Category Archives: Marketing Strategies

The Simple Guide to Creating an HTML Email [+ Free Templates]

When you create an email using a drag-and-drop or module-based tool, you’re actually generating an HTML email.

There are two main types of email you can send and receive: plain text emails (these are exactly what they sound like — any email that contains just plain old text with no formatting) and HTML emails, which are formatted and styled using HTML and inline CSS.

HTML emails are easy to spot — most of the styled, multimedia marketing emails in your inbox are HTML emails.

For context, here’s a visual comparison of a plain text email and a basic HTML email:

As a marketer, you’ve probably discovered that there are different benefits to each type. HTML emails aren’t inherently better than plain text emails, and in different situations, both types can be part of a successful email marketing program.

In this article, we’ll cover how you can get started creating HTML emails, regardless of your experience level and comfort with coding, and some free templates you can use to get started. Let’s dive in.

How to Create an HTML Email

There’s good news if you aren’t an HTML expert: most tools that create and send email (like HubSpot) will offer pre-formatted, ready-to-go HTML templates that enable you to design emails without ever needing to access the actual code on the back-end.

As you make changes in the email editor, those changes will be automatically coded into the final product. Email building tools like this are an ideal option if you don’t have an email designer on your team, but you still want to send professional-looking marketing emails. You can check out our complete list of email newsletter tools right here to find one that’s right for your specific needs.

If you’re comfortable with HTML and want more direct control over the code of your emails, most email tools will allow you to import HTML files directly for use as custom email templates. There are a wide variety of free HTML email templates available on the web (some of which we’ll share below), and if you know your way around an HTML file, it’s usually quite straightforward to adapt the template to the email building tool of your choice.

To create an HTML email completely from scratch, you’ll need to have an advanced knowledge of HTML (or work with a developer who does). This guide offers a solid overview of coding a basic HTML email. Because the process of creating an HTML email from scratch can be quite involved, we recommend working with a developer or using a pre-made HTML email template.

Developing an HTML email specifically for HubSpot?

If you’re developing an HTML email template specifically for use in HubSpot, you’ll want to make sure you include the required HubL tokens (these ensure your emails can be customized and are compliant with CAN-SPAM laws). You can find a complete guide to coding HubSpot-specific HTML email templates here. Or alternatively, just use our simple what-you-see-is-what-you-get email editor.

HTML Email Best Practices

Now that you understand the basics of what goes into developing an HTML email, let’s go over a few important best practices you should keep in mind. No matter what method you plan to use to create HTML emails, these best practices will help improve the design, user experience, and deliverability of your emails. 

1. Make sure your HTML email is responsive for different screen sizes and devices.

As Chad S. White explains, the way your email looks in a user’s inbox is complex and depends on a wide variety of different factors — which can make coding an email an even more difficult and involved ordeal than coding a web page.

“A print campaign has one rendering. Website rendering is significantly more complex, since sites can look different depending on the device’s operating system, browser, and screen size. But even that is no match for the complexity of email rendering.” – Chad S. White,
Why is email rendering so complex?

One of the biggest and most obvious factors that can impact the way an email loads within an email client is the screen size of the device it’s being viewed on. An email that looks amazing and well-formatted on a desktop can easily devolve into a tangle of illegible, overlapping text and images when viewed on a smartphone screen.

To ensure your HTML emails look the way you intended across a wide spectrum of screen sizes, the best thing you can do is keep your layout simple and straightforward. When you start adding more complex elements like multiple columns and floated images, it becomes more difficult to translate the format of your email for different screen sizes.

If you do decide to develop a more complex layout, make sure you’re actively solving for how the elements will be rearranged to suit different screen sizes. For example, if your email displays as multi-column on desktop, that same structure won’t fly on mobile — you’ll need to use media queries to define how elements will be displayed on different screen sizes.

Remember, developing truly responsive HTML emails goes beyond the structure and format of your message. Think about how the overall user experience of your email will be perceived on different devices. Make sure your font choices are just as legible on mobile as they are on desktop, and use mobile-friendly buttons or CTAs in place of hyperlinked text (have you ever tried to tap a little line of hyperlinked text on mobile? It’s not very easy).

You can find our more in-depth guide to mobile email best practices right here.

2. Make sure your styling works in different email clients.

Another big factor that heavily impacts the way your HTML emails appear in your subscribers’ inboxes is the email client they’re using to open the message. Every email client loads emails slightly differently, so an email that looks a certain way in Gmail will likely look different in Outlook.

Luckily, if you know how most popular email clients load particular HTML and CSS elements, you can create a pretty consistent experience across different users’ inboxes. It’s all about knowing which unsupported tags to avoid and adapting accordingly. This comprehensive guide explains how 11 of the most popular email clients (including Gmail and multiple versions of Outlook) support and render different styling elements.

You can also check out an article we wrote on optimizing emails for different email clients right here.

3. Be conscious of how long your HTML emails take to load.

How long your email takes to load could very well be the difference between gaining a new customer and losing a frustrated subscriber. While it can be tempting to take advantage of all the different styling options and opportunities to incorporate visuals that HTML emails offer, at the end of the day, none of that matters if your email takes too long to load.

As you design your HTML email, remain conscious of how long your email will take to load — especially if someone is say, opening your message on their morning subway commute with a weak data connection. Here are a few little steps you can take that will go a long way towards improving load time.

Use images sparingly to bolster the message you want to get across to subscribers, and always use an image compressor (like Compressor.io or Toolur) to reduce the file size as much as possible. Most image compressors can significantly reduce the file size of an image without compromising on quality, so taking this extra step won’t hurt the visual integrity of your email.

Use standard web fonts. Custom fonts are great for spicing up a landing page, but they can add an extraneous layer of complexity when added to an email. As we talked about above, all email clients handle style elements differently, and this especially extends to fonts. To be safe, use standard web fonts and check to make sure the email client most of your subscribers use supports a particular fonts.

Try an HTML minifier. An HTML minifier (like minifycode.com and smallseotools.com) automatically removes code that isn’t needed in an HTML file. Repetitive, extra elements will be stripped out, but the actual rendering of your email should remain the same (always test it out!). Each character in your code impacts how long an email takes to load, so taking the time to remove extra characters can have a positive effect on load time.

Keep your message focused on a single objective. The best way to reduce email load time is to reduce how much content you add to each of your email sends. It might seem obvious, but too many marketers try to stuff too much content into their emails. Not only does that lead to an off putting user experience (nobody wants to read a novel in email form), but it can send your load time off the charts and cause users to abandon your email. Keep it simple, and your users will thank you.

4. Plan (as much as you can) for user-end inconsistencies.

Screen size and email client aren’t the only factors that can alter the way your HTML email renders in your subscribers’ inboxes (no — that would be too easy, wouldn’t it?). Elements like the version of their email client, their operating system, their unique user-side settings, their security software, and whether or not they’re automatically loading images can all impact how your email loads.

As you can probably guess by that hefty list of factors, trying to solve for all of them (every single time you send an email) would probably be enough to make you throw your computer across the room. But you don’t have to be completely helpless in the face of these variables — you just have to do a little pre-planning.

Consider creating a web page version of your email. This is kind of like giving your email a fail-safe button. If for some reason — due to one of the many factors discussed above — your lovingly designed email renders like an absolute mess when a subscriber opens it, they will at least have the option to click “view as web page” and see the email as you intended it to be. Since style elements render much more consistently across web browsers vs. email clients, you’ll be able to have way more control over the web page version of your message. In HubSpot, there’s an option you can turn on that will generate a web page version automatically.

You should also add a plain text version of your email. A plain text version is exactly what it sounds like — an alternative version of your HTML email that renders in completely plain text. Adding a plain text version of your HTML email is important because some email clients and user settings can’t (or choose not to) load HTML. If this is the case, the client will look for a plain text alternative version of your HTML email to load for the user. If one doesn’t exist, it could signal to the recipient’s email server that your message is spam — or potentially dangerous.

Most email tools like HubSpot will automatically provide a plain text version that displays if a recipient’s email server requires it, but if you’re coding an HTML email from scratch, you’ll need to create something called a multipart MIME message.

A multipart MIME message is a an email that contains both a plain text and HTML version of the same email. If a recipient’s email client or security system doesn’t allow HTML email, the plain text version will be displayed. This is a process that requires an advanced knowledge of coding, so we recommend working with a developer.

Make sure your email still makes sense if the images — for whatever reason — don’t load. Some users have automatic image-loading turned off, which means they’ll see your email without images when they open it. For this reason, don’t rely entirely on images to get the meaning of your message across, and always add alt-text to the images you do include. Alt-text will load even when images don’t, so your subscribers can get the general idea of what the visuals include.

5. Conduct thorough testing.

Finally, you’ll need to test your HTML email at every stage of development to ensure it works across different email clients, operating systems, and device types. Don’t wait until the very end of the process to test out your email — testing as you work is the best way to spot inconsistencies between different email clients and ensure you’re creating the most consistent experience possible for your recipients.

Some email tools (like HubSpot) offer in-app testing within their email builders to make the process easier. If you’re working from scratch, you can use a tool like HTML Email Check or PreviewMyEmail to get a better idea of how your email will look in different email clients and devices.

Free HTML Email Templates

There are an overwhelming amount of HTML email templates available on the web, and they vary in quality, responsiveness, and price. We’ve pulled together a selection of free HTML email templates that provide a responsive user experience. Be sure to read the terms and conditions on each individual template before use. 

1. Free Material Design HTML Email Template

This modern template from designer Paul Goddard is sophisticated and minimal. The bright, engaging color palette and simple design make it a versatile option for many different industries and purposes, and it’s been tested on 33 popular email clients and devices to ensure a consistent user experience across different platforms.

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 4.10.55 PM

 

2. Free HTML Newsletter Template

This clean, muted template from Mailto is a great way to display content your team has created and connect subscribers with your most recent products or blog posts. The design features two fully responsive columns with multiple color scheme options, and room at the top to highlight your company’s logo.

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 4.18.38 PM 

3. MINImalist Free HTML Email Template

Proof that sometimes less really is more, this easy, fully responsive design makes the most of whitespace and keeps the focus firmly on your words and visual elements. Without design distractions, your content can really shine — on any device.

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 4.22.12 PM-1

 

4. ZURB Responsive Free HTML Email Templates

 If you’re looking for an HTML email template with more room for customization, ZURB’s responsive email templates are a great place to start. With these basic HTML templates as a starting place, you can be confident that the templates you design will be fully responsive on any device.

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 4.32.29 PM

 

5. Free Responsive HTML Email Templates from Dyspatch

This collection of completely free, open source templates are completely responsive and tested across popular email clients. Because they’re open source, you can edit and build on them to your heart’s content.

These are an ideal option if you want a more styled, polished starting place, but you still want to be able to customize the design to fit your company’s needs. Each template is available in multiple formats for different marketing purposes, like transactional emails, NPS collection, and email subscriber re-engagement.

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 4.39.08 PM6. SliceJack Free HTML Email Template

This sleek, responsive design from SliceJack would be perfect for sending your design portfolio out via email, but we think it could also serve as stylish way to showcase your latest products to email subscribers. 

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 4.40.45 PM

14 of the Best WordPress Survey Plugins

Are your users happy with your website, or are you simply assuming they are?

Whether you’re looking to improve the user experience on your website, increase your customer satisfaction, or simply learn more about your visitors, embedding a survey on your website is the fastest way to get the feedback you need.

Ultimately, knowledge is power.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the best WordPress plugins to collect user feedback on your website — without the need for a developer.

 

1. Survey Anyplace

Image Source

Survey Anyplace allows you to create fun surveys, quizzes, and assessment tests for your WordPress website.

The free version is very generous. You can choose from a wide variety of question types to get the feedback you need — such as ratings, slide bars, or image choices, as well as traditional open-ended and multiple choice questions. Additionally, you can use basic question logic-skip to ensure you’re not asking redundant questions, based off a respondent’s previous answers.

If you don’t know what to ask your visitors, consider trying out one of the “tried and approved” survey questions templates, which can be personalized to your specific needs.

If a quiz is more what you’re looking for, Survey Anyplace won’t disappoint. Gauge your audience’s knowledge with timers and leaderboards.

You can playfully incentivize your respondents with digital scratch cards, and if you upgrade to a paid plan, you can even add slot machines to make your quizzes even more fun.

Pricing: There’s a free plan that offers a ton of flexibility in terms of what you can build, although you’re limited to 20 responses per month. For more answers and even more features, paid plans start at $25 per month.

2. Hotjar

Image Source

Hotjar is “the fast and visual way to understand your users.” They offer tools to help you uncover important insights for your site performance, including survey and feedback tools.

Their Form Analysis tool helps you improve your form completion rates by identifying which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank, and why your visitors abandon certain forms and pages.

Additionally, you can use Feedback Polls to create small, customizable widgets and improve the performance and experience of your website. Target questions to specific visitors anywhere on your web and mobile site, and choose from multiple trigger options such as time delays, scrolling, and exit-intent. You can ask multiple different types of questions, including Net Promoter Score. And if you need some inspiration, they even have a question bank for you to use.

Best of all, the Incoming Feedback tool gives your visitors an easy way to leave instant visual feedback on your site or app with the use of little emoji faces to express their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with your site. You can also create more complex surveys with the same targeting and trigger options.

The interface is drag-and-drop and incredibly user-friendly. Hotjar integrates with many popular business tools, including Hubspot’s CRM and Marketing software.

Pricing: You can start for free with the Basic plan and upgrade for more functionalities starting at $29 per month.

Image Source

3. Poll, Survey, Form & Quiz Maker by OpinionStage

Opinion Stage lets you create interactive surveys to boost your engagement rates and get more qualified leads. This tool is used by large corporations including BBC, Uber, and TripAdvisor.

Its intuitive interface makes it easy to use. You can manage all of your polls and quizzes in a single dashboard and track your results thanks to detailed analytic reports, which track impressions, the number of votes, click-through rates, social sharing, and more.

Their built-in templates help you customize your surveys and polls to fit your brand. You can even add images and videos to your surveys to make them more engaging.

Additionally, when you upgrade to a paid plan, you can integrate forms into your surveys to capture leads’ contact information — plus, you have the option to incorporate ads, opening up an additional revenue stream for your business.

If you’re looking for more ways to engage with your audience, this tool lets you create tons of other types of interactive content, including forms, slideshows, and articles.

Pricing: The basic tool is free. To remove the Opinion Stage branding and unlock additional features, premium plans start at $19 per month.

Image Source

4. GetSiteControl

Get to know your audience better with GetSiteControl. Add quick polls, multi-page questionnaires, star ratings, and skip-logic surveys to better understand your customers’ needs. Target new or returning visitors, those who are leaving your website, or a specific audience segment you’d like to learn more about based on their geographical location, browser or device type, language, traffic source, and more.

The tool helps you apply user behavior triggers to define when to start and stop showing a website survey, depending on time spent on page, scrolling depth, or exit-intent. You can even schedule the survey widget to be displayed only during specific days and hours.

Additionally, you can collect email addresses and subscribe users to your newsletter by connecting your survey forms to an email marketing platform, and have new contacts automatically added to your list. Plus, built-in A/B testing and instant analytic reports make it easy for you to measure your performance.

The tool is incredibly user-friendly and easy to set up. Your survey is live as soon as you activate the plugin. GetSiteControl is a great option for short surveys because of its many display options. However, because surveys are created in a widget format, they aren’t a good option if you want more complex surveys embedded on a page or blog post.

Pricing: You can try out the product for seven days for free. Paid plans start at $19 per month.

Image Source

5. Typeform

Typeform is a contact form builder that also lets you create surveys and quizzes.

Choose from an epic selection of survey, questionnaire, and quiz templates that you can customize to your needs. Your surveys can include a number of different question types, including ratings, multiple choice, or closed and open-ended questions.

Your “typeforms” present your questions one at a time to keep users engaged, and can include images, GIFs, or videos. This tool includes Calculator, a PRO feature, for you to add calculations, scores, or prices to your questions. Each answer to a question can be assigned different values, and calculations can be made based off those values.

Your surveys and questionnaires can be embedded directly onto your page, open in a pop-up, or be accessed via a unique link.

Pricing: Start for free with basic question types and reporting. Paid plans start at $30 per month.

Image Source

6. TotalPoll

TotalPoll is incredibly user-friendly. Control how your polls look with the Customizer. Your polls can be inserted onto any page via widgets or shortcodes.

In addition to creating regular surveys with the option to add images and videos, you can also run opinion and debate polls, or contests with scorecards at the end.

Best of all, the tool is optimized for search engines to help you rank on search results pages. You can make sure your poll is visible to Google’s crawlers by having it included in your sitemap. It supports Schema markup and is compatible with popular SEO plugins like Yoast All-in-One SEO.

Pricing: You can download TotalPoll Lite for free. But for more functionality, it might be worth purchasing the $29 license on CodeCanyon.

Image Source

7. Modal Survey

Modal Survey is another popular option for building surveys, polls, and quizzes on WordPress. Its front-end builder makes it easy-to-use, and offers the option to customize the look and feel of your quizzes.

With Modal Survey, you get detailed visualization options to display your quiz results, including five different types of pie charts. For example, you can categorize questions to display the results of each category. This feature comes in handy, particularly when building personality tests.

This survey tool is great for building product recommendation quizzes. You can ask users to answer questions and then recommend products based on their results — which is particularly helpful if you own an e-commerce website.

Additionally, you can equip your quizzes with countdown timers, one for your overall quiz or one for each question, and subscribe respondents to your email list, thanks to the many email marketing service integrations available.

Pricing: You can purchase a regular license on CodeCanyon for $35.

Image Source

8. Quiz and Survey Master

While its UI isn’t the most user-friendly, this plugin offers a ton of survey-specific functionality. You can give your users hints to help them answer certain questions and direct users to a specific landing page at the end of a quiz based on their results.

Just like with Modal Survey, you can group questions together to show users results based on those categories. You can also email your participants their results.

Additionally, you can purchase paid add-ons to unlock even more features, like email integrations, conditional logic, and analytics reports. The data you get from your survey and quiz results isn’t especially detailed or helpful, however, unless you purchase the add-ons.

Pricing: This plugin is free to use, but you can purchase different add-ons for more features, such as question logic, summary emails, and to remove ads.

Image Source

9. Gravity Forms

Gravity Forms is a well-known premium form builder. While you can still create a poll with just the forms, their Survey, Polls, and Quiz add-ons make it easier to manage the data collected.

You can build powerful surveys with their drag-and-drop form builder. Plus, you can use conditional logic to create branching surveys that change based on previous responses, or set limits on the number of responses. You can choose to display the survey results publicly, and close the survey after a certain date or number of responses.

Gravity Forms is very developer-friendly, so it might not be the best fit for casual users and beginners.

Pricing: The add-ons are part of the $259 Elite License, i.e. the highest priced package that Gravity Forms has to offer. You get access to all of Gravity Forms’ really great tools, but if all you’re looking for is a survey tool, this likely won’t be worth the investment.

Image Source

10. WPForms

Another popular contact form builder, WPForms has a Surveys and Polls add-on that shares the same powerful features as the form builder. Additional features specific to surveys include smart conditional logic to filter and personalize your questions, real-time polls, and smart survey fields from Likert scale and star ratings to multiple choice. Plus, you can get interactive survey reports with beautiful graphs and charts.

You have the option to show survey results on your WordPress website page with a shortcode, or to redirect users to a results page at the end of the survey.

Pricing: You can start using WPForms for free, but to access the Surveys and Polls add-on, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan starting at $39.50 per year.

Image Source

11. Google Forms

While not an actual survey plugin by itself, Google Forms is a very popular free survey tool that is still worth mentioning. You can embed Google Forms on your WordPress website, either via a third-party plugin or via the HTML embed code provided by Google.

Google Forms is very straightforward and easy to use. You can ask multiple types of questions, including open-ended and multiple choice. And because the tool is provided by Google, it can be much more reliable than most free plugins out there.

You can set up restrictions for who to accept responses from, when to close the survey, and whether or not you would like to collect email addresses.

Get access to helpful graphs to help you visualize the data collected. You can also quickly swap between aggregate and individual responses.

Pricing: Google Forms is free. Its convenience makes it a good option if you’re looking for a quick way to collect user data. However, it may not look as professional as you’d like, and you won’t be able to remove the Google branding on the thank-you page at the end of the survey.

Image Source

12. Responsive Poll

With Responsive Poll, you can take advantage of 18 templates and tons of customization options. Responsive Poll lets you choose from seven animated chart types for displaying your results — pie, bar, donut, line, radar, polar, and progress.

This plugin is a good choice if you’re looking for good quick-hit surveys or polls. However, you can only create surveys with a single question in them. You can still add multiple polls on one page, but for more complex surveys, it might not be the most optimal choice.

Pricing: You can purchase a regular license on CodeCanyon for $16.

Image Source

13. WP-Polls

WP-Polls is a popular option for free basic polling functionalities. Your polls are easily customizable via templates and custom CSS.

You can schedule your polls and even set expiration dates on them. Your users are automatically shown the results after voting.

You can keep a log of who voted on your polls, allowing you to manually keep track of duplicates.

With WP-Polls, you can only use radio buttons and checkboxes to collect answers. This is a good option if you just want to create simple polls, but it might not be enough to create more complex surveys.

Pricing: This tool is open-source, meaning it is 100% free to use.

Image Source

14. YOP Poll

YOP Poll lets you create polls that you can manage right from your WordPress dashboard. You’ll get access to customizable templates, and can schedule polls, set limits on votes, and restrict access to certain users based on their username or IP addresses.

The main drawback of this plugin is that it doesn’t allow for open-ended questions, except for an “other” fillable field. This tool is therefore ideal for predefined options. You also don’t get visual charts or graphs to visualize your data.

Pricing: You can use YOP Poll for free.

Screen Shot 2019-06-10 at 2.10.01 PM

Image Source

Click me

The Secret History of the Google Logo

Roughly 3.5 million Google searches happen each day. With stats like this, it’s not unlikely that the average person might see the Google logo anywhere from one to 30 times per day.

Throughout the past two decades, the Google logo has been iconic and easy to recognize. And across all of its evolutions, it has stayed misleadingly simple. 

What many don’t know is that there’s a fascinating backstory to the most well-known design on the internet. It all started in 1996.

Below is a full timeline of Google logos over the years.

Google Logo History

1996: The First Google Logo

The search engine’s very first logo actually predates the name “Google.” Larry Page and Sergey Brin originally called their web crawler “BackRub.” Brin and Page chose this name because the engine’s main function was to search through the internet’s back links.

Google's first logo with its old name, BackRub, and a hand in the background

Luckily, by 1997 they’d changed the company’s name to the much less creepy “Google” — a misspelling of “googol” — a Latin term that literally means 10 to the 100th power (written out, that’s one followed by 100 zeros). The idea behind the name was that Google’s search engine could quickly provide users with large quantities, or googols, of results.

1998: First (real) Google logo

Some sources credit Page with the creation of the first Google logo, while others say Brin designed it with a free image editor called GIMP. Whomever it was, their design wasn’t exactly the most polished. 

Earliest Google Logo from 1998 with colored letters and exclamation point
Want another little fun fact? An exclamation point was supposedly included in Google’s rebranded design because Yahoo!’s logo also had this punctuation. All tech companies followed each other’s leads back then, it would seem.
 

1999-2010: Ruth Kedar’s logo designs

A mutual friend introduced Brin and Page to Stanford assistant professor Ruth Kedar. Because they weren’t in love with their logo, they asked Kedar if she’d design a few prototypes.

She started with a mostly black logo using the Adobe Garamond typeface. She also removed the exclamation point that was in the original logo.

Page and Brin like this logo because the mark in the middle looked like a Chinese finger trap, Kedar says.

Early black serif font Google logo prototype where Os are connected by a colored square pattern

The graphic designer’s next attempt used the Catull typeface (which should look familiar). The logo was meant to evoke accuracy, like a target.

Black font Google logo where O is a compass and bullseye

Then Kedar got a bit more playful, experimenting with color and interlocking Os. Those Os ended up becoming the basis for the Os at the bottom of every search engine results page.

Early Google logo where letters are black except for Os which are designed to look like a compass

Between the crosshairs and the magnifying glass, Brin and Page thought this design was a little visually overwhelming.

Early capitalized Google logo iteration with solid colors where the first O is a compass and the second O is a magnifying glass.

The next few iterations appear more like the Google logo we know and love today. These designs feel younger and less serious than their precedents.

Early iteration of Google logo where the O is a magnifying glass with a smiley face

Kedar makes the letters pop off the page with shadowing and thicker lines.

Google logo iteration from Ruth Kedar using more intense coloring and thicker lines

The eighth design was the simplest yet. Ultimately, Kedar wanted to show Google’s potential to become more than just a search engine (hence the removal of the magnifying glass). She also changed the traditional order of the primary colors to reemphasize how untraditional Google was.

Early iteration of Google logo by Ruth Kedar which includes a risen O

This version’s colors and the slanted angling make it feel youthful and energetic.

2010 Google logo iteration by Ruth Kedar

The final design is one of the most minimal. It was Google’s official logo from 1999 to 2010.

On May 6, 2010, Google updated its logo, changing the “o” from yellow to orange and removing the drop shadowing.

Original 1998 Google logo compared to iterations from Ruth Kedar launched in 1999 through 2010

2015: A new logo for Google

In 2015, designers from across Google met in New York City for a week-long design sprint aimed at producing a new logo and branding.

Following the sprint, Google’s logo changed dramatically. The company preserved its distinctive blue-red-orange-blue-green-red pattern, but changed the typeface from Catull to the custom schoolbook-inspired Product Sans.

At the same time, Google also rolled out several variations on its logo, including the rainbow “G” that represents the smartphone app and the favicon for Google websites, and a microphone for voice search.

Google mobile app logo launched in 2015

The new logo might look simple, but the transformation was significant. Catull — the former typeface — has serifs, the small lines that embellish the main vertical and horizontal strokes of some letters. Serif typefaces are less versatile than their sans-serif typefaces, since letters vary in weight.

Google's full name desktop version of logo Product Sans is a sans-serif typeface. That means it’s easy for Google’s designers to manipulate and adapt the logo for different sizes — say, the face of an Android watch or the screen of your desktop computer. As Google’s product line becomes more and more diverse, an adaptable design becomes essential.

The logo is also meant to look young, fun, and unthreatening (read: “I’m not like other massive tech corporations, I’m a cool massive tech corporation.”) This was a prescient move — since Google unveiled this design in 2015, concerns about data privacy have reached a fever pitch.

A Dynamic Logo

Google’s logo is also now dynamic. When you begin a voice search on your phone or tablet, you’ll see the Google dots bouncing in anticipation of your query.

As you speak, those dots transform into an equalizer that responds to your voice. And once you’ve finished talking, the equalizer morphs back into dots that ripple as Google finds your results.

“A full range of expressions were developed including listening, thinking, replying, incomprehension, and confirmation,” explained a Google design team blog post. While their movements might seem spontaneous, their motion is rooted in consistent paths and timing, with the dots moving along geometric arcs and following a standard set of snappy easing curves.

Implementation and Growth of the Google Doodle

In 1998, Google started playing with the Google Doodle — a temporary modification of the traditional Google logo.

The first Google Doodle originated in 1998 — before the company was technically even a company. Page and Sergey were attending the Burning Man festival. As a kind of “out of office” message, they put a stick figure drawing behind the logo’s second O.

Image result for google doodles burning man

As the years progressed, so did the detail of the featured doodles.

In 2000, Brin and Sergey asked then-intern Dennis Hwang to come up with a doodle for Bastille Day. Users loved it so much that they appointed Dennis “chief doodler.”

Today, doodles are often used to commemorate holidays, special occasions, and birthdays of scientists, thinkers, artists, and other important people.

The first Doodles tended to mark well-known holidays, like Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Indian Holi (in India). But as time has gone on, they’ve become more and more global and creative. For example, on September 1, 2017, this Doodle celebrated the first day of school (or mourned it, depending on who you ask.)

To decide which events, figures, or topics get doodles, a team gets together periodically to brainstorm. Doodle ideas can also come from Google users. After an idea or doodle pitch gets the green light, the actual doodles are designed by illustrators and engineers.

Google reported in 2015 that they’d launched more than 2,000 doodles for various homepages around the world. While Google hasn’t shared more recent stats on its doodles, PRI noted that they’d climbed over 4,000 by 2016.

Google has continued to embrace doodles with a verified Twitter account devoted to updating its audience about newly-published doodles. The account has over 127,000 followers.

Google also invites people to submit ideas for doodles at proposals@google.com.

There’s more than meets the eye to Google’s logo. As people and technology evolve, the design has too. At the rate things are changing, we’ll probably see a new version in a few years.

How to Run a Marketing Campaign with GSuite

How to Do Keyword Research for SEO: A Beginner's Guide

While Google keeps us on our toes with all the algorithm updates they keep rollin’ out, one thing has stayed pretty consistent for inbound marketers looking to optimize their websites for search: keyword research.

Well, the need to do keyword research has stayed the same. How you actually do it hasn’t.

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing actual search terms that people enter into search engines. The insight you can get into these actual search terms can help inform content strategy, as well as your larger marketing strategy.

Why is keyword research important?

More and more, we hear how much SEO has evolved over just the last 10 years, and how unimportant keywords themselves have become to our ability to rank well for the searches people make every day.

And to some extent, this is true; using keywords that exactly match a person’s search is no longer the most important ranking factor in the eyes of an SEO professional. Rather, it’s the intent behind that keyword, and whether or not a piece of content solves for that intent (we’ll talk more about intent in just a minute).

But that doesn’t mean keyword research is an outdated process. Let me explain:

Keyword research tells you what topics people care about and, assuming you use the right SEO tool, how popular those topics actually are among your audience. The operative term here is topics — by researching keywords that are getting a high volume of searches per month, you can identify and sort your content into topics that you want to create content on. Then, you can use these topics to dictate which keywords you look for and target.

By researching keywords for their popularity, search volume, and general intent, you can tackle the questions that the most people in your audience want answers to.

How does intent affect keyword research?

Like I said in the previous section, user intent is now one of the most pivotal factors in your ability to rank well on search engines like Google. Today, it’s more important that your webpage addresses the problem a searcher intended to solve than simply carries the keyword the searcher used. So, how does this affect the keyword research you do?

It’s easy to take keywords for face value, and unfortunately, keywords can have many different meanings beneath the surface. Because the intent behind a search is so important to your ranking potential, you need to be extra-careful how you interpret the keywords you target.

Let’s say, for example, you’re researching the keyword “how to start a blog” for an article you want to create. “Blog” can mean a blog post or the blog website itself, and what a searcher’s intent is behind that keyword will influence the direction of your article. Does the searcher want to learn how to start an individual blog post? Or do they want to know how to actually launch a website domain for the purposes of blogging? If your content strategy is only targeting people interested in the latter, you’ll need to make sure of the keyword’s intent before committing to it.

To verify what a user’s intent is in a keyword, it’s a good idea to simply enter this keyword into a search engine yourself, and see what types of results come up.

I’m going to lay out a keyword research process you can follow to help you come up with and narrow down a list of terms you should be targeting. That way, you’ll be able to establish and execute a strong keyword strategy that helps you get found for the search terms you actually care about.

How to Research Keywords for Your SEO Strategy

Step 1: Make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business.

To kick off this process, think about the topics you want to rank for in terms of generic buckets. You’ll come up with about 5-10 topic buckets you think are important to your business, and then you’ll use those topic buckets to help come up with some specific keywords later in the process.

If you’re a regular blogger, these are probably the topics you blog about most frequently. Or perhaps they’re the topics that come up the most in sales conversations. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyer personas — what types of topics would your target audience search that you’d want your business to get found for? If you were a company like HubSpot, for example — selling marketing software (which happens to have some awesome SEO tools … but I digress … you might have general topic buckets like:

  • inbound marketing” (21K)
  • “blogging” (19K)
  • “email marketing” (30K)
  • lead generation” (17K)
  • “SEO” (214K)
  • “social media marketing” (71K)
  • “marketing analytics” (6.2K)
  • “marketing automation” (8.5K)

See those numbers in parentheses to the right of each keyword? That’s their monthly search volume. This data allows you to gauge how important these topics are to your audience, and how many different sub-topics you might need to create content on to be successful with that keyword. To learn more about these sub-topics, we move onto step 2 …

Step 2: Fill in those topic buckets with keywords.

Now that you have a few topic buckets you want to focus on, it’s time to identify some keywords that fall into those buckets. These are keyword phrases you think are important to rank for in the SERPs (search engine results pages) because your target customer is probably conducting searches for those specific terms.

For instance, if I took that last topic bucket for an inbound marketing software company — “marketing automation” — I’d brainstorm some keyword phrases that I think people would type in related to that topic. Those might include:

  • marketing automation tools
  • how to use marketing automation software
  • what is marketing automation?
  • how to tell if I need marketing automation software
  • lead nurturing
  • email marketing automation
  • top automation tools

And so on and so on. The point of this step isn’t to come up with your final list of keyword phrases. You just want to end up with a brain dump of phrases you think potential customers might use to search for content related to that particular topic bucket. We’ll narrow the lists down later in the process so you don’t have something too unwieldy. Once you have your final list, there are several data-driven tools available to you for finding out which keywords you’re most likely to rank well for. 

(Note: If you’re a HubSpot customer, you’ll actually be able to spend a little less time cutting down your topics and keywords list with HubSpot Content Strategy. Content Strategy helps you identify and research topics to approach based on existing content.)

Content Strategy, and SEO keyword organizing tool by HubSpot

Although more and more keywords are getting encrypted by Google every day, another smart way to come up with keyword ideas is to figure out which keywords your website is already getting found for. To do this, you’ll need website analytics software like Google Analytics or HubSpot’s Sources report, available in the Traffic Analytics tool. Drill down into your website’s traffic sources, and sift through your organic search traffic bucket to identify the keywords people are using to arrive at your site.

Repeat this exercise for as many topic buckets as you have. And remember, if you’re having trouble coming up with relevant search terms, you can always head on over to your customer-facing colleagues — those who are in Sales or Service — and ask them what types of terms their prospects and customers use, or common questions they have. Those are often great starting points for keyword research.

Step 3: Research related search terms.

This is a creative step you may have already thought of when doing keyword research. If not, it’s a great way to fill out those lists.

If you’re struggling to think of more keywords people might be searching about a specific topic, go to Google.com and take a look at the related search terms that appear when you plug in a keyword. When you type in your phrase and scroll to the bottom of Google’s results, you’ll notice some suggestions for searches related to your original input. These keywords can spark ideas for other keywords you may want to take into consideration.

related-searches

Want a bonus? Type in some of those related search terms and look at their related search terms.

Want another bonus? HubSpot customers can get suggestions for keywords and topics to consider within the Content Strategy tool.

hubspot-keyword-suggestions-feature

Step 4: Check for a mix of head terms and long-tail keywords in each bucket.

If you don’t know the difference between head terms and long-tail keywords, let me explain. Head terms are keywords phrases that are generally shorter and more generic — they’re typically just one to three words in length, depending on who you talk to. Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are longer keyword phrases usually containing three or more words.

It’s important to check that you have a mix of head terms and long-tail terms because it’ll give you a keyword strategy that’s well balanced with long-term goals and short-term wins. That’s because head terms are generally searched more frequently, making them often (not always, but often) much more competitive and harder to rank for than long-tail terms. Think about it: Without even looking up search volume or difficulty, which of the following terms do you think would be harder to rank for?

  1. how to write a great blog post
  2. blogging

If you answered #2, you’re absolutely right. But don’t get discouraged. While head terms generally boast the most search volume (meaning greater potential to send you traffic), frankly, the traffic you’ll get from the term “how to write a great blog post” is usually more desirable.

Why?

Because someone who is looking for something that specific is probably a much more qualified searcher for your product or service (presuming you’re in the blogging space) than someone looking for something really generic. And because long-tail keywords tend to be more specific, it’s usually easier to tell what people who search for those keywords are really looking for. Someone searching for the head term “blogging,” on the other hand, could be searching it for a whole host of reasons unrelated to your business.

So check your keyword lists to make sure you have a healthy mix of head terms and long-tail keywords. You definitely want some quick wins that long-tail keywords will afford you, but you should also try to chip away at more difficult head terms over the long haul.

Step 5: See how competitors are ranking for these keywords.

Just because your competitor is doing something doesn’t mean you need to. The same goes for keywords. Just because a keyword is important to your competitor, doesn’t mean it’s important to you. However, understanding what keywords your competitors are trying to rank for is a great way to help you give your list of keywords another evaluation.

If your competitor is ranking for certain keywords that are on your list, too, it definitely makes sense to work on improving your ranking for those. However, don’t ignore the ones your competitors don’t seem to care about. This could be a great opportunity for you to own market share on important terms, too.

Understanding the balance of terms that might be a little more difficult due to competition, versus those terms that are a little more realistic, will help you maintain a similar balance that the mix of long-tail and head terms allows. Remember, the goal is to end up with a list of keywords that provide some quick wins but also helps you make progress toward bigger, more challenging SEO goals.

How do you figure out what keywords your competitors are ranking for, you ask? Aside from manually searching for keywords in an incognito browser and seeing what positions your competitors are in, SEMrush allows you to run a number of free reports that show you the top keywords for the domain you enter. This is a quick way to get a sense of the types of terms your competitors are ranking for.

Step 6: Use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to cut down your keyword list.

Now that you’ve got the right mix of keywords, it’s time to narrow down your lists with some more quantitative data. You have a lot of tools at your disposal to do this, but let me share my favorite methodology.

I like to use a mix of the Google AdWords Keyword Planner (you’ll need to set up an AdWords account for this, but that doesn’t mean you have to create an ad), and Google Trends.

In Keyword Planner, formerly known as the Keyword Tool, you can get search volume and traffic estimates for keywords you’re considering. Unfortunately, when Google transitioned from Keyword Tool to Keyword Planner, they stripped out a lot of the more interesting functionality. But you can make up for it a bit if you take the information you learn from Keyword Planner and use Google Trends to fill in some blanks.

Use the Keyword Planner to flag any terms on your list that have way too little (or way too much) search volume, and don’t help you maintain a healthy mix like we talked about above. But before you delete anything, check out their trend history and projections in Google Trends. You can see whether, say, some low-volume terms might actually be something you should invest in now — and reap the benefits for later.

Or perhaps you’re just looking at a list of terms that is way too unwieldy, and you have to narrow it down somehow … Google Trends can help you determine which terms are trending upward, and are thus worth more of your focus.

And … You’re done!

Congratulations! You’ve now got a list of keywords that’ll help you focus on the right topics for your business, and get you some short-term and long-term gains. You can even download our free SEO template to help you organize your keywords and track which terms you’re focusing on for different pages of your website.

Be sure to re-evaluate these keywords every few months — once a quarter is a good benchmark, but some businesses like to do it even more often than that. As you gain even more authority in the SERPs, you’ll find that you can add more and more keywords to your lists to tackle as you work on maintaining your current presence, and then growing in new areas on top of that.

People Also Ask

seo myths 2019

The 8 Types of Social Media Community Managers (+ Job Descriptions)

In the last decade, the need for social media managers has boomed. According to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics, this trend is not slowing down any time soon. The role of a social media manager or specialist is categorized within the “Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager” sector of the labor force, which is projected to grow by 10% before 2026.

Although more companies are hiring social media community managers, the role hasn’t evolved much towards goal-oriented, metrics-driven marketing. This could be because many companies haven’t figured out the right way to measure the ROI of their efforts. Because of this, they don’t know how to hire someone who can help them drive real business results.

Download a ready-made job description for the social media manager role here.

With little focus on bottom-line social media efforts, companies relegate the social media role to people with little experience. Once hired, those social media specialists aren’t ready to lead successful goal-oriented efforts. 

While a social media job might center around posting strategies, companies should broaden their search and look for experts who are also creative or strategic. Here’s an example of what a strong job description for a social media role might look like:

A strong social media manager should have versatile skills that span from copywriting to design, but each type of social role usually requires a primary focus or expertise.

If you’re a manager trying to hire your next social media maven, it’s important to identify how your company needs to grow first. For example, if you want to expand your brand on visual platforms, you will want to hire a social media expert with knowledge and experience related to multimedia production.

If you’re an aspiring social media manager, it’s also important to know which skills you should hone in on to become in expert in your field.

To help businesses managers and young social media specialists, we’ve crafted a list of eight social media job roles that could help a company grow.

Social Community Manager Jobs

1. Copywriter

Content is a key component in any marketing strategy, especially when social media is involved. Even if you have dedicated bloggers or ebook writers, text-based content still needs to be adapted to each social network. For example, a strong social media manager might write Instagram captions with a relaxed and relatable voice, but might write in a more business-oriented voice for LinkedIn

This role is typically responsible for the creation and adaptation of written content for specific social media networks. This person should be comfortable writing social posts that are as short as 140 characters or blogs over 200 words.

Skills Necessary

  • Copywriting
  • Understanding of Brand Voice
  • Adaptability
  • Positioning
  • Creativity

How This Drives Results 

Writing generic posts for all platforms might make your brand seem out of touch, so it’s important to have a social media manager who can maintain a brand voice while still adapting it to different platforms. A great caption or piece of written content that speaks directly to your audience could lead to more engagement. 

2. Digital or Multimedia Producer

In 2018, 80% of marketers used visual assets as part of their social media strategy, and 63% were regularly using video

With the growth of visual platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, and the launch of Story and Live Video features on most major social media sites, there is now a greater need for social media managers with multimedia skills. 

Social media community manager works as a content creator by preparing a photo for a social media post

This type of social media manager might focus on creating images or graphics to accompany Facebook posts, taking and curating photos or videos for Instagram, producing mobile-optimized stories for Snapchat, and creating other content from scratch that helps to grow your following.

Skills Needed

  • Experience with Design Software
  • Basic Photography and Videography
  • Adaptability
  • Creativity

How This Drives Results

Adapting visual content specifically for each social network yields more clicks and leads. For example, in an A/B test, we found that tweets including both a link and an image optimized for the platform yielded 55% more leads than tweets with just a link. Adapting and creating content for each specific network is critical to driving results. 

3. Social Media Metrics Analyst

As all marketing roles become more and more data-driven, a social media community manager needs to be able to dig into the data, analyze that data, and draw actionable insights.

Social media community manager showing his team marketing analytics.That includes macro data, such as overall reach and leads generated, and micro data like individual experiments around content positioning. This person should also be able to set goals that are just out of reach — and find a way to hit them.

A successful social media community manager enjoys looking at data and knows how to use it to make informed decisions. At the same time, this person shouldn’t be so stuck in the data that it prevents experimentation and risk-taking.

It’s important for a social media community manager to constantly test new strategies, new content, and new campaigns. This person will be skilled at running experiments, such as post frequency tests, and refining their social strategy based on the results.

Skills Necessary

  • Data Analysis
  • Curiosity
  • Experience with Running Scientific Experiments
  • Strong Presentation Skills

How This Drives Results

Constantly testing and analyzing results helps social media community managers build more effective standards in their routines. For example, that Twitter image test discussed above was designed, implemented, and measured by one social media manager. That experiment’s results have had a serious impact on our social media efforts.

4. News Commentator and Curator

A successful social media community manager will be able to find new opportunities for the company by keeping track of their industry, news, and social media trends. They need to know where to look for the news and what people are saying about it. They also need to know what’s changing on social networks and in the industry. When shifts or new trends occur, they must be able to react and respond accordingly. 

A social media community manager reviews news and trends regularly.They should be skilled at “tactful newsjacking,” meaning the ability to (tactfully) capitalize on a news story, trend, or hashtag. And if something goes awry, they need to be able to mitigate the issue calmly and diplomatically.

Recently, Netflix capitalized on the news that IHOP was changing its name to IHOB. The Netflix US Twitter account simply tweeted, “brb changing my name to Netflib.” See this list for a few other great examples.

The social media community manager can act as an extension of the PR team, connecting your team directly with journalists and reporters, which can result in increased coverage for the company. For global brands, it will also be important for the social media community manager to be able to think outside their own region.

Skills Necessary

  • Content Curation
  • Hungry for Information
  • Effective Monitoring
  • Quick Decision-making
  • Good Judgment
  • Can Think Globally

How This Drives Results

Staying on top of trends as they rise allows your social media community manager to newsjack. Posts relating to news or trends can boost social media traffic, encourage more engagement from followers who might re-share or retweet your content, and could even gain attention from journalists looking for story fodder. 

5. Customer Service Representative

When someone runs social media, they are perceived as the voice of the company. They’ll constantly get questions and comments about their company’s products, services, and content which might not always be positive.

A social media community manager opens his platform's messenger app to answer follower messages.The social media community manager needs to be able to communicate with people in different buying stages and mood dispositions. They’re the “traffic director.” They must be able to understand where a follower’s question or comment is coming from, address it appropriately, and provide a course of action or solution.

To successfully communicate with followers, they should be intimately familiar with their company’s brand, products, and services.

Skills Necessary

  • Strong Communication
  • Adaptability
  • Calmness
  • Desire to Solve Others’ Problems
  • Ability to Troubleshoot
  • Knows @here to Pass Complex Questions,
  • Knowledge of the Company, Products, and Services

How This Drives Results

Having a link to customer service on social media allows you to respond to customer issues on your audience’s preferred platform. Responding to someone’s concerns on social media, rather than over a phone call, can also save your company time, money, and other resources.

Because social media is a public forum, your community manager can use these opportunities to showcase your company’s quality of customer service. For example, if a company is happy with your product or tweets about a positive experience, you can retweet or share the post. 

6. Community Manager and Facilitator

Part of building a following on social media is helping that following connect with each other and become a community.

True communities don’t simply engage with the company or moderator; they engage with each other — which actually scales the social media community much better, too. But community management takes work, including asking questions to seed discussions and kicking out people who spam or otherwise detract from the community.

A social media community manager responds to posts in an online discussion. A good facilitator asks relevant and thought-provoking questions in an engaging way. Another part is setting the tone for the community, being present, enforcing community guidelines, and sometimes even removing members or deleting posts when appropriate.

Skills Necessary

  • Resourcefulness,
  • Ability to Connect People
  • Can Stimulate Discussion
  • Firm but Empathetic

How This Drives Results

If your followers like your community, they’ll recommend it to others — either on purpose or inadvertently by commenting and having it show up on their timeline. This leads to more exposure, which leads to more reach.

To grow a social following, the social media community manager needs to help the company’s community get value from each other. 

7. Funnel Marketing Manager

Social media is a powerful tool that can help the whole funnel, not just the top. It expands the reach of your content, attracts visitors to your website, generates leads, and nurtures those prospects into becoming customers. That means a social media manager needs to be able to pick and share content in a way that will accomplish each of those goals.

A funnel marketing social community manager plans a strategy around the company's funnel.

At the top of the funnel, they need to share social content that generates leads. As they get further down the funnel, the social media expert needs to engage one-on-one with potential customers who are considering a product or service.

Social media is also particularly effective as a lead nurturing tool because prospects use multiple media to consume information. Because social channels are more fast-paced than traditional media, like email, you can engage with leads in a more timely manner.

Social media community managers need to have a strong understanding of the sales and marketing funnel. Then, they must understand which content is appropriate for each level of the funnel.

To be effective, this manager will need to keep in touch with multiple teams in their company. For example, they’ll need to pass appropriate leads to the sales team or product feedback to customer service.

Skills Necessary

  • Funnel Understanding
  • Knowledge of Content for Each Funnel Stage
  • Basic Sales Skills
  • Strong Communication

How This Drives Results

Sharing conversion-oriented content on social media can attract more visitors to your site and convert them into leads for your sales team. According to a 2018 GlobalWebIndex Study, 40% of digital consumers use social media as a tool when researching products. With the right person at the helm of your company’s social media accounts, your posts could catch the eye of these users.

8. Project Manager and Campaign Coordinator

Many people across a company may want certain things posted, responded to, favorited or “liked.” It’s up to the social media manager to decide which requests to honor and when to honor them. This means they need to be highly organized and able to manage multiple requests.

A project manager meets with colleagues to plan social projects or campaigns.They need to be able to quickly assess whether a request would resonate with the company’s followers, or whether it’s too niche or too narrow. For example, a location-specific post might be too narrow to send to a company’s entire Twitter following.

Social media community managers also need to effectively coordinate with different departments to organize campaign launches, while still pushing launches and growth initiatives of their own.

Skills Necessary

  • Strong Organization
  • Strong Communication
  • Ability to Negotiate
  • Data-Based Decision-Making

How This Drives Results

Social media plays a big role in promoting initiatives from different departments and teams across a company. When a social media community manager effectively balances these promotions with other engaging and relevant content, they’ll be able to win the hearts and minds of their followers and internal stakeholders. 

How to Think About Social Media Management

With this diverse and highly visible role, it’s hard to believe that the social media community manager position is often still considered entry-level.

These eight jobs should be in the back of any hiring manager’s mind as they interview potential social media managers. If we can change the perception of the role, we’ll have a good chance of mastering the ability to measure and value social media’s ROI. 

 
download social media manager job description

Cloud Integration Explained, and 6 of the Best Cloud Integration Platforms

As marketers, smashing our department’s silos is crucial for truly understanding our customers and catering to their needs. If we understand each team’s challenges and initiatives, we can align our entire department to send the most relevant content to our audience and achieve a common goal.

In regards to your tech stack, the same principle applies. The average small to midsize business has 13 different applications in their stack and they usually don’t integrate with each other. This silos organizations’ data, making it difficult to track their customers’ touch points and understand their true buyer’s journey.

Fortunately, there are cloud integration platforms that can connect your distinct cloud-based applications together, let you manage their data, and even automate your business processes all in one interface.

Read on to learn what exactly cloud integration is and the best cloud integration platforms on the market, according to G2.

1. JitterBit

G2 Rating: 4.7/5.0 (150 Reviews)

As one of the leaders in the iPaaS space, JitterBit lets you fuse thousands of SaaS, cloud, and on-premises applications into one interface. You can also leverage their pre-built templates and workflows to automate your business processes. Additionally, you can create new APIs from your existing enterprise applications or data on their API platform. You can even blend your newly created APIs with external APIs to roll out new business solutions.

2. PieSync

G2 Rating: 4.6/5.0 (216 Reviews)

PieSync leverages their Intelligent 2-Way Sync technology to update any customer’s information in one app after it changes in the other. The cloud integration platform also gives you complete control over the apps you choose to sync, consolidates customer information from multiple apps, and stores and updates all your data in one place so you can access it and make the most accurate data-driven decisions for your business.

3. Zapier

G2 Rating: 4.5/5.0 (371 Reviews)

With the ability to connect to and share data with over 1,000 web apps, like Facebook, QuickBooks, and Google Drive, Zapier can automate almost any type of business process. All you have to do is build a workflow in their editor, pick the apps you want to include in your workflow, and design it.

4. MuleSoft Anypoint Platform

G2 Rating: 4.4/5.0 (479 Reviews)

Trusted by over 1,600 enterprise companies, MuleSoft Anypoint Platform lets you manage all your APIs and integrations on one platform. You can also build and integrate your APIs, integrate with any application, data, or device, deploy on-premises integrations to the cloud without rewriting any code, and protect your data and administer access to employees by leveraging edge gateways and encryption.

5. IBM App Connect

G2 Rating: 4.3/5.0 (193 Reviews)

With IBM App Connect, you can integrate your data between on-premises and cloud-based applications, build APIs on an intuitive, code-free interface, and build workflows that automate your business processes within different apps. You can also deploy IBM App Connect in any cloud or on-premises environment.

6. Dell Boomi

G2 Rating: 4.2/5.0 (170 Reviews)

Trusted by over 8,000 brands, Dell Boomi lets you fuse all your digital platforms into one. By uniting all your data, applications and processes, Boomi essentially stores all of your technology systems and assets in one place. With Boomi, you can also manage your APIs, data quality, and B2B network, build workflows with minimal coding knowledge, and develop applications.

New Call-to-action

HubSpot's 12 Favorite Digital Marketing Tips

I think you’ll agree with me when I say digital marketing — and all its sub-categories, including SEO, social media, content creation, email, and more — is critical for any company’s growth in 2019.

With over four billion internet users globally, and more than 3.4 billion active social media users, it stands to reason digital marketing is vital for reaching a larger audience than you could through traditional methods alone.

Plus, digital marketing can help you better engage prospects, turn prospects into leads, and ultimately convert leads into loyal, delighted customers.

However, embarking on a digital marketing journey, particularly as a start-up or smaller company with limited online presence, can be both overwhelming and frustrating at times.

To help inspire your marketing team and kick-start your 2019 digital marketing strategy, we’ve cultivated a comprehensive list of digital marketing tips from marketers here at HubSpot. Keep reading to learn the 12 critical tips HubSpotters want you to know before you implement or refine your own digital strategy.

1. Know your customer.

Ari Plaut, a Product Marketer at HubSpot, suggests: “Keep on top of the pulse of the customer, and hold yourself accountable to it. Schedule monthly time to shadow your support team and your sales team. Your best content ideas will come straight from the source — your customers.”

digital-marketing-tip

2. Match your content to every stage of a buyer’s journey.

Alex Girard, an Associate Product Marketing Manager at HubSpot, says: “Personally, I think a big ‘Ah-ha’ moment for our customers when talking about ads strategy is when we tell them they need to match their content offer to a moment in the buyer’s journey. It doesn’t make sense to target an ad for a sales demo at someone in the awareness stage. It also doesn’t make sense to target an awareness stage offer, like a recommended blog post, at someone who is ready to buy.”

3. Don’t just write about your products or services.

Karla Cook, a Senior Manager of the HubSpot Blog Team, advises: “Don’t just write about your products or services on your blog. That can immediately alienate anyone who isn’t already close to purchasing. Instead, invest the time in learning about what your target audience is interested in, and develop content that aligns these interests with what your brand can offer. For example, if you’re selling coffee makers, you might create a blog series that looks at different ways to improve your morning routine.”

4. Focus on the long-term.

Jeff Vocell, a HubSpot Product Marketer, suggests — “Focus on delight, not short-sighted acquisition. I’m a marketer, and I understand the pressure to deliver leads to sales each month. But employing short-sighted tactics that generate some attention and may result in a momentary spike ultimately won’t set you, or your customers, up for success in the long-term. As marketers, we should focus on generating demand through helpful and customer-centric campaigns.”

hubspot-digital-marketing-tip

5. Incorporate SEO into your overall content strategy.

AJ Beltis, a HubSpot Content Optimization Specialist, told me — “While positioning a blog as a pure thought leadership publication has its merits, incorporating an SEO strategy into your topic selection and blog writing is the best way for long-term traffic growth. Use sites like Ahrefs or SEMRush to find out what people in your industry are searching for and talking about as a first step to maximizing your blog’s potential.”

6. Understand the big picture when analyzing an advertisement’s performance.

Cathleen Smith, a CSM at HubSpot, notes: “A good approach to take when you see bad ads is to understand the big picture. What is the overall journey someone is taking to get to the point where they see your ad? For Google ads, someone had to search for a keyword you chose, see your ad, have it resonate with them, click on the ad directly, and then have the landing page feel relevant and easily digestable.”

Additionally, Smith says, “If your ad isn’t performing well, don’t just look at the messaging itself, but see if there’s a mismatch between what someone is searching for, the messaging you are showing them, and the landing page on which they end up. With that bigger picture in mind, when you see a ‘bad’ ad, look at all the different pieces of your campaign to determine what needs optimization.”

7. Remain flexible as audience preferences shift.

Kristen Baker, an Associate Content Strategist at HubSpot, says, “The world of digital marketing is ever-changing — businesses constantly need to ensure their digital strategy remains relevant to their target audience. For instance, if you’re targeting a group who’s primarily active on Instagram, focus on that platform and consider using your resources to create engaging Instagram Stories, instead of spending too much time making YouTube videos. However, pay attention to if, and when, your audiences’ preferences shift.”

digital-marketing-tip-hubspot

8. Remain consistent in design when launching a campaign.

Brittany Geoffroy, a Marketing Manager of Global Acquisition, told me — “When launching an integrated campaign on multiple channels, make sure you tie together your creative design and messaging so there is a red thread throughout the campaign.”

9. Become a growth leader for your company.

Jeff Vocell, a HubSpot Product Marketer, advises, “Marketers have never had a better opportunity to be growth leaders. Marketing has historically been responsible for attracting new leads and then passing them off to Sales. Today, in a world where customer experience has to come first, marketers have an opportunity to architect the path to growth through sales and services as well.

“Instead of solely thinking about how you can bring in new customers, start to ask yourself, and your colleagues around you, what happens when this lead is passed over to sales? and, what happens when sales pass them to services as a customer? It’s likely you’ll find opportunities for advocacy and marketing embedded in those moments that will help you grow better.”

10. Personalize your content.

Clint Fontanella, a Junior Staff Writer at HubSpot, says — “Personalize your content to differentiate your business from competitors and create a unique customer experience. More than 40% of customers switch brands dues to poor online personalization.”

digital-marketing-tips

11. Try new things

Meredith Hart, a Junior Staff Writer at HubSpot, suggests: “If you see that something could be working better, go back to the drawing board and try something new. This can apply to internal processes within your team or with your digital marketing efforts. For example, if you’re experiencing low engagement with your marketing emails, test out creative subject lines to boost your open rates. Or release a series of themed content that keeps your audience coming back for more. Small changes can have big results.”

12. Don’t underestimate backlinks.

Braden Becker, a Senior Staff Writer at HubSpot, notes — “Marketers are increasingly shifting their SEO strategies from keywords to topics. In other words, the more keywords you target that all belong to a similar topic, the more expertise you’ll demonstrate, and the better you can perform for each individual keyword. But expertise and organic traffic don’t happen at the same time.”

Additionally, Becker suggests, “While topics are important to building your reputation, you still need the backlinks — a major ranking factor for Google — to back it up. While you create content on each topic, share this content in as many ways as you can. By networking with people in your industry, and tracking how many other publishers are linking back to your content, you can get a better sense of how quickly your content will perform the way you want it to.”

New Call-to-action

The Social Strategy Brands Like Marvel Are Using to Generate a 68% Conversion Rate

2% and 18 minutes.

That’s the average reach of a Facebook post and life of a tweet, respectively.

Crazy insignificant, right?

These are networks that millions of people spend time on every single day — and they seem to offer such slim, fleeting opportunities for brands.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s a method to turn a paltry social media conversion rate into something that can offer real benefits to your brand.

A method that’s helped brands both large and small achieve up to a 68% conversion rate on social.

I’m talking about social commerce — the current best way to make more sales and increase reach through social media channels. Let’s take a deeper look about what exactly social commerce is, and the big problems it can solve for you brand.

What is Social Commerce?

This is not an overstatement: social commerce changes the way brands use social media.

Rather than generating interest and directing traffic to your site, social commerce allows brands to sell directly from their social feeds.

It effectively reduces the purchase journey down to two simple, frictionless steps. The first is when the user sees the product they want, the second is buying it.

It’s important because — as any commerce pro will tell you — most purchase journeys suffer from huge leaks. Just take a look at the chart below. It accurately represents how few of your leads turn into customers.

By reducing the steps a user has to go through, you can effectively streamline the purchase journey and reduce the possibility of funnel leaks.

Social commerce:

  • Provides simpler purchase journeys and thus a lower abandonment rate
  • Removes confusing multi-part conversion paths
  • Doesn’t disrupt the user by redirecting them to a completely different site

Just a simple checkout available directly from the user’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social feed.

Here’s how social commerce looks in real life. The video below shows a social commerce campaign Marvel ran

 When users commented with #AntManandtheWasp, an automated chatbot messaged them to discover their theatre and time preference before processing payment.

Over the last few years, the most successful digital marketing has primarily focused on making the user experience more logical and seamless.

Shorter forms have a higher completion rate.

Auto-fill is becoming commonplace because it generates more conversions.

And one-click purchasing is held up as the ideal ecommerce model.

Social commerce is yet another example of a solution that plays to the more streamlined needs of modern users.

But it’s not only providing a conversion benefit.

Secondary Benefits of Social Commerce Solutions

So the primary benefits of social commerce are the more streamlined purchase journey leading to higher conversions (more on that later).

But there’s also an impressive list of secondary benefits.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on social media developments over the last year, you’ll know it’s becoming increasingly difficult for brands to stand out. Ad costs are on the rise and algorithm updates are de-prioritizing brand content.

If you watch the Marvel gif above again, you’ll notice that users are required to comment on the post to kick off the automated checkout.

That comment is key to the secondary benefits.

As soon as a person comments to start the checkout, the post is then redistributed to their network, increasing its reach.

With each subsequent engagement, reach is yet again increased.

Before long, your posts and ads are achieving much high impressions than they would if users weren’t prompted to engage.

Social commerce is a great solution for any brand looking to increase social media sales and engagement.

It all sounds great, right?

But how does it actually work in real life?

Well, I’ve broken down a couple of social commerce campaigns that drove real results to help highlight its use.

How Brands are Using it To Massively Increase Conversions

I’ve tried to pick three examples that not only shows the potential power of social commerce, but also highlight different approaches to implementation.

So here’s a quick overview of what I’m going to cover.

– The completely digital strategy Marvel used to achieve a 68% cinema ticket conversion rate.

– How Ben & Jerry’s moved consumers from online to offline forgetter engagement.

– How Nike’s social commerce strategy started in the real world before seeing completion on social media.

Marvel’s 68% Conversion Rate

Marvel, despite being one of the biggest entertainment brands in the world, never rest on their laurels.

They’re forever looking for ways to better engage with their customers.

And when they took a look at their current channels, they realized their social campaigns were due for an upgrade.

The problem with traditional social media marketing is that purchase journeys become incredibly complex and long-winded.

Prior to Marvel’s investment in social commerce, users would have to go through various steps to make a purchase after viewing a social post that interested them.

I actually walked myself through that very process in writing this piece, and counted nine steps between viewing an Instagram post and landing on a page that confirmed my final purchase of movie tickets. Here’s what that long journey looked like pre-social commerce:

  1. Viewing the Instagram post
  2. Following it to the page bio
  3. Clicking through to Fandango
  4. Confirming the movie (and ignoring ads for commuting and upcoming movies)
  5. Confirming my location
  6. Choosing time and cinema
  7. Confirming the number of people
  8. Confirming seat location
  9. Payment information

I had to navigate through nine steps after seeing a cool post on Instagram.

Average purchase journeys have enough of a drop-off rate. On social media platforms like Instagram, that drop-off rate can easily become even more exaggerated.

Instagram is designed to keep users within the app, so any process that requires users to take multiple steps to exit the app and navigate somewhere else is going to leak leads like no one’s business.

This step drop-off rate is exactly what Marvel wanted to combat.

They wanted to reduce the friction and maintain the experience Instagram users were expecting.

The below is one of the real ads they ran to promote Infinity War.

You’ll notice users are asked to swipe up, and then comment with an appropriate hashtag.

Once they do, an automated checkout bot takes over and asks a few questions that lead them through those nine stages of the purchase funnel in less than a minute — without leaving the app.

Here’s how the chat sequence looked for those engaging with the Ant-Man and the Wasp campaign.

This conversational method of driving sales is not only more aligned with the user’s expectations on social, but it also streamlines the purchase journey.

Users are kept on the platform they’re engaged with and are able to complete their purchase in a fraction of the time.

Marvel results speak to the effectiveness of the campaign.

On the initial Infinity War campaign they achieved:

  • A 58% conversion rate
  • 18X more comments than any other in-season content

But they also took it a step further.

They built a custom audience of those who engaged with the Infinity War campaign and retargeted them with a secondary campaign that promoted Ant-Man and the Wasp.

By retargeting an already engaged audience who were comfortable buying through social commerce solutions, they increased their overall conversion rate to 68%.

Not too shabby.

The moral of this story is that your customers are looking for more streamlined purchase experiences.

Bouncing them around from one site to another so they can complete numerous steps is too much of a chore, and leads to the terrible social media conversion rates.

Marvel’s conversion rates were so high because they did three key things:

  • Made the purchase journey as simple as possible
  • Used (at the time unreleased) brand assets within the chat to keep users engaged
  • Retargeted their best audience with Facebook Ads for easier sales

5000 Free Samples Moved in 72 Hours

Whether you’re just starting a new business, launching a new product line, or just need to inject a few new leads into your pipeline, there’s one method that’s more successful than most.

Giving stuff away for free.

But here’s the thing. Free products will generate a lot of buzz for your products and brand, but they generate zero revenue.

You’ve got to have a follow-up sale in the pipeline.

Which is exactly what Ben & Jerry’s did when launching a new product — pint slices.

To drive interest and awareness of the new product, they ran Facebook and Instagram ads that were linked to a social commerce checkout.

Users who engaged with the ads would receive a chat sequence similar to the Marvel one above.

It would ask for their preferred pickup location and flavor.

Using that information it would then generate a free QR code which, when taken to the nearest vending machine, would secure a free pint slice.

Ben & Jerry’s received huge engagement with this campaign.

In addition to moving 5000 samples within 72 hours, they gained 2.2X the customer insights they usually would through a similar campaign.

But it’s the insights that were the most valuable.

Ben & Jerry’s now had the details of 5000 people who both expressed an interest in the product and had tried it. People who would be the perfect target for the launch of a sales campaign.

All they now had to do was run a sales campaign targeting those 5000 people to see a healthy boost in sales.

Nike Flips Social Commerce On Its Head

This is one of my favorite examples of social commerce for a couple of reasons:

  1. It’s a great example of bridging the offline and online sales worlds
  2. It’s the opposite way around to many social commerce campaigns
  3. It bucks the general trend of social commerce and focuses on higher priced products for better AoV

The campaign I’m talking about is Nike’s promotion of Jordan’s through Snapchat.

Nike started by targeting an audience they knew would be interested. Basketball fans.

Instead of targeting these people with Facebook Ads or another digital channel, they launched a campaign that started at an in person event – the after party for the NBA Allstar’s game.

At the afterparty, Nike hid snap codes in different areas of the event space.

When scanned with Snapchat, the code would kick off a social commerce checkout within Snapchat.

The prize was an (at the time) unreleased pair of Jordan’s.

Despite being a higher priced product, Nike sold out of this limited run within 23 minutes.

I like this example more because it bridges the offline and online world of sales.

Nike leveraged the device we all carry every day. But they did it at a time when interest in the product would be at it’s highest.

The fact that this was a campaign type not used commonly also added something of a gasified element to the whole process.

It’s a great example of understanding your audience’s desires and how you can best serve them.

But Don’t Rely Entirely on Social Commerce

Social commerce is one of the best ways to simplify the purchase journey.

It’s an incredible method to improve sales and connect with a wider audience.

But it’s not foolproof. In fact, despite all the benefits and case studies that highlight great gains there’s one thing that social commerce isn’t great at:

Selling high-priced items.

People aren’t on social media to do serious research of the products they’re thinking of buying.

They’re there to procrastinate, have fun, and connect with friends. The most successful campaigns are those which focus on impulse purchases of products or services that fall in the <$100 range.

If you sell $1,000 electronics, this might not be the best method to drive sales.

But fear not, there’s still a way to use social commerce in your strategy.

In short, you use social commerce to qualify prospects and bring people into the top end of a longer upset funnel. For example, let’s say you deal in $10,000 audio systems. Your audience is made up of audiophiles and music aficionados. Hawking a $10k system off the bat isn’t going to work. But selling a $50 pair of headphones with superior sound quality would appeal to the market and fits within the all-important impulse purchase price point.

Making that sale is much easier and fills your upsell funnel. Which is incredibly important because:

For those selling high-priced items, social commerce isn’t going to transform your business by driving direct revenue, but it’s going to fill your upsell funnel.

It allows you to more easily attract leads who, in time, will spend more with you.

Think of social commerce not just as a way to drive sales, but as a method to attract new customers and generate more qualified leads.

Social Commerce Is Going to Be Huge Across All Industries

Social commerce seems to finally be coming into its own.

It’s finally providing real, tangible benefits to business beyond the vanity metrics of likes, shares, and comments.

But it’s still in its infancy.

Over the next five years, it’s a safe bet to assume that social commerce will become a more permanent fixture in the marketing strategy of brands both big and small.

If you’ve not yet managed to get your social commerce strategy off the ground, do so.

It’s already driving great gains for others, but so few are leveraging the strategy that there’s a lack of competition. Now is the perfect time to begin.

free social media strategy resources

What Are Email Whitelists, & How Do You Get On Them

A few weeks ago, I planned a trip to Charlotte. I booked my flights, and the day before I was supposed to leave, I tried to find my confirmation email.

I couldn’t find it anywhere. Panicking, I called the airline. “Ma’am, your payment was denied. We emailed you about this.”

Very quickly, I learned the importance of email whitelists.

Fortunately, I was able to book another flight. However, this didn’t save me from the stress or frustration I felt at the airline for being unable to contact me any other way.

At the end of the day, you don’t want a similar experience to happen to your customers. And, as a marketer, nothing is more frustrating than realizing your email marketing tactics, meant to engage and delight new prospects, aren’t working simply because they aren’t being delivered to your prospects’ inboxes.

Here, we’ll explain what email whitelists are, and how you can ensure your company is on the whitelists of your email recipients.

How To Get On Your Email Subscribers’ Whitelists

To get on your email subscribers’ whitelists, you can ask your subscribers to whitelist your email address.

There are a few different ways to ask subscribers to whitelist your email address. First, you might simply send the following message:

“To be sure our emails always make it to your inbox, please add us to your email whitelist.”

To make it easier for your recipient, you might also want to incorporate steps to do so. To add someone to a whitelist, your subscriber simply needs to add you as a contact. To make the process simple, you can include instructions in your email, like this:

“To be sure our emails always make it to your inbox, please add us as a contact. If you have a Gmail account, follow these instructions. Alternatively, if you use Apple Mail, click here.”

You can add instructions for any email provider, including Outlook, Yahoo, or Android — this largely depends on the typical provider your recipients use.

However, perhaps you don’t want to ask outright if recipients can add you to their whitelists. An alternative to the above message might simply be asking recipients to add you as a contact.

For instance, United Airlines sends the following message, asking recipients to add United to their contact list and explaining why it’s critical they do so:

Image source: AWeber.

You might use your own flair and brand voice to craft a compelling email message. Ideally, you’d include this message in the first email you send new subscribers, since it might be frustrating for recipients who have already successfully received your emails in the past to randomly receive an email instructing them to add you to their contact list.

Additionally, you can help mitigate the possibility that your recipients’ email providers mistake your emails as spam by following email marketing best practices.

Finally, if you’re a HubSpot customer and your contacts aren’t receiving marketing emails from your HubSpot account, there are several steps you can take to ensure your emails are delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes.

New Call-to-action

7 of the Best Blogging Platforms for 2019

As a baseball player turned blogger, my blogging platform is just as important to me as my bat was to me back in the day. If I went up to the plate with a quality bat that I personally preferred swinging, I would feel more confident, boosting my chances of getting a hit. If I didn’t, I would most likely tap a dribbler back to the pitcher.

Similarly, when blogging eventually replaced baseball in life, I discovered using a blogging platform I was comfortable with and liked enabled me to produce better work and results. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t execute as well.

But, just like baseball bats, there are countless blogging platforms you can use. Fortunately, if you’re looking for one that’s ideal for your specific situation, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find the best-fit blogging platform for your content creation team and start knocking some blog posts out of the park.

1. HubSpot

G2 Rating: 4.0/5.0 (2,161 Reviews)

HubSpot offers one of the most robust blogging platforms around. When drafting your blog posts, you can use their composer to craft content from scratch or with one of their pre-made blog post blueprints. You can also integrate your G Suite Account with HubSpot’s blogging platform to import your Google Docs right into their composer.

Additionally, you can edit your blog posts directly in their composer by adding comments, offering feedback, and collaborating with other writers or editors on your team.

After you finish drafting your blog post, HubSpot’s blogging platform features an SEO recommendations checklist and a topic cluster tool that helps you optimize your blog posts for search engines.

You can then schedule your blog posts with HubSpot’s calendar tool, connect to and promote them through your social media accounts and email, and analyze their performance with HubSpot’s analytics tools.

2. Squarespace

G2 Rating: 4.4/5.0 (768 Reviews)

Squarespace Blogging PlatformIf you want to build a truly beautiful blog, Squarespace is the blogging platform for you. With their award-winning, fully customizable designer templates and integrations with Getty Images, Unsplash, Google AMP, and more, you can improve your content’s design and boost its ability to grab and hold your audience’s attention.

You can also collaborate with multiple writers and editors on your content, integrate and promote your blog with your social media accounts, and manage your blog posts’ comments.

Additionally, Squarespace offers some other robust marketing tools that can help you increase your reach and refine your content strategy, like email campaigns, SEO features, analytics, and lead capture features.

3. WordPress

G2 Rating: 4.3/5.0 (6,808 Reviews)

WordPress Blogging PlatformPowering over 30% of the websites on the internet, WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms out there. If you’re creating a new blog, you can register a domain for your site right on the platform. If you already have a website, you can transfer your current domain to your new WordPress site.

When creating blog content, WordPress offers hundreds of themes that you can customize with your own branding and content. You can also leverage their SEO tools, social media integrations, and sharing tools to amplify your blog posts’ reach.

When it’s time to analyze your blog posts’ performance, WordPress offers metrics and data visualization, like charts and graphs, that’ll help you grasp your readers’ topic preferences and referral source.

4. Wix

G2 Rating: 4.2/5.0 (985 Reviews)

Wix Blogging PlatformWix is one of the most versatile blogging platforms on the market. Whether you own a business or a food review website, Wix has a wide range of templates any blogger can use.

After you’ve picked your blog’s template, Wix lets you write and edit posts on desktop and mobile, organize your posts into topics, display Wix’s stock photos and videos or your own media on your blog posts, and create a community of audience members who can make profiles on your blog and interact with each other.

To promote your blog posts, you can leverage Wix’s SEO tools to boost your organic reach, push your content to your subscribers with their email tool, and connect and share them through your social media accounts. If you want to measure your content’s performance, Wix also offers an advanced analytics tool.

5. Weebly

G2 Rating: 4.2/5.0 (383 Reviews)

Weebly Blogging PlatformTrusted by over 30 million people across the globe, Weebly is one of the most popular blogging platforms because it’s incredibly intuitive. With their drag and drop editor, free blog templates, completely customizable design, and a wide range of media options and integrations, you can easily create a blog that’s easy on the eyes.

To amplify your blog’s reach, you can leverage Wix’s SEO tools to improve your organic rankings, their RSS feed to update your subscribers with every new blog post you publish, and their social sharing tools to schedule your content on your social media profiles.

6. Craft CMS

G2 Rating: 4.2/5.0 (25 Reviews)

Craft CMS Blogging PlatformCraft CMS is a blogging platform that lets you completely customize your blog, manage your content, and analyze its performance. With its personalized content modeling, custom control over your blog’s code, and powerful templating, you can build your very own dream blog.

Craft CMS also offers an image editor, collaboration tools, and a localization feature that can translate your content to specific languages. To analyze your content’s performance, you can integrate Craft CMS’ dashboard with Google Analytics.

7. Contently

G2 Rating: 4.0/5.0 (17 Reviews)

Contently Blogging PlatformTailored for enterprise companies, Contently is a robust blogging platform that allows you to run your entire content creation process in one place. To develop your content strategy on Contently, you can organize your blog posts with their tagging tool and flesh out your editorial strategy with their customizable production calendar to.

After that, you can effectively collaborate with your team on projects by commenting on and tagging colleagues in your drafts and leveraging Contently’s advanced workflow tools.

When it’s time to ship your content, you can use their smart content review tools to ensure your content is aligned with your brand, optimized for search, and legally compliant.

If you want to gauge your content’s performance and use that data to refine your content strategy, you can compare your content’s performance against industry benchmarks and measure its performance by topic, format, and sources in the platform.

The Ultimate Guide to iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service)

You’ve likely heard of Software as a Service, or SaaS.

A SaaS company sells software to an end user as a subscription. Along with that subscription, the software company provides technical support, customer service and upgrade options to maximize their customers’ ability to use their software.

HubSpot is an example of a SaaS company. We sell (darn good) marketing, sales, and service software so you can use them to grow your business. But there’s just one problem …

Over time, we’ve learned that things aren’t so linear and consumers rarely use just one software to satisfy all of their needs. Instead, they find a plugin here, some software there, and maybe even a widget until they have a smorgasbord of options that, together, create the perfect solution.

Consumer expectations have changed — they want instant feedback, immediate solutions, and access to everything they need to solve their problems.

From a company’s standpoint, it can be costly to add more tools to your existing software. An ever-increasing demand makes it hard to accommodate every customer need.

Additionally, most software companies have segregated systems themselves, pulling in data from the cloud and on-site systems to complete their own stack. Ascend2 found that 57% of marketers recognize integrating disparate technologies as the biggest barrier to success.

What happens when you have different systems operating on separate platforms that each play an integral role in your business? You become subject to data loss, disjointed information, and misalignment.

Between consumer expectations and internal systems, we need to find a way to create a more frictionless experience.

iPaaS is the solution.

iPaaS acts as a conduit for communication between multiple systems — allowing for integration and data sharing. iPaas is a platform that connects otherwise disjointed systems to deliver a unified solution to customers.

iPaaS gives platforms unlimited potential, and as we deepen our cloud dependency, iPaaS becomes integral to nearly every business model.

This guide will give you an overview of iPaaS, how it works, and its key benefits. Read on to discover why you might consider iPaaS as a solution for your business.

Most companies run on various systems, especially between their sales, marketing, and service departments. iPaaS is a solution that improves communication between different silos by integrating software to better share data within the organization.

iPaaS also allows a company to expand its offering without the need to build out more services. Instead, it can integrate with another software that already provides that service and offer it as a unified, more robust solution to customers.

For example, say you sell a scheduling software that helps hairstylists book, manage, and send appointment reminders to their clients. After developing your product, you realize that stylists also want their clients to be able to leave reviews and make payments through your software. To meet your customers’ needs, you could either build out and add these features to your product, or you could use iPaaS to connect your software to existing review and payment software. The latter allows you to save time and money while also expanding your service offering and providing your clients with what they want.

How does iPaaS work?

A software company will rely on iPaaS to supply the infrastructure for creating connections and deploying software applications within the cloud.

The software company will set the parameters for the types of connections that are allowed on the platform. These parameters could be in the form of an application programming interface (API), prebuilt connectors, or some other rule.

Once these rules are in place, iPaaS creates a central ecosystem to view, manage, and modify all data, infrastructure, and operations. This, in turn, allows entities to easily modify their product, share information, and provide solutions to their market.

iPaaS-Related Terms to Know

How do you distinguish between all service-oriented architecture (SOA)? Let’s cover the common cloud-based service business models out there to help you get a better grasp on what makes iPaaS unique.

Platform

A platform is the centralized component of all connections. HubSpot’s VP of Platform Ecosystem Scott Brinker defines a platform as a “hub, with spokes connecting other products to its center. The hub binds those disparate products together and orchestrates them in a common mission.”

Integration Platform

An integration platform creates connections between different applications and systems. This type of platform creates an environment for engineers to build upon.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

A PaaS is a platform where the provider houses all of the elements that users need to deploy a particular software. Those elements include the servers, network, memory, database, and operating system.

Software

Software is a program that performs a specific set of tasks for an end user.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS is a system where the end user is provided with software to use on demand. All maintenance, hosting, and deployment of that software is the responsibility of the software provider.

Integration as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS is a cloud-based model that allows for data integration between systems and third-party vendors. IaaS keeps all connected parties from having to create complex interdependencies and minimizes delays in data sharing.

Electronic Service Bus (ESB)

Electronic Service Bus is not denoted “as a service,” but it’s important to distinguish between this offering and iPaaS. ESB is similar to iPaaS in that it enables data and application sharing across an organization. There are many differences, however, that make ESB a less-viable solution when dealing in cloud-based environments. ESB solutions exist on-premise only and, therefore, work less efficiently with remote or cloud-based integrations, they do not support multitenancy, and their response time can be slow when compared to iPaaS.

Benefits of iPaaS

The rise of SaaS over the past two decades created a gap in the ecosystem that needed to be filled. That gap — the need for more integrated systems — has only become more apparent. iPaaS arose out of a need for an organized solution for deploying quick and seamless cloud-based solutions.

You can think about the benefits of iPaaS as two-fold: benefits to the company that employs iPaaS (internal) and benefits to the customers of the company that employs iPaas (external).

External Benefits

Software companies that employ iPaaS technology as part of their offering to consumers reap benefits from increased customer satisfaction. Consumers benefit from iPaaS in a number of ways.

A Single Solution

Instead of piecing together separate software to solve their needs, consumers can use a platform that connects to all of their software in one convenient cloud-based location, thereby eliminating the need to source and deploy their technology in different environments.

Organized Data

Consumers can access all of their data in one place and set rules for how that data is organized and accessed. So, while they’re working with different systems, all of those systems will render data in an easy-to-interpret manner. All of this makes data analysis, interpretation, and application easier and more accurate.

Improved Communication

One platform means a single source of truth. Data is being shared within the same ecosystem so no important information is lost and everyone has the same access which leaves less room for misinterpretation.

Better Workflow

Less time switching between tools means more time for work and a central place where all of that work is done. A platform creates a more efficient environment for team dynamics and workflows.

Internal Benefits

Consumers aren’t the only ones who need integrated solutions. Companies also use disparate tools to run their businesses — think email providers, marketing software, document sharing, the list goes on. iPaaS brings these tools together to increase internal efficiency and improve workflows.

Here are some of the internal benefits to iPaaS.

Eliminate Silos

Third-party integrations can be created and deployed in various environments. This might not be an issue when there are only a few connections, however, as a company develops its offerings to become a more robust entity, integrations can become scattered, creating a mess where information is hidden from view or difficult to access and preventing a business from realizing critical insights.

Real-Time Processing

iPaaS allows for real-time data sharing and processing thereby eliminating delays in access and providing a quick and accessible solution.

Increased Efficiency

iPaaS mitigates confusion, data loss, and inconsistencies by creating a centralized system for the management of all parties involved.

Centralized Management

iPaaS creates a single, virtual view for managing all connections across the platform. Instead of having one individual or team manage different integrations, all of them can be accessed from a single console.

Multitenancy

Typically, each tenant that calls upon software requires its own instance. Similar to how every person on a call needs their own phone connection, an instance is created each time someone accesses the software. iPaaS allows for shared instances among tenants, eliminating overload, reducing costs, and increasing the speed of use.

Improved Security and Compliance

Security threats are inevitable in any environment, especially the cloud. iPaaS solutions offer fraud detection and intruder alerts. But the real benefit is that a centralized platform makes it easier to see where these threats are and respond adequately. In addition, a platform makes regulation compliance simple by implementing changes in a single environment.

Gartner iPaaS Magic Quadrant

Being that iPaaS is a newer technology, we look to objective opinions to check the validity, safety, and potential longevity of iPaaS vendors. Gartner iPaaS Magic Quadrant is that resource.

Gartner is an IT consulting firm and trusted resource for objective, qualitative industry research. According to Gartner, “Magic Quadrants offer visual snapshots, in-depth analyses and actionable advice that provide insight into a market’s direction, maturity, and participants.”

The Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration as a Service looks at several iPaaS vendors in the space and details the strengths and cautions of each provider. It compares vendors like Boomi, Jitterbit, MuleSoft, Oracle, and SAP among several others to provide an objective view on the iPaaS environment and to give readers perspective on which solution would best fit their needs.

iPaaS Vendors

iPaaS is a great solution to improve connection to and communication between all data and applications within your company. We’ve compiled this list of iPaaS vendors to help narrow your search for the perfect iPaaS partner.

Dell Boomi

Dell Boomi offers a complete iPaaS solution with application and data integration, workflow automation, application deployment, API design, and B2B management all within a single master hub.

Informatica

Informatica boasts customer loyalty and top-ranked iPaaS provider as their main advantages over other solutions. With a nod from Gartner and over seven thousand customers worldwide, the iPaaS vendor holds a top spot in the industry.

Jitterbit

Jitterbit understands the stress of building APIs between on-premise and cloud-based systems. The company has done well to empathize with businesses that lack the resources to build these integrations on their own and offers quick integrations with their platform as a result.

Mulesoft

Mulesoft offers cloud integration through its product called “CloudHub.” This solution offers multitenancy for integrations and API. The solution allows for deployment in eight different regions around the world, a number of workers, and out-of-the-box cloud security, and compliance. It also offers insights based on various metrics.

Zapier

Zapier is a well-known solution for connecting apps, automating workflows, and sharing data between otherwise disjointed systems.

iPaaS providers don’t stop there. You can view and compare dozens of vendors through a bit of research. Otherwise, Gartner has already done the work for you.

Get Integrated

As we continue to move towards cloud-based options, iPaaS becomes the most viable solution to eliminate the friction associated with disparate systems, and for connecting all applications and data between your organization and third parties. A single source that connects all of the systems we use to grow our businesses is an important step toward growing better. When we’re connected and in-sync, we can go further together. 

An Introduction to Brand Dilution, Extensions, and Cannibalization

You might know Cadbury for their high-end chocolate and candy, but did you know they sold instant mashed potatoes from the early 1960s to the mid 1980s?

Cadbury's Instant Mashed Potatoes Brand Extension

Image Credit: Geek Goes Vintage

Smash, their instant mashed potato brand, surprisingly reached mainstream success. But, unfortunately, it was at the expense of lowering their flagship product’s perceived quality.

Cadbury is a premium confectionery company, so when they started producing low-end food products, like instant mashed potatoes, it’s not shocking to learn that their association with the finest chocolates weakened. Eventually, in 1986, Cadbury sold Smash, only 20 years after they introduced their instant mashed potatoes to the world.

Cadbury’s expansion into instant mashed potatoes created a new revenue stream and even generated more sales for them, but it damaged their brand as a whole. This phenomena is called brand dilution, and, below, we’ll dive into it, as well as other related concepts called brand extensions and brand cannibalization.

When does brand dilution occur?

According to two marketing professors from Dartmouth College and UCLA, brand dilution usually occurs when a company’s failed brand extension is closely related to their flagship product — consumers will start questioning the company’s expertise and dedication to quality within their main product category.

On the other hand, when a company develops a brand extension that’s unrelated to their flagship product, consumers will expect differences in the extension and distance it from the brand’s main product category, leading to significantly less brand dilution if the extension fails.

Amongst a company’s most loyal customers, however, an unrelated brand extension can lead to brand dilution because they have a deeper understanding of the company’s brand identity. So even if the unrelated brand extension is successful and attracts new customers, the company’s most loyal customers may feel like the unrelated extension is inauthentic, causing them to think less of the brand.

Brand Dilution Examples

Pillsbury’s Frozen Microwave Popcorn (Closely Related Brand Extension)

Pillsbury's Frozen Microwave Popcorn Brand Extension

Image Credit: YouTube

Even though Pillsbury is known for producing foodstuffs, their frozen microwave popcorn couldn’t compete with Orville Redenbacher or General Mills’ Pop Secret because their product positioning of being “frozen for freshness” didn’t offer enough value. Sure, sticking your popcorn in the freezer is convenient (I guess), but that benefit pales in comparison to enjoying a better-tasting popcorn, and it diluted Pillsbury’s brand equity. 

Levi’s Tailored Classics (Unrelated Brand Extension)

Levi's Tailored Classics Brand Extension

Image Credit: Pinterest

When Levi’s introduced their Tailored Classics in the early 1980s, they already owned a large share of their target market, so they wanted to enter some new markets to sustain their high growth rate.

One of these markets was men’s suits, but since their brand was heavily associated with a casual, rugged, and outdoorsy lifestyle, Levi’s new product line conflicted with their core identity and failed to catch on.

Consumers trusted Levi’s to produce durable clothing that could endure the wrath of mother nature, but, for that very reason, they didn’t trust them to produce high-end tailored suits, leading to a loss of trust in their brand as a whole. 

For instance, when Apple released the iPad, the original Macintosh’s sales decreased, but the iPad’s sales were greater than the Macintosh’s loss in sales, so Apple actually grew their total revenue. However, brand cannibalization can also backfire, prompting customers to purchase the new product instead of the older product, leading to a stagnation or decrease in the company’s total revenue.

Extending your brand can be a double-edged sword.

Every business wants to capture as much market share as possible. But before you start developing a brand extension, make sure you truly understand your brand’s core identity and, more importantly, make sure you stick to it. Because if you don’t, you could release a brand extension worse than Eva Longoria’s Steakhouse for Women and wreak havoc on your brand as a whole and diminish your total revenue.

New Call-to-action

Do I Still Need a .com TLD For My Business?

Choosing a domain name for your business often goes something like this:

1. After hours of brainstorming, you discover the perfect domain name only to find out it was registered 20 years ago.

2. After a few more hours, you settle on another choice only to find out a payment of $50,000 was required.

3. After more hours and more iterations, you end up buying a .com domain name that you don’t feel great about.

This often happens due to the limited supply of top-level domains (TLDs) combined with the recommendation that all businesses should choose a .com or country-code TLD. But does having a common domain extension still matter? Should businesses still buy a .com domain name?

What is a top-level domain?

Before digging into the pros and cons of .coms vs. other TLDs, here’s a brief refresher on domain name terminology.

A top-level domain or TLD is the last segment of a domain name. For example, the most common TLD is .com. Other popular TLDs include .gov, .net, .and .edu. There are also country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) like .ca (Canada), .uk (United Kingdom), and .in (India).

One other note is that top-level domains are sometimes referred to as domain extensions or domain endings. For brevity, I’ll call them TLDs going forward. To learn more about other terms like subdomains and second-level level domains, check out our guide on What is a Domain?

Per ICANN, there are currently 1,532 TLDs for businesses to choose from. That’s an almost endless number of combinations. But should businesses use one that doesn’t end with .com? Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of non-dotcoms.

Do TLDs matter for SEO?

One of the most commonly asked questions about new TLDs is whether they affect SEO. Here’s a direct, 36-pixel sized quote from Google’s Guide on Traditional vs. New Domain Endings:

“Using a new domain ending will not hurt your search presence.”

This makes sense when you think about all the different ways Google can analyze page quality like backlinks, content analysis, search metrics, traffic metrics, and 200 other proven or theorized factors detailed by Backlinko. Another much simpler way to confirm Google’s stance on new TLDs is to notice that they own and use many like https://abc.xyz/, https://docs.new, and https://domains.google.

In other words, .com domains do not rank higher in search due to their TLD. However, they might indirectly rank higher due to Google’s preference for aged brands.

An aged brand is a website or company with a long track record of quality content, frequent updates, and technical uptime. If most other factors are close or equal, a page on an established brand will almost always rank higher than a page on a newer, less proven brand. And seeing that .com domains still make up 46.8% of ranked TLD usage per W3Techs, most aged brands are likely to be .coms.

So if you’re looking to purchase an existing website, a .com domain name might indirectly provide more search value. However, if you’re buying a new domain name, the TLD you choose will not affect your search rank.

Will a non-dotcom TLD help or hurt your company’s brand?

This is a very tough, subjective question with three likely answers:

1. A non-dotcom TLD will help customers remember your brand and serve as a unique differentiator.

2. A non-dotcom TLD will make your brand seem suspect and less reputable.

3. Customers won’t notice your TLD or won’t care about it.

The most frequent answer for your brand probably depends on customer demographics, traffic sources, and other factors.

For example, if you have a tech-savvy audience, they’re probably more likely to be familiar and comfortable with a different TLD. Technical people are frequently early adopters that understand and gravitate toward new, emerging trends. They might also be more likely to notice and care about the TLD you choose.

Alternatively, if you’re selling services to businesses in more traditional industries, your audience might see a non-dotcom as questionable. Paul Graham, the co-founder of the startup accelerator and seed capital firm Y Combinator, believes that B2B businesses, in particular, should prefer a .com whenever possible.

As mentioned in a Forbes article and accompanying tweet, Graham said,

“All other things being equal, .com domain names are preferable, and things are way more equal than people attached to their current name realize.” He also stated that, “dot-com domains are probably more important for B2B, because there you need the legitimacy.”

Finally, it’s always possible that your TLD won’t affect your brand positively or negatively. If your website consists of a lot of single-page, mobile traffic, maybe your customers won’t even notice what your domain name is. Overall, as different TLDs become more common, your customers will likely be equally comfortable with whatever you choose.

Will a new TLD cost more than a .com?

Most popular, new TLDs typically cost about the same as a .com. Per DomainNameStats, .xyz currently has an average price of $0.75, which is actually less than the average price of a .com. .club also has a very affordable average of $0.99. Most other options have similar, reasonable prices but there are some exceptions.

If you’re looking to buy a .makeup domain name, that will currently cost you an average of $5,783.59. I guess I’ll have to find another place to share my extensive collection of beauty tips. Other examples of expensive TLDs include .auto ($2,000), .rich ($1,596), .bank ($801), and .tickets ($389).

Prices might also change when it comes time to renew your domain name. The cost of a domain name is primarily determined by the domain registry (e.g., Verisign, Donuts, or Uniregistry) and the domain registrar (e.g., Google Domains, Namecheap, or GoDaddy). The domain registry first negotiates a price with ICANN, a non-profit that helps prevent unfair price increases. The domain registrar then marks up that negotiated price a little.

Price raises during renewals are typically due to the domain registrar. Some domain registrars are notorious for bait and switching with a low, initial price that increases upon auto-renewal. Questionable price increases are one of the many reasons that choosing a reliable, ethical domain registrar is important.

Are there any risks with a new TLD?

One small, almost irrelevant risk is that some websites or older software won’t be able to recognize your URL is valid. For example, when you create a social media post that links to your company’s website, Facebook or Twitter recognizes it’s a URL and is able to convert it into a clickable link. Some software struggles to do this with newer TLDs.

This scenario is pretty rare as most major websites quickly add support for new TLDs, but you might want to register a .com domain that redirects to your website just in case. You also might want to avoid being an ultra-early adopter of future TLDs.

Another likely negligible risk is that customers will have a tougher time finding your website when they manually type in your domain name. This probably isn’t a big deal because most Internet traffic comes from either search, social, referrals, advertisements, or email.

A study by Conductor using 310 million website visits found that only 12-29% of web traffic was actually “direct” traffic, and a much smaller percentage of that traffic is people typing your domain name into their browser.

As detailed by Moz, direct traffic sometimes includes a variety of scenarios like misattributed search traffic, “dark social” traffic, non-web documents, and improper redirects. It also probably includes some bot traffic. A more realistic estimate of actual direct traffic is probably anywhere from 0-5%.

Are there any indirect risks with a new TLD?

One indirect risk of a new TLD is that some are only available at a limited number of domain registrars. Not only could this lead to a higher price, but this might make you more prone to losing your domain name if you’re forced to use an unreliable registrar.

You should ideally try to purchase a domain name from a registrar that you believe is ethical and technically competent enough to maintain the security of your domain name. An unreliable registrar can lead to minor annoyances or major issues like accidentally transferring your domain name to hackers. A full range of possibilities is discussed in a Stack Exchange thread.

With that said, registrar horror stories are extremely rare. Most top registrars obtained their status by providing ethical, quality service. But like any service provider you do business with, you should try to evaluate a domain registrar’s competency, ethics, and other risk factors.

So should I still choose a .com domain for my business?

As seen above, there’s a lot of different questions to consider. Personally, I believe that if you’re happy with an available .com domain name, you should choose that. But if you’re not, you should strongly consider a different TLD.

In my opinion, having a brand that you believe in is way more important than settling on a name due to a concept that’s quickly becoming obsolete. Having a new TLD might even make your brand stand out.

If you agree and you’re ready to try out a new TLD, our guide on How to Choose a Domain Extension is a great place to start.

Twitter Ads Campaigns: A Simple Setup Guide

Twitter is a great marketing channel for driving traffic and generating leads. In fact, 63% of Twitter users follow small businesses — it’s no wonder that companies can see actual growth from this platform.

If you’re not yet using Twitter for business purposes, or want to get better at it, keep reading. You’ll learn how you can use Twitter ad campaigns to reach the audiences you care about.

Do you already have a Twitter account? If so, you know how to use its free functions: tweeting, following, and customizing your profile. But because businesses are meant to grow, so too is your social media presence.

To expand your reach and grow your follower list on Twitter, consider supplementing your organic efforts with the paid promotional opportunities Twitter has built right into the platform. Using Twitter Ads is an easy way to get your tweets in front of the audiences that don’t yet follow you, which is particularly useful for generating new leads for your business.

And you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on it, either — Twitter ads can be effective even on a relatively small budget.

So, how do you get started? Let’s walk through the basic steps to setting up a Twitter ad and how to decide on the best structure for your campaign.

How to Advertise on Twitter

1. Choose between “Promote Mode” and “Twitter Ads.”

get-started-twitter-ads

Visit this menu screen to get started. The first decision you need to make when setting up your Twitter ads is whether you’d like to promote individual tweets or run an entire ad campaign for a specific purpose.

Promoted Tweets vs. Twitter Ads

Promoted tweets will allow your tweets to appear in the Twitter streams or Twitter search results of specific users. Running Twitter Ads is a more holistic campaign, using multiple groups of tweets to accomplish a single goal for your brand. Depending on your objective, Twitter Ads can display your username in places other than a user’s newsfeed, such as the “Who to Follow” section to the right of their Twitter homepage.

To learn more about promoted tweets, skip to the next section below this list of steps.

How do I choose?

If you’re simply looking to get more eyeballs on a webpage, promoted tweets might be just the thing you need. In this option, you pay a flat monthly fee for as long as you’re promoting a tweet. It’s perfect for gaining focused exposure on (and generating leads from) a particular aspect of your business.

If you’re looking to grow your follower base and/or build up your audience, Twitter Ads offer a bit more firepower. In the steps below, you’ll learn how to harness it.

2. Select your Twitter Ad’s objective.

twitter-ads-objectives

Promoted tweets are fairly easy to set up, and you can learn about this process in the section at the bottom of this blog post. To launch a Twitter Ad campaign, however, your next step is determining your objective. You have eight objectives to choose from, and you can see an elaboration of each objective once you select one on the Twitter Ads page linked in Step 1 of this article.

  • App installs
  • Followers
  • Tweet engagements
  • Promoted video views
  • Website clicks or conversions
  • App re-engagements
  • In-stream video views (pre-roll)
  • Awareness

Promoted Accounts

Ad campaigns focused on followers, the second objective listed above, are also known as “Promoted Accounts.” This type of campaign allows you to promote your profile, rather than a series of tweets, in your target audience’s newsfeeds and on the profile pages of the other accounts they care about.

3. Fill in the details your ad campaign.

Once you choose an objective, you’ll be taken to a page where you can name your campaign, a start and end date for your campaign, and your campaign’s total budget. Depending on the objective you chose in Step 2, you might have other details to fill in that are unique to your ad. If your objective is app installs, for example, this step will require you to connect your app to Twitter, and then select this app from the dropdown shown below.

twitter-app-installs-dropdown

When determining how much money you want to invest in a Twitter Ads campaign, you’ll set a daily budget and an optional total budget. Throughout the day, your daily budget will pay Twitter your set amount at the specific cadence you can set yourself.

The cadence of your promoted content can be set to “Standard (recommended),” which shows ads to your target audience at intervals Twitter deems most efficient; or “Accelerated,” which shows your ads as much as possible throughout the day. Accelerated ads cater to ad campaigns you want to perform well in a short amount of time.

4. Create an ad group within your campaign.

twitter-campaign-ad-groups

Next, you’ll create an ad group for your campaign — there should be at least one pre-created on the lefthand side of your Twitter Ads page. To create more than one ad group, select “Copy ad group” to the righthand side of your current ad group and you’ll see new ones appear in your ad campaign’s framework, as shown above.

Ad groups are individual ads that consist of their own budgets, audiences, and start and end times — but operate under the umbrella of your larger campaign.

For example, if you have a two-week Twitter Ads campaign with the objective of website clicks and a budget of $100, you can also create one or more ad groups that run for just a couple of days each, promote separate webpages on your website, and target different types of Twitter users. You’ll see how to set these parameters in the next few steps.

In the “Details” tab, shown above, enter an ad group name, a start and end time, a budget for the ad group, and a bid type. Bid types allow you to “bid” on a promoted ad placement. Ad placements will cost different amounts depending on your audience and where the ad appears on Twitter, and you can set your ad group to bid for placement in one of three ways:

  • Automatic bid: This type of bid permits Twitter to bill you the most cost-effective amount every time your audience engages with your ad content. The cost Twitter bills you is based on your ad group’s budget and audience parameters.
  • Maximum bid: This type of bid gives you full control over how much money you’re willing to pay every time your audience engages with your ad content.
  • Target bid: This type of bid allows you to specify how much money from your ad group’s budget you’d like Twitter to bill you every time your audience engages with your ad content. The price you’re billed will reflect the daily average cost of each ad placement within your audience.

5. Select your target audience for each ad group.

Beneath the “Details” tab of your ad group, select “Targeting.” This is where you’ll set the parameters of your target audience.

It’s important to customize your audience to be a good fit for your company and your message. That way, you’re only paying for engagement from folks who might have some interest in downloading your content or learning more about your product or service. A more targeted audience is more likely to help you generate qualified leads.

What are my options?

To select an audience for each ad group you create, you’ll customize the following criteria:

  • Gender: If your product or service caters primarily to either males or females, you should take advantage of the gender targeting option.
  • Age: Setting an age range is helpful for advertisements that are promoting a product or event that has either a particular age restriction or scope of interest.
  • Location: You’ll want to target by location if you run a local business, or if you sell primarily to specific regions (whether that’s your city or North America).
  • Language: This criterion might need to be used in tandem with the location filter, described above, if an ad is targeting a region of the world that speaks a language other than English.
  • Device: This is a great targeting option if your product or service caters more specifically to people on the go, or if your website visitors are most likely to convert on your offer when they’re in the office.
  • Audience features: These include keywords, movies & shows, conversation topics, events, and related interests.

You can also select which devices you’d like your promoted tweets to be displayed on — any combination of desktop and the various mobile devices.

Targeting by Keywords

Targeting by “keywords” — an option included in the “Audience features” field, listed above — allows you to reach people that search, tweet about, or engage with specific keywords. For example, if I’m promoting HubSpot’s ebook, How to Use Twitter for Business, I might filter my audience by keywords I consider relevant to this advertisement, like this:

twitter-keywords-audience-targeting

This audience targeting criterion is helpful if you want to know exactly how many Twitter users are currently using a keyword. As you can see in the screenshot above, the keyword “marketing” is being used by 7.67 million people. This data can help you decide between topics that seem similar but have different levels of popularity you wouldn’t know about otherwise.

Targeting by Interests and Followers

Targeting by interests and followers allows you to create a list of Twitter usernames and then target users whose interests are similar to the interests of those users’ followers.

A great use of this type of targeting is when compiling a small list of the top influencers in your industry. For example, to promote HubSpot’s How to Use Twitter for Business ebook, I’ll want to target an audience of users interested in social media. Targeting by interests and followers allows me to say, “show these tweets to people who are like so-and-so’s followers.” As a result, I’ve created a large audience that’s still tailored to the topic of my content.

With this targeting option, you can also add a list of interest categories. So, for example, I could say, “show these tweets to people interested in marketing, social media, or lead generation.” Again, this creates a broad audience focused on the topic of the content or products you’re promoting.

6. Select the creatives you’d like to run with each ad group.

Your last task in creating a Twitter Ads campaign is to choose the creatives you want to run with each ad group belonging to your campaign. “Creatives” are simply the tweets you want to promote, and you can select them from the list of tweets that appear under each ad group’s Creatives tab. Select the “Creatives” tab beneath the Targeting tab to get started.

This is the fun part. You can either select from existing tweets in your account or create new ones.

To compose a new tweet, click the blue quill icon to the far right of your Creatives screen. When crafting a new tweet, you can check the “Promoted-only” button if you’d only like to promote it through your Twitter Ads campaign, and not have the tweet appear organically on your followers’ newsfeeds. See what this option looks like below.

promoted-only-tweet

In addition to promoting your tweets on your audiences’ timelines, you can also choose to have your tweets appear in users’ profiles and the detail pages of specific twitter conversations. The benefit of this type of targeting is that it helps you define a more qualified audience, since these people are actively looking for or engaging with those specific keywords that are relevant to your offer. You can select this option on the righthand side of your Creatives tab, as shown below.

where-your-promoted-ads-appear

7. Review and launch your campaign.

Finally, select the “Review your campaign” button, as shown above, to look over your campaign details. If everything looks correct, hit “Launch campaign” at the top-righthand corner of your screen to run the campaign.

How to Promote a Tweet

Promoting tweets allows you to show critical pieces of content to a wide audience and drive views to the landing pages that generate leads for your business. This Twitter Ads option gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of the content you want potential viewers and customers to see.

Here’s a quick definition of this ad so you can understand how it differs from the ad campaign we walked you through in the above section:

Here’s how to promote a tweet:

1. Select “Promote Mode” from the campaign menu and click “Get started.”

You’ll start from the same place you start when creating a full, multi-tweet Twitter Ads campaign: This menu screen. Once there, click “Get started.” When you’re done, click “Next” on the top-righthand corner of the page.

2. Select your promoted tweet’s country and timezone.

Currently, you can only promote tweets to audiences in the U.S., the U.K., and Japan. Start creating your ad by selecting of these three options, as well as your intended timezone. When you’re done, click “Next” on the top-righthand corner of the page.

3. Choose either “Interests” or “Location” as your targeting method.

Twitter can promote tweets to an audience based on their interests or location. Choose one of these methods and follow Step 4 or Step 5, below, depending on your choice.

4. Choose up to five interests associated with your target audience.

audience-interests-promoted-tweets

If you choose to target an audience based on their interests, select this option, hit “Next,” and Twitter will take you to the page shown above. Here, you can select a maximum of five interests related to your ideal audience.

Keep in mind the more interests you select, the more types of people your promoted tweet will appear in front of.

5. Choose up to five locations associated with your target audience.

audience-location-promoted-tweetsIf you choose to target an audience based on their location, select this option, hit “Next,” and Twitter will take you to the page shown above. Here, you can search a specific city, state, and country where you want your ad to appear.

You can select up to five locations where you’d like your tweet to be promoted. Keep in mind you can only place promoted tweets in front of users who live in the U.S., the U.K., or Japan.

6. Review your ad criteria and select “Proceed.”

Once you’ve customized your audience’s interests or location, hit “Next” and Twitter will show you an overview of your ad criteria, including your bill.

Sound good to you? Review your ad criteria and check that you agree to the Twitter Promote Mode’s Terms of Service at the bottom of this page. Then, click “Proceed” on the top-righthand corner of your screen.

7. Add your billing information and launch your promoted tweet.

If you haven’t yet added billing information, Twitter will ask you to enter it in the following screen. Select “Save” and follow the prompts to officially promote your tweet.

There you have it! No matter which type of Twitter ad you create, be sure to keep an eye on your campaigns as they run and continue to optimize them for better results in the future.

New Call-to-action

What's a Website Title (Title Tag) & Why Does It Matter for SEO?

To consider what a title tag is, and why it matters for SEO, let’s start with an example.

Let’s say I’m a true beginner in the marketing industry, and I don’t even have a firm grasp on what marketing is — so I turn to Google, and I type in my question, “What is marketing?”

With my question, I’m likely not looking for “marketing best practices” or “10 best marketing campaigns of 2018”. Sure, both of those titles have my keyword “marketing” in them, but they won’t answer my direct question.

So Google, understanding my intent, serves me this:

Undoubtedly, you can see how a title benefits both a user and a search engine.

While HubSpot’s “What Is Marketing? [FAQ]” piece needs to be compelling — and follow other SEO tactics — to land on page one of Google, it will never reach its desired audience with the wrong title.

A title, then, enables users to see what a web page’s content is about — and, equally importantly, tells search engines how it should rank the page.

A search engine knows the title of a web page by finding a title tag in the code — for instance, on “What Is Marketing? [FAQ]”, a search engine will find this in the HTML:

Along with being helpful for search engines and users, a title tag is also useful when someone has multiple tabs open. For instance, let’s say a user is researching marketing extensively, and using your resource as one of many (or, procrastinating on Facebook … ).

When the user needs to return to your web page, she can find the correct tab via your page’s title:

Now that we’ve covered why website titles matter, here are a few best practices when it comes to creating a good title tag:

  • Keep it short, ideally under 60 characters
  • Don’t use caps
  • Don’t overdo keywords in the title — for instance, don’t title your piece, “What Is Marketing? Marketing Tips, Marketing Facts, Marketing General Information”
  • Write compelling copy that would make you want to click on the link
  • Make it relevant to the page itself
  • Make your <h2> keywords different from the title tag
  • Include your brand in the title, i.e. “Best Advertising Campaigns – Advertising Age

To further strengthen your titles, take a look at How to Write Catchy Headlines and Blog Titles Your Readers Can’t Resist.

1. 10 Best Nike Sneakers in 2019 [Buying Guide]

2. Top 15 Ad Campaigns of the 21st Century – Advertising Age

3. The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags for 2019 – HubSpot Blog

4. 34 Essential Things to Know Before You Visit China – Y Travel Blog

5. A Novel Way to Boost Client Satisfaction – Harvard Business Review

6. SEO Is Back. Thank God. – New York Magazine

7. Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company – Medium

Improve your website with effective technical SEO. Start by conducting this  audit.  

The Social Media Content Calendar Template Every Marketer Needs [Free Template]

“We have a 9 a.m. meeting? Hold on — let me just click around the internet like a maniac to find something for the morning tweet.” 

Sound familiar? Scrambling for social content is nothing new. We have meetings. We run late. Things come up. And it’s really hard to get any meaningful amount of work done when you have the next social media update looming over your head every 30, 60, or 90 minutes. It all moves so fast that you might periodically feel a case of the vapors coming on, which is why pre-scheduled social media content should be your new best friend.

To make social media content easier for companies to plan and schedule across the accounts they manage, we created a social media content calendar template. And recently, we updated to be better, faster, stronger, and just generally prettier. 

You can fill it in at the same day and time every single week to prep for the following week’s social media content. That means when you burst through the office doors at 9 a.m., you won’t be in panic mode looking for something to push out to your Facebook fans — you already took care of that last week.

This blog post will walk you through exactly how to use the template to stay on top of your social media content planning for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

Note: HubSpot customers can also schedule content through Social Inbox, or use this spreadsheet to organize their content and subsequently upload it to Social Inbox. Detailed instructions for doing this exist in the cover sheet of the template.

How to Use the Social Media Calendar Template to Plan Your Content Schedule

When you open up the social media content calendar template, you’ll notice the bottom of the Excel spreadsheet has several different tabs, most of which are dedicated to a specific social network.

social-media-calendar-excel-tabs.png

The reason you’ll want a different worksheet for every social network is simply that every social network is a little bit different. You can’t just craft one, single social media update and use it across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. You can certainly promote the same piece of content across all six of those networks, but that doesn’t mean you’ll craft your update in the same way for every single one of them. (In fact, you may even want to add additional tabs if you’re active on other networks, like Quora or YouTube.)

This following sub-sections will walk you through how to fill out each of the four tabs you see in this template — the updates for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. But before we get to that, let’s just walk through the “Monthly Planning Calendar” so you know what that’s for.

Monthly Social Media Schedule 

The tab “Monthly Planning Calendar” provides an overall snapshot of your monthly social media campaigns. It’ll help you coordinate better with other stakeholders, not to mention keep all the moving parts straight in your own mind. Here’s what it looks like:

social-media-calendar-month-view.png

There are three sections to take note of when you edit this template for your own purposes. First, the color-coding key: These are the types of content or campaigns around which you might coordinate, like ebooks, webinars, blog posts, product launches, and so on. Though only some of these might be relevant to you, they’re there to indicate what you may want to put in there — so be sure to edit these categories to align with your own campaigns.

The other two sections you’ll need to edit are the Month and Year at the top of the calendar (duh), as well as the cells below each day of the week. In those cells, you should enter the type of content you’ll be promoting that day and color-code it to align with the campaign it’s supporting.

Instead of deleting all the content in this spreadsheet each month, I recommend copying this worksheet twelve times over, and creating a separate sheet for each month. (If that gets to be too overwhelming, you can always save those tabs as a separate file.)

Planning Your Twitter Content Calendar

Alright, now let’s get to the social media content. This section will be the lengthiest, because all subsequent sections will draw on the instructions we go through here. So if you read one section in this whole post, make it this one.

Let’s say you want to add some tweets to your scheduling template. Skip over to the “Twitter Updates” tab, where you’ll see this:

Social media calendar template for Twitter content

The first four columns, “Day,” “Date,” “Time,” and “Date & Time” are there for your convenience, and if you choose to use a third-party app for pre-scheduling your tweets (like HubSpot’s Social Inbox), then these columns will be useful. For now, just fill in the date on which you’d like your updates to publish to Twitter, and the time at which you’d like them to go out. The “Date & Time” column will automatically change based on what you input in the previous two columns.

Now, let’s move over to the “Message” column. Here, input the copy you’d like to appear in your tweet, bearing in mind you should cap it at 116 characters to allow enough room for a link, and at 115 characters to allow room for an image. (Read this blog post for a full character count guide.) This spreadsheet will auto-calculate the number of characters you’ve entered to keep you on-point, turning yellow when you’ve reached 95 characters, and red when you’ve reached 116 characters.

After you’ve composed your tweet, paste the URL you’d like to include in your tweet in the “Link” column. Be sure to include UTM parameters so you’ll know whether all of these tweets are actually driving traffic, leads, and customers. This is an important step to remember if you’d like to be able to demonstrate ROI from social. You can also use the “Campaign” column to add an associated campaign, which helps which more robust tracking and reporting.

Finally, in the “Image” column, attach the tweet’s image (if you have one). For Twitter, we recommend images that are 1024 x 512 pixels. (Click here for a full cheat sheet of social media image sizes.) If you’re having trouble attaching your image to the spreadsheet, follow these steps:

Step 1: Right-click the cell in which you’d like your image.

Step 2: Click “Hyperlink,” then click the “Document” button, and finally, click “Select” to choose your image.

Step 3: In the “Choose a File” window, select the image from your computer and click “Open.”

Step 4: You’ll now see the image attached to the “Insert Hyperlink” screen. Feel free to edit the “Display” text to change the file name, then click “OK.”

Note: This process is simply for organizational purposes. If you decide to upload the spreadsheet to your social media publishing software, it will not attach — you’ll have to do that with your marketing software. If you’re a HubSpot customer, details for how to bulk upload your Twitter content to Social Inbox can be found within the downloaded template.

Planning Your Facebook Content Calendar

Now, let’s talk about how to plan your Facebook marketing in advance with the template. Navigate on over to the tab in your template labeled “Facebook Updates.”

Social media calendar template for Facebook content

Facebook updates work similarly to Twitter updates, with the exception being bulk uploading your content is not possible in Social Inbox.

The first three columns, “Day,” “Date,” and “Time” are there for your convenience. Head on over to the column labeled “Message” and input the copy you’d like to appear in your status update, corresponding to the days and times you’d like those updates to run. Then, move to the “Link” column and input the link you’ll be, you know, linking to in the update. (Don’t forget that tracking token.) If you’d like the update to be tagged to a certain campaign, include this in the “Campaigns” column. Finally, attach an image just like you did with your Twitter updates — if you’re using one, we suggest you edit it to be 1200 x 900 pixels. (Click here for a full cheat sheet of social media image sizes.)

Planning Your LinkedIn Content Calendar

LinkedIn updates are the most unique, because you have both Company Pages and Groups to consider. To demonstrate the difference between Company Page updates and Group updates, let’s navigate over to the column labeled “Title (For Group Discussions Only).”

Social media calendar template for LinkedIn content

LinkedIn Groups let you post a few kinds of updates, one of which is called a “Discussion.” You will only fill out the “Title (For Group Discussions Only)” column if you’re looking to post a Discussion to your LinkedIn Group — because Discussions are the only update you’ll be posting that requires a title. If you’re not posting a Discussion to a LinkedIn Group, you don’t need to fill out this field, because your update will not have a title.

You’ll fill out the next column, “Message,” for every type of update you post, whether it’s for a Company Page or a Group. Simply input your copy into this column, and then navigate to the next two columns, “Link” and “Campaign” to input the URL to which you’re directing readers with the tracking token you’ll use to track activity, and the associated campaign if one exists. If you’d like to use an image for an update, attach it per the instructions laid out in the “Twitter” section. We recommend editing the image to 700 x 520 pixels.

Planning Your Instagram Posting Calendar

Now, let’s move on to how to set up your Instagram photos and videos in advance with the template. Navigate on over to the tab in your template labeled “Instagram Updates.”

Social media calendar template for Instagram content

Instagram updates work similarly to Facebook updates, in that content can’t be uploaded in bulk to Social Inbox like it can with Twitter.

The first three columns, “Day,” “Date,” and “Time” are there for your convenience. Head on over to the column labeled “Message,” and input the copy you’d like to appear in your post’s caption, corresponding to the days and times you’d like those updates to run. Keep in mind that although Instagram captions can be up to 2,200 characters long, they cut off in users’ feeds after three lines of text. The exact length of these three lines depends on the length of your Instagram handle. (Read this blog post for a full character count guide.)

Next, move to the “Link for Bio” column and input whichever link you plan to put in the bio when you publish the accompanying Instagram post. (The reason you’d put a link in your bio and not the photo caption itself is because clickable URLs aren’t allowed anywhere except the single “website” box in your bio. See #13 in this blog post for more on how that works.) Oh, and don’t forget that tracking token.

If you’d like the update to be tagged to a certain campaign, include this in the “Campaigns” column. Finally, attach an image just like you did with your other social media updates — we suggest you edit it to be 1080 pixels x 1080 pixels. (Click here for a full cheat sheet of social media image sizes.)

Planning Your Pinterest Content Calendar

Alright, now let’s go over how to set up your Pinterest pins in advance with the template. Navigate on over to the tab in your template labeled “Pinterest Updates.”

Social media calendar template for Pinterest content

Pinterest updates work similarly to Facebook and Instagram updates, in that content can’t be uploaded in bulk to Social Inbox like it can with Twitter.

The first three columns, “Day,” “Date,” and “Time” are there for your convenience. Go to the column labeled “Message,” and input the copy you’d like to appear in your pin’s description, corresponding to the days and times you’d like those updates to run. Then, move to the “Link” column and input the link you’ll be, you know, linking to in the update. (Don’t forget that tracking token.)

If you’d like the update to be tagged to a certain campaign, include this in the “Campaigns” column. Finally, attach an image like you did with your other social media updates — we suggest you edit it to be 735 pixels x 1102 pixels.

Planning Your Google+ Posting Calendar

Finally, we come to Google+.

Social media calendar template for Google+ content

Update: Google recently announced it is shutting down its Google+ platform. Please consider using the template and instructions below for any potential social networking platform Google launches in the future, and check back with us for an updated template that reflects this rollout.

Start in the “Message” column, and input your status update. Then move over to “Link” column, where you’ll input the link to which you’re directing readers. If you’d like the update to be tagged to a certain campaign, include this in the “Campaigns” column. If you’re attaching an image, you could use multiple different sizes, but 960 pixels x 960 pixels works best. (Click here for a full cheat sheet of social media image sizes.)

Content Repository (Or, Where to Source Social Media Content)

This template also provides you with a tab called “Content Repository,” which should help you keep track of all your content and maintain a healthy backlog of fodder to make sourcing social media content easier.

social-media-calendar-content-repository.png

As you create more assets, you’ll likely want to resurface and re-promote those pieces down the line, too. To ensure you don’t lose track of all of that content, record it on this tab so you’re never at a loss for what to publish on social. If the content you’re promoting isn’t evergreen, be sure to include an expiration date in the column marked “Expiration” so you don’t promote it when it’s jumped the shark.

This tab will also help you maintain a healthy balance of content: A mix of your own content and others’, a mix of content formats and types, and mix of lead generation content vs. MQL-generating content vs. traffic-friendly content.

Don’t Forget to Interact With Your Followers

Whether you use this spreadsheet to plan your content out in advance or upload to a third-party app, you’ll still need to supplement these updates with one the fly content. Breaking news hits? Whip up a quick update to share it with your network. Someone in your network tweets something interesting? Give it a retweet with some commentary. Got a fascinating comment on one of your updates? Respond with a “thank you” for their interaction or an additional follow-up comment.

Coming up with and scheduling your social media content in advance is a huge time-saver, but it should go without saying that you still need to monitor and add to your social presence throughout the day.

Finally, we encourage you to experiment with your social media publishing. This template provides publishing dates and times for each social network, but you may find those are way too many updates for you to fill, or perhaps too infrequent for your booming social presence. You should adjust your social media publishing frequency as needed.

Free Template Social Media Content Calendar

When Is the Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2019? [Cheat Sheet]

In high school, one of my friends was determined to find the perfect time to post her Instagram photos to maximize the amount of likes she got. She was surprisingly scientific about it, posting at different times of the day and jotting down each of her posts’ “likes per minute.”

After weeks of testing, she figured out which post time raked in the most likes, and, from then on, she could easily get 200 likes on all her Instagram posts.

My friend’s rather scientific method to maximize her Instagram likes still makes me chuckle to this day. But since I’m a marketer now, her desire to build a strong Instagram presence also resonates with me.

To build a sizable Instagram following, you need to create compelling content that your audience actually craves. But if you don’t post your content at the right time, most of them will never see it.

So how do you figure out the optimal post time for your specific audience?

The best way to find an ideal posting time is by testing the timing of your posts to see which post time generates the most audience engagement.

But if you don’t have enough resources or time to conduct your own tests, Sprout Social, a social media management platform with over 24,000 customers, has you covered. Last year, they analyzed their customer data to see what time and day their social media posts generated the most engagement. They also segmented the data by social network and industry.

Looking at their aggregate customer data for Instagram, you can see that the following days and times — in Central Daylight Time (CDT) — are ideal for generating the most engagement on the social network:

As stated above, although 2 – 3 PM is considered the best time of day to post on Instagram, the day of the week on which you post can change how much engagement you actually get at 2 – 3 PM.

Why? Think about the little differences in your daily mood and routine — the ones you might not realize you have — and how they affect your behavior. The same goes for everyone following your Instagram account. Here are some additional insights about optimal post timing from data by Sprout Social to show you what I mean:

  • Posting at 5:00 AM CDT from Tuesday to Friday generates some of the highest engagement — people usually check their phones right when they wake up.
  • Posting from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM CDT during the weekdays also generates a lot of engagement — people usually check their phones during lunch or when they start to run out of mental energy toward the end of the work day.
  • If you want to post on the weekends, post on Saturday around 11:00 AM CDT when people eat brunch or hang out with their friends.

So, when Instagramming, don’t go by this time range alone. Consider both the day of the week and the industry you’re in (we’ll talk about the latter in just a minute).

Best Time to Post on Instagram for Each Day of the Week

On average, here are the best times to Instagram during the week:

  • Sunday: 10 AM – 2 PM CDT
  • Monday: 11 AM – 5 PM CDT
  • Tuesday: 5 AM, 9 AM – 6 PM CDT
  • Wednesday: 5 AM, 11 AM, *3 PM CDT
  • Thursday: *5 AM, *11 AM, *3 – 4 PM CDT
  • Friday: *5 AM, 9 AM – 4 PM CDT
  • Saturday: 11 AM CDT

* = particularly high levels of engagement

Want some easy marching orders based on this data? Post to Instagram between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM CDT from Tuesday to Friday. You’ll get the most consistent engagement that way.

The general data above about optimal post timing is a great starting point for growing an engaged Instagram audience. But if you want to get more granular, here are the best times to post on Instagram if your organization is in the technology, B2C, education, healthcare, and non-profit industries, according to Sprout Social’s research.

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Technology Companies

  • Best Time: Wednesday at 10:00 AM CDT
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Wednesday to Friday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM CDT
  • Best Day: Thursday
  • Worst Day: Sunday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for B2C Companies

  • Best Time: Saturday at 11:00 AM & 1:00 PM CDT
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Everyday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM CDT
  • Best Day: Wednesday
  • Worst Day: Monday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Educational Organizations

  • Best Time: Monday at 8:00 PM CDT
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Weekdays from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM CDT
  • Best Day: Monday
  • Worst Day: Sunday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Healthcare Companies

  • Best Time: Tuesday at 1:00 PM CDT
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Tuesday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM CDT
  • Best Day: Tuesday
  • Worst Day: Saturday & Sunday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Non-Profit Organizations

  • Best Times: Tuesday at 3:00 PM & 9:00 PM, Wednesday at 3:00 PM & 4:00 PM, Thursday at 2:00 PM & 3:00 PM, and Friday at 10:00 AM & 2:00 PM,
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Weekdays from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM
  • Best Day: Tuesday
  • Worst Day: Saturday

Every brand’s audience is different. To build a sizable, engaged Instagram audience, you need to know who your followers are. And one of the best ways to get to know your audience and capture their attention is by knowing exactly when they like to surf the app

instagram data

Everything You Need to Know to Start a Retail Business

I worked in three different retail stores while growing up. The most memorable experience I had was working at a clothing store on Cape Cod when I was 18. The store had been recently renovated and looked beautiful — the desk with the cash register was designed to look like it was built from parts of a large fishing boat and the nautical theme continued to the inventory, floors, and gift boxes.

The store manager was also incredible — she was meticulous, caring, a natural problem solver, highly organized, and knew our products inside and out. She trained all employees to ensure we were prepared to assist any customer who entered the store in a way that was helpful and on-brand. My experience working at this store was a prime example of everything a retail business should be.

From your store’s appearance to inventory to the manager you hire, there are a multitude of factors that impact the creation of a prosperous retail business Follow along and we’ll cover the steps you should take to start your retail business, the resources and tools you’ll need to manage your store, and how to find the right employees to work in your store. 

But first, a critical question.

Now that you understand what type of store falls under the definition of a retail business, you might be wondering how to actually go about starting one. Let’s review 11 steps that are critical when beginning your retail business.

Each of these 11 steps should be thoughtfully considered and completed when building your retail business as some are actually federal and state legal obligations. Also, these steps aren’t listed in any specific order so feel free to jump around and work through them in any way that makes sense to you.

1. Create a Business Plan

One of the first things anyone looking to start a business should do is create a business plan. This is the document that details all aspects of your company including what you’ll sell, how your business will be structured, who your target audience is, and your financial information. 

Creating a business plan is crucial because it provides you (and your partners) with a comprehensive overview of your business at once making it easy for you to determine what will or will not work and what needs to be modified. Your business plan should be concise, yet informative and detailed. It’s also important to remember this is a living document, meaning you can always make changes as you start to implement different aspects of your plan.

Discover how to create a business plan to help you kickstart your company.

2. Choose Your Legal Structure

Disclaimer: This post is not legal advice for your company to use when choosing your legal structure or building your retail business. Instead, it provides background information to help you better understand these processes. This legal information is not the same as legal advice, where an attorney applies the law to your specific circumstances, so we insist that you consult an attorney if you’d like advice on your interpretation of this information or its accuracy. In a nutshell, you may not rely on any of this piece as legal advice, or as a recommendation of any particular legal understanding. 

When starting a retail business, you’ll have to choose a legal structure. Legal structures are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and determine which income tax forms you have to complete and submit for your business. Here are five common business legal structures for your consideration:

Learn how to choose the right legal structure for your new business.

3. Name Your Business

Your business’ name should be catchy, easy to say and repeat, unique, and convey meaning. This way you know it’ll resonate with your customers and be memorable.

You should also search the web to ensure it hasn’t been used. To double check your name hasn’t already been taken, you can search for a trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database. If you are beginning a C Corp or an LLC, you’ll need to visit your Secretary of State’s website to ensure your business entity’s name hasn’t already been used. (Here’s what the Massachusetts Secretary of State website looks like for reference.)

4. File for an Employer Identification Number

You’re most likely going to need to file for something called an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, when you start your business. This is an identifier almost every business in the US and US territories — provided by the IRS — must obtain. Your EIN is what your business will use to report income tax activity.

You can check with your state to make sure you need an EIN as well as review the IRS EIN checklist to make sure you qualify. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to apply for your employer identification number.

5. Understand Other Retail Business Laws

One final legal step for you to complete to set up your business — understand all other retail business laws at both the state and federal levels. We’ve covered a lot of the tax information you’ll need to be aware of, how to legally name and trademark your business, and how to file for an EIN. But you’ll also want to make sure you have all other legal matters taken care of before opening up your retail business. 

Every state’s government website should have a section that reads something like “starting a business”, similar to this one from the Massachusetts government site. Here, you’ll be able to work through a checklist of items to make sure everything you’re doing is legal. You’ll also be able to acquire any other necessary retail business papers and permits. In terms of government laws related to your business you should have a general understanding of tax, employment, and labor, antitrust, advertising, environmental, and licensing laws among other retail laws

Our recommendation to you is hire a lawyer or consultant to help you throughout this process — or at least get you started. The last thing you want to do is go through the effort or starting your retail business and then find yourself in legal trouble. A lawyer or consultant can ensure you consider and understand all retail business laws and requirements. 

Now, it’s time to get out of the legal mindset and move onto some more creative aspects of your retail business.

6. Pick a Location and Make Your Store Attractive

Your store’s location and appearance matter. This is how you’re going to make sure you have the foot traffic and visibility you need to kickstart and maintain a high volume of customers. It’s also how you’ll attract customers and make them want to enter your store.

Retail Store Location

If you decide to go with commercial space for your retail business — which is a building intended for stores or companies to conduct business and make a profit — make sure your location is a good one by chatting with other businesses next door and nearby. You can even conduct an informal foot traffic study by hanging out in the area to observe the number of people who shop there as well as the type of clientele to determine whether or not it resembles that of your buyer personas.

When looking at commercial spaces, you should also think about whether or not you want to rent/ lease the space and work with a landlord or buy the space so you have full control. 

Learn how to create buyer personas for your business to enhance your marketing strategy.  

You might decide to conduct your retail business out your of your home rather than a commercial space. While this will save you a lot of money because you won’t be putting any towards a separate building or retail space, it might feel slightly less professional to your customers. It may also be harder to bring in foot traffic depending on the location of your home. 

No matter what type of retail location you choose, be sure to look into your city’s zoning and planning details. These are typically provided by every town’s zoning commission and tell you whether or not changes to the area, such as construction or traffic, will create any problems or limitations for your store.

Retail Store Appearance

From the way your inventory is presented to your choice in cashier counter to your window displays, everything your customers see and experience should feel and look professional, clean, and beautiful. This way customers want to enter your store and feel excited to do business with you. 

You can make your store look great and feel inviting by using visual merchandising techniques to help you design it in a way that’s well-organized, well-lit, and on-brand. You can also hire a consultant to come in and help you lay out your store in a way that’s visually appealing.

7. Find Your Inventory

Finding the right inventory to sell is crucial. You need to give your customers a reason to come to your store by providing them with unique items they’d have a hard time finding anywhere else — especially since online shopping is so common today due to its convenience. To help get you started, you can search for one of a kind items and unique pieces at fairs, trade shows, and festivals

Here are a couple more things to think about when trying to determine how you’ll source your business’ inventory:

Current Trends

Keep up with current trends within your retail niche (clothing, jewelry, accessories, etc.) to determine the type of inventory you should sell. With the help of social media, retail blogs, and magazines, and by simply learning about what’s doing well in other retail stores similar to yours, you’ll be able to determine the ideal inventory for your brand and buyer personas. These resources will ensure there’s a base of customers looking for the type of inventory you’re going to be selling.

Supplier

Consider the type of supplier you want to get your inventory from — this might be through a manufacturer, individual maker, or wholesale.

  • Manufacturer
  • Individual Maker
  • Wholesale

Working with a manufacturer gives you a lot of flexibility because they help you create products that don’t already exist. Although you can determine the design, quality, and look of the product you crate, this also means working with a manufacturer can become expensive and time-consuming. 

Individual makers are people who create unique pieces of inventory themselves. An example of this would be someone in town who makes knit scarves and hats and sells them to you to then sell in your store. This is a great way to ensure your store has one of a kind pieces. It also means you’ll have to take the time to find talented makers who create quality items that are on-brand and would appeal to your buyer personas. 

Using wholesalers is a great option if you want to sell products in your store that are already being sold by other stores and online retailers. You’ll receive wholesale items directly from the company that makes them for a lower price but you’ll have less say when it comes to your selling margins, as the wholesaler will have control over them.

8. Create Store Policies and Procedures

Creating store policies and procedures for your customers and employees is critical if you want to maintain a sense of order within your retail business. Policies and procedures between your business and customers may include things like your return and exchange policies or whether not you want to allow pets in your store. Policies and procedures between your business and employees may include things like dress code and scheduling expectations.

By creating these store policies and procedures you avoid making customers and employees feel confused about the way something works within your business or at your store. This also helps you set standards for the way you want people to interact with your business on a regular basis.

9. Develop a Customer Service Plan

When starting your retail business, you’ll want to think about how you’re going to develop a customer service plan. Customer service is how you help your customers solve problems, teach them how to use your products, and answer their questions. Your customer service plan details the ways you’re going to do this. Customer service work is proactive. Meaning the point of developing a customer service plan and related policies is to solve for your customer’s problem prior to them even realizing they have an issue.

Let’s cover a few ways you can implement a customer service plan for your retail business through customer-friendly policies, employee training, and customer-loyalty programs.

Customer-Friendly Policies

By creating customer-friendly policies, you’ll make shopping at your retail store simple and stress-free for your customers. For example, you can can create return policies that allow your customers to bring an item back for a full refund with or without a receipt.

Other policies that prevent pain points and enhance customer service include a 100% satisfaction guarantee or complimentary hemming when you buy a piece of clothing in store.

Employee Training

You should train your employees about how to handle different situations with your customers such as exchanges, complaints, and refunds. Training will provide your employees with the exact steps they should take to ensure a professional interaction with your customers that resolves the issue at hand.

Your customer service training should also cover how you expect your employees to deal with larger customer issues and disputes. Provide them with a way to escalate an issue to you — or your store manager — when they’re unable to reach a resolution that satisfies your customer on their own.

Customer Loyalty Program

By proactively providing an incentive for people to return to your store with a customer loyalty program, you’ll likely increase your sales and number of promoters (the people who tell their network about your business). You also enhance their experience doing business with your business as well because you’ll be providing them with discount codes, details about sales, information about your latest products, and any other exciting event or piece of news you have to share.

10. Recruit a Team of Employees

It’d be difficult to grow your retail business without bringing on some team members. You may start as your sole employee, but as your business flourishes you’ll likely need some assistance. You can determine the most important qualities you’re going to look for in candidates, whether they’re related to personality, prior retail experience, or culture-fit. Then you can select and tailor specific retail interview questions to help you narrow down your pool of candidates. (We’ll cover more details about which skills you should look for in your candidates shortly.)

11. Host a Grand Opening

You might choose to have a grand opening for your retail store. This marks the date in which you are officially open for business. Grand openings may include celebratory beverages, food, and sale items to excite your new customers.

Prior to your grand opening, you might also have a soft launch, or soft opening, for your business. Soft launches are when you, the business owner, invite a group of guests to your store to essentially test everything out. These events are a great way to make sure everything works perfectly before your grand opening — meaning this is your last chance to ensure your customers love your inventory, your store is appealing to your guests, and your everything in your store, such as your POS system, functions perfectly. 

You’ve officially worked through all 11 steps required to build your own retail business — congrats! Now, you’ll need to create your retail marketing strategy.

Every retail business should have a retail marketing strategy — this will serve as the marketing plan you’ll use to promote your business. It’ll be the way you get the word out about your business and help you build your base of customers and promoters. Here are six steps to work through when creating your retail marketing strategy.

1. Define your positioning.

Defining your positioning is a critical part of your marketing strategy. That’s because your positioning is what makes your retail business stand out and differ from your competitors. Think about what it is that makes your business unique and use those details to define your positioning. This might be where or how you source your inventory, how you display all of the items in your store, or your impeccable end to end customer service experience.

2. Define your audience.

Once you define your positioning, you should be able to get a better idea of the audience you’re going after. Think about what type of consumer would appreciate your positioning, the products you sell, and how you sell them. By clearly defining your audience, you’ll be able to create buyer personas to help you develop a steady customer base and understand their wants and needs. 

Learn how to create buyer personas for your business with easy to use templates.

3. Create your mission statement.

Your mission statement is another critical part of both your retail marketing strategy and your business as a whole. It’s a formally written statement explaining your business’ goals and values — it essentially explains the reason why your business exists, the purpose it serves its audience, and how it differs from competitors. Your mission statement is what you and your employees can turn to when you need guidance or inspiration, and it’s what your customers can turn to when they want to learn about who you really are as a business and brand. And if you need some help envisioning what yours should say, you can always review mission statement examples from other companies. 

Naturally, as your company evolves and grows, the details of your mission statement may also shift. That’s alright because your mission statement is a living document, meaning it can (and should) be updated over time as you see fit.

4. Decide on your branding.

Your retail business’ branding should feel like a combination of your audience and mission statement. Meaning you should think about what type of branding your chosen audience will respond well to and how it’ll help you represent and depict your company’s goals and values. 

You should study the branding of your competitors to ensure yours stands out and looks unique to your customers. Lastly, make sure your branding is memorable — you want someone to look at any piece of your marketing and know it’s yours.

5. Think about your content marketing strategy.

A great retail marketing strategy includes a content marketing plan. This consists of media you create for your retail business such as written and visual content. A comprehensive content marketing strategy will help you establish a strong online presence and promote your business

For example, a common way to establish an online presence through content marketing is via social media. Social media marketing allows you to promote your business through various platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Once you determine the different aspects of your content marketing strategy, you’ll want to ensure you plan and schedule all of that great content you’ve just created.

Content marketing schedule

Once you have developed your content marketing strategy, you’ll need to make sure the actual content you’ve created is posted, distributed, and shared when you want it to be. Create a content marketing schedule that you and your team can work from to ensure all content is shared as planned.

There are a number of different content marketing scheduling software options, such as CoSchedule, to help you do this. Depending on your business’ needs, you may also choose to use a much broader marketing automation software such as HubSpot, or a more specific social media automation software such as Hootsuite. These software options speed up the scheduling process, ensure your content is shared on time and as planned, and allow you to dedicate employees to certain content.

6. Decide on your budget.

You’ll need to set a marketing strategy budget to work within when developing all of these different pieces to your plan. Think about how much money you want to put towards each of these steps so everyone on your team is aware of the parameters they’ll need to work within. 

When determining your budget, you might find that you’re a bit limited to the amount you can put towards each of these retail marketing strategy steps simply because you’re a new business with fewer resources. That’s alright and totally expected — just remember to expand your budget when necessary as your business grows. 

To help get you started, you can consider the following recommendation regarding marketing strategy budgets by the US Small Business Administration: If you’re doing less than $5 million a year in sales and your net profit range is 10-12%, spend 7-8% of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising

Now that you’ve worked through the steps to building your retail business from the ground up and have a better understanding about how you can approach the creation of your retail marketing plan, let’s discuss some of the resources and software you’ll need to run your retail business.

Resources and Software Every Retail Business Needs

The following six resources and software are tools often used by retail businesses. As you start planning your business, you may think of more tools you’ll need depending on the retail business you’re opening. The following list will get you started most likely need to be modified for your store needs.

1. POS System

One of the most important tools you’ll need to run your retail business is a point of sales system or POS. 

A point of sales system is a software that allows you to conduct customer checkouts and accept multiple forms of payment such as cash, credit cards, and mobile payments. The software also prints receipts, scans inventory barcodes, and stores cash. There are a number of retail-focused point of sales systems to choose from to help you manage all of your customer transactions which we’ll discuss shortly. Without a POS system, it would be exceptionally time-consuming and difficult to keep track of all of your sales and payments.

Here are some POS systems for retail businesses to help kickstart your search for the perfect one for your business: 

You may also want an inventory management software for your retail business. This will keep track of all information about your inventory to understand which items you need to replenish and how often you need to do so. These days, many POS systems, including the five we just listed, have inventory management systems built into them so you may not need to worry about finding another software.

2. Stock Keeping Units

Typically, retail businesses will have some type of stock keeping unit, or SKU, system to keep track of every single piece of inventory they have. A SKU — which is typically located alongside an item’s barcode — is a combination of numbers and letters used to identify and organize each piece of your inventory by characteristics such as size, color, and brand. 

Source

Instead of having to come up with your own SKU, POS systems with included inventory management capabilities also have SKU creation features.

4. Retail Blogs

Every business owner needs inspiration every now and then. Retail blogs are a great way for you to keep up with the latest retail trends and learn about what is and isn’t working well for other similar businesses. Retail blogs, such as The Retail Doctor and Medallion Retail, are focused on topics including growth, industry trends, new software, and in-store business vs. online business.

6. Employee Scheduling Software

As your retail business grows, you’ll most likely find yourself adding members to your team. Managing any number employees — and their schedules — is simple with an employee scheduling software, such as Ximble or TSheets, which allows you to organize and update your business schedule so your employees know exactly when to show up for work. 

Now that you have a better understanding about the resources and tools you’ll need to start your retail business, let’s talk about how you’re going to find the right employees to work in your store.

What to Look For In a Retail Employee Candidate

Who are the people that are going to help you grow your business? What traits should your employees possess to ensure they’ll be impactful additions to your store? Let’s cover some of these important characteristics to help you identify candidates who will be quality employees.

Communication Skills

Retail employees need to be great communicators — they’re interacting with your customers every day. They must be able to communicate details about your inventory to help them find the items they’re looking for. If someone calls your business with a question or issue, they’ll need to communicate their answer or provide a solution. Lastly, your employees need to be able to communicate with you about things such as their schedule and how their experiences with your customers are going.

Positive Personality

Whether your employees are chatting with your customers in person or online, about a topic that’s good or bad, your employees need to maintain a positive attitude. They act as the face of your brand and you want them to represent your business well. So, hiring people with a positive, can-do attitude that’s ready to tackle any situation that may arise — even if it’s a complex and involves an unhappy customer — is important.

Patience

You’re bound to have an unsatisfied customer at one point in time. Your employees must be patient as they listen to the issue in which the customer describes. They also need to be patient while working with that customer to find a solution. Otherwise, it’d be difficult for your employees to turn your customer’s negative experience around.

Empathy

Empathy is feeling and understanding another’s emotions. Whether a customer is in a rush, has to purchase a sympathy gift, or is unhappy with an item of yours, your employees must be empathetic. This is how they’ll find a solution that fits the needs of the given customer. Empathy is what will help turn a customer’s negative experience into a positive one so they’ll continue doing business with you in the future.

Dependability

Whether you have one employee or 10, they need to be dependable. You depend on your employees to represent your business, work hard to delight your customers, be professional and kind, and simply show up to work (on time, of course) when scheduled.

Prior Retail Experience

Requiring your employees to have prior retail experience is up to your discretion. You may choose to focus on personality traits and culture fit instead of work history. However, if you do want employees with prior experience, you could look for candidates who have worked in other stores before or even have an education in fashion, design, or communications.

Start Selling

Starting a retail business is hard work. But, by following the steps we discussed, you can make it happen. Remember there are a lot of moving parts that come with starting a retail business that may change, such as your business plan and mission statement, as you begin putting your ideas into action. Start by obtaining the right resources and tools and hiring the right people to help you start growing your retail business.

5 Reasons to Get Excited About the HubSpot Platform in 2019

 This time last year, we put a stake in the ground by announcing that HubSpot was building a centralized platform.

We believe the world has changed. We see businesses using more kinds of software, not less, that all needs to work together. To help our customers grow better in this environment, HubSpot is evolving from an “all-in-one” suite into an “all-on-one” platform.

Delivering remarkable end-to-end customer experiences is a team sport. Our goal in becoming a lovable platform is to make it easy to complement HubSpot with a rich landscape of apps built by other companies, or custom apps built uniquely for your business by an agency or your own developers.

We want to make it easy for our customers to orchestrate all of this.

In collaboration with our growing collection of platform partners, we made great progress in that mission over the past year. Here are our platform highlights from 2018:

1. We listed 94 new apps in our directory, growing our platform partner ecosystem by 70%.

Good platforms are flywheels: More customers attract more developers, who build more apps, which attract more customers, and so on. Customers get an ever wider set of capabilities, while developers get an ever wider audience they can distribute their apps to.

That flywheel is starting to accelerate on our platform, and it’s inspiring to see the wide variety of innovative companies who are bringing new integrated apps to our customers.

We welcomed 94 new official apps into our ecosystem in 2018, bringing our integrations count to over 200 across 17 categories, that help grow our customers’ businesses.

One of the categories that grew the most in 2018 was Calling. Just within that category, you can find 21 different apps for video conferencing, integrating with cloud-based phone systems and call centers, inbound and outbound SMS, voice-powered chatbots, AI-driven analysis of phone calls, and more.

In 2018, the top 20 most popular apps in our ecosystem by total number of installs were:

  1. Zapier — integrations automation
  2. Mailchimp — email and marketing automation
  3. Slack — collaboration hub for work
  4. WordPressfree content management system
  5. SurveyMonkey — survey collection
  6. Eventbrite — event management and ticketing
  7. Salesforce — CRM
  8. Databox — KPI dashboards
  9. GoToWebinar — video conferencing
  10. MagneticOne Mobile — business card sync
  11. Automate.io — integrations automation
  12. Hotjar — heat mapping
  13. UberConference — video conferencing
  14. Zendesk — support ticketing and customer service software
  15. Shopify — ecommerce platform
  16. Typeformonline form and survey-building
  17. PandaDoc — proposal software and eSignatures
  18. Unbounce — landing page building
  19. Import2 Wizard — seamless data sync
  20. PieSync — integrations automation

As you might expect, many of these were our earliest partners, and it’s great to see their continued success. But we were also excited to see new partners quickly gain traction. The 10 fastest-growing new apps in our ecosystem last year were:

  1. Import2 Wizard — seamless data sync
  2. Typeformonline form and survey-building
  3. Slack — collaboration hub for work
  4. Zoho Analytics — informative sales reports and dashboards
  5. GetSiteControl — online form and survey-building
  6. CircleLoop — advanced calling
  7. OrgChartHub — organizational chart building
  8. Map My Customers — mapping and data visualization
  9. Jira — project management
  10. Skyvia — cloud application and database sync

Many more exciting apps are in the pipeline now and will be launching over the course of 2019.

We also built a number of native integrations last year, including Zoom, Slack, Shopify, Stripe, Youtube, and Workplace by Facebook.

We deliberately invest in a small number of native integrations relative to our ecosystem’s size. This allows us to focus our developers’ time on the handful of companies that we know will be the most valuable for our customers. For instance, we were launch partners for some of Slack’s new APIs, enabling a deep integration between our two products. We were a launch partner for Workplace by Facebook. And we built a groovy new YouTube integration for actionable video metrics.

Whenever we build an integration ourselves, we look for ways to enable other partners in our ecosystem to build off those same extension points. For instance, when we built our Shopify integration, we also created the Ecommerce Bridge API, which enables companies to sync and manipulate ecommerce data using HubSpot functionality. One of our integration partners, Unific, enables customers to connect their Magento, Shopify, Bigcommerce, or WooCommerce store to HubSpot using this API. We also recently added a tight integration with Zoom and are working to make it possible for other video conferencing providers to plug into HubSpot in the same way.

2. We added 95 new API endpoints and hosted our first annual platform partner day.

Our product teams have been enthusiastically opening more APIs and UI extension points to enable developers to build and integrate more kinds of apps on our platform.

Last year, we added 95 new API endpoints (for a total of 355), creating programmatic access to tickets, products, line items, CRM pipelines, GDPR compliance features, and more. We launched an Ecommerce Bridge API and Analytics API to facilitate deeper integrations with a wide range of partners in ecommerce and analytics categories. And we unveiled a new Workflow Extensions model that lets partners create branded, native-like actions for customers within workflows across our Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, and Service Hub products.

Last spring, we also hosted our first annual Platform Partner Day at our headquarters in Cambridge. Over 60 of our top integration partners joined us to meet with our engineering and marketing teams, learn about upcoming product releases, and discuss how we can jointly create better apps and integrations for our shared customers.

We’re now gearing up for our second annual Platform Partner Day this spring with exciting new developments to share and even greater opportunities to collaborate.

3. Customers adopted integrations at a record pace.

There’s a positive correlation between the number of apps a customer connects to HubSpot and their growth on our platform. It makes sense: The more our customers invest in a unified experience for their customers, the more they can accomplish.

App adoption across our customer base in 2018 was record-breaking. The vast majority of our customers now have at least one other app integrated with HubSpot, and the average number of apps per customer jumped by more than 50% year-over-year. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of additional app installs.

We’re energized by this number, which indicates that customers are seeing benefits from our platform. But it’s also exciting for our platform partners who are seeing greater adoption among our customer base.

4. We connected our platform partners, agencies, and startups.

Some of the most valuable opportunities we can offer platform partners are connections with programs and communities across HubSpot.

For instance, our global network of thousands of agencies and consultants helps businesses leverage our software to grow better. Increasingly, these providers are adding our platform partners’ products to the solutions they’re delivering to clients. This gives their clients more capabilities, expands their own service offerings, and lays the foundation for a powerful go-to-market channel.

We’re seeing our agency partners leverage our platform in powerful and innovative ways. For example, Nextiny, a Platinum agency partner has curated a “tech stack” of apps from HubSpot’s platform ecosystem that they regularly deploy together for clients. Nextiny used this stack to overachieve on key business goals for their client, Jeeves Florida Rentals, and their success landed them a 2018 Impact Award for Integrations Innovation.

Nextiny

To facilitate these types of relationships, we launched the Apps for Agency Services program last spring. It provides a structured way for platform partners who qualify to help agencies sell and service their software, including sales enablement tools and a free subscription for their own internal use.

HubSpot for Startups is another thriving program partners with over 1,500 accelerators, incubators, and VC firms (like Y Combinator and Sequoia Capital) to provide startups with educational resources, event programs, and startup-friendly discounts on our software.

Last year, we enabled platform partners to provide special discounts to qualified startups to help them build relationships with new ventures.Airtable_HSFS

To further build momentum between our platform partners and startup community, our platform marketing team researched the most commonly used apps for startups in our ecosystem and curated collections of apps for startups and free apps (including those with a freemium offering) in our directory.

We were inspired by all the successful connections between platform partners, agencies, and startups that happened last year. We’re committed to facilitating even more of them in the year ahead.

5. We launched HubSpot Ventures and announced co-investment from Amazon Web Services (AWS) in programs to grow our ecosystem.

In addition to expanding our platform’s APIs and extensibility and creating new app distribution opportunities for partners, we also made a couple of big announcements about growing the ecosystem itself.

In December, we launched HubSpot Ventures, a new $30 million fund to invest in startups that align with our mission to help millions of organizations grow better. Some of the previous investments that we have made include Blissfully, Grow, Lorem, Privy and Terminus.

At the same time, we announced a three-year commitment with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help startups grow better. All AWS Activate members have access to HubSpot for Startups and AWS now offers Activate memberships and credits to participants in HubSpot for Startups too. AWS will also support HubSpot’s platform partner program by co-investing to build an ecosystem for HubSpot partners, including content tailored to developers.

And, in the spirit of investing in our platform partners, we also extended HubSpot for Startups discounts to all certified platform partners who aren’t yet HubSpot customers but want to make the switch.

Onward and Upward in 2019

We’ve got big plans for our platform ecosystem in the year ahead. For customers, we’re eager to bring you more apps and integrations that will expand your business’s digital superpowers. To see the latest ones, check out the new and noteworthy category in our directory.

For partners, we’re dedicated to creating more opportunities for you to build your business on our platform. Last year, our entire executive team went on a field trip to learn from some of the best platform companies in the Bay Area. Our overarching takeaway was this credo: A platform should be measured by the success of its ecosystem. In 2018, we added three key hires to our team who are specifically tasked with helping our ecosystem succeed. Samantha Ceppos, our director of global partner and platform marketing, scales our ecosystem and ensures our partners are always looped in to changes and updates. Elizabeth Ruscitto, our director of developer relations, is leading the charge in improving our developer documentation, tools, and support. You can access our latest resources and sign up for a developer portal for free here. Hugh Durkin, our director of platform partner success, is focused on shaping our platform partner program to help partners grow their businesses within our ecosystem.

Are you interested in joining us as an app platform partner? Learn more about the program here.

We’re eager to grow better together.

 

7 Creative Company Profile Examples to Inspire Your Own

We all know about the infamous rivalry between Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. At the end of the day, they both sell coffee — but they’ve each cultivated strong, unique brands, and have attracted very different audiences as a result.

You can often overhear heated arguments regarding the topic, with people vehemently claiming one coffee chain to be better than the other.

But let’s say you didn’t know about the rivalry, and you’d never heard of either Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts before.

Instead, you stumble across these two very different company profile statements:

Image courtesy of Dunkin’ Donuts

Image courtesy of Starbucks

From their opening paragraphs alone, I’m willing to bet you’re persuaded to check out one brand in more detail over the other. It isn’t just the language itself that gives you a sense of their business — it’s the design, the font, and the color.

Ultimately, your company profile matters. It can intrigue a new visitor to check out your products or services in more detail, and nudge potential customers into choosing your business over competitors.

Here, we’ll explore seven of the most creative company profile examples, to ensure you’re able to create a company profile in 2019 that will attract and engage the right audience. Once you’re done perusing these impressive examples, take a look at our template to get started designing your own.

Company Profile Examples

1. Starbucks company profile

Starbucks’ company profile has it all — the company’s mission, background story, products, store atmosphere, and even folklore regarding the name. Best of all, they somehow manage to pull off sounding both genuine and grandiose. I don’t know many other coffee stores that could claim, “our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit”. Starbucks’ company profile is a fantastic example of a store with a common household product — coffee — managing to stand out from the competition through their mission and values.

2. Nordstrom company profile

If your company has an interesting and lengthy history, you might consider creating a visual timeline, like Nordstrom did on their company profile. The profile reads like a creative story from the very first line — “In 1887, John W. Nordstrom, at 16 years old, left Sweden for the United States. He arrived in New York with $5 in his pocket, unable to speak a word of English.” With a good balance of image and text, the timeline serves as a reminder of Nordstrom’s stability and growth.

3. Diehl Group Architects company profile

For both cleanliness and ease-of-use, take a look at Diehl Group Architects’ company profile. The web page uses clickable boxes to separate topics, allowing users to choose which subject they’d like to learn more about. Additionally, the entire design — including the page’s background, which displays a floor-plan — mirrors the company’s purpose.

4. Bloomberg company profile

If both video and text are available on the same page, 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service. You might consider using a compelling video to convey your company’s story, like Bloomberg does in their company profile.

Additionally, Bloomberg’s profile proves the company knows its audience — they offer a few quick statistics, and then link to other areas of the site, such as Careers and Tech. While another business might do well offering a creative, long-form story, Bloomberg’s typical demographic is likely more analytical.

5. Nike company profile

You can get a sense for Nike’s two primary purposes almost instantly — fitness, and people. When you first open their company profile you’re greeted with videos of people of different ages, gender, and nationalities playing sports.

Additionally, their initial introduction is this: “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world”. Below, beside the asteric, it says, “If you have a body, you are an athlete”. As you scroll, you’ll see information on their internal diversity and inclusion initiative, their global community impact, and their sustainable business program, with very little mention of their products.

Nike’s company profile portrays a larger, grander vision, compelling an audience to believe in their brand even before they purchase a product.

6. Seattle Cider company profile

Seattle Cider Company’s profile is fun, and engages the user through compelling graphics that demonstrate the company’s cider process. The page flows seamlessly, and provides critical information regarding the product before displaying the company’s mission and values. This profile is a good example of a company that understands its users’ concerns (in this case, quality ingredients), and addresses those issues while still displaying personality and flair.

7. Delta company profile

Delta’s page is well-organized by topic, and showcases the company’s values, including efforts to engage with the community and promote sustainability. They’ve included brief meta-descriptions below each category. The design allows for users to click-through if they want to learn more. Overall, Delta’s company profile is simple and uncluttered, but includes all the necessary information to demonstrate why Delta is unique.

Company Profile Template

  • Company name
  • Established date
  • Physical address per location
  • Contact information

About Us / Our Story / Our Beginning

[Here, you’ll want to include a brief introduction to your company, including where, when, and by whom the company was founded, the company’s mission statement, and/or the company’s vision and purpose. In this section, you don’t necessarily want to include products or services — instead, focus on your bigger meaning, and how you stand out from competitors. Tell your story in a compelling way — for instance, HubSpot starts their About Us section with, “More than ten years ago, we had a vision — an inbound world”. HubSpot doesn’t mention their products until further down the page.]

Our Mission / Values

[Here, you’ll want to say what your company stands for on a larger scale. What is your ultimate goal, and what do you hope your products or services will give people? Take a look at 17 Truly Inspiring Company Vision and Mission Statement Examples for ideas.]

Our Team

[Provide a picture or brief paragraph describing your team — you might focus on leadership, or provide an explanation of your company’s culture. Ultimately, this section should help users understand how your employees can uniquely serve them.]

Our Product / Services

[Describe a high-level overview of what your product is, and how you hope it will positively impact the user’s life. You can link to a Product page if necessary, so keep this section relatively general.]

Business Plan Template