Category Archives: Mobile Marketing

The 67 Best Instagram Captions for Every Type of Post

If you’re anything like me, you take about four minutes choosing a filter for your Instagram photo, and about four hours deciding on a caption.

Worst of all, after much creative effort and advice from friends, I’m usually barely able to write a caption that goes beyond, “Had a fun day with friends!”

And I’m a writer — go figure.

Next time you’re contemplating a caption to go with your Instagram photo, take a look at our complete list of captions for any mood you need to evoke or audience you want to connect with.

You can incorporate many of them into an Instagram business strategy (just make sure your audience would indeed find your caption funny, clever, or the right amount of savage.) 

Click one of the following links to jump to a section:

Funny Instagram Captions

  1. [Employee]’s favorite exercise is a cross between a lunge and a crunch … S/he calls it lunch.
  2. I need a six-month holiday, twice a year.
  3. We tried to be normal once. Worst two minutes of our lives!
  4. There are 16-year-olds competing at the Olympics and some of us still push on “pull” doors.
  5. Namast’ay in bed.
  6. That awkward moment when you’re wearing Nike’s and you can’t do it.
  7. I’m just a girl, standing in front of a salad, asking it to be a cupcake.
  8. What if we told you … you can eat without posting it on Instagram?
  9. We know the voices in our heads aren’t real, but sometimes their ideas are just too good to ignore.
  10. We don’t know what’s tighter: Our jeans or our company culture.
  11. Friday … Our second-favorite F word. 
  12. We don’t care what people think of us. Unless they’re our customers. We definitely care what customers think of us.
  13. All you need is love … and investors. All you need is love and investors.
  14. Hi, we’re [company name]. We build amazing apps and eat amazing apps.

Clever Instagram Captions

  1. Patience — what you have when there are too many witnesses.
  2. Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s the Clarendon filter.
  3. “Life is short.” False — it’s the longest thing you do.
  4. Happy Sunday! There may be no excuse for laziness, but [I’m/we’re] still looking.
  5. Rejection is just redirection.
  6. Better an “oops” than a “what if.”
  7. You have stolen a pizza our hearts.
  8. The world is changed by your example, not your opinion.
  9. Seven billions smiles, and these are our favorite.
  10. Stop working hard and start working smart.
  11. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. When [company name] gives you [type of product], you make money.
  12. Imposter complex is just a byproduct of success.
  13. Life is simple. It’s just not easy.
  14. The best times begin at the end of your comfort zone.
  15. When nothing goes right, go left.

Savage Instagram Captions

  1. What’s a queen without her king? Historically speaking, more powerful.
  2. Be a little more you, and a lot less them.
  3. We’re an acquired taste. If you don’t like us, acquire some taste.
  4. Well-behaved people don’t make it into history books.
  5. Be sunshine mixed with a little hurricane.
  6. We got 99 problems, but an awesome marketing team ain’t one.
  7. Sometimes you just need to do a thing called “what you want.”
  8. You can’t do epic stuff with lame people. And we got the best in the biz.
  9. It’s not called being bossy, it’s called having leadership skills.

Song Lyrics for Instagram Captions

  1. “I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist.” — Sia, “Chandelier”
  2. “I live for the nights that I can’t remember, with the people that I won’t forget.” — Drake, “Show Me a Good Time”
  3. “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.” — Lee Ann Womack, “I Hope You Dance”
  4. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” — John Lennon, “Imagine”
  5. “If you give, you begin to live.” -Dave Matthews Band
  6. “Outlining my findings, using life as a stencil.” — Kero One, “In All the Wrong Places”
  7. “Feeling good living better.” — Drake, “Over My Dead Body”
  8. “Say oh, got this feeling that you can’t fight, like this city is on fire tonight” — OneRepublic, “Good Life”
  9. “Time makes you bolder” — Fleetwood Mac, “Landslide”
  10. “If I fail, if I succeed, at least I’ll live as I believe” — Whitney Houston, “The Greatest Love of All”
  11. “The rest of the world was in black and white, but we were in screaming color.” — Taylor Swift, “Out of the Woods”
  12. “Lightning strikes every time she moves” — Calvin Harris, “This Is What You Came For”
  13. “We aren’t ever getting older” — Chainsmokers, “Closer”
  14. “Sing with me, sing for the years, sing for the laughter, sing for the tears” — Aerosmith, “Dream On”

Business Instagram Captions

  1. Good evening, [city]! We’re in town for [event] at Booth [#]. Stop by and say hi!
  2. “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.” -Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
  3. Our [#]-person squad completed the [road race name]! And we did it all for the post-run sneaker selfie. 👟
  4. We got product in the pipeline … check back for an exciting announcement on [date]!
  5. Diversity isn’t a recruitment metric — it’s an ingredient for success. At [company], we thrive on the unique backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives of our people.
  6. Spot the CEO. 😉
  7. At [company name], our best asset is our people.
  8. We had a great time with our customers at [meeting/event]! @[client/partner], you guys rock.
  9. Thrilled to have [customer] at our office today! Come back any time. 😊
  10. [Company name] is off for [holiday]! We hope you all have a safe long weekend.
  11. Big things have small beginnings. [Company]’s HQ began right here.
  12. “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” -Herman Melville
  13. How many [company name] employees does it take to spell “TEAM”?
  14. Want to work with these awesome people, working on a lot of awesome things? We’re hiring! Click the link in our bio to see our current openings.
  15. Check, check, one, two … is this thing on? [Company name] is now on Instagram! Follow us to learn about our culture, product, and (awesome) people. 

instagram captions

 
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15 Free Professionally-Designed Landing Page Templates

When it comes to turning web visitors into leads, 68% of B2B CEO’s use strategic landing pages as part of their strategy.

A strong landing page usually offers your website’s visitors a resource, such as a piece of content, in exchange for contact information. Sharing or hyperlinking to the URL of a landing page, rather than a homepage, also increases the likelihood of turning traffic into conversions.

While landing pages can play a vital role in lead generation, they don’t have to be complicated. In fact, you should aim for a page that’s concise and inviting, rather than complex and overwhelming. Rather than just placing a rigorous contact form on a page, it can be more productive to tease an interesting offer or a free resource in exchange for only a small amount of information.

Even when you know what you’re going to offer and what information you’d like to receive from a visitor, the idea of building a landing page can still feel daunting.

If you don’t have the bandwidth to build a page yourself, have little experience in design software, or have limited resources to hire a designer, using a pre-designed template could be the most efficient way to launch a professional looking page in a short amount of time.

We’ve put together a list of 15 free, easy-to-use templates that can guide you through the process of building your next landing page.

15 Free Professionally-Designed Landing Page Templates

1. Royce

Available on Squarespace

Royce is specialized for event reservations. There is no navigation bar, but the layout features a customizable background image, a headline, and a call-to-action button that says “RSVP.”

Royce Event Landing Page

To fill out the form and reserve a spot, visitors can click the RSVP button to see a form appear, or scroll down below the fold to see a static reservation form. This is an interesting template because it amplifies visuals and keeps the layout simple while still offering visitors two ways to convert.

Royce RSVP Submission Form on Royce Landing Page

2. Invest

Available on HubSpot

This design includes a photo, customizable text, no navigation (to keep visitors focused on your offer), and a short form. Users can also customize and add other elements such as the icons seen at the bottom of the image. Below the fold, users can also add more information about the offer or company.

Invest Landing Page Template from Hubspot

3. Hubstrap

Available on HubSpot

The Hubstrap template has a simplistic look and feel but devotes a bit more room to text. This might be a good option if your content offer has less imagery to go with it. For example, you might use this page to describe an offer or a long whitepaper on a topic related to your industry. Users can similarly personalize the design and add drag-and-drop sections to the page.

Unlike the above landing pages, this example does include navigation. However, it’s simple enough that it doesn’t detract from the offer.

Hubstrap Landing Page

4. Landing Form

Available on HubSpot

This template includes a background image with a dark overlay, a headline, text, bright call-to-action buttons, and a form. It eliminates the navigation bar but includes a button at the top of the page. The image also has a dark overlay to keep it visible, but less distracting. As you scroll below the fold, this template also includes spots for more imagery and details that could relate to the product or offer.

Landing Form Landing Page Template from Hubspot

 

5. Gradient

Available on HubSpot

Gradient is sleekly designed for a content-based offer. It has a simple layout with a form, headline, description text, photo, and logo, but continues the theme of no navigation. Like the other HubSpot templates, users can add a photo or product shot, a background image that appears behind a gradient color, and descriptive text. They can also adjust or change the gradient background’s color.

Gradient Landing Page Template from Hubspot

6. University

Available on Wix

This layout may be useful for those seeking leads for an educational event, course, or a similar service. The form is more detailed, but the layout itself also allows room for more text and imagery. Above the fold, you can see a headline, supporting images, and a form. If you keep scrolling, there are additional sections where more text and imagery can be placed.

University Landing Page Template from Wix

7. Skyline

Available on Wix

This template may be helpful to a company or individual that hasn’t yet launched a website or product but still wants to gain early leads in the meantime. Above the fold, there’s a giant headline area, where the template has “Coming Soon” printed.

When you scroll down, you can see a quick description of the company and a box where visitors can add their email. Users can also add a photo or video to the background.

Skyline Landing Page Template from Wix
Under the fold of Skyline Landing Page from Wix

8. Online Store Coming Soon

Available on Wix

This template is very simple. Like the above “Coming Soon” template, the text could be edited to use this layout for a different purpose. There is no navigation and any information about the company is off to the corners. This layout allows space for a clear product shot, as seen with the shoes. Headline text, a small amount of descriptive text, an email box, and a button are pre-designed in the layout. Users can also link their social media accounts to the icons under the “Notify Me” button.

Wix's "Online Store Coming Soon" Template.

9. Lead-Gen Landing Page

Available on Wix

This template seems specialized for B2B products. It allows users to edit and customize the text and images through Wix. Users can also place background videos into the layout. The page is designed to be long, with the form and call-to-action above the fold followed by sections that detail different aspects of a company or firm, such as staff information.

Lead-Gen Landing Page from Wix

10. Fagri

Available on WordPress.org

Fagri was designed broadly for multiple purposes and industries. According to its description, the theme’s widgets, such as the contact form are customizable. Users can also change the text and images. Although there is a navigation bar, the layout’s design still draws attention to the text, call-to-action buttons, and the contact form.

Fagri landing page from WordPress

11. Real Estate Landing Page

Available on Wix

Although this template doesn’t offer a resource for information, it can be edited and customized to include an offer. As you scroll down the page, the background image can remain static. With the current page’s design, there is room to add company information below the fold. There is also a second form at the very bottom so visitors will have another chance to convert.

Real Estate Landing Page

12. Construction and Lawyer Landing Pages

Both Available on WordPress.org

WordPress also offers two similar Lawyer Landing Page and Construction Landing Page templates. Although the original designs are targeted at the two job fields, they can be customized to fit other brands and industries. Both have a header image, overlaid text, and an arrow pointing to a decently sized form above the fold. They also both offer the visitor a free quote.

13. Gardenhouse

Available on MailChimp

Gardenhouse Landing Page from MailChimp

This template does not include a navigation bar, which forces a visitor to focus on the given offer. Towards the bottom of the page, it can be customized to include logos or other company information. Like all MailChimp landing page themes, this layout is optimized for mobile and will automatically adjust to different screen sizes.

14. Bandmates

Available on MailChimp

This template is also pretty simple with room for customization. It similarly removes navigation and keeps the company logo, text description, and a subscribe form above the fold.

Users can also drag in more elements, like text or form boxes, into the design. Just below the form, users can include a product shot or another image. The blue background allows the form and call-to-action button to pop, but these colors can also be customized to fit your brand.

Bandmates Landing Page from Mailchimp

15. O-Book

Available on Unbounce

Unbounce layouts come with its subscription, but here’s one of the landing pages that you can test out with a free 14-day trial. This template is focused on book-specific lead generation. There is a clear spot for a product image, headlines, detailed description text, and a form box.

The top navigation is minimal, but it does include social media buttons. Since this layout is only free for a trial period, this might be a better option for a company that has already gained revenue from landing pages and is looking to test out a more detailed, but affordable design.

O-Book Landing Page from Unbounce

Landing Page Best Practices

The above templates already follow a number of landing page best practices. For example, many of them exclude a navigation bar, which may detract attention or clicks away from the offer on the page. Most of them also leave room for a photo or video. While photos offer a great product tease, videos have also been seen to increase conversions by 86%.

To learn about other landing-page best practices, check out this guide.

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The 15 Best WordPress Booking Plugins in 2019

The more you can automate, the more you can focus on delivering value for your customers. However, it can be difficult to create automated processes without diminishing the customer experience.

Fortunately, certain tools are able to provide both efficiency for you and satisfaction for your customers — and one of those tools is a WordPress booking and scheduling plugin.

In fact, a myriad of WordPress booking plugins exist to help you save time while actually providing a smoother and more convenient experience for your customers.

Take a look at this list of WordPress booking plugins, which can help you free yourself up to focus on the more important aspects of your business by increasing your efficiency, eliminating stress, and providing clarity.

The 6 Characteristics of the Best WordPress Booking Plugins

How do you know which plugin is best for your business? Good WordPress booking plugins do the following:

  1. Provide customers with your work hours and availability.
  2. Allow them to choose a time.
  3. Encourage customer input.
  4. Save the input in a customer database.
  5. Automatically save your event to the calendar.
  6. Send confirmation notification to you and your customer, and tells you both if there are changes to your event.

If the tool does all of the above, you’ve got a keeper. However, each tool varies in their pricing structure, so make sure to find the one that best fits your needs.

1. HubSpot Meetings

Price: Plans range from free to $3,200 per year, based on your needs

Hubspot Meetings is a simple yet powerful booking app that allows you to share your calendar and availability with anyone through a unique link.

It starts out for free, but on the paid tiers, you can also embed the calendar onto your site so clients can pick and choose bookings based on your availability, even if they don’t have access to your unique link.

The app integrates with the HubSpot WordPress plugin, and it also pipes all the data directly into the HubSpot free CRM, making this a winner on the data integration and organization front.

2. Bookly

Price: Free, or Pro for $89/month

Bookly is a WordPress plugin designed to smooth your scheduling system while simultaneously creating a customer database from the booked appointments.

The process is automated and is integrated with the WPML plugin to facilitate multilingual web pages. Optimized for mobile use, Bookly allows you to offer discounts and options for recurring payments and appointments.

Additionally, Bookly lets you do group bookings, so this service is perfect for companies offering appointment-based services such as tutoring, beauty appointments, massages, etc.

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3. Booked

Price: $49

Booked is a frontend shortcode calendar for booking appointments with strong backend features to help you manage your bookings or appointments. This widget translates your calendars if needed, and enables you to customize the colors to match your branding.

You can show your availability as well as when you’re on vacation — additionally, you can build in buffers before and after every meeting, or for a certain amount of time after the present date to incorporate time to prepare.

The customer creates an account and selects their time, but you can manage your appointments from the backend and send out individualized notifications if needed. There’s also an option for your users to “Add to Google Calendar.”

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4. Team Booking

Price: Pricing starts at $28/month

Team Booking is a customizable booking app that integrates specifically with Google Calendar. It allows you to divide your availability by room, employees, time, or service offered.

Team Booking is a collaborative tool and comes with shortcodes on the frontend, so it’s user-friendly and easy to maintain a group calendar, as well as an individual one.

Calendar events are available times customers can book. Once the event is booked, notifications are sent to each party involved. Customers can pay directly with PayPal or Stripe, and once they book or fill out a reservation form, their information is saved in a customer database that you can download.

Team Booking is integrated with WPML and converts time zones to eliminate confusion with international companies or teams.

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5. WooEvents

Price: Pricing starts at $39 per month

WooEvents is an event scheduler that lets customer sign up and schedule their own events based on availability, but also lets you sell tickets. It has a calendar function with email notifications for event changes, but also provides a mapping function for people to find the event location.

You can sell custom types of tickets, see your event status, and limit how many people can book. Once they’ve booked, their data is entered into a customer database.

WooEvents works with iCal and Google Calendar. You can manage all of your current events, delete past ones, and set up recurring events for the future.

Users can pay through the WooEvents widget as it boasts integrations with several companies like PayPal and Stripe, and it has short code for placing links on your site.

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6. Booking Calendar

Price: Custom pricing based on your needs

Booking Calendar operates directly out of your WordPress site and allows you to manage reservations and bookings without leaving WordPress. Plus, it develops a client database once the booking is made.

Bookings are kept in your WP database, so there’s no need to have a database management tool. It’s optimized for mobile and can process payments through third-party services like Stripe or PayPal. It’s one of the most-installed WP plugins out there.

Available functionalities for Booking Calendar depend on your needs, number of clients, and budget, but the premium version offers tons of features that are easily customizable to your business needs.

It’s not just good for services, either — huge hotel chains, equipment rental companies, and doctor offices can use this plugin for appointments or resource scheduling.

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7. WP Simple Booking Calendar

Price: Tiered pricing ranging from free to $139/month

WP Simple Booking Calendar is ideal for house or apartment rental companies. It’s aesthetically pleasing with a simple, user-friendly design. Additionally, shortcodes are provided for you to embed on your site.

Users can see the unbooked dates for properties they’re interested in, and managers can easily alter bookings from the backend as needed. WP Simple Booking Calendar allows for website translation, which is crucial if your website is booking international clients.

The free version should be more than enough for most people, but pricing goes up to $139 per month if you need more advanced services.

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8. Advanced Booking Calendar

Price: The plugin is free, Pro is $56.10 USD for six months, or $72.93 USD for one year

Advanced Booking Calendar is an excellent mobile-optimized WordPress booking plugin, and works particularly well for hotels or B&B rental companies. It offers a calendar that displays availabilities, which allows you to adjust prices seasonally, per room, or for certain services.

It’s a little different from others in this list because it works with your Google Analytics account to monitor a user’s trajectory through your booking form. This enables you to identify warm leads and friction points.

Once a guest creates an event, every person involved receives a notification confirmation (email templates are provided) and customer data can be stored in the form of cookies.

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9. WP Quick Booking Manager Pro

Price: Pricing starts at $26 per month

The WP Quick Booking Manager Pro plugin has a strong administrative backend feature that makes this tool appealing for those who want more power over their calendar. Here, administrators can edit, add, confirm, decline, or delete events, and change the CSS from the backend.

This is an excellent plugin if you run a hotel or are renting out apartments and B&Bs because it allows for photo galleries, and also boasts a PayPal integration.

Additionally, there’s no cap on the number of events or bookings created in the calendar, and you can book directly from the website, which shows your full calendar availability.

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10. WooCommerce Easy Booking

Price: Custom pricing

WooCommerce Easy Booking has many of the features of the other calendar plugins and widgets here, but its pricing structure is really what sets it apart. You can rent WooCommerce as needed, from daily to annually, an option which other products don’t offer.

Visit the website and answer a few simple questions to calculate your individual price. The eCommerce toolkit works well with this, and both are optimized for the mobile experience.

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11. EDD Bookings

Price: Prices range from $80 per year to $250 per year

EDD Bookings makes the dream of single-page admin design a reality. Each calendar can be customized by category, color, and time zone to reflect the needs of users, all of which is optimized for mobile.

Emails notify involved parties once the customer creates an event or appointment, and there’s no cap on how many events can be generated. Events can be sorted by multiple filters, including length of session, price of service, etc., and activities can be assigned to certain employees.

On the backend, EDD Bookings provides an analytics dashboard and customer database, as well as accounting tools and payment integrations including PayPal.

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12. Amelia

Price: $59

Amelia is a round-the-clock WordPress booking service with a minimal, intuitive design made to smooth your booking workflow. The plugin requires as little as 2-3 clicks per booking, and offers online payment options. It has a dashboard explaining crucial KPIs to monitor, and an analytics tool to provide that data.

Amelia is simplistic and can be customized to reflect your brand colors. It’s integrated with Google Calendar, WooCommerce, PayPal, and Stripe, and provides quick booking shortcodes for your web pages.

Your users can choose the time, date, place, service, employee, or other necessary filters to find the right time slot. Amelia sends SMS notifications to you and the customer, and you can manage appointments from the administrative dashboard if needed.

Amelia is unique in that it suggests demo sites with a WordPress theme for your site to emulate based off of your industry’s standards, so that you remain neck-and-neck with your competition is terms of mobile optimization, service, and user-friendliness.

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13. Event Booking Pro

Price: $33 for six months, $170 for extended license over six months

Event Booking Pro is an exceptional WordPress booking plugin if you’re looking for a solution that provides ticket-selling software. It’s made with single-page bookings in mind to keep everything as simple as possible.

Shortcodes are given so you can embed your calendar or events on your website, which will display your calendar availability as well as which days you’re unavailable.

PayPal works through the site so you can sell tickets and send coupons. You can sell tickets with Event Booking Pro, and you can customize notification emails that get sent to any user who books with you.

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14. WordPress Pro Event Booking Calendar

Price: $33 for the regular license, $125 for the extended license

WordPress Pro Event Calendar operates similarly to the other booking plugins on this list, but stands out in some critical ways — one of which is the ability for customers to enter their individual events.

The plugin has an advanced filtering system that allows you to sort your customer database swiftly and efficiently. The event calendar plugin is integrated with Google Maps and Facebook, as well as in ICS format.

The plugin also enables you to embed calendars to your web pages and set up events on a recurring schedule. It also offers the ability to curate the events and edit as needed.

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15. BirchPress

Price: Tiered pricing, ranging from free to $249 per year

BirchPress is a booking plugin that allows you or your customers to create events in a calendar by inputting their information into a customized form.

The plugin allows you to send customized emails to your customers without needing to use a separate email marketing system, and makes it easy for them to pay online with WooCommerce or PayPal.

Additionally, the admin capabilities make it easy to manage bookings — whether they’re changed, canceled, or rescheduled. It integrates with iCal and Google Calendar, and is very user-friendly for developers.

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These are just the most popular WordPress booking plugins in 2019. Whatever tool works best for you and your business workflow is the one you should go with, because when you’re running a business, time is money.

If you want a comprehensive booking tool that integrates with both WordPress and a free CRM, check out HubSpot Meetings.

Blog - Website Redesign Workbook Guide [List-Based]

The 4 Best Content Management Software Tools in 2019

These days, websites are so much more than words and pictures on a page — while design and content are still important, it’s becoming increasingly critical to put thought into the platform your site is built on, as well.

Oftentimes, we let our developers make this choice for us. And, while it’s true that they need to have input, marketers should have a seat at the table, as well.

After all, if development resources because a bottleneck to website content changes, that can prevent speed and agility in your marketing campaigns.

Your developers and engineers want a certain set of criteria — including control, security, access to underlying code, and customizability, all of which are important. Marketers, on the other hand, need easy access to make quick updates, the ability to integrate the software with other tools, and access to support.

Without a good integration between your content management software and your other systems, something as simple as trying to successfully send a follow-up email after a form submission can turn into a massive time suck.

Ultimately, the content management software that a website lives on can greatly affect a marketer’s ability to succeed.

Here, we’re going to explore the characteristics you need for any content management software tool, as well as our four favorite options for marketers.

Characteristics of the Best Content Management Software Tools

Here are some of the features marketers should feel good about in a content management software tool.

1. A powerful, flexible editor.

As marketers, we need to be able to do things like quickly produce a landing page for a Facebook campaign, make simple layout changes to a page (like adding a column, or testimonials module), and easily edit content on existing pages (like changing some of the text of your homepage to promote your upcoming annual conference).

A powerful WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) editor is critical, so if you can, make sure you’re comfortable with making changes within the content management software tool.

2. The ability to test.

It’s important you’re able to understand what’s working, so you can do more of the good stuff. You need to be able to easily run tests on outcomes for different headlines, layouts, and more. It’s especially critical when doing something like a paid campaign, where maximizing results is tied directly to spend.

3. The opportunity for increased collaboration.

Chances are, you have a team of people working on one website.

You may have a developer who works on complex design pieces and integrations, a marketer who runs the day-to-day and manages campaigns, and content creators who write blog posts.

The ability to collaborate within the content management software tool and set permissions makes life a lot easier — and ensures issues don’t arise, like your social manager accidentally overwriting the developers’ code.

4. Accessibility to support.

Oftentimes, your developer can fill this need — but that can get expensive if you’re paying by the hour. It’s maybe not mission critical, but it sure is nice to have a support team you can call for help when you really need it, especially when it’s halting your ability to launch a campaign.

5. Ability to integrate with the rest of your tools.

Last, but probably most importantly, you need your content management software to offer the ability to integrate with the rest of your tech stack. Generally, the best choices here are going to be open platforms or all-in-one solutions.

Ideally, it should at least have the ability to integrate forms with a mailing tool (for lead/ mailing list collection), as well as your CRM or some kind of database so you can personalize content. Additionally, you’ll want to integrate with your CRM so you can customize pages, and add pages quickly and easily.

Now that we’ve explored five critical components of any content management software tool, let’s explore our four favorites.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot is way more than just a content management software tool, since it lives on top of your CRM.

HubSpot’s content management software tool has nice features like A/B testing, but it’s particularly powerful when it comes to features like personalized content and smart content. If you’re using HubSpot’s marketing platform, it also works seamlessly with forms, your email list, and database management.

For instance, let’s say you want a list of everyone in your database who visited your pricing page in the last 30 days. With HubSpot’s content management software and CRM, this is incredibly easy to do.

It scores well on the design side, too — like any content management software tool, it offers predesigned templates, a developer platform, and a network of partners certified on the content management software.

There are also some great out-of-the-box features designed to help with content creation — like the ability to natively host video and add forms and calls-to-action in the video using the native editor, along with video analytics and a YouTube analytics integration.

Some of the features marketers will love on a platform level are the ability to partition content so it’s easier for teams to work together. Additionally, you can publish content behind passwords and easily personalize content. Best of all, there’s high-quality security and hosting, which takes the worry out of the technical side. And, of course, you get top-notch analytics since everything is working together.

2. Squarespace

Squarespace offers beautiful out-of-the-box designs with tons of customization options. You can download any theme and change colors, fonts, and other design elements with ease. It seems to be geared more towards the end user than the developer, so most edits are made in a WYSIWYG design editor.

Behind the scenes, they boast high-quality, secure hosting — something that isn’t always top of mind when selecting a content management software tool, but probably should be. It also allows for unlimited bandwidth and storage, which isn’t always the case if you’re buying hosting on its own.

It’s also nice to have a support team, and Squarespace has a team that answers support tickets, so you’re not totally on your own or stuck calling a developer for every single question. Additionally, they offer incredibly useful help documentation.

Squarespace offers tons of modules and integrations, although you might want to check their built-in integrations to make sure the rest of your tech stack will play well with Squarespace.

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3. Wix

Wix features tons of templates and has a free plan that gives you unlimited pages. If you need to get an online presence up and running right away, it’s a great choice.

They also have paid plans that give you some additional features, including increased storage, the ability to add forms, a calendar, and access to VIP Support.

It’s important to note, Wix is a bit tougher to customize — they don’t give access to CSS, although they do say you can “take full control of your website’s functionality with JavaScript and Wix Code API’s.”

Additionally, it can be challenging to insert third-party code (like tracking code), so eventually, as your business grows, you or your developer may want something with a bit more customization capability.

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4. WordPress

And finally, last but certainly not least, we come to WordPress. WordPress is everywhere — it’s a popular platform and has a large eco-system of developers, designers, and plenty of others who are familiar with it.

The content management software tool itself is free, although you’ll need to pay for hosting and probably a template at the very least, and more likely a developer or designer to help you get it up and running.

Your ease-of-use here will likely depend on how it’s set up and which theme you use — some have simple WYSIWYG editors, while others are more complex. This is a decision you’ll definitely want to chat through with your developer, since once it’s built, there isn’t much you can change.

It’s also incredibly customizable. There are a ton of plugins and add-ons you can use to help with anything from SEO, speed, automatic image resizing, and more.

WordPress doesn’t offer support, but you can mitigate this problem if you have a good developer and a good host. There’s also a massive network of web professionals that you can hire.

On the hosting side, I’d recommend a hosting platform that specializes in WordPress, like WP Engine, as I’ve found that their support teams are well-versed in WordPress — which means they can help with questions and offer additional resources. Using a popular theme with plenty of existing help documentation, or even a support team, can also make a huge difference.

It’s important to note, the openness of the platform results in a vulnerability to hacking (this is another reason to get a good host). Be aware that addressing security should be part of the initial plan and not come as an afterthought to design, since security breaches are hard to fix and require technical expertise.

While these are four popular choices for marketers, there are many more out there. The options are endless for content management software tools. Ultimately, it’s critical you consider your workflow, your team, and the workflows you have in place to help you make the best decision.

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Can Facebook Ads Influence Integration Adoption? Here’s What We Found.

Platforms are embedded in our daily lives — whether we realize it or not.

Have you recently … Ordered food from a service like GrubHub or made a reservation using OpenTable? Booked a ride using Lyft? Used your phone to check your email? All of these seamless interactions require systems to talk to each other via open platforms.

What about at work? How many tools do you use to do your job? Do you spend a lot of time updating disparate systems, or do you use a connected stack of technologies to keep things up-to-date? If it’s the latter, you have a platform to thank for your saved time.

A platform makes it possible to connect tools, teams, data, and processes under one digital roof. It’s the nucleus of all systems and allows you to connect all your favorite tools seamlessly using integrations. An integration allows disparate systems to talk to each other. By joining tools via integrations, a change made in System A automatically carries through to System B.

Leveraging platforms and integrations hasn’t always been commonplace. A couple of years ago, HubSpot Research found that 82% of salespeople and marketers lost up to an hour per day managing siloed tools — a costly mistake.

Today, employees recognize that integrating technologies to do their jobs isn’t an option but a requirement. Individual employees are opting to connect their tools and, on average, leverage eight apps to do their job.

Employees and businesses alike run on connected applications. Okta found that it’s small-mid sized customers (defined as companies with less than 2,000 employees) average 73 apps — up 38% from last year. While larger customers (companies with over 2,000 employees) leverage closer to 130 apps — up 68% from the past year.

From personal life to work, platforms have become a staple in our day-to-day. These platforms are well-oiled machines that initiate seamless connections between technologies. Today, the consumer not only anticipates but also expects their systems to connect — raising the bar for companies to make it possible.

But more tools shouldn’t mean more friction. At HubSpot, we want to help our customers connect their tools on our platform to reduce friction and grow better. Customers should have tools and solutions to solve their needs, regardless of if HubSpot built them. Connecting tools allows for uniform data, processes, and experiences. This year, we’re experimenting with ways to expose integrations to our customers to increase adoption.

However, as a platform scales, it becomes increasingly tricky for customers to navigate exhaustive lists of integrations and identify what’s relevant to them. We recognized this at HubSpot and began experimenting with paid ads to see if this could be a valuable distribution channel to our customers.

Our Experiment on Paid Integration Ads

At the end of Q4, the Platform Marketing team decided to use some leftover budget to try a channel we hadn’t yet proven viable for integration adoption — paid ads.

We hypothesized that we could influence the adoption of an integration through paid ads. To test our hypothesis, we ran a retargeting campaign for three integrations on Facebook. The ads were surfaced to HubSpot’s retargetable audience.

These ads featured three HubSpot-built integrations: Slack, WordPress, and Eventbrite. We selected these integrations because they are natively built (built by HubSpot) and structured in a way that allowed us to measure multi-touch attribution.

By leveraging Google Tag Manager on the in-app integration directory, custom UTM parameters, and funnel reports, we were able to measure all steps from viewing the ad to installing the integration. Before launching the campaign, we tested our Google Analytics custom funnel reports by completing all actions — including installing the integrations to make sure they worked as designed.

Before running the campaign, we made the conscious decision to split our budget evenly across all three integration ads — regardless if one ad outperformed the others. We did this to minimize variables for the experiment.

Because we ran ads through November and December, we decreased spending from $130 dollars a day to $5 a day on and around holidays. We did this to “pause” the campaign on days where the ads would get lost in the noise, as this data could skew overall results.

Lastly, we determined our success metrics. Because we didn’t have apples-to-apples benchmark data for integration paid ads, we worked with our paid team to establish reasonably similar benchmark data. While it wasn’t a direct comparison, we were curious to see how ads could influence multi-step actions. We evaluated our performance based on click-through rates (CTR), cost per click (CPC), and cost per acquisition.

Experiment Results

The integration ads surpassed our benchmark data for click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), and cost per acquisition at the 7-, 30-, and 44-day marks — supporting our initial hypothesis and prediction.

The 30-day CTR for our integration ads was higher than the 7-day and 30-day CTR for the benchmark data, which is surprising as we expected the audience to become more fatigued over time.

Fatigue can be measured by the frequency a user views the same ad. For example, at HubSpot, we look at if a viewer has seen the same ad over 2.5 times within 30 days, which we consider high. Additionally, we kept an eye out for an increasing cost per acquisition.

Paid ads for these integrations was attractive to our retargetable audience and a legitimate acquisition point for HubSpot. It helped us influence adoption of integrations — resulting in hundreds of installs in the featured technologies. It also provided us with a data point we’ve been curious to see — the cost of an install.

When considering the value and acquisition cost of an install, it’s helpful to understand the impact on the business. At HubSpot, our customers with integrated stacks of technologies tend to be more successful — and they stick around.

This makes sense — as the more apps installed, the higher the likelihood someone will stick around. This is a common finding among platform companies.

On a recent trip to San Francisco HubSpot’s VP of Platform Ecosystem Scott Brinker found that “a common pattern on platforms is that the more apps a customer integrates into their system, the higher their retention rate will be — for both the platform and the apps integrated into it.”

Connecting their tools allows customers to access all their data in one core system while staying flexible and adaptable to their needs as they grow.

Since HubSpot doesn’t currently charge integrators to be part of our ecosystem, spending money to drive a net new install may seem counterintuitive. When weighing the long-term benefits of an install for customer value and retention, we are able to determine what is a reasonable cost per install. The experiment cost was worth the insight, as it allowed us to gain a baseline understanding of the cost per acquisition of an integration install.

Ultimately you can determine if the long-term value outweighs the upfront cost. (While directional value is a good baseline, you’d ideally look to lifetime value [LTV] to establish actual value.)

What This Means for HubSpot — and For You

Our experiment with paid ads outperformed our expectations and helped us reach a larger audience than we anticipated. It became clear that this was and is a viable channel for us to increase adoption of integrations and better understand the cost per integration install.

Future looking, we could alter who we target to see how it impacts CTR. We could leverage enrichment software like Datanyze or Clearbit to see if users have tools and cross-reference install data to create a list of folks using tools we integrate with but have yet to connect to. Alternatively, we could leverage this data to target a group of users going through onboarding to encourage them to connect existing tools to HubSpot.

Additionally, we could look through the required steps to connect an integration and consider how we could reduce them to simplify the process for our users and potentially increase our CTR.

Not a platform company? No problem. This retargeting campaigns can be leveraged to evaluate other valuable actions for your users, such as sign-ups, free trials, or event registration.

FB Ad Examples

 
Facebook Ad Examples

7 Ad Design Tips to Help Your Brand Cut Through the Noise

Before your copy can persuade an audience to buy your product, your design must persuade them to buy your copy. In advertising, your design catches your audience’s eye and points their attention to your copy. Then, it’s your copy’s job to hold your audience’s attention.

To help grab people’s attention in your advertisements, we’ve put together a list of seven ad tips, supported by examples, that’ll help your brand cut through the noise. Read on to learn how to craft creatively refreshing ads that will convert your audience into customers.

7 Ad Design Tips to Help Your Brand Cut Through the Noise

1. Stand Out From The Crowd

Estee Lauder Ad

Image Credit: VeryGoodCopy

In a world where countless brands fight for a limited amount of attention, the only way your advertisement can grab people’s attention is by being original.

As a marketer, though, it can be tempting to leap onto the latest trend that all your competitors have already pounced on. If everyone else is implementing the latest tip or trick, it must work, right? To captivate an audience, though, you must resist this urge.

Cliches repel attention. They sap your advertisement’s creativity and can’t activate the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for experiencing emotions. But how exactly do you create an original advertisement? Consider one of Estee Lauder’s print campaigns from the 1960s.

Back then, Estee Lauder’s main competitors like L’Oreal, Revion, and Helena Rubinstein all ran vibrant, colorful ads in magazines. Every makeup ad was beautiful and rich. But even though they seemed eye-popping at first glance, audiences became accustomed to these types of ads — they all looked the same. They started blending in with each other.

Realizing that no one could differentiate between the brands running full-color makeup ads flooding magazines during that time period anymore, Estee Lauder did something so controversial it was deemed “radical”, “stupid”, and even “ugly”: they ran their ads in sepia.

Estee Lauder’s print advertising move received its fair share of criticism, but they’re ability to be original helped them immediately stand out from the crowd and rake in 25% more responses than their previous color print campaigns.

2. Turn Your Ad Into a Game

Fisher-Price Ad

Image Credit: AdWeek

The brain is wired to predict things. It’s an evolutionary trait that allows us to anticipate what’s going to happen next and quickly react to it. That said, advertisements that are predictable only require a shred of thought to understand, so they’re too easy to grasp and, in turn, too boring to engage anyone.

With this in mind, if you can scrap predictability from your advertisements, you force your audience into a deeper level of thinking to digest your message, compelling them to pay more attention to it.

One of the best ways to ensnare your audience attention and get them to interact with your advertisement is by turning it into a game. By framing your advertisement like a game that can be beat, just like Fisher-Price’s ad above, your audience has the opportunity to earn an intellectual reward if they spend just the right amount of mental energy playing your brand’s game and grasping your advertisement’s message, which is something most people won’t ever pass up.

3. Convey One Message — And One Message Only

Citizen Eco-Drive Watch Ad

Image Credit: VeryGoodCopy

Sometimes, marketers think the more benefits and features they include in their ads, the higher their conversion rate will be. But trying to read a jumbled ad requires a lot of thought and energy, so cramming an ad with a bricks of copy doesn’t actually grab people’s attention. It repels it.

To immediately hook people and persuade them to read the rest of your ad, consider conveying one message per ad. Spotlighting your product or service’s main benefit or feature will make it easy for your audience to understand its value and increase the likelihood of doing business with you because they’ll leave your ad remembering only one message: your product’s or service’s main feature will benefit their lives somehow, someway.

For example, in Citizen’s ad for their Eco-Drive watch, they only use a single line of copy and a simple image to convey their product’s value to their audience — the watch is powered by light.

4. Make It Visual

Lego Ad

Image Credit: VeryGoodCopy

When we were babies, we relied on vision to associate objects with behaviors, like a ball meaning play time. Vision was the only way to learn about the world.

That’s why you can understand visual information in 250 milliseconds and why your visual system activates over 50% of your brain. Visual storytelling is the best way for people to grasp concepts and data easily.

For instance, in LEGO’s ad, they only use two images, a simple lego creation and a shadow of a dinosaur, but you can instantly form a concrete understanding of its core idea — with Legos, you can create anything.

5. Leverage Hyperbole

Nikol Paper Towels Ads

Image Credit: Brilliant Ads

Exaggerating your product’s benefits, in a clever and obvious way, is one of the best methods for slipping some humor into your advertisement, which can capture your audience’s attention and trigger an emotional response from them.

For instance, Nikol’s paper towels obviously can’t turn grapes into raisins, but this ad highlights the product’s absorbent powers in such a clear and artful way, they didn’t need to write a single line of copy.

6. Show, Don’t Tell

Siemens Ad

Image Credit: Brilliant Ads

Showing your audience something is much more engaging and interesting than telling them it. Relying on implication to convey a message is mysterious, making it more fun for your audience to figure out.

For example, in Siemens’ creative ad, they show the benefits of their product by unexpectedly placing their washers and dryers in a library to show you that they’re so quiet, even a librarian wouldn’t need to shush them.

7. Swap Connotations

Heinz AdImage Credit: Brilliant Ads

In relation to food, the word “hot” has multiple meanings: having a high temperature and being spicy. Heinz brilliantly used the connotation of high temperature to highlight the spiciness of their ketchup, and their creative method of communicating the value of their product helped them instantly attract people’s attention.

New Call-to-action

 
New Call-to-action

The Non-Programmer's Guide to Using APIS

Even if you don’t know what an API is, you’ve undoubtedly interacted with one.

Today, we take connectivity between technology largely for granted. For instance, we don’t question when we use OpenTable to make a reservation at a nearby restaurant.

Alternatively, if you use Kayak.com to book flights, you’ve probably never wondered, Wait a minute … how does Kayak know JetBlue has an open seat in 27A?

Ultimately, any time you need applications to communicate with one another, you need an API, or application programming interface.

Here, we’re going to explore what an API is, and why you’d need to use one. Even if you’re not a programmer and don’t need to know extensive technical jargon, you should still understand the basics, since nowadays, integrations between technology are often critical components of anyone’s job.

What is an API?

At its most basic definition, an API lets one piece of software talk to another piece of software.

To understand an API in action, let’s consider a real-life example — HubSpot’s integration with Typeform. Typeform, a tool that supplies mobile-ready quizzes, contact forms, and signup forms, needs to integrate with HubSpot’s Forms API to to interact with the forms tool and seamlessly send submissions from Typeform forms into the HubSpot CRM.

To do this, Typeform’s API and HubSpot’s API need to talk. An integration can act as a translator, ensuring each API’s information is correctly translated for the other application — in this case, the integration may ensure that Typeform form fields are correctly mapped to the corresponding HubSpot fields.

Isaac Takushi, a HubSpot Developer Support Specialist, explains — “You can think of APIs and the ‘endpoints’ they comprise as access points for different information. Each API endpoint may only have one specific job. When combined, however, different endpoints can support powerful, multifaceted integrations.”

Kayak.com, for instance, needs some API to communicate with JetBlue’s systems. When you search “Boston to Charlotte” in Kayak, JetBlue’s booking API will essentially receive this request from Kayak, pull up information related to that request, and send it back. However, Kayak will need its own API or code to understand and act on the information the JetBlue API returned.

To use an API, you’ll want to check out the API’s documentation for access requirements. For instance, HubSpot’s Contacts API requires authentication:

Similarly, you’ll need an API key to access Google’s API, Facebook’s API, and Twitter’s API.

Once you have access requirements, you can use a tool like Postman or Runscope to manually interact with an API. These third-party tools, or “REST clients,” allow you to make one-off requests to API endpoints without coding. They’re great for getting a feel for what your backend systems may do automatically. Check out this resource on how to make your very first API request with Postman.

If you’re not quite ready to jump in on the deep end with a REST client, try punching the following into your browser:

https://restcountries.eu/rest/v2/name/united

This is a public API endpoint from the free REST Countries service. Specifically, we’re using the “Name” endpoint, which accepts country names as search queries. A successful search will return potential country matches, along with key information about each nation. In this case, we’re searching for countries with names that contain the word “united.”

You should see following block of JSON data returned:

Congratulations! You just made an API request from your browser!

The endpoint returned raw data (formatted in JSON) on countries with “united” in the name.

It may not look pretty, but remember that APIs are designed for applications, which don’t require the styling humans expect on an HTML web page. While you can easily Google “countries that begin with ‘united’,” applications cannot. They might have to rely on services like REST Countries to look up that information.

If you’re unsure whether you should use your in-house developers to create APIs or look externally, check out First vs. Third-Party APIs: What You Need to Know.

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Lead Generation: A Beginner's Guide to Generating Business Leads the Inbound Way

We’ve all been through it. You know, the moment you’re about to dig into the best darn pile of spaghetti and meatballs you’ve ever seen.

Just as you twist your fork in the pasta, spear a mouth-watering meatball, and go in for the first savory bite … the phone rings. “May I speak to Lindsay Kow-low-witch?” asks the telemarketer on the other end. “This is an important message regarding your oven preferences.”

This frustrating interruption is exactly why we’re here to discuss inbound lead generation. What is inbound lead generation? It’s a solution that can save your business or organization from being that annoying, disruptive cold caller who is ruining spaghetti nights for pasta lovers all over the world.

Let’s start with defining a lead, and then we’ll cover what online lead generation is, why you need lead generation, how you qualify someone as a lead, how you generate leads, and why inbound lead generation is much more effective than simply buying leads.

What Is a Lead?

A lead is a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service in some way, shape, or form.

As a lead, you’d hear from a business or organization with which you’ve already opened communication … instead of getting a random cold call from someone who purchased your contact information.

For example, maybe you took an online survey to learn more about how to take care of your car. If you got an email from the auto company that hosted the survey on their website about how they could help you take care of your car, it’d be far less intrusive and irrelevant than if they’d just called you out of the blue with no knowledge of whether you even care about car maintenance, right?

And from a business perspective, the information the auto company collected about you from your survey responses helps them personalize that opening communication to address your existing problems.

Whenever someone outside the marketing world asks me what I do, I can’t simply say, “I create content for lead generation.” It’d be totally lost on them, and I’d get some really confused looks.

So instead, I say, “I work on finding unique ways to attract people to my business. I want to provide them with enough goodies to get them naturally interested in my company so they eventually warm up to the brand enough to want to hear from us!”

That usually resonates better, and that’s exactly what lead generation is: It’s a way of warming up potential customers to your business and getting them on the path to eventually buying.

Why Do You Need Lead Generation?

When a stranger initiates a relationship with you by showing an organic interest in your business, the transition from stranger to customer is much more natural.

Lead generation falls within the second stage of the inbound marketing methodology. It occurs after you’ve attracted an audience and are ready to convert those visitors into leads for your sales team (namely sales-qualified leads). As you can see in the diagram below, generating leads is a fundamental point in an individual’s journey to becoming a delighted customer.

lead-generation-1

How to Generate Leads

Now that we understand how lead generation fits into the whole inbound marketing methodology, let’s walk through the steps of the lead generation process.

First, a visitor discovers your business through one of your marketing channels, such as your website, blog, or social media page.

That visitor then clicks on your call-to-action (CTA) — an image, button, or message that encourages website visitors to take some sort of action.

The CTA takes your visitor to a landing page, which is a web page that is designed to capture lead information in exchange for an offer.

An offer is the content or something of value that’s being “offered” on the landing page, like an ebook, a course, or a template. The offer must have enough perceived value to a visitor to merit providing their personal information in exchange for access to it.

The form on your landing page consists of a series of fields (like in our example above) that collect information in exchange for the offer. Forms are typically hosted on landing pages, although they can technically be embedded anywhere on your site. Once a visitor fills this out — voila! — you have a new lead! (That is, as long as you’re following lead-capture form best practices.)

See how everything fits together?

To sum it up: Visitor clicks a CTA that takes them to a landing page where they fill out a form to get an offer, at which point they become a lead.

By the way, you should check out our free lead generation tool. It helps you create lead capture forms directly on your website. Plus, it’s really easy to set up.

Lead Generation Marketing

Once you put all of these elements together, you can use your various promotional channels to drive traffic to your landing page to start generating leads.

But what channels should you use to promote your landing page? Let’s talk about the front-end of lead generation — lead gen marketing.

If you’re a visual learner, this chart shows the flow from promotional marketing channels to a generated lead.

lead-generation-2

There are even more channels you can use to get visitors to become leads. Let’s go into depth on these and talk about a few others.

Content

Content is a great way to guide users to a landing page. Typically, you create content to provide visitors with useful, free information. You can include CTAs anywhere in your content — inline, bottom-of-post, in the hero, or even on the side panel. The more delighted a visitor is with your content, the more likely they are to click your call-to-action and move onto your landing page.

Featured Resource

Email

Email is a great place to reach the people who already know your brand and product or service. It’s much easier to ask them to take an action since they’ve previously subscribed to your list. Emails tend to be a bit cluttered, so use CTAs that have compelling copy and an eye-catching design to grab your subscriber’s attention.  

Featured Resource

Ads and Retargeting

The sole purpose of an ad is to get people to take an action. Otherwise, why spend the money? If you want people to convert, be sure that your landing page and offer match exactly what is promised in the ad, and that the action you want users to take is crystal clear.

Blog

The great thing about using your blog posts to promote an offer is that you can tailor the entire piece to the end goal. So, if your offer is an instructional video on setting up Google Search Console, then you can write a blog post about how to select your marketing metrics … which would make your CTA highly relevant and easy to click.

Featured Resource

Social Media

Social media platforms make it easy to guide your followers to take action, from the swipe up option on Instagram stories to Facebook bio links to bitly URLs on Twitter. You can also promote your offerings on your social posts and include a call-to-action in your caption. Learn more about social media campaigns in this post.

Product Trials

You can break down a lot of barriers to a sale by offering trials of your product or service. Once a prospect is using your product, you can entice them with additional offers or resources to encourage them to buy. Another good practice is to include your branding in your free versions so you can capture other potential customers, too.

Referral Marketing

Referral, or word-of-mouth, marketing is useful for lead generation in a different way. That is, it gets your brand in front of more people, which, in turn, increases your chances of generating more leads.

Whatever channel you use to generate leads, you’ll want to guide users to your landing page. As long as you’ve built a landing page that converts, the rest will handle itself.

Why Not Just Buy Leads?

Marketers and salespeople alike want to fill their sales funnel — and they want to fill it quickly. Enter: The temptation to buy leads.

Buying leads, as opposed to organically generating them, is much easier and takes far less time and effort, despite being more expensive. But, you might be paying for advertising anyway … so, why not just buy leads?

First and foremost, any leads you’ve purchased don’t actually know you. Typically, they’ve “opted in” at some other site when signing up for something, and didn’t actually opt in to receiving anything from your company.

The messages you send them are therefore unwanted messages, and sending unwanted messages is intrusive. (Remember that disruptive call I got when I was trying to eat my spaghetti? That’s how people feel when they receive emails and other messages from people they didn’t ask to hear from.)

If the prospect has never been to your website and indicated an interest in your, products or services, then you’re interrupting them … plain and simple.

If they never opted in to receive messages specifically from you, then there’s a high chance they could flag your messages as spam, which is quite dangerous for you. Not only does this train to filter out emails from you, but it also indicates to their email provider which emails to filter out.

Once enough people flag your messages as spam, you go on a “blacklist,” which is then shared with other email providers. Once you get on the blacklist, it’s really, really hard to get back off of it. In addition, your email deliverability and IP reputation will likely be harmed.

It’s always, always, always better to generate leads organically rather than buy them. Read this blog post to learn how to grow an opt-in email list instead of buying one.

How to Qualify a Lead

As we covered in the first section, a lead is a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service. Now, let’s talk about the ways in which someone can actually show that interest.

Essentially, a sales lead is generated through information collection. That information collection could come as the result of a job seeker showing interest in a position by completing an application, a shopper sharing contact information in exchange for a coupon, or a person filling out a form to download an educational piece of content.

Gauging a Lead’s Level of Interest

Below are just a few of the many ways in which you could qualify someone as a lead. Each of these examples shows that the amount of collected information used to qualify a lead, as well as the that lead level of interest, can vary. Let’s assess each scenario:

  • Job Application: An individual that fills out an application form is willing to share a lot of personal information because he/she wants to be considered for a position. Filling out that application shows their true interest in the job, therefore qualifying the person as a lead for the company’s recruiting team — not marketing or sales teams.
  • Coupon: Unlike the job application, you probably know very little about someone who has stumbled upon one of your online coupons. But if they find the coupon valuable enough, they may be willing to provide their name and email address in exchange for it. Although it’s not a lot of information, it’s enough for a business to know that someone has interest in their company.
  • Content: While the download of a coupon shows an individual has a direct interest in your product or service, content (like an educational ebook or webinar) does not. Therefore, to truly understand the nature of the person’s interest in your business, you’ll probably need to collect more information to determine whether the person is interested in your product or service and whether they’re a good fit.

These three general examples highlight how lead generation differs from company to company, and from person to person. You’ll need to collect enough information to gauge whether someone has a true, valid interest in your product or service — how much information is enough information will vary depending on your business.

Let’s look at Episerver, for example. They use web content reports for lead generation, collecting six pieces of information from prospective leads.

lead-generation-3

Episerver provides a great example for what to ask for in a lead gen form:

  • Full Name: The most fundamental information needed to personalize your communication with each lead.
  • Email: This serves as a unique identifier and is how you will contact your lead.
  • Company: This will give you the ability to research your lead’s industry and company and how the lead might benefit from your product or service (mainly for B2B).
  • Role: Understanding an individual’s role will help you understand how to communicate with them. Every brand stakeholder will have a different take and perspective on your offering (mainly for B2B).
  • Country: Location information can help you segment your contact by region and time zone, and help you qualify the lead depending on your service.
  • State: The more detailed information you can obtain without sacrificing conversions, the better. Knowing your leads state can help you further qualify them.

If you’d like to learn more intermediate-level tips on information collection and what you should ask for on your lead gen forms, read our post about it here.

Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is a way to qualify leads quantitatively. Using this technique, leads are assigned a numerical value (or score) to determine where they fall on the scale from “interested” to “ready for a sale”. The criteria for these actions is completely up to you, but it must be uniform across your marketing and sales department so that everyone is working on the same scale.

A lead’s score can be based on actions they’ve taken, information they’ve provided, their level of engagement with your brand, or other criteria that your sales team determines. For instance, you may score someone higher if they regularly engage with you on social media or if their demographic information matches your target audience.

Borrowing from the examples above, you might give a lead a higher score if they used one of your coupons — an action that would signify this person is interested in your product.

The higher a lead’s score, the closer they are to becoming a sales-qualified lead (SQL), which is only a step away from becoming a customer. The score and criteria is something you may need to tweak along the way until you find the formula that works, but once you do, you’ll transform your lead generation into customer generation.

Lead Generation Trends & Benchmarks

So … you’re getting web traffic and generating leads. But how are you doing compared to other companies in your industry? How many leads should you really be generating?

It’s tough to figure out if your lead generation strategy is working if you aren’t looking at industry data. That’s why we partnered with Qualtrics to survey more than 900 marketers from all different industries in North America and Europe to create a demand generation report with data on website visitors, leads, opportunities, customers, and revenue.

Did you know that 74% of companies that weren’t exceeding revenue goals didn’t know their visitor, lead, MQL, or sales opportunities numbers? How about that over 70% of companies not achieving their revenue goals generate fewer than 100 leads per month, and only 5% generate more than 2,500 leads per month? These are just a few examples of what you’ll find in the report.

For in-depth reports, download our Demand Generation Benchmarks Report. Below are some useful highlights.

Cost per Lead, by Industry

The media and publishing industries report the lowest cost per lead at $11 to $25. Software, information technology and services, marketing agencies, and financial services companies all report the highest average cost per lead at $51 to $100.

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Leads Generated per Month, by Annual Revenue

Unsurprisingly, the more revenue a company has, the more leads they generate. The differences are most drastic at the highest and lowest end of the spectrum: 82% of companies with $250,000 or less in annual revenue report generating less than 100 leads per month, whereas only 8% of companies generating $1 billion in annual revenue report less than 100 leads per month.

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Leads per Month

We found that 58% of companies generated 500 leads per month or fewer, and 71% generated 1,000 or fewer. However, as we saw previously, the companies having the most success are also the ones generating the most leads.

Here’s how the data broke down by company size:

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Lead Generation Software

We found that the most successful teams use a formal system to organize and store leads: 46% use Google Docs, 41% use marketing automation software, and 37% use CRM software. (Hint for HubSpot customers: Google Drive integrates with both HubSpot Marketing Hub and HubSpot CRM.)

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Lead Generation Strategies

Online lead generation encompasses a wide range of tactics, campaigns, and strategies depending on the platform on which you wish to capture leads. We talked about lead capture best practices once you have a visitor on your site … but how can you get them there in the first place?

Let’s dive into lead generation strategies for a few popular platforms.

Facebook Lead Generation

Facebook has been a method for lead generation since its inception. Originally, companies could use outbound links in their posts and information in their bios to attract strangers to their websites. However, when Facebook Ads was launched in 2007, and its algorithm began to favor accounts that used paid advertising, there was a major shift in how businesses used the platform to capture leads. Facebook created Lead Ads for this purpose. Facebook also has a feature that lets you put a simple call-to-action button at the top of your Facebook Page, helping you send Facebook followers directly to your website.

Get some lead generation tips for Facebook.

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Twitter Lead Generation

Twitter has Twitter Lead Gen Cards, which let you generate leads directly within a tweet without having to leave the site. A user’s name, email address, and Twitter username are automatically pulled into the card, and all they have to do is click “Submit” to become a lead. (Hint for HubSpot users: You can connect Twitter Lead Gen Cards to your HubSpot Forms. Learn how to do that here).

Learn some lead generation tips for Twitter.

Featured Resource

LinkedIn Lead Generation

LinkedIn has been increasing its stake in the advertising space since its early days. When it comes to lead generation, LinkedIn created Lead Gen Forms, which auto populate with a users profile data when they click a CTA, making it easy to capture information.

Get tips from our experience using LinkedIn ads.

PPC Lead Generation

When we say pay-per-click (PPC), we’re referring to ads on search engine result pages (SERPs). Google gets 3.5 billion searches a day, making it prime real estate for any ad campaign, especially lead gen. The effectiveness of your PPC campaign relies heavily on a seamless user flow, as well as your budget, target keywords, and a few other factors.

Learn more about how to setup successful PPC ads.

B2B Lead Generation

B2B is a particular business model that requires a particular approach to lead generation. HubSpot found that SEO is the top resource for capturing business leads, followed closely by email marketing and social media. Not to mention, effectiveness varies by channel.

Learn the B2B lead gen techniques for every channel.

Tips for Lead Generation Campaigns

In any given lead generation campaign, there can be a lot of moving parts. It can be difficult to tell which parts of your campaign are working and which need some fine-tuning. What exactly goes into a best-in-class lead generation engine? Here are a few tips when building lead gen campaigns.

Use the right lead generation tools.

As you saw in our data, the most successful marketing teams use a formal system to organize and store their leads. That’s where lead generation tools and lead generation software come into play.

How much do you know about the people visiting your website? Do you know their names or their email addresses? How about which pages they visited, how they’re navigating around, and what they do before and after filling out a lead conversion form?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, chances are you’re having a hard time connecting with the people who are visiting your site. These are questions you should be able to answer — and you can with the right lead generation tools.

There are a few different tools and templates out there that’ll help you create different lead gen assets to use on your site:

  • CTA Templates: 50+ free, customizable call-to-action (CTA) templates in PowerPoint that you can use to create clickable CTA buttons to use on your blog, landing pages, and elsewhere on your site.
  • Lead Generation Software Tools: This free tool from HubSpot includes lead capture and contact insights features, which will scrape any pre-existing forms you have on your website and add those contacts to your existing contact database. It also lets you create pop-ups, hello bars, or slide-ins — called “lead flows” — that’ll help you turn website visitors into leads immediately.

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Example of a slide-in lead flow.

  • Visitor Tracking: Hotjar has a heatmap tool — a virtual tool which creates a color-coded representation of how a user navigates your site — that helps you understand what users want, care about, and do on your site. It records visitors and tells you where they spend the most time on your site. You can use it to gather information on your lead generation forms, feedback forms and surveys, and more.
  • Form-Scraping Tool: A form scraping tool that collects submissions on your website’s existing forms helps you automatically consolidate all your leads into your contact database, regardless of which form visitors submitted on your website. HubSpot customers can create and embed forms using HubSpot, which automatically populate into your CMS. Non-HubSpot customers can use a form creation tool like Contact Form 7, JetPack, or Google Forms, and then use HubSpot’s free collected forms feature to automatically capture form submissions and input them to a contact database.

Create amazing offers for all different stages of the buying cycle.

Not all of your site visitors are ready to talk to your sales team or see a demo of your product. Someone at the beginning of the buyer’s journey might be interested in an informational piece like an ebook or a guide, whereas someone who’s more familiar with your company and near the bottom of the journey might be more interested in a free trial or demo.

Make sure you’re creating offers for each phase and offering CTAs for these offers throughout your site.

Yes, it takes time to create valuable content that teaches and nurtures your leads down the funnel, but if you don’t offer anything for visitors who aren’t ready to buy, then they may never come back to your website. From checklists to templates to free tools, here are 23 ideas for lead generation content to get you started.

If you want to take personalization a step further — which will help boost your conversion rate — try using smart CTAs. Smart CTAs detect where a person is in the buyer’s journey, whether they’re a new visitor, a lead, or a customer, and display CTAs accordingly. Personalized CTAs convert a whopping 42% more visitors than basic calls-to-action.

Keep your messaging consistent and deliver on your promise.

The highest-converting lead gen campaigns are the ones that deliver on what they promise and create a seamless transition from ad copy and design to the deliverable itself. Make sure that you’re presenting a consistent message throughout the process and providing value to everyone that engages with your lead capture.

The aspects of your lead gen campaign should mirror everything else on your website, on your blog, and within the product that you will eventually try to sell. If not, you’ll have a difficult time getting your lead to the next lifecycle stage. Your campaign should be about more than just obtaining an email address — it should be about developing a new customer.

Link your CTA to a dedicated landing page.

This may seem obvious to you, but you’d be surprised how many marketers don’t create dedicated landing pages for their offers. CTAs are meant to send visitors to a landing page where they can receive a specific offer.

Don’t use CTAs to drive people to your homepage, for instance. Even if your CTA is about your brand or product (and perhaps not an offer like a download), you should still be sending them to a targeted landing page that’s relevant to what they are looking for and includes an opt-in form. If you have the opportunity to use a CTA, send them to a page that will convert them into a lead.

If you want to learn more about how to build and promote high-converting landing pages, then download our ebook on optimizing landing pages for conversions.

Get your sales team involved.

Remember when we talked about lead scoring? Well, it isn’t exactly doable without your sales team’s input. How will you know what qualifies a lead for sales without knowing if your defined SQLs are successfully sold? Your marketing and sales teams need to be aligned on the definitions and the process of moving a lead from MQL to SQL to opportunity before you even begin to capture leads.

Also, be open to evolving your relationship with sales and how you guide leads along your funnel. Your definitions will likely need to be refined over time; just make sure to keep everyone involved up-to-date.

Use social media strategically.

While marketers typically think of social media as best for top-of-the-funnel marketing, it can still be a helpful and low-cost source for lead generation as shared in the lead gen strategies above. The key is using social media strategically for lead generation.

Start by adding links directly to the landing pages of high-performing offers within your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media posts. Tell visitors that you’re sending them to a landing page. That way, you’re setting expectations. Here’s an example from one of our Facebook posts:

You can also do a lead generation analysis of your blog to figure out which posts generate the most leads, and then make a point of regularly linking social media posts to them.

Another way to generate leads from social media is to run a contest. Contests are fun and engaging for your followers, and they can also teach you a ton about your audience. It’s a win-win. Read our step-by-step guide for growing your email list using social media contests, which covers everything from choosing a platform, to picking a winner, all the way to analyzing your results.

Remain flexible and constantly iterate.

Your lead generation strategy needs to be as dynamic as the people you’re targeting. Trends change, behaviors shift, opinions morph … so should your lead gen marketing. Use A/B split testing to see what CTAs perform best, which landing pages convert better, and which copy captures your target audience. Experiment with layout changes, design, UX, content, and advertising channels until you find what works.

Conclusion

There you have it, folks. Now that you know more about how to generate leads for your business, we recommend you try HubSpot’s free lead generation tool. Use it to add simple conversion assets to your site (or scrape your existing forms) to help you learn more about your site visitors and what content prompts them to convert.

The basics we’ve gone over in this blog post are just the beginning. Keep creating great offers, CTAs, landing pages, and forms — and promote them in multi-channel environments. Be in close touch with your sales team to make sure you’re handing off high-quality leads on a regular basis. Last but not least, never stop testing. The more you tweak and test every step of your inbound lead generation process, the more you’ll improve lead quality and increase revenue.

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Twitter Marketing in 2019: The Ultimate Guide

Whether pop-culture, local or global news, work, or the brands I use and wear, Twitter is a powerful social networking tool and search engine in which I can typically find the latest information about virtually any topic. This also includes updates from the companies and businesses I care about.

Businesses, like HubSpot, are able to market on Twitter to engage users and followers, increase brand awareness, boost conversions, and more (we’ll discuss the “more” shortly). Twitter makes it easy to distribute content. And, there are over 326 million average monthly Twitter users globally for you to share that content with.

The thought of reaching hundreds of millions of leads through a free social media platform sounds intriguing, right? But how do you actually ensure you’re generating fantastic content those people will want to interact with?

In this guide, we’ll answer that question along with some others including what a Twitter marketing strategy is, how you can use Twitter for your business, and what tips and tricks you can implement to help you improve your marketing efforts on the platform.

Let’s get started.

What is a Twitter marketing strategy?

A Twitter marketing strategy is a plan centered around creating, publishing, and distributing content for your buyer personas, audience, and followers through the social media platform. The goal of this type of strategy is to attract new followers and leads, boost conversions, improve brand recognition, and increase sales.

Creating a Twitter marketing strategy will require you to follow the same steps you would if you were creating any other social media marketing strategy.

  1. Research your buyer personas and audience
  2. Create unique and engaging content
  3. Organize a schedule for your posts
  4. Analyze your impact and results

So, you might be wondering what makes Twitter unique. Why would you want to actually invest the time in creating a profile and content for the platform?

What makes Twitter unique?

Twitter is a great marketing tool for a number of reasons. The platform …

… is free to use.

… allows you to share and promote branded content in seconds.

… expands your reach.

… allows you to provide quick customer service and support.

… works as a search engine tool for you to search for your competitors and their marketing content to see which tactics they’re using.

… can be used as a search engine tool for prospects to find and learn about your company.

… allows you to converse with your followers, share the latest updates about your company, and address your audience.

Now that we’ve reviewed what a Twitter marketing strategy is and what makes the platform unique, let’s cover the ways in which you can use Twitter for your business. These tips will help you boost conversions, create lasting relationships with your followers, and improve your brand awareness.

As you begin using Twitter for your business, there are some steps you’ll want to take to ensure you reach your target audience. Depending on your goals, company size, and industry, you may or may not choose to work through each of the following steps (or you may have already completed some of them), so tailor them to your needs.

Learn how to use Twitter for business to better share, engage, and market on the platform.

1. Customize and brand your profile.

When someone looks at your company’s Twitter profile, you want them to automatically know it’s yours. Meaning you should customize and brand your Twitter profile with your logo, colors, and any other recognizable and memorable details you want to incorporate. There are a few locations in which you can customize your profile.

  • Handle: Your Twitter handle is your username (for example, our handle is @hubspot) — this should include your company’s name so your followers, customers, and fans can easily search and find you on the platform. You create your Twitter handle when you sign up for an account.
  • Header: The header on your Twitter profile is your background image. You might choose to create a unique image for your header, use your logo, or another branded image.
  • Profile picture: Your Twitter profile picture represents your company’s every move, interaction, post, and tweet on the platform. It’s the image that sits above your bio and might include a picture of your logo, company’s initials, or CEO.
  • Bio: A Twitter bio provides everyone who visits your profile with a brief synopsis of what they’re about to see in 160 characters or less. It might include your mission statement, a blurb about what your company does, or something humorous and engaging.
  • Website URL: Beneath your profile picture and bio, there’s a location where you can include your URL to direct traffic straight to your website.
  • Birthday: In the same location as your URL, you can insert your company’s birthday — or the day when the company was founded — so your audience gets to know your business on a more personal level.

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2. Create Twitter Lists.

A Twitter List — which any user has the ability to create and view — is an organized group of Twitter accounts you’ve selected and put together in specific categories. For example, at HubSpot, lists include Leadership Experts, Top Marketing Experts, Top Business Podcasters, and more. When you open a Twitter List, you only see tweets posted by the accounts on the list.

Twitter Lists are great if you want to follow only specific accounts. You might segment your lists into groups such as business inspiration, competitors, and target audience so you’re able to easily review their posts, interactions, and content.

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3. Host a Twitter Chat.

You can schedule and host a Twitter chat to engage your followers, discuss a topic, create a sense of community, and ask your audience for their opinions or input on something you’re working on.

To host a Twitter Chat (or TweetChat), you’ll need to choose a topic, set a time and date for the chat to occur, and create a hashtag for the chat. You can share this information with your followers in a tweet, on your website, in your Twitter bio, and wherever else you choose.

Everyone who wants to participate in the Twitter Chat should then be able to view all responses, questions, and comments regarding your topic of choice by searching your unique hashtag, as well as sharing their own comments and thoughts by adding the hashtag to their tweets.

Twitter Chats promote interaction and engagement on your profile and get people talking about your brand. It also creates a more personal experience between your audience members and your business.

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4. Advertise on Twitter.

Advertising through Twitter is a great way to reach your audience. This will make your tweets easily discoverable by thousands of people, helping you increase your influence and following. You can do this through promoted tweets or Twitter Ads.

Promoted Tweets

Promoted tweets make your tweets appear in the Twitter streams or Twitter search results of specific users. This is a great option for anyone looking to get more people on a specific webpage. Your business will pay a monthly fee as long as you’re promoting a tweet.

Twitter will put your promoted tweets in a daily campaign targeting the type of audience you want to reach as previously indicated in your settings. All Twitter users have the ability to interact and engage with Twitter Ads the same way they would with your organic content.

Twitter Ads

Twitter Ads is a great option if you’re using different types of tweets to achieve one goal for your business. It’s ideal if you’re looking to grow your base of followers and brand awareness significantly through the platform.

Your business can decide between different objectives when it comes to your Twitter ads including app installs, video views, and website conversions, as well as audience targeting for your campaigns. This decision will impact the price you’ll need to pay to run your ad.

5. Drive traffic to your website.

Twitter can help you direct traffic to your website — there are a number of ways to include your website’s URL on your profile as well as add links to your web pages and blogs in your tweets. Here are some ways you can use the platform to direct traffic to your website to help you increase your conversions and sales.

  • Add your website URL beneath your bio on your Twitter profile.
  • Incorporate links to your website in your tweets.
  • Retweet any content that includes direct links to your website and/ or blogs other people have shared.  
  • Embed tweets on your website with a Twitter Timeline.
  • Set up Twitter Ads to drive users to a specific landing page on your site.

6. Use Twitter Moments.

Twitter Moments are collections of tweets about a specific topic or event. They’re like a “best of” collection of tweets regarding your topic of choice. For example, Twitter’s Moments section includes “Today”, “News”, “Entertainment”, and “Fun.”

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You can also create your own section of Moments for your followers to view on your profile.  

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You might organize your Twitter Moments into groups of tweets to help you market your business’ events and campaigns or related industry news. They also help with your marketing tactics by providing your business with an engaging way to promote the discussion of specific topics and/ or events that matter to your company to help you share your brand image with audience members.   

7. Get verified on Twitter.

You might choose to apply to get your Twitter profile verified depending on the size of your company and your industry. Twitter states they typically only accept requests for account verification if you’re in “music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas.” If Twitter accepts your application and verifies your profile, a badge with a blue checkmark inside of it will appear next to your handle. This symbolizes an authentic account.

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Being verified prevents your audience members from following and being confused by impersonator accounts or accounts with similar content, usernames, and handles to yours. A verified account also makes your business look more legitimate and trustworthy.

8. Focus on building your follower count.

Needless to say, the more Twitter followers you have, the more people there are looking at and interacting with your content. You’ll have a better chance to improve brand awareness and direct more traffic to your website when you build your follower count on Twitter.

Learn how to get more Twitter followers, fast.

There are a number of ways you can increase your follower count on Twitter — here are some to get you started:

  • Ensure your content is shareable.
  • Use unique hashtags.
  • Create engaging content (giveaways, contests, questions, surveys).
  • Enlist the help of Twitter (social media) influencers.
  • Include links to your Twitter profile on your website.
  • Interact with your current followers and retweet their content so they’re more likely to do the same for you.

Now that we’ve reviewed how to use Twitter for business, let’s cover some tips and tricks you can apply to your profile to improve your marketing efforts on the platform.

The following Twitter marketing tips are universal, meaning they’re applicable to any type of business, in every industry..

1.  Use keyword targeting in your Twitter Ads.

Keyword targeting on Twitter is component of Twitter Ads. Keyword targeting allows you to engage Twitter users through the different words and phrases you’ve included in your content and they’ve searched for on the platform. This means you’re able to reach your target audience at the exact time your business, content, and services are most relevant to them.

On Twitter, there are two types of keyword targeting you can use including search and timeline.

Search Keyword Targeting

Search keyword targeting allows you to make your tweets show up for users who are searching for the topics that you determined relate to your business. For example, if you sell gluten free cookies, you can target users searching for tweets about baking, cookies, gluten intolerance, or Celiac Disease.

Timeline Keyword Targeting

Timeline keyword targeting allows you to act on users’ specific feelings, thoughts, actions, and emotions they’ve tweeted about. For example, if you’re a running gear company, you might target keywords and phrases users tweet about such as, “running a race”, “race day tips”, or “training for a marathon”.

2. Implement hashtags.

Did you know tweets with hashtags receive two-times as much engagement as tweets without them?

Adding hashtags to your tweets is a great way to expand your influence on Twitter. However, there are some guidelines you’ll want to stick to when using hashtags to ensure that you reach the largest number of people possible.

  • Create a hashtag that’s unique to your business so your followers and target audience can easily find you and your content.
  • Create relevant and memorable hashtags for other groups of tweets such as ones related to a specific campaign you’re running.
  • Use Twitter Analytics to review your most successful hashtags so you can ensure their use in future tweets.
  • Don’t overuse hashtags — this may feel and look spammy to your audience (not to mention it isn’t aesthetically pleasing). Also, tweets with more than two hashtags see a 17% decrease in engagement than those with one or two hashtags.

3. Organize a content sharing schedule.

As you grow your base of followers, you’ll need to post on a regular basis to ensure they stay engaged with your business and content. Not only do you want to tweet regularly, but you also want to tweet at the right times of the day. Here are some details about the best times (on average) for businesses to share their Twitter content:

  • Between 8–10 AM and 6–9 PM (in correlation with commuter schedules) on weekdays
  • Around noon or between 5–6 PM on any day of the week
  • For B2C companies, the best days to tweet are weekends
  • For B2B companies, the best days to tweet are weekdays

In terms of how often you should post your content on Twitter, there’s no real rule — it’s more about ensuring the content you’re sharing has a purpose and meaning. You can also review Twitter Analytics to take a deep dive into what your engagement looks like on the days you post more or less content to determine what’s working well for your specific audience.

Once you’ve determined when and how often you’re going to post your content, you can enlist the help of a social media management tool. This will allow you to both create your tweets and schedule them in advance so you can focus on other tasks you have to complete.

Here are a few examples of popular social media scheduling tools you can use for your Twitter marketing strategy:

  • Sprout Social provides you with a range of features to help you reach your target audience and buyer personas through Twitter including platform analytics, engagement tools, scheduling capabilities, and details about the type of content your audience wants.
  • Twitter Analytics allows you to analyze your tweets, understand which content is helping your business grow, and learn about your followers.
  • HubSpot has a social tool which allows you to schedule posts in advance, connect directly with your audience, and understand how your Twitter interactions are helping your business’ bottom line.

4. Create a Twitter campaign.

Social media marketing campaigns of any kind are a great way to reach your audience, drive sales, and increase your website traffic. You can create a social media marketing campaign specifically for Twitter to target users and increase your base of followers all while raising your brand awareness through the platform.

To create a Twitter marketing campaign, you’ll want to follow the same steps you would with any type of social media marketing campaign.

  1. Research your competition
  2. Determine how you’ll appeal to your target audience
  3. Choose the type of content you’ll create
  4. Share and promote your content
  5. Analyze your results

5. Write a strong profile bio.

Writing a strong and memorable bio for your Twitter profile is crucial. This is because your Twitter bio is the first thing a profile visitor will read about your company — it’s your written introduction and should briefly explain what visitors can expect from your page and content. You only have 160 characters to do this, so choose your words wisely to ensure your bio successfully represents your brand and reflects who you are as a company.

6. Use images and videos.

When possible, try to include quality videos and photos in your tweets. It’s been proven that tweets with images outperform tweets strictly made of text. Photos and images provide an eye-catching and engaging element in your content as Twitter users scroll through their feeds. Videos are proven to actually outperform tweets with images as well. In fact, tweets with videos are likely to get an average of six times the amount of engagement than tweets without them.

Videos and images are a great way to show your audience your product line or how to use an item you sell as well as make your content feel more personal. Plus, images and videos in tweets are proven to help you increase your engagement — and who wouldn’t want that?

7. Interact with your followers.

Remembering to engage with your followers as your business grows and Twitter follower count increases is crucial. This will help you create experiences for your followers and audience members that feel personal and keep them coming back to your profile all while fostering a sense of brand loyalty. For example, if someone retweets your post or comments on your tweet, you can “Like” that person’s interaction or even tweet back to them with a response.

8. Share media mentions.

If your business is mentioned in the media, share the article, video, URL, or image on Twitter. It’ll make your business feel more legitimate to anyone checking out your profile as well as show prospective followers how many other people already know about your company and are enjoying your products and services.

This is an exciting way to broadcast your success to your audience. It also provides you with a way to incorporate backlinks in your tweets which, when clicked, take your audience members to the original source of the mention. Meaning you’ll also drive traffic to the website of the media outlet that mentioned you, likely boosting their follower count and/ or brand recognition. This could potentially help you become mentioned, shared, or featured in one of their pieces of content again in the future.

9. Keep an eye on your competitors’ Twitter accounts.

Twitter is a great way to keep an eye on your competitors’ marketing efforts. You can follow them or simply search them to see what they’re posting. You can also view basic details about their engagement such as their number of retweets, comments, and responses. This is a simple way to see some of the Twitter marketing strategies your competitors are implementing and whether or not they’re working.

10. Focus on followers’ interests and needs when creating content.

If you want to reach your audience members and ensure your content resonates with them, you’ll need to focus on their interests and needs— whether that’s in relation to the way you share content, what you share, or how you present it.

When you meet the needs of your target audience and buyer personas, they’ll be more likely to continue to follow and interact with your company. As you study your buyer personas and target audience, you’ll be able to determine the type of content they’re likely looking for you to share. Additionally, you can always tweet questions, send out surveys, ask for feedback, or even create a Twitter Chat to get more ideas about the type of content your audience is looking for from your business and Twitter profile.

11. Promote your events.

Twitter is a great way to promote your business’ events. Similar to the way you might for a Twitter campaign, you can create a unique hashtag for various events (such as launch parties, giveaways, and contests) or schedule a variety of tweets (using one of your social media management tools) to promote any special occasion your company is hosting. This way, audience members — whether or not they’re your followers — will have the opportunity to learn about your event and get all of the details they need to sign up, be in attendance, or participate.

12. Check your direct messages regularly.

Like other social media platforms, Twitter provides users with a Direct Message inbox where they can contact you in a private message regarding any questions, concerns, or comments they have. So, be sure to check your inbox regularly as this can contribute to the type of customer service and support your business is known for, as well as the type of care you provide your followers and customers.

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13. Keep track of your analytics.

With all of the work you’re putting into your business’ Twitter marketing, you’ll want to ensure your efforts are successful in reaching your goals whether they’re related to directing more traffic to your website, increasing conversions, or improving brand awareness.

You can determine your Twitter marketing success in these areas (and many more) by analyzing your work. To do this, you’ll want to consider which metrics matter to you and then determine how you’re going to track them.

Which Metrics to Track on Twitter

Due to every business being unique and having different goals, you might not be interested in tracking all of the following Twitter metrics (or you might be looking to track additional metrics). However, we’ve compiled the following list of possible metrics for you to consider to get you started.

  • Engagement: Look at the number of retweets, follows, replies, favorites, and click-throughs your tweets get (including all hashtags and links they include).
  • Impressions: Review the number of times your tweets appeared on one of your audience members’ timelines (whether or not they’re actually following you).
  • Hashtags: Look at which of your hashtags are being used most frequently by your audience and followers.
  • Top tweets: Review your tweets with the most engagement.
  • Contributors: Keep up with the level of success each of your contributors — the people you give admin access to on your account — are having with their tweets so you can implement some of their tactics more regularly or remove them completely.

How to Track Twitter Analytics

There are a number of social media management tools, such as Sprout Social, HubSpot, and Hootsuite, with analytics features automatically built in. This is convenient for those of you who were already planning on choosing a management tool to assist with the scheduling of your posts. However, one of the most common analytics tools for Twitter is the one created specifically for the platform: Twitter Analytics.

Twitter Analytics

Twitter Analytics helps you understand how your content impacts your audience and the ways in which your activity on the platform can help you grow your business. The tool is free, accessible to all users, and includes information about your Twitter engagement rate, impressions, tweet activity, and information about your followers.

Depending on your business’ needs, you have the ability to incorporate Twitter Ads (if you pay for the option) data in Twitter Analytics as well. Lastly, there are a number of other third-party resources and apps you can download and use along with Twitter Analytics to take a deeper look at specific types of data such as detailed hashtag performance information or how other Twitter handles in your industry are doing.

Start Marketing on Twitter

Twitter is a powerful marketing tool and social media platform any business can take advantage of. It has the ability to help you direct more traffic to your website, improve brand awareness, engage your audience, create personal relationships with your followers and customers, boost conversions, and increase your sales. So, consider the Twitter for business tactics as well as the marketing tips and tricks mentioned above and get started sharing content on Twitter to help you grow your business today.

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Business Strategy: What It Is & How to Build an Effective One

In the business world, professionals are obsessed with tactics because they can help them meet their short-term goals. But if all you do is focus on the short-term, you won’t spend enough time or energy figuring out how you can succeed in the long-term.

Fortunately, building a strategy can help you achieve both your short-term and long-term goals. Strategy focuses on principles, which help you think, instead of tactics, which help you execute, so it allows you to concentrate on why your business does certain activities, not just how you do them or what you do. Read on to learn exactly what a business strategy is and how you can build an effective one today.

1. Identify your business’ aspirations and set goals to measure your progress toward achieving those aspirations.

In business, traditional goal setting lets you measure what you do, but it doesn’t lend itself to gauging how you do it or why. And if you only focus on the results, it can sometimes incentivize you to take a course of action that prioritizes your organization’s needs over your customers’ needs.

To help you focus more on your purpose and process instead of just your results, consider setting and anchoring to an aspiration, or your vision for your business in the future, when building your business strategy — it’ll inspire you to do work that better serves your customers. Once you set and anchor to an aspiration, you can add your goal to the equation, which will help you simultaneously produce customer-centric work and hit your numbers.

2. Pinpoint which segments of your market you want to capture.

Your product or service most likely isn’t the best fit for your entire market, so it’s crucial to pinpoint the segment or segments of your market that benefit the most from your product or service.

Customers who genuinely need and want your product or service are also the customers who retain the longest and are least likely to churn, boosting your customer lifetime value and lowering your customer acquisition costs.

3. Determine how you’ll beat your competition.

Ricky Bobby’s legendary saying that “If you ain’t first, you’re last” doesn’t necessarily apply to the business world, but it does have some bearing on it. Your customers won’t buy two of the same products or services, so if you want to capture as much of your segment of the market as possible, you need to place first in the majority of your target customers’ minds.

Some of the best ways to stay top-of-mind are crafting a creatively refreshing brand, differentiating your product or service from the rest of the crowd, and pricing your product relative to its perceived value.

4. Figure out which competencies are needed to beat your competition and sustain your business’ success.

Unfortunately, passion isn’t enough to beat your competition and rocket to the top of your industry. Talent and skill are just as crucial. Depending on your aspirations, goals, and market, you need to figure out which types of teams and employees you need to develop and recruit to not only beat your competition, but to also sustain your success.

5. Decide which management systems are needed to hone these competencies.

If your business is a team, then your managers are the coaches. They’re responsible for developing, supporting, and inspiring your employees to do their best work possible. Because no matter how much raw talent your employees have, they’ll never reach their potential and, in turn, help the business reach its potential if they don’t refine the skills and discipline necessary to compete and succeed.

Principles Over Tactics

We live in a day and age where the internet is overloaded with advice. You have access to countless amounts of tips and tricks that could potentially help you build a successful business. But without the ability to think critically about whether these tips and tricks actually apply to your specific situation, you’ll never reach long-term success.

That’s why strategy is so important nowadays. It grounds your business in principles that can apply to almost situation and, in turn, help your business achieve both its short-term and long-term goals.

Business Plan Template

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How HubSpot's Recruitment Team Aims to Use Greenhouse to Mitigate Interview Bias

Diversity, inclusion, and belonging are major points of growth for most businesses right now, and for good reason — diverse teams can help companies increase revenue by 19% and enable companies to outperform industry norms by 35%.

In the tech industry, we’re seeing a particularly strong focus on diversity and inclusion, particularly since both women and people of color are largely underrepresented in the tech space.

However, making a meaningful impact isn’t easy — it requires taking a microscope to a business’s embedded culture and structure and being open to some major changes.

As recruiters at HubSpot, we tend to be on the “front line” for bringing in remarkable talent. So, in 2019, we knew we needed to step up our game when it came to ensuring our recruitment process was fair, consistent, and inclusive of a truly diverse candidate pool.

If you’re a recruiter, you know that recruiting is both art and science. So enabling our teams through technology to decrease the opportunity for bias was critical for creating scalable solutions.

Ultimately, we needed to incorporate scientific guardrails to help our recruiters, hiring managers, and interviewers decrease mental shortcuts — while still innovating and excelling in what they do best. No small task, right?

That’s where Greenhouse Inclusion and HubSpot meet.

Why choose a pilot program?

HubSpot is one of the first companies to pilot the new Greenhouse Inclusion technology. The platform allows us to reduce mental shortcuts, mitigate bias, identify problem areas, and measure success — all big changes. But the prospect of implementing thought-process change across our entire global organization was beyond daunting.

Ultimately, to reduce risk, we decided to initially run two pilot programs for specific departments so we could refine the process before sharing it with everyone at HubSpot. We needed a few test cases to help uncover flaws, get stakeholder buy-ins, and evaluate if using the tool was the right decision for the team.

How We Ran Our Pilot Program

This was an exciting time to get some of our teammates into the sandbox to play around with the new process and technology. However, we recognized early that setting some clear expectations and goals was critical to ensure we stuck to a timeline and didn’t disrupt too many of our day-to-day operations.

When meeting with the pilot teams, we were open, honest and transparent on what we predicted could be road bumps and difficult muscles to stretch in implementing a new process to their hiring teams. First, we explained this was going to be time-consuming and could take multiple meetings with stakeholders to get off the ground.

Additionally, we told these pilot teams that the value these changes could bring wouldn’t be immediately visible, but would ultimately impact our hiring processes long-term. We wanted teams to go in with eyes wide open.

We also wanted to remain transparent about the inner-workings of the process with HubSpot employees. Since we want to use Greenhouse Inclusion as a global tool in the near future, it was imperative we socialize the technology with the non-pilot teams early.

To do this, we embarked on a marketing roadshow and shared the “coming attractions” with business leaders, interview teams, front-line teams, and our employee resource groups. We decided it was imperative to start sharing the ‘why’ behind this technology early to help grease the wheels for future roll-outs.

Three Things We Learned

1. Sharing the “why” with your team is critical.

Ultimately, the Greenhouse tool is good leverage, but the learning curve extends beyond just showing users how to build scorecards in Greenhouse.

When implementing change with a new piece of technology for a recruitment team, sharing the ‘why’ behind your method is really important.

Both interviewers and our recruitment team yearned for additional conversations on the root cause of biases, how they could personally work to mitigate them in their day-to-day, and how they could track whether the tool was working.

2. Put your pilot teams in the driver’s seat.

We purposefully avoided being overly prescriptive on the step-by-step formula for using some of the structure scorecard tools. By sharing the ‘why’ (as mentioned above), we gave our pilot teams the destination while depending on them to build the best path there.

We found we got much better output when the pilot groups got their hands dirty and tried things first. This helped us build out training materials for the global launch.

3. Be diligent about quality assurance.

It’s understandable and easy for users to lean back onto muscle memory when launching into a new tool. We could have been better about reviewing scorecards immediately, and course-correcting any errors quickly. This would have allowed us to catch confusion with the tool early, before it snowballed.

Ultimately, we realized we needed to be more diligent about holding ourselves accountable to the new process, and ensuring data integrity.

Whether or not you choose to implement bias-mitigating technology at your own company, it’s critical you dedicate time and resources to train your interviewers to be more thoughtful about the role they play in driving an effective and empathetic hiring process for candidates. This will help your company build a stronger employer brand, and attract better talent down the road.

If you’re not a part of your company’s recruitment team, take a look at 53 Little Things You Can Do to Impact Diversity at Your Company for other ways you can help.

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Why We Interviewed a Bunch of Rappers About Marketing

Can you imagine a world without music?

I can’t.

When I think about the things in life for which I’m the most grateful, music always falls on the list — rap music, in particular.

For me, rap is the thing to listen to when I’m happy. Sad. Angry. Tired. When I have a big meeting to prepare for. When I’m dreading a workout. When I’m not feeling any particular way, but just want to disrupt the silence around me. And as we’re about to see — it has not only profoundly carved out my own path thus far, but those of myriad consumers, business owners, and artists.

Before I worked for HubSpot and started covering marketing and tech news, I wrote primarily about two things — food, and indie hip hop.

Indie artists are those who aren’t

signed to a major label,

and are often responsible for things

like their own marketing,

tour scheduling,

and the business side of music

that we don’t often think about

as listeners.

A quick vocabulary lesson: Indie artists are those who aren’t signed to a major label, and are often responsible for things like their own marketing, tour scheduling, and the business side of music that we don’t often think about as listeners.

Keep that in mind — we’ll get back to it in a bit.

As it turns out, these two categories — food and hip hop — have more in common than I first imagined. Years ago, the former introduced me to the latter. I wrote about one rapper’s journey to food consciousness, who then introduced me to another rapper whose mother owns a grass-fed cattle ranch. These various things we consume, it seems, are quite inter-connected.

I had to ask: Is there a chance that indie hip hop is somehow connected to marketing and tech, too?

Rappers Astronautalis and P.O.S — a.k.a. Four Fists –discuss their career growth

Let’s go back to the earlier quick-and-dirty definition of what constitutes the responsibilities of an indie rapper:

  • The many elements of promotion.
  • Planning events (tours and shows = experiential marketing).
  • Connecting with and building audiences (fans = customers).
  • Finding the right people to collaborate with (side projects and recording tracks with other artists = co-branding).

… All while cultivating both awareness and a career trajectory (name recognition = brand recognition).

Sound familiar? That’s because indie rappers are quintessentially very human, creative, small-to-midsize businesses. Of course we had something to learn from them — and we think everyone else does, too.

That’s why we decided to film a series of interviews with indie rappers who have been tasked with and mastered many of the same things that you — our dear readers — have also experienced.

growth_raps_four_fists_performFollowing a conversation about growth, Four Fists performs live in our studio

We asked them about where they’ve been, where they are now, and how different everything looked in between — and how, throughout it all, they’ve continued to create music that remains core to who they are. And, just for fun, we had them play a song or two during their times with us. In a way, it all sheds new light on marketing that gives it, well, a different sound and energy. After all, around here, we’re big into work that has heart.

As the rap group Dead Prez once so perfectly phrased it: This is bigger than hip hop. This is about the humans behind the music, their journeys to and through it, and how it’s not only shaped their lives, but those on the receiving end of their work.

These are their stories. This is Growth Raps.

 

6 Fundamental Video Marketing Tips for Every Type of Skill Level

Nowadays, most marketers obsess over how they can amplify their content’s reach as much as possible. More views means more leads and customers, right? While this convention can be true, it’ll only pan out if you optimize your videos for humans before you optimize them for algorithms.

Resonance is the most important determinant of whether your audience will take action, and your video’s creative is the most important determinant of whether your video will resonate with your audience. So even if your video reaches a million people, if it doesn’t resonate with them, it won’t persuade anyone to take your preferred action, let alone remember your brand.

With this insight in mind, let’s go over six fundamental video marketing tips that’ll help you craft videos that resonate with as many people as they reach.

1. Hook your audience.

When Facebook analyzed their users’ video consumption data in 2016, they discovered that 45% of people who watch the first three seconds of a video will keep watching it for at least 30 seconds.

This data indicates that sparking your audience’s curiosity with an attention-grabbing title isn’t enough to engage them. You also need to instantly hook your viewers within the first three seconds of your video — the human attention span isn’t long enough to be entertained by sluggish content.

But what actually hooks people? What we’ve discovered at HubSpot is that an effective video hook visually engages viewers and previews the video’s core message. Creating these types of hooks can simultaneously grab your viewers’ attention and generate interest in the rest of the video.

2. Tell stories.

In the neuroscience field, researchers have proven that storytelling is the best way to capture people’s attention, bake information into their memories, and resonate emotionally with them. The human brain is programmed to crave, seek out, and respond to well-crafted narrative — that’ll never change.

In fact, when someone tells you a story, they can plant their personal experiences and ideas directly into your mind, so you start to feel what they feel. For instance, if someone describes eating a plate of lobster mac and cheese, your sensory cortex lights up. If someone recounts scoring their first touchdown, your motor cortex enlivens.

In other words, powerful stories evoke empathy because they activate parts of the brain that’d operate if you actually experienced the stories’ events. And by using their own memories to recreate your story’s sensory details, your audience can turn your video’s events into their own ideas and experience.

3. Evoke positive emotions.

Psychology tells us that emotions drive our behavior, while logic justifies our actions after the fact. Marketing confirms this theory — humans associate the same personality traits with brands as they do with people. So choosing between two alternatives is like choosing your best friend or significant other. We go with the option that makes us feel something.

If you want your videos to resonate with your viewers, consider kindling warm feelings rather than fear, anger, or disgust. In fact, happiness, hope, and excitement are some of the most common emotions that drive viral content, so if your video can evoke these emotions, it could rake in a ton of views and generate a lot of engagement.

4. Make your videos “sticky”.

In their book, Made to Stick, brothers Chip and Dan Heath taught readers a model for making ideas “sticky”, or, in other words, making ideas digestible, memorable, and compelling.

By analyzing countless amounts of “sticky” ideas, like JFK’s “Man on the Moon” speech and even some conspiracy theories, the Heath Brothers noticed that a “sticky” idea usually follows six principles:

  1. Simple: its core message must be easy to grasp.
  2. Unexpected: it should break cliche and evoke enough curiosity to grab someone’s attention and hold it.
  3. Concrete: it should be vividly painted in people’s minds.
  4. Credible: it should be supported by evidence.
  5. Emotional: it should have a purpose and relate to people.
  6. Story-driven: it should tell a story that inspires people to act.

The Heath Brothers recommend following as many of their “Made to Stick” principles as possible when devising your idea, so check out this blog post about The Psychology Behind Marketing Viral Videos to learn how five brands followed most of these principles with one of their videos and succeeded in capturing viral attention.

5. Rely on visuals.

When we were babies, we relied on vision to associate objects with behaviors, like a ball meaning play time. Vision was the only way to learn about the world.

That’s why you can understand visual information in 250 milliseconds and why your visual system activates over 50% of your brain. Watching something has always been the best way to learn.

Visual storytelling helps people grasp concepts and data easily, so consider complementing your video’s text and narration with dynamic graphics, popular movie and TV scenes, and footage of real people. If you do this, your viewers can listen to the information and watch a visual representation of it, helping them form a concrete understanding of your video’s core idea.

6. Add appropriate soundtracks to your videos.

Choosing the right soundtrack can be the difference between a video that grips your audience from start to finish and one that they can barely get halfway through.

Play a fitting soundtrack or jingle in your video, and you can grab your audience’s attention and evoke the specific emotions and feelings you want them to associate with your brand. Neglect the musical aspect of your video, and people might actually think less of your brand.

In a 1994 study that tested music’s effect on brand attitudes, half the participants watched an apple juice commercial with music while the other half watched it without music. 23% of participants who saw the apple juice commercial with music reported that one of the beverage’s benefits was “drinking a natural drink”. But out of the participants who watched the commercial without music, only 4% reported the same belief about the apple juice brand.

Music can make your videos much more captivating, impactful, and, in turn, convincing. So whether you’re creating fun social media videos, persuasive product videos, or even serious training videos, you must remember that music can separate your video from the rest of the pack.

Resonance is arguably more important than reach.

For most marketers today, reach is the metric they want to see growing on a consistent basis. But without strong emotional resonance, having a wide reach doesn’t really matter. So before you start optimizing your videos for algorithms, remember to optimize them for humans first and craft the most compelling content you possibly can.

video marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Alexa Skills Marketing

By now, marketing teams all over the world are familiar with the concept of SEO. You know all about keywords and search engines and using high-quality links.

But are you prepared to market toward voice search?

A GlobalWebIndex search report revealed that 27 percent of consumers already use voice search on their mobile devices, and 34 percent confirmed that they are interested in having voice-based smart assistants in their homes.

That’s on top of the nearly 53 million U.S. adult consumers who already use a voice-activated smart device at home. These numbers will only grow, so any business hoping to stay on top of consumer trends needs to be implementing an Alexa marketing strategy. And the best way to get started is by turning to the maker of Alexa itself — Amazon.

In 2014, Amazon introduced the Echo, which was the first standalone device devoted to a smart voice assistant. Competitors like Google soon followed with devices like Google Home, and consumers responded enthusiastically. A study by eMarketer predicted that about 35 million people in the U.S. would use voice-activated devices at least once a month in 2017, up 128 percent from 2016.

If you think you might be interested in using voice-activated smart devices to supplement your marketing strategy in 2019, consider using Alexa Skills, which allows brands to provide customers with the ability to interact with their products or services in a conversational way. To learn more, keep reading.

Why You Should Have an Alexa Skill for Your Business

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re in the same place as many marketers these days — you might be on the fence about Alexa for business, wondering how to decide whether creating and operating an Alexa Skill is right for your team. To answer this question, it’s critical you figure out whether Alexa Skill will allow you to reach your target audience.

For example, is your brand positioned toward consumers, or other businesses? While Alexa is becoming increasingly integrated with business tools, it is still primarily a household feature, so it makes the most sense for B2C businesses.

Additionally, there are two main purposes for using Alexa Skills — building brand loyalty, or creating direct revenue.

Building an Alexa Skill for your brand can improve the convenience of your product or service, without necessarily driving revenue. Even without a direct tie to sales, improving convenience can nonetheless help you enhance your user experience, and make consumers more likely to interact with your brand without interrupting your daily routine.

Alternatively, you might use Alexa Skills to create direct revenue for your business.

How You Can Use Alexa for Business

Let’s say you’re a marketer for a regional bank. You create a Skill for a user to check his balance, direct a payment, or transfer funds using voice command. By making it more convenient for customers to manage their finances, your brand obtains a reputation for being innovative and helpful. This, indirectly, creates revenue by driving conversions.

Making money directly from your Alexa Skill is possible, as well. E-commerce businesses have more tools than ever to make online shopping easy for customers, and more profitable for brands.

For instance, Purina is a well-known leader in the pet food market. Despite its success, Purina chose to use Alexa Skills to improve its customer experience. The skill it created, Ask Purina, uses Amazon AI to answer customers’ questions about products. Additionally, it serves as an authority on dogs in general. Users can “Ask Purina” about current or future products, and get answers to queries like, “What breeds are best with children?” or “Find me dogs that don’t shed.” With this Skill, customers can find the information they need, as well as a new reason to stay loyal to the company.

Tide has also created its own Alexa Skill. The company’s Tide Stain Remover Skill offers its users step-by-step instructions via voice on how to eliminate about 200 forms of stains so users can implement the steps in real time. Consumers already recognize Tide as an expert in caring for stains — this Alexa Skill is merely an extension of that, building on the company’s reputation and improving goodwill with consumers.

Where You Can Implement Your Own Alexa Skills Strategy

Now that you know why you should have an Alexa Skill for your business, as well as how it can benefit you, there are a few different ways to strategize for your company’s custom Alexa Skill. Here’s how to get started.

1. Establish a content marketing plan.

The Purina example above demonstrates an actionable way to build a positive brand reputation without selling a product. Content marketing is an excellent way to build and nurture relationships with both current and prospective customers — an Alexa Skill simply provides a convenient way to achieve that goal.

Identify the content your team already has and how it can be modified to fit a voice-specific strategy. Alexa Skills are activated when users ask specific questions or use particular “utterances” that you set, so make sure your best pieces of content include those phrases so your Skill will pull them up to deliver via voice.

Purina is a great example here — the company has created content about dog breeds to showcase its expertise, and when customers ask, “Which dog breed is best for an apartment?” the company’s Alexa Skill can deliver that content.

Content marketing campaigns are known to create more than three times the number of leads than outbound marketing does — and they cost 62 percent less. Your Alexa Skills plan should complement your company’s existing content strategy and should be a natural extension to the queries your customers are conducting in other formats.

2. Leverage Alexa for e-commerce.

Amazon has made voice technology easy for e-commerce businesses to roll out because it benefits Amazon, too. There are now several ways to make money with Alexa Skills. When people buy things online, chances are they’re using Amazon to do so. If you sell products online, it might not be ideal to sell through Amazon, but it can be worth it if an integrated Skill can boost your sales by a large enough margin.

In 2018 alone, Amazon e-commerce sales totaled about $258.2 billion, an almost 30 percent increase from 2017. With Amazon taking up nearly half of the e-commerce market, it stands to reason that if you’re operating within Amazon’s platform, you’ll be able to snag a piece of that pie. And with an Alexa Skill related to your product, users who use voice search and shop on Amazon will have an easier time ordering your products.

Take Tide, for example — customers who use that company’s Skill to find stain removal tips can also use their voice to order Tide products. That takes a step out of the purchasing process, allowing consumers to buy those products without pulling up the Amazon app or website and clicking through all the available options.

3. Unveil a voice-activated loyalty program.

Some brands are driving a higher level of loyalty with programs that offer credits or points to users who make purchases using Alexa Skill. With a voice-enabled loyalty program, your brand is more likely to stay top of mind among Alexa users when they need to stock up on a product like yours.

Bridge2 Solutions debuted its Points Pal offering in 2017 and is reportedly the first voice-activated reward experience. With Points Pal, brands can make interacting with their existing rewards programs possible with voice commands such as “Tell me my points balance”, “Put this item in my favorites list”, or “Let’s pay for this using my points and credit card”.

Considering that customers who are part of a loyalty or rewards program tend to spend more than customers who are not, setting up a loyalty program and making it accessible via voice can add a bonus benefit when you’re setting up your Alexa Skill. Additionally, it’s important you ensure the program can be launched across different smart assistants, so that even if your customers are away from their Echos, they can still keep track of their points using other voice-based services.

Not using an Alexa Skill for your business doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be left behind. But depending on your brand and the market in which you’re operating, you might be — especially considering the increasing number of consumers who own smart speakers and use them regularly. Optimize your Alexa marketing strategy now to avoid falling behind your competitors.

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The Ultimate Round-Up of Content Marketing Tips

In 2019, there are now over four billion active internet users, and over three billion social media users, worldwide — simply put, that’s a ton of opportunity for your brand to engage with an audience and achieve massive growth for your business.

One of the most effective methods for spreading brand awareness and attracting new customers to your business is through content marketing.

Content marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on creating, publishing, and distributing valuable and relevant content online, with the purpose of reaching a targeted audience and incentivizing profitable customer action. Ultimately, customer marketing is a critical component for long-term, sustainable growth.

And yet, despite its immense impact, many marketers don’t know how to implement a successful content marketing strategy. In fact, 63% of businesses don’t even have a documented content strategy.

To ensure you’re able to cultivate a truly valuable content marketing strategy in 2019, we’ve created this round-up of content marketing tips — keep reading to become a true content marketing expert.

1. Make sure your content has a clear, measurable business goal.

You might be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content you can create for your business — anything from Instagram Stories, to blog posts and e-books, to podcasts.

However, as Karla Cook, Editor and Manager of HubSpot’s Marketing Blog, notes, “[It’s critical] every single piece of content you’re creating has a clear, measurable business goal in mind — and simply ‘getting views’ isn’t a complete business goal.”

“Take the time to think about how content can serve your overall marketing strategy, and create pieces that tie back to that.”

For instance, let’s say you decide you want to lean heavily into a blogging strategy. Simply crafting and publishing content isn’t enough — instead, it’s important you identify your target audience, and decide how your content can best serve that audience. Additionally, you’ll want to use analytics to ensure your content is able to reach the right people with the right search intent.

Once you identify how to serve your audience, you’ll want to ask yourself, “How does this tie back to the business?” While it’s critical you write quality content to grow your audience, it won’t help attract prospects if it doesn’t tie back to your business.

Take a look at This Strategy Helped the HubSpot Blog Break a Year-Long Traffic Plateau to learn more about cultivating a business-focused strategy for content creation.

content-marketing-ann-handley

2. Understand your buyer’s journey.

A good content marketer understands that her strategy needs to engage and delight a reader at any stage of the buyer’s journey. While your content should be used to initially attract new visitors to your site, it should also be used to convince hesitant prospects to purchase, and encourage customer retention and long-term brand loyalty.

For instance, perhaps you understand many customers become hesitant to purchase your product because they believe you need extensive video knowledge to succeed with it. To help mitigate concerns and aid your sales team, you might create a video campaign to show customers how to use video marketing in 2019.

3. Rely on analytics to track your performance.

Quality content is important, but it doesn’t mean much for your business if your visitors and viewers don’t convert into customers. This is why analytics is so important — by carefully monitoring, tracking, watching, and reporting on the numbers, you’ll be able to gauge what’s working, what isn’t, and what could be working better.

Traffic is important, but it’s important you also focus on conversion rates. Perhaps your Instagram account has only 1,000 followers — alternatively, your blog has 7,000 readers. However, your Instagram page has a conversion rate of seven percent, and your blog only converts at about .01. This should tell you that, while your blog is important for an initial introduction to your business, your Instagram is critical for sales, and shouldn’t be ignored.

Additionally, focusing on analytics will help you refine and improve your strategy for the future. For instance, let’s say you notice your blog readers are particularly interested in your blog topics related to e-commerce. This can help direct your future strategy — you can choose to focus more heavily on e-commerce topics, which will increase traffic (signaling your readers are happy with your content), and ensure you’re spending time and effort where it matters.

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4. Keep content consistent and up-to-date.

Victor Pan, Head of Technical SEO at HubSpot, urges content strategists to implement simple SEO tactics to ensure their content remains up-to-date and relevant to search engines. He says, “You can tell if being up-to-date is important to your topic if ‘keyword+year’ shows up in the ‘related searches’ of a Google search result.”

To ensure your content remains relevant and updated, Pan recommends the following three tips:

  • Exclude the year in the URL when you’re optimizing your content. Cool URLs don’t change.
  • Include the year in the title of your content.
  • Schedule your editorial calendar to revisit this content every year so you can keep it up-to-date, which could include updating the title tag, meta description, and content itself.

It’s important to note, if you do implement an optimization strategy, it’s critical you don’t update the URL. The URL should remain the same to ensure you don’t need to re-earn backlinks. Additionally, you don’t want to create unnecessary redirects.

Additionally, consistency is key. Publishing consistent content will help you rank in the SERPs, but it will also establish trust in your readers and viewers.

5. Adopt a historical optimization strategy.

A few years ago, the blogging team at HubSpot figured out the importance of adopting a historical optimization strategy. Through repurposing old (yet still high-quality) content, the team was able to double monthly leads, and increase monthly organic search views by an average of 106%.

Ultimately, you don’t want old content to go to waste. If a topic is particularly evergreen (like “how to create a blog”), it makes sense you’d put time and effort behind repurposing the topic.

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6. Repurpose your content.

It takes time and talent to craft highly useful, engaging content — so, by finding ways to recycle existing content, you’re ensuring peak efficiency. Additionally, repurposing content allows you to reach a new audience. For instance, let’s say your podcast team published a high-performing podcast episode. Why not turn that episode’s topic into a blog post?

Alternatively, maybe you created a blog post that performed significantly well — now, you might consider creating a YouTube video that covers a similar topic, to reach an audience that prefers video over text.

Repurposing your content will also ensure your audience has more than one chance to see it. Your readers, viewers, and followers are busy. Consider simply implementing a new content promotional strategy on a piece of content that deserves to be resurfaced.

7. Ensure your brand voice remains steady across channels.

Whether you visit Spotify’s Twitter page, YouTube account, or stumble across one of their billboard advertisements, you can quickly get a sense for the brand’s funny, candid, youthful voice. This is what makes me feel connected to Spotify — its unwavering brand consistency, regardless of the channel on which I choose to engage.


Image courtesy of Adweek.

Even if you have a marketing team of 30, it’s critical you continue to produce similar messaging that aligns with your brand’s voice and values across channels. A viewer should be able to watch one of your YouTube videos and then click a link to a blog post and think, “Ah, yes — this is definitely the same company.”

If you need help crafting or refining a brand voice, check out How to Find Your Brand’s Voice [SlideShare].

The 14 Best Autoresponder Software in 2019 (Plus Free Autoresponders)

Nowadays, email marketing is an integral component of any marketing strategy. In fact, 59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI.

When it comes to email marketing, the autoresponder sequence is a commonly used but often under-appreciated part of the process.

Autoresponders are a way to dip your toes into email automation. They’re typically the simplest form of marketing automation to execute when setting up your campaigns — but, when done well, they can be incredibly powerful for bringing in additional customers and revenue.

Here, we’ll cover what autoresponders are, and which autoresponder software solutions you might consider implementing for your own business.

You can choose the number of messages that appear in an autoresponder sequence, and you can choose when they’re delivered. For instance, some autoresponder sequences only have one follow-up message, which is sometimes just a “Thank you” message for subscribing to the email list:

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In other cases, the autoresponder can be quite robust, and deliver a series of on-boarding emails that escalate in persuasion, sometimes culminating in a sales pitch. This is typical in digital industries, where your email list is the primary sales channel to launch your products.

For example, Ramit Sethi starts his autoresponder sequence with a friendly and informational email message:

Over the course of several emails, the reader will eventually receive a sales pitch (or a few email sales pitches). This allows the reader to warm up to your brand, and your content. By the time you’re offering your product or service, you should’ve already provided a ton of informational value, like this:

Sometimes, an autoresponder can act as the actual lead magnet used to get someone to sign up for your list. A good example of this is gated email courses.

CXL, for instance, uses a gated “enterprise conversion optimization” email course to get people to sign up for their list. The deliverable is just a time-based sequence of email lessons — in other words, an autoresponder.

While the execution can be quite different depending on your business, your industry, and your goals, all autoresponders allow you to automate email sequences based on timing and email sign-up form.

Next, let’s dive into some of the best solutions on the market.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot offers one of the most powerful autoresponder capabilities on the market. Particularly if you’re using other tools in HubSpot’s Marketing Hub, such as our form builder and popup forms, you can easily set up auto-response emails upon form submission.

At a high level, there are two ways to send an email response to contacts who submit a form on your page:

  • Set up a follow-up email in the form options on your HubSpot page
  • Send an automated email through a workflow (Marketing Hub Professional and Enterprise only)

For the former option, it’s quite a simple setup. You simply set up a follow-up email to be delivered upon form submission (full instructions here).

However, through HubSpot’s workflows you can get quite robust with your targeting and follow-up email assignment. For instance, you can break things down by contact property data you’ve collected, like company size or which service the subscriber is interested in. This allows you to tailor your follow-up emails to ensure they’re more helpful and personalized for the user.

In addition, you can set a sequence of several autoresponder emails, and can also include behaviorally triggered messages — the options are pretty much endless.

If you’re just using HubSpot’s form builder, you can still easily integrate with another autoresponder solution in this list to get a simple setup working.

2. GetResponse

GetResponse is a full-suite marketing platform that offers tools including landing pages, webinars, and forms, but their most powerful tool is likely their email automation functionality.

Like others in this list, GetResponse can trigger emails based on multiple criteria, such as behavioral triggers, contact property triggers, and time-based triggers (i.e. autoresponders).

Their autoresponder feature is actually quite flexible. You can build email follow-up sequences with the following features:

  • Unlimited messages per day
  • Advanced timing control
  • Simple cycle management
  • Day-of-the-week selection
  • Drag-and-drop message management
  • Quick message edits

Sometimes I’ve found the usability of GetResponse to feel complicated when trying to do advanced automation, but building time-based autoresponders is incredibly simple to accomplish.

It depends on your list size and requisite features, but GetResponse pricing starts around $10 per month (which includes basic autoresponders, and a list size of 1,000).

3. Aweber

Aweber built one of the first well-known autoresponder softwares, and it’s still widely used and loved.

Aweber is a bit more expensive to start out ($19 per month for up to 500 subscribers), but the tool gives you all the critical features you need to implement an impressive autoresponder email system. This includes segmenting, analytics, sign-up forms, templates, and even stock photos.

If you want a straightforward solution for a relatively small email list (anything over 25,000 emails gets quite a bit pricier), Aweber is a good solution.

4. Klaviyo

Klaviyo is well-known and loved in the e-commerce world, and they have some of the coolest email automation features, particularly for behaviorally triggered emails.

With Klaviyo, you can trigger an autoresponder email sequence for basically any event you can measure (as long as you have the contact’s email address). This opens up all kinds of possibilities, such as abandoned cart emails, thank you emails after a purchase, customer satisfaction surveys after a time window after a purchase, and cross-sell emails given a certain item purchased.

It’s important to note, Klaviyo is built for e-commerce, so it’s relatively stock built for things such as abandoned cart emails. If you’re in e-commerce this is a plus, but in other industries, the feature set can be a bit complicated for what you want to accomplish.

Of course, if you just want to build a simple four-email sequence after an email list sign up, it’s easy enough to do.

Klaviyo offers a free tier (up to 250 email addresses). Once you hit that threshold, it starts at $25 per month and goes up quickly from there (for instance, it’s around $1000/month for 78,000 contacts).

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5. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is one of the world’s most popular email marketing tools, and they have a great (albeit simple) autoresponder functionality.

I like two things about Mailchimp:

  1. It’s simple to use.
  2. It’s free to start.

For those two reasons, the barrier to entry is incredibly low. So, for businesses with fewer than one thousand email addresses, it’s a good solution.

However, I’ve found that, as you scale and your automation becomes more complicated, Mailchimp becomes a bit too difficult to manage. It’s hard to know which email is going to whom, and when.

Again, you can begin for free, but after that the cost starts at $20 per month.

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6. ConvertKit

ConvertKit is an email marketing platform built for creators (i.e. bloggers, podcasters, designers, etc.). It’s incredibly useful for marketers who focus on inbound marketing.

ConvertKit platform’s is simple and easy to use, although it does include other features to help build your inbound marketing program — including forms, analytics, and their newer automation feature set.

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Pricing starts at $29 per month and that tier goes up to 1,000 email subscribers.

7. Autopilot

Autopilot is an email marketing, messaging, and automation platform that has billed itself as the easiest marketing automation platform to use. They have a visual editor that is quite clear and easy to understand (even without being a master automation nerd).

Of course, their platform allows for quite sophisticated messaging and targeting, although you can surely create a simple autoresponder based on a time-sequence as well.

Pricing starts at one dollar per month for up to 500 contacts, and then begins at $25 per month for more than 500 contacts. They include a 30-day free trial, as well.

8. Constant Contact

Constant Contact is a simple, easy to use, and popular email marketing tool. It includes basic features, such as templates, list building tools, a drag-and-drop editor, and autoresponder sequences.

It’s been a few years since I’ve used Constant Contact, but it’s the platform on which I initially learned email marketing. I enjoyed it somewhat, but found it to be frustrating when trying to edit templates, and also for any advanced email targeting. Although it may have changed, I think Constant Contact is best for relatively simple cases.

Their most basic package starts at $20 per month, which goes up to 500 contacts.

The 6 Best Free Autoresponder Software Tools

Some of the tools listed above have free or incredibly cheap plans, such as Klaviyo and Autopilot ($1 per month). However, if you’re looking for a full list of the best free autoresponders that offer incredible value, we’d recommend the following six.

Ultimately, choosing the best autoresponder is difficult. It’s not as straightforward as asking, “How much does this cost?” or “What features does this tool have?”

Instead, it’s also about asking, “Which autoresponder software is best for my particular business?”

This question leads you to reflect on what your current tech setup is (which CRM you use, for instance), and how you plan on growing and using marketing automation in the months and years to come.

For what it’s worth, HubSpot has an affordable introductory plan and we’ve structured our email automation plans to help you grow. So you can expect powerful and simple-to-use features at the startup level, and then as you grow, our autoresponders will still support you, even at the enterprise level.

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How to Create a Pinterest Pin Your Followers Will Flock To

When you first join Pinterest, pinning seems simple. You upload an image and a link to a board you have, and voila — you’ve got a pin. The fervor sets in and you begin to pin all the things you can find: photographs, infographics, logos, icons. As long as it’s an image, it gets pinned.

But if you’re trying to grow your business through Pinterest, that strategy won’t help you at all.

Sadly, you can’t pin a million things and expect people to click through to your content every time. You’ve got to make each pin count.

Optimizing pins instead of posting willy-nilly isn’t hard. It just calls for more thought into your brand: What exactly are you pinning? What does it say about your business? Why should your audience (and ultimately, your customers) care?

Keep reading to learn how to create your own pin, as well as the most important parts of a pin your audience will want to pin themselves.

1. Click the plus sign (+) at the top of your Pinterest profile.

To create your first pin, navigate to your profile by clicking your name and/or profile picture on the top-righthand corner of Pinterest.

2. Select “Create Pin” from the dropdown menu.

On your profile page, above the interest boards you selected when creating your Pinterest profile, click the plus sign icon (“+”) and select “Create Pin” from the dropdown menu that appears, as shown below.

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3. Upload an image file from your computer and add a destination link.

If you’re using a desktop computer, clicking “Create Pin” from your Pinterest profile page will bring you to the pin-creation form shown below.

create-a-pin-on-pinterest

The first thing you’ll do is upload an image to represent your pin. You can do this in two ways:

  • By uploading an image file you have saved on your desktop and adding a destination link (if you use this method, keep reading through this step)
  • By entering the URL of the website hosting your image and then selecting your desired image (if you use this method, skip to step 4)

To upload an image file from a folder on your computer, simply click the gray box and select the image file from the window that appears on your screen. You can also drag the image file itself directly into this gray box.

Once your image is uploaded, click “Add a destination link” on the bottom-righthand corner of the form and enter the website you want this pin to link to when users click on it.

4. Enter a destination link from which to save an image from that website.

If the image you want to pin already lives online somewhere, click “Save from site” beneath the gray image-upload box, and enter the URL of the website. This will be the website your image automatically links to when your pin goes live.

In the window that appears, you might see more than one image to choose from — these are all the images Pinterest found living on the webpage you’re linking to. Scroll until you find the image you want to pin, and select it.

5. Title your pin.

With your image successfully uploaded, it’s time to optimize your pin with appropriate text. Click the “Add your title” preview text and give your pin an enticing preview that best represents the content of your pin — and the website to which the image links.

For example, if you’re pinning an image of a denim outfit, and linking to the purchase page of that outfit, you might title your pin “New Denim Wear by [Company Name].”

6. Add a pin description.

Add a description for your pin beneath your title, up to 500 characters. Keep in mind only the first 50 characters of your pin description will appear beneath the image in user’s Pinterest newsfeeds. We’ll talk about how to optimize your pin description in the next section of this blog post.

7. Choose a Pinterest board to add your pin to.

Your final task before saving your pin is to add this pin to a “board.” As a Pinterest user, you can create boards that sort your pinned content based on your various interests.

select-pinterest-board

To select or create a board for this pin, click “Choose a board (required)” beneath your pin’s destination link. You’ll be taken to the page shown above, where you can choose or create a board that best represents the type of content you’re currently pinning.

8. Click “Save” to create your Pinterest pin.

Once you’ve selected a board to add your pin to, return to the pin-creation form and hit the red “Save” button at the top of your screen. Follow the prompts to push your pin live, and you’ll be all set.

The Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Pinterest Pin

pinterest-pin-example

1. High-Quality Image

This seems like the most obvious of them all … but it has to be said. Images should be about 736 pixels wide (when expanded) with no pixelation. In general, tall images work best as they will appear on the screen longer while people are scrolling through their feed, but you don’t want your images to be overwhelmingly long.

There are lots of ways to make your pins look more beautiful, but if you’re just getting started, sticking to a large, high-resolution image will work. You don’t have to create every image you pin (though if you want to, here are some free tools to help you), but you should stay away from pinning cheesy stock photos — Pinterest users love inspirational, beautiful photos or graphics, or images that are extremely helpful, clever, or informational.

2. Accompanying Title and/or Descriptive Picture

Besides being high quality, the image should be indicative of what’s at the pin’s link. You don’t want to mislead your Pinterest followers with an image that doesn’t match up with the accompanying link — it feels like a bait-and-switch.

Instead, choose an image that reflects the link’s contents. If you’re struggling to convey an abstract concept, feel free to add text to your image to describe it. The above example didn’t need that — the icons themselves conveyed what was behind the link: free downloadable icons. If you want an example of a great pin with text on it, check the one out below. Without the title on the image, the pin wouldn’t nearly be as strong — people would have no idea that this was an ebook they could download.

Moral of the story here: make sure that people know what’s inside the pin so they feel enticed to click. If you feel like the image isn’t pulling its weight on its own, add text. That little bit of text could make the difference between someone clicking on your pin or not.

3. Links With UTM Parameters

Although you might provide a link to the content you’re promoting in the pin’s description (which we’ll talk about in step 5, below), it’s just as important to include this link in the image you’re pinning. If the image you’re pinning already lives somewhere online, this is easy to do — you’ll simply add the website link first, then select the image you want to pin once this link has been entered.

What Pinterest won’t prompt you to do, but you should do anyway, is add a UTM code to the end of this link. UTM codes, also known as tracking tags, allow you to identify where your website traffic came from if it didn’t come organically from a search engine. In this case, you can add a UTM code indicating when your website traffic came from a Pinterest pin.

New to using UTM tracking codes? Get the low-down on how they work here.

4. Attribution

Attribution goes both for pins you create yourself and pins you post from other people’s content. It’s really easy to get content stolen on Pinterest, so you want to make sure you’re always giving credit where credit is due and protecting yourself if others won’t do the same for you.

It’s pretty simple: If you’re pinning someone else’s content, give them credit in the description or the link you’re connecting to your pin. If you’re pinning your original content, add your logo or website URL in the photo — if folks share your content without attributing it to you, people will still know where it came from. In the example above, this is a design HubSpot made, so we threw up our logo in the background — it’s not intrusive, but it helps identify the image as ours.

5. Snappy, SEO-Rich Description

A pin’s description is one of the most overlooked parts of a pin — scroll through Pinterest and you’ll see lots of pins without any at all. Even though others are doing it, you shouldn’t. If you’re trying to use Pinterest to build your business, you can’t forget the description — it could have too big of an impact on your results.

Keep your copy concise, yet enticing. Tell readers what they’ll get if they click on the pin. Pinterest allots up to 500 characters of space for a pin description, reserving the first 50 characters for what will appear on most user’s Pinterest newsfeeds. All things considered, pins with descriptions around 100 characters are often ideal to maintain brevity while enticing users to click your pin.

Also make sure you’re using SEO-friendly terms to describe the content behind the pin so your pins can successfully rank in search engines. Notice in the example above we also include the phrase “we’re hiring” in Spanish to optimize the pin for keywords used by Spanish-speaking professionals — the target audience for this particular pin.

6. Call-to-Action

Even on Pinterest, where it’s a standard practice to click on links, people need a little overt reminder to click. Even though you have a link in the pin itself, add a little call-to-action in the description to the pin’s link — it could pay off big-time for you.

*Rich Pin Information

I know what you’re thinking: Why is this one a star instead of a number? Did Ginny make one huge typo in the middle of her blog post?

Nope — this is a special placeholder for Rich Pins. You’ll notice that the image isn’t one. Rich Pins pull extra data into a pin whenever you or someone else pins specific things from your website. If you’re a web developer, you can apply to Pinterest for permission to feature information on products, movies, articles, recipes, or places. Here’s an example of a Rich Pin featuring an adorable greyhound:

etsy_rich_pin_example

See that information right below the title of the pin? You can see that this wall art is in stock and costs $15 without having to click through.

The reason I included this as a star is because not all businesses can realistically use Rich Pins … but if your business can, you absolutely should. Rich Pins can perform much better than their not-so-rich counterparts. In fact, according to Shopify, 39% of “pinners” on Pinterest are more likely to be active shoppers than non-pinners, and 93% of Pinterest users are on the platform to explore potential purchases.

If you’re looking to optimize your Pinterest presence to the fullest and have content that could fall in a Rich Pin category, figure out how to get them enabled for your website’s content.

7. A Lot of Other Great Pins

This is kind of a trick element because it’s not technically in the pin itself, but because of the way the pin layout looks when expanded, I had to include it here. Try clicking on a pin in Pinterest — when you expand the pin, all the other pin images from the user’s board are pulled in. This gives you more opportunities to engage with your Pinterest followers all without doing a thing.

To make sure you’re optimizing the other pins on the board, all you have to do is follow all of the tips above for each pin. With a little more mindfulness when pinning, you’ll have more and more opportunities to grow your business through Pinterest. Sounds like a sweet deal to me.

Pinterest Templates

The Best Time to Post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & Pinterest

Social media is one of the best ways to amplify your brand and the great content you’re creating. But it isn’t enough to just post content to social whenever you feel like it. Some times are better than others.

So, what are the best hours to post on each social media channel?

Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer. People browse each social network differently, and businesses may find different days and times work best for them. For example, while Twitter sees tweets perform well at hours like 6 PM, Pinterest sees certain posts perform well as late at 2 AM.

These aren’t your only (or best) times, though. Good post timing depends on the platform you’re using, as well as on how your target audience interacts with that platform, the regions and corresponding time zones you’re targeting, and your marketing goals (e.g., clickthroughs versus shares).

However, there is ample data out there on the best time to post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. The great folks at CoSchedule recently looked at a combination of its own original data and more than a dozen studies on this very topic — from the likes of Buffer and Quintly, just to name a couple — and created a helpful list of ideal posting times based on industry trends across today’s most popular social networks. The industries they analyzed include:

  • B2C
  • B2B
  • Software
  • Healthcare
  • Media
  • Higher Education

Bookmark this post as a go-to set of guidelines, and refer to it next time you need to find the optimal posting times for your business.

With many businesses facing a growing global audience, varying time zones have become a growing concern, especially when it comes to the best times to post.

To start, let’s take a look at the U.S. About half of the country’s population is in the Eastern Time Zone, and combined with the Central Time Zone, that accounts for over 75% of the total U.S population.

Given that sizable share, if you’re targeting a U.S. audience, try alternating posting times in Eastern and Central Time Zones — we’ll get into those specific times in a bit.

If you’re targeting users outside of the U.S., conduct some research to find out where they live and which social media channels they’re using. That kind of data is available through studies like Smart Insights’ Global Social Media Research Summary, or We Are Social’s annual Digital Global Overview.

1. Best Time to Post on Instagram

Instagram is meant for use on mobile devices. Approximately 60% of its U.S. users use the app daily, though it would appear that many engage with content more during off-work hours than during the workday.

  • On average, the best times to post on Instagram across industries are 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM, during lunch and the end of the typical work day, respectively.
  • B2B organizations have the most times of high-clickthrough rates to choose from: 12:00 – 1:00 PM, 5:00 – 6:00 PM, and even as late as 8:00 – 9:00 PM when people are winding down for the day.
  • The best day to post on Instagram is Friday.

2. Best Time to Post on Facebook

People log in to Facebook on both mobile devices and desktop computers, both at work and at home. How it’s used depends heavily on the audience.

  • On average, the best time to post across industries is 9:00 AM, when people are just starting work and going online for the first time.
  • Facebook sees another increase in clickthrough rates between 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, when folks are take their lunch break.
  • The hours of 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM are also promising posting times for B2C, B2B, software, and higher-ed organizations.
  • The best days to post on Facebook are Thursday to Sunday.

3. Best Time to Post on Twitter

Like Facebook, people use Twitter on both mobile devices and desktop computers, both at work and at home. How it’s used also depends heavily on audience — but people often treat it like an RSS feed, and something to read during downtimes in their day, like commutes, work breaks, and so on.

  • Good times to tweet average around 8:00 – 10:00 AM, as well as 6:00 – 9:00 PM — which makes sense, given that it correlates with both morning and evening commutes.
  • B2C companies have the most hours to choose from where they would see heightened clickthrough rates on their content: 8:00 – 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and then 7:00 – 9:00 PM.
  • If your goal is to maximize retweets and clickthroughs, aim for noon or 5–6 p.m.
  • For B2C companies, the best days to tweet are weekends. For B2B companies, the best days to tweet are weekdays. Coincidence? Not really. If you think about it, people shop for business needs when they’re working (weekdays) and personal needs when they’re off work (weekends).

4. Best Time to Post on LinkedIn

Roughly 25% of U.S. adults use LinkedIn, largely for professional purposes, during weekdays and the work hours. It’s used with slightly less frequency than some of the other channels on this list.

  • Aim to post on LinkedIn between 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM.
  • B2C, media, and higher-ed organizations have the narrowest windows for when to post for maximum performance: 12:00 PM, 8:00 AM, and 10:00 AM are their best times, respectively.
  • The best day to post on LinkedIn is Wednesday.

5. Best Time to Post on Pinterest

Pinterest users skew heavily female, and 29% of users are active on this channel on a regular basis.

  • The best times to post on Pinterest are 8:00 – 11:00 PM and, interestingly, 2:00 – 4:00 AM. This could indicate some interest in the platform in non-North American time zones, which means global content is all the more important here.
  • Contrasting many of the other channels we’ve listed here, evening commutes tend to be some of the worst times to post to Pinterest. That could be due to the fact that it’s not as “browseable,” with many pins requiring navigation away from the channel.

There you have it, folks. Keep in mind that although each social network sees its engagement and clickthrough rates increase at specific hours and days of the week, your how much engagement you get depends on your audience and content you publish for them. Perhaps you’ve established a weekly video series that your audience always expects to see on Friday morning. In this case, don’t listen to the data above — you have an agreement with you followers, and this day and time works just for you.

Happy posting, tweeting, and pinning.

Free Template Social Media Content Calendar

11 Free Microsoft Excel Templates to Make Marketing Easier

Many of us can recall a time in high school when we were sitting in math class and thinking, “When am I ever going to use this stuff in the real world?”

And then we suddenly find ourselves in the real world, only to realize that numbers actually do play a pivotal role in what we do — especially in digital marketing.

The trouble is, many marketers are right-brained, meaning Excel spreadsheets riddled with numbers and formulas aren’t all that inviting. Making them from scratch can be especially intimidating.

While we won’t argue with that, we will say that the advantages of leveraging Excel’s functionality to organize information and streamline tasks are unparalleled. To help those of you looking for a way to sharpen your skills, we’ve put together a detailed list of ways you can start using Excel to simplify your marketing tasks. Complete with templates, these suggestions will have you making strides in no time. Know what’s even better? You can download this full collection of Excel templates in one fell swoop.

Free Excel Spreadsheet Templates That Make Marketing Easier

1. A Marketing Budget Template

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While marketing budgets vary from business to business, the need for structure and a clear sense of alignment between your goals and your spending is critical across the board. To ensure you’re always prepared for unanticipated costs, it’s important that you’re not only allocating your budget thoughtfully and properly, but that you’re also keeping tabs on how closely you’re sticking to your projected expenses.

If you want to avoid a mess at the end of the month or quarter, take a look at this collection of 8 marketing budget templates, designed to help you organize your marketing spend better. From product marketing, to website redesign, to content marketing, to events, these templates serve as a guide for marketers to visualize and track their expenses to avoid overspending.

The collection also contains a master marketing budget template that’ll help you generate a high-level visualization of your marketing budget on both a month-by-month and quarterly basis.

Download the marketing budget templates here.

2. Social Media Posting Schedule

social-media-post-schedule-templateYou might already use a social media scheduler to manage and publish your posts every week, but you still need a place to draft your social copy and decide which posts will go to which social networks.

And because most social media schedulers allow you to upload social post copy in bulk, from a spreadsheet, it behooves you to have an Excel template designed for this purpose. With that in mind, we created the Excel template shown above.

This social media posting schedule allows you to draft each social post, the date/time it is to be posted, the message you want to publish, and any link you want to accompany your message (that link could be a blog post, registration page, an ebook landing page, you name it).

Once you’ve drafted all of your social posts for the week, month, or quarter, you can sort them by social network and upload your Excel file into your social media platform of choice.

Download the social media posting schedule here.

3. A Blog Editorial Calendar

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Blogging plays a significant role in your ability to attract visitors and leads to your website. But managing a blog is one of those responsibilities that’s easier said than done.

Whether you’re struggling with ideation, consistency, or simply just lacking organization, an editorial calendar can often serve as the solution you need to refocus your blogging efforts and generate even more traffic and leads from your content. Visualize the blog posts you plan to publish in a given week or month makes it easier to define overarching themes, keep track of ideas, manage contributions, and prioritize strategic distribution.

Use this editorial calendar template as the starting point for keeping track of all of your business’ content. It’ll help you be more mindful of topic selection, buyer personas, keyword inclusions, and CTA alignment.

Download the blogging editorial calendar template here.

4. A SMART Goal Matrix

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Whether you’re planning for a new year, quarter, or month, defining a clear set of goals is critical for driving the direction of your marketing efforts and priorities.

Do you need help not only setting marketing objectives, but actually achieving them? Start with these SMART goal planning templates. Rooted in specificity, measurability, attainability, relevancy, and timeliness, these templates will help you set your team up for success while providing you with a tool for identifying your greatest marketing needs.

Download the SMART goal planning templates here.

5. An On-Page SEO Template

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When it comes to SEO, there’s a lot for marketers to remember in order to see results. (Put another way, there’s a lot for marketers to forget.) With search engines evolving and algorithm changes turning your existing strategy on its head from time to time, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and push off revamping your SEO strategy. However, SEO should never be treated like an afterthought.

If you’re looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, pull up this handy SEO template created in Excel. Designed to make the process of managing your SEO efforts a whole lot easier, marketers can use this template to guide their strategy step-by-step or pass it off to their webmaster to serve as a helpful guide. It focuses on not keywords and SEO best practices while providing tips and tricks to identify nuances and increase productivity.

Download the on-page SEO template here.

6. A Google Ads Campaign Tracker

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If you’re doing your Google Ads campaigns right, they probably aren’t exactly walks in the park. That’s because to get the most bang for your buck, you’ve set up multiple campaigns with multiple ad groups and have variations of your campaigns — all with different content. Not only that, you’re (hopefully) also keeping track of those campaigns to determine which ones to shut off, add more money to, or tweak.

Sounds like a lot to keep track of, right? But take a deep breath. This Google Ads tracking template can keep you on top of your Google Ads game. It’ll help you catch mistakes and implement best practices across all the different campaigns and ad groups you’re running — for the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. Not to mention, it’s a perfect complement to that SEO template you’ve started using.

Download the Google Ads tracking template here.

7. A Social Media Content Calendar

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Since you’re probably generating tons of clicks from your Google Ads campaigns and writing awesome content thanks to your blogging editorial calendar, you’re going to need some help figuring out how to spread the love on social. We’ve got just the thing.

The social media calendar template is the perfect resource for helping you scale and streamline your social media marketing. When you use Excel to break out separate worksheets for each social network you’re using, you’ll be able to keep a repository of content ideas so you’re never struck by writer’s block, and always have something to post.

It’s also worth mentioning that Excel really comes in handy when it comes to Twitter, as it has the ability to count your characters to help you write tweets that stay within the 140 character limit.

Download the social media content calendar template here.

8. A Service-Level Agreement (SLA) Template

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It’s no secret that sales and marketing are known to have a pretty rocky relationship history. Sales might think marketing isn’t generating enough leads, while marketing might think their sales reps aren’t capitalizing on the leads they’re sending over. When it comes down to it, though, finger-pointing doesn’t grow a business.

In an effort to better align your sales and marketing teams, turn to this template for creating a service-level agreement (SLA). Generally speaking, an SLA is a contract that defines the expectations sales has for marketing leads (both quantity and quality), as well as the expectations that marketing has for how sales will act on qualified leads.

With this customizable SLA template in your toolbox, you’ll have the information you need to reduce tension, define a concrete monthly lead generation goal, track and measure the success of specific lead generation channels, and keep close tabs on your current sales close rates.

Download the service-level agreement (SLA) template here.

9. A Leads and Traffic Goal Calculator

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You have to set a leads goal, but you don’t know where to start. Then, once you finally figure that out, you have to determine how much traffic you need to hit that goal … but you’re not sure what approach to take there, either.

Sounds like you could use hand calculating your leads and traffic goals. Luckily, there’s an Excel template for that. Rather than try to sort of these numbers on your own, this template is designed to take care of the math and leave you with a clear picture of what you need to accomplish in order to achieve your traffic and leads goals and ensure the health of your inbound marketing strategy.

Download the leads and traffic goal calculator here.

10. Your Monthly Marketing Metrics

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Is there a feeling sweeter than hitting all of your goals for the month? How about communicating your success to your boss? Excel spreadsheets can be used to prepare comprehensive reports of your marketing metrics to send off to your boss — and there’s no need to work from scratch. (After all, you’ve already so worked hard this month.)

To simplify your reporting, check out these monthly marketing metrics templates (and the corresponding PowerPoint template). Each, month, you can update them quickly and easily to reflect your monthly visits, leads, customers, and conversion rates. From there, you’ll have everything you need to accurately track and report on which channels are performing best. Every boss loves to see ROI, so you can’t go wrong with these templates.

Download the monthly marketing metrics templates here.

How do you use Excel to streamline your marketing? Share your favorite techniques, tips, and templates in the comment section below.

11. Essential KPI Tracker

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If you’re a fan of the monthly metrics template — item #10 on this list — you might want to grab a copy of this template as well. The essential KPI tracker, shown above, takes the metrics your marketing team has agreed to track and describes them in more detail.

KPI stands for “key performance indicator” — they’re basically your most important metrics, each with a unique purpose and place in your marketing strategy. Using this template, you can assign specific employees to each KPI, define the frequency at which you’ll monitor each KPI’s performance, and assign each KPI a color that reflects the quality of that KPI’s performance.

If one of your KPIs is organic traffic, for example, you can set up your template such that 100 page views per month is red (poor performance), 500 page views/month is yellow (stable performance), and 1000 page views/month is green (great performance).

Download the essential KPI tracker here.

Want more Excel tips? Check out these Excel formulas, keyboard shortcuts, and tips.

free excel templates for marketing