Category Archives: Marketing Strategies

Banner Ads Explained in 500 Words or Less

Let’s talk about online advertising.

Specifically, banner ads.

You know the ones: when you’re scrolling through your favorite website, (Today, mine is The New Yorker), and are greeted with one of these beauties:

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Banner ads, also called web banners, are ads displayed on web pages. Generally, they’re more image-based than other digital ads to catch the web browser’s attention. They usually contain an image or short animation, like a gif.

The goal of a banner ad is to drive traffic to a website. This happens when a browser clicks on the ad.

Also, if your banner ad is a potential customer’s first introduction to your brand, it could make-or-break their perception of your company. Plus, sizing can impact whether or not someone sees the ad at all.

Ad effectiveness can be impacted if a banner ad is too small or too large, but the correct size adds to the positive impression an ad could leave on a web browser.

So, we’ve got the basics. Now, let’s go over the proper sizes for banner ads:

The first two sizes, 300 x 250 and 336 x 280, are for medium-sized and large rectangles, much like the smaller ads on the sides of blogs. The leaderboard sizing (728 x 90) will look like The New Yorker ad from above, and the last two sizes are aimed to act as headlines or billboards on the top or bottom of a page.

Sometimes, finding the proper size for a particular ad requires experimentation. Remember that this isn’t one-size-fits-all.

Play around with sizes before committing to one — for instance, a medium rectangle might be switched in favor for a half-page ad.

Ultimately, ad size is critical. If well-sized, your ad will look natural, professional, and eye-catching — however, if it isn’t well-sized, it could look clunky or awkward on the page.

Can’t decide on an ad size? To combat that issue, when the ad is ready to go live, think about testing potential ad performance to see which size performs better with audiences. This is a great case for an A/B test, a process that puts different versions on a trial run to see which one customers interact with better.

Software, such as content management systems, help track metrics. HubSpot’s ad management software, for instance, can show you the ROI on different ads, which helps brands make informed decisions about which ad type to use.

Lastly, when creating ads, keep in mind that sizes aren’t the only key to incredible ads. It’s also good to focus on ad design, copy, call-to-action, and branding. These design details can take an ad from looking okay to outstanding.

Banner ads work online as they do in real life: they’re meant to catch a consumer’s eye and spark interest in a product or service. They’re intended to increase traffic and sell a product early in the buyer’s journey.

The right sizing can accomplish all of this. If an ad is visual and interruptive, there’s a great chance of having an effective ad — sizing shouldn’t disrupt that process. When planning out targeted sites for customers, think about the kind of ads that work best with the platform and go from there.

5 Ways to Increase Your Market Share

In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone. The cell phone boasted a full touch screen, a slew of personalization options, and internet capabilities. These features were rare in the phone market before the iPhone, and having them all on one device was especially enticing.

Because of these innovative features, Apple built a reputation and loyal fan base in the first year of the iPhone’s release, earning the company a 3% market share.

Today, Apple has a 50% market share in the mobile phone industry. This means that half of phone owners globally own an iPhone.

As a business, knowing your market share tells you how you stack up against competitors. Ultimately, Apple needed to know its market share back in 2007, and continue to innovate and grow, to become a leader in the market today.

When we talk about raising market share, we’re talking about making informed marketing decisions that contribute to overall sales and customer retention. Here, let’s explore what it means to increase market share, and how you can do that, today.

What does it mean to increase market share?

To increase market share means increasing the effort you put into sales as a business, and using new or additional strategies to help you get there.

Market share is the percent of total sales in an industry generated by a particular company.

Simply put, market share is calculated by taking the company’s sales over a certain period of time, and dividing it by the total sales of the industry over that same period.

Basically, market share is how much you make as a company in the industry, and how that stacks up against others. So, to increase your market share, you need to make more sales than your competitors to increase your share in the industry.

Which is, of course, much easier said than done. How does one go about increasing market share? Let’s dive into that, next.

1. Find your niche and stick with it.

Your company should have a few characteristics that set it apart from the competition. For example, Apple’s logo and sleek design is seen on Apple’s entire suite of products.

Having that distinguishing brand characteristic — such as the Apple logo — enables people to more easily identify your company’s products across a line of similar-looking items. If your company is able to create a recognizable brand identity, while also producing higher-quality products or services than the competition (or products or services that serve a niche market), you’ll have a better chance of finding a larger piece of market share to capture.

For instance, I don’t know much about makeup, but I know a NARS blush when I see one because the design and logo of their products are so unique to the brand, and the quality of NARS products is undeniably good:

Nars makeup ad

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This strategy increases market share for a business that has found success with a previous launch. If a consumer sees your mark on a product, they will know what they’re getting, which informs their purchase decision.

As a marketer, you also want to consider which marketing materials can help you increase market share. For instance, do you have a popular eBook or YouTube series? Continue to work with those avenues more frequently to expand the reach those products get.

2. Innovate as society does.

Sony’s PlayStation owns 68% of the home console market share. Since 1994, Sony has been finding ways to innovate and update their video game consoles faster than their competition. These innovations are necessary to stay current in the industry and increase market share.

For reference, here is a 1994 PlayStation console:

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And a 2014 PlayStation 4:

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While some design elements have stayed the same, such as the logo and base system design, upgrades have been applied to match the times.

Take, for instance, the controller. They’re both similar, but while the PS4 controller is wireless, has a power button, and battery life, PS1 controllers don’t. PS1 power buttons are large and can be found on the side of the console, whereas much smaller PS4 power buttons can be found on the controller and on the console itself.

This is because as more advancements have been made in the gaming industry, Sony has adapted accordingly. The company has a keen eye on what gamers want as years pass, earning them a high market share.

If you fail to innovate in a way that’s reflected on the times, your business may fall behind and be forgotten. (RIP, outdated Aatari consoles).

3. Engage with customers.

Customers know what they want to see, so one way businesses can increase their market share is by asking them.

A carefully crafted survey sent out to loyal customers with questions about design, updates, and features can help you visualize tangible ways to improve your product or service, and in turn, increase your market share.

You don’t have to only use surveys, either. Engaging with customers on social media, such as in an Instagram story, works as well. Skincare company Glossier does this effectively:

Glossier skincare customer engagement

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Going to the source to ask what customers will spend their money on is a good campaign strategy for increasing market share. It’s a low-cost way to conduct market research and learn more about your place in the industry based on consumer perception.

4. Think about an acquisition.

You can increase market share through the acquisition of a company that aligns well with your own products or services. This requires a bit of research, but will ultimately end up in potentially gaining a larger market share.

Companies usually acquire companies to gain a larger market share or expand their suite of products. For example, Microsoft owns LinkedIn and GitHub. While the former (LinkedIn) can lead to an increase in market share among social media revenue, the latter (GitHub) can lead to an increase in market share among Cloud OS revenue.

Acquiring a competitor involves choosing the right company — one that will be a positive addition to your suite of products or services.

5. Continue to delight customers.

Netflix is no stranger to creating loyal customers. The platform is constantly adding more original shows and tightening its algorithm to cater to its customers. This constant refining of the platform led to a 2014 report that Netflix had a 90% market share in the streaming service market.

Having such a large market share due to these updates has helped Netflix even as more streaming services have entered the market. Customers have found themselves not wanting to cancel their Netflix subscriptions because they’ve found such deep value in it.

In short, Netflix makes its customers happy. I know I’m certainly happy when I can turn on the Netflix app and see most of my favorites displayed without needing to scroll further.

Netflix home page

Netflix positioned itself as a leader in the industry. Don’t wait for customers to come to you for ideas — think ahead, not just of what they need, but what they’ll want as customer buying experience changes overtime.

In 2007, Apple completely revolutionized mobile phones and tripled their market share in a year. 13 years later, Apple is still a leader in the mobile phone market because of the ways they constantly improve their product and create loyal customers.

By looking at your market share and finding ways to increase it, you’ll find greater customer retention and a more stable position in your industry.

Subdomain or Subdirectory? What They Are & How They Affect SEO

One of the most heated debates that I’ve been apart of is when I was arguing with my best friend that Taylor Swift is a good dancer.

The first thing you should know about me is that Taylor Swift is my favorite artist, so you’d have a hard time convincing me she’s bad at anything (because she isn’t).

That’s how I imagine the debate is between two search engine optimizers who debate whether subdomains or subdirectories are better for SEO.

As a marketer, that debate can cause confusion.

Below, let’s review the differences between a subdomain and subdirectory and how they affect SEO.

Essentially, it’s all about site hierarchy.

A subdomain can be used if portions of your site are extensive enough that they need a separate hierarchy. When it comes to a subdirectory, though, all portions of your site branch off of the main domain.

So, how can a company use a subdomain? Below are the most common ways:

1. Support: Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to have your customer support on your main site. For instance, Google uses support.google.com instead of google.com/support. The main reason is probably because of the site structure. Since Google is a search engine, it wouldn’t make sense to have its support as a subdirectory.

2. Different Regions: If you serve multiple regions, whether nationally or internationally, using a subdomain would be a good idea. If you had a site in German and one in English, it wouldn’t make sense to list those as subdirectories. For instance, Craigslist uses subdomains for the different regions it serves. Here are two of its subdomain sites: orangecounty.craigslist.org/ or stgeorge.craigslist.org/.

3. Blog: Many companies choose to have their blog as a subdomain. In fact, that’s what HubSpot does. If you’ll notice, the page you’re on right now is a blog.hubspot.com page. However, this specific article is in the Marketing subdirectory of the blog.hubspot.com subdomain. Sites choose to have their blog as a subdomain if they want to create a distinction between the blog and the rest of the site. Additionally, a subdomain is useful for a blog if you want to create a niche authority.

4. Ecommerce Store: For companies that sell merchandise, in addition to their regular product or service, they can put their ecommerce store on a subdomain. For instance, that’s what HubSpot does. Besides the main products, merchandise is available at shop.hubspot.com.

5. Events: If your company hosts events, it might be a good idea to partition that section of your site into a subdomain. Again, this is helpful when you want to distinguish a section of your site from your regular product or service. Microsoft does this with its events.microsoft.com.

Ultimately, subdomains are still a part of a website, but when a search engine goes to index those pages, they’re considered a separate entity. Below, let’s dive into how these affect SEO.

How do Subdomains and Subdirectories Affect SEO?

Some SEO experts believe that Google’s crawlers could confuse a subdomain for an entirely different website from the main domain. However, Google says its crawlers can recognize subdomains as extensions of parent domains.

According to Google, the site crawls, indexes, and ranks subdomains and subdirectories the same.

In the video below, Google Webmasters Trends Analyst John Mueller says, subdomains generally don’t hurt a site’s rankings. In fact, he says Google is smart enough to see your main domain and subdomain as being tied to the same website.

However, plenty of SEO experts still disagree with using subdomains.

Critics argue that subdomains will steal links from and hurt the organic reach of your main site. For instance, the theory is that since subdomains are considered a separate entity, inbound links to your subdomain won’t provide any value to your site.

Additionally, if you’re optimizing pages for the same keywords on your main site and subdomain, you could be competing against yourself.

On the other hand, supports of subdomains argue that subdomains make it easier to navigate your site. Ultimately, this leads to a better user experience, which could result in better engagement rates, therefore improving your SEO.

Additionally, subdomains can be beneficial if you have a large corporation and your subdomains serve a different purpose and essentially function as a separate business.

For example, Disney has subdomains such as cars.disney.com, shop.disney.com, and movies.disney.com.

Since these subdomains serve very different purposes, it doesn’t matter whether the critics are right, because they probably aren’t targeting the same keywords.

According to supporters, another benefit is that subdomains can help build niche authority. For instance, you might want your blog to be considered a separate entity from your product or service.

Conversely, if your site doesn’t have any extensive verticals on your navigation, then you might not need to use a subdomain because you want as many links going back to your main site as possible. If you don’t have a compelling reason to use subdomains, then subdirectories work just fine.

Although this topic can often be confusing, ultimately the decision depends on your website’s needs. Subdomains can provide organization and structure to your site for complicated site hierarchies. If you don’t have the need, then using a subdirectory can help bring all the “link juice” to your main domain.

The Ultimate Guide to Product Marketing in 2020

During the 1950s, Volkswagen sold a bus. Although now considered a classic vehicle, the bus remains an icon for the car company decades later.

The cool part? Volkswagen announced their new VW Bus — it’s electric and features sleek, modern styling. Volkswagen’s marketing for the vehicle is eye-catching, unique, and fun, and it complements the original “hippie” vibe the company was once known for.

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Volkswagen also released a TV commercial for the bus that’s clever, minimalist, and on-brand. It introduces the new vehicle with the song The Sound of Silence playing in the background (hint: electric cars are silent) and ends with a short message on the screen for viewers to read: “Introducing a new era of electric driving.”

This sentiment touches on the fact Volkswagen is contributing to society’s interest in electric, eco-friendly vehicles. It also relates to this being a new era for the bus.

So, who works on this type of marketing? Who helps create content that excites consumers about new and updated products, like the Volkswagen bus? Who encourages consumers to buy? Product marketers.

What makes product marketing unique? How is it different from conventional marketing? Let’s unpack the differences.

Product Marketing vs. Conventional Marketing

Product marketing is strategic whereas conventional marketing is all-encompassing.

Product marketing is considered a component of conventional marketing. In fact, if you look at the seven Ps of marketing, you’ll see product marketing is one of the most important aspects of a business’s marketing efforts.

Product marketing is focused on driving demand for and adoption of a product among existing customers. It’s focused on the steps people take to purchase your product so product marketers can build campaigns to support this work.

Product marketing is about understanding a specific product’s audience on a deep level and developing that product’s positioning and messaging to appeal to that audience. It covers the launch and execution side of a product in addition to the marketing strategy for the product — which is why the work of a product marketer lies at the center of a business’s marketing, sales, and product teams.

venn diagram with marketing sales and product for product marketing

Conventional marketing is focused on broader topics under the umbrella of marketing such as lead generation, SEO, and anything related to acquiring and converting new leads and customers. It’s about promoting the company and brand as a whole, including the products that are sold. These marketers make sure there’s a consistent, on-brand message behind all of the company’s content.

Why is product marketing important?

Product marketing is a critical part of any business’s marketing strategy. Without it, your product won’t achieve its maximum potential among your target audience. Let’s look at what product marketing does so you get a better idea of that I mean by this.

  • Understand your customers better.
  • Target your buyer personas effectively.
  • Learn about your competitors (products and marketing tactics).
  • Ensure the marketing, product, and sales teams are all on the same page.
  • Position the product appropriately in the market.
  • Boost revenue and improve sales.

There are also questions you, as a product marketer, will have to ask yourself and reflect on in regards to your product. Asking yourself these questions will help you ensure your product is a success among customers.

  • Is this product suitable for today’s market?
  • Is this product appropriate for our customers today?
  • How is this product unique from similar products of our competitor’s?
  • Is there a way to further differentiate this product from those of our competitor’s?
  • Are there any products we’ve sold in the past that we wouldn’t market or sell ever again now that we look back? Is so, why not?

As you can see, product marketing requires you to look at your products from a strategic perspective to ensure they’re successful among customers in your current market.

Now, let’s take a look at the specific responsibilities you have as a product marketer (or product marketing manager).

Your responsibilities as a product marketer may vary slightly based on industry, company, products, and company size and resources. If you’re working for a startup, you may be a product marketer who also helps create the content the broader marketing team produces due to limited resources and budget. As the business grows, you may move onto a team whose sole job is product marketing.

Let’s take a look at six common product marketing responsibilities.

1. Identify the buyer personas and target audience for your product.

You must identify the buyer personas and audience for your product so you can target customers in a way that’s convincing and makes them want to make a purchase. This will allow you to tailor your product and its features to solve for the challenges your audience is facing.

Use templates to create buyer personas for your business.

2. Successfully create, manage and carry out your product marketing strategy.

A product marketing strategy (which we’ll review shortly) allows you to create, build, and execute content and campaigns — this supports the steps that will lead your buyer personas and customers to make a purchase.

3. Work with and enable sales to attract the right customers for your new product.

As a product marketer, you have to maintain a direct relationship with sales. You’ll work with sales to identify and attract the right customers for the product at hand and provide sales enablement materials to reps to ensure they understand the product inside and out, along with all of its features.

This way, you and your teams are on the same page in terms of what’s being shared with customers, allowing you to provide a consistent, on-brand experience for anyone who comes in contact with the product.

4. Determine your product’s positioning in the market.

One of the most important parts of your job is determining the product’s positioning in the market. Think about this process in terms of storytelling — your positioning requires you to create and tell the story of your product.

As a product marketer, you’ll work with the broader marketing team and the product team to tell this story by answering critical questions like:

  • Why was this product made?
  • Who is this product made for?
  • What challenges does this product resolve?
  • What makes this product unique?

5. Ensure your product meets the needs of your target audience.

You must also make sure your product meets the needs of your customers and target audience. Through the research conducted to determine your buyer persona’s and target audience, you should have uncovered the pain points and challenges you’re working to solve with your product.

If your product doesn’t meet the needs of your customers, they’ll have no reason to make the purchase or choose your product over your competitor’s.

6. Keep your product relevant over time.

Your product needs to stay relevant over time. As needs, expectations, and challenges change and evolve, it’s your job to make sure your product marketing strategy, and the products themselves, remain relevant among customers.

This means you may have to manage slight changes in your product marketing strategy (which we’ll discuss next), or updates and modifications to the product itself (you’ll likely work with the product team, who actually creates the product, to do this).

Now, let’s take a look at five steps that can help you optimize your product marketing strategy.

1. Define your product’s target audience and buyer personas.

As mentioned, one of the main roles you have as a product marketer is to define a specific target audience and create buyer personas for the specific product being sold (different products will likely have different target audiences). This the first step to marketing your product.

By understanding your customers and their needs, challenges, and pain points, you’ll be able to ensure all aspects of your product marketing strategy (as in, the rest of the steps we’ll define below) are tailored to that target customer and persona. This way, the product and the marketing content that’s created for the product will resonate with your audience.

2. Determine the positioning and messaging to set your product apart.

After performing your customer research and learning about your audience, you’ll have identified their needs, challenges, and pain points. From here, you can think about how to highlight the ways your product resolves those challenges for your customers.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve differentiated yourself from your competitors. After all, they are your competitors because they solve the needs of your customers in a similar way to your company.

The key to setting your product apart is positioning (which we touched on earlier) and messaging. Positioning and messaging answers key questions your customers might have about your product and what makes it unique and then turns those answers into the main points behind your product’s marketing strategy.

It’s your job as the product marketer to ensure your customers and audience know the answers to these questions and don’t have to dig around for (or make assumptions about) them.

Examples of questions you’ll need to answer to develop your product’s positioning and messaging include:

  • What specifically makes our product unique?
  • Why is our product better than our competitors’?
  • Why are our product’s features ideal for our target audience?
  • What will our customers get out of our product that they cannot get from our competitors’ products?
  • Why should our customers trust and invest in us and our product?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can compile these responses into one, impactful, and shareable statement that captures your positioning and messaging as a whole. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Turn the answers to the positioning and messaging questions into an elevator pitch.
  • Use action words to excite your customers.
  • Ensure the tone of your statement captures the tone of your brand.
  • Focus on the benefit of your product as a whole (not just one specific feature).

And if you need more guidance, check out the HubSpot Marketing Hub product page. The main positioning and messaging statement reads as follows: “All-in-One Inbound Marketing Software: Everything you need to launch effective marketing campaigns that make people interested in your business and happy to be your customer.”

Tip: As product marketers, you should ensure the sales, product, and (the broader) marketing teams are also aware of your positioning and messaging around the product so they too can communicate the same information to prospects and current customers.

This allows you to ensure the entire company is consistent in the content and information they share about your product. Additionally, you can provide this information to your support team if you think it’s necessary, as they may be fielding support calls and working with your customers who’ve already invested in the product.

3. Set goals for your product.

Next, you’ll want to set goals for your product. These will vary based on your specific product, the type of company you work for, your overall marketing goals, and more — your goals will be specific to your business and situation. However, let’s review some common goals product marketers aim to achieve:

  • Increase revenue
  • Engage with customers
  • Improve market share
  • Gain customers from competitors
  • Boost brand recognition

Tip: Feel free to combine several of these goals or just choose one to focus on — every company and product will have different goals. The key is making sure you view and set these targets in the SMART goal format, meaning they’re specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

Use a free template to help you create and achieve your SMART goals.

4. Price your product.

As a product marketer, you’ll also have to contribute to the discussion of the price of your product. Depending on the company you work for, you might work with other teams on this part of the strategy, or it might be a job just for you and your fellow product marketers. Either way, you can consider competitive vs. value-based pricing.

Competitive vs. Value-Based Product Pricing

Competitive pricing means you’re basing your product’s price off of the similar products your competitors sell. It’s ideal for companies who have created a product similar to one that several other companies sell.

If you believe your unique features warrant a significantly higher price than those of your competitors’, you might choose to price your product above the other similar products on the market. A good way to evaluate the fairness of the pricing of all of your competitors is by studying financial reports and industry trends.

Value-based pricing allows you to maximize your profit, although it’s a bit more time-consuming to establish in comparison to competitive pricing. It’s ideal for companies selling a product with very few competitors on the market or one with exceptionally new and unique features.

Value-based pricing quantifies your item’s value in a way your customer can relate to their profitability. It allows you to base your product’s price on its value for your customer rather than whatever the market, industry trends, and your competitors say.

5. Launch your product.

Now it’s time for the most important part of your role as a product marketer — not to mention, the most exciting: the launch of the product you’ve been marketing.

There are two main parts to the launch to focus on as a product marketer: the internal launch (what goes on within your company upon product launch) and external launch (what goes on outside of your company, with customers and audience members, upon product launch).

Internal Aspects of a Product Launch

As previously stated, your job as a product marketer entails making sure the entire organization is on the same page about your product. This way, your customers only receive consistent and accurate details about the product.

The marketing, product, and sales teams at your company should be aware of the following information:

  • The product’s benefits
  • Any available product demo information
  • Sales training opportunities on your product and details about how it’s used
  • What the positioning and messaging looks like
  • Who your buyer personas and ideal customers are
  • What the goals for your product include
  • What your product’s features are
  • The pricing of your product
  • How your product is being launched to customers (which we’ll discuss momentarily)

Now, you might be wondering how to provide this information to marketing, product, and sales. Which channels are ideal for sharing these details with your fellow employees?

Here are a few examples of ways to do this:

External Aspects of a Product Launch

Externally, there are many ways to market your product launch so your current base of customers, prospects, and target audience learn about whatever it is you’re selling.

First, determine where you’re going to focus your product marketing efforts. Here are some examples of channels and places to do this (you might choose several of these or just one to focus on depending on your needs, goals, and resources).

  • Social media
  • In-store
  • Product launch event
  • Blog
  • Website landing page
  • Exclusive product preview (prior to the official launch)
  • Promotional event/ campaign (in-person and/ or online)

On whatever channel you choose to focus your product launch marketing efforts, you should include relevant product information (focused on your positioning and messaging) so prospects and customers can learn all about your product and why they need it. This includes your product’s features, what makes it unique, pricing, demos for customers, training for customers, and any other materials you’ve created and want to share.

Congrats! You’ve just worked through the steps to marketing a product. Remember, this process is one that should be thought about and updated as your products change and evolve so they remain relevant among your customers. (This shouldn’t be an issue as long as you have a member of your team focused on product marketing, considering it’s one of their main responsibilities.)

Let’s review four real-life examples of stellar product marketing.

1. Apple

Apple is a household name for leading technology products and software. Not only are its products gorgeously well-designed; they’re also super useful. But Apple’s product marketing doesn’t focus on the many product features — they market the user benefits.

product marketing example apple product benefitsSource

Apple doesn’t simply list the impressive features of their products; it uses those features to tell consumers who they could be and how they could work if they purchased those products. They tell a narrative using their products and encourage people to buy in the process.

2. Billie

Billie is a women’s razor brand. In a highly competitive market, Billie has helped its products stand out. How? It established a sharp competitive edge (no pun intended) by doing what no razor brand had done before — show body hair in its advertising.

product marketing example billie body hair campaignSource

Not only did this advertising approach get Billie’s audience talking about the brand, but they also appreciated the brand’s accurate portrayal of women’s bodies and body hair. These differentiators were more than enough to set Billie apart from other razor brands and products.

3. Coca-Cola

Did you know that over 95% of people around the world recognize Coca-Cola and its red and white branding? This comes as no surprise when you notice that most people order a “Coke” when purchasing a soft drink or cola. In fact, the brand recognition is so strong that Coca-Cola’s competitor Pepsi used the narrative in its Super Bowl advertising.

Through highly targeted positioning, repetitive advertising, and consistent branding, Coca-Cola has become a truly global household name and product.

4. MailChimp

There are dozens of email marketing tools on the market, but MailChimp hasn’t been fazed by competition. In fact, its risen above their competition by positioning itself as more than an email marketing tool: it’s an all-in-one marketing platform that helps businesses grow.

product marketing example mailchimpSource

Like Apple, MailChimp primarily highlights its benefits for the end user, not just its product features. A recent rebranding and site redesign further drives this narrative home.

Start Marketing Your Products

Product marketing is the process through which a company brings a product to market. Being a product marketer (or product marketing manager) means you’re at the center of your company’s marketing, sales, and product teams.

You’re an integral part to the success of your product, as you create and manage your product’s specific marketing strategy, but you also serve as a liaison between all three of these departments, ensuring everyone is on the same page with your product, it’s features, capabilities, and more. So, start developing your latest product’s marketing strategy to ensure it’s a success among your target audience and customers.

This post was originally published in February 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Step by Step Guide to Creating a Website

In 2017, 71% of small businesses had a website, and 92% of businesses without a website said they’d have one by the end of 2018. Today, having a website is as necessary for a company as having a phone number.

Maybe you’re starting a new business venture or developing your personal brand. Or, maybe you’re looking to update your company’s outdated website. Whatever the case, creating a new website can feel overwhelming, particularly without technical expertise or a budget for web developers.To alleviate any frustration you might feel, we’ve put together a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to creating a website. Best of all, you won’t need a coder, web designer, or big budget to create one — all you’ll need to do is follow the seven steps below.

1. Choose your CMS.

The first thing you’ll need to do when creating a website is find the right CMS (content management system) for your business. There are plenty of free or budget-friendly site builders out there, but they aren’t all created equal, so you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons before choosing one.

For instance, consider whether you need a platform that allows you to code, or whether you’d like to avoid coding altogether. You might also narrow your list if you want your website to support multiple languages. Perhaps you simply want to check out templates offered by different CMS systems, or price ranges to see which you can afford.

Popular CMS systems include WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and, of course, HubSpot. In fact, the new HubSpot CMS will be released in 2020.

Check out 15 of the Best Free Website Builders to simplify your decision-making process. Once you’ve chosen the best CMS for your needs, continue to step two.

2. Get a domain name and web hosting.

One of the easiest ways to appear illegitimate as a company is to shirk on paying for a domain name. If you were looking for a freelance writer, would you more likely hire from Carolineforsey.weebly.com or Carolineforsey.com? A .weebly or .wordpress extension is an indicator you didn’t pay for the full service, which might seem unprofessional or lower in quality — worst case, a consumer might wonder why you can’t afford the full service, and draw conclusions that you’re not fully established.

Fortunately, purchasing a domain name is typically inexpensive, and there are a few different domain sites you can use. Both Godaddy.com and Bluehost.com are cheap, secure, and effective options for buying a domain name, with added benefits such as SSL security and office 365.

Here’s where it gets tricky. You’ll need to choose a domain name as similar as possible to the name of your company, but with over 1.8 billion websites out there today, your company’s name might already be taken.

If your ideal domain name is already taken, consider using a different extension. I’d advise you to use one of the three most common extensions if you can: .com, .net, or .org. However, if it makes sense for your business, you might want to check out an alternate extension like .us or .shop.

Play around with it. Once you’ve chosen and paid for a domain name, you’ll usually also get personal email accounts attached, so make sure you’re happy to use your domain name as your main online identity.

3. Choose a template for your site.

Now, for the fun part.

On whatever CMS platform you chose, take the time to browse through templates and themes, and choose one you think best represents your brand.

When in doubt, you can’t go wrong if you choose something clean with straight lines, and a limited amount of text. If you need some inspiration, check out 27 of the Best Website Designs to Inspire You in 2020.

Ultimately, no one knows your business better than you. Take the time to consider which template would most likely appeal to your ideal demographic.

Within your CMS, you can probably use filters or search to narrow down on templates related to your industry.

It’s important your template is responsive, so your site will look the same on all devices. When considering templates, you also need to decide whether you want a static header or slideshow header, and how many pages you’ll need to fit in your menu bar. Stay away from hard-to-read fonts or flashy backgrounds that could distract a consumer from understanding your core message.

Once you’ve chosen a template and theme, take the time to customize it. Your site’s design and functionality is your chance to persuade an audience to take a closer look. It’s imperative your design makes sense to your ideal consumer and works to enhance your product’s success rather than hinder it.

4. Add pages to your site.

It’s important to plan exactly which pages you’ll need to include in your site. While it varies business to business, I’d guess you’ll need at least a “Home” page, an “About Us” page, a “Services/Product” page, and a “Contact Us” page.

Of course, you can choose to rearrange page topics any way you want, or combine them. If you’re unsure, check out other company websites within your industry to get ideas for how to organize your navigation bar, or which pages to include and exclude.

I might be biased, but you should probably also include a blog — you know, sometimes they come in handy.

While every platform is different, it’s typically easy to add and remove pages on whichever platform you use.

5. Write content.

This is arguably the most important step. Now that you have your pages set up, what will you put on them?

I’d suggest writing rough drafts for pages like your “About Us” page and landing page. Talk with coworkers and stakeholders — what message do you want to put out there? What tone do you want to set? Should you make jokes and be funny, or aim to be more inspirational?

If your online audience stumbled across your site, what questions would they have first?

Imagine your website is your only chance to have a full conversation with a potential customer. The home page is the preliminary introduction, “Hey, we do XYZ.” Your “About Us” page digs deeper, “We are XYZ.” And your products or services pages are your big push to the finish line: “You want to work with us? Great, here’s how you’ll benefit.”

During this stage, it’s imperative you do your keyword research.

For instance, if you’re selling eyeglasses, and you notice “retro eyeglasses” has more monthly search volume than “vintage eyeglasses”, you might use this research to steer the direction of the content on your site.

If you’re stuck, check out competitor’s websites to gauge what other companies in your industry are doing.

6. Fill in general settings.

Once you’ve filled in your pages with the heavy-hitter content, you can still increase your search visibility by filling in gaps in your CMS settings.

Essentially, these are your SEO elements. On your pages, you should include:

  • High-quality page content
  • Page titles
  • Headers
  • Meta descriptions
  • Image alt-text
  • Structured markup
  • Page URLs
  • Internal linking
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Site speed

Make sure you include a site title and tagline in the “Settings” of your website building platform. Go through, and check out the URLs — are those optimized for search?

All these elements should be optimized because it tells Google all about your website and how you provide value to visitors and customers. It helps your site be optimized for both human eyes and search engine bots.

7. Install plugins.

Lastly, take a look at your site and figure out what you’re missing. The best CMS platform will ideally offer all the integrations you need.

Website plugins are individual services that improve a specific functionality of your site.

Perhaps your business is ecommerce, in which case, it might be wise to install a Shopify plugin extension.

Or, maybe you want to ensure your website is secure, to protect client data. In that case, find a plugin that offers firewall protection and attacks malware or other threats.

Plugins regarding security, SEO, image compression, and social media are necessities because it’s much easier to do all this work in one place rather than having to log on to several platforms.

Whatever the case, browse your plugin library and pick and choose a few you think will take the effectiveness of your site to the next level.

Once you’re ready, click “Publish”, and your site is ready for use.

How to make a website with HubSpot

Lastly, let’s take a look at how to make a website with HubSpot. If you’re not using HubSpot already, you can try the CMS free trial. If you’re already using HubSpot’s CRM, it probably makes the most sense to build a website within HubSpot to integrate all your sales and marketing needs in one place.

HubSpot offers a variety of plugins and extensions, themed templates, and sophisticated tools for SEO analysis.

If you want to build a website with HubSpot, it’s easy and intuitive. Here’s how:

1. Create home page.

Within your HubSpot portal, click “Content” on the dashboard at the top of your screen. Then, click “Landing Pages”.

After that, click the orange “Create landing page” button and name your page. 

HubSpot landing page creation button.

2. Select a template.

Now, you’ll be taken to this “Select a template” page. Scroll through your options, search page templates, or check out the Marketplace. When you’ve found a template you like, select it.

HubSpot landing page templates.

3. Edit the modules.

This is your landing page. You can scroll over text boxes, images, or other modules to edit them. In the below picture, I scrolled over the “See The World” Banner Text, and when I click it, it allows me to edit that text.

HubSpot landing page modules.

You can also click the “Edit modules” tool on the right side of your screen and edit from there. For instance, I selected “Service 2 Text”, which directed me to the “Make it your own” paragraph on my landing page. You can add text, images, sections, forms, and more from the “Edit modules” section.

HubSpot landing page text blocks.

4. Create other pages on your website.

When you’re happy with your landing page and want to move on, go back to your dashboard and click “Content” at the top of your screen, and then “Website Pages”.

HubSpot content creation.

Here, you’ll click the orange “Create website page” button and name your page, just like your landing page. Then, you’ll be taken through a similar process of choosing a template and adding content. If you want a more in-depth tutorial, check out a quick tour of website pages.

HubSpot website creation.

5. Incorporate social media accounts.

If you want to incorporate your social media accounts, click “Social” on your dashboard. You can monitor all your social media accounts and also publish tweets, Facebook statuses and comments, Instagram pictures, and other content straight from your HubSpot dashboard.

HubSpot social media integration.

6. View analytics.

If you want to check out your site analytics, go to “Reports” and then “Analytics Tools”. You’ll need to install the tracking code, which is easy to do within the HubSpot platform by clicking the orange “Install the tracking code” button. If you’re still unsure, check out how to install the HubSpot tracking code.

HubSpot analytics tools.

7. Add blogs to your site.

If you want to write blog posts, go to “Content” > “Blog” on your dashboard to create, publish, and monitor your website’s blog posts.

HubSpot blogging portal.

This is a fairly broad and general overview to get you started building a website with HubSpot, but there are plenty of more in-depth features and tools you might want to explore with a HubSpot specialist, or by checking out some articles on academy.hubspot.com.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Header Tags: What They Are and How to Use Them

When I first started blogging, I had no idea how to structure my posts to rank for search engines, or even why it was important.

I just threw in bolded words and phrases that looked good, and hoped to be randomly selected for the search engine results page (SERP).

Now, I know there is a science, and what I was throwing into my blog posts to make them look professional was called header tags — which is an important tool for comprehension and SEO.

When we talk about header tags, we’re talking about those bolded words that separate sections on blog posts.

To illustrate, the header tag referred to in this post is the title, “The Ultimate Guide to Product Marketing in 2020.” This is also called the H1.

Below are two other types of header tags (there are six,) which are indicated by arrows.

example of an h2 and h3

As you can see, every header tag looks different, and each header tag is used for different things. Here, let’s explore what header tags are, why they matter for SEO, and how you can add your own to HTML.

Here’s a quick guide on header tags and what they’re used for:

  • H1 — The title of a post. They’re usually keyword-centric.
  • H2 — These are subheaders that classify the main ideas of your paragraphs and separate sections. These should also be keywords.
  • H3 — A subsection that clarifies the points of subheaders further.
  • H4 — These are usually used in formatting lists or bullet points.

Keep in mind that H1 tags should always be at the top of your page because they’re usually the title. Your headers should stick to the theme of what you’re writing about. When you’re formatting, use your best judgment when breaking up sections.

Now that you know a little more about what header tags are, let’s get into how they’re used for SEO.

Header Tags and SEO

Header tags and SEO have more in common than it may seem at first glance. Not only are they used to differentiate important pieces of content, but they hold weight with keyword relevancy and readability.

Google favors headers. When it scans your post, it places header tags as high-priority. Ultimately, header tags is what Google uses to tell web browsers their search query is relevant to your post.

That’s why it’s important when using header tags to make sure they’re correctly matching a keyword intent. If a post’s H1 tag doesn’t have a keyword, it won’t rank well in search results.

To illustrate, let’s say your keyword is “eCommerce.” You’d want this to be reflected in your H1 tag, so a title like “The Guide to Starting an eCommerce Business” would be ideal. That would tell Google exactly how to send web browsers to your post.

Search engines also look at header tags within your post, so it’s good to keep those keyword-centric, as well. For instance, you might create some H2 sections surrounding popular long tail keywords related to eCommerce, like “five steps for creating an eCommerce business” or “best social media tools for eCommerce”.

You don’t have to think of keywords by yourself, either — in fact, you can do some easy keyword researching to help you out, or look into keyword research tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs.

Headers also make pages easier to read. Sectioning off different parts of a webpage keeps information organized and broken up in a comprehensible way. This helps readers, but also search engines, which are scanning along, too.

If your sections aren’t making sense, your page might not rank. Think of the sections in this post — do you think they were broken up in a readable way?

How to Add Header Tags in HTML

To add header tags in HTML, it’s a fairly simple process. If you want to notate an H1, you would type in <h1> and </h1>, putting the H1 text in-between those two tags. This is the same method for any type of header tag.

For example, if your h1 was “The Guide to Starting eCommerce,” it would look like this:

<h1> The Guide to Starting eCommerce </h1>

You can also include punctuation between the two tags. For instance, you might have:

<h3>Create an Instagram account to market your eCommerce products.</h3>

This will work for HTML4 or older. If you’re working with HTML5, you might have to use a slightly different line to get the same result. The change is to give a heads up to Google about what the H1 is:

<header> <h1> The Guide to Starting eCommerce </h1> </header>

Remember, Google will scan the HTML of header tags to tell web browsers what your page is about, so it’s important to look them over and see if your headers in HTML are formatted correctly.

Some blogging platforms, like WordPress and HubSpot, have an option on the toolbar to create header tags, so every time you want to add one, you don’t have to dig into the source code or HTML to do so.

The next time you create a post for your website, see if adding the correct header tags affect SEO, and how your readers are comprehending information.

A good test I like to use is sending posts to a close family member who doesn’t know much about blogging or marketing. Using outsider feedback and asking if they can comprehend my writing before I publish helps me format posts so they’re understandable.

The big things for header tags are readability and SEO, so as long as your headers are keyword-driven, they should see a jump in page rank.

 

5 Alternatives to Facebook, Google, and Amazon Ads

According to a recent survey from Lawless Research and Factual, marketers are spending an average of 43% of their ad budget on Google and Facebook, with Amazon not far behind.

Regardless of business size, online advertising strategies are similar. In fact, 46% of marketers working for agencies and brands with an ad budget of $50 million or higher report say they spend up to 60% of it on ad programs from the three tech giants.

These programs also include ad offerings on sites owned by the oligopoly, such as YouTube (owned by Google) and Instagram (owned by Facebook).

The chart below compares how companies with differently sized ad budgets spend their money on platforms owned by Google, Facebook, and Amazon:

Source: Lawless Research and Factual

But although Google, Facebook, and Amazon have been heavily adopted, marketers are still worried that these platforms will grow even more powerful and dictate their advertising options in the future. When asked to rate their level of concern that the oligopoly would limit their advertising options, 78% said they were somewhere between concerned and very concerned.

As we continue to see innovation and growth in online advertising, could this area be disrupted by ad alternatives?

Yes. In fact, marketers are hoping for new advertising options. Although most marketers and agencies spend huge chunks of their budgets on Google, Facebook, and Amazon, 65% of them want alternatives. The Lawless and Factual study even revealed a few platforms that participants were already using, including YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.

Interestingly, the study suggests that participants using YouTube and Instagram as alternatives did not realize that they were paying into the oligopoly. The report concludes that this shows the true power of the tech giants.

To help you keep your eye out on options other than the oligopoly, I’ll walk you through some of today’s most prominent advertising alternatives and show you a few examples of brands that use them.

5 Alternatives to Facebook, Google, and Amazon Ads

Google-Specific Alternatives

Microsoft Advertising

Yes, Google still monopolizes the search market, but you might not want to write Microsoft search engine options off as an alternative.

Microsoft Advertising, formerly known as Bing Ads, is similar to Google in that you can create, optimize, and track PPC ads that show up in searches on Microsoft Search Network platforms, including Bing, MSN, and Yahoo.

Bing Search with dog food ad matching search keywords

If you’re thinking, “But, everyone exclusively uses Google,” think again. Microsoft claims that 5.5 billion monthly searches occur on its search network.

Microsoft Ads is also less competitive because it isn’t as heavily used as Google. Because so many advertisers are bidding, optimizing copy, and competing for precious slots in search engine results, the prices of PPC ads and the cost of wasted spend, can be quite high.

According to WordStream, Microsoft Advertising clients see cost-per-clicks that are 35.5% lower than their Google ads. WordStream also notes that its clients report higher placement on search result pages due to lower levels of ad competition.

Like Google Ads, you’ll still want to familiarize yourself with PPC strategies to properly monitor your budget and wasted spend. You’ll also want to brush up on keyword research and other SEO strategies to make your ad show up higher than other sponsored search results. To learn more about this, here’s a how-to post on launching Bing-based ads.

Social Media Alternatives

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn’s advertising and content promotion offerings are very similar to Facebook’s in that you can create native ads or promote visual or text-based posts in LinkedIn’s newsfeed. Like Facebook, you can also designate ad objectives, like web traffic or lead generation and target your content to specific demographics, such as age groups or locations.

If you haven’t already seen what promoted content looks like on LinkedIn, here’s an example:

Amazon ad based on Facebook

Like Facebook and other social media ads, paid content on LinkedIn also been seen to boost traffic and lead generation, especially in the B2B world. In fact, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn, while 94% of B2B marketers use the platform.

While LinkedIn Ads are very similar to Facebook, the platform’s nature is slightly different from Facebook or Instagram’s because it embraces professional networking and career growth. This makes the platform especially good for brands that want to sell products or services to professionals or other companies.

Want to learn more about how to successfully generate leads on the platform? Check out this recent blog post that features tips straight from LinkedIn’s VP of Marketing.

Twitter Ads

Twitter Ads are similar to Facebook Ads in that you can pay to promote tweets or launch native ad-styled campaigns.

While promoted tweets show up higher in the feeds of target users with a “Promoted” sign on them, campaigns might show up on Twitter feeds or sidebars with images or video content linking to a website.

Here’s an example of a promoted post from Gold Peak:

Twitter ad for Gold Peak

Like Facebook, you can also choose objectives — or goals — for Twitter Ads. These include tweet engagements, video views, app installs, web sessions, and other common objectives that you might have on other online ads.

Aside from providing similar options to Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads are getting more affordable and more effective each year. Twitter says that engagement with paid ads has increased by 50% year over year. However, the cost per engagement decreased by 14% in 2018.

Reddit Ads

Reddit is a community-centric social network that encourages users to contribute to discussion-based threads called subreddits.

Although the platform is very unique, it’s still gained more than 330 million monthly active users, mostly within the millennial and Gen-Z age groups.

While brands have tested out multiple strategies that involve contributing to discussions and starting their own subreddits, many have also taken advantage of paid promotions on the platform.

When it comes to paid promotion, you can consider sponsoring your posts to ensure that they are placed higher on threads, subreddits, or feeds of targeted users. Here’s an example:

Reddit feed promoted content

If you’re less familiar with how to engage people on the platform, but sell a product that Reddit users would like, such as media, a technological gadget, or video games, you can also consider a native ad that will show up on Reddit feeds or on Reddit’s sidebar.

A Reddit native advertisement

One important thing to know is that Reddit has been seen as one of the trickiest platforms for marketers to crack. Although you can promote content, users on the platform primarily respond to content that values them or adds to conversations on the platform, rather than branded language. However, Reddit is reportedly making more efforts to become more brand-friendly — so it might be worth keeping on your radar.

If you do want to advertise on Reddit, you should still do a bit of research to learn more about the audience, what they’ll respond well to, and what topics they don’t care for. To help you learn the ins and outs of Reddit and see examples of brands that have succeeded on the platform, check out this blog post.

Pinterest Ads

If you’re selling products, like home decor, or lifestyle experiences, like travel bookings, you definitely shouldn’t forget about Pinterest.

While it’s not the most prominent social media platform, Pinterest still has over 300 million monthly active users, is photo-friendly, and encourages people to pin images and products they like to inspiration boards. This might be why big brands, like Target, have embraced the platform and its aspirational nature.

Here’s an example of a pin from JCPenney which links to a holiday line of products on its website:

Advertisement on Pinterest

While bigger businesses have leveraged Pinterest, small businesses have also leveraged the platform’s advertising tools to launch ROI-generating ads. Want to learn more? Here’s a great blog post from a PPC consultant on four tests that are proven to boost Pinterest Ad conversions.

Navigating Ad Alternatives

With the growing number of advertising options out there, it can be hard to determine which is right for you. While we gave you a quick rundown of a few major alternatives in this post, it’s important to do a bit more digging on each.

Make sure to pay into platforms that your buyer will actually be on in the first place. Then, determine what ads are most interesting to them. If you decide that you want to zone in on social media marketing and ads, check out this blog post to learn about which platforms consumers use most to discover new products.

Still interested in leveraging PPC or want to improve on your strategy? Here’s our Ultimate Guide to Google Ads.

Dwell Time is the SEO Metric You Need to Track

This morning, I made a quick Google search.

When the results page loaded, I spent time clicking through the first page of websites to find what I was looking for. When I didn’t find my answer, I clicked back to that results page to look at the next one.

This process took me through to the bottom of the page until I refined my search and started the process again.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was actually contributing to a powerful metric — dwell time.

When we talk about metrics, we tend to focus on demographics. We ask questions like, Who’s looking at your site, where are they located, and what are their interests?. These interests help marketers make informed decisions about campaigns tailored to their customers’ interests.

Dwell time is the metric that runs through various search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s the time I spent reading those results pages before I went back to Google to take a look at other results.

Let’s explore more about what dwell time means, and its usefulness, below.

What is dwell time?

Remember that dwell time begins and ends with the SERP.

It’s important to note, dwell time and bounce rate are two different things. Bounce rate is what happens when a user clicks on one page, and then almost immediately leaves the site.

For it to be considered dwell time, on the other hand, the user needs to click on a page from the SERP, stay a while, and then either clicks back to the SERP or otherwise exits the page.

If you use search engines, you rack up dwell time daily, without even thinking about it. I can already recall two separate instances in which I’ve contributed to dwell time today, all before lunch.

Essentially, dwell time metrics can show marketers if their web pages are capturing the attention and needs of browsers. It has the potential to tell you what to include on web pages, and what to exclude.

For instance, let’s say you write a blog article called “Social Media Tips and Tricks”. You notice the piece has a high click-through rate, but low dwell time. Upon further inspection, you see the rest of the articles on the SERPs include comprehensive information regarding social media scheduling, how to create posts for social media, and which social media sites have the highest conversion rates. More than likely, you thought your post was solving for a user’s search intent when it really wasn’t — which is why most readers jump back to the SERP to find an alternative source.

It can also lead to clues about improving UX. For instance, if you have a slow loading time on your web page, you may see that reflected in dwell time metrics, since a user might exit your page if it’s taking too long to load

This metric can lead to important decisions you make for your site, among other metrics.

Next, let’s explore some average benchmarks regarding time spent on sites.

Average time on site benchmarks

According to Google Analytics, “Average Session Duration” is a metric that tells you how long visitors are staying on a website on average. It’s measured by the total duration of all sessions, or visits, in seconds, divided by the total number of sessions.

A session begins when a user goes to a website. After 30 minutes of inactivity, or when the user leaves, the session ends. The inactivity cutoff exists so you can get an accurate report of your metrics without untrue inflation.

You can find this metric already calculated for you in Google Analytics, displayed in minutes and seconds. *Can you give readers an alternative if they don’t have Google Analytics? Is there another time-on-page measurement website?

But what’s a “good” average session?

Try to go for anywhere between 2-4 minutes, the time most marketers agree is a good average duration. It’s also the general benchmark across most metrics of SMBs. It usually takes around this time to explore a website and get a feel for the design.

You can find this metric for your own site by visiting Google Analytics or other metric websites that host the same information. Here is an example of what that’ll look like on Google Analytics:

Most marketers agree that it’s rare to see average session duration times over 10 minutes or less than one minute, so if you’re looking for a goal, between 2-4 minutes is where the average typically lies.

When you’re looking at metrics, it’s a good idea to look at all of them to get a full scope of how your site is performing. If you’re ranking high on the SERP, that means that your SEO is great, but if your website isn’t providing useful information, your session duration might underperform.

To provide a holistic experience for customers, looking into the meaning behind session durations is important. Dwell time contributes to session duration, but remember that the two aren’t cut from the same cloth. Remember that dwell time doesn’t count from anywhere but the SERP, and that sessions end after 30 minutes of inactivity on that SERP.

The Beginner's Guide to Structured Data for Organizing & Optimizing Your Website

It’s Friday afternoon, and your team is jonesing for Happy Hour.

For the last few weeks, you’ve been going to the same ol’ bar by your office, so you decide it’s time to try something new. What do you do? Step outside and walk around until you find a new spot? No, you hop on Google and let it conduct the search for you.

Your ideal post-work pub is nearby, open right after work, and offers a few gluten-free options so your entire team can partake. You plug these criteria into Google, and you’ve got three viable options at your fingertips — in a handy map format to boot.

Pause. Have you ever wondered how Google can whip up such accurate, precise answers in so little time … and present them in such an easy-to-read way? Moreover, what are those restaurants doing to get featured so dominantly on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs)?

Heck, I’d love my business to pop up when consumers search for criteria relevant to me … wouldn’t you?

No one knows exactly how Google’s algorithm works — but, there are a few ways to organize and optimize your website content so Google knows what content to feature on the SERPs for the various searches people conduct to find you.

This is where structured data comes in. Structured data can make your organization more visible to potential customers and increase your click-through rate by up to 30%.

Not sure what structured data is? That’s OK. By the end of this guide, you’ll be a structured data wizard — and your website will reap the benefits.

We know that what searchers see online is much different than what search engines see.

While searchers see this…

Source

… search engines see this:

structured data exampleView the source code for any website by going to View > Developer > View Source.

This behind-the-scenes code tells browsers how information should be organized on the website (as part of its website development) and tells web crawlers what’s on the page.

Structured data is also at play here. Embedded tags of code (a.k.a. “markup”) throughout the HTML of a webpage tell Google and other search engines what information to display in the SERPs and what this information represents. It also helps social media platforms synthesize your social media posts into snippets that preview the content using Open Graph Protocol (which we touch on later).

This markup is important. It educates search engines on what specific content is on the page. This creates more relevant, informed searches and makes the site a candidate for enhanced results like featured snippets, rich snippets, image and video carousels, knowledge boxes, and more (which we’ll touch on later).

Google’s SERPs weren’t always as easy on the eye as they are today. Don’t remember? Check out this Google result for “pool tables” from 2008.

structured data old google example pool tablesSource

Let’s compare. Here’s the same result from today.

structured data new google pool tables

Wow. That’s a world of difference. Not only are these results easier to read, but the extra features make for a much more informative, intelligent searching — and shopping — experience. Between the sponsored content and live map (plus the product carousel, question snippets, and related searches not shown in the screenshot), Google provides pretty much everything I need to know about pool tables.

Heck, sometimes I search for something and find the answer right on the SERP — I don’t even have to click on a result. Does that ever happen to you? If it has, you can thank structured data.

How does structured data work?

At this point, you might be asking: How can there exist a language (markup) that is consistently recognized by search engines and people alike?

In order for this markup to be accurately and universally understood, there are standardized formats and vocabularies that should be used.

Let’s go back to basics for a minute. When conveying information, whether you’re communicating with a human or a computer, you need two main things: vocabulary (a set of words with known meanings) and syntax (a set of rules on how to use those words to convey meaning).

Most terminology surrounding structured data markup can be organized into these two concepts — vocabularies and syntaxes — and webmasters can combine whichever two they need to structure their data (with the exception of Microformats).

VocabulaRY SYNTAX
Schema.org Microdata
DCMI JSON-LD
FOAF RDFa

Okay … that’s enough of the fancy developer speak. What should you be using for your structured data?

Schema.org is the accepted universal vocabulary standard for structured data. It was founded and is currently sponsored by Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex. It’s flexible, open-sourced, and constantly updated and improved.

Note: Schema is called such because it features markup for a wide variety of schemas — or data models — for different types of content.

Here’s an example of Schema Markup language (which is good for SEO) pulled from my article on branding.

“@context” : “http://schema.org”,

“@type” : “Article”,

“name” : “The Ultimate Guide to Branding in 2019”

“author” : {

“@type” : “Person”,

“name” : “Allie Decker”

},

“datePublished” : “2019-04-02”,

“image” : “https://blog.hubspot.com/hubfs/branding-2.jpg”,

“url” : “https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/branding”,

“publisher” : {

“@type” : “Organization”,

“name” : “HubSpot”

As for syntax, there’s no correct answer. Google recommends JSON-LD (and defaults to that syntax when using its Structured Data Markup Helper — as you see below). JSON-LD uses Javascript code and embedded widgets to dynamically display your content, which is typically a simpler development process.

Google also recognizes Microdata and RDFa. Both of these syntaxes use HTML to identify properties within structured data. Microdata is typically only used in the page body, whereas RDFa is commonly used in both the page head and body.

On the other hand, JSON-LD is only placed in the page head, meaning, for certain types of markup, JSON-LD makes it so you don’t have to navigate subheaders, supporting copy, and related styling that’s included in the page’s HTML. This is why JSON-LD is considered simpler than the other two.

Ultimately, it all depends on the data you’re trying to implement, what the benefit is to your website, and what would be easier to share with your team.

Structured Data and Mobile

Structured data affects mobile a little differently — through Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). Accelerated Mobile Pages is a Google-backed, open source project to help all mobile pages load quickly regardless of device.

Pages with AMP markup appear within Google’s special SERP features, such as Top Stories and News Carousels. Here’s how to create an AMP HTML page.

structured data amp exampleSource

Structured Data and Social Media

Structured data markup works a little differently for social platforms. This requires Open Graph Protocol and similar languages that ensure your website and blog content appear in an easy-to-read way when you promote this content on a social network. Two common social media features that use Open Graph Protocol are Pinterest Rich Pins and Twitter cards. We talk more about how to do this below.

Here’s an example of Open Graph Protocol language (which is good for social media) using the same source.

<meta property=”og:title” content=”The Ultimate Guide to Branding in 2019”/>

<meta property=”og:type” content=”article”/>

<meta property=”og:URL” content=”https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/branding”

<meta property=”og:image” content=”https://blog.hubspot.com/hubfs/branding-2.jpg”

<meta property=”og:admins” content=”Allie Decker”

<meta property=”og:site_name” content=”HubSpot”

<meta property=”og:description” content=”Discover how to create and manage a brand that helps your business become known, loved, and preferred”

Note: Unfortunately, structured data doesn’t impact your organic search ranking (besides helping you grab a spot in a knowledge panel or Featured Snippet at the top of the list). It also doesn’t change how your content looks or behaves on your website — it only affects how and where it might appear on SERPs.

Examples of Structured Data

To the average internet user, structured data can’t be seen. It’s hidden among the code that makes up our favorite websites and online platforms. So, how does structured data affect what we (and our customers) see? What does it look like to the “naked” eye?

When webmasters adhere to structured data standards, search engines like Google and Bing reward their websites and organizations by featuring their content in a variety of SERP features (another reason to use structured data).

structured data googleSource

Let’s talk about those features — specifically on Google. Google SERPs display a wide variety of information, but the ones we talk about below are specifically influenced by structured data.

There are also a couple of ways that structured data can benefit your non-SERP marketing efforts on social media and email marketing.

Content Features

Content features appear as separate search results among normal search results.

1. Carousels

Carousels show up as images with captions related to a search, such as movie actors, cars, or news articles. Searchers can click through these images to access a separate SERP for that search. Here’s how to use structured data to show up on Carousels.

structured data carousel example mid-size suv

2. Videos

Videos function similarly to carousels but feature videos instead of images or other listings. Searchers can scroll through these results to directly access and watch each video.

Based on how you mark-up your content, you may also qualify for video enhancements such as LIVE badges and video host carousels. Here’s how to use structured data to show up on videos.

structured data example videos

3. Featured Snippets

Featured Snippets display information relevant to a query — and link to a third-party website (which sets them apart from Answer Boxes and Knowledge Panels, which draw from public domain databases). They don’t count as one of the ten organic results on a SERP, so if you “win” the Snippet, your website shows up twice.

Featured Snippets can also be displayed as quotes, tables, jobs, rich cards (for movies and recipes), or the question section titled “People may ask”. Here’s how to optimize your content for Google’s Featured Snippet box.

structured data featured snippet google example stainless steel water bottles

4. Knowledge Panels (a.k.a. Knowledge Graph Cards)

Knowledge Panels pull together the most relevant information from a search and display it as a separate panel on the right side of a SERP. They typically include images, dates, and category-specific information, such as stock prices for companies or birthdays for celebrities. You can use a structured data markup like Schema to tag your content with all of these categories, but there’s no guarantee that Google will reward you with your own knowledge panel.

In fact, structured data doesn’t promise anything, it only makes it easier for search engines and social networks to interpret your content.

Also, Knowledge Panels aim to answer queries without requiring a click-through … good news for searchers, and bad news for businesses. Here’s how to make your site easier for bots to crawl (to increase your chances of showing up in a Knowledge Panel).

structured data knowledge panel example idris elba google

Enriched Search Features

Unlike content features, enriched result features enhance regular search results. They’re also called rich search results or rich snippets.

1. Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs “indicate a page’s position in the site hierarchy,” according to Google. Breadcrumbs appear on mobile devices, in place of a URL, above the title of the results page, and next to the site’s favicon (as of 2019). They help searchers understand a page’s relationship to the rest of a website. Here’s how to use structured data to display breadcrumbs in your results.

structured data breadcrumbs favicon mobile example hubspot

2. Sitelinks and Sitelinks Searchbox

Sitelinks are additional links displayed beneath a search result that navigate to different parts of a website. Google pulls them into a SERP when it thinks additional results would benefit a searcher. Websites with intelligent anchor text and alt text that’s informative, compact, and avoids repetition have a good chance of displaying a result with Sitelinks.

structured data sitelinks example chicago cubs

Sitelinks Searchbox is like Sitelinks with a search bar directly featured in the result. That search box uses Google — not the featured website — which creates a brand new SERP. Sitelinks Searchboxes only show up in branded searches.

Here’s how to get a Sitelinks Searchbox for your website.

structured data sitelinks searchbox google example hubspot

3. FAQ

FAQ can be used on any page that lists questions and answers — not just traditional frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages.

This feature allows searchers to access your questions and answers right from the SERP; it also extends your result vertically, taking up even more SERP real estate and helping your site stand out. Here’s how to use structured data to display FAQ in your search results.

structured data content feature faq

4. How-To

The how-to feature is similar to FAQ in that it displays a page’s content (if it fits certain criteria) on the SERP so searchers can see that information. It walks searchers through a set of steps and can feature video, text, and images.

Unlike FAQ, the individual steps in how-to result aren’t linkable; however, searchers can access the entire list of steps by clicking your results. These results can show up in two formats: standard accordion layout or rich result carousel, depending on the content. Here’s how to use structured data to display how-to content in your search results.

structured data example how to rich result carouselSource

Non-SERP Features

Structured data can also be used to enhance to non-SERP features.

1. Social Cards

Social-specific markup doesn’t have a big impact on SEO, but it’s still important for marketers to understand. Not only does this markup enhance your social posts and ad efforts, but it can also be read by search engines — which could contribute to any SEO changes in the future.

Social cards display images and rich text when links are shared on social media. Any organization who uses social media to share content should be using proper social markup, such as Open Graph Protocol.

Here’s how you ensure your social content displays social cards:

structured data open graph twitter swell bottle

2. Email Marketing

Have you recently booked a flight or ordered something online? If you have Gmail, you might’ve seen your reservation or order details summarized at the top of the confirmation email. This is due to email markup.

If you send emails for orders, reservations, confirmations, or bookings, consider using email markup to make your email recipients’ lives easier. Here’s how to get started with email markup in Gmail.

structured data email markup gmail

The concept of structured data might seem confusing, but its implementation isn’t nearly as complicated. In fact, there are a number of structured data tools that can help you along the way, namely Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper and Testing tools. Sure, you can implement structured data by hand, but Google’s tool ensures accuracy — and makes your life easier.

It’s important to note that adding structured data markup on your website doesn’t guarantee a Featured Snippet or Sitelinks Sitebox. Google can take weeks to crawl your new HTML markup, and sometimes, the information doesn’t show up at all.

However, taking the steps to implement structured data is critical. Google might be smart, but it can’t (yet) understand everything on its own. It might seem like a lot of extra work, but using the correct structured data markup will ensure Google can make sense of your content and can help you potentially increase your click-through rates and visibility.

Here’s how to implement structured data by using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper tool.

1. Open Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.

Open up Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper tool.

structured data google markup tool

2. Select your data type and enter the URL.

Make sure the Website tab is open. Choose the type of data to which you’d like to add the HTML markup. Plug the web page URL (or the HTML code) at the bottom, and click Start Tagging.

structured data google markup tool select data type

3. Highlight page elements and assign data tags.

When the tool loads, you should see your web page on the left side and data items on the right. Highlight different components of your web page to assign data tags such as name, author, and date published. (The tool will suggest different data tags for different types of data, i.e. Events or Book Reviews.)

structured data google markup tool highlight page elements

As you select and assign data tags, you’ll see the information pop up under My Data Tags on the right panel. You can also add any missing tags that might not be visible on the web page; just click Add missing tags.

4. Create the HTML.

When you’re finished tagging and assigning data items, click Create HTML in the upper right-hand corner.

5. Add the schema markup to your page.

On the next screen, you should see your structured data markup on the right side. The tool automatically produces the script as JSON-LD markup, but you can change it to Microdata by clicking the JSON-LD drop-down menu in the top menu.

structured data google markup tool add schema markup to page

Click Download to download the script as an HTML file. To read more about adding structured data to your article (or any other data type), click Articles in the right corner above the markup.

To “publish” your markup, copy and paste the new HTML markup into your CMS or source code of your web page. Lastly, click Finish in the top right corner to check out Google’s recommended Next Steps … one of which will bring you to this next one.

6. Test your markup with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

Open up Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. You can enter any URL of a web page you’d like to test, or you can enter HTML code. (In the example below, I’m analyzing the code previously produced by Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper Tool.) Click Run Test to begin.

structured data google markup testing tool test structured data

7. Diagnose and fix any detected issues.

The tool will show you your HTML markup on the left side and the markup analysis on the right. Note any red errors or warnings. Click on any data row to highlight the corresponding markup on the left.

If necessary, you can edit any errors in the HTML directly in the tool panel before “publishing” the tested HTML markup.

8. Be patient.

This last step is simple but arguably the hardest — to sit back and wait. Google can take weeks to re-crawl new HTML, and even then, your content isn’t guaranteed to show up in rich snippets or other SERP features.

As long as you follow the correct structured data standards and markup, give Google all the information it needs to know, and be patient, your website and business can benefit greatly from structured data and enhanced SEO.

Get Started with Structured Data Today

Google and other search engines continuously improve how they aggregate and present information. They offer enhanced, intelligent search experiences with the customer in mind. It’s up to you as a business to keep up, and you can do so through structured data.

Structured data benefits businesses — through increased visibility — and consumers — through better usability. Use this guide, tools, and resources to optimize and organize your website and make your customers’ lives easier.

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

The Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Company Pages

In November 2018, LinkedIn launched LinkedIn Pages. This launch provided a new way for consumers to discover and vet their favorite businesses — and for businesses, organizations, and institutions to connect with their audiences.

A lot happens on LinkedIn. People post updates, professionals seek new jobs, salespeople pitch prospective customers, and LinkedIn members of all kinds connect, chat, and build relationships. With almost 600 million members, this level of activity comes as no surprise.

LinkedIn Company Pages provide a unique way for your organization to stand out from the noise — important noise, but noisy nonetheless. We developed this guide to help you get started.

LinkedIn Company Pages were developed to give your company a home base and reach your audience on the network. If you haven’t built a LinkedIn Page for your business yet, you’re missing out on new connections, followers, employees, and customers.

Before we talk about how to build your own LinkedIn Company Page, let’s discuss the benefits of the network.

Why LinkedIn?

When compared to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, LinkedIn may not seem like the most intriguing, exciting social media network. But it’s still important — especially because 62% of people trust a brand’s social media accounts and activity more than its advertising.

Creating a LinkedIn presence for your company only expands your brand trust and awareness. Here are a few reasons to invest time in building a LinkedIn Company Page.

1. Share company updates and news.

LinkedIn, like any other social network, features a content stream on which people share and discuss important articles and updates. This is a perfect place to post your company updates and news for customers, employees, investors, and fans to review and share.

2. Post open jobs and connect with potential employees.

LinkedIn is a professional social network, meaning users benefit from work and career-related updates, connections, and interactions. LinkedIn members are primed to discover and discuss job opportunities, including the ones at your company. If you have any open roles, LinkedIn is the perfect place to share them. In fact, LinkedIn provides Career Pages — a space separate from your Company Page that’s dedicated to open jobs, recruiting, and employer branding.

3. Build a community.

Every social network boasts its own ability to foster a sense of community, and LinkedIn is no exception, including LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn Company Page is a place to build a community of LinkedIn members who are interested in your business, updates, and jobs. Here, they can connect and collaborate on their shared interest in your company.

4. Grow and keep your brand’s image consistent on social media.

If you’re active on other social networks, having a presence on LinkedIn can help you grow your audience elsewhere. Most social networks allow you to link to and from your LinkedIn page to boost recognition and increase your number of followers. Additionally, some of your audience may only be active on LinkedIn, so creating a Page would give you a chance to connect with new potential customers and employees.

5. Improve your discoverability on search engines.

LinkedIn Company Pages rank on search engine results pages (SERPs) like any other website or social network. Creating a Page gives your company another opportunity to be discovered by those searching for your products, services, or brand. 

LinkedIn Company Pages vs. LinkedIn Groups

Another popular feature on LinkedIn is LinkedIn Groups, where like-minded people digitally gather to discuss common topics, industries, or — in some cases — companies. Many users get these two features confused.

LinkedIn Company Pages are the equivalent to your website on LinkedIn; you create it on behalf of your company, and it belongs to you (as a business owner and/or marketer). You’re responsible for updating your Page and posting new content and updates. Other LinkedIn members can follow your Page and engage with your content.

On the other hand, LinkedIn Groups are collaborative networks that can be created and engaged with by any LinkedIn member. Some groups are private while Open Groups can be read or joined by anyone. Now, a company can create a LinkedIn Group for certain internal teams or subgroups, but LinkedIn Groups can’t necessarily replace LinkedIn Company Pages.

How to Create a Company Page on LinkedIn

Whether you already have a LinkedIn account or are new to the platform, creating a LinkedIn Company Page is easy. Follow these steps to get started.

1. Create a new LinkedIn Page.

Head to LinkedIn and visit the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions site. Hover over the LinkedIn Pages option in the top menu and click Create a LinkedIn Page.

If you’re already signed into LinkedIn, tap the Work drop-down menu in the top right corner and click Create a LinkedIn Page+ from the very bottom.

linkedin company pages create a company page

2. Choose your company size and type.

Choose the size of your business from the first two options. (Notice the other two options to create a Showcase Page or create a LinkedIn Page for an educational institution, both of which you aren’t required to provide this information.)

create a linkedin company page choose a page type

For the purpose of this guide, I’m going to choose Small Business.

3. Fill out your company details.

Next, fill out the details of your business. Only some of the details are required, but I recommend fully completing this step (as we’ll discuss in the best practices section below).

linkedin company pages fill out your company details form

Let’s walk through the form fields.

  1. Name: Enter your entire company name to improve discoverability and searchability.
  2. LinkedIn public URL: As you fill out your Name, LinkedIn will automatically input your URL to match. Ideally, your URL will be your company name; this keeps your online identities consistent. For example, HubSpot’s LinkedIn Page URL is www.linkedin.com/company/hubspot/. If your company name isn’t available, choose a URL that’s similar and still identifiable, such as one of your social media handles and/or a shortened version of your brand name.
  3. Website: Enter your company’s website. Although not required, this information is critical as it connects LinkedIn followers to your company website.
  4. Industry: Choose this from the drop-down menu. This information helps LinkedIn categorize your company for Page visitors.
  5. Company size: Choose your company size from the ranges provided.
  6. Company type: Choose your company type from the options provided.
  7. Logo: Upload a high-quality logo that matches the logo on your other social media accounts. This is important so new followers can recognize your brand and Page. It must be 300 x 300px.
  8. Tagline: In 120 characters, briefly describe what your company does. Consider using the same tagline from your other social media accounts. You can change this information later.

When finished, check the checkbox at the bottom and click Create Page.

4. Complete your LinkedIn Page.

The final step should show you the Admin View of your LinkedIn Company Page. This is essentially the behind-the-scenes dashboard from which you can make changes to your Page.

If you’re building your Page from scratch, you’ll see that LinkedIn provides a helpful checklist of actions to complete. These tasks will also unlock new features such as Content Suggestions and Invite to Follow that can help grow your Page.

linkedin company pages build your page checklist

Let’s walk through the important tasks to complete in this step.

  • Description: Add an About Us section that describes your company. It should be longer than your tagline. This is the place to include relevant keywords and phrases that can help people discover your Page on LinkedIn and through search engines. This section can be up to 2,000 words. LinkedIn also allows you to create taglines and descriptions in multiple languages.
  • Location: Add at least one location for your company. You can add multiple locations and name each one. Consider at least adding your headquarters or central company location.
  • Cover photo: Add a cover photo that will engage and entice visitors to check out your Page. Many brands upload another orientation of their logo or their latest marketing or advertising campaign graphics. This photo must be 1,128 x 191px.
  • Hashtags: Although relatively uncommon on LinkedIn, hashtags on your Page provide a unique way to connect with followers and engage with posts. Add up to three hashtags that are related to your company, industry, and audience. They will be added as Community Hashtags to your Page.

You can also add a company phone number, the year your company was founded, and any LinkedIn Groups you want to show on your Page.

Voila! Your LinkedIn Company Page is now created and ready to share. Continue poking around your Page to complete all fields and features. The following section of LinkedIn Page best practices will help you use your Page to connect and grow.

Follow these six tips and techniques to optimize your LinkedIn Company Page.

1. Complete all the Page details.

According to LinkedIn, fully completed LinkedIn Company Pages get 30% more views. Take the time to fill out every Page detail, even those that aren’t required. 

The more details you provide about your company, the easier it will be for people (a.k.a. potential customers) to discover and connect with you. It will also serve to educate those who are interested in working for or investing in your company.

2. Add important Page admins.

Maintaining a LinkedIn Company Page can be a lot of work, especially if your team is already manning multiple social networks and accounts. Once you create your Page, don’t forget to add more Page admins to give other people permissions.

Do add new Page admins, click Admin tools > Page admins in the top right corner of your Company Page.

linkedin company page add new page admins

The following box will allow you to manage all your Page administrators. As you can see, there are five types of admins you can add to your Page. LinkedIn explains them in detail here.

You must be connected to your Page admins in order to add them. To do so, simply type in the person’s name, choose them, and click Save changes.

linkedin company page add designated admin form

3. Keep your images up-to-date.

Your Page logo and cover photo are very important; they visually introduce and engage anyone who visits your Page. Keep these images up-to-date with your latest branding and marketing materials. 

Not only is this critical for presenting a unified social presence, but it ensures your LinkedIn Company Page also matches your website, blog, and other digital marketing materials. Doing so will boost brand awareness and help new customers, employees, and fans discover your brand on LinkedIn.

4. Share content and engage with your followers.

Like any social network, you can’t expect to simply create your account and be finished. Building your LinkedIn Page is only half the battle; you must also consistently post content to successfully engage, inform, and market to your audience.

Download this free ebook to access templates, guides, and infographics on how to use LinkedIn for business, marketing, and networking.

Consider posting updates to your products and services, job openings, trends or news that involve your brand, and behind-the-scenes content featuring employee life, product development, or other unique content. 

LinkedIn also provides a handy Content Suggestions tool to help you discover topics and content your audience is already engaging with on the network. Tap Content Suggestions along the top menu of your Page, and update the filters as they apply to your audience.

linkedin company page content suggestions

Tap View content suggestions, and you’ll see a content stream based on your chosen topic and audience parameters. You can edit the filters further in the left menu, and you can add or take away content topics along the top. This tool shows you the engagement rates of popular or trending content and makes it easy to share this content with your audience.

As always, don’t forget to engage with your audience, too. Like, comment on, and share things posted by your followers and connections. This will remind them there are humans behind your brand’s LinkedIn Company Page.

5. Customize your call-to-action.

On your LinkedIn Company Page, under your logo and next to the Follow + button, you’ll find a call-to-action (CTA). Mine says Visit website.

linkedin company page cta

LinkedIn allows you to customize this CTA to better engage your followers and audience. To do this, tap the pencil icon next to your CTA. Make sure the Custom button option is turned on.

linkedin company page custom url

Choose a button name from the drop-down menu and enter a URL. Use this setting to direct followers to your website, landing pages, event registrations, and more.

6. Engage your employees.

Your employees are some of your best brand advocates. This is especially true on LinkedIn, where employees have an average of 10x more first-degree connections than a company has followers.

As you develop your Company Page, encourage your employees to follow and engage with it. Also, ask each employee to list your company as an employer, as this will link their profile to your Page and vice versa. This is a helpful resource when growing a new Page audience of customers and potential employees.

Connect with Your LinkedIn Company Page

Over 60% of consumers trust a brand’s social media over its advertising. Your LinkedIn Company Page contributes to this statistic, and, in turn, helps bolster your brand awareness, trust, and social activity. Use this guide to develop your LinkedIn Company Page and start engaging with new customers, employees, investors, and followers.

(If you’re looking for additional resources, LinkedIn also provides their own handy Playbook for optimizing your Company Page.)

How HubSpot Service, Support, and Sales Reps Stay Productive on a Noisy Floor

As a customer-facing representative — whether you work in sales, service, or support — you’re probably used to working in a busy, noisy office space. Maybe you work on a loud sales floor surrounded by reps chatting on the phone with leads. Perhaps you work in an office space with customer service and support reps working to assist customers over the phone or video chat throughout the day.

Whatever the cause of your workspace being noisy, it’s not always easy to block out the environment around you. That’s why we’ve compiled the following list of tips and tricks HubSpotters use to stay productive and focused in a noisy, busy, and sometimes, distracting workspace.

Before diving into the examples from HubSpotters, let’s take a look at some all-encompassing and actionable techniques to improve your productivity.

Now, let’s hear from HubSpotters about how they use these specific tips and techniques.

1. Block time on your calendar or communicate your need for disruption-free time to your coworkers.

  • “One of my staples is creating a ‘working signal’. Since I’m typically on calls and that signifies I’m unable to chat, I usually keep my headphones on to show that I’m still at work. When my headphones come off that means I’m available to speak with or help others. I’ll also find a booth or another area where I know fewer people so I’m less tempted to converse and can focus on the task at hand.” — John Vassar, Customer Onboarding Specialist, HubSpot HQ
  • “I find while working in a collaborative environment, people still approach you even if you have headphones on — so, I recommend informing your team in advance when you need time to focus. I set 30 to 60-minute blocks in my calendar that I try to religiously follow. During this time, I won’t get up or go for a wander or banter with any of my colleagues.” — Ricky Huang, Principal Account Executive, HubSpot Sydney

2. Invest in noise-canceling headphones.

  • “My headphones have a noise-cancelation feature that I can turn on when it’s really loud. That’s typically what a lot of us on the team do.” —Ado Kawuba, Partner Specialist, HubSpot HQ
  • “I have noise-canceling headphones (Sony WF-1000XM3) that I wear when I don’t need to be on a call, but have to work on a proposal or something else with a hard deadline.” — Ricky Huang, Principal Account Executive, HubSpot Sydney

3. Listen to white noise or music (specifically, without lyrics).

  • “When I need to just put my head down and focus on doing some work, I usually play white noise which helps block everything else out.” — Sotiria Qirjazi, Customer Onboarding Specialist, HubSpot Dublin
  • “I like my classical music — it keeps me focused and blocks out the noise. I stick with music without words so I don’t get distracted singing in my head (typing lyrics into emails!).” — Zoya Khatuntseva, Senior Channel Account Manager at HubSpot, HubSpot HQ

4. Move around, find a quiet space elsewhere, or work remotely when possible.

  • “I know firsthand the toll that working on a noisy sales floor can have on reps, so I encourage my team take the time they need to move around the office, visit HubSpot’s Meditation Room, work remotely (and work on a flex-schedule, if possible), or just take a break when they feel overwhelmed. This helps improve overall productivity — remember, sometimes you need to sit out an inning to play the whole game.” — Dan Love, US Sales Manager, HubSpot HQ
  • “While working as a rep, I’d get up and take breaks between my calls. Leaving your desk can do wonders for resetting your focus, especially if you’re given a few minutes to write case notes between calls. I’d write my notes quickly and use any extra time to leave my desk, walk around, get coffee, etc. This helped me reduce fatigue and stress whenever I felt it was a very busy or noisy day.” — Clint Fontanella, Service Blog Writer and Editor (former Customer Support Rep), HubSpot HQ
  • “I like to grab my laptop and work from somewhere else in the office between my calls to get some time to focus.” — Sebastian Ferreira, Customer Support Specialist, HubSpot Sydney
  • “I find that scheduling time to work remotely one day a week or a few times a month really increase productivity levels.” — Serena Shah, Sales Partner Manager, HubSpot HQ
  • “I typically take my calls on the sales floor, but when I need time to focus, I’ll move to a quiet area of the office to get work done.” — Tim Ferraro, Principal BDR, HubSpot HQ

5. Make daily to-do lists and micro-goals, then cross them off items upon completion.

  • “I stay productive with HubSpot Tasks and I create micro-goals for myself throughout the day to help me stay focused and make things easier to digest. For example, a micro-goal may be, ‘For the next hour, I’m going to either just make calls or strictly focus on my follow-up emails.'” — Cam Karosis, Small Business, HubSpot HQ
  • “Make a list of what you want to accomplish that day, so when you get distracted and forget what you were doing, you can reference the list. Additionally, crossing something off a list is very cathartic.” — Serena Shah, Sales Partner Manager, HubSpot HQ

6. Experiment with tactics that are specific to your particular role in the office.

  • “When my customers can hear it’s noisy in the background, I work harder to ensure they know I’m focused on their problem rather than what’s going on around me. Sometimes, when they hear noise, I worry they’ll be concerned that I’m not completely understanding or hearing their problem. To show I’m 100% focused on them, I try to be more conversational so they can tell I’m fully invested in our conversation and not what is going on in the background.” — Katelyn Tierney, Customer Support Specialist, HubSpot HQ

Stay Focused and Productive

No matter what your current technique is for staying productive on a noisy floor, don’t be afraid to chat with your fellow reps about their favorite tactics. Or, try using one of these tips from HubSpotters located across the globe. Who knows? You might just find your new favorite strategy.

The State of Video Marketing in 2020 [New Data]

A decade is a long time. I mean, just think back to the end of 2009.

Barack Obama was about to enter his first full year in the White House, Farmville was the flavor of the month with 83 million monthly users on Facebook, and Avatar had just hit movie theatres worldwide, becoming — at the time — the highest-grossing movie ever.

But even then, ten years ago, people were already starting to make big predictions about online video, and its potential to change the world of marketing.

Not all predictions come true — but, as we reach the end of the decade, it’s fair to say that these ones certainly did.

If any marketing trend can lay claim to being the defining tactic of the last ten years, video is surely up there.

A decade ago, video was an expensive, pie-in-the-sky luxury. Since then, it’s become a staple — an accessible, affordable must-have tool to help attract audiences, explain products, and support customers.

And now, as we once again march forward into a brand new decade, new research conducted by Wyzowl strongly suggests:

  • Video remains a key priority for marketers.
  • Marketers feel more positive about the return on investment offered by video than ever, as it continues to strongly influence traffic, leads, sales, and audience understanding.
  • Usage and spend on video marketing are likely to increase yet again in 2020.
  • People watch significantly more video than ever before.
  • Consumers continue to use video as an integral part of their journey with brands, and are excited to see even more video content in the year ahead.

About the survey

Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing Survey is an annual report, now in its sixth iteration. Every year, we ask a range of questions — many of them the same from year-to-year — to evaluate how the video marketing landscape is changing and growing. 

This time round, our survey was taken by a sample of 656 unique respondents, consisting of professional marketers and consumers.

The key findings…

85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool. This is actually a slight decrease from last years figure (87%) but still represents a highly significant number, which has generally grown since 2016 (the first time we asked this particular question in this way.)

What’s more, 92% of marketers who use video say that it’s an important part of their marketing strategy — the highest percentage of any year since 2015.

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Perhaps most strikingly, 88% of video marketers reported that video gives them a positive ROI — a 5% increase on last years figure, and a world away from the lowly 33% who felt that way in 2015. This could well be attributed to greater understanding of how to use video, as well as how to track and quantify its impact. 

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Looking forward…

As you might expect given all the above, all the signs suggest that usage and spend are on course to continue their growth in 2020.

99% of current video marketers told us they’ll continue using video in 2020, and 95% plan to increase or maintain their spend. 

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What’s more, from the people who told us they don’t currently use video, 59% told us they expect to start in 2020.

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The net result of this is that we can all expect to see more noise and competition for audience attention in the coming 12 months. And, given that 92% of video marketers feel the level of noise and competition increased noticeably in 2019 … that’s a lot of noise!

Of course, while this is a challenge, it isn’t an insurmountable one. It simply raises the bar in terms of content quality. Video needs to be well-planned, and very well-executed.

The big opportunities…

You’d be forgiven for looking at these numbers and feeling that video might be on the verge of reaching saturation point. Most of the data points around usage, spend and consumer opinion are in the 80s and 90s — where they’ve held, consistently, for a number of years.

But the good news is that there still seems to be underutilized opportunities for marketers to explore around video.

Unsurprisingly, YouTube and Facebook are the most widely used platforms among video marketers — used by 85% and 79%, respectively. 

But some of the lesser-used video tactics also seem to be reaping real results for video marketers.

Most notably, for the first time ever, LinkedIn has emerged as the most successful channel for video marketers, with an overwhelming 87% of LinkedIn video marketers describing it as an effective channel.

TikTok — often cited as a video platform with huge potential (and not only by Gary Vee) — remains largely untapped, with only around 1 in 10 video marketers having given it a shot. Out of those who’ve tried it out, though, 66% report having seen success.

There are flops to go with the success stories, too, though. Snapchat continues its poor performance of recent years. Only 11% of video marketers say they’ve used Snapchat as a video channel, and, out of those, less than half report success, making it comfortably the lowest-performing video marketing platform for the third year in a row.

To Sum Up

Video looks set to continue its ten-year overnight success story into the coming decade. These stats paint a picture of a media type that’s almost universally popular among both marketers and their audiences, helping achieve a number of incredibly important goals.

You can check out the full report — with plenty more data points — and get a downloadable version by visiting Wyzowls State of Video Marketing 2020 page.

Hreflang Tags: The SEO Attribute for Content in Multiple Languages

Have you ever visited a webpage that was in a different language, and your browser asked you if you wanted to change it to your first language?

It’s a life-saver, right?

Now think about whether you’ve provided the functionality so your own webpages are ready for a global audience. If you haven’t properly tagged or re-directed your content to be optimized in different languages, it may not be gaining the traffic it could be.

The name for this attribute is called language tagging, and it’s an SEO tag you can use to make sure search engines know what language your content is in.

There are two different types of language tags: HTML tags and hreflang tags.

While both HTML and hreflang tags are intended to optimize content in multiple languages, they have a couple of differences.

Simply put, language (or lang) tag attributes on an HTML tag tells your browser the language of the current document or webpage, while the hreflang tag attribute tells your browser the language of the webpage that’s being linked — for instance, a lang tag on HubSpot.com tells your browser the language of HubSpot.com, but a hreflang tag attribute tells a search engine the language of HubSpot.com when a user searches for HubSpot.

If a user searches for HubSpot.com from Germany, a hreflang tag is responsible for changing the link available in the search engines. However, when someone lands on HubSpot.com in Germany, a lang tag changes the language on the page itself.

It might be easier to visualize, so here’s a sample lang tag:

<html lang=”en”>

Alternatively, here’s a sample hreflang tag:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com/” hreflang=”en” />

Google recommends using hreflang when indexing websites that are in different languages.

Next, let’s explore what hreflang tags are used for and how you can use them for your own webpages.

The tag is:
rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x”

Hreflang tags allow you to show Google and other search engines the relationship between webpages that are in different languages. For instance, if your tag needs to link to an English-language blog, you’d use the following tag: hreflang=”en”.

This is a sample of what a website will look like when it’s tagged with an hreflang attribute:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://hubspot.com” hreflang=”en-us”/>

The “en” in the first part of the tag refers to the language code, English, and the “US” refers to the country code, for the United States.

Users with an IP address that notifies which language is being used will automatically see a properly tagged webpage, so a hreflang tag is especially helpful if you have a global audience and want to make their user experience delightful.

To illustrate how hreflang works, let’s consider an example. Let’s say you make two homepages that are the same, but one is in English (hreflang=”en”), and the other’s in Spanish (hreflang=”es”).

When a user searches for your homepage in Spanish or from a Spanish-language browser, they’ll receive the Spanish version of your homepage, as long as it’s properly tagged.

Each language and country has its own hreflang tag. Here’s a list of common ones:

German/Germany: de-de

English/USA: en-us

Irish/Ireland: ga-ie

Hindi/India: hi-in

Italian/Italy: it-it

Japanese/Japan: ja-jp

Korean/Korea: ko-kp

Portuguese/Brazil: pt-br

Russian/Russain Federation: ru-ru

Chinese (simplified)/China: zh-hans-cn

Thai/Thailand: th-th

If you are sharing the same page in different regions, note that it is possible to have multiple hreflang tags on the same page. For instance, if your French website sells to customers in Germany and Spain too, you’ll be able to tag your page accordingly in HTML.

Keep in mind that because hrefleg tags are able to be overridden by other SEO options, your page may rank higher in a different language. To avoid this, make sure search engines are equipped with the correct attributes, so they know which language to present your page in.

Ultimately, the point of hreflang tags is to give customers who speak different languages, or who live in different regions of the world, content meant for them. Search engines will give international users the version of the page in their language on the results page.

Now that you know a little bit more about hreflang tags, let’s talk about HTML language tags.

HTML Language Tag

HTML language attributes define the language of a webpage. For example, an HTML language tag for an English webpage would look like this:

<html lang=”en”>

Recall that Google doesn’t look at HTML language tags, but other search engines might, so it’s a good idea to still include them for search engines that don’t look at hreflang tags.

You might also want to use HTML language tags in conjunction with an hreflang tag — they can work together to inform search engines about the content on your webpages. Having both tags tells search engines what language a webpage is in, while directing users from other countries to the appropriate webpage.

When you’re optimizing your content for search engines, it’s important to do everything you can to rank on the SERPs. This helps people across the globe find your business.

5 Dos and Don'ts When Making a SMART Goal [Examples]

When I was 14, my dream was to play college baseball. But I had one small problem: I only weighed 100 pounds. And even though I still had four years to bulk up and improve my skills, I knew I had a long way to go. Fortunately, my coach always knew how to give me opportunities to shoot for that kept my drive alive.

I think of SMART goals like my former baseball coach.

After a grueling practice or workout, he would harp on how the long term is just a series of short terms. And to hammer that mentality into our heads, he would make us write down our off-season training goals every year. But he didn’t just accept the first draft of your goal sheet. He never did. He would make you edit it until you knew exactly what your goals were and how you were going to achieve them.

 

 

 

Setting a goal like “improve upper body strength” and planning to lift weights three times a week wasn’t enough. You had to write down how much you would improve your bench press by and how many times you would work out your upper body per week.

Every year, I set concrete off-season training goals, and since I had a plan and clear direction, I always achieved them. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had gained 70 pounds of muscle and earned a baseball scholarship. 

In this post, you’ll learn exactly what a SMART goal is, why it reminds me of my baseball coach, and how you can set one today, Want to skip to the information you need most? Click on one of these headlines to jump to the relevant section.

When I first learned about SMART goals, I had an epiphany. I realized the reason why I could keep improving my athleticism in high school was because my coach made me set SMART goals. But, to give you a more professional example, here’s a template that shows how HubSpot encourages users to create their own SMART goals:

Download this Template for Free

In the working world, the influence of SMART goals continues to grow. The reason why successful marketing teams always hit their numbers is because they also set SMART goals.

The “SMART” acronym stands for “specific,” “measurable,” “attainable,” “relevant,” and “time-bound.” Each SMART goal you create should have these five characteristics to ensure the goal can be reached and benefits the employee. Find out what each characteristic means below, and how to write a SMART goal that exemplifies them.

The thing I love about sports is the life lessons you learn playing them directly apply to your career. Setting SMART goals not only helps you get better at baseball, but it also makes you a better marketer.

 

1. Use specific wording.

SMART goals are “specific” in that there’s a hard and fast destination the employee is trying to reach. “Get better at my job,” isn’t a SMART goal because it isn’t specific. Instead, ask yourself: What are you getting better at? How much better do you want to get?

If you’re a marketing professional, for example, your job probably revolves around key performance indicators, or KPIs. Therefore, you might choose a particular KPI or metric you want to improve on — like visitors, leads, or customers. You should also identify the team members working toward this goal, the resources they have, and their plan of action.

In practice, a specific SMART goal might say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email …” You know exactly who’s involved and what you’re trying to improve on.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Vagueness

While you may need to keep some goals more open-ended, you should avoid vagueness that could confuse your team later on. For example. instead of saying, “Clifford will boost email marketing experiences,” say “Clifford will boost email marketing click rates by 10%.”

2. Include measurable goals.

SMART goals should be “measurable” in that you can track and quantify the goal’s progress. “Increase the blog’s traffic from email,” by itself, isn’t a SMART goal because you can’t measure the increase. Instead, ask yourself: How much email marketing traffic should you strive for?

If you want to gauge your team’s progress, you need to quantify your goals, like achieving an X-percentage increase in visitors, leads, or customers.

Let’s build on the SMART goal we started three paragraphs above. Now, our measurable SMART goal might say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email by 25% more sessions per month … ” You know what you’re increasing, and by how much.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No KPIs

This is in the same light of avoiding vagueness. While you might need qualitative evidence or more open-ended evidence to prove your success, you should still come up with a quantifiable KPI. For example, instead of saying, “Customer service will improve customer happiness,” say, “We want the average post-customer service call satisfaction score from customers to be a seven out of ten or higher.”

3. Aim for realistically attainable goals.

An “attainable” SMART goal considers the employee’s ability to achieve it. Make sure that X-percentage increase is rooted in reality. If your blog traffic increased by 5% last month, for example, try to increase it by 8-10% this month, rather than a lofty 25%.

It’s crucial to base your goals off of your own analytics, not industry benchmarks, or else you might bite off more than you can chew. So, let’s add some “attainability” to the SMART goal we created earlier in this blog post: “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email by 8-10% more sessions per month … ” This way, you’re not setting yourself up to fail.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Unattainable Goals

Yes. You should always aim to improve. But reaching for completely unattainable goals may knock you off track and make it harder to track progress. Rather than saying, “We want to make 10,000% of what we made in 2019,” consider something more attainable, like, “We want to increase sales by 150% this year,” or “We have a quarterly goal to reach a 20% year-over-year sales increase.”

4. Pick relevant goals that relate to your business.

SMART goals that are “relevant” relate to your company’s overall business goals and account for current trends in your industry. For instance, will growing your traffic from email lead to more revenue? And is it actually possible for you to significantly boost your blog’s email traffic given your current email marketing campaigns?

If you’re aware of these factors, you’ll be more likely to set goals that benefit your company — not just you or your department.

So, what does that do to our SMART goal? It might encourage you to adjust the metric you’re using to track the goal’s progress. For example, maybe your business has historically relies on organic traffic for generating leads and revenue, and research suggests you can generate more qualified leads this way. Our SMART goal might instead say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s organic traffic by 8-10% more sessions per month.” This way, your traffic increase is aligned with the business’s revenue stream.

Common SMART Goal Mistake; Losing Sight of the Company

When your company’s doing well, it can be easy to say you want to pivot or grow in another direction. While companies can successfully do this, you don’t want your team to lose sight of how the core of your business works.

Rather than saying, “We want to start a new B2B business on top of our B2C business,” say something like, “We want to continue increasing B2C sales while researching the impact our products could have on the B2B space in the next year.”

5. Make goals time-bound by including timeframe and deadline information.

A “time-bound” SMART goal keeps you on schedule. Improving on a goal is great, but not if it takes too long. Attaching deadlines to your goals puts a healthy dose of pressure on your team to accomplish them. This helps you make consistent and significant progress in the long term.

For example, which would you prefer: increasing organic traffic by 5% every month, leading to a 30-35% increase in half a year? Or trying to increase traffic by 15% with no deadline and achieving that goal in the same time frame? If you picked the former, you’re right.

So, what does our SMART goal look like once we bound it to a timeframe? “Over the next three months, Clifford and Braden will work to increase the blog’s organic traffic by 8-10%, reaching a total of 50,000 organic sessions by the end of August.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No Time Frame

Having no timeframe or really broad span of time noted in your goal will cause the effort to get reprioritized or make it hard for you to see if your team is on track. Rather than saying. “This year, we want to launch a major campaign,” say, “In quarter one, we will focus on campaign production in order to launch the campaign in quarter two.”

If you want a more concrete understanding of SMART goals, check out the examples below. You can always revisit this blog post and reference them when it’s time to set your goals.

6 SMART Goal Examples That’ll Make You a Better Marketer

1. Blog Traffic Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost our blog’s traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from 5 to 8 times a week. Our two bloggers will increase their workload from writing 2 posts a week to 3 posts a week, and our editor will increase her workload from writing 1 post a week to 2 posts a week.
  • Measureable: An 8% increase is our goal.
  • Attainable: Our blog traffic increased by 5% last month when we increased our weekly publishing frequency from 3 to 5 times a week.
  • Relevant: By increasing blog traffic, we’ll boost brand awareness and generate more leads, giving sales more opportunities to close.
  • Time-Bound: End of this month
  • SMART Goal: At the end of this month, our blog will see an 8% lift in traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from 5 posts per week to 8 post per week.

2. Facebook Video Views Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost our average views per native video by cutting our video content mix from 8 topics to our 5 most popular topics.
  • Measurable: A 25% increase is our goal.
  • Attainable: When we cut down our video content mix on Facebook from 10 topics to our 8 most popular topics six months ago, our average views per native video increased by 20%.
  • Relevant: By increasing average views per native video on Facebook, we’ll boost our social media following and brand awareness, reaching more potential customers with our video content.
  • Time-Bound: In 6 months.
  • SMART Goal: In 6 months, we’ll see a 25% increase in average video views per native video on Facebook by cutting our video content mix from 8 topics to our 5 most popular topics.

3. Email Subscription Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost the number of our email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on blog posts that historically acquire the most email subscribers.
  • Measurable: A 50% increase is our goal.
  • Attainable: Since we started using this tactic three months ago, our email blog subscriptions have increased by 40%.
  • Relevant: By increasing the number of our email blog subscribers, our blog will drive more traffic, boost brand awareness, and drive more leads to our sales team.
  • Time-Bound: In 3 months.
  • SMART Goal: In 3 months, we’ll see a 50% increase in the number of our email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on posts that historically acquire the most blog subscribers.

4. Webinar Sign-up Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase the number of sign-ups for our Facebook Messenger webinar by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook Messenger.
  • Measurable: A 15% increase is our goal.
  • Attainable: Our last Facebook messenger webinar saw a 10% increase in sign-ups when we only promoted it through social, email, and our blog.
  • Relevant: When our webinars generate more leads, sales has more opportunities to close.
  • Time-Bound: By April 10, the day of the webinar.
  • SMART Goal: By April 10, the day of our webinar, we’ll see a 15% increase in sign-ups by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook messenger.

5. Landing Page Performance Goal

  • Specific: I want our landing pages to generate more leads by switching from a one column form to a two column form.
  • Measurable: A 30% increase is our goal.
  • Attainable: When we A/B tested our traditional one column form vs. a two column form on our highest traffic landing pages, we discovered that two column forms convert 27% better than our traditional one column forms, at a 99% significance level.
  • Relevant: If we generate more content leads, sales can close more customers.
  • Time-Bound: One year from now.
  • SMART Goal: One year from now, our landing pages will generate 30% more leads by switching their forms from one-column to two columns.

6. Link-Building Strategy Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase our website’s organic traffic by developing a link-building strategy that gets other publishers to link to our website. This increases our ranking in search engine results, allowing us to generate more organic traffic.
  • Measurable: 40 backlinks to our company homepage is our goal.
  • Attainable: According to our SEO analysis tool, there are currently 500 low-quality links directing to our homepage from elsewhere on the internet. Given the number of partnerships we currently have with other businesses, and that we generate 10 new inbound links per month without any outreach on our part, an additional 40 inbound links from a single link-building campaign is a significant but feasible target.
  • Relevant: Organic traffic is our top source of new leads, and backlinks is one of the biggest ranking factors on search engines like Google. If we build links from high-quality publications, our organic ranking increases, boosting our traffic and leads as a result.
  • Time-Bound: 4 months from now.
  • SMART Goal: Over the next four months, I will build 40 additional backlinks that direct to www.ourcompany.com. To do so, I will collaborate with Ellie and Andrew from our PR department to connect with publishers and develop an effective outreach strategy.

How to Craft Brand Messaging Your Target Audience Will Love

As a consumer — and a marketer — one of my favorite brands to watch is Taco Bell. In the last five years or so, Taco Bell has begun making strides in its brand messaging.

The brand has reinvented itself on social media, introducing a new, bold personality. With its food, packaging, marketing campaigns, events, philanthropic efforts, and interior design, Taco Bell reinvented itself into a full on lifestyle brand.

Doing this — telling a compelling brand story through messaging — isn’t easy.

Marketers need to have an entire brand identity to communicate what their business does, what it’s about, and why it’s different. Oh, and it needs to resonate with people and strengthen your company’s values and reputation.

This is because, according to research from Bergische University, brands produce similar feelings as the ones we feel when we like someone. So, we actually feel similarly about brands as we do about people.

That’s why marketers need to craft brand messaging that their audience can relate to.

Below, let’s review brand messaging — what it is and a framework to get started.

So, how do you get started crafting brand messaging that your target audience will love?

You need to know two things like the back of your hand: your target audience and unique value proposition.

Then, you can begin to write out a brand identity that’ll help your company make all its marketing decisions. Would a brand that cares about “X” do this? Would a brand that’s motivated by “Y” sell this?

Your brand identity will inform your company’s behavior because it’ll tell you why your brand matters, what it stands for, and why it’s different from other brands.

A brand identity that your audience relates to and has a personality — or talks to your audience like a friend — is how you’ll continue to remain relevant to your consumers and create loyal customers.

Brand Message Framework

With a full understanding of brand messaging and creating a brand identity, you might be wondering, “Now what? How do I get started?”

And it’s a fair question. That’s why we’ve created a brand message framework that you can use to begin crafting a brand message or identity.

1. Figure out who you are.

To get started, your brand message needs to answer these questions:

  • How do you differentiate from your competitors?
  • What is your unique value proposition?
  • What kind of messaging will resonate with your target audience?
  • Who is your target audience? What do they care about?
  • Does your brand message tell a story?
  • What are your company’s goals? (No one is perfect and your target audience can’t relate to a seemingly perfect brand).
  • What are your company’s values?

While you’re answering these questions and beginning to map out who your brand identity is and what your brand messaging will look like, remember that your brand message answers the question, why? Why does your audience care?

2. Know your audience.

Now that you have a better idea of what you offer and who you are, you need to understand who your audience is. If you haven’t already, create buyer personas that represent who your customers are and their goals. This will help you find alignment between your brand and your consumers.

3. Start a document that explains your brand message.

After you’ve answered the questions above and written out your personas, begin compiling this information in a document that explains what your brand message is, your unique value proposition, and key themes that are core to your brand identity.

Then, start to figure out how your brand identity relates to your buyer persona. What are the patterns and what do they have in common? This is how you’ll make decisions on brand messaging. You’ll see what your audience cares about that align with your values and can derive messaging opportunities.

4. Brainstorm messaging opportunities.

With a clear document that represents who you are and who your audience is, you can then begin to look for messaging opportunities. How can you relate your current campaigns to your brand message? How can you use content to convey your values?

Once you have an idea, you can create a tagline that communicates who you are and your unique value proposition.

At this point, you should have created a brand message and identity that’ll inform your messaging. Now, we wanted to review a few tips for creating messaging that stays true to your brand:

  1. Stay focused on the brand positioning: With all the content you write, ask yourself, “Is this true to our values?”
  2. Relate to your audience: When you create content, use your buyer personas and brand messaging document to ensure that you’re talking about something that’s relevant to your audience.
  3. Don’t be perfect: Similarly to the point above, people aren’t perfect and brands shouldn’t be either. Don’t over promise and communicate that you’re perfect, because you aren’t and it’ll come off disingenuous.
  4. Communicate your message everywhere: In everything you write and all your marketing decisions, think about your brand message. Whether you’re writing copy for your website, creating slogans for packaging, or marketing an event, your copy needs to communicate your brand message.
  5. Be simple: Keep it simple. If your brand’s personality or overall values are confusing or hard to discern, people won’t relate to you. The last thing you want to do is create a brand message that your audience is confused by.

Brand Message Examples

1. Taco Bell.

As mentioned above, Taco Bell has started to create a reputation for its strong, funny brand. If you tweet them, they will likely respond with a humorous comment.

The goal is to be so relatable that customers love to interact and talk about Taco Bell. When people are talking about you and with you, they’re more likely to be loyal customers.

Below is an example of a tweet that represents Taco Bell’s brand identity and messaging. They respond to tweets like a sarcastic, funny best friend would.

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2. The Skimm.

TheSkimm is a daily newsletter that aims to quickly inform young women of current events. The brand is known for having a bold, witty personality similar to that of its target audience — millennial women.

The goal? To mirror its target audience. Act like the fun, irreverent best friend to help readers get started with their day.

In the tweet below, theSkimm stays true to its brand messaging and identity by starting off with a sharp, witty comment on Congress.

The Skimm showcases its personality through brand messaging.

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3. FabFitFun.

When I think of FabFitFun, I think of trendy products that are popular with self-care influencers. The brand has cultivated a following by partnering with influencers on Instagram who are trendy, fashionable, and take care of themselves.

And this image of self-care and trendy products is carried out through its content as well. Below, the company tweeted its blog about trendy tech accessories. This type of content is right in line with the brand messaging consumers hear about on Instagram.

FabFitFun tweets blog aligning with personality and customer personas.

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4. Trader Joes.

Trader Joes is a grocery store that has created an almost cult-like following through its brand messaging. They are a fun, cheap, organic food store with a small-town, neighborhood feel. For example, they even put out an old-fashioned newsletter called the “Fearless Flyer.” This includes product roundups and recipes.

The content Trader Joes puts out reinforces its brand image as a small, neighborhood grocery store. With brand messaging that is consistent with its unique value proposition and personality, customers relate to the brand as if it were a person.

Trader Joes newsletter reveals brand identity.

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5. Taylor Swift.

Besides the fact that Taylor Swift is one of my favorite singer/songwriters, I had to include her because her brand messaging is on point.

From the time she was 16, Taylor Swift has used social media and brand messaging to connect with her fans. This is another example of someone who has created a cult-like following through brand messaging.

Taylor Swift’s brand is that she’s like the girl next door, something her audience relates with. In the example below, someone on Tumblr posted a tweet on Swift’s birthday, and Swift responded like … well, like the girl next door. A fun, outgoing best friend you can easily talk to on social media.

Taylor Swift uses Tumblr to reveal personality and brand identity.

Image Source

Your brand message is something that’s strategically created to help you stand out and relate to your customers. Your personality and values should be evident and align with that of your audience.

5 Examples of Truly Unique Company Culture

When I start a job search, a huge factor that notates whether or not I send in an application is a company culture I can see myself contributing to and thriving in. I am totally one of the candidates who won’t apply to a company with a negative reputation.

Companies are defined by the values and protocol set in place. This is what a company culture is. They describe how company beliefs are reflected in the experience of employees and customers.

HubSpot’s culture code is available online as a commitment to our value of transparency. Other companies (Spotify, Hootsuite, Asana) with transparency as a part of their culture have done the same, showing that culture works in implementation, not just establishment.

If you’re looking for inspiration for your company culture or are working to define one of your own, check out what these companies are doing to make their employees and customers receive a positive experience.

1. Google

At Google, the spark of ideas is key. Employees, affectionately dubbed ‘Googlers,’ are encouraged to be creative. Innovation is a big company goal, and because of this, Google has the X lab.

This is a lab space where employees can experiment and failure is accepted as a learning experience necessary for growth. Without this fear of doing something wrong, employees can feel empowered to strive for higher goals and feel supported along the way.

Googlers can enjoy the flexibility of choosing how they work and offices with video games and nap areas. Common spaces like kitchenettes and various meeting rooms bring employees together and encourage productivity with in-office food options and breakout spaces.

A unique feature of Google’s culture is the program ‘Googler to Googler.’ This is focused on team development and working together; Googlers get the chance to educate each other in skill-building from yoga to team management.

2. Netflix

Netflix is another company where culture immersion starts during the interview process — candidates who make a splash display empathy and a track record of working well in teams. Candidates who have great achievements but negative attitudes might be passed over for one enthusiastic about joining a new team who is seen as a natural fit.

Ownership through flexibility is also important to the streaming service. Providing employees with unlimited vacation time is a way Netflix encourages not only a flexible work schedule but sets in place the expectation that unique perks will be respected.

Another quirk about Netflix’s culture is its extreme honesty policy. To prioritize respect in the workplace, the company believes that if you wouldn’t say something to a colleague in person, you shouldn’t say it in private. This builds trust in work relationships, for example, those with coworkers and managers.

3. Amazon

The biggest focus at Amazon, in terms of company culture, is producing an excellent experience for the customer. To achieve this, Amazon imposes high standards into everything culture-based. What do I mean by this?

Employees are encouraged to deliver their best performance. To aide with this, Amazon has a “two-pizza” rule: Teams should be small enough to be fed with two pizzas. This approach helps managers create a more personal relationship with their team, provide adequate support, and maintains company productivity.

Further, the high expectations from customers influence the drive from employees to build high-quality experiences. What’s more, this approach attracts potential employees who see themselves in the company’s brand and want to deliver the best service possible to customers.

4. Buffer

At Buffer, culture is made up of personal development, humility, listening, and transparency. The company has a policy of providing honesty to their employees and customers and encourages them to do the same. Buffer also promotes employee skill-building and a supportive environment for innovation.

Buffer employees can expect a culture that is huge on transparency, from employee salaries being posted on their website to encouraging open employee/manager relationships. The company is also huge on being gratuitous. Valuing positive collaboration and hard work solidifies a workforce where employees feel valued.

Though self-improvement isn’t a culture aspect unique to Buffer, it’s a huge part of it. Buffer believes prime employees don’t throw themselves into work. Instead, they believe the best employees balance a healthy workload with their drive to improve their skill sets in and outside of work. This could be personal goals, like fitness, or professional goals, like team management.

Buffer has a commitment to listening to their employees to provide the best work atmosphere possible, promoting the practice of listening to understand rather respond. Similarly, they put the same emphasis on listening to providing a positive customer experience.

5. Zappos

Have you heard the story of the Zappos employee who spent 10 hours on the phone with a customer? This is an outcome of the culture Zappos has put in place for their company. From the interview process to day-to-day functions, the company is devoted to like-minded employees driven by customer experience.

At Zappos, immersion into the culture starts the moment candidates are picked up from the airport for their in-person interview. Future Zapponians are the ones who have high marks from social interactions. From the driver to the interviewer, almost every interaction a potential employee has is evaluated for personality.

Another unique part of the culture at Zappos has to do with accepting an offer. New employees work at the company for a month, of which a week is spent (no matter the role) in the call center. At the end of the month, the new hire can either accept their offer and continue their role or walk away from the role with $3,000 for their time and no further questions, helpful towards employee retention.

Zappos values the ideas of their employees, supporting a culture that fosters thought leadership and a positive environment to work in. This means flexible dress codes, hours, and the encouragement to share ideas among supervisors and employees.

When implementing or redefining a company culture, choose the one that your company can follow from day one. For example, most companies cannot provide an office ping-pong table at launch. But, a startup can implement a promise to employees that their health is of high priority to increase productivity, and encourage team runs or yoga classes from day one.

Keep in mind that no culture is perfect, even the above examples. Some of them have addressed fault and divides in their company cultures. Make sure that above all else, you listen to your employees and take their ideas into account.

The biggest perks in investing in a company code are seeing the retention of employees and happy customer experiences. A culture that focuses too much on glitz and glamour may lose sight in what’s really important to their beliefs, so make sure that yours is reasonable, yet effective.

30 Reddit Stats and Facts to Know in 2020

Since it launched in 2005, Reddit has remained a mystery to many marketers.

The user-influenced platform, which embraces discussion and community engagement, rather than content creation or branding is vastly different from other networks — like Facebook or Instagram — where brands naturally find their niche.

But, in the past few years, Reddit’s made attempts to gain more attention from brands. Aside from introducing a number of advertising offerings, Reddit’s also launched features such as video streaming and video hosting, which have enabled the platform to evolve from the text-based format it’s been known for.

While Reddit’s user-oriented platform might be too difficult for small to medium-sized business marketers right now, it’s still evolving. The platform is also thriving with Gen-Z and millennial audiences that might be using that platform to make purchasing decisions later on in life.

At the moment, we don’t encourage you to put all your money into Reddit ads or a community manager to build subreddits just yet. However, it’s still smart to keep an eye on platforms that could offer solid marketing opportunities in the future.

To keep you informed and help you make strategic social media decisions, here’s a list of 30 helpful and intriguing Reddit stats related to the company, its user base, and what it takes to engage audiences on the platform.

General Stats

  • Reddit surpassed 330 million monthly active users in 2017. (Reddit)
  • The site receives more than 21 billion monthly screen views. (Reddit)
  • 6% of online adults are Reddit users (Pew Research Center)
  • Reddit was founded in 2005 and acquired by Condé Nast in 2006. (Crunchbase)
  • While Reddit was reportedly sold for between $10-$20 million, the company’s valuation grew to 1.8 billion after 2017 funding rounds. (CNBC)

Demographics

  • Gen Z makes up 26% of Reddit Users. (Reddit Blog)
  • Reddit is predominantly male. 15% of male internet users between 18 to 29 say they use Reddit. (Pew Research Center)
  • Only 10% of female internet users under 50 say they use Reddit. (Pew Research Center)

Source: Pew Research Center

User Behavior

Reddit says Gen Z trusts reddit when it comes to product research

Source: Reddit Blog

Videos on Reddit

  • Within a year of launching video hosting in 2017, Reddit’s native video viewers climbed to 1.4 billion monthly. (Reddit Blog)
  • In 2018, video viewing time grew by 38%: Total users went from viewing 400,000 hours of natively hosted video every day to more than 13 million hours of video monthly. (Reddit Blog)
  • 50% of Reddit audiences under 34 watch short, “snack-sized” videos more often than longer-form content. (Reddit Blog)
  • In 2018, three of Reddit’s five highest-performing posts included videos while one included a photo. (Reddit Blog)

Engaging Content and Hot Topics

  • In a 2019 study of 60,000 Reddit posts, those between 60 and 80 characters get 8,600 upvotes. (Foundation Inc.)
  • The study also found that posts under 120 characters get more upvotes than posts above the character count. (Foundation inc.)
Foundation Inc. Average Title Length of top posts on Reddit

Source: Foundation Inc.

  • Posts with questions generate twice as many comments as posts without them. But, oppositely, posts without questions get more upvotes than posts with them. (Foundation Inc.)
  • The top two communities in 2018 were related to the blockbuster film, Avengers: Infinity War. (Reddit Blog)
  • Two of the most commented-on subreddits of 2018 related to video games. (Reddit Blog)
  • Four of Reddit’s top Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) threads in 2018 discussed politics while the most engaging thread featured Bill Gates. (Reddit Blog)
  • Aside from movies, like Infinity War, one of Reddit’s most popular topics is technology. In 2018, Reddit reported that all of its tech-related subreddits combined received more than 27 million unique monthly visitors and 284 monthly views. (Reddit Blog)
Chart showing questions get 2x more comments on Reddit from Foundation Inc.
Questions get fewer upvotes on reddit chart from foundation inc.

Source: Foundation Inc.

Takeaways from Reddit Stats

If you’re a marketer in a field related to consumer products, especially technology, you might not want to count out Reddit just yet. As we’ve learned from the stats above, young people, especially in Gen Z are using and trusting the platform as a source for product research.

If your company has a lot of great video content, you also might not want to write off the platform. In Reddit’s 2018 review, the company said, “Video is King” when it came to engaging posts. As we’ve seen on other social networks, online video, especially in a mobile format, is being embraced much more heavily than it has in the past. Because of this, it might be worth it to explore the idea of a Reddit video strategy if you ever have extra time or resources available to you.

If you’re really interested in testing out content on Reddit, but don’t know where to start, it can be helpful to get inspiration from brands who’ve already succeeded there. In this post, you can check out a few great examples.

Smart Targeting: The Better Way to Reach Audiences & Customers

Have you ever visited a website you frequent and found that the text interacts with you?

For instance, when I log onto Mailchimp, my dashboard says, “Welcome back, Kayla” — this is because my account with the site has my first name in its system and uses smart targeting to make my interaction with the website more delightful.

Smart targeting provides a more individual experience for webpage visitors.

For example, if I visit a web page that’s not in my first language, in some cases, I’ll receive an option to translate that web page into my first language based on my location. That’s smart targeting at work.

Targeted content is an opportunity to reach audiences with a custom experience that’s personalized to their interests. A common form of this is the targeted ad you saw on Facebook for PetCo after browsing Target for new dog food.

Alternatively, if you visit an e-commerce store you frequently shop at, you may notice an option to “Order it again.” This shopping experience, making re-ordering a quick and painless process, is another example of smart targeting.

For instance, this is an example of smart targeting on Amazon:

Because I’ve recently searched for pink office supplies, Amazon picked out suggestions for me based on my browsing history on the subject. The website changed based on my past behavior.

Businesses might incorporate smart targeting into their websites to make customers feel like their experience is tailored to their interests.

Here, we’re going to go over what smart targeting is, and how businesses are using it to connect and grow their audiences.

What is Smart Targeting?

Smart Targeting predicts the interests of internet browsers using artificial intelligence (AI). This technology then uses those predictions to provide relevant content offers. Using smart targeting gives your audience a more personalized experience and allows you to grow your reach.

Smart content displays different versions of content based on previous criteria you set for your contacts. In general, smart content is setting targeted content rules — for instance, you might create a smart form so your website visitors don’t have to answer the same question twice.

When you set smart content rules and assign them to contacts, they’ll qualify for the first rule you set. And, for each of the rules you set, you can preview your text before publishing.

For example, if you want a contact to view specific content you’ve set up based on their country, you can assign the “Country” smart rule to their contact display. Other smart rules you might find in a CRM include:

  • Device Type: This smart rule lets you set the medium your content is viewed in — mobile, tablet, or desktop. You can always preview this medium after creating this smart rule.
  • Referral source: Based on how visitors on your site found it. This will formulate your content based on whichever site they came from.
  • Preferred language: With this rule, the user can view web page content based on the language set in their browser.
  • Contact list membership: By setting this smart rule, a contact in your database will be shown content based on the list they’re in. For example, if you set a smart rule that only visitors who are in your “Marketing Qualified Lead” list can see, contacts in that list will be able to see it.
  • Lifecycle stage: This will display relevant content based on the lifecycle stage of the contact.

Next, let’s explore some examples of smart targeting. 

Examples of Smart Targeting

1. Monarch Music Hall

I am an avid concert-goer. Oftentimes, when I purchase tickets from certain music venues, I begin to receive targeted emails for shows of the same genre of the artists I see.

For instance, check out this email I got from Monarch Music Hall:

I’ve seen the group X Ambassadors before, so because they’re making their way back to Chicago, I was notified of their show due to my previous purchase.

This is a great example of smart targeting analyzing my purchase history, spotting a trend, and using AI to make a more streamlined ticket-buying process for me.

2. Thrive Market

When the weather gets nippy, sometimes I order my groceries online instead of braving the cold. I use a website called Thrive Market because I love their smart targeting. Because I’m a person of routine, its so easy to visit the website and pick which items to purchase again, like here:

thrive market smart targeting

The targeting here is working by pulling up my past purchases and displaying them on the homepage. That way, I could easily add them to my cart if I wanted to. Not only does this improve customer experience, but it also gives me, the consumer, more time to browse other products on Thrive.

3. Vineyard Vines

Social media is a huge culprit of smart targeting. The ads some platforms show you look at your browsing history and use that data to suggest actionable websites for you to browse.

This ad from Instagram is a perfect example:

instagram smart targeting

Making a recent purchase is a great indicator for smart targeting to choose ads from websites that will give you a more streamlined process of visitation or ordering products in the future. Here, Vineyard Vines is attracting its customers with a sale, and spending less money on the ad by ensuring it only reaches past visitors to its site.

Part of the customer experience is feeling separate from “Just another consumer.” Though on the surface, it seems hard to do in a more digital-facing world, things like smart targeting are making that transition an easy one.

Just like your favorite local coffee shop will greet you by name and ask if you want your regular, your Starbucks app can now do that, as well.

Smart targeting is also a great way to keep customers coming back to your website. For more ways to drive traffic to your website, check out our article here.

26 TIkTok Stats to Know in 2020

If you feel like the app TikTok came out of nowhere, you’re not wrong.

Since launching in early 2018, TikTok’s been covered by seemingly every major news publication and racked up millions of downloads globally.

Despite TikTok’s major early success, the app still feels like a bit of a mystery, especially to marketers. In fact, until recently, its parent company, ByteDance, hasn’t disclosed many metrics at all.

In TikTok’s first year, all we really knew was that an odd-ball video app was going viral, topping global app store charts, and gaining a huge fanbase from Gen-Z.

But now, shortly after TikTok’s first birthday, we know a lot more about it as sites like Digiday, AdWeek, and our own Marketing Blog regularly cover it.

Even if you still aren’t quite sure what TikTok is, you’ve probably seen a video meme on social media that was created and published in the app first. Here’s one for example of a TikTok post which went viral on Twitter:

When making decisions about your social strategy, you’re probably more interested in numbers than virality as proof of an app’s staying power.

As someone who’s gotten sucked into the app, blogged multiple times about it, hearted hundreds of posts, and even made a few embarrassingly mature videos of my own, I’m fairly certain that this platform will stick around for quite some time. But, luckily, with mounting data on TikTok, you don’t just have to take my word for it.

To help you make informed decisions about your strategy and whether TikTok is right for your brand, I’ve compiled a list of 26 interesting stats and facts to know before venturing on to the app.

26 TikTok Stats to Know in 2019

Userbase, Downloads, and Growth

Within TikTok’s first year, it reportedly reached 500 million monthly active users. Wondering if this was just a fluke or a viral trend that will simmer down? Think again. According to TikTok and its company heads, the audience might be larger and more promising than we think.

  • According to a leaked advertising pitch deck from October 2019, TikTok reports having 800 million monthly active users worldwide. (AdAge)
  • Musical.ly, a lip-syncing app which ByteDance purchased and merged with TikTok, reportedly had 100 million monthly active users when it was purchased by TikTok in 2018. (The Verge)
  • Douyin, TikTok’s original standalone app in China, had 300 million users at the time Musical.ly merged with TikTok. (The Verge)
  • As of early 2019, TikTok is the third-most downloaded app globally. (Business of Apps)
  • By February 2019, TikTok hit 1 billion downloads, beating Instagram and Facebook in app stores. (Business Insider)
  • As of late October 2019, TikTok was the Top Free App in the Entertainment section of the Apple App Store. (Apple App Store)

Demographics

While TikTok’s user base is dominated by Gen-Z in the United States, many millennials have adopted it around the world.

And, although it might feel like TikTok is huge in the U.S., the app’s biggest audience actually comes from China, where the platform is called Douyin.

Here’s a breakdown of TikTok’s major demographic stats.

  • Roughly 50% of TikTok’s global audience is under the age of 34 with 26% between 18 and 24. (MarketingCharts)
  • Just over one in eight adults have joined TikTok. (MarketingCharts)
  • 56% of TikTok users are male. (AppApeLab)
  • TikTok is now available in 155 countries. (Oberlo)
  • Over 500 million of TikTok’s monthly active users are Chinese. (AdAge)
  • The app has 26.5 million monthly active users in the U.S. (Digiday)
  • 60% of TikTok’s U.S. audience is between the ages of 16 and 24. (Digiday)

User Behavior

TikTok is a fast-paced app. The second you log in, you see a video at the top of a feed that’s algorithmically curated around your interests. If you enjoy the video you’re watching, you can follow, comment, and like the content directly from the video post. If you’re not loving what you see, you can keep swiping in an upward motion to immediately see more odd videos.

From my own experience, I’ve found that TikTok can easily cause you to spend more time than expected watching an endless stream of often comedic videos. Since these videos are usually between 15 seconds and one minute, it makes the app ideal for people who need quick entertainment on their morning commute or when they’re bored at home.

Because of TikTok’s quick pace and entertainment factor, the stats below aren’t that surprising:

  • The average user spends 52 minutes per day on TikTok. (BusinessOfApps)
  • 90% of TIkTok users visit the app more than once per day. (GlobalWebIndex)
  • Users open the app eight times per day on average. (Digiday)
  • TikTok claims that the average session is nearly 5 minutes, which is longer than Snapchat or Instagram’s. (Digiday)

Viral Trends and Influencers on TikTok

Like YouTube, Vine, Instagram, as well as other past and present video apps, TikTok has opened doors for influencers, comedians, meme creators, and even some brands. While it’s still a bit too early to see how successful its influencers and trends will be in the long run, here are a few interesting tidbits:

  • The most followed individual on TikTok is a comedic poster and influencer named Loren Gray. She has 34.4 million followers. (TikTok)
  • One of the earliest branded hashtag challenges was Guess’ #InMyDenim challenge. According to TikTok, videos marked with this hashtag have received a grand total of 38.8 million views. (TikTok)
  • Rapper Lil Nas X credits the success of his song “Old Town Road” to TikTok. The song was propelled to #1 on the Billboard Top 100 in 2019 after the artist uploaded it to TikTok. (BuzzFeed News)

Here’s a compilation of TikTok’s #CowboyChallenge where people wearing normal clothing cut to themselves in cowboy costumes to the song “Old Town Road.”

Business, Revenue, and Competition

The launch of TikTok not only put its parent company, ByteDance, on the map, but it also resulted in competition from apps like Facebook, which launched a very similar app called Lasso shortly after TikTok went viral. While TikTok and ByteDance are less transparent about revenue and other major details, here’s what we know:

  • TikTok now offers five advertising tiers aimed at big brands. One of which, a branded hashtag challenge, reportedly costs $150,000 per day. (TikTok Pitch Deck Notes First Reported by Digiday)
  • TikTok’s revenue more than tripled between 2017 and 2018. (Sensor Tower)
  • In 2018, TikTok made $3.5 million on in-app purchases from users. (Sensor Tower)
  • TikTok has a 4.7-star rating in the Apple App Store with over 2.1 million reviews. (Apple App Store)
  • Lasso, a competing app launched by Facebook in November 2018, has been downloaded by over 70,000 users. (Sensor Tower)
  • Bytedance, TikTok’s parent company is valued at $75 million, making it the world’s most valuable startup. (CBInsights)
  • ByteDance’s collection of apps, including TikTok, has a total of 1 billion monthly active users. (CNN)

The Mysteries of TikTok

Although TikTok is a top social platform and is ramping up its options for advertisers, it’s still rather new. When a company or startup is new, it’s not uncommon for leadership to hide early numbers, even when a brand is successful. In fact, we’ve seen this with other major companies like Snapchat and Netflix.

There’s still a lot more to learn as TikTok’s global teams and ByteDance continue to remain hush-hush about major metrics. In the coming years, as TikTok tries to woo advertisers, it wouldn’t be surprising if we started to see more transparent information about the app and its user base.

In the meantime, If you want to learn more about TikTok, you can read up on its short history and early success in this post, or click here to find a how-to guide for using the app.

Want to see what other businesses are doing on TikTok? Check out this roundup of brands on TikTok.

The Ultimate Guide to Google Docs

Everything Google touches seems to turn to gold.

Not only has the brand helped online businesses generate billions of dollars through its search engine, but it’s also — and continues to — branch out and create other products.

One of these products is Google Docs, a free word-processor and alternative to Microsoft Word that allows anyone to easily create and edit their own shareable document.

Google Docs is a behemoth. The tool is so multi-faceted and multi-functional; it’s easy to get overwhelmed when learning your way around. That’s why we wrote this guide — to teach you about how to use Google Docs to create awesome content and collaborate with your team. We’ll also tap into some tips and tricks that will make this process even easier.

What is Google Docs?

No software downloads. No payments. No specific browser or computer necessary. Is there really any product out there these days that is this simple to obtain and use?

The answer is yes.

Google Docs is a completely free, cross-platform (syncs documents across phones, tablets, and desktops) word processor that works both online and offline. All you need is a Google account, the same free account that you use for your G Suite or Gmail.

The cloud-based tool includes a clean layout and unique features for users, such as the ability to work, share, and collaborate from anywhere. The platform even automatically syncs and saves all of your work, so you don’t even have to worry about pressing Save.

With these features, it’s clear why millions of users prefer Google Docs over other word processors.

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word

Let’s not forget about Microsoft Word, however. Microsoft Word been around longer than Google Docs and remains exceptionally popular today. Millions of individual users and companies still pay big money to use Word. So, how do Google Docs and Word compare?

For one, Google Docs is free with a Google account. Microsoft Word must be purchased as part of a Microsoft Office package, which includes other Microsoft products such as PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook.

The Home and Business packages run from $69.99 (for an individual user at home) up to $150 (for an individual user at work) for an annual membership. Google Docs, on the other hand, allows you to collaborate with any number of people, anywhere in the world, for free.

Another differentiating factor is that, with Google Docs, all of your work is saved to the Cloud. That means you won’t lose your 20-page report … even if your laptop croaks. (Whew!) With Microsoft Word, your documents live on your computer; your coworkers can’t check them out unless you save and share them via email or the like.

Whether you choose Google Docs or Microsoft Word, it’s not difficult to sync the two. You can create a new Google Doc by simply uploading an existing Word file. Here’s how.

Open your Google Drive and click New.

Tap File upload to access the files saved on your computer.converting microsoft word document to google docs google drive file upload

Choose your Word file from your computer and click Open. This will upload your file to your Google Drive. Once uploaded, double-click it to open. Once open, click Google Docs from the drop-down menu at the top.

converting microsoft word document to google docs open new file in google docs

Voila! That’s how you convert a Word doc to a Google Docs file. Now, let’s dig a bit deeper on how to use Google Docs.


Collaborating in Google Docs

There are a plethora of tips and tricks that users can take advantage of while using Google Docs — whether working as an individual or with a team.

Google Docs allows multiple people to work, collaborate, and edit within a single document in real-time through any web browser. Here’s how.

Sharing Your Google Doc

Individuals can share their document with as many people as they want, as well as edit their permissions to limit what they can do.

To get started sharing, click File > Share.

sharing your google docs file

There are four sharing options — the one you pick is totally your choice.

1. Create a shareable link.

The simplest way to share a Google Docs page is to generate a shareable link. This allows anyone to click a unique URL and view your document.

After clicking Share, tap the Get Shareable Link button in the top right corner.

google docs get shareable link

Select a sharing permission for your document.

google docs setting permission for documentAfter defining permissions, press Copy link.

google docs sharing copy link

The URL will then be copied to your clipboard for you to send to anyone who wishes to view the document.

2. Share via email address.

You also have the option to share your document with an email address. This will send an invite to that person’s inbox, and add the document to their Google account.

To do this, head back to the sharing box.

Enter the email address of the person you’d like to share your document with and select an option from the drop-down to edit their permissions.

google docs sharing via email

If you add a note to this invite, it will be displayed in the email invitation.

3. Choose the advanced sharing options.

Head back to your sharing box and hit Advanced.

Here, you can see all sharing settings — including who has access to your document, their permission settings, and the option to invite more people or remove others.

google docs sharing advanced settings

4. Make your document editable by anyone.

Want to grant anyone permission to edit the contents of your document? Hit File > Share to get your shareable link.

google docs get shareable link

In the drop-down menu displayed, click More…

google docs share with others more

After that, choose On — Anyone with the link and set the permissions in the bottom drop-down menu.

google docs link sharing

As this option clearly states, anyone with your unique URL will be able to make changes, edit, and even delete your document … so be careful about who you’re sharing it with.

Using Google Docs Shortcut Keys

There are a number of shortcut keys to help increase your productivity while working in Google Docs. Review the following chart to learn some of the most popular shortcuts.

actions mac shortcuts pc shortcuts
Copy ⌘ + c Ctrl + c
Paste ⌘ + v Ctrl + v
Cut ⌘ + x Ctrl + x
Paste without formatting ⌘ + Shift + v Ctrl + Shift + v
Undo ⌘ + z Ctrl + z
Redo ⌘ + Shift + z Ctrl + Shift + z
Insert/edit link ⌘ + k Ctrl + k
Open link Option + Enter Alt + Enter
Show common keyboard shortcuts ⌘ + / Ctrl + /
Save (Google Drive automatically saves to Drive) ⌘ + s Ctrl + s
Print ⌘ + p Ctrl + p
Open ⌘ + o Ctrl + o
Find ⌘ + f Ctrl + f
Insert page break ⌘ + Enter Ctrl + Enter
Hide menus (compact mode) Ctrl + Shift + f Ctrl + Shift + f

For a complete list of Mac, PC, Android, iPhone, and iPad shortcut keys, check out this page.

Creating and Writing in Google Docs

Which Google Docs features will help you and your team create powerful documents, no matter your location? Here are some options for you to try.

Work Offline

A bonus to using Google Docs is that you’re able to edit, save, and create documents through your web browser even when you’re not connected to the internet. This might come in handy if you need to get some work done while traveling. The changes you make are still saved and will sync when you go back online.

But, this isn’t an automatic feature. You’ll need to set-up offline connections in your account.

To do this, visit the Google Docs homepage and locate the menu button on the left-hand side.

google docs menu

Then press Settings.

google docs menu settings

A pop-up box will then be visible on your screen. To set up offline editing, toggle the Offline button to On. (This should turn the button blue, rather than gray.)

google docs offline toggle

Your browser will then adjust to offline editing and you’ll see the following icon when editing your document without internet.

google docs work offline icon

Voice Typing

Voice technology is a growing industry, and Google has been at the forefront of this trend. You can speed up your writing process by using voice typing in Google Docs.

To use the feature, begin by checking your device settings to confirm that your microphone works.

Then head to Tools > Voice Typing. You’ll see a microphone icon.

google docs voice typing

Click it and start speaking. Google will convert your spoken words into text, which you’ll see appear on the page.

Google Docs App

With the Google Docs app, users can continue to edit, share, collaborate in real-time, add images, and create content all while on-the-go.

The free app even works offline once you’ve turned on that setting — the same way you did on your laptop or desktop — and it automatically saves your work to the Cloud.

Explore

Have you ever been writing about a topic and stopped to think, “Wow, I could use a suggestion or two on how to improve my piece.”

Google Docs has you covered.

The Explore feature — found by clicking Tools > Explore — Google Docs will scan the content you provide and suggest information that you could add to your piece.

google docs explore feature

These suggestions might include details you may have forgotten, images to enhance your piece, or possible research that you could include to back your points and claims.

Formatting Your Document in Google Docs

Google Docs empowers you to create a document that works for you and the content you’re creating. Whether it’s the page orientation, images, or page numbers, these tips will help you format your document any way you want.

Changing Page Margins

If you’re looking to make the most of the blank space in your document or format your document for printing, you might need to change the margins.

Before doing this, you’ll need to make sure the ruler is visible above your document.

Simply head to View > Show Ruler.

google docs show ruler

You should see a ruler below the formatting bar in your document.

Then, to change the margins of your page, locate the small blue button on the left-hand side of the ruler and slide the button to alter your left margin.

google docs change margins left margin

To change your right margin in Google Docs, repeat this process using the blue button on the right side of your ruler.

google docs change margin right margin

If you need strict margins in your document, click File > Page Setup.

google docs page setup

You’ll then see the following pop-up box where you can change the margins.

google doc page margins settings

If you need the same margins in every document you create, save time and hit Set as Default. This will automatically copy your margin set-up to all new documents.

Changing Page Orientation to Landscape

Looking to change the orientation of your document? Head to File > Page Setup.

google docs page setup menu

Then, select Landscape under Orientation.google docs page setup orientation

If you want all of your documents to have the same orientation, press Set as Default.

Adding a Text Box

Text boxes are a great option if you’re looking to add an extra visual element to your document. They allow you to position additional text anywhere on your page without altering the format of your existing document.

In Google Docs, text boxes are classified as drawings. You can insert one by clicking Insert > Drawing.

google docs insert drawing

This will open the Drawing feature. Next, press Text Box.

Drag your cursor into the drawing space to create a box that fits your requirements

google docs drawing new text box

Once your box has been created, it’s time to enter your text.

You can change the font, color, and alignment of the text in your box by using the navigation bar in the pop-up window.

google docs new text box drawing

Happy with your text box? Hit Save & Close to insert it into your document.

google docs insert drawing text box this is a text box

From here, treat your text box as an image. Select the image to change the alignment or move the box around your document for ideal placement.

Adding Page Numbers

Page numbers make your document easy to navigate and allow for better organization when printed — you’ll avoid asking yourself, “Does this page go here … or there?”

Add page numbers to your document by clicking Insert > Header > Page Number. Then choose the option of your choice.

google docs adding page numbers

Creating a Hanging Indent

Hanging indents are indents that automatically change the margin of a paragraph without interrupting the format used elsewhere on your page.

Here’s an example:

google docs hanging indent example

To add a hanging indent in Google Docs, make sure your ruler is visible by pressing View > Show Ruler.

google docs show ruler menu

Then, head back to your main document and highlight the text you want to format.

Add a hanging indent by locating the ruler above your document and sliding the blue arrows to your specification.

Slide the arrow on the left side to alter the left indent, and the arrow on the right side to change the right indent.

google docs change indent

Inserting an Image

To add an image to your document, simply put your cursor wherever you want to insert the image.

Scroll up to the top of the page and click Insert > Image.

google docs insert image menu

Choose the image location — there are multiple options that include your computer, the web, Google Drive, or by URL.

Select your image, click Open, and voila! Your image should appear.

For more on this process, check out this page.

Creating a Table of Contents

If you’re writing a presentation or whitepaper, a table of contents is a great way to display each section you’re creating and the page number that it can be found on.

You can insert a table of contents in your Google Doc by ensuring all subheadings are formatted with a heading tag. To do this, highlight your subheading and press the appropriate tag in your formatting bar.

google docs heading tags

As a general rule of thumb, the Heading 1 tag should be your main title. Heading 2 tags should be subheadings, and Heading 3 tags should be sections below a subheading.

Now you’re ready to create a table of contents. Hold your cursor where you’d like to insert it and click Insert > Table of contents to choose an option based on your preference.

google docs inserting a table of contents

Editing Your Document in Google Docs

Google Docs offers a variety of editing features to ensure your work reaches full potential.

Tracking Changes

If you’re working with another person on your document, you can ask them to track their changes and edits. This will show you who made the edits, when they made those edits, and what the text was prior to their edits.

You can track changes in Google Docs by changing Editing to Suggesting in the top right-hand corner of the page.

google docs tracking changes suggesting

Then, when someone edits your document, any changes will show up in a different color, with a box on the right-hand side to show their name, photo, and editing details.

google docs tracking changes example

You can then browse the tracked changes and accept or reject them as necessary.

Adding Comments

With Google Docs, you and your team can leave comments in any document for each other to view. These are often used as reminders to come back to a specific section, leave more detailed revision ideas, or add URLs to other sites and images for reference.

To do this highlight the word, sentence, or paragraph you want to comment on and click the Add Comment button (the text box with the plus sign inside).

You can then write a comment — or paste a URL — in the comment box. Click Comment when you are ready to post your box.

google docs leave new comment

To edit the information in the box, click the three dots on the right and select Edit. You can also thread comments beneath the original comment by typing in the Reply box.

google docs new comment reply

To get rid of a comment box you can either delete it or resolve the comment. Click the three dots on the right and select Delete to delete the box. Click Resolve in the top right of the box when the issue has been resolved and you no longer need the comment.

google docs comment resolve

If you are looking for more in-depth information on adding and resolving comments in Google Docs, look at this page.

Finding Word Count

Have you ever struggled while writing a paper, report, or blog post because of a required word count that you were trying to reach?

Although reaching a required word count may not always be easy, Google Docs makes the count itself simple.

Once you’re in your document, click Tools > Word Count. (You can also use the shortcut ⌘ + Shift + c.)

google docs word count menu

Google will then display the total number of words (along with the total number of pages, characters, and characters excluding spaces).

google docs word count

To count the words within a specific sentence, paragraph, or page, highlight the text you want to include and follow the same steps above.

Running Spell Check

It’s not uncommon even for professional writers to make an occasional spelling mistake. Google Docs can help all writers with this dilemma.

Run a spell check to locate and correct any errors you may have missed. Think of it as your personal proofreader or editor.

To run a spell check in Google Docs, click Tools > Spelling > Spell check.

google docs spell check

Google Docs will then scan your entire document for misspelled words and grammatical errors. You’ll be given the choice to accept or ignore Google’s suggestion.

If you find that you’re frequently using a word that Google doesn’t recognize, you can add it to your dictionary. This will prevent Google Docs from highlighting the word in future spell checks.

Adding a Strikethrough

In Google Docs you can add a strikethrough by highlighting the text you want to strike and clicking Format > Strikethrough.

google docs strikethrough

Using Google Docs Add-Ons

You can add third-party tools, or add-ons, to your documents. These add-ons contain unique features to help you improve your work in various ways.

You can find these add-ons by clicking Add-ons > Get add-ons…

google docs get add ons menu

Here are a few popular add-ons you may find helpful.

Google Keep

Writing a document that needs supporting data? Install Google Keep to your browser to collect notes, case studies, and references you’re planning to cite. Then, use the add-on to pull them in as needed. You can also edit the notes you’ve saved with Google Keep.

Extensis Fonts

Consistent branding is important, but that can be tricky when you’re using unique fonts. The Extensis Fonts add-on imports thousands of fonts from the Google Fonts library into your document to enhance your piece’s overall aesthetic.

HelloSign

Writing a contract, agreement, or any other paperwork that requires a signature? The HelloSign add-on will help you collect electronic signatures in an easy and secure way.

Translate

Need a translator? Install the Translate add-on to easily translate your content into another language.

Lucidchart

The Lucidchart add-on allows you to add unique diagrams to your document that are easy to design and edit. It’s perfect for anyone working with data or looking for a fun way to display information.

Language Tool

Language Tool makes proofreading easy in over 20 languages. You won’t have to wonder about your spelling or grammar anymore. This add-on catches errors and mistakes no matter the language.

EasyBib

EasyBib is an automatic bibliography generator with over 7,000+ style options, including MLA, APA, and, Harvard-style.

Using Google Sheets and Google Forms with Google Docs

With Google Docs, it’s easy to integrate with other useful tools such as Google Sheets and Google Forms. If you create a spreadsheet or chart in Google Sheets, you can insert that information directly into Google Docs.

With Google Forms, you can create surveys that are automatically saved to your Google Drive for easy access and review from Google Docs.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a great option for anyone who needs to build any type of chart, list, plan, or spreadsheet. It is a spreadsheet generator — similar to Excel — and it’s free.

Once you’ve opened Google Sheets and created your chart, you can easily insert it into your document.

Do this by heading up to the toolbar and clicking Insert > Chart > From Sheets. You should be able to view and select the chart you want to add to your document.

google sheets google fonts

Google Forms

Google Forms is a great way to collect information and survey responses. Just go to the Google Forms site and begin creating your form or survey in a matter of seconds.

You and your team can collaborate and select a template from Google’s gallery — or create a unique template from scratch to style it to your taste.

google docs google forms

Google Forms is also free to use and can integrate with software like Asana and HubSpot.

Additionally, all of your Google Forms documents and responses are automatically saved to your Google Drive so you can easily access them while in your Google Docs page.

To do this, click on the Apps icon when you open Google Docs. Scroll down to Forms to find the form or survey you want to open.

google docs google apps menu

One last feature to note is that the people responding to your form or survey can do so on any type of device, making Google Forms a convenient option for everyone.

Get Started with Google Docs

Congratulations! You’re now a Google Docs pro. Whether you’re a marketer or CEO, these tips will allow you to take advantage of Google’s software and create incredible documents of any kind, no matter your professional background.

Google Docs gives you the ability to share your work with as many people as you want, whenever you want, making it a great tool for collaborative teams. It also keeps your life simple by automatically saving any changes to your document to the Cloud … meaning no more stress about losing your work. Lastly, you can work on your documents from anywhere — whether or not you have internet.

With all of these features, you can see why so many people have jumped on the Google Docs bandwagon. Plus, it’s free! Why not give it a try?