project timelines
  • Private messaging, and option to make project details private
  • Team member status updates for remote or flexible team members

Cost: Free for two to five users

5. Wrike

Wrike stands out as an exceptional project management tool for teams who want the option to customize workflows and edit and revise projects from within the platform itself. The tool offers the ability to color code and layer calendars, and its mobile form allows colleagues to update project information on-the-go. You can add comments to sections, videos, or documents, and create custom fields to export data most relevant to your company.

Features include:

  • Security measures to ensure only authorized personnel can access information
  • Activity Stream to allow project managers to micromanage small tasks, see activities in chronological order, and tag team members
  • The option to unfollow activities to declutter your own personal Stream
  • Email and calendar synchronization
  • Built-in editing and approval features

Cost: Free for five team members

6. Paymo

Paymo’s free version only allows access for one user, but if you’ve got a small team or you’re a freelancer, this could be an efficient option for tracking billable hours and invoicing clients. Along with tracking finances, Paymo also allows you to organize project timelines, create to-do lists, and stay on top of your budgets for multiple projects at once.

Features include:

  • Kanban Boards
  • Time Tracking
  • File Sharing and Adobe CC Extension
  • Reporting
  • Three Invoices

Cost: Free for one user, one GB storage

7. ClickUp

ClickUp provides a few impressive features to customize the all-in-one project management tool to suit your team members, including the option for each user to choose one of three different ways to view their projects and tasks depending on individual preference. If your marketing team overlaps with sales, design, or development, this is an effective solution, as it provides features for all of those four teams.

Features include:

  • The ability to organize your projects based on priority, and assign tasks to groups
  • The option to set goals to remind teams what they’re aiming to accomplish
  • Google Calendar two-way sync
  • An easy way to filter, search, sorting, and customize options for managing specific tasks
  • Activity stream with mentions capability
  • Image mockups
  • 57 integrated apps

Cost: Free forever, with unlimited users and unlimited projects, and 100 MB of storage

65% of People Think Social Media Sites Should Remove This Content

Content moderation on social media sites remains a hotly-contested topic.

This year, congressional committees have held not one, but two hearings on the “filtering practices” of social media networks. And while some of these lawmakers begged the question, “Are networks suppressing content from one stream of thought or another?” — these days, there’s another big question in the ether.

Are social media companies responsible for the content published on their networks — especially when that content is factually incorrect?

65% of People Think Social Media Sites Should Remove This Content

The Current Climate

The above question arose at a recent hearing on foreign influence on social media platforms, where Senator Ron Wyden broached the topic of Section 230: a Provision of the 1996 Communication Decency Act that, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation describes it, shields web hosts from “legal claims arising from hosting information written by third parties.”

But those protections are speculated — including by Wyden himself — to be out-of-date, considering the evolution of content distribution channels online, and both the volume and nature of the content being shared on them.

That includes content pertaining to conspiracy theories, or that is otherwise factually incorrect.

The former has been top-of-mind for many in recent weeks, with the removal of accounts belonging to Alex Jones — a media host and conspiracy theorist who attempts to frame mass shootings and other tragedies as hoaxes — from Facebook, Apple, and YouTube. 

But what is the public opinion on the matter  — and to what extent do online audiences believe social media platforms are responsible for the presence of this content on their sites?

The Data

The Content Itself

We asked 646 internet users across the U.S., UK, and Canada: Do you think social networks should remove factually incorrect content, like conspiracy theories?

On average, 65% of respondents said yes, with the highest segment (67%) based in the UK.

Responses by Region (4)

Data collected with Lucid 

The Accounts and Users Sharing It

Then, we wanted to know how people felt about the moderation of the publishers of that content: the accounts and users distributing it or sharing it on social media.

We asked 647 internet users across the U.S., UK, and Canada: Do you think social networks should remove users or accounts that post factually incorrect content, like conspiracy theories?

On average, 65% of respondents said yes, with the highest segment (68%) based in the U.S.

Do you think social networks should remove users or accounts that post factually incorrect content, like conspiracy theories_ (1)

Responses by Region (5)

Data collected with Lucid

The Responses in Context

Conflicting Standards

Many point to a lack of transparency around the practice of content moderation as a major cause of certain networks’ inability to more quickly remove information and accounts of this nature.

In an interview with Recode‘s Kara Swisher, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered very little in terms of a tangible explanation of how the network decides what — and whom — is allowed to publish or be published on its site.

“As abhorrent as some of those examples are,” he said at the time, “I just don’t think that it is the right thing to say, ‘We’re going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times.'”

After Facebook later removed several Pages belonging to Jones, the company published a vague explanation of its criteria for removing these Pages.

As company executives have explained in the past, Pages and their admins receive a “strike” on every occasion that they publish content in violation of the network’s Community Standards. And once a certain number of strikes are received, the Page is unpublished entirely.

What Facebook will not say, however, is the strike threshold that must be reached before a page is unpublished. It remains mum, the statement says, because “we don’t want people to game the system, so we do not share the specific number of strikes that leads to a temporary block or permanent suspension.”

But that statement could suggest that, since the system is even able to be gamed, it’s possible that different Pages are given different thresholds, or that some more easily receive strikes than others.

The objectivity of content moderation remains a challenge. And despite Facebook’s publication of its Community Standards for public consumption, certain reports — like an undercover investigation from Channel 4 — indicate that content moderators are often given instructions that conflict with those very standards.

The Moderation Onus

There appears to be widespread phenomenon of social media networks downplaying their respective levels of responsibility, in terms of moderating this type of content.

While Facebook, Apple, and YouTube actively removed content from Jones and Infowars — which is said by some to be far from a sustainable solution — Twitter has allowed this content to remain on the platform, claiming that it’s not in violation of the network’s rules.

Twitter CEO Dorsey went so far as to place that responsibility not on the network, but on journalists, who he said should “document, validate, and refute” claims made by parties like Jones — which has actually been done repeatedly.

The timing of Dorsey’s statement is particularly curious, given the company’s recent selection of proposals to study its conversational and network health.

The inconsistent response by various platforms to content from and accounts belonging to Jones and Infowars point to flaws in the development and enforcement of community standards and rules. Where one network won’t reveal how many strikes until “you’re out,” another says targeted harassment isn’t tolerated on its site — and yet, dismisses many reports of it as non-violating.

“The differing approaches to Mr. Jones exposed how unevenly tech companies enforce their rules on hate speech and offensive content,” writes The New York Times. “When left to make their own decisions, the tech companies often struggle with their roles as the arbiters of speech and leave false information, upset users and confusing decisions in their wake.”

The Definition of a Corporation in Less Than 100 Words [FAQ]

Ever since the Great Recession, the word “corporate” has had a negative connotation. The leaders of major corporations dismantled the world economy during the events prior to the financial crisis, and the wreckage sparked harsh animosity toward big companies that had an “Inc.” at the end of their name.

But contrary to popular belief, corporations aren’t just made up of a bunch of unethical executives who wear thousand-dollar suits to work everyday. Corporations are actually legal entities of their own, separate from the people who run it.

Incorporating a business or organization is incredibly beneficial for owners, employees, and, ultimately, the economy. Some of these benefits include shareholder protection from corporate liquidation, tax benefits, raising capital more easily, establishing stronger credibility, and easily acquiring health and financial benefits for stakeholders.

If you want a more concrete understanding of a corporation, here’s a formal definition:

Since they aren’t dependent on anyone, corporations can outlive any of their owners and leaders, enabling them to exist indefinitely. This distinction also offers shareholders limited liability, which legally protects them from being held personally responsible for the corporation’s debts, if creditors sue the corporation for unpaid debt. Creditors can only collect the corporation’s debt payments by seizing and selling its assets.

Business Plan Template

Free Flowchart Templates for Word, PowerPoint, Google Doc, and Excel

There are plenty of reasons you might need a flowchart — for work, or your personal life.

Perhaps you want to find out which fictional boss you are, or decide where you should spend your next vacation. Or, maybe you need to create a flowchart to make hiring decisions, troubleshoot a new product, or outline the best strategy for your next marketing campaign.Whatever the reason, a flowchart will help you identify different steps you need to take to reach your objective, and outline pros and cons of each potential avenue. On the flip side, a flowchart can also help you recognize your root problem, by outlining the cause-and-effect of each step in a process.

Here, we’ve created basic flowchart templates for Word, Powerpoint, Google Docs, and Excel. While these templates can provide a foundation for your flowchart’s structure, you’ll need to tailor the text, arrows, and shapes to outline your own specific problem and possible solutions.

Flowchart Template for Word

Word Flowchart Template

Flowchart Template for Powerpoint

Powerpoint Flowchart

Flowchart Template for Google Docs

*Please clone the Google Doc template before using it.

Google Doc Flowchart Template

Flowchart Template for Excel

Excel Flowchart

download 195+ free design templates

 
HubSpot Academy

The 7 Most Useful Google Sheets Formulas

Lately, the best part of my day has been figuring out the cool new things I can do in Google Sheets — which, yes, definitely means I need to get out more, but also means I can share my favorite formulas with you.

How to Use Formulas for Google Sheets

  1. Double-click on the cell you want to enter the formula in. (If you want the formula for the entire row, this will probably be the first or second row in a column.)
  2. Type the equal (=) sign.
  3. Enter your formula. Depending on the data, Google Sheets might suggest a formula and/or range for you.

V-LOOKUP Google Sheets Formula

V-lookups, are by far, the most useful formula in your tool-kit when you’re working with large amounts of data. The V-lookup formula looks for a data point — like, say, a blog post title or URL — in one sheet, and returns a relevant piece of information for that data point — like monthly views or conversion rate in another sheet.

For example, if I want to see how much traffic a specific set of blog posts got, I’ll export a list from Google Analytics, then put that list in another tab and use the V-LOOKUP function to pull views by URL into the first tab.

The only caveat: The data point must exist in both cells, and it must in the first column of the second sheet.

Formula:

=VLOOKUP(search_criterion, array, index, sort_order)

Let’s walk through an example, which should make this a bit easier to understand.

In the first sheet, I have a list of blog posts, including their titles, URLs and monthly traffic. In the second sheet, I have a report from Google Analytics with average page load time by URL. I want to see if there’s any correlation between page speed and performance.

An example:

=VLOOKUP(A2,’GA Avg. Load Time’’!$1:$1000,2,FALSE)

IFERROR Google Sheets Formula

Any time you’re using a formula where more than 10% of the return values lead to errors, your spreadsheet starts to look really messy (see the above screenshot!).

To give you an idea, maybe you have two columns: one for page views and another for CTA clicks. You want to see the highest-converting pages, so you create a third column for page views divided by CTA clicks (or =B2/C2).

About one-third of your pages, however, don’t have any CTAs — so they haven’t gotten any clicks. This will show up as #VALUE! on your sheet, since you can’t divide by zero.

Using the IFERROR formula lets you replace the VALUE! Status with another value. I typically use a space (“ “) so the sheet is as clean as possible.

Here’s the formula:

=IFERROR(original_formula, value_if_error)

So for the above situation, my formula would be:

=IFERROR((B2/C2, “ “)

COUNTIF Google Sheets Formula

The COUNTIF formula tells you how many how many cells in a given range meet the criteria you’ve specified. With this up your sleeve, you’ll never have to manually count cells again.

Formula:

=COUNTIF(range, criterion)

Let’s say I’m curious how many blog posts received more than 1,000 views for this time period — I’d enter:

=COUNTIF(C2:C500,“>1000”)

Or maybe I want to see how many blog posts were written by Caroline Forsey. If the author was in Column D, my formula would be:

=COUNTIF(D2:D500, “Caroline Forsey”)

LEN Google Sheets Function

Have you noticed Google Analytics cuts off the “http://” or “https://” from every URL? This posed a major issue for me when I wanted to combine data from HubSpot and GA — the V-Lookup function wouldn’t work because the URLs weren’t identical (“https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing versus “blog.hubspot.com/marketing).

Luckily, there’s no need to manually change every URL. The LEN function lets you adapt the length of any string.

=LEFT(text,LEN(text)-n)

=RIGHT(text,LEN(text)-n)

So, let’s say the full URL is in column I. To remove the “https://” string and make it identical to the URL in the Google Analytics tab, I’d use:

=RIGHT(I2, LEN(I2)-8)

If you wanted to remove the last characters in a cell, you’d simply change RIGHT to LEFT.

Array Formula for Google Sheets

Rarely do you need to apply a formula to a single cell — you’re usually using it across a row or column. If you copy and paste a formula into a new cell, Google Sheets will automatically change it o reference the right cells; for example, if I enter =A2+B2 in cell C2, then drag the formula down to C3, the formula will become =A3+B3.

But there are a few drawbacks to this. First, if you’re working with a lot of data, having hundreds or thousands of formulas can make Google Sheets a lot slower. Second, if you change the formula — maybe now you want to see =A2*B2 instead — you have to make that change across every formula. Again, that’s time-consuming and requires a lot of processing power. And finally, the formula doesn’t automatically apply to new rows or columns.

An array formula solves these issues. It’s one formula, with one calculation, but the results are sorted into multiple rows or columns. Not only is this more efficient, but any changes will automatically apply to all your data.

ARRAYFORMULA(array_formula)

Let’s suppose I want to see how much non-paid traffic we’d gotten in March and April. That requires subtracting paid traffic from total (column D from column C) and then adding the totals together. Two separate formulas.

Or, I could use an array formula:

=ARRAYFORMULA(SUM(C2:C5-D2:D5)

The second part, SUM(C2:C5-D2:D5), should look somewhat familiar. It’s a traditional addition formula — but it’s applied to a range (cells C2 through C5 and D2 through D5) instead of individual cells.

The first part, =ARRAYFORMULA, tells Google Sheets we’re applying this formula to a range.

I could also use an array formula to look at the non-paid traffic specifically from updates (not new content) in March and April.

Here’s what that would look like:

=ARRAYFORMULA(SUM(C2,C4-D2,D4))

IMPORTRANGE Google Sheets Formula

I use to spend a ton of time (and processing power) manually copying huge amounts of data from one spreadsheet to another. Then I learned about this handy formula, which imports data from a separate Google Sheets spreadsheet.

Suppose our resident historical optimization expert Braden Becker sent me a spreadsheet of the content he updated last month. I want to add that data to a master spreadsheet of all the content (both new and historically optimized) we published. I’d use this formula:

IMPORTRANGE(spreadsheet_url, range_string)

Which would look like:

IMPORTRANGE(“https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/abcd123abcd123”, “Update Performance!A2:D100”)

How to Split Text in Google Sheets

Splitting text can be incredibly useful when you’re dealing with different versions of the same URLs.

To give you an idea, let’s suppose I’ve created a spreadsheet with every URL that received at least 300 views in January and February. I want to compare the two months to see which blog posts got more views over time, fewer, or around the same.

The problem is, if I do a V-LOOKUP between the two tabs, Google Sheets won’t recognize these as the same URLs:

https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/songs-for-maximum-motivation (regular URL)

https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/songs-for-maximum-motivation?utm_medium=paid_EN&utm_content=songs-for-maximum-motivation&utm_source=getpocket.com&utm_campaign=PocketPromotion (tracking URL)

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/create-infographics-with-free-powerpoint-templates (regular URL)

https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/create-infographics-with-free-powerpoint-templates?utm_medium=paid_EN&utm_content=create-infographics-with-free-powerpoint-templates&utm_source=getpocket.com&utm_campaign=PocketPromotion (tracking URL)

It would be awesome if I could get delete everything after the question mark in the tracking URLs so they matched the original ones.

That’s where the split text formula comes in.

=SPLIT(text, delimiter, [split_by_each], [remove_empty_text])

Text: The text you want to divide (can be a string of characters, such as https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/create-infographics-with-free-powerpoint-templates?utm_medium=paid_EN&utm_content=create-infographics-with-free-powerpoint-templates&utm_source=getpocket.com&utm_campaign=PocketPromotion, or a cell, like A2)

Delimiter: The characters you want to split the text around.

Split_by_each: Google Sheets considers each character in the delimiter to be separate. That means if you split your text by “utm”, it will split everything around the characters “u”,”t”, and “m”. Include FALSE in your formula to turn this setting off.

In the example above, here’s the formula I’d use to split the first part of the URL from the UTM code:

=SPLIT(A2,“?”)

The first part is now in Column B, and the UTM code is in Column C. I can simply delete everything in Column C, and run the V-LOOKUP on the URLs in Column B.

Alternatively, you can use Google Sheet’s “Split text to columns” feature. Highlight the range of data you want to split, then select “Data” > “Split text to columns.”

Now choose the character you want to delimit by: a colon, semicolon, period, space, or custom character. You can also opt for Google Sheets to figure out which character you want to split by (which it’s smart enough to do if your data is entered uniformly, e.g. every cell follows the same format) by choosing the first option, “detect automatically.”

I hope these Google Sheets formulas are helpful. If you have any other favorites, let me know on Twitter: @ajavuu.

How to Run a Marketing Campaign with GSuite

 
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Unriddled: Apple's Latest MacBook, Another Facebook Data Loophole, and More Tech News You Need

Welcome one, welcome all to another Wednesday: the day that marks the halfway point — almost — to the weekend.

As we find ourselves halfway through July and grasping tightly to the weeks of summer that remain, we know you don’t have a ton of time to devour news. So, in keeping with tradition — we’ll keep this week’s “Unriddled” quick.

It’s our Wednesday tech news roundup, and we’re breaking it down.

Unriddled: The Tech News You Need

1. Apple Releases a New Macbook Pro

Apple announced last week the latest release in its MacBook Pro lineup, calling it “the most advanced Mac notebook ever.” Among its news features, the company says, are faster computing, an improved Retina display, and the ability to prompt Apple’s voice assistant with verbal “Hey Siri” commands — and, according to some early users, a quieter keyboard. But there may be more beneath that (hushed) surface, with rumors floating that the subdued typing volume is actually a way of masking the manufacturer’s known keyboard reliability issues. Dieter Bohn of The Verge shares more first impressions. Read full story >>

2. Facebook Privacy Loophole Discovered in “Closed” Groups

CNBC reported last week that Facebook has closed a loophole that allowed the identities of members of closed, private groups on the platform to be scraped with the use of a Chrome browser plug-in. The issue was discovered when the moderator of a closed group came upon the Grouply.io browser extension, which allows third parties (like marketers) to harvest private member information like names, employers, and locations, among others. A Facebook spokesperson told CNBC that the extension has been shut down. Read full story >>

3. Uber Steps Up Its Background Checks

Uber is reinforcing its efforts around safety, telling Axios that it will now conduct ongoing background checks on drivers, rather than performing them on a one-time occasion. Partnering with background check provider Checkr and safety data company Appriss, this move is the latest of Uber’s efforts, largely under CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, to improve the company’s reputation, especially when it comes to rider safety. The announcement of these efforts was shortly followed by reports that the company is under investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for gender inequity. Read full story >>

4. The Tech Giants Go to Washington (Again)

Policy representatives from Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter appeared before the House Judiciary Committee in a hearing on social media filtering practices — the second one to take place this year. All three were facing allegations that they filter or suppress conservative content — but little of that particular topic was actually discussed during the hearing. Tony Romm of The Washington Post has more. Read full story >>

5. Twitter Follower Counts Drop

Following the previous week’s report that Twitter has been conducting sweeping account suspensions, the company announced last week that it would delete locked accounts from total user follower counts, causing many of them to drop. Read full story >>

6. The Genius Marketing of HQ Trivia

In the world of tech, it’s hard to go too long without hearing a reference to the HQ Trivia app. But what’s all the hype about — and what can we learn from its success? Read full story >>

That’s all for today. Until next week, feel free to weigh in on Twitter to ask us your tech news questions, or to let us know what kind of events and topics you’d like us to cover.

How to Block Websites on Chrome Desktop and Mobile

Let’s say you want to block certain websites, like Facebook or Pinterest, on your work computer to ensure those distractions aren’t inhibiting your productivity.

Or, maybe you just want to guarantee all Google searches aren’t available to your six-year-old.

Whatever the case, blocking a website on Chrome desktop or mobile is an easy and simple process. Best of all, it’s just as effortless to unblock those sites — so you can scroll through Pinterest, post-workday.

How to Block Websites on Chrome Desktop

  1. Go to the Block Site extension, and click “Add to Chrome”.

 

2. Click “Add extension” in the pop-up box.

3. You’ll see an icon at the top right of your Chrome screen — an orange shield with a circle and a diagonal line through the middle.

 

4. Let’s say you’re feeling a little bitter from a recent World Cup loss, and want to block sports’ sites for a while. Simply go to a website, click that orange shield icon in the top right, and click “Block this site”.

 

5. Now, you won’t be able to reach cbssports.com (or any other website you chose). You’ve successfully blocked it. To unblock the site, click “Edit your list” in the top right (or click the icon, and then click “Edit block sites list”).

 

6. Each of your blocked websites will have a “minus” icon to the right — click that minus button, and your site will be unblocked.

 

How to Block Websites on Chrome Mobile (Android)

If you often surf the web via Chrome on your Android, you might need to block certain websites to ensure increased productivity at all times of day. Here are six easy steps to block websites on your Android Chrome browser (or any Android browser):

  1. Open Google Play Store and install the BlockSite app.
  2. Open the downloaded BlockSite app.
  3. Click “Enable” to allow the app to block websites.
  4. Click “Got it” — this will take you to your Accessibility settings.
  5. Select “BlockSite” and turn the switch from “OFF” to “ON”. Then click “OK” in the pop-up window.
  6. Click the “+” button in the bottom right.
  7. Enter any websites you want to block and click the check mark in the top right corner.

How to Block Websites on iOS Devices

There are a few apps in the app store that allow you to block websites on your iOS device. Here are two options with similar functions:

  1. Zero Willpower: This app is $1.99, and lets you create an easy list of all websites you want to block from Safari on your iPhone. Even better, there’s a timer, so you can block a website for a limited period of time.
  2. Site Blocker: Similar to Zero Willpower, Site Blocker lets you block distracting or unwanted websites on Safari on an iOS device, and includes a timer and suggestions as well. This app is free.

Now you’re all set to block distracting websites from your Chrome browser on desktop or Android. If you find you’re still struggling with productivity, take a look at our Ultimate Guide to the Best Productivity Apps.

The 8 Essential Management Skills You Need to Lead a Successful Team

Last week, on the Fourth of July, I was feeling rather patriotic, so I decided to binge watch the HBO classic Band of Brothers. The critically acclaimed mini-series takes place in Europe during World War II, recounting Major Richard Winters’ leadership of Easy Company from a grueling boot camp to the invasion of Normandy and on to the end of the war. The series is a touching tribute to these brave soldiers, and in my humble opinion, it deserves all seven of the Emmys it won.

But if there’s one thing I’ll remember about this show, it’s a scene that’s only three minutes long: Major Winters orders an ambush on Axis soldiers who are resting in an embankment across a field from them. But before his soldiers can charge, he tosses a smoke grenade and bolts across the field alone. He wanted the Axis to target him before they could target his men.

Major Winters was willing to sacrifice his own life to preserve his company’s, and his courage and selflessness remind military leaders everywhere that you should serve others before you serve yourself. If you lead a team at work, this scene will also resonate with you — your job is to help your people succeed and achieve their goals.

But being a great leader isn’t something you can easily pick up and just start doing. Like any other skill, you have to work on it. So before you start channeling your inner Major Winters, here are eight management skills you need to learn to lead a team toward success.

The 8 Essential Management Skills You Need to Lead a Successful Team

1. You make your people feel safe at work.

Major Winters was an easy leader to follow because he always trekked into danger first, fought for his men, and did everything he could to protect them. He absorbed most of the risk so his men had a better chance of survival. And they respected and revered him for it.

Great leaders are always willing to protect their people, even if it means sacrificing their own interests, comfort, and a good metric or two. They want their people to feel safe at work. They want them to always know that they won’t get chewed out or lose their job if they fail. Their people know they can grow from these failures. And this results in a higher level of trust and cooperation.

When a leader risks and sacrifices herself to protect and improve her people, they’re willing to move mountains for her. Why? Because they know she’s already doing the same for them.

2. You can change your mind.

Even the smartest people get things wrong. But what seperates a good leader from a great one is the ability to admit that they’re wrong and change course in light of new information. Unfortunately, a lot of leaders won’t change their minds, even if it’s the right choice, because they don’t want to seem weak. Others have too much pride to admit that they’ve made a mistake. They’d rather pull rank and remind their subordinates that they’re in charge.

But admitting you were wrong requires a lot more strength than sticking to something that hurts your team or company, just because you’ve invested a lot of time and effort into it. For instance, Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, a company that provides open-source software products, decided to go to market without integrating a newly acquired product into one of their new technologies in 2008. He didn’t want to spend three months rewriting code and making it open source. But he soon discovered that he had made a huge mistake: Red Hat’s associates and customers didn’t like using the product. And the only move the company could make was to rewrite the code. It would push them a year behind schedule.

The delay angered and frustrated his employees, and most of them thought Whitehurst wasn’t competent enough to run the business. But instead of blaming the issue on external factors, Whitehurst blamed himself. He owned up to his mistake and told the company why he made his decision. They then understood the rationale behind his decision. Not long after, many of his employees told him how much they appreciated his honesty and that he changed his mind about their go-to-market strategy. And that’s what ultimately earned him back their trust and support.

3. You understand the importance of team bonding.

Sometimes, team outings can feel like a forced way to bond — kind of like the annual Christmas get-together with your cousins growing up — but after a slightly awkward beginning of the night, you’re having a great time. And by the end of the night, you don’t really want to go home.

Solving an escape room or participating in a scavenger hunt can contribute to this fun, but most of it stems from bonding with your team on a personal level and learning about each others’ personal stories.

Sharing stories and having positive social experiences is the best way for a leader to develop trust with their team. Both of these things trigger the release of oxytocin, the hormone that helps us empathize with people, and it prompts us to help, relate, and care about others in the same way we do for our families. In other words, it’s the best way connect.

Having genuine conversations about what you and your team are passionate about, your lifestyle, and career motivations will break down barriers and build your team’s trust with each other and you, their leader. And this personal trust is what you need from your team to passionately support your overall mission and purpose.

4. You’re empathetic.

Every good leader should be able to be empathetic, right? Well, according to two Canadian neuroscientists, the higher you climb the corporate ladder, the harder it is to feel empathetic.

The part of your brain that triggers empathy is the mirror system. And whenever you see a person do something, it activates the thoughts and intentions that spark when you do the same exact thing. This helps you understand what motivates that person’s actions. But when you hold power over others, like in most leadership roles, the mirror system isn’t very stimulated, making it harder to place yourself inside other people’s shoes.

To stay on the same level as your team, consider trying a management technique called perspective-taking. If your colleague says something that frustrates you, take a step back and ask yourself why they took that position. How do they feel? Where is this perspective coming from? If you were in their role before, try to remember what it was like doing their job. Think back to your biggest fears and challenges. What made you feel threatened or insecure? Ultimately, perspective-taking will allow you to understand the root cause of your team’s problems and help solve for them.

5. You challenge your team.

During the 1988-89 NHL hockey season, Brett Hull led the St. Louis Blues with 41 goals scored. And after the season ended, he walked into his exit meeting with his head coach, Brian Sutter, expecting nothing but praise. But Coach Sutter didn’t give him any praise at all. In fact, he told Hull he needed to get better. Hull had the potential to be one of the greatest hockey players to ever live, but he could only be a Hall of Famer if he improved his work ethic. The next season, Hull arrived to St. Louis in the best shape of his life. And he almost doubled the number of goals he scored, with 72. The season after that he scored 86 goals. Hull was eventually inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame, and it’s all thanks to a coach who pushed him to train and perform at his best.

Like Brett Hull, everyone on your team can level up. Even your top performers. And to help them enhance their work ethic and skill set, push them to reach their potential and let them handle their own projects. They’ll be grateful for your guidance at the end of the day.

6. You don’t let your emotions influence your decision making.

Great leaders do what’s right, even if it causes a great deal of emotional pain. If they need to let someone go, even if they personally like them, they let them go. When they need to give constructive criticism to someone, even if they don’t want to hurt their feelings, they tell them what they need to improve on. The easy way out never pays off in the long term, and great leaders can blast through any anxiety or discomfort to do what’s best for their team.

7. You’re transparent.

Great leaders trust their people, especially with information. They know their team can sense problems in the organization. And since humans have a psychological bias that makes them more scared of ambiguity than risk, they make sure to provide as much information as possible about the issue and clearly communicate that they’re doing everything they can to resolve it.

Keeping things under wraps will only make their team feel anxious and unsafe — if they know something’s wrong, and they know their leader hasn’t disclosed all the information, they’ll ruminate about the worst possible outcome. And this is likely to scare the leader’s team and make them lose trust in him.

8. You acknowledge and appreciate your top performers.

As a leader, you must know how to make your team feel valued. It’s one of the most important emotional needs to meet. If you don’t, your team will feel unhappy at work — failing to recognize employees is one of the most common causes of employee dissatisfaction. To make them feel important to the team, happier, and incentivize them to keep improving, recognize and reward your employees for their accomplishments. You can does this in front of their peers, one on one, or even on Slack. This is also a way to inspire other members of your team to improve and earn recognition too.

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Scooter-Sharing Is a Big Deal. There's Just One Problem: No One's Heard of It

Everything old is new again. 

That’s so often the case with fashion, movies, and other key elements of pop culture. And now, it’s true of the modes of transportation we use to get around — in some cities, anyway.

When I was in San Francisco in April, it seemed that — in nearly an instant — everyone was talking about electric scooters and the new system of sharing them: scooter-sharing. 

My fellow tech reporters were tweeting jokes about their popularity. Abandoned, unreturned scooters were strewn about sidewalks throughout the city, many residents still trying to figure out how they ended up there, or what purpose they even served.

Nevertheless, this mode of transportation — which many of us haven’t considered since before we had driver’s licenses — has been on the minds of Silicon Valley professionals. Among them are investors, who are leading to the valuation of some of the companies behind electric scooters to reach the billions.

But if you haven’t heard about this new transportation trend — despite its popularity — surely, you’re not alone. (That’s what our research shows, anyway.) Allow us to enlighten you, and figure out if (or how) scooter-sharing will go mainstream.

Will Scooter-Sharing Be the Next Uber? Maybe, Once People Hear of It

What Is Scooter-Sharing?

The concept of scooter-sharing is comparable to the models of Uber, Zipcar, or city bike rental programs. With scooter-sharing, electric scooters are available to rent for short-term periods, and some of the companies behind them — like Lime — offer similar systems for traditional bicycle rentals. 

Equally similar to ride-sharing systems like Uber and Lyft, most scooter-sharing also requires an app through which users can unlock a scooter for a ride by scanning a QR code on the handles. Here’s what it looks like on Lime (since Lime-S, its scooter-sharing service, isn’t available in Boston yet, I was obligated to pretend-scan a plant on my desk.)

 IMG_2172

Scooter-sharing companies, at least in San Francisco, are currently stuck in what Megan Rose Dickey of TechCrunch calls “a bit of a legal gray area” — they aren’t fully regulated, though they’ve faced issues in cities like Indianapolis and Honolulu, and  the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is looking to create some sort of legislation that would formalize how these companies operate within the city.

Some companies appear to have rules, however, such as requiring a helmet or a valid driver’s license to operate the scooter, the latter of which is a traffic law. (When I downloaded both Lime and Bird, I wasn’t asked to provide proof of a valid driver’s license, though I also didn’t get to the point of fully unlocking a scooter.)

Bird asks users to bring their own helmets, while Lime provides the option to purchase one from the company — though, again, it’s unclear how either verifies that the rider is following that guideline.

IMG_2174 IMG_2170 IMG_2175

The (Un)Awareness of Scooter-Sharing

Several arguments have been made in favor of scooter-sharing permeating the market. It’s been advertised as an alternative to automobile use, as Lime’s own data indicates that 60% of users said their Lime-S ride replaced a trip that would have otherwise been by car — personal, rideshare, or taxi.

And while scooter-sharing’s relationship with public transportation is up for debate, it appears as though this newer mode of transportation might complement bus or subway systems. That same data from Lime also indicates 40% of users got to or from public transit stations on one of its scooters.

electric-scooters-in-san-francisco-6

electric-scooters-in-san-francisco-5

Source: Lime

It’s worth mentioning that Lime’s survey sample was 7,000 scooter riders in San Francisco — for context, that’s about .08% of the city’s population, which has placed a market cap of 1,250 Lime-S scooters (which 93.8% of the company’s survey respondents said was too few).

But outside of this tech-centric metropolis, what do people think of scooter-sharing? According to our data, most haven’t really heard of it.

090a6ebd-0d92-415b-a41f-32b60192607b

This data raises the question: Can scooter-sharing go mainstream, and if it can, how will it get there?

The Sustainability of Scooter-Sharing

Here’s the thing about ride-sharing systems that use traditional automobiles: They’re complicated.

Lyft, for instance, has communicated an intention of reducing car ownership overall by making its services more widespread. That can have several implications for the environment, city planning, aging populations, and others who drive less for a number of reasons.

But Christina Bonnington of Slate points out a bit of a contraction there: Although “250,000 Lyft users abandoned vehicle ownership in favor of ride-sharing, and half of its users reported driving less frequently now … the company put 520,000 additional drivers on the streets” in 2017.

How good that is for the environment is up for debate.

That’s where the impact of bike- and scooter-sharing programs come in. The scooters run on battery power, eliminating any fossil fuel emissions. As for bicycles — well, they’ve been known as one of the eco-friendliest and healthiest modes of transportation for years.

The same could soon be said of traveling by scooter. Lime, for its part, reports that more than 250,000 trips have been taken on its scooters since its San Francisco launch, which translates to an “offset in airborne pollutants … equivalent to 280,389 lbs CO2 saved.”

And while it might not be a vigorous cardiovascular workout, it could be argued that it’s still healthier than a mode of transportation where the commuter is largely sitting — whether that’s in a car, bus, or subway train.

But just as many emerging transportation trends before it — like ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles (the second of which is still in it earliest days) — there are safety concerns to consider alongside the benefits. Scooter riders still need to share the road with cars (riding on sidewalks is discouraged), and as I mentioned earlier, the enforcement of the helmet requirement is ambiguous.

If I had to predict scooter-sharing’s viability, I would specifically point out how, historically, transportation and related safety concerns have evolved. Automobiles, for example, didn’t always have seatbelts. Once upon a time, helmet laws for traditional bike riders didn’t exist. And as for ride-sharing, we’re watching it continue to iron out its kinks in real time.

But have a look at the progression of user numbers within the ride-sharing industry since 2016 — and where it’s expected to go by 2022. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 2.56.03 PM

Source: Statisa

When Uber first emerged in 2009, it was nearly unheard of — especially on the east coast. There were few drivers. The idea seemed like a radical novelty. And getting a ride took, if I remember correctly, at least 20 minutes before the car arrived.

At present, scooter-sharing appears to be at a similar point. There appears to be some lack of awareness around it, as well as accessibility — the service is in its earliest stages and is only available in a limited number of cities.

Despite this lack of awareness, investors have taken note.

Take Lime, for instance, which recently received a direct investment from Alphabet (Google’s parent company) — which is part of a bigger $300 million funding round. That round also includes GV — Alphabet’s investment arm — which was also an earlier investor in Uber.

Are we seeing a pattern yet?

Whether good or bad, the concept of scooter-sharing raises eyebrows — and could be here to stay. Let’s watch, and see where this new, niche ride takes us.

How to Find Out Why You Didn’t Get the Job

You send in a stellar resume. You blow the recruiter away in the phone screen. And you wow everyone you speak with during your in-person interview. And yet, you still don’t get the job. Worst of all, you don’t know why you didn’t get it — you either didn’t hear back at all, or received feedback so vague that it’s virtually useless (e.g. “We decided to go with another candidate who was a better fit.”) Is there anything worse?

It’s incredibly frustrating when a recruiter or hiring manager doesn’t share a concrete reason why you were passed over, but if it happens to you, don’t worry. Often, there’s still a way to figure out what went wrong — here’s how.

1. Reach Out to the Decision Maker

If you have the contact info of the hiring manager, it’s best to chat with them rather than a recruiter or HR representative, says Ren Burgett, career coach and owner of 3R Coach.

“An HR manager or recruiter is more likely to give you a programmed HR response such as, ‘We found a candidate that was a better fit for our needs.’ The hiring manager is more likely to give you a candid response,” she explains.

If you haven’t already been in touch with the hiring manager, though, you may want to reach out to someone who can point them in your direction.

“If you don’t have their contact details, you need to get in touch with whoever your point of contact was throughout the recruitment process. Even if they can’t provide feedback themselves, they will be able to pass your query onto someone who can,” says Steve Pritchard, HR Manager at Cuuver.com.

When you haven’t been given the hiring manager’s contact information, it can be tempting to bypass your point of contact and look them up on LinkedIn or Google their email address, but this is a mistake, Pritchard says: “They may not feel too comfortable with you contacting them using a number/email they didn’t provide you with.”

2. Express Gratitude

Nobody wants to engage with a candidate who sounds demanding or presumptuous, so make sure to open your message with a note of thanks.

“Thanking someone for [taking the] time to interview you and provide the opportunity can always start the conversation in a positive manner,” says Shanalee Sharboneau, President and Technical Recruiter at Staffing Science, LLC.

In particular, you should express gratitude for the fact that they are going out of their way to read your note. After all, they don’t have to share feedback with you.

“Show in your request for feedback that you appreciate the recruiter or hiring manager is likely to be busy. This way, you don’t sound too pushy or demanding,” Pritchard adds.

3. Be Positive

You may be upset that you didn’t get the job, but remember: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. It’s okay to acknowledge that you’re disappointed with the outcome, but don’t express resentment or aggression.

Show “that you are understanding of their decision not to hire you, otherwise, you may sound bitter about not getting the job rather than someone looking for honest feedback to help them with their job search,” Pritchard continues.

And instead of taking a self-deprecating approach like “How did I screw up” or “Where did I go wrong”, frame the conversation as a quest for personal growth.

“Don’t make your question about ‘why’ you didn’t get the job, make your question about ‘how’ you can improve. People are more likely to respond to someone that seeks out growth as opposed to someone that just wants answers,” Burgett says.

4. Keep it Short and Specific

When reaching out for feedback, “make your email no more than one paragraph,” Burgett recommends. After all, they are probably plenty busy with their day-to-day tasks, so you want to make sure to honor their time.

You can save them even more time by avoiding general questions like “Why didn’t I get the job?” and instead drilling down into a few precise issues. Burgett recommends including “two to three specific questions [that] you would like feedback on from the interview process.”

One question that Laura Handrick, Career Analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com, recommends asking is “what might you have done, said or provided differently that would have made the company choose YOU instead of the other candidate.”

5. Open the Door for Future Opportunities

Just because you were rejected from a job doesn’t always mean that you can never apply there again — you may have been a close second. At the end of your message, reiterate your interest in the company (if you are truly interested) and consider adding something like “if anything changes, I’d love to connect regarding future opportunities.”

“That will go far, and many times, new hires fail in the first few months. They’ll remember your graciousness,” Handrick says.

You can also see if they might be willing to refer you to another opportunity.

“Always end the email by asking if they know of anyone else you can reach out to as you continue your job search. If you didn’t get the job, perhaps you can get a lead [for] another job. Use this as an opportunity to network,” Burgett says.

6. Be Patient and Ready to Take No for an Answer

If the person you reach out to fails to respond, don’t ping them every day until they do.

“Giving feedback, particularly constructive feedback, is hard, so allowing time for preparing will likely get you more thoughtful responses,” points out Dr. Dawn Graham, Career Management Director at the Wharton School and host of Career Talk.

Even if they never respond, you shouldn’t pester them, Graham adds.

“Companies tend to avoid giving candidates feedback to avoid opening themselves up to risk,” she explains. “In addition, many hirers have trouble putting their fingers on a clear definition of ‘fit’ or likability, which are two powerful aspects of hiring decisions that can be challenging to put into words. Therefore, they may pass on giving feedback to a rejected job seeker for the sheer reason that even they are unable to verbalize their final decision in a way that will be meaningful to the overlooked applicant.”

Sample Message

Want an example of what exactly you could say to a hiring manager? Burgett recommends the following:

Hi (Hiring Manager),

I wanted to thank you for the amazing opportunity to interview for the position of (job title) with your company. I really enjoyed learning about (company name) and getting to know you and your team during the interview process. I understand you have decided to move forward with another candidate that better fits your current needs.

As I continue my job search, I would love to get your feedback on how I can improve as a candidate. When you have a minute, could you provide insight into what I can improve upon to help me stand out and progress in my career? Specifically, I would appreciate feedback on the following:

1. What is the one skill I can improve upon to help advance my career that may be holding me back?

2. If I had the opportunity to redo my interview, what is the one thing I should have done differently?

I appreciate any candid feedback you can offer as it will help me understand the areas I need to improve. Additionally, if you know of any companies that may be hiring for similar positions or anyone else I should reach out to as I continue my job search, please let me know.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to interview for the position. I wish you and your team continued success.

Sincerely,

Your Name

There’s no doubt that getting rejected from a job you were interested in is upsetting, and it can be doubly so if you don’t hear actionable feedback from the hiring team. But odds are, it’s nothing personal, so try not to take it that way. And remember — the right job is out there. It’s only a matter of time until you find it.

This article originally appeared on Glassdoor and was re-published with permission.

29 Simple Ways to Grow Your Email List

I have some bad news: Your email marketing database degrades by about 22.5% every year.

Your contacts’ email addresses change as they move from one company to another, opt-out of your email communication, or abandon that old AOL address they only use to fill out forms on websites.

As a marketer, it’s your job to make sure you’re constantly adding fresh contacts to your email marketing campaigns so you can keep your numbers moving up and to the right. (But not by purchasing email lists — learn why you should never buy an email list in this post.)

If you’re not working on building your email list already, or you’ve run out of ideas to do so, here are 29 simple ways to grow that email list.

29 Creative List Building Techniques

Using Email

1. Create remarkable email content

Your content needs to be amazing if you want people to stay subscribed and forward your emails to their own network. If it’s entertaining enough, they’ll always look forward to your emails.

2. Encourage subscribers to share and forward your emails

Include social sharing buttons and an “Email to a Friend” button in your marketing emails. That way, you’ll gain access to their friends, colleagues, and networks and expand your contact list. At the bottom of your emails, include a “Subscribe” CTA as a simple text-based link so that the people receiving the forwarded emails can easily opt-in, too.

3. Segment your email lists by buyer persona

Use varying types of email subscriptions to send more targeted content to specific segments of your marketing personas. Email recipients are more likely to click through emails that cater to their specific interests, so if you create multiple, targeted subscription types, you’ll increase the chance that visitors will subscribe to one of them.

4. Reinvigorate a stale email list with an opt-in campaign

Do you have an older list that you suspect has mostly decayed? Create an engaging opt-in message and send it to your old list encouraging contacts who wish to re-opt-in — promising to remove all contacts who don’t respond. Though it might seem counterintuitive to remove folks from your email lists in order to grow them, emailing only engaged contacts could improve your deliverability and increase the odds of your email getting shared with those outside your current contacts database.

5. Add a link to your employees’ signatures

Hyperlinked email signatures can lead people to a landing page where they can sign up for your mailing list. Plus, if you’re already in a natural email conversation with them, subscribing to more emails can be a natural next step.

With New Content

6. Create a new lead-generation offer 

Develop a free ebook or whitepaper and host it on a landing page that asks visitors to provide their email address in order to download it. This is called a “gated offer.” (Need ideas? This blog post lists 23 ways to create lead-generation content quickly and easily.)

7. Create a free online tool or resource

Free online tools make your users’ lives easier, and all they have to do is sign up with their email address. For example, we’ve created quite a few free tools, like Marketing Grader, to gather email addresses.

8. Create ‘Bonus’ Content

Not all gated content is worth it to a website visitor. In order to gain their interest, you need to give them free content first. Start with a blog post that offers beginner advice on a subject, then offer “bonus” content with more advanced tips that they can access by submitting their email address via a landing page.

Using Social Media

9. Promote an online contest

Use your social media accounts to host a free giveaway in exchange for contact information. Encourage entrants to click through to your website and sign up using their email address. 

10. Promote one of your lead-gen offers on Twitter

Create a Twitter campaign to promote an ebook or a free resource to your followers that requires an email address to redeem. 

11. Promote an offer through Facebook that requires an email address

Promote content on your Facebook Timeline that your followers can sign up to access. Be sure to add social sharing buttons to the landing pages and thank-you pages you send them to so you encourage your leads to share those offers with their own networks.

12. Add a call-to-action button to the top of your Facebook Business Page

We added calls-to-action (CTAs) on our Facebook page for HubSpot Academy below. The value in this list building technique is in the destination: Link your Facebook page’s CTA button to a landing page that requires an email address for access to a special resource.

Facebook business page for HubSpot Academy with Sign Up button for email list building

13. Publish links to gated offers via social media

Use your Facebook Business page or LinkedIn Company Page to post links to the same gated offers you might also host on your blog posts. You can also do this in appropriate and relevant LinkedIn group discussions — just be mindful of the topic being discussed to ensure your offer is a welcome addition to the conversation.

14. Use Pinterest to promote gated visual content

Pinterest can play host to visual content that encourages visitors to sign up to see more content. For example, HubSpot created a Pinterest board where we pin the well-designed covers of our marketing ebooks. From this board, we’ve been able to generate new leads and grow our email list.

hubspot-ebooks-pinterest

15. Add engagement features to your YouTube channel

Add hyperlinked “end cards” to your YouTube videos that encourage people to subscribe to your channel via their email address. You can see an example of this below, to the bottom right of the video screen. You can also include links to relevant landing pages in your videos’ text captions below your published video.

End card on HubSpot YouTube video for email list building

On Your Website

16. Ask website visitors for feedback

People enjoy offering feedback on information that pertains to them. On certain pages of your website, include a form that asks visitors what questions they might have about your business. You might also create a live chat tool that invites questions and email addresses from people who have stayed on your website for a certain amount of time.

17. Shorten the length of your lead-capturing forms

It’s tempting to collect as much information on a user as possible right away, but adding too many fields to your landing pages and lead-capturing forms can actually scare people off. Reduce the length of your forms to just two to three fields — you can collect more information from them once you start a conversation.

18. Link to offers across your website that capture email signups

Don’t make people dig around your site to stumble across subscription options. Keep your offers up front, and include calls-to-action on multiple pages of your website. Some key places to consider include your website’s homepage, your ‘About Us’ page, and your ‘Contact Us’ page.

19. A/B test different campaign copy

You might be doing all the right things to generate leads — landing pages, gated content, contests, and more. The problem might be that the design or copy itself isn’t driving the engagement you need. A/B test (also known as “split test”) different aspects of your list-building campaigns with different versions of the same content. This includes the call-to-action text, the color of the gated offer, the time of day you’re posting to social media, and even where on your website these signup forms are placed. Sometimes a small change can drive hundreds more conversions.

20. Create a blog that readers can subscribe to

If you don’t already blog, you should! Blog posts help you increase your ranking on search engines like Google, and allow you collect blog subscribers that you can then upgrade to more actionable email campaigns over time.

21. Guest blog for other websites with a call-to-action

There are tons of websites and publishers out there that cater to your audience — and larger portions of it. Guest blogging for these websites helps you expand your contact list to this audience. When creating content as a guest blogger for another website, include a call-to-action, as well as a link in you author byline, for readers to subscribe to your site’s blog or email newsletter.

22. Include customer reviews on your website and landing pages

Customer reviews are the “social proof” that encourages people to join in on something. It’s one thing for you to tell people to sign up for a campaign, but it’s another thing for your happiest customers to say it too. Publish your best reviews from communities like Yelp right to your website. This adds genuine value to your landing pages when people are on the fence about submitting their contact information. 

With a Partner

23. Run a promotion on a partner website or email newsletter

Similar to guest blogging, partner websites can allow you to target a new but appropriate audience with a campaign on your own website. Use this partner source to direct visitors back to your website — where you’re already collecting email addresses.

24. Host a co-marketing offer with a partner 

Creating an ebook or webinar with a partner can split up the work of content creation and allow you to share the audience of a similar business. After you release your content, split the leads you generate with your partner.

With Traditional Marketing

25. Collect email addresses at a trade show 

Offline events like trade shows are highly anticipated growth opportunities for professionals in your industry. Demo your latest product at an appropriate conference and collect signups in-person. Once you’re back at the office, import these signups into your contact database. Be sure to send these contacts a welcome email that confirms their opt-in to your list. (See #8 in this blog post for tips on sending welcome emails.)

26. Host your own offline, in-person events

Meetups, seminars, hackathons, educational panels, and even your own conferences put you front and center of a networking event, and those who attend are often more qualified to be contacted because they came to your event. Take the opportunity to collect email addresses in exchange for the info and demos you provide at the event.

27. Host an online webinar

Webinars are the perfect opportunity to talk about your industry and access the audience of thought leaders whom you might want to present with. The best part? Webinars are normally registered for via email, making your listeners more willing to be contacted afterward. Collect email addresses at registration.

28. Add QR codes to your display ads

Incorporate a QR code into your print marketing collateral that people can scan for more information on the printed content. Create the QR code such that it requires an email address to access the additional content. (There are many free QR code makers online that make this process easy.)

29. Collect emails in your store

If you have a brick-and-mortar presence where you interact with customers face-to-face, create an email campaign just for those walk-ins. Launch a store membership they can sign up for via email at the register. This is a smart way to keep in touch with repeat customers and reward their loyalty to your product.

These are all examples of things you can start doing today to increase your business’ email database. Many of them are not complicated or difficult to implement. The key is to attack email list-building from as many angles as possible.

As you grow your email list with fresh, opt-in contacts, you’ll be able to nurture them with middle-of-the-funnel offers that allow you to convert early-stage leads into sales-ready leads.

lead flows

 
Free Download Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing

The Best Coworking Office Spaces in Australia

It’s fair to say that Australia is one of the best places in the world to start a business, boasting a thriving tech industry and an entrepreneurial edge. But starting your own business comes with a ton of expenses — and one of the biggest is finding office space to work your magic in.

The good news is that you can vastly reduce this expense by opting to use one of Australia’s many coworking spaces, where you’ll also benefit from being in the midst of like-minded people who are willing to share ideas. (Not to mention, many of these spaces also offer free coffee!)

Sydney and Melbourne are two of the most active startup hubs in Australia, so we’ve put together a list of the best coworking spaces in each to help you find a space that works for you:

Sydney Coworking Spaces

  1. Fishburners
  2. Tank Stream Labs
  3. Spaces
  4. Hub Sydney
  5. Stone and Chalk

The Best Coworking Spaces in Australia

1. Fishburners

Image Source: Fishburners

Fishburners have locations in Sydney, Melbourne and Shangai, with the Sydney office alone boasting almost 300 companies working out of their space, as well as 500 visitors entering the premises each week. Fishburners also offers some handy perks such as free coffee and Red Bull, as well as a thriving community environment.

Pricing varies depending on the type of membership you choose, but you can take a free tour of Fishburners to get a feel for what membership package would best suit your needs. A huge bonus of joining Fishburners is that you get access to all of their locations mentioned above, regardless of your membership type.

2. Tank Stream Labs

Image Source: Tank Stream Labs

Tank Stream Labs (or TSL to those who know it well) bills itself as a “tech-focused, coworking community for startups and scaleups, with a global focus”. And it’s safe to say that they live up to that billing, with two offices in Sydney that house companies like Buzzfeed, Ashop, and formerly, GoDaddy. TSL also has a large community, with over 400 startups on the books in total and more than $300m raised to date by its members.

3. Spaces

Image Source: Spaces

Landing in Sydney’s Surry Hills from Amsterdam in 2016, Spaces offers 222 coworking desks to choose from, as well as three private meeting rooms. Spaces also provides a virtual office package that gives you access to a private office at Spaces locations for five days a month. If you’re not sure if Spaces is for you, they offer a free one-day trial so you can test their facilities out without dropping a cent.

Image Source: Startup Scene Australia

3. Hub Sydney

After originally opening a single office in Sydney’s William Street in 2013, Hub Sydney has now opened a second office located at Hyde Park in 2018. They offer day passes if you’re only passing through Sydney, or monthly memberships if you’d like a longer stay. Like Fishburners, you’ll get access to any of Hub Sydney’s other locations once you join the community. This means you can set up camp in places like Melbourne, London, Singapore, New York and Santa Monica.

Image Source: The Founder Lab

Based in Sydney’s Winyard Green, Stone and Chalk entered Australia as Asia’s largest Fintech coworking space, and it’s growing fast. It’s secured some impressive partners in Australia already, with the likes of NAB, HSBC and Suncorp amongst the many listed as corporate partners. Stone and Chalk also host regular in-office events with guest speakers from companies like Ernst and Young and Westpac.

Melbourne Coworking Spaces

  1. Framework
  2. Inspire9
  3. The Commons
  4. Hive Studio
  5. The Cluster

1. Framework

Image Source: Creative Spaces

Framework is one of the smaller coworking spaces on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. They’re based on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD with a tight-knit community of designers, developers, videographers, copywriters, marketing professionals and everything in between. Framework’s aim is to foster a social, professional and collaborative environment to nurture small business growth — you can even take the space for a test drive before making a decision.

2. Inspire9

Image Source: Creative Spaces

In business since 2011, Inspire9 is well known in the Melbourne startup community and has offices in both Richmond and Footscray. Like others on this list, Inspire9 holds regular in-office events and promote a strong focus on a collaborative environment between members. They’ve got packages to suit all needs, including daily and weekly passes, as well as a 24/7 residency package for the workaholics among us.

3. The Commons

Image Source: Creative Spaces

The Commons is one of the largest coworking spaces in Australia, with Eventbrite, Yeti and Almo among its members. The Commons has offices in Cremorne, South Melbourne and Collingwood, and offers a host of membership packages, including a customised private office. They’ve even got a photo studio and green screen if you need to get creative and save on the cost of a photo studio

Image Source: Hive Studio

4. Hive Studio

Located in Collingwood, Hive Studio offers a boutique workspace for small startup businesses, focusing on a community atmosphere and shared creative-minded environment. Depending on your needs, Hive Studio offers both desk space and office space, where you can rent up to seven desks in your own, lockable mini office. Pricing is also all-inclusive, so no hidden costs.

Image Source: Spacely

5. The Cluster

This is one of the best equipped coworking spaces on the list, with no less than six multimedia meeting rooms and 2,500m squared of hightech office space that overlooks the Yarra River in Melbourne’s CBD. They offer a multitude of packages including flexi desks and private offices, while also providing a call answering service as part of their higher-end packages. Members of The Cluster include Amaysim, Mexia and Point Advisory.

Those are, in my opinion, some of the best coworking spaces you’re likely to find. But, there’s a plethora of others available if none of these suit your needs. If you’re in the process of starting your own business in Australia and aren’t quite sure what you have to do next, you can also take a look at this handy checklist to help you tick off the main items on your list.

This Strategy Helped the HubSpot Blog Break a Year-Long Traffic Plateau

Presiding over a 10+ year old blog has a lot of unique challenges. There are some days when it seems like we’ve covered all there is to cover, and others when it doesn’t seem like we can possibly keep up with changing trends and technologies fast enough.

From where you sit, it might seem like we’ve figured it all out — we’re one of the largest and most visited B2B blogs on the internet, we have a team of extremely talented and motivated staff writers, and we still manage to find new stories you want to read on a daily basis.

But growth doesn’t just happen — you have to work at it, and then keep working at it.

There isn’t one magical strategy that will keep your blog growing forever. Your approach needs to constantly evolve to fit your changing needs as a property.

When I joined the HubSpot Blog team in 2016, our editorial strategy looked drastically different than it does now.

About once a month, our entire team would gather in a conference room for a brainstorm session. Armed with coffee and spreadsheets full of topic pitches, we’d spend a few hours going around the room, discussing what we wanted to cover for the month. At the end of the meeting, we’d leave with a solid list of articles to get started on.

For a long time, this process served our interests well. Our team developed a keen sense of what our audience wanted to read, and an extensive knowledge of what we’d already covered. But as our property grew and our audience expanded, it became clear that something was missing.

We could no longer manage our archives and identify topic gaps (areas we haven’t yet covered on the blog) by gut feeling alone. Although we had some processes in place to pinpoint gaps and select pieces for historical optimization on an article-by-article basis, none of these methods were scalable or precise enough to keep up with what our readers were searching for — and those issues starting catching up with us.

Rediscovering our momentum meant completely changing the way we plan, write, and optimize content. In March 2018, we started to see the impact of these changes: a new all-time traffic record across our three blogs — Marketing, Sales, and Service — and a renewed sense of purpose for the future. After months of traffic plateaus and uncertainty, we know where we’re headed now — and we’re ready to share our new strategy with you.

The Blog Traffic Plateau of 2017

I won’t sugarcoat it: 2017 was a tough year to be a blogger. Between 2014 and 2016, we’d become accustomed to seeing month-over-month traffic growth without regularly switching up our strategy. When 2017 hit, that line started to flatten out, and then — even more alarming — decline. And it wasn’t just us — Unbounce, Wordstream, and WordPress all saw some form of traffic decrease in 2017.

Traffic to the HubSpot Blog 2014 – 2017

To say we were confused would be an understatement. Up to this point, we thought we’d perfected the formula for sustainable traffic growth: Traffic from existing posts in organic search + new traffic from new posts = steadily increasing traffic, forever … right?

It turns out it wasn’t nearly that simple. Our usual protocol for fixing a slump — changing publishing volume, leaning into more clickable topics, historically optimizing a handful of our heavy-hitting posts — wasn’t having a significant impact. This downward trend wasn’t just a temporary dip in our numbers — it was starting to look like the new normal.

So we did what any good content marketing team would do, and cracked open our reporting dashboards to take a deeper look. Unfortunately, what we discovered after many hours of analysis and many coffees consumed wasn’t comforting. Much like the factors behind the mysterious decline of the bee population, there seemed to be multiple culprits converging to create a disaster.

We’d gone looking for a single root cause, and found several macro trends instead:

1. Social algorithms (and users) love native content.

Social media has long been a (relatively) dependable distribution channel for digital publishers, but recent algorithm changes across multiple social networks increasingly favor native content over links that take users off site. The shift makes perfect sense from the social networks’ perspectives — they want users to spend as much time as possible on their network — but it hurts publishers who depend on social traffic.

2. Conversational search is constantly improving.

Google has gotten a lot better at understanding the intent behind a specific query, and as a result, they’re able to serve up extremely relevant pieces of content to meet your exact query. This is great news if you regularly use a home assistant device, but bad news if you’re a publisher looking to capture organic traffic from multiple long-tail keywords with a single, comprehensive piece of content.

Back in 2012, a post on “The Best Interview Questions” might have appeared as a top result in searches for “great interview questions,” “interview questions to ask an interviewer,” and “what questions to ask during an interview.” But in 2018, those long-tail search queries are more likely to result in entirely different SERPs with entirely different top results. This means many of our “ultimate guides” started ranking for fewer long-tail keywords, resulting in organic traffic losses on some of our most highly-trafficked pieces.

3. Featured snippets and other on-page search features are taking a toll on CTR from SERPs.

You’re probably familiar with Google’s featured snippets: those short lists or paragraphs that appear at the top of a SERP and (usually) directly address your query. In addition to featured snippets, there are also a number of other on-page search features that push a piece of content ranking number one even further down your screen.

While these quick answers have certainly made the search experience faster for users, they’re eating our organic traffic — even on SERPs where we hold the number one organic result. People don’t have any reason to click through to a blog post (even if it’s ranking number one) if the answer they’re seeking is already on the top of the SERP. As a result, fewer users are clicking on the number one organic result. Ahrefs found that on SERPs without a featured snippet, the top result received 26% of clicks. When a featured snippet appeared on the SERP, the top result received only 19.6% of clicks.

None of these were things we could fix with a band-aid solution. These shifts called for a massive overhaul of our editorial strategy, and a completely new way of approaching blogging in general.

Our New Editorial Strategy

While these trends were scary for the future of our blog, they weren’t entirely surprising. We’d been aware for a while that future-proofing for Google algorithm changes meant restructuring our site architecture. Back in late 2016, Leslie Ye had begun the tedious and challenging work of transitioning the blog’s internal linking system into a pillar-cluster model. This move was intended to give us an organized way to understand our content gaps, and a cleaner architecture to help posts rank faster and bring in more organic traffic.

Thanks to a blog redesign project (headed up by Carly Stec) that automated this pillar-clustering process across the entire blog, our 10,000+ posts were neatly sorted into the pillar-cluster model by mid-2017. But our process for planning and writing new content hadn’t fully adjusted to work optimally within this new system. We had a much better understanding of where our content gaps were, but we weren’t filling these gaps systematically — we were still largely guessing when it came to the topics we should be writing about on a monthly basis.

We were also suffering from a lack of foresight: we weren’t planning for the search terms that would be popular a few years or even a few months into the future. This left room for other blogs and publications to capture organic green space that would be essential to our sustained growth down the line.

With this in mind, we made the decision to focus all our efforts behind stabilizing and growing our organic traffic. If our existing content was slowly but surely losing clicks to featured snippets in search, and our new content wasn’t consistently earning as much traffic from promotional channels like social, we needed to offset those losses. And that meant zeroing in on organic green space in a big way.

This led us to create three guidelines we now use to determine what net new content we create:

  1. Does this topic have search volume, or will have search volume in the future?
  2. Does it fit into our pillar-cluster model?
  3. Is it duplicative (is there a piece of content on this topic that already exists)?

If no one is searching for a topic, and we don’t anticipate the search demand to grow in the foreseeable future, there’s no long-term benefit in covering it. At least for our blog, posts created without a clear keyword in mind tend not to produce sustainable traffic after their first month of publication.

To rank these days, your site usually needs both depth and breadth on a topic — in other words, you need to cover a concept or subject at a high level, then dive deeper with specific, detailed posts. Using the pillar-cluster model (more on that here) makes our content much likelier to rank than if we published an individual post that targeted one or two keywords. If a blog post doesn’t fit into an existing cluster, it’s probably not worth our time and energy to write it.

As you can probably imagine, we’ve covered quite a bit of ground in our 10+ years as a blog. Some overlap is inevitable, but writing on the same exact topic more than once — even if the takeaways are ultimately different — can lead to self-competition in the SERPs. And if we’re already ranking highly for a topic, our efforts are better spent creating a piece of content for a SERP we’re not on at all instead of piling on where we already have valuable real estate.

If a topic doesn’t meet these three guidelines, we won’t create content around it. There are a few exceptions of course — The Marketing Blog’s news program (headed up by Amanda Zantal-Wiener) and thought leadership on topics we think our readers need to hear about — but for the most part, this organic-first strategy represents an enormous shift in the way we plan our editorial calendar and create content. Posts created with an organic goal in mind don’t always pay off immediately, but organic is the only type of traffic that can consistently pay off month over month.

The Editorial Process in Action

Adopting an aggressive organic-first approach required a serious mindset change for our team — one that required us to put aside our obsession (some would even say addiction) with quick wins, and instead put our primary focus on sowing seeds for the future. We weren’t going to publish a post with no strategic organic potential, even if we knew it would bring in a satisfying spike in traffic.

Ultimately, the temporary traffic from a quick-win post brought us nothing of value in the long run. To truly grow, we need to keep our eyes on the organic gaps in our pillar cluster model.

A big part of seeding for the future also means educating ourselves on emerging topics: subjects our readers aren’t too concerned with right now but that will eventually become trending search terms, like the nuts and bolts of artificial intelligence, or practical applications for blockchain. These are the technologies people will likely be searching for in droves in the future, and we want to get out ahead of the competition and position our blog as a resource right now — and earn the traffic when the search volume spikes.

So how exactly do we select which topics to cover? We’ve talked about the reasons behind our new strategy, now let’s see what this process actually looks like on a quarterly basis.

Stage One: Planning

We’ve partnered internally with our SEO team to create a blog taskforce of sorts, headed up by our former Sales Blog Editor and current Sr. SEO Strategist Aja Frost. Each quarter, Aja conducts in-depth keyword research across our three onsite blog properties (Marketing, Sales, and Service), taking into account both gaps in our existing topic clusters, and emerging topics we haven’t yet thoroughly constructed content clusters around.

The resulting quarterly report includes well over 100 post suggestions broken down by topic clusters for each blog. Here’s what our completed “Advertising” cluster looks like on the report:

Stage Two: Execution

Our Multimedia Content Strategy team handles the creation of each cluster’s pillar page (the long-form piece of content that serves as a broad, foundational resource on the subject), and the Blog team owns the production of the supporting blog articles that delve deeper into specific subtopics. Most of the articles need to be written from scratch, but in some cases, we already have a blog post in existence that just needs to be updated to include a fresher, more exhaustive take on the subject.

SEO optimization has always been a consideration for our team when writing posts, but under this new strategy, its become a top priority. Before a single word is typed on a first draft, our writers already have information from our SEO team on the keyword(s) to target, section titles (H2s) to include, and featured snippet sections to work into the copy.

Here’s an example of a typical article assignment on our editorial calendar:

Targeting featured snippets with consistently formatted sections has removed some (but definitely not all) of the guesswork when it comes to ranking for featured snippets. Matthew Howells-Barby, HubSpot’s Director of Acquisition, has stressed that clean and consistent code is a significant factor in winning snippets.

His team created a simple code our writers can use when formatting sections of copy for paragraph or list snippets. Not only has our team started incorporating featured snippet sections into all our new posts, but we’ve also historically “snippetized” hundreds of posts from our archives to help Google surface them more frequently.

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ve likely encountered these snippet boxes before:

While there’s unfortunately not a 100% guaranteed formula to win featured snippets, this method has helped our team capture more than 6,300 featured snippets as of June 2018.

In addition to optimizing our articles more intentionally for featured snippets, we’ve also adopted a more aggressive historical optimization approach in 2018. Our team has had a historical optimization strategy in place for several years now, but it’s been years since we’ve had a full-time human dedicated to making sure our existing content is performing optimally in search.

Braden Becker, a Senior Staff Writer on the Blog team, has taken on the task of monitoring the organic performance and optimization of our 10+ years worth of archives as a full-time responsibility. Each month, Braden works with our SEO team to develop an update strategy that works with the new content clusters we’re producing. He selects posts for updating largely based on their individual monthly organic traffic — “the better they’re performing, the higher the potential benefit once I optimize them,” he explains.

Stage Three: Analyze

Once a month, the Content and SEO teams meet to discuss our progress, dig into the numbers, and plan for the next few weeks. We examine organic traffic numbers across our three blog properties, report on featured snippet attainment and loss, and discuss new ways we can adapt to Google’s ever-changing algorithm.

The biggest shift in our reporting method under our new organic-first strategy has been a mental (and, I’ll say it, emotional) one. Although we still report at a monthly cadence, we’ve had to largely abandon our fixation with month-over-month growth, and instead focus on broader trends over longer periods of time.

When I first joined the Blog team, month-over-month growth was the ultimate goal. If the end-of-month traffic number beat out the previous month, we considered it a success; if that number was in the red — a lost month. No matter what, the slate was wiped clean on the first day of the next month, and we started the race all over again. This short-term mentality led us to become so focused on hitting monthly numbers, we ended up neglecting the bigger picture: our blog’s health and continued growth over time. Enter the traffic plateau of 2017.

Under our new editorial strategy, we’re more focused on seeding for the future — and that means letting go of our monthly traffic goals. An article we publish this month on “How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for Virtual Reality” might not have a ton of search volume right now, but we’re betting it will sometime in the future. It might be many months before we see the rewards reflected in our traffic numbers, and we have to be okay with waiting, knowing we’re setting ourselves up well for the future.

As a result of this strategy, our team’s mindset has gone from “We’ll do anything to smash our monthly traffic goals” to “Stick to the plan.”

Getting out in front of future search terms and filling gaps in our existing topic cluster structure will pay off more than watching the monthly traffic numbers rise over a few well-timed, clickable posts.

What challenges is your blog facing? How are you approaching growth in 2018? Talk to us @HubSpot.

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How to Start a Business in Australia

Embarking on a new business venture is both exciting and terrifying in equal measure. On one hand, you’ll finally be the boss; the master of your own destiny who’s pursuing success in something that you’re truly passionate about. On the other hand, you now have a laundry list of things that you need to tick off before you even start to make sure everything kicks off smoothly.

Whereas working for someone else alleviates these responsibilities, the startup owner takes on all these stresses themselves. Not only that, every country has different laws, regulations and requirements to get your business up and running. So, even if you’ve started a business in one country, you’ve still got to do a pile of research to make sure you do it properly in another.

To help you out in Australia, at least, we’ve put together a list of the main things you need to sort out when starting a business Down Under:

How to Start a Business in Australia

1. Choose your business structure.

The structure you choose for your business is very important, as it has a direct effect on things such as:

  • Your level of control
  • The amount of tax you need to pay
  • Regulatory obligations
  • Health and safety requirements in the workplace
  • The level of personal liability you will incur

There are four structures on which you can build your business in Australia:

  • Sole trader: This is when you register someone (usually, yourself) as the sole owner of the business. That means you’re responsible for all legal aspects of running the business, but you’re entitled to hire people to work for you.
  • Company: This is a commercial business or entity that has a separate legal existence to its shareholders.
  • Partnership: A Partnership is when more than one person and/or entities run a business together, but not in the form of a company.
  • Trust: A Trust is an entity that is in possession of property, income, or any other assets for the benefit of a third party.

Image Source: AnyBusiness.com

You must decide on the structure of your business before you register it, as each structure entails different steps to do so. Along with this, it’s worth noting that you might change the structure of your business as it grows and evolves over time.

2. Pick a business type.

With a structure in place, you can better understand the type of business you’re likely to need. There are a myriad of business types to choose from, and some of the main types include:

  • An online business
  • A franchise
  • Independent contractor

Every industry has a different set of legal obligations and regulatory requirements, so it’s crucial that you pick the business type that best suits your industry.

3. Apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) and register your business name.

You can’t legally start a business in Australia unless you own an ABN. This is an 11-digit number that is unique only to your business and acts as a government identifier for the business.

Once you’ve got an ABN, you’ll be able to:

  • Register your business name
  • Identify your business to other entities for things like ordering goods and services or sending invoices
  • Claim taxes such as Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • Avail of credits for things like energy grants

It’s best to decide on your business name before you go about creating assets like your website URL, logo or any other designs. Otherwise, you’ll need to change everything in the event that your business name changes. If you do create a business logo, it’s worth considering if you need to patent it to protect yourself from copyright infringement.

You can register your ABN and business name separately if you wish, but it’s easier to apply for both at the same time here.

Image Source: Department of Industry, Innovation & Science

4. Register your domain name.

You can only complete this step after you’ve secured your business name and ABN as it’s only possible to get a .com.au address if you’re a registered Australian business. The domain name you pick should be related to your business in some way and make it easy for prospective customers to find and recognize.

While you might have the perfect domain to go with a killer business name, you’ll still need to check that someone else hasn’t taken it already. Luckily, there are plenty of sites out there that can help you with that — here’s one of them to give you a head start.

Image Source: Instant Domain Search

Once you’ve found a domain name that isn’t taken, you can go to the .au Domain Administration Ltd (.auDA) website to find links to domain registrars and resellers. Here, you’ll get an idea of how much you’ll have to pay to secure your domain name.

4. Identify your funding source.

If you’re like the majority of new startups, cash flow will be your primary concern. You can have the best business plan in the world, but it won’t be of any use if you don’t have the money to keep the lights on while you’re getting your feet on the ground. With this, it’s important to know what resources are available to make the initial growth period a lot easier.

While there aren’t many government grants to help you start your business, there are plenty of options that are specific to each state. For example, if you’re starting a business in Adelaide, you can apply for a cool $20,000 Small Business Development Fund.

Image Source: Department of Industry, Innovation & Science

There are other grants based on:

  • Taking your idea to market
  • Marketing and sales
  • Buying equipment
  • Importing and exporting
  • Employing people

Check out this page for a full list of grant types that can help fund parts of your venture.

5. Register for the correct taxes.

As the saying goes: “The only certainties in life are death and taxes.” Unfortunately, this is also true if you start a business in Australia – you absolutely must register for the correct taxes to avoid any potential legal implications. The taxes you must register for are dependent on the type of business you choose to start, with some applicable to every type and others only mandatory for certain types.

Some examples include:

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) – this is compulsory if your business has a turnover of $75,000 AUD or higher
  • Pay as You Go (PAYG) withholding tax – this is required if you need to withhold an amount for tax purposes, such as paying wages or salaries
  • Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) – if you’re lucky enough to be able to provide perks like a company car to your employees, then you’ll need to register for this

You can get more details on tax types by clicking here.

With the above essentials sorted, you’re almost good to go. But, we do have one last tip for you – starting a business is a tough task that’s made a lot easier if you can find ways to save money and build a solid network of peers and partners to work with.

A great way of doing both is to set up shop in one of Australia’s many coworking spaces. You’ll save a tonne of money on office costs and also open the door to networking opportunities which can lead to other benefits down the line.

Whatever you do and wherever you decide to start your business, we wish you the very best of luck!