Category Archives: Mobile Marketing

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

marketing-product-budget-template-1

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

blog-editorial-calendar-templates-1

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

SMART_Goals_Excel_Templates.png

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

SEO_Templates_Excel.png

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

google-ads-campaign-template

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

Social_Media_Publishing_Calendar.png

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

service-level-agreement-sla-template

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

Traffic_and_Leads_Calculator_Excel.png

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

Monthly_Marketing_Metrics_Excel.png

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

essential-kpi-tracking-template

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

Your Google Rank Doesn't Matter Anymore

For a long time, keyword rankings were a staple part of any SEO campaign. In a lot of cases they were a primary metric used to judge performance.

Today, your Google keyword ranking is just one of several reasons your traffic can increase or decrease.

Just six or seven years ago, we had so much more information on the keywords users were searching to reach our web content. All of this information was available transparently within Google Analytics, and you could get relatively accurate search volume estimates from within Google’s Keyword Tool.

>” src=”https://no-cache.hubspot.com/cta/default/53/bd685600-02f9-40f3-a4e7-18488a8d79ba.png”>

The first major update that changed this was Google’s move to encrypted search and the dreaded appearance of “not provided” within Google Analytics. This means you can no longer find out which keywords are bringing in the organic traffic your website is receiving. The “not provided” tag looks a little something like this:

keyword-not-provided-google-analytics

This created a ripple effect across many SEO software providers that made a lot of their tools less effective — or at least tougher — to measure the impact coming from organic search on a granular level.

Google’s next major change — a more recent one — was its decision to move search volume estimate within their Keyword Planner tool to show estimates in broad ranges. Instead of learning that a keyword was being searched for 1,400 times each month, we’re told that it’s searched between 1k-10k times per month. This isn’t overly helpful when developing your content strategy.

These changes have forced marketers to adapt their search strategy to focus less on individual keywords and shift to a topic-centric content strategy, especially for content sitting at the top of their marketing funnel.

Keyword Rankings are Inaccurate

One of the major criticisms of keyword ranking data is the fact that it is largely inaccurate. Many industry leaders and even software providers of rank tracking data have admitted that this is the case.

The reasons behind this can be broken down into three broad buckets:

  1. Personalization.
  2. Device.
  3. Location.

Personalization

Around the time of the launch of Google+, the SEO industry was talking a lot about personalization within search. Even after the death of Google+, personalization has remained a big consideration.

Bonus points if you remember Authorship snippets (circa 2012).

Ultimately, Google will deliver results that are personalized to a user based on their search history. This means that if I were to search for a query like “electric cars” and I’d previously been browsing the Tesla website, it’s a possibility that Google would tailor the rankings of the search results to show Tesla near the top.

This wouldn’t be the case for someone that hasn’t previously visited Tesla’s website, which makes it very tough to determine which website actually ranks #1 (because it can be different from one person to the next).

Device and Location

Whilst personalization plays a part in the ambiguity of keyword rankings, it’s nothing compared to the role of implicit query factors like device and location.

One of Google major advancements in search over the past five years has been its ability to take into account aspects of a search query that aren’t explicitly stated. To make sense of what I’ve just said, let’s take a query like, “Boston restaurants”.

Go back to 2010 and a search for “Boston restaurants” would yield a list of relatively generic websites that either talk about Boston restaurants or maybe are a restaurant.

Fast-forward to 2018 and a simple search for “Boston restaurants” will arm Google with a whole lot more information than before. They’re able to see which device you’ve searched from, where you’re located whilst you’re searching, even if you’re currently on the move.

Let’s say that you searched on an iPhone and you’re walking around in the center of Boston at 11:30 am. Here’s what this query would actually look like to Google:

“Which restaurants are currently open for lunch within walking distance of my current location in the center of Boston, MA?”

Google Maps results with location search for Boston restaurants

They’ve gathered all of this information without the individual even having to type it. As a result, they’re able to completely tailor the search results to this individual searchers’ current situation.

So … to answer the question of who ranks #1 for “Boston restaurants” becomes an even more challenging task.

Keyword Rankings are Directional at Best

Strong keyword rankings don’t always equate to high volumes of organic traffic, let alone improvements in revenue. As I mentioned at the beginning, we’ve lost a lot of visibility on search volume metrics, which makes it very difficult to accurately estimate the amount of traffic you can gain from an individual keyword. Factor in the changing appearance of the search engine results page (e.g. the widespread increase in featured snippets) and it becomes an even more daunting task.

If keyword rankings are your North Star, you may be traveling in the completely wrong direction.

Here are three search features that can interfere with your keyword rankings while presenting you with opportunities to capture traffic from Google in new ways:

Featured Snippets

Featured snippets are the enhanced search results that appear at the very top of Google SERPs. They’re a form of “rich snippet,” a grouping of structured data that Google has collected from a webpage. And due to their size, they can take an extraordinary amount of traffic away from the the results beneath them.

google-featured-snippet

What makes featured snippet results so important? Publishers can earn them regardless of their Google rank. That’s right, it is entirely possible for a site below position #1 on the SERP to win this top-dwelling space, making Google rank noticeably less important for topics that are vulnerable to them. Check it out below — as you can see, the featured snippet is pulling in a result that technically ranks in position 3, allowing it to steal organic traffic from the results in positions 1 and 2.

Videos

Video is playing an increasing part in content marketing strategies, and not for superficial reasons. Videos published to any platform, not just YouTube, are now ending up on SERPs where Google has determined the intent behind a search query is best served in this medium. 

google-video-carousel

These video results might take away traffic from publishers, but they also allow you to “rank” for keywords you might not have written content to target.

Image Packs

Image packs are large groupings of images that Google pulls into its SERPs from the Images tab in a Google search. As you can see below, they can be so large that they take up all the space “above the fold” of a SERP. This makes results ranking in position 1 for a particular keyword hard-pressed to capture organic traffic from that keyword unless they’ve published images dedicated to (and optimized for) this keyword.

google-image-packs

When all you’re obsessing over is where each page is tracking against a ranking goal, you’ll likely be misses a ton of other value that your content is bringing in. For example, what if you’ve built out some content with the primary goal of driving backlinks or social traffic, but it isn’t necessarily designed to rank for much itself (e.g. a research report)? Using keyword rankings as a determining factor of success could evaluate content in a completely inaccurate way.

Measuring Performance at the Topic Cluster Level

To combat a lot of the issues I raised above, we shifted the way that we measured content at HubSpot. For the past couple of years we’ve taken a step back from analyzing the performance of content on a page-by-page level and looked at the performance of content at the topic cluster level.

Organic search traffic and conversions are our primary search goals, so when we group our content into clusters to try and gain visibility for any searches related to a given topic, we look at the collective performance of these groups of webpages vs just the performance of individual pages.

This model of analysis helps us account for the varying goals of each individual piece of content. Also, running this analysis at scale tells us which topics tend to drive more traffic growth compared to others, and which topics tend to convert traffic at a higher rate.

This information tends to provide much clearer insights for the team as to what they should focus on next without obsessing over individual keyword rankings.

Is There Still a Place for Keyword Rankings?

Despite everything I’ve said above, I’m not actually saying that keyword rankings are dead (I can already see the tweets ready to be fired at me!). Keyword data can be useful for digging into any SEO problems that happen to your site, and also to look into the intent behind certain types of searches.

That said, the new version of Google Search Console that has just recently been rolled out should give you pretty much everything you need here.

More than anything, as a marketer you need to be aware that the data that you’re looking at related to keywords is not 100% accurate. As a result, this should never be your primary performance metric.

 
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Unstructured Data Vs. Structured Data: A 3-Minute Rundown

Most marketers think being data-driven means using web metrics to inform every decision they make. But that’s not actually being data-driven. That’s being Google Analytics-driven. To truly be data-driven, we must remind ourselves of the actual definition of data — all types of information.

One of the most insightful types of information is qualitative data or unstructured data. It can reveal your customers’ true opinions and feelings toward your brand, which is challenging to extract from quantitative data or structured data.

Even Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, is a passionate proponent of using qualitative data to drive strategy. “The thing I have noticed is when the anecdotes and the data disagree, the anecdotes are usually right. And there’s something wrong with the way you are measuring (your data),” he explained during an onstage interview at George Bush Presidential Center last April.

Bezos’ love for customer feedback shouldn’t compel you to supplant quantitative data with qualitative data when strategizing your next marketing campaign, though. It should compel you to inform your strategy with both sources of data. By combining the insights pulled from web metrics and customer feedback, you can get a full understanding of your marketing program’s effectiveness.

If you want a deeper explanation of what qualitative or unstructured data and quantitative or structured data is, check out this quick rundown of what both data sources exactly are and which tools you can use to store and analyze them.

Since you can’t store and organize unstructured data in typical databases, you need to store them in Word documents or non-relational (NoSQL) databases, like Elasticsearch or Solr, which can perform search queries for words and phrases.

Additionally, since you can’t use standard data analysis methods and tools to pull insights from unstructured data, you can either manually analyze or use the analysis tools in a NoSQL database to examine unstructured data. However, to use these tools effectively, you need a high level of technical expertise.

If you can successfully extract insights from unstructured data, though, you can develop a deep understanding of your customer’s preferences and their sentiment toward your brand.

Be Data-Driven, Not Just Google-Analytics Driven

In a world where Google Analytics can spit out every metric under the sun, you must remember that qualitative data, like customer feedback, is just as crucial for informing your marketing strategy as web metrics. Without unstructured data, you won’t have a clear understanding of how your customers actually feel about your brand. And that’s crucial for every marketer to know.

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How We Grew Our Organic Reach 185% on Facebook

In 2018, Facebook enacted some algorithm changes that negatively impacted a brand’s ability to reach its audience organically.

HubSpot’s Latin America & Iberia Marketing team were no exception to this.

Despite having half a million Spanish-speaking fans on our Facebook page, we realized we were barely able to reach one percent of them — which is pretty shocking, if you think about it.

That meant, despite years of work building up our Facebook audience on the platform, that we weren’t even able to communicate with our fans when we had something interesting to say.

Unless, of course, we paid.

But, from our perspective, paying to talk to people who already know about HubSpot, and presumably already like us, didn’t sound the right thing to do. It also didn’t seem to align with our goal of creating sustainable, genuine connections with our audience.

After months of suffering a down-trend on our Facebook numbers, and finding out about an increasing number of Facebook updates, we reached a turning point when we realized we needed to change our social strategy — and, more fundamentally, the way we thought about Facebook.

Here, we’re going to explain the six fundamental changes we made to our Spanish-speaking Facebook strategy to increase our organic reach over two and a half times.

How To Increase Organic Reach Despite Facebook’s Algorithm Changes

1. Think of Facebook as a publishing platform.

Traffic was one of the main metrics we used to measure our Facebook performance in the past. As many brands do, we saw Facebook as a portal to our website — a channel to obtain traffic.

In fact, Facebook has traditionally be one of the most important sources of traffic for many businesses … so it would be foolish not to tap into it, right?

Unfortunately, that was the case for the old Facebook. In the last couple of years, however, Facebook has carried out many updates for the same underlying goal — to keep users on Facebook longer, and increase engagement on the platform itself. As a consequence, external links are not held in very high regard.

Now, brands that only use Facebook as an amplifying channel for their websites, or blog, are going to suffer the most from the algorithm changes.

We were part of that group.

Once we realized our old strategy wouldn’t work on the new Facebook, we knew we needed a mindset change — something many brands are likely unwilling to do.

To succeed on Facebook, we began thinking of Facebook as a publishing channel. This fundamentally meant creating quality content to be consumed directly on Facebook — no links.

Okay, I know what you are thinking now: What happens with my traffic then? How do I convert all those people?

This is what scares most people — you don’t. You grow your brand awareness, and grow your reach. People may not be on your website, but they are still seeing your content and your brand, so when they are ready to buy or need something from you, they will remember you. You will be top of mind.

And magic will happen.

2. Play by Facebook rules (engagement, engagement, engagement).

Facebook’s algorithm favors certain types of content. And those algorithm-favored pieces of content are put in front of more people — and, as a result, get more engagement.

Of course, those favored content types are constantly evolving at Facebook, as the company continues to try to improve the engagement of its users. So it’s critical you remain flexible and willing to experiment with content types as you enact your own Facebook strategy.

For us, videos have been our best bet over the past year, and have worked wonders for us — once we recognized the power of video, we moved from less than 10% video content to 50% video content, which consistently gets higher reach than any other type of content.

3. Break up with paid boosting.

Along with the change to our organic strategy, we also changed the way we approach boosting posts on Facebook.

We came to the conclusion that boosting is not a sustainable strategy to get people’s attention on Facebook. We slowed down our spending to focus on organic-only, and to understand which type of posts work for us — and which didn’t.

Once we started to see improvements in our organic reach and were happy with our overall strategy, we started investing again on boosting posts but, unlike in the past, we now only boost high-performing posts to generate extra engagement and reach, not clicks.

This approach reinforces our overall strategy and allows us to spread our net wider when it comes to brand awareness.

Additionally, it’s important to note we keep our paid social strategy completely separate from our organic strategy, since those teams have varying tasks and goals.

4. Change the way you measure success.

A year ago, we used number of likes as our main growth indicator for social — now, we see that number is meaningless.

Measuring the number of likes a post gets is no longer a good metric to determine the success of your Facebook strategy. There is no point in having 500K fans if your posts are being seen only by 5K. I’d rather have 100K fans, and have most of them see my posts regularly — wouldn’t you?

As a consequence, we came to the conclusion that we should move away from likes, and instead adopt a reach metric to measure our performance.

Of course, total reach can be easily manipulated by playing with frequency — but a metric like Average Reach per Post is something we felt could help us most accurately measure our performance, and how many people are exposed to our brand regularly.

5. Keep it organized.

Giving some structure to your social posting might sound like a basic tip, but it really gave us the consistency and focus we needed for Facebook.

We implemented a detailed social calendar and divided the posts by categories, allowing us to be more effective when creating content. It also enabled us to work better as a team. For instance, we allocate some weekly slots to areas of the business we want to surface, such as the Flywheel or Academy, and created social content with that in mind.

This structure also helps us to better analyze which posts perform best, and adapt our social calendar on an ongoing basis.

6. Consider alternatives.

Not everything works as planned. We have tested some ideas that have failed — alternatively, good-performing ideas have lost momentum.

#MartesEnVivo, a weekly Facebook Live broadcasting series, was our Tom Brady for months. Every week, it would be our top-performing post, driving up engagement and reach numbers.

But nothing lasts forever. When introducing more and more video content as part of our social content, we noticed that #MartesEnVivo was losing momentum, and the performance was not good enough for all the effort we were putting into it.

However, the content we shared in #MartesEnVivo was unquestionably valuable for our users, so we recently decided to spin the series and relaunch it on YouTube with a different name and different format.

The plan with this is to take advantage of YouTube search nature to make the lifespan of these videos longer — and, also, to free up some precious slots on Facebook for ephemeral videos that perform better there.

This will happen to you as well, so it’s always a good idea to keep in mind that Facebook is not the only social network that businesses can use.

There is always a channel for good content.

Our Results

The results have been surprising, even for us. We knew this was the right approach, but we never anticipated such a big improvement in our metrics in only five months.

Ultimately, we saw an average 185% increase in organic reach per post. We also saw a significant increase in all the metrics related to video-viewing on Facebook.

Over the next year, we are going to strive to push these numbers even further by continuing with this strategy, and trying new formats that can give us an extra push.

facebook-organic

Facebook Stories, for instance, is receiving a lot of attention from the Facebook community — so it’s definitely something on our radar.

Ultimately, Facebook’s algorithm changes can be scary and frustrating for your company, but it can also serve as a major opportunity for new growth. By changing your Facebook strategy to respond to Facebook’s changes, you just might find new avenues to reach, and impact, an even larger audience.

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How to Create Infographics in Under an Hour [15 Free Infographic Templates]

Wouldn’t it be great if creating infographics was as simple as writing regular old text-based blog posts? Unfortunately, making visual content like this usually takes a lot more time, effort, and let’s face it — skill — than the written word. Usually.

But considering the popularity and effectiveness of visual content in marketing today, you can’t just afford to throw in the towel.

That’s why we decided to take all the pain and suffering out of infographic creation. Seriously — don’t give up just yet. You, too, can create infographics that are professional-looking, high-quality, and completed in under an hour. I’m going to prove it. First things first:

Download our 15 free infographic templates here.

Then, all you have to do is provide the content to use inside them. Easy as that. In fact, I’m going to show you just how easy it is to make your own infographic by demonstrating with one of our 15 infographic templates in PowerPoint (pictured above). Then, I’ll explain exactly what I did so you get a sense of how easy it really is.

Want to watch and listen to the instructions as you read the steps below? Check out the video below:

1. Identify the audience for your infographic.

Infographics don’t sell themselves on design alone. You need to deliver “info” that’s just as compelling as the “graphic,” and to do that, you need to know the audience your infographic intends to reach.

According to Harvard Business Review, there are five possible audiences that can change how you choose and visualize your data: novice, generalist, managerial, expert, and executive. Start by comparing your infographic’s ideal reader with one of these five audiences — which one applies to your reader?

When thinking about the data you want to visualize, let the five audiences above dictate how advanced your data will be. A “novice” audience, for example, might need data whose meaning is more obvious at first blush. An “expert” might be more interested in getting into the weeds of your numbers and posing theories around them. An “executive” has more in common with a novice audience in that they only have time for the simplest or most critical information, and the affect it’ll have on the business.

2. Collect your content and relevant data

Using the audience you’ve chosen above, your next step is to organize all the content and data you’ll use in the infographic. You can either collect third-party data or use your own original data. If you use third-party data, just be sure you properly cite your sources — just like in any other good piece of content.

Organizing Your Data

When collecting your data, make sure you know what story you want to tell through this information. Data for the sake of data won’t add value to your infographic at all.

Compelling data needs to be “comprehensive” enough to give your readers proper context around the data you’re presenting. For example, a spike in website traffic from one month to the next doesn’t mean much — until, say, you reveal that traffic was on a steady decline over the previous three months. Suddenly you have a story of how you were able to reverse a downward trend.

Citing Your Sources

To keep your infographic uncluttered by a ton of different source URLs, a great way to cite your sources is to include a simple URL at the bottom of your infographic that links to a page on your site. You can also list the individual stats used in your infographic, and their sources — such as the landing page to the full offer on which you’re basing this free infographic. I’ll show you what this citation looks like in a minute.

That way, your infographic looks clean and professional, yet people will still be able to access the sources no matter where the infographic gets shared or embedded. It may also even drive visitors back to your site.

3. Choose your desired infographic template.

Your next step is to choose an infographic template appropriate for representing that data. The important thing is to choose a template that specifically works for the type of data set/content you want to present. As you saw pictured above, you can download our 15 infographic templates in PowerPoint and choose whichever template you’d like.

Some of your template options in the offer linked above include a timeline, flowchart, side-by-side comparison, and a data-driven infographic. Here are some basic ideas for choosing an infographic template that suits the story you want your data to tell:

  • Side-by-side comparison infographic: This infographic design can help prove the advantage of one concept over another, or simply explain the differences between two competing entities.
  • Flowchart infographic: This design is perfect for presenting a new workflow for your organization, or how a linear or cyclical process works across your industry.
  • Timeline infographic: This design can tell a chronological story, or history, of a business, industry, product, or concept.
  • Graph-based infographic: This design is suitable for content creators publishing a high volume of data and statistical information, making it a good fit for expert-level audiences, too.
  • Image-heavy infographic: This design caters to content creators who are trying to reveal trends and information from shapes, designs, or photography — rather than just numbers and figures.

4. Download your template to PowerPoint.

For the sake of time (remember, our mission is to create an infographic in under an hour), I’m going to create an infographic based on a compilation of steps and best practices we’ve put together in our new guide, How to Run an Inbound Marketing Campaign in 2018. For this, I’ve picked the “World’s Greatest Timeline” infographic template from our collection of infographic templates, which is helpful for my data set since it outlines each step of the campaign creation process in order.

The timeline infographic template is pictured below, and full of opportunities to make it your own:

5. Customize your infographic

Obviously, this is the most time-consuming part — but it’s also the most fun. Simply come up with a catchy title, plug in your data/content, and adjust your font sizes and formatting. Feel free to switch up the graphics and colors, too, so they’re relevant to your brand and the data you’re providing. For other templates, you can use the simple graphs and charts provided by PowerPoint to create things like the bar graph or the pie chart. (Note: Download our free infographic templates for a cheat sheet for using PowerPoint’s various features and tools.)

To customize the look of the infographic even more, you might add or change up the colors or font styles.

6. Include a footer with your sources and logo.

Finally, I included a link to my source (which can be found here), as well as the HubSpot logo so people know who created the infographic if it gets shared in social media or embedded on other websites — which is definitely something you want, since one of the main benefits of creating infographics is their shareability.

That’s it! This whole thing took me under an hour to put together — much shorter than it would’ve taken me if I’d started from scratch (not to mention more professional looking … and less expensive than hiring a designer). Here it is:



free timeline infographic template customized

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<p><strong>Please include attribution to blog.hubspot.com with this graphic.</strong><br /><br /><a href=’https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/create-infographics-with-free-powerpoint-templates’><img src=’https://blog.hubspot.com/hs-fs/hubfs/free_infographic_template_custom-1.png?t=1519094621186&width=1138&height=3412&name=free_infographic_template_custom-1.png’ alt=’free_infographic_template_custom-1′ width=’660px’ border=’0′ /></a></p>

7. Add embed code and a Pinterest button, and publish it.

The only thing left to do is to publish and promote your awesome new infographic. As I mentioned earlier, we recommend using your blog to publish it (including your list of sources), including a Pinterest button for visitors to easily “pin” your infographic on Pinterest, and create and add an embed code for visitors to share it on their own websites and blogs, as we did above.

Want more? Read How to Create Top-Notch Visual Content in PowerPoint [Tutorial].

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3 Easy Ways You Can Speed Up a Video

Transitions are arguably the most important element of any piece of creative work. Whether it’s an article or video, engaging someone throughout its entirety requires you to elegantly weave your individual ideas and thoughts together into a cohesive narrative. Otherwise, if you abruptly hop from one point to another, you’ll throw your audience off and confuse them, increasing the likelihood that they’ll disengage with your work.

If you’re a video editor, you know that one of the most common and effective transitions when creating videos is shooting a clip in slow motion, and then speeding up the ending during post-production. To show you how to do this, we’ve put together a guide that fleshes out three easy ways you can speed up a video and, in turn, craft engaging transitions in Adobe Premiere Pro.

1. Use the Speed/Duration command in Adobe Premiere Pro.

If you want to use the Speed/Duration command in Adobe Premiere Pro to speed up one of your videos, follow the instructions below.

1. In your Timeline Panel or Project Panel, select one or multiple clips.

2. Click “Clip” and then choose “Speed/Duration”.

Image Credit: Adobe

3. Change your clip speed to your desired percentage. The higher your percentage, the shorter the duration of your clip will be.

4. To keep your clip’s audio at its original pitch, click “Maintain Audio Pitch”.

2. Use the Rate Stretch tool in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Premiere Pro’s Rate Stretch tool adjusts your clip’s duration by altering the clip’s speed so the entire clip fits within the desired duration, no matter how much you shorten it. To use this tool to speed up one of your clips, follow the instructions below.

1. Click on the Rate Stretch tool

2. Shorten your clip by dragging either edge of it in toward the middle of your clip. This will speed it up.

Image Credit: Adobe

3. Use the Time Remapping tool in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Time Remapping is another tool in Adobe Premiere Pro that you can use to speed up one of your video clips. To do this, follow the instructions below.

1. Right-click on your clip, select “Show Clip Keyframes”, “Time Remapping”, and then “Speed”.

2. After you do this, the clip will be shaded blue and a horizontal line will appear across it. To increase the speed of your clip, drag the line up toward the top. The change in speed will be displayed as a percentage of your clip’s original speed. Time Remapping doesn’t alter your clip’s audio.

Image Credit: Adobe

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51 YouTube Stats Every Video Marketer Should Know in 2019

In 2005, when I was 10 years old, a kid from my neighborhood was bear hugging a fallen tree trunk that bridged across our creek and yelled, “I better not see this on YouTube!”

That was the first time I’d ever heard of YouTube. And it definitely wasn’t the last time I’d hear about it. YouTube has experienced explosive growth since it was founded in an office garage in 2005. Just one year after its inception, it was attracting more than 65,000 new video uploads and 100 million video views per day. A couple of months later, the high-growth startup was acquired for over $1 billion by a titan in the tech industry — Google.

Since then, YouTube has opened up avenues for brands to advertise on their videos and, in turn, let content creators earn a living just by making videos. This potential for monetization has incentivized content creators to craft the most engaging videos possible and host them on the platform, which has enabled YouTube to become the second most trafficked website and the second largest search engine in the world.

As a video marketer, you already know how crucial building a YouTube presence is for boosting your videos’ and brand’s visibility. But if you just started your brand’s YouTube channel or need some help convincing your boss to double down on your YouTube efforts, we’ve got you covered.

Check out these 51 stats about the platform’s mobile usage, its demographics, subscriber growth, general usage, and history that can help you build your YouTube following or persuade your boss to focus more of your efforts on the video platform.

51 YouTube Stats Every Video Marketer Should Know in 2019

YouTube Mobile Stats

4. On mobile devices alone, YouTube reaches more adults aged 18-49 during prime time than any cable network does in an average week.

5. 75% of adults report watching YouTube on their mobile devices.

6. More than 70% of YouTube watch time is generated from mobile devices.

7. YouTube mobile ads are 84% more likely to hold attention than TV ads.

8. Over 50,000 years of product review videos have been watched on mobile devices over the past two years.

9. In 2018, YouTube was the most popular IOS app.

YouTube Demographics Stats

10. Over 90% of 18-44 year old American internet users watch videos on YouTube.

11. Over half of American internet users who are aged 75 and over watch videos on YouTube.

12. Over 50% of YouTube’s audience is female.

13. 59% of Generation Z (16-24-year-olds) have increased their YouTube usage since last year.

14. 46% of millennials (25-34-year-olds) have increased their YouTube usage since last year.

15. 70% of millennial YouTube users watched a YouTube video to learn how to do something new or learn about something they’re interested in.

16. 15.8% of YouTube users are from the United States.

17. YouTube attracts the most visitors from the United States, India, Japan, Russia, and China.

18. YouTube is available in more than 91 countries.

19. YouTube is available in 80 different languages.

YouTube Subscriber Growth Stats

20. The number of channels with more than 1 million subscribers increased by more than 75% since 2017.

21. The number of YouTubers who earn six figures per year has increased by more than 40% since 2017.

22. The number of YouTubers who earn five figures per year has increased by more than 50% since 2017.

23. The top ten YouTubers earned 42% more revenue in 2018 compared to 2017.

24. PewDiePie is the most popular YouTube channel, with 85 million subscribers.

25. The most popular branded YouTube channel is LEGO, which has over 7.1 million subscribers and has received over 8.7 billion views.

YouTube Usage Stats

26. YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine.

27. YouTube is the second most trafficked website behind Google.

28. YouTube users collectively watch over 46,000 years of content each year.

29. 68% of YouTube users watched a video to help them make a purchase decision.

30. 80% of YouTube users who watched a video to help them make a purchase decision said they watched the video at the beginning of the shopping process.

31. 95% of the most popular YouTube videos are music videos.

32. 47% of on-demand music streaming was listened to on YouTube.

33. There are twice as many small- and medium-sized businesses advertising on YouTube since 2016.

34. Four times as many people prefer watching video on YouTube rather than on social media platforms.

35. YouTube users watch more than 180 million hours of content on TV screens every day.

36. YouTube users are three times more likely to prefer watching a YouTube tutorial video compared to reading the product’s instructions.

37. “Relaxing” and “feeling entertained” are the top two reasons viewers watch YouTube.

38. Relaxation videos like soap cutting and slime playing experienced a 70% increase in watch time in 2018.

39. Comedy, music, entertainment/pop culture, and “how to” are the four most popular content categories on YouTube.

YouTube History Stats

40. “YouTube.com” was activated on February 14, 2005.

41. “Me at the zoo” was the first video uploaded to YouTube on April 25, 2005.

42. Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion on October 9, 2006.

43. YouTube launched InVideo ads in December 2007.

44. YouTube streamed the United States presidential debates for the first time in 2012.

45. The youngest YouTuber is Ryan ToysReview, who is a 7-year old boy who makes $11 million a year and has 18.2 million subscribers.

46. “Gangnam Style”’s surge in popularity broke the video’s view counter.

47. YouTube provides a free space in Los Angeles where YouTubers with over 10,000 subscribers can learn, connect, and create videos with each other.

48. The first YouTube video that reached one million views was a 2005 Nike ad that featured football star, Ronaldinho.

49. The YouTube video that received the most views in 24 hours is Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” music video, which attracted 55.4 million views in a single day.

50. The most liked video on YouTube is the music video for the song “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee. It has received over 31.96 million likes and boasts an 89.25% like percentage.

51. YouTube’s own YouTube Rewind 2018 video is the most disliked video on the platform. It has received over 16 million dislikes and owns an 86.53% dislike percentage.

YouTube for Business

The Ultimate Guide to Crowdsourcing

When Charlie Jabaley, co-founder of the artist management and marketing firm Street Execs, released one of his first client t-shirt designs, the euphoric high he felt in the morning plummeted to a heartbreaking low by night.

He had only sold a total of eight t-shirts.

With famous clients like 2 Chains and Travis Porter, Jabaley’s pressure to succeed was already stifling. But this failed merchandising campaign had just jacked it up to suffocating. Instead of freaking out and sulking about his woes, though, Jabaley took a step back and breathed in some well-needed fresh air.

He decided to frame this embarrassing flop as an opportunity to learn. And after some deep reflection and analysis, he dug up a silver lining that would eventually lead to a multi-million dollar model for merchandise design.

The silver lining Jabaley plucked from the shambles of his failed campaign was realizing he needed to focus on his customers more. More specifically, he needed to understand their’ true preferences. So rather than following the standard formula of merchandising — which was designing products based off a whim, buying hoards of inventory, and then marketing them — he broke conventional thinking by reverse-engineering the process.

Before he bought inventory, Jabaley would post merchandise designs on Instagram and use follower behavior and feedback to help him scrap unpopular designs and turn popular designs into merchandise.

By following his new method, Jabaley knew exactly what his customers wanted and what they were willing to buy, allowing him to solely focus on creating products that had proven demand, avoid wasting precious cash on unwanted inventory, and unload a huge amount of risk off the merchandising process.

Eventually, Jabaley’s method for determining which merchandise designs would sell, and which would not, helped him produce his first merchandising hit — a Dabbing Santa sweater that generated $2.1 million in only 30 days.

Image Credit: Shopify Plus

Charlie Jabaley isn’t the first person to inform his product design using the public’s opinion, though. It’s actually a method that iconic brands like Budweiser, Pepsi, and Oreo have leveraged for years — a method called crowdsourcing.

What is crowdsourcing?

When businesses crowdsource, they ask the public for ideas, information, and opinions to help them craft better products and services. By crowdsourcing, companies can tap into a huge group of people’s expertise and skill sets, ensuring diversity of thought, expedited production, and cost-cutting, since they don’t need to hire new, in-house employees.

Companies who crowdsource usually break massive projects into individual tasks, which allows them to assign hundreds or thousands of people small jobs that they can work on by themselves.

Companies can also crowdsource on social media to gauge people’s opinion on their new product releases or updates. Additionally, companies can run contests to see who can create the best marketing material for them — like a logo, jingle, or commercial.

To help you fully grasp the concept of crowdsourcing, here are some concrete examples of the practice in action.

Crowdsourcing Examples

1. Waze

 Image Credit: Mashable

Waze is a community-based GPS traffic and navigation app. Their users, which has grown to over 90 million around the globe, report real-time traffic and road information, like police traps, accidents, road hazards, traffic jams, and the cheapest gas stations near your route. All of this crowdsourced information allows users to help each other reach their destinations promptly and safely.

2. Unsplash

What started out as Mikael Cho’s fun side project on Tumblr, taking half a day and $19 to create, eventually turned into his flailing startup’s top referral source and became its own standalone company — Unsplash.

Unsplash experienced hockey-stick growth because their service offered the ultimate remedy for a huge pain point in the content marketing space — free, unlicensed stock photos. And by using their initial boom in buzz and traffic to convince photographers to contribute free photos to their library as a way to market their art, Unsplash has successfully fostered a community of over 110,000 photographers, built a library of over 850,000 photos, and generates more than nine billion photo impressions per month.

3. Contently’s Freelance Rates Calculator

 Contently, a content creation platform that also connects brands with freelance talent, built a freelance rates calculator to provide more transparency across the industry and help freelancers better negotiate their rates.

By combining their public freelance rates database, where freelancers anonymously submit the rate they received from various companies, with their platform’s own internal data, Contently has crowdsourced precious information from freelancers in order to help the entire freelance community earn a fair rate in the future.

4. Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl

 “Time Machine” is arguably one of Doritos most memorable commercials, but you might be surprised that it had a budget of $300 and only took six hours to make. Well, that’s because it was created by an aspiring filmmaker who entered the spot into Doritos’ annual Crash the Super Bowl contest in 2014, and won the whole thing.

Frito-Lay, Dorito’s conglomerate, ran Crash the Super Bowl every year from 2007 through 2016, awarding the winner with a huge cash prize and an airing of their commercial during the Super Bowl. And by offering such a can’t-miss opportunity, which allowed them to tap into tens of thousands of people’s creativity, Doritos could associate some of the most unforgettable Super Bowl ads with their brand.

If you’re a freelancer looking for work or a brand looking for talent, check out the following crowdsourcing sites.

1. Fiverr

Fiverr is a freelance service marketplace that empowers freelancers. Instead of being a platform where freelancers search for jobs posted by brands, Fiverr is a place where brands search for freelancers with the expertise and skills for which they’re looking. Most freelancers on Fiverr offer skills and expertise in graphic design, digital marketing, writing & translation, video & animation, music & audio, programming & tech, business, and lifestyle.

2. Upwork

Similar to Fiverr, Upwork is a freelance service marketplace where freelancers create profiles, and then brands can hire them for short-term tasks, recurring projects, or full-time contract work. Most freelancers have skills and expertise in web development, mobile development, design, writing, administrative work, customer service, sales, marketing, accounting, and consulting.

3. CrowdSource

Trusted by brands like Target, Coca-Cola, and Major League Baseball, CrowdSource has trained, tested, and qualified a community of over 200,000 freelancers who can provide copywriting, content moderation, data entry, and transcription expertise and skills. Brands can also search for freelancers by the agency, marketing, publishing, retail, and service provider industries.

4. Contently

Contently is a content creation software that connects enterprise brands with freelance talent, so they’re constantly on the lookout for freelancers who can fulfill their clients’ needs, as well as their own.

If you’re a freelance creative looking for gigs with some big brands, you can register as a freelancer on Contently’s platform and create a free portfolio. You’ll need to get approved and complete their training before you can work with any of their clients, but once you do that, you’ll be apart of their freelance network.

If you’re a brand looking for freelancers to help you craft original stories, check out Contently’s platform here.

5. Skyword

Similar to Contently, Skyword is a content creation software that also connects enterprise brands with freelance talent. If you’re a videographer, writer, photographer, or designer, you can create a portfolio that Skyword’s clients will have direct access to.

If you’re a brand looking for freelance talent, check out Skyword’s platform here.

Crowdsourcing Jobs

If you’re interested in working a crowdsourced job, check out the following gigs you could find in each of the job categories below.

Marketing

Writing

Videography

Design

Photography

Animation

Web development

Mobile development

Editing Jobs

Copy editing

Content evaluation

Content moderation

Proofreading

Administrative

Virtual assitant

Customer service

Usability testing

Audio transcription

Social media post categorization

Image and video processing

Image categorization

Data Jobs

Data entry

Data research

Data categorization

Data processing

Data verification and clean up

Research Jobs

Information gathering

Price checking

Product display checking

Business location verification

Web research

Google searching

Odd Jobs

Making deliveries

Cleaning

Dog walking

Survey taking

case study creation kit - guide + template

5 Link Shorteners to Try Besides Google URL Shortener

Trying to convince people to click on a long, jumbled link is almost as bad as a door-to-door salesman trying to sell people financial services. Needless to say, if your audience sees a link they perceive to be spammy in one of your social media posts, they’ll do the digital equivalent of slamming the door in your face — scroll past it

To avoid being perceived as spammy or sloppy when you have a legitimate link to share, check out our list of the five best link shorteners that’ll clip your links into clean, consistent, and clickable URLs.

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What are the benefits of using link shorteners?

Using link shorteners can benefit your brand in three main ways:

1. When you post long links on social media, it can look like spam or deter users from clicking on something they don’t recognize. In particular, adding tracking parameters to your links can result in URLs that look long and confusing to someone who’s unfamiliar with typical link tracking practices. Link shorteners can prune spammy-looking links into clear and concise links.

2. Many link shorteners also let you track each of your link’s performance and analytics, which can help you understand which pieces of content perform best on specific platforms.

3. Every social media network limits the amount of characters you can include in your posts. Twitter and LinkedIn have the shortest character limits at 280 and 600 characters, respectively, so if you need to squeeze a link or an extra hashtag in one of your posts, link shorteners can help you stay within the limit.

5 of the Best Link Shorteners Besides Google URL Shortener

1. Bit.ly

Image Credit: Rewind & Capture

Bit.ly is a link shortener platform that features a comprehensive dashboard that displays your links’ performance metrics, such as click-through rates, channel stats, and geographic information of the people clicking on your links. They also offer branded links and have integrations with social media management software, like Sprinklr, Sprout Social, Buffer, Hootsuite, and HubSpot to help you seamlessly distribute your shortened links through your social media profiles.

Bit.ly’s free account offers up to 500 branded links, 10,000 unbranded links, and reporting data about your top referrers, which is ideal for small businesses. Their enterprise plan lets you brand as many links as you’d like and provides all the data and metrics mentioned above, which is best for large businesses who want to brand and track every link in their marketing campaigns.

2. Bl.ink

Image Credit: Bl.ink

As one of the more robust link shorteners out there, Bl.ink offers smart branded links that allow you to create custom links that contain relevant words and not just a random string of characters. They also provide analytic reports that can track clicks by date, time, language, referrers, device, and location and integrate with web analytic tools like Google Analytics, Adobe, and others.

Bl.ink offers four subscriptions tiers: a free plan, a plan for individuals and small teams with up to 15 users, a plan for teams and businesses with up to 50 users, and a plan for large organizations with over 50 users. Starting at $12 per month, they price their plans based off the amount of links you’d like create and track. For example, free users can create up to 1,000 links and track up to 1,000 clicks per link. After that, you’ll pay according to how many links you create and track.

3. Rebrand.ly

Image Credit: Rebrand.ly

Trusted by over 250,000 customers, Rebrand.ly is a link shortener platform that can brand your links, track their performance metrics, or integrate with over 50 other platforms to seamlessly distribute your links.

With two plans for individuals and two plans for teams, Rebrand.ly offers link shortening solutions for both small business and enterprise companies. For instance, their starter plan offers 50,000 tracked clicks, 5,000 branded links, and 5 custom domain names for $29 per month, while their premium plan offers 2,000,000 tracked clicks, 200,000 branded links, and 20 custom domain names for $449 per month.

4. Ow.ly

Image Credit: TutorialDeep

Developed by the social media management platform, Hootsuite, Ow.ly is a link shortener that’s included in every free Hootsuite account. With Ow.ly, you can distribute your links and track their performance metrics directly in the Hootsuite platform, which allows you to shorten every single link you post to all your social media profiles. Ow.ly is best for anyone who already uses Hootsuite as their social media management platform.

5. Buff.ly

Image Credit: Buffer

Similar to Hootsuite’s link shortener tool, Buff.ly is integrated in Buffer, another social media management platform. With Buff.ly, you can shorten your links, customize them, distribute them to all your social media profiles, and track their performance metrics right in the Buffer platform. Buff.ly is perfect for anyone who uses Buffer as their social media management platform.

 


The Ultimate Guide to Human Resources

When I initially applied for my role at HubSpot, I was immediately blown away by the hiring manager I was working with. She was professional, incredibly informative, and experienced. She had the answer to every question I had about the company, the role I was being interviewed for, and HubSpot’s culture.

From the first point of contact with this HubSpot employee and throughout my onboarding process, she was the prime example of what I believed a person in human resources should be. Even now, she checks in with me to ask how I’m doing and how my job is going when I see her around the office.

Remarkable Human Resources (HR) employees are critical at every company. They handle all employee relations so you can focus on your side of the business. Before we discuss more reasons why your company needs an impactful HR department and how you can go about building one, let’s talk more about what human resources actually means.

 

Based on this definition alone, you can see how it would be difficult to run your operation successfully without the assistance HR provides. That’s why even small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have HR departments with employees who oversee all management, engagement, and development between the company and its employees. HR departments exist to support you and your employees so you can continue doing your jobs successfully.

The work and responsibilities of a human resources employee will touch a large portion of your business every day. So what does that mean for you? Let’s review some of the most common responsibilities these employees have so you can better understand the impact HR will have on your company.

 

Handle employee relations

HR handles the employee-to-employee relationships as well as the employee-to-company relationship. This means they work to develop positive interactions and treatment among all employees within your company so they feel good about coming to work, committed to their jobs, and invested in the growth of the business. Whether it’s a personal matter or a work-related issue, human resources will handle all issues with care and keep the best interest of the both your company and employee in mind.

Create an employment structure

Your HR department will handle your entire staffing plan — meaning they’ll identify the gaps in your current employee structure and fill them by acquiring new talent. They’re also in charge of firing any existing talent that isn’t meeting company standards. Your company’s HR team will ensure you have the right people to help you grow your business.

Manage employee job satisfaction

Once your employees have begun work, you’ll want to make sure they’re excited to come to the office every day and add value to your company — their excitement is directly related to their level of job satisfaction. If your employees are happy in their roles, feel as though they can grow at your company, and can change departments down the road if they choose to, they’re more likely to be productive members of the team. Your HR team ensures your employees really do feel satisfied in their roles, and will work with them if they feel unhappy or unsatisfied at any point in time.

Manage employee benefits

Your HR department will handle the amount and type of employee benefits your company offers. Providing good employee benefits is critical to the success of your business because they’re proven to attract and retain talent as well as increase employee productivity. Benefits keep employees satisfied by giving them a variety of perks and and making them feel secure in their roles.

Handle compensation

All payroll and compensation work is managed by HR — this includes employee salaries, payment schedules, W2s, and all other tax-related paperwork. If an employee is offered a promotion, or if employees are given bonuses, HR will handle all changes in their regular payment schedules.

Maintain the company business plan

Your HR department will help you create, distribute, and maintain your company’s business plan — this serves as an overview of your company’s organizational structure. It covers your company’s philosophy and culture code, the way in which you manage your employees, and how you’ll distribute your resources.

Handle new hire training

When an employee is hired, HR will often take them through the necessary training they need prior to diving into their everyday tasks. Whether it’s one day or six weeks, new hire training is critical to making that person feel comfortable in their new role. It’s also a great way to set expectations early on and get them prepared so they can begin making an impact as quickly as possible.

Create company culture standards

HR is in charge of helping you create and maintain your company culture — this includes your philosophy, mission statement, and work environment. It also includes your company’s ethical standards, values, goals, and expectations. HR may implement programming, activities, check-ins, or events at your office so your employees can learn and develop a better understanding of the culture.

Maintain a healthy work environment

Your HR team will assist you in creating a healthy and safe work environment for all employees. Their role in this includes setting health and safety standards in the office, communicating these standards to all employees, and upholding them as the business grows. These health and safety standards should be written so they can be easily referenced at any point in someone’s time at your company.

Handle necessary administrative work

A lot of your company’s administrative work is handled by HR. This includes paperwork related to federal and state tax laws, job applications, time-keeping and payroll information, and employee contracts.

 

We’ve put together a list of 10 steps — not listed in any specific order — you should take to build a successful HR department. Whether you begin working through this list with or without your company’s first (or first few) human resources employee(s), all 10 items on this list should be thoughtfully considered.

1. Create a company-wide staffing plan

Create a company-wide staffing plan so you can identify all positions you’ll need to fill with your new hires. This may also include moving current employees into new roles or even removing employees and/ or their roles entirely from the company.

2. Set an HR budget

You’ll need a budget for your human resources department — this will cover the costs of building the department and hiring your HR team. The budget will also go to company-wide programming, and culture and team building activities HR may organize. 

3. Make a payroll and compensation system

You’ll need to ensure you have payroll and compensation plans in place for all types and levels of employees. Your employees are going to want to know how, when, and the frequency in which they’re going to be paid the moment they receive their job offer. You’ll also need this information to determine salary ranges for all of your employees.

4. Write job descriptions

Job descriptions posted on your website and job sites such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor are how you’ll attract applicants. You’ll want to create job descriptions for all of the HR roles you need to hire for. Then, as you fill some of these HR openings, those new hires should be able to assist you in creating all other job descriptions for your growing company.

5. Lay out a clear benefits plans

A clear and thorough benefits plan is crucial when trying to attract and retain talent. You’ll want to lay out all of the benefits you offer to your new hires so they can feel good about their decision to join your team as well as secure and supported in their roles.

6. Create an employee handbook

An employee handbook (whether it’s print or digital) is a great way to set clear expectations from day one about workplace behavior, safety, health, and culture. Your handbook should include answers to all the questions your employees may have about these topics — and any others you see fit — as they go through training and begin work at your company.

7. Set safety procedures

Your employees are most likely in the office for approximately eight hours per day — meaning it needs to be a healthy and safe place for them to spend large amounts of time. If one of your employees ever felt unsafe or at risk of mental or physical harm at the office, it’d be very difficult to expect them to be a productive worker.

To avoid this, you should set workplace health and safety standards, which you may choose to include in your employee handbook. State your safety procedures for different types of personal altercations as well as procedures for emergencies and other potential unexpected or dangerous situations so everyone can handle them appropriately.

8. Collect administrative records

Although you may have an executive assistant who collects and organizes a lot of your company’s administrative records, there’s also plenty of documentation that should be collected, organized, and managed separately by your HR department. Some of these items may include job applications, benefit plans, tax documents, and compensation and payroll details.

9. Display necessary employment posters

There are state and federal laws that require companies and their HR teams to hang specific employment posters around their offices so they’re visible to everyone who enters the space. Some of these required posters change over time, so be sure to keep up with the laws and requirements of your state and country.

10. Create performance and feedback processes

Employee success and satisfaction are major components of a prosperous company — without these two things, it’d be difficult to retain your best talent. You’ll want to create company-wide performance and feedback processes to ensure everyone is held to a specific standard that you and your HR team set and maintain.

Employee performance evaluations should be held to ensure all employees are working up to their full potential. This time should also be spent making sure your employees are satisfied with their jobs, feel as though they can grow with your company, and enjoy being a member of your team.

What to Look For in an HR Candidate

Now that you have a better understanding of HR’s responsibilities and how you can start building your own department, let’s review the some of the things you should try to identify in potential HR candidates, including education type and work experience.

Human Resources Candidate Education and Background

It’s no secret that a lot of people often “fall” into the human resources field. By this I mean a lot of people who end up in the field don’t necessarily go into their undergraduate education thinking they want a career in HR. If this is the case for some of your HR applicants, there are a few indicators that you’ve found a great candidate despite their educational background.

  • HR certifications, such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) certification or one of the various others offered by the HR Certification Institute.
  • Great work ethic, personality and ability to be strategic. It’s key to find a candidate that will represent your company well and has the adaptability to grow into their role. If you see promise, you might also provide this type of candidate with the opportunity to earn a certification and/or postgraduate education in the field as they begin work at your company.

If you’re considering slightly more experienced candidates for your HR department, here are some indicators to look for:

      • Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management, Business Administration, or a closely related field.
      • Master’s degree in Human Resources or Human Resources and Employee Relations (HRER), or a closely related field such as Business Administration.
      • Prior HR experience, whether it’s an internship or job(s) at another company.

Roles in Your Human Resources Department

Now that we’ve covered general requirements and characteristics that you should consider looking for in your HR candidates, let’s dive into some of the actual roles you’ll need to fill within the department. 

We’ll start with your HR department structure. Depending on the size of your company, you may or may not need all of these positions and levels in your own HR department. Another important thing to note is that the titles of these roles and level in which they’re placed also vary based on company, but this diagram will provide you with a general idea of an HR department structure.

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So what do HR employees in these roles actually do? And what are the differences between each position? We’ll cover the answers to these questions below.

Entry-Level Human Resources Roles

Entry-level HR jobs are fit for people who are in school, have recently graduated, or are entering the field for the first time. Their roles may include assistants and HR interns, specialists, generalists, or recruiters.

HR Assistant/ Intern

HR assistants and HR interns are typically in charge of the administrative work — such as organizing paperwork, completing the employer portions of new hire information, and other work their higher-ups ask of them — that needs to be done so everyone else in the department can remain productive and focus on more complex tasks.

HR Specialist

HR specialists focus on one specific department or discipline within human resources. These specialties include HR development, HR management, and organizational development. Their goal is to become an expert in their chosen specialty. For example, a benefits specialist would be required to know and understand the intimate details about a company’s benefits plan and be able to explain that information to new hires and current employees.

HR Generalist

HR generalists have knowledge that covers multiple different areas of the department and its needs. People in this type of role will work on the more typical tasks you may think of when it comes to HR such as compensation, employee relations, and workplace environment.

Recruiter

The sole job of a recruiter is to bring in impressive talent for the company. They find new people to fill the gaps in the company’s staffing plan so the business can continue to grow and remain as productive as possible.

Mid-Level Human Resources Roles

As those in HR work their way up the ranks and acquire more experience, they’ll likely move into a mid-level HR role. Examples of these jobs include advanced specialists, HR managers, and senior recruiters.

Advanced Specialist

An advanced specialist is typically someone who was promoted from an HR specialist role. Their work might include developing job descriptions for specific, technical roles within their specialty, and training and overseeing entry-level specialists who are also in their chosen discipline. Advanced specialists serve as a company’s high-level experts regarding their specific topic within HR.

HR Manager

An HR manager might oversee a group of entry or even mid-level HR employees. They’ll typically handle more of the complex HR tasks such as the creation and management of company-wide policies, values, and culture.

Senior Recruiter

Senior recruiters function as your very own staffing service. They may oversee a team of entry-level recruiters who work to identify ideal candidates for open positions at your company. Senior recruiters may work for your company or you might hire them as a third-party service depending on your budget and resources.

High-Level Human Resources Roles

If someone ends up staying in the HR field for the majority of their career, they may find themselves moving into a high-level position at your company. These roles may include an HR consultant, HR director, recruiting manager, or vice president of HR chief of human resources officer (CHRO).

HR Consultant

An HR consultant is typically someone who oversees all HR administrative work and makes sure you’re meeting all company, state, and federal policies and laws. They can be subject matter experts on a particular HR-related policy. People in this role may be hired as third-party help depending on your budget and resources.

HR Director

If an HR manager is promoted, that person might move into an HR Director role. In most SMBs, the HR Director typically oversees all departmental activities and reports directly to the CEO.

Recruiting Manager

Recruiting managers oversee your company’s recruiting teams. They sign off on your staffing plan and ensure all of your role gaps are filled and talent needs are met.

Vice President of HR or Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)

In a larger company, you may have a vice president of human resources or a chief human resources officer. This person reports directly to the CEO, oversees the entire HR operation, and creates overarching department goals.

Back To You

Having a fantastic human resources team is essential to the success of your business. Your HR department will manage your employee relations, hiring, training, career development, benefits, and company culture. Without HR, your employees simply wouldn’t be able to do their jobs. Start by thinking about the number and type of HR employees you’ll need and get started building your department so your company can continue to grow.

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HTTP Error 403 Forbidden Messages: What They Are & How to Fix Them

Imagine this — you’ve recently created a new website to host your content, and you’re excited to see it go live. You can’t wait to dive into SEO and begin ranking for keywords, and attract an audience to your brand.

But then a friend emails you and says, “Hey, is there a reason I see this when I click on your website?”

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Undoubtedly, a 403 Forbidden Message is cause for immediate concern — how many potential viewers are you losing, as they come across your website just to find this message?

Fortunately, there are a few quick-and-easy solutions to a 403 error. Here, we’ll explain the top three, so you can get your site up and running.

How to Fix 403 Errors

1. Permission or ownership errors.

Your site might be showing a 403 Forbidden error because of permission issues. If you’ve configured your web server, you’ll want to add the server to the www-data group, and set ownership of /var/www to the www-data user and www-data group.

You’ll then want to make sure your directories are set to 755, your files are set to 644, and your dynamic content is set to 700.

2. Make sure you have an index page.

Your website’s home page must be called index.html or index.php — if it’s not, you should rename the homepage to include one of those URL names.

Alternatively, you can upload an index page to your httpdocs directory, and then set up a redirect on the index page to your real homepage.

3. You haven’t uploaded your website content to the correct directory on your server.

Lastly, you might see a 403 forbidden message if you haven’t correctly uploaded your content to the directory on your server.

There are several different FTP clients you might’ve chosen to host your domain — let’s say you chose FileZilla, which is free and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

To publish your content online, you’ll need to put your files into the Public-htdocs directory (if you’re using FileZilla — these instructions will vary if you use a different FTP client). Once you’ve dragged-and-dropped your files into the directory, you should search your website’s URL to double-check they now appear online.

If you’re in your FTP server and don’t see the httpdocs directory, you can create a file within the directory with this title, which could also solve the issue.

website redesign seo mistakes

3 Habits to Boost Creativity & Become a More Prolific Marketer

Maya Angelou once said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Oftentimes, this couldn’t feel further from the truth. Imagine, for instance, the moment you finish your quarterly marketing campaign. You’re ecstatic — the campaign launched without a hitch, and you’ve already seen impressive conversion results.

But you’re also exhausted. You feel you’ve used up so much of your creative energy already — how will you ever come up with a new idea for the next quarter?

In these instances, it can feel like creativity is finite, and maybe even rare. But as marketers, we’re tasked with both the burden and the joy of using creativity to succeed in our roles every day.

Fortunately, there are tactics you can employ to begin building the right habits to become more prolific in your role. Henneke Duistermaat, writer and creator of Enchanting Marketing, created the following hand-drawn infographic to help boost creativity, improve focus, and minimize self-doubt to become a better, more creative marketer. Take a look.

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visual marketing

Form UX: How to Design a User-Friendly Form

Think about a website you frequent — what’s that site’s overall functionality like? How long do the pages take to load? Is the site navigation easy to use? Are you able to quickly find the information you’re looking for? These are all aspects of a website’s user experience (UX).

UX applies to every part of your website, including your web forms, in regards to accessibility, ease of use, and convenience. An online form with great UX is easy for your visitors to work though, simple to understand, and feels professional. When your form has all of these factors, you’re likely to see an increase in your number of conversions. That’s why getting your form’s UX right is critical for your business.

 

Why does form UX matter?

The point of a web form is to collect certain personal information from your visitor, whether that be an email address or their shipping and payment details. But why would a visitor want to convert and conduct any type of business with you if the form they’re being asked to list their information on is difficult to use, hard to understand, or visually unattractive? Simple answer … they wouldn’t.

There are a number of factors that go into great UX and elements to consider when trying to achieve a fantastic and memorable form design. Form UX matters because you want to leave a good (and lasting) impression on your visitors, create a positive experience for them while on your site, and convert more leads.

UX impacts your web form’s level of accessibility (which refers to how easily your forms can be completed and submitted by many types of people, of various backgrounds) and usability (which refers to how easily someone can accomplish their goal, which in this case means completing a form). Without great UX, you’ll not only have poor accessibility and usability but you’ll also lose out on conversions.

10 Form UX Guidelines and Great Examples to Follow

We’ve curated the following list of guidelines that you can apply to your forms to help you enhance their UX. Each guideline also includes an example that you can follow and learn from to help you create successful and thoughtfully-designed web forms for your own site.

1. Enable autofill and autocorrect

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Autofill fills, or completes, form fields based on common attributes or responses, such as name and email, previously provided on the site or in the browser.

Autocorrect corrects, or rectifies, invalid responses visitors may accidentally try entering in the fields. For example, if someone were to enter the incorrect zip code in your form, the form might be able to recommend or fix that error based on someone’s given location or other information they’ve previously submitted. 

Autofill and autocorrect are two features that enhance UX because they simplify the form completion process. By enabling these features, you’re not only ensuring valid information is being submitted, but you’re also saving your visitors time, streamlining the form completion process, and helping them remain as efficient and accurate as possible.

2. Exclude all fluff

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Keep your form as straightforward and easy to understand as possible by excluding all “fluff” — that is any words, images, fields, or characters that aren’t absolutely necessary. By excluding all unnecessary information, you enhance your form’s UX for a couple reasons. First, it removes any confusion for your visitors that could stem from having too much information. Second, users can submit their information with less friction, like scrolling or trying to determine what’s important.

3. Lay out the form in one column 

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Your form field layout should be organized in a single column versus placing multiple fields in the same row or in various locations. Your visitors will easily see all necessary fields and have the ability to tab down to the next open box if they choose to work through the form that way.

A major aspect of successful UX is ease of use. By laying out all of your form fields in a single column, your visitors will be able to flow through your form naturally, with ease.

4. Don’t forget a mobile-friendly design

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These days, it’s crucial your web forms include a mobile-friendly design due to the number of people who browse sites, sign up for new accounts, and purchase items from a smartphone or tablet. Without a mobile-friendly design, your form won’t fit or function well via one of these devices. 

Great UX means a quality end-to-end experience for your visitors. That means your visitors need to have consistent, positive interactions with your website no matter the device they’re on. Without a mobile-friendly design, your forms won’t help you improve UX or boost conversions. This has the potential to be a devastating loss for your business considering how many people carry a mobile device and browse the web via that smartphone or tablet on a constant basis.

5. Provide input constraints

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If you have a form on your site with a long-form text entry box (meaning you need a short answer or a paragraph response from your visitors), you should include input constraints. These constraints prevent visitors from writing beyond a certain word count or limit. This is a helpful feature because it provides your visitors with parameters. It also prevents you and your business from having to read through responses that are several paragraphs long.

Input constraints enhance UX because they provide visitors with guidelines that keep them efficient. They ensure your visitors know exactly what’s expected of them, how much information they need to share with you and prevent them from wasting time writing a long, unnecessary response.

6. Use multi-step forms when necessary

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Multi-step forms are used in situations where there are multiple form fields, several of which could be split up into categories (such as “personal”, “shipping”, “billing”, and “payment review”). They improve UX because they increase a form’s usability by making it easier for a visitor to accomplish their goal (completing and submitting the form). With a multi-step form, you split your fields into several shorter forms, each on separate web pages. They help to organize your form fields and make the form appear more manageable for the user.

7. Provide clear and obvious action buttons

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Action buttons are what your visitors click to either move onto the next part of a multi-step form or to submit it. Needless to say, they’re a critical part of your web form, and that’s why you need to make sure they’re bright, bold, and obvious. 

Obvious and clear action buttons improve a form’s accessibility because they’re universally recognized as the way to submit information on a form. Also, because they’re so easy to see, you avoid confusing your visitor when they go to submit their information.

8. Create inline field labels 

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Inline form field labels are form field labels that are located inside the fields themselves. They make your form look sleek and clean. Placing your labels inline with your fields is the most thoughtful way to title your fields for your visitors — doing this improves your form’s ease of use since there’s no question about which label belongs to which field.

9. Add inline error messages

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Now that you know what inline form fields are, you can probably guess what inline error messages are — they point a visitor to an error in their form by highlighting the issue in line with the field in which it’s located. These messages ensure there’s no question about which field includes the error. Some of these messages even include a short and clear statement that explains how the visitor can make the necessary correction. 

Error messages improve UX by making it as easy as possible for your visitor to correct the error at hand. Inline error messages make your form and company feel professional and thoughtful.

10. Mark required vs. optional form fields 

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You should always mark your form fields as “required” or “optional”. You can do this by writing “required” or “optional” in a small font next to your field, or by placing an asterisk next to your required fields so there’s no question about what your visitors need to complete.

Marking your form fields as required or optional improves UX by making your form accessible to everyone — you provide your visitors with a set of expectations as they fill out your form. Not only does this ensure all of your visitors are on the same page about the information they need to submit, but it also prevents them from having to waste time submitting and re-submitting your forms to try and determine which fields are the necessary ones.

Back To You

Great UX is how you’ll ensure positive interactions between your site visitors and forms. By taking these UX guidelines and examples into account, you’ll create a great experience for your visitors that’ll keep them coming back to conduct more business with you and your company. Let these examples inspire your own UX design so you can implement the guidelines that fit best with your site, business, and needs to boost conversions and make a great, lasting impression on your visitors. 

A Beginner's Guide to POS Systems (& the Best Ones for 2019)

When I studied abroad in Scotland last year, murmurs about the best restaurant in town echoed throughout my dorm complex all semester long. The joint was called Noodles & Dumplings, and despite its bland name, its cuisine was rumored to be packed full of flavor.

Naturally, once I heard about Noodles & Dumplings, I immediately bolted out of my dorm, power-walked down the cobblestone streets of my town, and burst through the front door of the restaurant. I was ready to gobble up all the shrimp fried rice I could possibly buy.

But after I placed my order and handed the cashier my credit card, she said something that turned my growling-stomach hunger into utter disappointment:

“We only take cash.”

As someone who never carries cash, eating my dinner that day required a jog to the ATM and a withdrawal of $200 to justify the hefty international ATM fee. It was quite a large commitment for some fried rice.

Now, I’ll be honest, the dish was delicious. It was definitely all that it was cracked-up to be. But was it worth the hassle? I probably wouldn’t be venting about this experience if it was.

Nowadays, your customers expect you to accept credit card as a form of payment, regardless of the size of your business. In fact, 77% of consumers prefer using credit or debit cards as their main form of payment. If you only accept cash, you risk losing a ton of customers — and revenue.

With this in mind, owning a POS system is crucial for your retail store’s or restaurant’s success. But POS systems aren’t just important because they can accept credit cards. POS systems can also track your inventory, measure your sales, and transfer funds to your bank account. It’s like a smart cash register that can help you better manage your business.

To help you pick the right POS system for your company, we’ve put together a list of the best ones for retail stores and restaurants. Read on to find the best POS system for your business.

What Is a POS System?

A point of sale (POS) system is a hardware and software system that lets you check customers out and accepts multiple forms of payment, like cash, credit cards, and mobile payments. POS systems’ hardware can print receipts, scan barcodes, and store cash. POS systems’ software can track inventory, measure sales, and transfer funds to your business’ bank account.

5 of the Best POS Systems for Retail & Restaurants

1. Square Point of Sale

square-pos-system

Image Credit: Square

Trusted by more than two million businesses across the globe, Square POS is an intuitive point of sale system that can keep tabs on your customers’ purchase history, send digital receipts, collect customer feedback, generate sales reports for specific products, and track your inventory. Square POS can also accept cards, cash, checks, and gift cards and transfer your funds to your bank account within one business day.

2. Toast

Image Credit: Toast

Tailored specifically to restaurants, Toast is an all-in-one point of sale system that can gather data on your food cost percentage, recipe costs, inventory variance, and menu engineering. It can also generate sales reports, sync your in-store and online menu so you don’t have to make the same changes multiple times, and has a built-in CRM that can collect your customers’ contact information and order history.

3. Shopify Point of Sale

Image Credit: Shopify

Shopify, the leading eCommerce platform, sells a point of sale system that can seamlessly integrate with your online Shopify store. In their POS system, each new order automatically creates a customer profile that includes their contact information, order history, and shopping habits.

You can also organize your products by category, type, season, sale, vendor, price, and inventory level. If you want to analyze your store’s performance, you’ll have access to a robust set of product reports, retail reports, and a dashboard.

4. Aloha

Image Credit: Aloha

Used by more than 80,000 restaurants around the world, Aloha is a single point of sale platform on which most servers and cashiers in the restaurant industry have been trained. With Aloha, you can let your customers order from their table, self-ordering kiosks, or even their mobile devices. You can also offer them promotions, rewards, and gift cards and generate reports about operational, sales, and employee data.

5. Vend

Image Credit: Vend

Designed for retail stores of all sizes, Vend is a smart point of sale system that more than 20,000 business trust and use every day. With Vend, you can keep track of your customers’ shopping habits in their customer database, measure your store’s performance, and manage inventory across multiple stores. Vend also integrates seamlessly with common business applications, like Shopify, Xero, PayPal, Apple, Worldpay, and Square.

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