Category Archives: Mobile Marketing

9 Valentine's Day Marketing Campaigns to Inspire You

 

Love, flowers, chocolate, bla bla bla …

Where are the marketing results?!

Okay, probably not what your Valentine’s date cares about. But if you’re a marketer, you might be interested in merging the most lovey-dovey of days with your marketing. But how?

Well, these companies have figured out some creative ways to leverage the warm and fuzzies (or unadulterated rage and crushing loneliness … whatever) that Valentine’s Day instills in people. If you don’t have a marketing campaign planned for the 14th, maybe some of these will inspire you to get in on some last-minute Valentine’s Day action. Pun totally intended.

9 Effective Valentine’s Day Marketing Campaigns

1. Frankie & Benny’s “Lady & the Tramp” Instagram Post

Last year, the Italian restaurant chain Frankie & Benny’s referenced romantic scenes from notable films like “Lady and the Tramp.”

In a cute Instagram post, two real dogs are seen on a classy date at Frankie & Benny’s holding the same strand of pasta in their mouths. This mimics a class scene from Lady and the Tramp where two dogs kiss after accidentally eating the same strand of pasta.

The carousel post then highlights actual photos from iconic movies like, “When Harry Met Sally.” In the post’s caption, it encourages Instagram audiences to guess which movies are being referenced.

While the real dog’s mimicking Lady and the Tramp grabbed attention, especially from the animal lovers on Instagram, this post’s caption and other photos encourages audiences to interact with the brand by guessing which movies are being referenced.

This is both a fun way to boost brand awareness, and leverage the holiday to gain engagement on social media.

2. Panera’s Engagement Offer

In 2018, Panera tweeted that customers who got engaged in one of their restaurants on Valentine’s Day could win free wedding catering from the chain. 

The tweet included a short and simple video which announced the promotion and showed two Panera employees cheering, as if they were witnessing a proposal.

This is a quick and sweet way to leverage the holiday and social media to gain foot traffic into a physical business. Although Panera is a giant corporation, this campaign strategy is so simple that smaller businesses could create something similar with a tweet, short video, and offer that drives foot traffic.

3. Facebook Messenger Heart Feature

Just before Valentine’s Day in 2018, Facebook Messenger’s Twitter announced that if you shared that you were “In a Relationship” with a friend you were messaging, celebratory hearts would rain down in your Messenger thread with that person.

Although a small business probably can’t add a major feature to their product just because of a holiday, this is a good example of how you can theme something related to your product, such as your website, around a holiday temporarily. 

Another thing that’s interesting about this campaign is that Facebook is using a competing social platform, Twitter, to announce this new feature. This slightly undermines Twitter, which also allows direct messaging but with less interactive features.

4. “Adults Meal” – Burger King

Burger King is no stranger to poking fun at its biggest competitor, McDonalds. This was no different before Valentine’s Day 2017 when they created an “Adult Meal” alternative with a similar box shape to McDonalds’ kids’ meal.

In the ad, Burger King explains that Kids’ Meals are for kids. But, on the night of Valentine’s Day, Burger King customers can buy an adult meal with an “adult toy.”

This campaign is pretty cheeky. However, it’s edgy mission and subtle comments about its competitor’s product make it memorable and funny. 

5. “Romance On Demand” – Uber

On-demand car service company Uber launched a Romance on Demand campaign in most of the cities where they operate. Take a look at the short, cute video they shot to explain the campaign:

If you didn’t watch the video, the gist of the campaign is this: You can request roses be sent to a special someone by selecting the “rose” in their app. You set the delivery location, and a black car arrives at that location with a driver totally suited-up to deliver a bouquet of roses.

Uber is a startup that’s figured out a way to create a campaign that delights its audience and drives additional revenue for its business — all without a tremendous resource investment. I mean, their drivers are already on the road, ready to take customers; but if there are Uber customers who don’t need a ride but totally need to send some flowers, and send them with style … well, let’s just say transporting roses at a premium price isn’t much different than transporting people. Except the margins are way better for Uber. Pretty impressive stuff.

And even better, they’re using inbound tactics to get the word out there! They launched the Romance on Demand campaign on their blog, via social channels with the hashtag #romanceondemand, with that adorable video you might have watched up above, and even by establishing local partnerships in the cities where they’re running the campaign to enter participants into a drawing to win some extra goodies. This is a low cost, high return campaign for Uber that totally aligns with its customer persona — high convenience and high style.

6. “Whose Heart do You Love” – MegaRed

MegaRed is a type of krill oil supplement sold in nutrition stores. If you don’t know already, fish oil is an excellent dietary supplement for those concerned with heart health, so it makes sense that its Valentine’s Day campaign theme is “Whose heart do you love?” Here’s how it works.

MegaRed is relying heavily on Facebook to facilitate this campaign, in which visitors can request free samples of their supplements through their Facebook app. What’s totally endearing about this campaign is that you can request the supplement for “The heart of someone you love.” In other words, you can give someone you love — whose heart you want to keep in tip-top shape — a free sample of their product. Even better? If you choose to give the free sample to a loved on, MegaRed will give you a free sample, too. And the love doesn’t end there: If they can reach 100,000 free samples given away, they’ll donate $100,000 to the National Coalition for Women With Heart Disease.

Aside from the great feeling this campaign instills — I mean, promoting heart health is kind of hard to argue with — I love their use of social media to get the word out there. For instance, on Twitter, MegaRed is seeing celebrities like Joy Bauer and Toni Braxton posting about the campaign. Pretty impressive. And on YouTube, there’s this fun, short, touching video that will, forgive me, but totally touch your heart:

This campaign is being handled by an agency, but one thing that made my heart smile is a quote from MegaRed’s CMO, Jennifer Steeves-Kiss, to the New York Times. “We want to start making digital and social a significantly greater priority for us,” she said. “People are spending four to five hours a month online researching supplements if they’re supplement enthusiasts,” Steeves-Kiss shared, and additionally, they are in the middle of an acquisition by a company whose executive are “great proponents” of social and digital marketing.

We can’t help but smile at seeing the adoption of inbound methods by brands that have millions to spend on traditional advertising methods!

7. “Show Your Love for the Jersey Shore” – The State of New Jersey and the SBA

The State of New Jersey, along with the Small Business Association, are running a pro-business campaign called “Show Your Love for the Jersey Shore.” The call-to-action for the campaign? To spend your vacation dollars — particularly on Valentine’s Day — at the Jersey Shore. It’s being promoted on Facebook, Twitter, via email, and via live events in partnership with destination marketing organizations. Information about special promotions being offered by shore businesses will be shared socially, too, so if you’re looking for something to do tomorrow, check it out 😉 For instance, you might be interested in …

I know I sure would be!

The goal of the campaign is to show that the Jersey Shore is open for business after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. The problem some shore businesses are facing is the perception that businesses aren’t recovered from the storm. While there’s still much more recovery to be done, there are some businesses that are, indeed, ready to accept tourists. They just need the word to get out there.

Director of Jenkinson’s Aquarium, Cindy Claus, told NorthJersey.com, “I think so many people see on the news that we got hit by the storm. They see all the destruction, and yes, there’s a lot of destruction and a lot of sadness, but there’s a lot of businesses that were able to get opened. And you need to come back because that’s the only way these businesses are going to survive.” The aquarium was able to open back up on February 1, and is hoping this campaign will help get the word out there that they’re welcoming visitors with open arms.

Whether the campaign works or not remains to be seen, but it’s fantastic to see federally funded institutions finding a way to, essentially, newsjack as a way to aid the shore community — particularly affected businesses — in attaining their previous levels of visitors.

8. Scribbler Valentine’s Day Campaign

Scribbler, a UK-based personalized greeting card service, has won my heart because of its celebration of content in its Valentine’s Day campaign. Using their blog, they’ve asked their audience to share what their definition of “love” is. All you do is visit their blog, and answer these three questions:

Or, you can tweet your response to the Scribbler Twitter account. The winner will get a free iPad mini, and the best answers will be compiled in their Valentine’s Day ebook. To inspire people, Scribbler is also using Facebook and Twitter to post some of the best answers that are coming their way. This campaign is fantastic for a few reasons:

  • It’s a simple way to generate leads that can be nurtured later.
  • It’s a simple way to get people aware of and engaged with their social channels to expand their reach.
  • It’s a simple way to crowdsource content.

This campaign is an excellent idea for anyone trying to expand the top of their funnel — campaigns with a low time commitment but high level of delight are great ways to make new fans that you can later nurture into customers.

9. UncommonGoods Email Marketing Campaign

When I stumble across good email marketing, I get excited. When I stumble upon lovable email marketing, I swoon. Take a look at the lovely email ecommerce company UncommonGoods sent last week to remind/enable/capitalize on last-minute shoppers:

ucgemail resized 600

 First of all, one of the great things about all of UncommonGoods’ emails is their attention to detail. For instance, they tied the Valentine’s Day theme into more than just the design and theme of the email campaign: Take a look at the little tiny text at the top left of the email to see what I mean. Instead of just saying, “For an HTML version of this email, bla bla bla,” they said, “Email still a sweet nothing? Click here.” Love is in the details, as they say.

But the layout of the email also makes taking action super easy for the recipient. Notice how they’ve divided up the gifts, essentially, by persona. “Whose heart are you aiming for?” they ask — at which point you can click on the person you need to shop for, and be brought to a landing page with content that aligns with your need.

But you know what takes all this to the next level? The fact that UncommonGoods finds a way to incorporate blogging into all of this! If you visit UncommonGoods from this email, you’ll see the following (pay particular attention to the orange call-out):

vdayemail resized 600

Not only does the design from the email align with design on the website, but when you click on the parts of that little box — let’s say you’re looking for gifts for your girlfriend — you get taken to a blog post of the top ten gifts for girlfriends, with a picture of that gift, a fun and well-written description of that gift, and a CTA to make the purchase next to each gift.

ucgpage resized 600

Nothing like integrating your marketing channels to sweep a marketer off her (or his) feet!

Valentine’s Day Campaign Takeaways

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in Feb. 2013, but was updated for comprehensiveness on January 30, 2020.

Event Invitation Emails: How to Create One that Rocks

Running a successful event can be stressful, especially when you have so much to coordinate, including the agenda, the venue, and the speakers

Email event invitations, however, shouldn’t be stressful.

If you’re struggling when deciding what to include in your email event invitation, consider what you’d like to see in an invite — probably information about the agenda, venue, and speakers, right?

Answering the questions your audience will have about your event is a great place to start when writing an email invitation. The rest comes easily, as long as you consider good look at design, inclusive language, and personalization depending on your recipients.

Event invitation emails are helpful because they inspire interest for the event, makes emails personalized, streamlines the process of messaging.

If you’re looking for ideas about how to write an amazing event invitation, keep reading.

How to Write an Email Invitation For an Event

Remember, not all event invitations need to be snazzy, high-budget, high-time investment productions. In fact, effective email invitations can be made in about 20 minutes.

Use this section as a base-level cheat sheet for ideas to implement in your next email campaign.

Before you hit “Schedule,” or “Send,” think about if you can answer the “So what?” question audiences will ask after seeing your invitation in their inbox.

To create a stellar email invite, you have to make sure it’s personalized to the reader, instills curiosity, and effectively communicates what the event will entail.

1. Answer the 5 “W’s”.

First thing’s first, tell your audience what’s happening. In school, some of us learned about the 5 W’s — who, what, when, where, and why.

This is a good rule of thumb when writing an email invite. If you can point to your email and identify all five, you’re off to a great start.

Take this email, for example:

This is a wonderful event email because it answers the five questions:

Who: Vanessa De Luca

What: A seminar called “Women Who Lead”

When: December 11th, 4-6 PM

Where: HubSpot

Why: To have a conversation that emphasizes creating space for women to share and own their narratives.

By reading this email, I wouldn’t have any follow-up questions about event logistics. I know exactly when and where I need to be, and what the event will be about. Notice how this email isn’t the flashiest or most animated, but it gets the job done and still has personality.

2. Remember that less is more.

You need to cover all your bases in email invites, but remember not to crowd your email with details. If you find yourself struggling to fit the time of the event in your email, you probably have too much other information.

You don’t want to make it confusing to read, which might turns readers away from your event. I wouldn’t want to attend an event that comes with a poorly organized email — since I’d assume the event could be poorly organized, as well.

To consider the “less is more” sentiment, take a look at this email from Starbucks about their Happy Hour, which are special times where Starbucks Rewards members can enjoy specialty drinks at lower prices:

starbucks happy hour event email invite

This email still answers all base questions without needing paragraphs to explain. So if your event is a recurring one or something low-key, forego the extra words and set up the email as more of a reminder to RSVP.

3. Don’t forget a CTA.

I’m not sure what we were doing before adding calls-to-action (CTAs) to event invitation emails, but it’s a good thing we’re not in that world anymore. Take this sample email I made using HubSpot’s email software:

HubSpot email event invite example

As a consumer who forgets nearly everything that’s not on her calendar, I need a CTA that automatically adds an event to my calendar. Additionally, it makes it easy to RSVP, since all it takes is a click of a button

As a marketer who cares about click-to-open-rates and tracking those who clicked on the CTA, it means being able to measure those results in a content management system to think about ways to improve for the next event email.

Including a CTA is a win for both sides — as a marketer, it gives you metrics to track click-through rates, and consumers will appreciate the delightful user experience.

4. Make the design enjoyable.

Before you finalize your email, think about whether you’d attend the event based solely on the design. If the answer is no, you probably need to put more effort into the aesthetic of your email.

You might be pulling a blank on how to design a beautiful email, and that’s okay. Keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Stick with your branding — Start by choosing the colors that match your brand and incorporate them into your email. Colors go a longer way than traditional black and white text.
  • Choose a template — As someone who knows little about coding and equally as little about design, templates have become a lifesaver. Websites like Canva or Mailchimp have an array of templates you can use to create your email, like this template from Canva:
Canva example of a stunning template

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  • Play with simple elements — Simple things, like shapes and sizes, really help an email’s design. Refer to the image above and how it uses circles and cylinders to fill negative space in an interesting way.

Thinking of elements like these can brighten up an email, as well as experimenting with sizes of text. If you’ve found you want to take up more space in your email, make the font sizes bigger and incorporate shapes or designs like stripes running across the header.

5. Consider your language.

Always, always check the language of your email. Think about the vibe your message sends, and if it’s the right one you want to convey. You’re communicating your event details, but you’re also conveying your brand.

Double-check elements like your CTA: Is it more inviting than the standard, “Learn more!” that has become routine in emails? What about your text? Does it drop playful language where applicable?

Stunning language in an email example

For instance, this INBOUND email is a great example of laid-back language. The language is more conversational than formal.

When you use conversational language, the reader feels more connected to your invite, like you already know them.

6. Think about the details.

When you’re done designing your email, think about little details that will delight your invitees. Have you created a thank you or follow up email? Have you made the subject line something that will captivate subscribers?

Little details like subject lines can be more emotionally engaging to your audience. Ultimately, audiences will be delighted if you show in your invite that you had them in mind. Some people open emails based on the subject line, so it can also make or break your email performance.

If your event location is difficult to find, consider including directions in the bottom of the invite. An event that includes some kind of map or directions in the invite tells me that the sender took people’s commutes into consideration, like this one:

Example of delighting customers in an event email invitation

You can include directions by adding a Google Maps screenshot into your email, or using email marketing software to embed a Maps feature into your template.

Your event is set to go off without a hitch, and your email event invitation should, too. If you use online software to create an email, you can pull off a professional, flawless design in less time than you think.

By focusing on the important information, honing in on simple yet effective design elements, and making the language pop, your email invite will set itself apart from others in a way that’s inviting and delightful for readers.

Don’t forget to scroll through your own inbox for inspiration, too!

What Is a CMS and Why Should You Care?

Deep in the sea of acronyms in the marketing world, there’s an overwhelming amount to keep straight. SEO, CRM, SERP, CTR, and CToR are all important acronyms that can roll off of the tongue for most of us.

What about CMS?

Whether you’re new to marketing or have been in the industry for years, this acronym may be completely new to you. It also may be the answer you’re looking for if you need a professional website, fast, with limited technical resources.

A CMS can help you build exciting, delightful content, resulting in more conversions and lead generation. If you’ve never heard of it, or have always seen the term thrown around and never knew exactly what it meant, this post is for you.

Rather than opening up HTML or JavaScript, CMS software does that for you, so you’re able to pick and choose how your content will look once it’s live on a webpage. Additionally, to save you the task of building systems that create pages and CTA buttons, a CMS can take care of those things for you.

Having a CMS helps marketers who need to operate a fully-functioning website, but lack coding experience. A CMS can be used to create web pages, such as an “About” page or a blog, so focusing on customer-specific content is easier (and less stressful).

Why do you need a CMS?

If any of these scenarios are pain points at work, it may be time to look into how a CMS can help you streamline processes and organize content.

Limited Resources

If you’re working with limited technical resources, it might be imperative to save you time and the gripe of wondering if your website is professional enough. For example, maybe you don’t have the software needed to code a webpage or don’t have a developer.

Because CMS software is so expansive and comprehensible, it’s a simple process to add, update, or remove content from a website. You won’t have to spend extra time figuring that out.

SEO Plugins

Additionally, with a CMS, you can optimize web pages for search engines, which is extremely helpful in getting your contact to rank highly on Google. That way, potential leads can find you, and you’ll have an amazing-looking website when they do.

Lack of Coding Knowledge

You may find yourself in a position where you need a new landing page or something similar, but you don’t have enough time to build one from scratch. With a CMS, that process can be straightforward.

Allows for Collaboration

Multiple members can have access to CMS software. Every team member would individually use their account to work collaboratively on team projects, like editing a landing page. They also have the capability to save templates of webpages, as well.

Ultimately, a CMS consolidates processes that may be impossible to a marketer.

Best CMS Platforms

HubSpot offers a CMS that’s for businesses at any stage. If you’re thinking of piloting a CMS, find out more about HubSpot’s trial here. There are alternative CMS options like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, as well — take a look at WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal: Which Is the Right CMS Platform for Your Site? To investigate alternative options to HubSpot.

HubSpot

HubSpot’s CMS allows you to build websites that are powerful, optimized for search engines, and secure. You can manage all of your marketing and content in one place, which allows for easy collaboration.

The tools in HubSpot’s CMS lets you personalize every visitor experience. Personalized content improves the experience of the user, having felt targeted.

WordPress

With WordPress, you’ll have more than a blogging website. With the plugins and widgets you can add to a WordPress site, you can create a unique experience specific to your brand.

These plugins and widgets can add sidebars, calls-to-action, unique forms, and more. The easy-to-use tools in WordPress is that you can be as minimal with the design or as flexible as you want.

Joomla

Joomla is similar to WordPress in that it offers many plugins and widgets to expand your website. Both platforms are also free and come with webpage templates.

While other CMS platforms adopt an expansive all-in-one experience with content management, Joomla focuses on building and designing websites. It’s a good platform to use for straightforward website management.

Drupal

Drupal’s homepage has CMS information split into sections for developers, marketers, and agencies. As an open-source platform, Drupal is another website that allows for a lot of customization opportunity.

Drupal is different because the platform is more on the technical side. It would mostly benefit the marketer with more than a working knowledge of code who doesn’t have the time to learn the extra skills needed to build an entire website.

It can be a huge pain to get a proper website up and running — that’s why more SMBs are finding that having a CMS has helped them exponentially.

If you’re in a spot that sounds similar, give a CMS a try and see if it works for you.

7 Incredible Examples of A/B Tests by Real Businesses

Whether you’re looking to increase revenue, sign-ups, social shares, or engagement, A/B testing and optimization can help you get there.But for many marketers out there, the tough part about A/B testing is often finding the right test to drive the biggest impact — especially when you’re just getting started.

So, what’s the recipe for high-impact success?

Truthfully, there is no one-size-fits-all recipe. What works for one business won’t work for another — and vice versa.

But just because you can’t replicate the same test and expect the same result doesn’t mean you can’t get inspired by other companies’ tests.

In this post, let’s review seven excellent examples of how companies use A/B testing. While the same tests may not get you the same results, they can get you inspired to run creative tests of your own.

1. HubSpot’s Mobile Calls-to-Action

HubSpot uses several different calls-to-action in its blog posts. For instance, on this blog, you’ll notice anchor text in the introduction, a graphic CTA at the bottom, and a slide-in CTA when you scroll through the post.

However, on mobile, these CTAs might seem intrusive. That’s why HubSpot tested mobile CTAs.

Previous A/B tests revealed that HubSpot’s mobile audience was 44% more likely to click through to an offer landing page and 18% more likely to convert on the offer if all CTAs were stripped from blog posts and there was only one CTA bar at the bottom of the page with no ability to exit.

So, HubSpot decided to test different versions of the bottom-of-the-page CTA bar, using thank you page views as the primary metric and CTA clicks as the secondary metric.

HubSpot used four variants for this test.

For variant A, the control, the traditional placement of CTAs remained unchanged.

For variant B, the CTA had a maximize/minimize option so readers could dismiss the CTA. This could be accomplished by an up/down caret.

For variant C, the CTA had an X that would completely dismiss the CTA from the post. At this point, there would be no formal CTA on the blog.

HubSpot bottom of the page CTA with an exit option.

For variant D, the CTA had no X or minimize/maximize option.

HubSpot bottom of the page CTA bar.

Overall, variant B saw a 7.9% increase, variant C saw an 11.4% decrease, and variant D saw a 14.6% increase.

From those numbers, HubSpot was able to project that using variant D on mobile would lead to about 1,300 additional submissions each month.

2. Groove’s Landing Page Design

Every marketer will have to build a landing page at some point. But building a landing page that’ll convert is hard.

Groove experienced that first hand when the company learned one of its landing pages was only converting at 2.3%.

However, Groove wasn’t sure why the page wasn’t converting. To figure it out, its team went on a journey. They looked up resources and talked to marketing experts to figure out why their site wasn’t working.

That’s when the company learned that the messaging was all wrong. To figure out how to appeal to its customers, Groove decided to reach out and actually talk to real users.

Then, when the team rebuilt their landing page, they focused on copy first, and design second. Only when the copy was completely finished and approved did they start the visual aspect of designing.

Overall, the tweaks to messaging ultimately doubled their conversions to 4.7%.

Groove's old landing page compared to its new landing page.

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3. HubSpot’s Site Search

Most websites contain a search bar at the top of the page that gives users the ability to search for a specific topic or term on the site.

Based on previous data, HubSpot found that non-bounce desktop users who engage with search have a 163.8% higher blog lead conversion rate than those who do not. However, only a very small percent of blog traffic interacts with the search bar. That’s why HubSpot decided to test the visual prominence and functionality of the site search bar.

HubSpot used three variants for this test, using offer thank you page views as the primary metric.

For variant A, the site search bar increased visual prominence and altered the placeholder text to “search by topic.”

HubSpot site search A/B test variations.

For variant B, the search bar had increased visual prominence, the placeholder text was altered to “search by topic,” and the search function searched the blog, rather than the whole site.

For variant C, the search bar had increased visual prominence, the placeholder text was changed to “search the blog,” and the search function searched the blog, rather than the whole site.

HubSpot site search bar altered language from A/B test.

As a result, HubSpot found that all three variants increased the conversion rate. However, variant C showed a 3.4% increase in conversion rate and a 6.46% increase in users who engage in the search bar.

4. Csek Creative Homepage Design

The copy on your homepage is important because it helps users decide whether they want to continue looking deeper into your site.

In this example, a digital agency decided to test the tagline on its homepage. Ultimately, the goal was to decrease the bounce rate.

Before the A/B test, Csek’s tagline read: Csek Creative is a Kelowna based digital agency that delivers the results that make business sense.”

Csek Creative control landing page language.

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To make the copy less vague and more explanatory of the services it offered, Csek Creative changed the verbiage to: “Csek Creative is a digital agency that helps companies with their online and offline marketing needs.”

Csek's newly written tagline on its homepage.

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Expecting minor results, this change actually resulted in an 8.2% increase in click-throughs to other pages on the site.

5. HubSpot’s Email vs. In-App Notification Center

Gathering reviews from users isn’t always an easy task. That’s why HubSpot decided to A/B test ways to reach out to customers. The methods tested? In-app notifications versus email.

HubSpot decided to send an in-app notification and email alerting users that they were the champion user of the month and would receive a $10 gift card if they left a review on the Capterra site.

For variant A, HubSpot sent a plain text email to users.

HubSpot's plain text email requesting users leave a review.For variant B, HubSpot used a certification, templated email.

HubSpot's templated email asking customers to leave a review.

For variant C, HubSpot sent an in-app notification.

HubSpot's in-app notification to users requesting they leave a review.

HubSpot found that unlike with emails, in-app notifications are often overlooked or missed by users. The emails outperformed in-app notifications by 1.4x. From both emails, 24.9% of those who opened the email left a review, compared to 10.3% of those who opened the in-app notification.

6. Humana’s Site Banners

Many landing pages showcase large banners at the top of the page. That’s valuable real estate, and if the banner isn’t optimal, it could end up doing more harm than good.

That’s why Humana, a healthcare insurance provider, decided to test its landing page banners.

In the control, Humana had been using a banner that displayed a lot of copy, a weak CTA, and no clear and concise message.

Humana control banner for its A/B test.

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However, for variation B the company decided to simplify the message. This variation ended up receiving 433% more clickthroughs than the control.

Humana variation B site banner.

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Humana didn’t stop there. Once variant B became successful, the company decided to make it the new control and wanted to test the CTA.

With variation C, Humana switched the CTA language to include language that was a harder sell, such as “Shop.” The company decided this would be a good approach because customers signing up for Medicare have a limited window to make a decision.

Humana uses a harder sell for its CTA on its landing page.

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The change in language resulted in a 192% increase in clickthrough.

7. Unbounce’s Tweet vs. Email CTA

On most landing pages, marketers typically ask users for an email address to deliver their content offers.

However, Unbounce decided to test whether customers would rather give an email address or just tweet about a product.

Both options have pros and cons for the company. Asking for an email address means your company can build a list of potential prospects while asking people to tweet can build viral momentum and increase social exposure.

The first landing page in this A/B test asked users to give their email address in exchange for an ebook.

Unbounce landing page asking users for an email address.

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The second landing page asked users to send a tweet in exchange for the ebook.

Unbounce landing page asks users to tweet about a product in exchange for a content offer.

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Overall, people far preferred giving out an email address. In the end, the email landing page had a 24% conversion lift.

These companies all saw these amazing results because they started testing. If you want to get the same results, you’ve got to get started, too. For more information, be sure to check out the on-demand webinarOptimize Your Online Marketing Channels,” hosted by Optimizely and HubSpot.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

How to Build a Product Ecosystem Buyers Will Want to Be In

When I hear the word ecosystem, I think of my science class as a kid. Specifically, I remember having to choose an environmental ecosystem to do a project on. I chose the tundra ecosystem and talked about how the living and nonliving things in this climate worked together to survive the harsh, frozen, and typically snow-covered environment — none of them would make it without the value each element and organism provided.

You might be wondering why I’m telling you this story (a valid thought on your part, if that’s the case). Here’s my logic: An environmental ecosystem functions in a very similar way to a product ecosystem. A product ecosystem is when products can coexist in a way that’s beneficial for the customer (not to mention, brings in more revenue for the business).

In this post, we’ll take a look at successful product ecosystems and why buyers want to be a part of them.

Why is a product ecosystem valuable?

The process of building a successful product ecosystem is valuable for businesses for numerous reasons — product ecosystems work …

  • To solve for all of the needs of your customers — which helps improve brand loyalty and advocacy.
  • To boost revenue by making it easy for customers to expand their library of your products.
  • To prevent your customers from having to invest in other products that are sold by your competitors and other brands.
  • To make the lives of your customers easier by solving for a wide array of challenges within the system they’re already a part of.
  • To create products that support each other and coexist in a way that makes them stronger and more useful for customers.
  • To support the development of your product line over time by making updates that improve their ability to connect and work in tandem with each other.
  • To offer a greater range of services for customers and, therefore, improve your chances of becoming known as an impactful player in your industry.

Next, consider an example of a successful ecosystem to gain a better understanding of the way in which they function.

Example of a Product Ecosystem

An example of a successful product ecosystem is the one Apple has created. Apple has a host of products that connect with each other to effectively and easily meet the technological needs of its target audience. Read the following potential scenario to see what I mean.

Plug your iPhone into your MacBook Pro to view all details related to the phone including your storage, different aspects of your phone’s history, your music library, and more via your laptop. And speaking of your music, connect your AirPods in just seconds to your iPhone and your MacBook for seamless listening opportunities cross-device.

Then, lock your phone and close your MacBook Pro prior to heading out on a run. Throw on your Apple Watch so you can leave those larger devices at home while maintaining access to your music with your AirPods. Don’t worry, your Apple Watch will still notify you of your call, text, and email notifications while out on the running trail. Meanwhile, your mileage, time, heart rate, and other workout details will also be recorded while you’re running. Then, when you return from your run, head into your home office and plug your Apple Watch into your iMac to view your workout summary on the easy-to-view display screen.

This is just one example of how a few of the products within Apple’s ecosystem coexist to improve their value to and simplify the lives of its customers.

How to Build a Product Ecosystem

You can build your product ecosystem in a number of ways. Below, we’ll review four of the most common steps when doing so. These steps are all-encompassing so you can incorporate them into your process no matter the industry you’re in.

1. Listen to your customers.

For a product ecosystem to be beneficial to buyers, you need to ensure your products or services are effectively solve the challenges and pain points of your target audience. To do this, listen to your customers. Ask them what they’re missing in your current products and services; ask them about the work they do on a daily basis so you can determine the best ways to meet and exceed their needs with the support of your product ecosystem.

Here are some ways to develop a stronger understanding of your customers, and listen to their needs, to ensure your product ecosystem is valuable:

2. Simplify the connections within your product ecosystem.

Part of the reason buyers want to be in a product ecosystem is the ease that comes from using the products of a single brand. For example, as a HubSpot user, you can manage your entire business, across all departments, within the one system. As the businesses of HubSpot customers grow and their needs expand, they can easily purchase or connect to additional products, tools, or Hubs within the software in mere seconds.

By making connections and integrations simple, your product ecosystem becomes more valuable for customers. This also helps you improve your brand loyalty, as customers will be less likely to get frustrated and spend time identifying the product ecosystems of other businesses that are simpler and more efficient.

3. Consistently update and improve your product ecosystem.

As mentioned, your first step in creating a product ecosystem requires you to ask for, and listen to, customer feedback. Continue to do this as your ecosystem evolves and expands, not just as you make your initial plans to build it.

This way, you create products within the ecosystem that effectively solve the needs of your customers. It will also help you update and improve individual parts of your ecosystem as needed in a way that makes being a part of it valuable for customers.

4. Make joining your ecosystem valuable for customers.

By working through the above steps, you’ll likely have no issue achieving this final step — however, it’s still important to reiterate the need for your product ecosystem to be valuable for customers to join. 

Think about it — your ecosystem won’t succeed among your target audience and customers if it includes products with functions and features that aren’t cohesive or powerful when grouped together. After all, this is how any ecosystem functions — through the collaboration of each piece and member.

Build Your Product Ecosystem

Building a product ecosystem your buyers want to be a part of is how your business can improve loyalty among customers, boost revenue, improve retention rates, and become better-known as an industry leader. So, think about the needs of your customers, the ways in which you can better serve them with your ecosystem, and how an ecosystem can make your product line more valuable.

Your Personal Lifestyle Essay or dissertation – this Confederacy

Modern day lifestyle very own wonderful pieces in conjunction with bad. Own life is the latest chain of experiences. We have a singular element I’ve observed a number of within this unique living, individuals are offending, they typically look tangled and often fearful of tips on how to address factors they may be facing. When you prefer to be effective on your life, and then first thing of which you will need to execute should be to take the opportunity to decide just the thing which will methods to you. With the person living this, her your life provides the which means in earth. A new healthy everyday life is significant to steer a really good life. Beneficial every day life is reached by just the mix for healthier physique in addition to healthy and balanced mind.

If the really being has never professional life, it cannot bum out over getting rid of it. Identifying these products simply because one of the keys substances at all with existence is centered on as quick, so when tricky, as as it all gets. It should make a difference, though it may be cloudy how. One of the most important important things for people who looking for to fulfill its purpose for self-employment is to dependable reinforcement. Are various kinds of technique for seeking to recognise the idea of a person, e.g. the latest article writer or maybe a philosopher.

Ask regardless of whether people truly are in need of it. It can be essential that you choose to sacrifice yourself with regard to individuals who seem to will forfeit his or her self designed for you. Following finding to communicate in using people you will come to be fine. It is best to love men and women that adore you together with discover how to go forward as a result of those who don’t. With the field of Spirituality there isn’t really area for really any specific destructive thinking. It can be not absolutely an easy task to get pleased every one of the second, it entails practice. In cases where an ideal time for them to launch composing ended up being the other day, then the 2nd optimal/optimally time period can be now.

Community marketing is only a technique as well as require designed for consumers that will use. Precious or, it’s not possible your special article content! The positioning does not need to have matter in your health and safety and even because of this, it is advisable to remain reliable regardless of what. Three or more, everyone have to to take into consideration an individual can payments from enduring to make sure you do this kind of dream. As stated from the interest look at, to get morally essential, a particular deserves interests. Furthermore, this is regarded as general interest of those that rise in your everyday living and even the most significant factor for achieving a lot found in living length of individuals. It isn’t really the amount of money you might have, the quantity of prosperity you might have inside the bank.

You have got to control his more than self-assurance to try and do financial success consistently. Basically, there is 3 varieties thought patterns which usually could help found in knowing the attitude-behavior look and feel regarding a student, these are positive perspective, unfavorable perspective, along with natural attitude. Within the exact opposite give, bad approach is a thinking in which men and women respond inconsistently with. You are able to gain anything you like should you have got the best option frame of mind everyday you could have! Furthermore there are a number of reasons why it really is critical to get into frame of mind with memory space tasks of somebody. Okigbo’s impacts won’t be limited to Africa.going in order to Gerard Manley Hopkins as well as a mix of Western, Japanese, and Cameras influences. Economic downturn and the benefit in the Superb Sadness restrained her prospect of selecting job for the trumpeter. The issues shall be involving famous literature and then the method that you understand it. One can find 3 distinctive tips you could look at in regards to the article student database design assignment car rental lease assignment forms you’re writing for you to get the scholarship money. There does exist very likely the essay or dissertation within the the following essay. Textbooks are a fantastic way to obtain suggestions, major along with small.

Living dreams and even man or women elements are extremely required for heaps of different person’s in your society. Which will accomplish your entire possibilities and additionally contact your current goals you need to do issues you do not prefer to achieve, stuff you worry about, get you to nervous and even issue you. This in essence means you will only achieve it any time you really think good quality, you should have additional prospect of carrying against each other, particularly if are certainly not dedicated excessively a lot of men and women, as well as it’s going to be treasured possibly even more. Them provides for us a chance to go to completely unique panoramas and then, many times throughout certain periods in time. End up Gentle Quite a few wouldn’t fully feel the is extremely important, nevertheless collectors fancies are certainly not reciprocated, there does exist the perfect approach to target it. It’s essential to constantly make sure that an individual moderate your feeling. It is really stated that modern-day people need longer life spans. Philosophy can easily help somebody on an emotional level, but yet this may not be essential for you to objective of philosophy. Your philosophy–in its most effective form–is have a great personal life and even share it.’ ‘Otherworldliness doesn’t always have each and every marriage anything by way of religion. It again genuinely is definitely the heart and soul involved with life. The outdoors has love that while you are hunting at your best town spot using the new and good 243 scopes. A straightforward but yet valuable information plus use of the aforementioned runs a real challenge solutions to achieve a new nutritious life. Also, a association around personality traits and even conforming tendencies might not be clear-cut. As well often, union is definitely an endeavor to assist you to posses another.

The two companies are likely to conclude the talks soon, www.phonetrackingapps.com/text-message-spying the 21 century business herald reported, citing unnamed sources

The Facebook Ad Types: How to Choose the Best Ad Type for Your Goals

Did you know that people in the U.S. spend 20% of their mobile time on Facebook or InstagramAnd there are over 1.8 billion people using Facebook every month?

With so many active users, Facebook Ads are a no-brainer for any marketer looking to reach new audiences in a place where people are already spending a significant amount of time.

Facebook’s business platform has grown to be more and more sophisticated, giving advertisers more options to reach new audiences and retarget previous site visitors back to their brand. However, with so many different options, it can be difficult for advertisers to figure out which Facebook Ad type is best for any given campaign objective.

In this post, we’ll walk through each of the different Facebook Ad types and help you figure out which ads you should run for different campaign goals.

1. Post Engagement

If you regularly post content on your Facebook page, you probably know that some content performs better than others. With Facebook post engagement ads, you can drive more engagement on individual posts and expand its original reach. This helps you generate more activity on your posts and helps you get more organic followers quickly by offering them the kinds of posts they’ll see more of if they follow you.

In the example below, the Fashion Stork Club ad promotes an update this company made to their Facebook photos. Notice that the add displays the post engagement (likes, comments, shares) along with the post to encourage viewers to engage with it.

The ad also features a “like page” button which allows the advertiser to generate both page likes and post engagements all in one post. 

2. Instant Experience

While app engagement ads are intended to highlight specific features to drive in-app engagements, app install ads are focused on generating new users. Instead of calling out specific features, app install ads are more likely to showcase the app’s core purpose and main functionality. 

App Install Ads

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3. Video

The video ad features help educate your audience about your product features using video. 

Videos should be the highest resolution possible in aspect ratios 9:16 or 16:9. They also need to be a minimum of one second to a max of 240 minutes. A cool thing about Facebook’s video ads is that you can upload a 360 ad, which is an immersive experience where users can drag their finger or turn their device to see an ad. 

Brand Awareness

In the example above, Spotify’s ad uses a creative, colorful video that focuses on finding new music and playlists for users to enjoy. While a user might see the add and decide to sign up for Spotify immediately, Spotify used the brand awareness approach to create compelling content to draw the user’s attention.

4. Event Responses

Whether you have a new store opening or just want to boost awareness for one of your store’s existing locations, you might consider using the local awareness ad type to drive brand awareness in specific geographic regions. This ad type is largely the same as brand awareness ads, but will be more oriented and targeted via location. 

Local Awareness

For example, Cold Stone Creamery used a local awareness ad to target people in a geographic area when their store in Bangladesh opened. Notice how in this ad, Cold Stone chose to use a video as the creative asset featured in the ad. This is a great way to engage users and entice them to stop scrolling down their newsfeed. 

5. Offers

During the website conversion ads section, we touched on the fact that you could use conversion-focused offers as a landing point for your Facebook ad. That said, Facebook also allows you to set off-site offer downloads as a campaign objective. 

Whether you have discounts, holiday deals, or content-specific offers to promote via Facebook ads, the offer claim objective allows you to customize your ads with calls-to-action specific to the offer. For example, you might use a “Learn More” call-to-action if you’re offering something that’s good only for the first 500 sign-ups, like in the ad example below:

Offer Claim Ad

Offer Claim Ad

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As you can see, the offer claim Facebook Ad type should lead your users directly to a sign-up page on your website where they can claim the offer you promoted.

6. Lead Generation Ads

In a traditional lead generation conversion path, users are driven to a landing page where they fill out a form. For example, you might use a Facebook offer claim ad (like we discussed in the previous section) to drive users to your website and have them fill out a form there.

The downside to this conversion path is that users are required to leave Facebook altogether once they’ve clicked on the ad to actually claim what you’re promoting. Luckily, Facebook offers the lead generation objective, which allows you to collect lead information without forcing your audience to ever leave the Facebook app. 

Here’s an example that shows the conversion path the user goes through on a Facebook lead ad.

First, the user see a traditional conversion-focused ad:

Facebook Lead Ads

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Once the user clicks on the add and/or call-to-action (in this case, Sign-Up), they see this pop up within the Facebook app:

Facebook Lead Ads

Next, the user can click the register button and see a form (of your choosing) with their information auto-filled.

Facebook Lead Ads

Once the user submits the form on the lead ad, they can click out of the ad and go back to browsing on Facebook. It’s a great user experience and Facebook will sync with your CRM so your leads are right where you want them. 

Want more information on how to set up and successful target Facebook lead ads to the right users? Check out this comprehensive guide. 

7. Page Likes

In some cases, you may want to use Facebook Ads to expand your organic reach. When this is your campaign goal, you should use the page like ad type to encourage new users to “like” your page. Once they do, they’ll be able to see your organic content when you post it.

Page Like Ads

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Page like campaigns are best for advertisers who put lots of effort into their social media presence and produce content specifically for their Facebook users to drive engagement.

Keep in mind, you can also ad a “like page” call-to-action option to other ad types if you want to accomplish two goals with one ad. 

8. Slideshow

Slideshow ads, in Facebook’s opinion, are kind of in the video category, kind of not. Think of them as billboards: they move quickly and can give an immersive ad experience. Slideshows are an affordable alternative to video, and also provide a quick loading time, so you can capture the attention span of someone who doesn’t want to wait for videos. 

These are a possible option for you if you want to quickly make ads. Facebook gives you the option of choosing from stock images and free video editing tools to make your ad spectacular. You can even choose music. 

Slideshows are also great for you if you want to simplify a process that is a little bit more complex. Like Carousels, you can use quickly moving images to tell a story or sequence.

9. Carousel

Carousel ads are very diverse and Facebook hosts them on their website, Instagram, Messenger, and Audience Network. Carousels lets you show up to 10 images or videos in one ad. This expansive ad space embraces creativity. 

Common ways to use carousel ads are product demos, product highlights, showcasing specs about a product, and a way to tell stories. Although they’re popular on Instagram, Carousels also have a place on Facebook, and can attract users who are into an interactive experience.

10. Collection

If you’re releasing a lot of products at once, collection ads may be something you look into, especially at the end of a campaign that drives a lot of interest. This is because collection ads lets interested buyers move from discovering your product to purchasing in a streamlined method.

Collection ads are pretty much like an online store, with a primary image of the product along with four images customers can tap through. If they decide to purchase, they can do so without leaving the platform. 

11. Image

For driving visitors to your site, a quick creation process, and keeping things simple, image ads are right up your alley. They are a common form of an ad and come with fewer bells and whistles than other formats. Still, they can be extremely effective.

With a single, stunning image and little text, you can create a stunning image ad, where that picture will be the focal point. Images on Facebook gives you a format to use, with spaces to make sure your photo is incredible and you have the option to include copy.

How to Choose Which Facebook Ad Type to Use

We’ve covered all of the different Facebook Ad types campaign objectives you can use to meet your specific ads goals. But is that all encompassing? Not really. 

In reality, many of the Facebook Ad type campaign objectives overlap, and you could use multiple ad types to accomplish the same objective. Additionally, Facebook has many different options for you to choose from once you pick a campaign objective, which means choosing an ad type isn’t even half of the battle. 

So how do you decide which ad type to use?

1) Define your campaign goal.

Before you begin any ad campaign, you first need to determine what the goal of your campaign is. Are you trying to drive conversions on your website? Drive attendance for an upcoming event? Simply get more customers to your local store?

Don’t just come up with a campaign around which ad type you want to use. Instead, start with your own marketing needs and build your ad around it. 

2) Choose relevant types you could use.

Once you’ve defined the goal of your ad campaign, take a look at the different Facebook Ad types available to you. Luckily, you already know what each of the ad types are. 

Choose the type most relevant to your goals. You probably noticed Facebook has multiple ad types you could use for a single objective. If your goal is to drive downloads for an ebook, for example, you could use any one of the following options: 

  1. Clicks to Website
  2. Website Conversions
  3. Lead Generation
  4. Offer Claims

3) Narrow down your options.

Once you’ve chosen which ad types are most applicable to your needs, choose the one you think will work best for you campaign. Or, use the same creative, copy, and targeting options to set up a campaign test using different ad types and see if one performs better than the other. 

4) Write copy and create assets.

One great feature of Facebook’s Ads Manager tool is the wide range of creative and layout options you have available to you. Not only can you choose between image, video, photo grid, and carousel layouts,  you can also customize your ads for mobile and desktop audiences.

Facebook also has lots of different calls-to-action you can use on your ads, or you can choose not to use one at all! As you run different ad campaigns, make sure to test and analyze what works best for your audience. 

5) Use different ad types for different campaign goals.

Don’t just stick to one ad type for all of your campaigns. Instead, make sure you’re optimizing your ads for the right campaign objectives. Try out different Facebook Ad types and different ad campaigns to optimize your ad strategy for your audience.

6) Target the right audience.

Creating the draft of your ad is only half the battle. The other half is figuring out how to target the right audience for your ads campaign.

Luckily, our free guide to Facebook Lead Ads has an in-depth section on how to set up your targeting strategy for any ad campaign you run.

7) Test, analyze, and repeat.

Once you’ve defined your campaign objective, selected your ad type, created your ad, and targeted the right audience, it’s time to analyze your results.

Remember: digital advertising is all about testing, analyzing, and optimizing future ad campaigns over time. Make sure you follow this important final important step, and you’ll be on your way to implementing a high-ROI ads strategy in no time.

You may be wondering, “Okay, which Facebook Ad type should I definitely try right away?

We just put together this in-depth guide on Facebook Lead Ads. It’ll help you learn everything you need to know about optimizing lead generation ads that allow users to submit forms to you without ever leaving Facebook. Check it out here or click the banner below.

 

The New Approach to Work-Life Balance

CareerBuilder found that nearly half of American workers check email after they leave work, and 45% say they do work during non-business hours.

Additionally, this phenomenon crosses global borders, prompting new laws in France and a campaign in Japan to limit working hours.

Of course, we’d all love a little more balance in our lives. But it’s more than that. We need it.

Today’s “always on” mentality has serious consequences. Stanford professors Joel Goh, Jeffrey Pfeffer, and Stefanos Zenios found that more than 120,000 deaths per year and approximately 5%–8% of annual healthcare costs may be attributable to workplace stress from long working hours, job insecurity, work-family conflict, high job demands, and low social support at work.

But achieving work-life balance is hard. Obviously, reducing workplace stress is essential. But, despite finding that those who take vacation and travel are happier in their personal and professional lives, Project Time Off also found that more than half of American workers don’t take all of the vacation days they’ve earned.

By contrast, many other countries offer or mandate additional vacation days. For example, The Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the United States is the only country surveyed that doesn’t have a law requiring paid leave. Compare that to Germany (20 days), the United Kingdom (28 days), and Australia (20 days). With the exception of the United States, laws in other countries mandate a minimum of 10-30 days of paid leave per year.

The Work-Life Balance Matrix

Work life balance can (and should) look different for everyone, based on what’s most important to you. There may be times in life when you’re focused on career and personal development, and other times when your focus turns to family or a favorite hobby.

In other words, work-life balance examples run the gamut. But we’ve got some tips to help you find the work-life balance that’s just right for you.

Before addressing areas that might be out of balance, it’s a good idea to first understand what you value and how satisfied you are with the time you’re allocating to those areas of your life. When I was touring colleges, I used a weighted decision matrix to score each campus on the things I cared about. Ever since, I’ve used this handy tool to evaluate everything from jobs, to apartments, to vacation spots.

Here’s a sample of a completed matrix, with steps to complete your own, below:

Step 1: Create a list of 4-6 categories that most contribute to your satisfaction in life. I recommend using categories that are broad enough to encompass changing life phases, but narrow enough to act upon. You can use anything that contributes to your satisfaction, from hobbies, to career, to family, to spirituality, and volunteer work.

I also recommend that these categories have a significant effect on how you make life choices, how you spend your time, and have actionable and measurable steps associated with them.

For example, while it may significantly increase your satisfaction to “be a successful person,” a better category might be career. Or, if your satisfaction is impacted by “helping people,” a more actionable category might be “volunteer work.”

Step 2: Assign each of the chosen categories a percentage for the amount that the category impacts your satisfaction. For example, if your categories include family, career, hobbies, charity work, and education, you might say that family is 30%, career is 25%, hobbies are 10%, charity work is 20%, and education is 15%.

Be honest with yourself when choosing and rating each category. If you honestly don’t receive much satisfaction from hobbies, don’t give it more weight than career.

Step 3: Assign a percentage for your current satisfaction in each category. Are you 100% satisfied in your career? Are you only 50% satisfied with your family life? Go through each category and give an honest percentage with how satisfied you are with that area of your life.

Step 4: Multiply the satisfaction percentage with the weight of each category. Now add the categories up. The end percentage is how satisfied you are with your life. What’s your total? It’s rare than anyone will be 100% satisfied, but maybe 90%? What if your percentage is low, say, 30% satisfied?

Step 5: Analyze the results, and determine which areas of your life are causing the most dissatisfaction. What steps can you take to change that? How much of your satisfaction is built on choices and situations within your control, and how much is not in your control?

7 Work-Smart Strategies

Once you’ve quantified your life satisfaction, it’s time to start tackling areas with lower scores. Most people struggle with finding enough hours in the day to fit it all in, especially for personal time. Working smarter and savvy time management help you free up mental capacity, physical hours, and emotional space to accommodate more of the activities you love.

1. Just say no to low-impact work.

We all want to play as a team, but helping out on too many projects sucks up your time, leaving too little for the work that really matters. Setting quality OKRs (objectives and key results) is the key to knowing which activities are high-value, and which will distract you from accomplishing your goals.

And this doesn’t stop with office tasks. If the committee you’ve chaired for three years no longer brings you joy, step down and get back to participating in a way that feeds your soul. Are too many hobbies making you feel stressed and frenetic? Pare them down to the activities that bring the most pleasure. If an activity is not bringing you joy and helping you progress towards your goals, give it up!

When going through these steps last year, I recognized that I was feeling stressed and guilty about my role as a board member for a local community theater. I kept skipping meetings because of other commitments and I felt like I wasn’t contributing. I still wanted to volunteer on an ad-hoc basis, so I sent a note to the board president explaining that while I didn’t have time to make the required commitment to board duties for the coming year, I’d still love to participate by helping staff auditions, contributing time and money to opening night festivities, and acting as the house manager for productions. This allowed me to keep the things that brought me joy, and provided much needed support on a more reliable cadence for the theater.

2. Stop multi-tasking.

Seriously. How many browser tabs do you have open right now? Multitasking makes you think you’re getting more done, but research from the American Psychological Association has shown it reduces productivity by as much as 40%.

Instead, break each project into time-bound tasks, and spend focused amounts of time completing each element. Prioritize the tasks that require input from others for completion so that you can finish your portion of the project and hand it off to the next worker. Parallelizing work (where multiple work streams happen at the same time by different people) is an efficient use of time, but trying to do it all yourself is a recipe for disaster.

3. Break work down into achievable tasks.

Create a project plan that includes all the tasks you need to accomplish for the quarter. Then, divide the tasks in monthly and weekly to-dos. These can be kept on a team whiteboard, personal notepad, or shared Trello board. Whatever method you choose, make sure that you can check things off the list when complete, and move activities to the next phase of the project when ready.

4. Make your meetings matter.

Many people assume a weekly check-in meeting is needed for their projects … but is it? Do you really need to get in a room for 30 minutes to talk about the status of the checklist, instead of looking at the shared board or exchanging comments in writing?

Useless meetings waste tons of valuable time, so get ’em off the calendar if they aren’t adding value! If you want to take a bold step, delete all the recurring meetings off your calendar for the next quarter. Ask organizers to re-send the invites to meetings you should attend, and confirm why they feel your presence is valuable. You might find that check-ins for old projects never re-appear, and the meetings that remain actually do help you move work forward each quarter.

5. Create checklists.

Don’t procrastinate on checking things off your list. Sometimes we waste more energy worrying about doing the thing than actually doing the thing itself . David Allen, who wrote the book “Getting Things Done” and offers training on how to be more productive, says that the mind is for having ideas, not holding them.

He advocates for making a series of lists to capture and process all the things that you need to accomplish in a day. Once captured, do. Sometimes we get so mired down in the need to make the list perfect, make the steps perfect, make our desk perfect, that we forget that the act of starting means we’re one step closing to finishing our task. Once you’ve got a plan in place, take action.

6. Evaluate your daily schedule.

A long commute is another area that eats up time and contributes stress to most peoples’ lives. Want to reduce these effects? Try negotiating for a work-from-home day once or twice a week. Gallup found that in 2017, 43% of Americans said they worked remotely at least some of the time, and with collaboration tools like video, chat, and email, you can stay just as connected to your team.

If a long commute is non-negotiable, use that time for something that you’ve deemed important to your work life balance. For instance, if you have a goal to advance your knowledge or learn a new skill, you can listen to podcasts or audiobooks, or if you want to focus on well-being you can use apps like Headspace that offer guided meditations for relaxation.

7. Make time for self-care.

As you’re thinking about your daily plans, revisit your routines for physical health. You can gain time and nutrition benefits by meal planning and cooking in bulk on the weekends. Freeze meals in pre-portioned containers for easy reheating in the evenings. The time and stress you save each evening allows you to spend more time unwinding with your family, and getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

Speaking of which … how’s your sleep schedule? Are you going to bed at a reasonable time, getting a solid night’s rest, and waking with energy? If not, commit to a bedtime routine for 30 days, and see how you feel at the end. Keep the elements that improve your rest, and experiment with changes to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.

Of course, all of these new habits take time to build and practice to maintain. Some tactics, like deleting all your meetings and negotiating a regular WFH day, can be done right away. Others, like declining low-impact work and focusing on tasks individually, require diligent attention throughout the year.

This article was originally published on Atlassian.com and republished with permission.

The Guide to Successful Silent Videos for Facebook Video Ads (+ Examples)

In recent years, Facebook has become a powerful platform for posting, sharing, and watching videos. In fact, nowadays, people watch more than 100 million hours of Facebook videos on a daily basis.

However, unlike traditional viewing on television and even YouTube, a large percentage of people watch Facebook videos from their smartphones, and play them silently from their news feed.

This is creating an environment where content creators and brands must compete in a soundless, auto-play Facebook environment.

In addition, after Facebook went public and had pressure to monetize their platform, the social media giant turned to a paid-only ad-revenue model.

Due to Facebook’s pay-to-play environment, brands have to pay for Facebook reach, and also make sure what they’re putting out is getting high return on investment (ROI). Therefore, many brands are turning to video, as opposed to images, for their ads, since video typically results in higher engagement and improved conversions.

This creates a marketplace where brands have to keep two things in mind:

  1. To get seen, you have to pay
  2. To get attention, video is better but it’ll have to work without audio

Unfortunately, as more businesses jump into the Facebook marketplace, there are more and more mistakes being made. Graham Mudd, Facebook’s Director of Ads Product Marketing, estimates that up to 40% of Facebook video ads fail to communicate when the sound isn’t on.

When it comes to silent video ads for Facebook, the luxuries of audio are gone, but the pressure for conversions is still there. Therefore, brands and entrepreneurs need to change their thinking on what it means to communicate through video, and more specifically, silent video.

Storytelling Visually, Not Verbally

People watch 85% of videos on Facebook without clicking on the ‘sound’ button.

To satisfy the majority of viewers who will watch videos without sound, brands and entrepreneurs need to master what it means to tell a story without verbally saying anything.

Here are a few tips on how to do just that.

1. Create a script that can work with or without dialogue.

Notably, video production is usually based on a script. But you should avoid depending on the dialogue entirely, since this could set you up for a loss.

Content creators often know readers won’t read every line of content you publish — they might skim, skip paragraphs, or leave the page before reaching the end. Similarly, the majority of Facebook users will not listen to your videos.

Some filmmakers may find this odd, since traditional videos have a beautiful mix of both visuals and audio. But change is inevitable, so you need to adapt to the current methods that people view content.

When creating Facebook silent video ads, you want to get a competitive edge with a script that can still sell your brand even when silent.

Right off the bat, concepts such as interviews or a speaking host should be placed at bay. This includes those that could also pass the message through subtitles. Always remember that context is key, and you need to use a strong visual narrative.

For instance, Reolink’s Argus Security Camera offers a simple, yet effective example of a video that worked with no dialogue. At first glance it looks like the video is just images with captions, but a couple seconds in, a hand swoops in and yanks the camera out of the frame.

It’s a perfect example of communicating a product’s value with a combination of text and movement, without needing to rely on any narration or verbal explanation.

2. Emphasize big, bold visuals.

It’s equally important to make the images bold, big, and highly visual for your video to ‘pop.’ You have to catch the eyes of your viewers as they scroll the sea of jokes, celebrity gossip, their exes, and opinionated posts.

The images you choose should be high-contrast with bold visuals, and noticeable enough to prevent confusion with any regular video content with audio. By building a reputation of digestible silent content, your viewers will always slow down to check out any new videos from you on their feed.

You can see an example of this creative visual approach with the UAG MacBook Drop Test video.

Whatever it is, just make sure your visual editing touches add something that people aren’t used to seeing.

3. Create content that explains itself.

For an immediate impact, you need to come up with content that does not need audio or words to explain the happiness, frustration, or ‘cool factors’ of your brand. You can begin with a question or a shocking statement with great visuals.

This is one of those times where you don’t want to overcomplicate things. Think about your product or service and cut to the core of what you’re offering. There is no room for anything subtle or meta here — just cut to the chase.

Privacy Pop executes this extremely well in their videos. While introducing a relatively innovative product to the market, they cut straight to the core of what they are offering and communicate the value of their bed tents.

Often in the name of creativity, companies can really go off the deep end of messaging and symbolism. For Facebook Video Ads, everything is silent and you really only have a handful of seconds to stop the viewer from scrolling. A confusing message will ensure that they will not stop on your ad.

4. Place your call-to-action wisely.

Though not in the video itself, call-to-action buttons are extremely important in getting conversions. There are two decisions to make regarding your call-to-action. The first regards which CTA prompt will produce the best results.

To find out, Adespresso A/B tested four prompts (in addition to a CTA with no button at all) using a Facebook call-to-action button.

The results were compelling:

No button at all produced the worst results — 20 leads for $12.50 each

“Sign Up” generated 26 leads at $9.62 per lead

“Learn More” generated 36 leads at $9.94 per lead

“Download” garnered 49 leads at $5.10 per lead

The best performance was for “Download,” which generated 49 leads at a cost of $5.10 per lead.

Image Source

The reason? Researchers suspect it’s because “Sign Up” creates concerns that users will need to provide credit card information and “Learn More” suggests more reading, which would be time-consuming.

The second decision involves where in your video you want to place the CTA. The CTA of the video and the Facebook video ads should tie together.

Remember, your CTA in the video should ultimately urge the person to click the CTA button below the video. This is something you should A/B test — try placing your CTA at the opening, in the middle, and at the end to see which placement your viewers prefer.

You should also try displaying the CTA in graphic text throughout the video. See which placement performs best before launching your campaign.

5. Drop your discount or offer early.

There’s no guarantee consumers will watch an ad all the way through. In fact, Facebook ads on average capture just 60 seconds of viewers’ attention — some people, of course, will leave before that — so it’s important to frontload your most important information, like a discount or special offer.

Additionally, make sure your offer works naturally with what precedes and follows it — in other words, don’t segregate your discount from other video features, like the value and benefits of your product or service.

Visual Storytelling Toolset

Here are some tactics we use in our Facebook video production strategy that you can use to create successful silent video ads for Facebook.

1. Use Animations

Due to their visual-heavy nature, animations allow for an easy and effective transition to silent videos. We have found that for clients who are strapped on budget, animations provide a great alternative. Animated videos do not require actors, cameras, multiple locations, or other typical expenses needed for a video shoot.

Be sure to design an outline or script that can work without a voiceover. This way, the animated silent video ad could make a fast transition to the social platform without much effort.

When creating these silent animated videos there are certain factors that you need to think about beyond a typical video commercial shoot, including:

  • Creating a Mood Board/Style Guide: The video you create will be all graphics, so it’s extremely important to keep colors, graphics, text, and transitions on-brand and looking clean. If you have ever tried designing a flier on your own, without design experience, you’ll know that people tend to go overboard with colors and clutter. Animations are exactly the same. Mood boards allow you to stay on theme and remind you of the aesthetic that you’re trying to achieve. Common tools that our team uses is Abduzeedo.com and Pinterest to share ideas when formulating mood boards.
  • Create a Storyboard: With animations, video storyboards are extremely important. It reminds you of the message you are trying to tell and helps keep the animation concise.

2. Establish a Quick Connection

You must connect and capture the attention of your audience right away. According to research, 65% of viewers who watch the initial three seconds of a video ad will continue watching for more than 10 seconds. Therefore, you must consider videos and thumbnail images that can hook people to your story.

To connect the silent video to your brand, you might try using brand colors, imagery, and themes.

In this video, Airtable effectively grabs your attention with the use of child actors to detail the product’s features. It provides a nice change of pace from the usual business videos we see every day.

This is where your creativity needs to shine. You need to pique that curiosity. Create an introduction that makes people think, “What is this?”

When ideating on how to do this, our team always likes to review movie trailers and commercials that have caught our eye. When looking for these techniques, you don’t need to keep your search only to Facebook video ads — instead, you might check out Superbowl ads, trending YouTube commercials, or ads on Hulu.

3. Make Graphics Large

Need some extra help to get your point or idea across without using audio? You can get creative and use large titles that emphasize the key features or steps of your video.

To draw more attention to your video, you can also include flashy transitions. However, it’s critical you ensure they remain within your brand’s signature feel and look to retain consistency with your overall marketing strategy.

You might also consider keeping the title or point of the video at the top of the video at all times.

Here’s a great example from BBC Three:

This style of presenting videos is becoming more and more popular for brands and content creators as it helps overcome the silent aspects of videos, since it tells viewers who might not have been paying attention at the beginning of the video what the video is about.

4. Add Subtitles

Understandably, you might feel you can’t completely get your point across without using words. In this case, you can add subtitles as you upload.

Fortunately, Facebook has a feature where you can automatically add captions using their software.

We always recommend reviewing the captions before publishing. Captioning technology isn’t at the point where it gets everything 100% right. There are many tools that exist that can help you transcribe if you want a more exact transcription, but many can get pricey if you want 100% accuracy. Alternatively, if you use Facebook’s feature, you can go through and edit yourself for clarity.

5. Optimize the Ad Description and Title

For more a successful silent video ad, you need to keep the title and description engaging to let viewers know what to expect. These two sections also provide important information on your video topic to the site’s targeting algorithms. Therefore, you need to ensure that all the relevant keywords are included in your ad. Other than ensuring relevance in your copy, always generate enough curiosity since some titles are catchier than others.

To optimize the title and ad description, you need to refer back to your initial goals. Ad descriptions and titles are often an afterthought where companies have someone quickly upload and write the first thing that comes to mind. This is not the way to do it.

Facebook titles and descriptions are like the subject line of an email. They are often written last and with the least amount of time spent, yet they are often the most important part of the email. The same goes for Facebook titles.

6. Keep It Short

Considering most people tune out so fast, what is the ideal length for a Facebook video to tell your story and sell your brand? If you intend to use in-stream videos (those placed during or before other content), it is recommended that you keep it in the five –15 second range. The maximum allowance, however, stands at 31 seconds. Alternatively, standalone ads should last less than 15 seconds, since shorter video ads have higher completion rates.

A great example is the throwback Google Chrome YouTube commercials that the company used to demonstrate the browser’s superior speed.

What we recommend here is to be ruthless when creating your storyboard and script. Having discipline in the beginning of your video ideation will help reign in the excess further down the line.

Don’t wait until the end when all shots are done and you are trying to stuff everything in. You’ll often find that your video is at least 10x longer than needed. Having a strict storyboard and script in the beginning will help drive decision-making when certain members on the team have fallen in love with a scene and don’t want to make any cuts.

7. Copy the “News” Style

Most marketers are familiar with Facebook’s algorithm changes earlier this year, the ones that prioritized news from friends and family over those from publishers. This placed a new onus on advertisers to create ads which mimic what a user typically sees in their news feed.

Of course, this isn’t a new concept in advertising — “native ads” have been around for quite a while, as have best practice strategies for creating them. To get the most out of your Facebook ads, then, you might try copying the “news” style.

That means, among other things, using images and short video clips overlayed with text on colored backgrounds and using third-person delivery, similar to the style used in news feeds.

A great tool that you can use is Lumen5. Many publications use tools like Lumen5 to create real-time videos so that they can be the first to report, despite not having produced a short segment yet.

Below is an example of using the “news” style for brand marketing purposes:

You’ll notice that rather than looking like an overt advertisement, the Tesla video looks almost like a review.

Entrepreneurs can leverage tools like this to help create the same look and leverage the authoritative style that is associated with this style.

8. Blur Your Introduction

People watch a lot of videos on Facebook. According to WordStream, for example, almost half of Facebook users watch at least one hour of Facebook videos every day. That means, to be effective, your ad needs to make an impact in the first few seconds.

As Social Media Examiner notes, “To be effective, video ads have to accomplish two things: grab the user’s attention in 2-3 seconds and have a short duration, probably no more than 20 seconds total.”

There are several ways to grab the user’s attention at the start of your Facebook video ad. One trick you might try is to blur your introduction. This creates suspense as users become curious about what will follow, especially if they’re quickly scrolling through multiple video ads. For best results, limit the blurring to the first couple of seconds.

Ultimately, producing and distributing effective Facebook video ads — the kind that increase clickthrough and conversion rates and boost sales — is challenging, especially given the increasing competition among advertisers. Ideally, you can use the strategies above to get started, and iterate on your process as you learn more about what works for your brand’s unique Facebook audience.

Interested in further inspiration? Check out HubSpot’s 11 Soundless Videos We Love (And Why).

How 13 Brands Are Leveraging Snapchat Discover

Since Snapchat launched in 2011, brands have been experimenting with new ways to reach the platform’s Gen-Z and millennial audiences.

However, marketing on Snapchat hasn’t always been easy.

Between 2015 and 2017, brands like NASA, Warby Parker, and Sour Patch Kids started their Snapchat strategies by creating individual accounts. Based on the fact that none of these accounts are still posting, it seems that they quickly found that Snapchat’s platform did not do them any favors.

For example, since branded individual accounts are essentially the same as personal accounts, there’s essentially no difference between businesses and people on the platform. When following a business on Snapchat, it’s hard to tell if you’re following the actual company or just another account posing as such.

Aside from the account confusion, Snapchat’s platform also makes it difficult for users to search, find, or discover new brands. For example, users still need to search for a brand’s exact username or scan a Snapcode to find the company. This means that brands that market themselves on Snapchat accounts would need to do promotion on social media or other areas outside of the Snapchat platform to let people know that they’re actively posting there.

While many brands experimented with Snapchat Stories on their accounts, they still couldn’t link to their own websites or products. This might have also caused some friction as brands might’ve determined that they didn’t want to create content that wasn’t going to result in web traffic or an immediate ROI.

Because of these friction points, many brands have pivoted to other platforms, like Instagram Stories. Many marketers have also said that Instagram content receives much more engagement than Snapchat content.

Today, if you search brand names on Snapchat, you might find inactive old accounts. When you add one of these accounts as a friend, you’ll most likely see that they don’t publish anything there anymore. Many of them also don’t even have an emoji image or profile picture associated with their accounts anymore.

Here’s an example. A few years ago, I followed Warby Parker via a Snapcode they shared on social. Not only is the brand’s image gone, but it also hasn’t posted a story or any content from this account in a while:

With the failure of branded individual accounts, things improved for big brands with the 2015 launch of Snapchat Discover.

What Is Snapchat Discover?

If you’re less familiar with Snapchat, Discover is a page of the app that shows Story-styled content from publishers, brands, and major influencers who partner with the tech company. Below is a screenshot of what Discover looks like today. You can read more about this feature here.

Snapchat Discover Feed in 2019

In the early years of Discover, the format looked very different from the screenshot above. In fact, there were only a few Snapchat publishing partners that could have Stories on this section of the app. These partners were often publications, lifestyle magazines, or news organizations.

Here’s an old video demo for Snapchat Discover which shows how simple the section was and how it only had 12 major publishing partners on its home screen:

By 2018, Discover changed its formatting drastically to become more brand-oriented. The company also got less picky about its partnerships. While it still partners with big brands and major influencers, the company reportedly has over 52 publishing partners.

Still, since Snapchat makes the final call on who gets to publish in Discover, this section of the app might still be inaccessible to you or other small-business marketers at the moment.

Because Snapchat also doesn’t allow links or certain promotional language in partner Stories, attempting to become a publishing partner probably wouldn’t benefit you if your company relies on ROI and conversion to grow.

If you aren’t a Snapchat partner, but have an advertising budget, landing a promoted Story on the Discover feed could become slightly more accessible in the future. Currently, Snapchat allows you to advertise by publishing promoted Stories in the Discover feed. You can also run in-stream ads that feature short videos within longer Stories created by Discover publishers.

Recently, the app company also announced that it would be offering more in-stream ad placement opportunities to businesses through its new Snapchat Select advertising tool.

Alternatives to Snapchat Discover

While Snapchat Discover is a great option for bigger or older brands that want to spread awareness to new or younger audiences, you still might want to look at alternative platforms if you decide that a social media Story strategy is right for you.

For example, many small, mid-sized, and even larger brands now turn to Instagram or Facebook Stories. While you can create Stories with music, videos, and special effects on these platforms, you can also link your Story content to your website and add interactive features like polls. Because both Facebook and Instagram are both hugely popular and free to use, it seems like these platforms might be the best place to start you’re looking for a scalable and affordable Story strategy.

How Small-Business Marketers Should Use Snapchat Discover

Before you run off to Instagram or Facebook, you shouldn’t completely disregard Snapchat just yet. In fact, Snapchat might be one of your most useful tools when brainstorming how you will manage your Story strategy, even on another platform.

You can easily surf Discover content to see what the big brands are doing, which types of Stories could be most scalable for you on another platform, and to get an idea for what’s engaging to younger audiences that enjoy watching Stories throughout social platforms.

To keep you in the know of current Snapchat strategies and give you inspiration for your own Story content, here’s a look at 13 brands that are leveraging Snapchat Discover for Story-based promotion and paid advertisements.

Examples of Snapchat Discover Stories Published by Brands

More often than not, Snapchat Discover partners are publishing companies or entertainment organizations, This is because these types of brands are already creating content that first with Snapchat’s visual-storytelling oriented platform. These companies are already known for telling great stories and have the resources to adapt their content into bite-sized mobile-friendly Stories.

Here are a few examples:

1. Wall Street Journal

Although the Wall Street Journal can’t link Discover Stories to its website, the publication still adapts its daily news content to the Snapchat platform. For example, WSJ will regularly post visuals and highlights from some of its long-form or investigative content that was also recently published online or in its newspaper.

While some publishers might try to post lighter Stories that are more targeted towards younger people on the Snapchat platform, WSJ stays very on-brand by publishing content related to finance, culture, and its own investigations. By posting daily Editions — or Stories that hold multiple smaller Stories — WSJ embraces a traditional magazine or newspaper format, even on the Discover platform.

Aside from breaking down a larger news report into short-form Story pages, called snaps, WSJ uses Snapchat’s swipe up feature to enable viewers to swipe their finger up to access a longer-form story that’s placed in Snapchat’s CMS rather than WSJ’s website. While WSJ features a few Stories in each daily edition that require a swipe up for more content, they usually post one to two news pieces that are just presented in snaps.

Here’s an example of a WSJ edition with multiple Stories related to news highlights.

Wall Street Journal Story on Snapchat Discover

Although WSJ has been going against the grain by posting Stories on dryer topics, they have still intrigued audiences on the platform and had a good standing with Snapchat Discover for many years. This is a great example of how a company stayed true to its brand, even on a new platform, and was rewarded for it by getting new audiences and boosting brand awareness.

If you’re a marketer for a publication or even a brand that simply has a blog. You could explore the idea of adapting your company’s blog posts, articles, whitepapers, or research reports to an Instagram or Facebook Stories format. After adapting this content, you could also link it to your website via Facebook or Instagram’s swipe up feature, or provide a call to action at the end of your Story that tells prospects to visit your site.

Adapting your content or expert tips into Stories will allow you to demonstrate your brand’s expertise in its industry. Then, as people are looking for a product in your field, they might look at your Stories or remember your company as they’re researching products and brands online.

2. Harvard Business Review

When you hear the word “Harvard,” you might think of geniuses, scientists, and Ph.D.s that write and speak so complexly that you won’t understand them. However, when Harvard Business Review began publishing on Discover, the publication began to break this mold by telling easy to understand Stories about complex topics like technology, job seeking, academics, finances, and even global warming.

Like WSJ, Harvard Business Review also adapts its web content to the Discover platform. However, Harvard Business Review publishes a mix of harder content and advise oriented content, rather than just investigative news.

While WSJ sticks to posting snaps or long-form Stories, HBR editions usually include a mix of snap-based Stories, a few swipe-up Stories, and even interactive elements like poll or quiz content. They have also experimented with video and animation to make Stories more eye-catching.

Here’s an example of an HBR story that was adapted from a longer piece of thought leadership on hbr.org:

Harvard Business Review Story on Snapchat Discover

Because Harvard is seen as so credible, young people might be too intimidated to read its content online or in its magazines. However, a Discover Channel like this allows them to argue that misconception as they adapt and present their content to a younger audience which might find various HBR tips valuable, relatable, and understandable.

While younger generations may not have known about HBR, they might view its Stories on Snapchat and understand HBR’s mission and how a business publication can still be valuable to them.

Harvard Business Review also recognizes the benefits of Instagram Stories. On this platform, they publish some similar or identical Stories but include swipe ups to the actual web articles that each piece of content relates to. This goes to show that what brands do on Snapchat can also be scaled and adapted to fit the Instagram Story setting and audience.

You could use Stories similarly to give people in your industry understandable and valuable tips and guidance. As we’ve seen with both HBR and WSJ, Stories could also be a great tool to use if you want to tap into younger audiences. With Facebook and Instagram Stories, you can also add interactive elements, like HBR does in its Snapchat Stories. These elements will engage users and potentially make them think more deeply about the discussed topic.

3. National Geographic

National Geographic posts content that’s fairly similar to what you’d see in its magazines or on its television channel. However, the brand makes slight visual tweaks and often adds interactivity to Stories to make its content engaging on the Snapchat platform.

One common strategy National Geographic uses is telling viewers Stories filled with quick fun-facts about animals. For example, the Story below explains the history of the goldfish:

National Geographic Snapchat Discover Story

Because platforms like Snapchat are so fast-paced, Stories that read more like fun-facts or news bites — like the goldfish example above — might avoid dropoff and be more engaging to users who want to be entertained or informed quickly.

With this channel, National Geographic gives Snapchat users a look at its brand. Those who are interested in National Geographic’s Stories, information or beautiful imagery might begin to follow the brand’s other social channels, watch its television shows, or even subscribe to its publications.

While marine sciences might be interesting in a long National Geographic documentary, publishing that type of detailed content on Discover might get too complicated for the story platform, the brand decided to simplify its content, zone in on a well-recognized goldfish, and educate viewers about unique fun facts they might not have known.

If your brand works within a complex or broad industry that might intimidate people on social media. Consider posting Stories that simplify certain topics. To do this, incorporate history, word definitions, and other fun facts related to your product or service to make the content feel more educational rather than promotional.

4. Mashable

Like the publications listed above, Mashable also adapts its online content to Snapchat. In the example below, Mashable discusses the new Google Pixel alternative to AirPods.

Mashable Snapchat Discover Story

Mashable, a tech publication, does a good job of recognizing that young, tech-savvy users might be prevalent on Snapchat Discover. The publication also understands that these users like to be engaged in different ways such as interactive quizzes, polls, or even a maze-like snap seen at the end of the above example.

Like Mashable and some of the other Story examples above, you might also want to take advantage of your chosen Story platform’s interactive options. In the above example, Mashable includes a poll related to the topic it’s discussing and then encourages users to screenshot and draw on the AirPod-themed maze on the last snap. This way, those who aren’t as interested in earbuds can weigh in with a poll, or try to solve a fun maze puzzle. This makes the Story engaging for multiple people who aren’t just tech buffs.

If you work in a field that sees a lot of news, unveilings, or product launches, it could be beneficial to create Stories that discuss the ins and outs of your industry and how some products might be better than others. This type of content might make your brand look like a credible expert in your field and could lead viewers to trust that you also sell quality products.

Furthermore, adding interactives like Mashable will make your Stories more engaging, memorable, and fun for a variety of audiences, even if they aren’t exactly within your field.

5. The Food Network

The Food Network’s Snapchat Discover strategy is very similar to its Instagram Story strategy. In both Story formats, Food Network gives recipes, food-related tips, or discusses food-related trends, such as celebrity diets.

The Food Network does a great job of leveraging the visual aspects of its brand by showing off recipes and other kitchen-related content. The brand also uses Snapchat for more odd-ball Stories that include fun-facts or light life hacks that someone can remember after quickly tapping through Discover content.

In the example below, the Food Network begins its Story by telling viewers how to grate and prepare cheese. The Story concludes with a shareable snap that says “You’re Grate.” This enables viewers who like the corny pun to send this snap of the Story to a friend that they think is great.

Food Network Snapchat Discover Story

While the Stories don’t link to the Food Network’s website or television content, this type of content is still interesting or entertaining to watch, gives useful compact tips to viewers, and ends on a high note with a fun interactive image. This overall strategy allows users who were unaware of the Food Network to find the channel, get a sneak peek of what they might see on its actual TV channel, and then share a piece of the Story they saw with someone else.

6. UCLA Gymnastics

While a big majority of Snapchat Discover channels are run by publications or content creators, one great exception is the UCLA Gymnastics channel. UCLA Gymnastics’ Stories often give a behind-the-scenes look at the gymnastics teams, practices, or tournaments.

UCLA Gymnastics Team Snapchat Discover Story

While many of the Stories on Discover often cater to news, beauty, tips, or lifestyle content, UCLA Gymnastics’ channel might be interesting to sports or gymnastics fans who want to learn more about a nationally ranked college team. Since members of the team are also college-aged, like many on the Snapchat platform, viewers might find these Stories easier to relate to than Stories of older athletes.

With the gymnastics team’s Discover channel, UCLA might have identified that young adult audiences were more prevalent on the Snapchat platform and decided to spread awareness about the team via Stories. This is a great example of identifying where your most interested fanbase might be and meeting them where they are.

If you’re looking to test out Story content on various platforms, consider taking a similar note from UCLA gymnastics by offering viewers an inside look at your business or organization. For example, you could show your team at events or in the office designing new products. Or, you could do interviews with your staff where they can give their expert opinion on topics related to your industry. This allows viewers to see the more human side of your company rather than just a business that might solely want customers to buy their products.

Examples of Shoutouts in Snapchat Discover Stories

Because Snapchat Discover is a more applicable platform to publications that are already creating content, some brands might choose to work with publishers to promote their product. With this strategy, the publisher creates Story content that highlights the brand they’re working with. Here are a few solid examples of this type of Discover Story:

7. Sperrys and Style Insider

Recently, Style Insider was invited to a Sperrys factory to cover the production process of the iconic shoe. Style Insider then filmed a vertical Story that showed every aspect of the design process, including the painting and lacing of the shoes.

Sperrys Snapchat Discover Story on Style Insider Channel

While this is visually fascinating to look at and interesting to Style Insider’s fashion-savvy audience, the Story also allows Sperrys to demonstrate the intricate details and work that goes into every single shoe.

Viewers might watch this and believe the shoe is made with care and of good quality. Because Style Insider also begins the Story by highlighting the history of the shoe’s popularity, viewers might also be persuaded to buy the shoe so they can appear more fashionable or trendy.

8. Rivian and Car Insider

Car Insider regularly posts Stories about major car brands, such as BMW. However, in a recent profile-styled Story, they discussed Rivian, an autonomous electric vehicle startup that was attempting to compete with Tesla.

Rivian Snapchat Discover Story on Car Insider Channel

The Story highlights some of Rivian’s newest car models, how they are more affordable, and aspects of the company that make it different from Tesla. It also gives quotes and soundbites from Rivian employees.

While Discover might be too expensive or time-consuming for a startup, this is an example of how companies can still reach out to press or content creators for solid coverage.

Because Car Insider has gained clout in the automotive industry, Snapchatters interested in cars might follow its Discover channel and use it to get quick expert-created Stories about new launches or automotive technology. When these car fans hear about Rivian or other companies from an automotive expert or publication, they might be more likely to remember how highly regarded the company was when they’re shopping for a new car.

If you want to leverage Stories on some type of platform, but don’t have the resources or time to make your own, consider reaching out to publishers or content creators who publish Stories related to your industry. By doing this, you could get your product covered in their content or sponsor content that talks directly about your brand.

9. Color Coat Beauty Boutique on Macro Beauty

While some brands will work with Snapchat Discover publishers to get good coverage in their Stories, some brands can also volunteer their tips or experts to publishers. For example, in a recent Story from Macro Beauty, a fashion and lifestyle-related Discover channel, a rep from a Los Angeles Salon called Color Coat Beauty Boutique gave manicure tips and walked through the process of placing nail extensions.

Macro Beauty Snapchat Discover Story

Although this expert is telling viewers how they can get salon-quality nails from home, she’s also demonstrating her expertise in nail art. Viewers in the Los Angeles area who see this might trust that this rep is an expert at nail art. Then, if they need a nice manicure, they might be interested in investing in one from her salon.

If you’re unable to make your own Stories Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram, but have an expert affiliated with your company that doesn’t mind giving tips on camera, you could allow other brands to interview or show tips from this person in their Stories. When someone from another content creator’s audience sees there Story and learns about your brand’s expert, they might want to learn more about your company or buy products from you.

Snapchat Discover Ads

Snapchat Discover ads have evolved from short video ads that last for a single snap to mini-promoted Stories that actually show up on the Discover feed. Here are a few examples of how brands leveraged Story-styled ads on this platform.

10. Purple Mattress

Purple is currently running a simple promoted Snapchat Story on Discover. It only includes two snaps that explain what the Purple Mattress is made of. While this content is very short compared to other promoted Stories, Purple gets to the point quickly by explaining the unique aspects of its mattresses in a short amount of time.

Purple Mattress Ad on Snapchat Discover

This quick Story might be a smart move because mobile applications like Snapchat are much more fast-paced and might see high Story dropoff rates from viewers. With any mobile Story platform, it’s key to get the important information out or hook the viewer within your first few snaps so they don’t tune out before seeing the meat of your content.

Another thing Purple does well is identifying where its audience is and meeting them there. While some of Snapchat’s Gen-Z viewers might not be able to purchase a mattress yet, some of the platform’s older audiences might be looking to purchase an affordable bed from a trendy or disruptive company like Purple.

11. Bumble

In a promoted Story, Bumble presented photos taken on vacation by couples who first met on the dating app. While vacation photos and romantic Stories might be enticing to Snapchat’s young adult audiences, Bumble also argues that it has successfully matched a number of successful couples and that it can also match the viewer.

Bumble Story-Based Ad on Snapchat Discover

While this feels a bit like a native ad, Bumble still aims to tell the story of some of its most successful couples. This type of content might both entertain a viewer and pique their interest in the app if they are single.

If you’re a company that similarly has a lot of success stories, consider using a Story on one of the various platforms to show customer testimonials or photos or videos of people benefiting from your product. This could both entertain your audience and make them trust you as they see real-world examples of your product’s success.

12. Raymour & Flanigan

Raymour & Flanigan, a furniture company, also recently used a promoted Story to highlight its products. However, rather than trying to show off a narrative, the company’s snaps feel more like a multi-page ad. Rather than telling a story, each snap shows a room in someone’s home that’s filled with furniture from the brand. Then, text on each page lists “It’s time to make time for…” followed by a word related to the room shown on each page.

Raymour and Flanigan Snapchat Discover Story Ad

This ad isn’t meant to be an intriguing story, but it does provide interesting visuals and a message that might get a viewer to slow down and think about what they might need to make more time in their lives for.

If you haven’t really experimented with Story platforms before, but do have video or image-based advertising assets, you could try out a similar strategy of making an ad with a vertical Story format. As you do this, it could also be helpful to follow Raymour & Flanigan’s lead of showing your products in a real-world setting. This strategy can be more beneficial than a Story that just shows product shots because viewers will be able to visualize how your products will look in their own homes.

13. Ritual Vitamins

In its promoted Snapchat Discover Stories, Ritual Vitamins customers getting the brand’s sparkling vitamins and beginning to take them. The Stories then show the customers talking about how they’ve enjoyed the vitamins months after beginning the regimen. The customers also mention why they like taking Ritual Vitamins over other competing products.

For example, in the Story shown below, a customer says that Ritual Vitamins don’t give her a stomach ache as other vitamins do:

Ritual Snapchat Discover Story-Styled Ad

Unlike Purple and other promoted Snapchat Stories, this promotion walks prospects through a customer’s experience with using a product. While Ritual is showing viewers an interesting narrative about a customer’s journey, they’re also presenting a positive customer testimonial for the product. While the content itself might be interesting to viewers, the testimonial might make them trust Ritual more than other vitamin brands.

Ritual and some of the other list items above highlight how beneficial it can be to leverage happy customers in your Stories. When viewers can see and hear from a real person, they might trust their opinion and recommendation about a product and purchase it.

Takeaways From Snapchat Discover Marketers

For the most part, Discover’s publishers are aiming to expand brand awareness by adapting content to fit the Snapchat platform and audience. Meanwhile, advertising brands are using Discover to post narratives that directly relate to their products.

As a marketer for a smaller brand, you might find it easier to use Story tools on platforms like Facebook or Instagram. These platforms will allow you to post a variety of free content and experiment with different ways of discussing your product. And, if you’re verified and can link your Stories to the website, you could achieve conversions and brand awareness at the same time.

While Discover might not be accessible for smaller brands, we should still use it as a tool to learn about how the best of the best are embracing visual storytelling. By observing these brands, you can learn more about which Stories are doable and could be beneficial to your strategy. Then, you could brainstorm ways to scale them to a more affordable and accessible Story platform, like Facebook or Instagram Stories.

Still, if you want to experiment with Snapchat, or explore the app for yourself, here’s a quick guide that will show you how to navigate the platform, make your own account, and even create geo-filters for events.

If you’re ready to get started in creating Stories on platforms like Facebook or Instagram, check out this post where we reveal the most popular story platforms, and this detailed list of Instagram Story examples. You can also check out this long list of Instagram Story examples from actual brands.

How to Build, Run, & Analyze Marketing Reports [Examples + Templates]

As marketers, we’re making important decisions on behalf of our company and team every day. In addition to using our best judgment when it comes to making these decisions, it’s ideal to also utilize data and metrics when we can.

Now, you’re likely already tracking marketing metrics such as traffic, leads, and customers — these are all critical parts of the bigger picture of your marketing funnel and flywheel. But as critical as these metrics are, they’re not enough to inform broader marketing decisions that impact your entire organization.

This is where marketing reporting comes into play. This guide will help you further explore the marketing reports you can run to properly analyze your data and make truly informed decisions.

Marketing reports vary depending on what data you’re reviewing and the purpose of each report. They can assess where your traffic and leads are coming from, what content they interacted with, if and when they converted, and how long it took for them to become a customer.

Take our free, 20-minute HubSpot Academy course on marketing reporting to measure success and optimize your efforts.

To reiterate: Marketing reports inform decisions. You wouldn’t run a marketing report to review data performance or check on an ongoing goal — for these purposes, you’d glance at your marketing dashboards.

Let’s look at it this way. Compiling a marketing report for knowledge’s sake is synonymous with scheduling a meeting to simply review a project. Who likes to attend a 30-minute meeting to simply review what could’ve been shared via email? Not me.

The same goes for marketing reporting. Reports should help you make a decision or come to an important conclusion — similar to how a meeting would help your team deliberate about a project or decide between project resources.

In short, marketing reporting is a highly valuable process if used and crafted properly. In the next section, we’ll dive into how to build a marketing report.

How to Build a Marketing Report

As we said above, there are plenty of different marketing reports you can run; we’ll be reviewing some examples in the next section. For this reason, this section won’t focus on what specific data to put into your marketing report — that will depend on what type you decide to run. (Remember, if you’re building a marketing dashboard, that process is a bit different.)

We’re going to discuss how to build marketing reports that inform your decisions and benefit your audience (whether that’s your team, CEO, or customers).

Most of your marketing reports will contain a few of the same elements:

  • Title. What is your marketing report analyzing? Whether you’re running a report on campaign performance, quarterly blog performance, or monthly leads, be sure to title your report so the intent is clear. This is especially important if you’re sharing your report with people outside of marketing.
  • Reporting period. Your marketing report should reflect a certain time period. This period can be a few days, months, or even years. Analyzing your data within a time period allows you to compare performance to past periods.
  • Summary. Your report summary should reflect the key points of your report, including your wins, losses, and goals for the next reporting period. It’s basically the TL;DR of your report.

Next, let’s dive into the report specifics. Valuable, insightful marketing reports recognize two distinct components: purpose and audience.

Choosing a Purpose for Your Marketing Report

A marketing report should help you make a decision. Choosing the intent of your marketing report (i.e. the data you’re analyzing) is simple; however, it’s how you’re going to use this data to make a decision or draw a conclusion that’s more difficult.

This is true for two reasons:

  1. Marketing reporting is more often than not performed to simply review data, which is a waste of time.
  2. Data points can be used to draw multiple conclusions or make multiple decisions, so you should know precisely how you’re going to use the data before you draw it.

You should determine the goal of your marketing report before you pull any data. Once you make this impending decision, list all the data that might be relevant. From there, you’ll have a much better idea of what reports to run and how to use said data.

Choosing an Audience for Your Marketing Report

Marketing reports are highly valuable because they can inform so many different decisions — decisions made by a wide variety of people across your organization. Whether you’re delivering a marketing report to your team lead, department manager, or CEO, your marketing report must be tailored to whoever may be reading and using it.

Here are a few ways to do this:

    • Ask your audience what they need. If you know the decisions your audience needs to make, you’ll know what data you need to pull and analyze. Knowing this will also help you avoid running reports your audience doesn’t care about.
    • Speak in their language. Marketing involves a lot of acronyms and jargon. While your team members understand what you’re saying, your executive team and co-workers outside Marketing may not be so fluent. Consider your audience when writing your marketing report and be sure to choose words and descriptions that they’ll understand.
  • Don’t mix audiences. If you’re creating a marketing report for a mixed audience, it’s best to create separate reports for separate audiences. For example, you wouldn’t create the same report to give your CEO and Marketing co-workers; you’d likely break this into two reports with different data and verbiage. This will allow your audience to be able to focus on the data and analysis that’s most relevant to them.

Marketing reporting can take up a lot of your time. Here are some best practices to help you work smarter, not harder.

1. Schedule your marketing reports.

Whether you create a recurring reminder on your calendar or set your reports to automatically run, schedule your marketing reports ahead of time. This will take the guesswork out of when to run your reports and when to send them to the relevant audiences.

Schedule daily, weekly, or monthly reports and send them directly to your team’s inboxes with the HubSpot Marketing Hub Reporting add-on.

2. Collect feedback from your audience.

As you send out your marketing reports, ask for feedback from your audience. Whether you ask an open-ended question like, “How did this report help you?” or provide a short Google Form, gathering feedback from those using your reports can help you improve them in the future.

3. Create marketing report templates.

If your marketing report will be designed the same way each and every time you send it out, consider turning it into a template. This will save you time and energy building each template and provide a reliable, predictable report design for your audience to read.

Make your monthly reporting faster and easier with these free monthly marketing reporting templates.

4. Put your most valuable data first.

Long marketing reports are fine as long as all the data you include is valuable and helpful for whatever decision you or your team need to make. However, you should place the most impactful data first so that your audience can stop reading once they’ve made up their minds. Nobody wants to read an entire report to only utilize the final page.

5. Visualize your data as much as possible.

Did you know that humans process visual data 60,000x faster than written data? Illustrated data (e.g. graphs and charts) are also more believable, according to this study by Cornell University.

When possible, include visual data in your marketing reports. Not only does this help your reports pack a greater punch with your coworkers and executives, but it trims down the time and effort needed to digest your data. To do this, include charts from Excel or screenshots from your reporting tools (like HubSpot Marketing Hub). You can also use heat maps if you’re reporting on website performance.

Marketing Reporting Examples

There are hundreds of reports that you can run to dig into your marketing efforts. At this point, however, you’re likely asking, “Where should I start?” and “What are those basic marketing reports I can run to get more comfortable with all the data I’ve been tracking?”.

Well, we’ve pulled together these five marketing reporting examples for you to use to get started.

Note that you will need some type of marketing software (like HubSpot Marketing Hub) to do this. You should also make sure your software allows you to export the data from your software and manipulate it in Excel using pivot tables and other functions.

Learn how to create an Excel graph, make pivot tables, and use VLOOKUPS and IF functions with this free guide and video.

Since we use HubSpot for our reporting needs, I’ll show you how to compile these reports using the Marketing Hub tool. (The data below is sample data only and does not represent actual HubSpot marketing data.)

1. Multi-Touch Revenue

As a marketer, you’re a big part of your company’s growth. But unless you can directly tie your impact to revenue, you’ll be forever underappreciated and under-resourced. With multi-touch revenue attribution, you tie closed revenue to every marketing interaction — from the first-page view to the final nurturing email.

That way, marketers get the credit they deserve and marketing execs make smarter investments rooted in business value instead of vanity metrics. As a bonus, multi-touch revenue attribution can help you stay aligned with your sales team.

HubSpot customers can create multi-touch attribution reports quickly; HubSpot’s attribution tool is built for real people, not data scientists. (It also connects every customer interaction to revenue, automatically.) Navigate to your dashboard, and click Add Report > Attribution Report. Select from the set of pre-baked best-practice templates, or create a custom report of your own.

Note: Enterprise HubSpot customers can do this in their software if they have their Salesforce integration set up with Account Sync turned on.

multi-touch revenue attribution marketing reporting hubspot

How to Analyze Revenue Reporting

To analyze revenue reporting, figure out what’s working and double down on it. Look at the revenue results from different channels and see where you had the most success. Use this information to decide what marketing efforts to invest in moving forward. For example, if you notice that your Facebook campaigns drove a ton of revenue, run more Facebook campaigns!

Multi-touch attribution reports should be run monthly to understand the broader business impact of your marketing channels. While revenue is important, you should also dig into some of your other metrics for a more complete picture.

2. Channel-Specific Traffic

Understanding where your traffic is coming from will help you make strategic decisions as you invest in different marketing channels. If you see strong performance from one particular source, you may want to invest more resources in it. On the other hand, you may actually want to invest in some of the weaker channels to get them on pace with some of your other channels. Whatever you decide, source data will help you figure that out.

HubSpot customers can use the Traffic Analytics report (under Reports > Analytics tools in your navigation) to break down traffic by source.

Want to get an even deeper understanding of your traffic patterns? Break down your traffic by geography. (Example: Which sources bring in your most traffic, in Brazil?) You can also examine subsets of your website (like your blog vs. your product pages).

channel-specific traffic marketing reporting hubspot

How to Analyze Channel-Specific Traffic

Take a look at what channels are performing well. Based on your goals, that could mean looking at the visitor data or focusing on the visit-to-lead and lead-to-customer conversion rates. Here are a couple of different ways to think about your data:

  • If you get a lot of traffic from a certain channel, but the channel is not necessarily helping your visitors move down the funnel, it may mean that you should invest more in other channels or optimize that underperforming channel for conversion.
  • Think about how you can invest resources in your strongest channels. Did you run a campaign that helped the channel perform well? Was there a piece of content you created that set it off? Consider how you can replicate your past success.
  • If you haven’t worked on a particular channel, it could be a good time to test it out. Think about how you can incorporate multiple channels into the same campaign.

Pulling this data weekly will allow you to stay up-to-date on how the channels are performing. If a channel took a turn for the worse, you’ll have enough time to remedy the situation before it gets out of control or you waste resources. Pulling the report daily may be a bit overboard since some channels take multiple days to be effective and pulling it monthly would prevent you from responding with agility — so, weekly data is ideal.

3. Blog Posts by Conversion

Blogs have become a marketer’s best friend. There’s a direct correlation between how often a company blogs and the number of leads they generate (not just the amount of traffic they drive). So, it’s critical you monitor how well your blog is helping you grow that critical metric.

Reporting on your blog leads is a quick way to see how many leads you’re generating on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis — and by what channel. This report is a great way to understand what channels are strongest for your blog, where you should spend more promotion time, and how well your content is performing over time.

If you’re using HubSpot, creating a blog leads report is easy. Navigate to Add Report from any of your dashboards, and choose Top blog posts by contact conversion. This report shows the posts that were most often seen by contacts immediately before filling out a form on your website.

top blog posts by contact conversion marketing reporting hubspot

How to Analyze Blog Posts by Conversion

Look at how many leads you’re generating from your blog over time. If you see spikes in leads, you know to dig into your content to see if certain topics are more successful at generating leads than others. The more you can run these reports to figure out what works and what doesn’t work, the better off your marketing and blogging will be.

This type of data should be pulled on a monthly basis to ensure you’re writing the most relevant content over time.

4. New Contacts by Persona

Every marketer needs to be well-versed in their buyer personas — but you need to do more than just understand them. It’s important to track how many new contacts you’re actually adding to your database based on each persona. This will help you determine how accurate your buyer personas are and how successful your marketing is in targeting and reaching them.

To report on this in HubSpot, plot your contacts by Create date, which will show the date on which you added a new contact to your database. Then, break down your report by persona.

contacts by persona marketing reporting hubspot

How to Analyze New Contacts by Persona

Did you run a marketing campaign around a particular topic? Did you focus on promoting your content through specific channels? What did you do that led to an increase or decrease in persona acquisition? Digging into this report can help you allocate resources more wisely to grow different segments of your business.

Pulling this report on a monthly basis can give you insight into how your campaigns affect new contacts by persona — and might even shed light on an imbalance in resources dedicated to certain personas.

5. Lifecycle Stage Funnel

Another way to segment your contact database is to look at how they appear by lifecycle stage. This will give you a sense of how many leads, subscribers, customers, and opportunities you have in your database in a certain time period. This data will help you understand if you need to generate more leads or if you should be more focused on closing your current leads. It will also give you a general understanding of the quality of your contact database.

As a HubSpot customer, create a funnel report by clicking Add Report from any dashboard, then choosing the Funnels category. Pick which stages you’d like to include, select your visualization, and you’re off and running.

lifecycle stage funnel marketing reporting hubspot

How to Analyze a Lifecycle Stage funnel

This report will give you an overview of how your leads are progressing through the buying process. Use this report to see what areas of your funnel you need to address for greater efficiency.

For example, if your report shows that you’re doing a great job of generating leads, but not converting any to MQLs, update and optimize your nurturing program. Pulling monthly funnel reports can help you stay on top of the efficiency of your marketing process

Marketing Reporting Helps You Grow Better

Marketing reporting is a vital part of your marketing efforts and the growth of your business. By understanding how efficient and effective your marketing is, you can better allocate time, resources, and money — and make well-informed decisions, to boot. Start with these marketing reporting examples and expand your reporting as you begin to utilize more data.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


Where do Shoppers Research Products? We Asked 300 Consumers [New Research]

In 2018, 40% of people used social media channels for aspects of product research.

With younger generations getting more and more connected to social media platforms, the amount of product research done on these platforms is likely to grow. In fact, 16 to 24-year-olds already conduct product research more on social than search engines.

Throughout the past few years, social media channels have embraced their new role as product research platforms, devoting certain areas or features of their platforms to brands and products.

For example, Facebook Ads is considered an alternative to Google Ads, YouTube is a go-to site for learning about new products, Instagram offers Shoppable posts, and Reddit users regularly participate in discussion threads about products. Meanwhile, Pinterest continues to position itself as a tool for advertisers by improving its ad software.

With all the social media platforms and product marketing opportunities out there, it might be hard to drill down on which platforms are key to your product marketing strategy.

By now, you might be on all the major social media platforms. But, as they expand and evolve, you might still wonder which you should focus your time and efforts on if you’re selling a physical product. To determine this, it can be helpful to find out which social channels your specific audience is using to look for products, and then create social strategies that meet them where they are on their preferred platforms.

To learn more about the social networks people prefer to surf for product research, I conducted a poll of 304 people using Lucid Software.

Source: Lucid Software

When asked which channel they turned to most often for product research, 51% of respondents said Facebook.

This result isn’t shocking. Facebook is the second-most used social platform globally, followed by YouTube. Since Facebook is one of the first and most successful social media platforms, you probably should be marketing your brand or products on it if you aren’t already. But, you definitely shouldn’t count out other platforms — like Instagram or Pinterest — just yet.

Below, I’ll give you a rundown of the opportunities each social network listed in the poll above offer when it comes to marketing physical products. I’ll also highlight the key differences that you’ll want to consider when weighing which social product marketing strategies are right for you.

Which Social Media Platform Should You Market Products On?

Facebook

Facebook has a whopping 1.59 billion daily active users and has been around since the early 2000s. Its audience includes multiple age groups and spans the globe, making it a solid place for most brands to market themselves.

When it comes to marketing your product, you have many different options on Facebook. Here are a few examples.

Free Promotion

By now, you probably know that any company can create a Facebook Business Page for free. Once you create a business page, you can begin to share posts about your products and offerings. If you have happy customers, you can even ask them to review your business on Facebook so prospects researching you can see how you’ve pleased your customers in the past.

Aside from creating a page to highlight your brand, you can also post your products in Facebook’s Marketplace. Marketplace listings can include product shots, pricing, product specifications, and purchasing information. Although individual users often use the Marketplace to sell items they no longer want to other people, Facebook Business pages are also eligible to use this feature.

You can also consider talking about your products or offerings on Facebook Stories. This might take a little extra effort because it will require you to film or create content in the Story format, but research says it can be beneficial. In fact, a 2018 survey revealed that 62% of people were more interested in a product after learning about it in a Facebook Story.

Paid Promotion

Because Facebook’s feed algorithmically favors posts from individual accounts over businesses, you might decide that you want to put money into Facebook Ads.

Facebook Ads has a solid track record. It’s estimated that 2 million businesses were advertising on the platform in 2018.

With Facebook Ads, you can create advertisements with a certain goal in mind, such as conversions or in-store foot traffic. The detailed ads software also allows you to target specific audience demographics.

As a Facebook advertiser, you can either promote a post you’ve already created to ensure that it shows up on feeds of users in your demographic, or you can create native ads that might show up in feeds or on Facebook’s sidebars. While promoted posts look like an average post with a simple tag stating they’re promoted, the native ads look more like traditional ads to make it clear to users that the content they’re seeing is paid for.

If you want to launch video-based ads, Facebook also allows you to promote video content or buy in-stream ad placements that appear in Facebook Live videos or longer videos that other users have uploaded.

YouTube:

If how-tos or video tutorials are part of your content marketing strategy. YouTube will be a natural fit for your brand. This is because YouTube users are three times more likely to prefer watching a YouTube tutorial video compared to reading the product’s instructions.

More and more companies are taking notice of YouTube’s product marketing opportunities. In 2018, 45% of marketers said they planned to add YouTube to their 2019 strategy.

With a branded YouTube channel, you can publish video content such as demos, tutorials, or customer testimonial videos that give solid details about why your product is valuable.

By filming your own videos, you can insure that you’re highlighting all the great aspects of your product that make it stand out from its competitors.

Alternatively, if you don’t have time to create your own videos, sponsoring an influencer’s content, tutorial, or review related to your product allows you to tap into that content creator’s audience as they tell their followers more about your offerings.

Aside from creating your own account or hiring an influencer to give a review or tutorial, you could also consider paid advertisements. YouTube offers a few ad styles including TrueView, Preroll, and Bumpers.

These ads allow you to submit a short video ad to YouTube which is then placed at the beginning or in the middle of videos with metrics and demographics that match your brand’s target. To learn the ins and outs of setting up an ad and determining which style is right for you, check out this guide.

Instagram

Although Instagram ranked in third place in the poll above, you shouldn’t disregard Instagram — especially if you’re targeting Gen-Z or millennials who make up the platform’s primary audience.

For years, Instagram’s visual layout has made it a hot spot for influencer marketing. Influencers regularly post sponsored photos and videos about their experiences with products. Like YouTube, these influencers also regularly publish video posts or Stories that present tutorials, reviews, and unboxings related to a product.

Aside from influencer marketing, many brands also promote their products on Instagram Stories, Instagram Live, and through standard video or photo posts on Instagram Feed.

Here’s an example where Kylie Jenner, the CEO and Founder of Kylie Cosmetics, films a Story-based product tutorial for her company’s Instagram account:

Kylie Jenner promotes KylieCosmetics on the brand's Instagram Stories

Along with free strategies, Instagram now offers Shoppable posts. With Shoppable posts, you can promote a product in an Instagram post that links to your Facebook Catalog. Here’s an example of what a Shoppable Post looks like:

A necklace is shown in an Instagram Shoppable post

To be eligible for Shoppable posts, you must have an Instagram Business page that’s linked to a Facebook Catalog. This feature is also only for businesses selling physical goods.

Here’s a blog post that goes into detail about how to use and optimize Shoppable posts.

Pinterest

Pinterest encourages people to pin image-based posts that inspire them to digital boards, mimicking the process of creating a physical inspiration board.

Because people come to this platform to be inspired to do something, such as travel or home decorating, they might find themselves pinning all sorts of product-oriented images to a themed board. For example, someone who wants to redecorate their office might create an “Office Inspiration” board and pin photos of furniture or decorative items that they’d like to buy

Here’s an example of what these boards look like:

Office Inspiration Pinterest Board showing various office products

To make it easier for people to find your products, you could consider starting a Pinterest account and making a few boards to highlight your products. For example, if you’re marketing a travel company, you could make a board for each country that you offer packages to. On each board, you could place images of trip activities that link to your website.

Then, if someone is trying to plan a trip to a country you sell a package for, they might come across one of your posts and pin it to their own “Travel Inspiration” board.

To give you a real-world example of how brands use Pinterest, below is a Wedding Registry board created by Target which features images of products that a bride and groom might want to add to their gift registry.

Target products presented in Target's own Wedding Registry Ideas Pinterest Board

Each of Target’s pinned images links to the company website so users can share the pin on their own Pinterest board, or click straight through the post to buy or register the product.

If you have an advertising budget, you can also consider launching pay-per-click ads on Pinterest. Pinterest Ads enables your posts to be seen by people in a specific demographic that matches your own. The platform also allows you to A/B test different photos and target ads to Pinterest users on your contact lists.

Want to learn more about Pinterest Ads and effective experiments to run? Check out this blog post from a PPC and Pinterest expert.

Reddit

Reddit encourages users to create discussion threads in themed online communities, called subreddits. As the platform has evolved, many users have created both threads and subreddits devoted to talking about products, like fast-food restaurants or video games.

Below is an example of a subreddit, or online community, that Reddit users created to talk about all things related to Xbox One.

XboxOne Subreddit discussions on Reddit

However, because comments with promotional language in them often get downvoted or buried in feeds by more engaging Reddit threads, you’ll need to be creative if you want to engage with audiences on this platform.

While you might want to keep an eye on Reddit or experiment with it, don’t put all of your time and resources into it — at least right now. As it evolves, the platform may become an easier platform to market your brand on, but at the moment, Reddit marketing strategies still require more brainstorming and time than tactics on other social platforms.

Although this platform has been called one of the “trickiest” for marketers to crack, some bigger brands have figured out how to reach the platform’s discussion-oriented users.

For example, some brands will create subreddits related to their product, while others will interact by commenting on threads related to their industry.

Aside from creating content for free on Reddit, you can alternatively pay into sponsored posts or ads, similarly to Facebook or Twitter. These ads will appear in a user’s feed or as a promoted comment in a thread or subreddit.

To learn more about the ins and outs of Reddit marketing, click here for tips and examples of how other brands have cultivated the platform.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s platform, which emphasizes networking and career-related chatter, might be well-suited for product marketing in B2B, academic, or professional industries. People who do product research on this platform might be looking for a service, tool, or software that can either help to escalate their careers or make their workdays easier.

If you’re marketing products like software, online courses, business-related publications, or anything that can help a professional or student do their job better, LinkedIn will be a great fit for you. However, if you sell more general consumer-facing products like makeup or home decorations, you might want to put more product-marketing efforts into other platforms on this list — like Facebook or Instagram.

While the professional nature of LinkedIn and its audience might not be suited for all brands, the platform still offers a variety of opportunities to brands that align well with it. For example, research shows that 80% of B2B leads come straight from LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is very similar to Facebook in that you can post about your product or service for free, or purchase ads or post promotion to get information about your business front and center on feeds. To see a few great ad examples, check out this post.

Twitter

Twitter has 126 million daily users from a variety of backgrounds, geographic locations, and industries. Its broad demographic might provide solid marketing opportunities to many different types of businesses. Because of its broad user base, you might want to create an account on Twitter and post regularly for brand awareness purposes.

If you’re interested in video marketing, you can also experiment with Twitter’s live video feature and use it to film a tutorial or Q&A related to your product.

Aside from posting about your product for free, you can also pay into targeted ads or promoted tweets. Twitter claims that its advertising ROI is 40% higher than some other social channels.

While the ROI of Twitter advertising and its user base sounds promising, you might be wondering why it ranked so low on the poll shown above.

Ultimately, what might make Twitter rank last in the product research poll is its platform’s trend-oriented nature. The platform encourages people to connect with each other and post tweets or comments about current events, trending hashtags, or their thoughts on other specific topics.

Yes, brands and product discussion are both prevalent on the platform, but users might go to Twitter to learn more about what’s going on in the world, rather than new products. When people are asked to pick which platform they do the most product research on, it’s not surprising that Facebook or YouTube might seem like a more obvious choice than Twitter.

While you should be on Twitter due to its sheer user base and advertising ROI, you’ll want to keep its audience’s need to stay trendy and informed in mind as you’re creating posts and advertisements for the platform. This might help you make social content that both engages these audiences while still weaving in information about how valuable your product is.

Identifying the Right Platforms for Product Marketing

While running ads and product promotions on all of these platforms could be helpful and lead to conversion, you’ll want to primarily focus on the platforms with audiences that already align well with your brand.

For example, broader audiences are actively looking for products or researching brands on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest while Reddit and Twitter users just want to follow trends. Similarly, if you’re marketing a B2B company, you might see a better ROI from ads on a professional network like LinkedIn than ads on a more consumer-friendly platform like Instagram.

To learn more about all the major social channels and what drives their audiences, check out this detailed blog post that highlights the five types of social media platforms.

The Ultimate Guide to Advertising in 2019

When you hear the word advertising, what comes to mind?

Do you think of banner ads on your favorite website? Super Bowl commercials? How about the billboards along the highway or posters in the subway stations?

While most of us have a pretty good idea of what advertising looks like, it’s a little harder to nail down exactly what it means — and how to do it well.

From the printing press to pop-up ads, advertising has certainly changed with the times. Despite this, though, the need for advertising hasn’t changed, and neither have the techniques and best practices that make for quality advertising. That’s what we’ll cover in this guide.

Whether on a billboard or the back of a restaurant menu, advertising can go to work for your company in a variety of ways. Here’s how:

  • To raise awareness for your brand
  • To drive potential customers to your business
  • To promote sales for both new and existing products
  • To introduce a new product or service to the market
  • To differentiate your product from your competitors’

Advertising can also be executed in various ways. Radio commercials, billboards, branded t-shirts, and social media endorsements all count as advertising. Here are the different formats and channels that advertisers have been using for years:

  • Print advertising and posters
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Outdoor ads and billboards
  • Public transit ads
  • Sponsorship of TV shows and events
  • Radio
  • Sponsored web content
  • TV commercials
  • Online pop-ups and search engines ads
  • Social media ads

Advertising can look like many different things. Below, we’ll cover how to advertise on these mediums.

Marketing includes a number of different channels, such as social media, email marketing, public relations, SEO, and paid advertising.

Alternatively, advertising is just one part of marketing.

A company’s overarching marketing strategy will typically include an advertising plan. The advertising zooms in on the specific process of creating and publishing the persuasive messages to get customers to take action.

A Brief History of Advertising

Advertising is one of the oldest segments of business, save for currency and trade. Once products and services arose, so did the need to make them known.

The oldest confirmed piece of advertising dates back to 3,000 B.C. Technically, it was a print ad from ancient Egypt promoting the capture and return of an escaped slave. Incidentally, the ad also mentioned the slave owner’s shop — a rug business — which inherently advertised his storefront, too. The slave was never caught, but the rug owner did discover a brand new method of bringing in traffic: advertising.

Let’s fast-forward about 4,000 years. Here’s a brief look at the past five centuries of advertising:

1472: The first poster advertisement is placed on church doors in London.

1650: The first newspaper ad — a reward for 12 stolen horses — is published. (What’s with the reward-based advertisements?)

1704: The Boston News-Letter prompts its readers to place ads in its paper.

1870: The Powers style of ad copy is born. This style packed a punch — it was short, to-the-point, truthful, and convincing. Powers said the focus should be on why the consumer should buy your product or service — a message that still resonates for good reason today.

1880: Postcards become one of the hottest new ways to reach customers.

1893: Retailer Sears, Roebuck, & Co. joins the mail-order bandwagon by issuing their own catalog. 

1902: Unilever creates the “longest client-agency relationship in advertising history” when it hires J. Walter Thompson Company to advertise its Lifebuoy Soap.

advertising-history-unilever

1902: Mellins Food advertises its brand on 25 airship flights, becoming the first brand to take this approach.

advertising-history-mellins

1904: The Campbell’s Kids are created, piloting the change in advertisement focus from a single ad to an entire campaign.

advertising-history-campbells

1922: Radio ads are born, and businesses purchase 10 mins for $100. Two years later brands would increase their investment by sponsoring an entire radio show, a concept that would eventually become known as “sponsored content.”

1925: Advertisers start to appeal to emotions, focusing on what pleasure customers would receive from their product or service. This old Ford ad exemplifies this perfectly.

advertising-history-ford

1975: VCRs are introduced, and consumers begin to record shows and, therefore, skip advertisements.

1990: Computers become more popular and accessible at home, with over 5 million homes connected to the internet.

1994: The first email spam campaign launches. Banner ads are also introduced.

1995: Search engines like Yahoo! and Alta Vista are born. Ask Jeeves and Google would follow in 1997 and 1998, respectively.

2005: YouTube and Facebook (for college students only) launch.

2008: Brands start to realize the importance of having an online presence for their potential customers. Procter and Gamble pilot the concept of the content hub with BeingGirl.com.

advertising-history-beinggirl

2012: Online videos reach 169.3 million viewers.

2013: Sites like Pinterest and Instagram join the social network scene.

History teaches us that advertising is an ever-changing concept, just like shopping habits and how and where consumers spend their time. Whereas almost 140 years ago, postcards were the newest form of advertising, brands today are building chatbots for Facebook Messenger and integrating artificial intelligence into their marketing and sales platforms.

Things in the advertising world move fast.

The Modern Era: How to Advertise Online

As of today, there are almost 4 billion people using the internet. This number is up 300% from 2005. Point being, internet usage is skyrocketing, and it’s not stopping.

advertising-statistaIf you’re not advertising online, you’re behind the curve, my friend. Not only does the internet offer you direct access to more than half the global population — including more than half of your target audience — but it also provides so many different channels on which to advertise.

Marketers now have the flexibility to reach their target audiences on multiple fronts, in multiple ways, for multiple budgets. Their are also a number of tools (many of which are free) that can help you execute your advertising strategy.

Here are the most common ways to advertise online:

Paid Search Advertising

Whether Google, Yahoo, or Bing, all search engines have their own paid advertising. This is referred to as pay-per-click, or PPC, and involves bidding on keywords and placing ads at the top or sides of search results.

When someone performs a query using one of those search engines, advertisers have the ability to display ads above organic search results. That’s what makes PPC so powerful — it gives your advertisements prime real estate in front of people already searching for relevant topics.

Featured Resource

Here’s an example on Google:

advertising-google

The top four listings in the red box are advertisements. The lower portion, in the blue box, are organic search results that come up as a result of search engine optimization.

Check out our guide to PPC for more information. 

Social Media Advertising

Social media platforms know how valuable their content is, and that’s why they offer the option to sponsor or boost posts. Social ads put your message in front of your target audience and encourages them to engage, click-through, and buy. More and more, social media sites are prioritizing ad space over organic content because, well, it brings in more revenue.

If you’re a budding business or new brand, consider running some social media advertisements. These will not only advertise your products and services but also promote your social media pages and grow your following.

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter each have their own version of ads like these.

Here’s how they appear on their respective feeds:

Facebook

advertising-facebook

Instagram

advertising-instagram

LinkedIn

advertising-linkedin

Twitter

advertising-twitter

Featured Resources

Native Ads and Sponsored Content

Sponsored content has been around since 1922, when brands would sponsor entire radio shows. Today, sponsored content refers more to native ads and blog or article content subsidized by brands.

Have you ever read a Buzzfeed article that heavily referenced or recommended a certain product or service? It was likely sponsored by a certain brand.

Check out this article, 10 Reasons To Put Away Your Phone On Your Next Trip, promoted by agoda, a hotel or destination booking site. Does it blatantly promote agoda’s services? No. It’s primary purpose is to entertain and inform, although agoda is referenced a few times throughout the content.

At the top, the byline reflects agoda’s sponsorship, just before the content starts. And, as you scroll down the page, another ad sits within the content.

Sponsored content is a great way to promote your brand in content your audience is already familiar with.

Banner and Display Ads

Banner and display ads are an extension of search ads and follow a similar PPC model. But instead of a text-based ad, consumers see a more visual advertisement.

advertising-banner

Banner ads are typically the horizontal boxes on top of a web page, whereas display ads are smaller in nature and shown on the side (like in the screenshot above).

Read our 10-step guide to creating banner ads for more information.

Whether you opt for traditional print ads in magazines or subway stations or choose online promotion on social media or search engines, there are a few rules that make for great advertising. Below are some advertising best practices to apply to all your ads.

Advertising Best Practices

There are a lot of best practices, tips, and tricks when it comes to advertising. It’s an art that’s been perfected over the years, and with the rise of modern advertising and new media, best practices continue to manifest.

In this section, though, we’re going to cover five famous advertising concepts that still work today — regardless of what advertising method or medium you’re using.

When used correctly, these advertising techniques will do wonders for your brand and products.

Appeal to Emotions

While you may not consider the ASPCA a business, their unforgettable Sarah McLachlan commercial is the perfect example of using emotional appeal to entice people to take action.

For most of us, the images in that commercial are hard to watch — we may even turn away. But since it tugs at our heartstrings, we’re more likely to donate to animals in need after seeing the horrors they’re going through.

Studies show that people rely on emotions, rather than information, to make brand decisions. Emotional responses to ads influence a person’s intent to buy more than the actual ad content.

Whether you try to evoke happiness, sadness, fear, or anger, appealing to emotions can help your target audience feel your message — not simply read or hear it.

Create Positive Associations

When consumers associate your product with a feeling of happiness, state of achievement, or accomplished goal, they’re more likely to take notice, remember your product or service, and make a purchase.

Actually, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of this before without even realizing it. Have you ever seen your favorite celebrity or Instagram influencer posing with a product or brand and found that you wanted to be, do, or look the same? Companies create this subconscious connection in advertising hoping that you associate your positive feelings with the product or service they’re promoting.

Catchy songs like “Nationwide is on your side” is an example of helping people associate friendliness with the Nationwide brand. Coca-Cola has a brand advertising campaign that associates their product with friends, family, and fun. When you consider what refreshments to serve at a party or bring on a picnic, Coca-Cola wants you to think of them.

As you create your advertisements, consider what feelings, desires, or goals with which you want your brand to be associated. Weave these feelings or goals into your advertisements through stories or videos. Look for influencers who align with your brand’s core values and demeanor and include them to promote positive association.

Establish a Bandwagon Effect

People want to fit in. It’s human nature. Neither you nor I are immune to it.

And it’s this base human desire that makes the bandwagon effect so effective. People don’t want to be left out. They find value in their peers’ opinions, and they certainly don’t want to be the only ones not using the latest and greatest product.

Brands like Maybelline understand this concept well and use it to their advertising advantage. One tube of their top-selling mascara is purchased every two seconds, a statistic that establishes social proof and further supports their claim of “America’s Favorite Mascara.”

advertising-maybelline

Use customer testimonials, survey data, or shareable content to advertise your brand as one worth following or buying into. Take another approach by promoting a discount for sharing your brand with a friend or family member — so your audience will do the selling for you. Either way, use your advertising to create an inclusive environment people will want to join.

Focus on Benefits Over Features

Features and benefits are two very different things. Features are the details of the product or service you’re selling, such as the measurements of a couch or the ingredients of a protein bar. Benefits, on the other hand, explain why a person should buy a couch or protein bar from you and how their life would, well, benefit from such a purchase.

Advertising should focus on the benefit your product or service brings, not explain what you’re physically selling.

Consider how Southwest Airlines advertises. Instead of explaining, line by line, what a Business Select ticket offers, Southwest paints a picture of what life would be like if you made a purchase. In this advertisement, they focus on the benefits.

advertising-southwest

Rather than wasting precious ad space on your product specifications or service details, talk about the ways a purchase might positively impact your customers. If you do it right, your creative, benefit-packed advertisement would then inspire them to research the features on their own.

Use Storytelling

Not unlike our desire to fit in is our penchant for a good story. Storytelling helps paint a bigger picture of a brand or company, not simply promote a single product or service. Also, when stories resonate with someone, it’s far easier to motivate him or her to take action.

Storytelling is the one technique you should try to infuse in all your advertising. In fact, if you haven’t started crafting your brand’s overall story, you should definitely do so. Research shows that stories that illustrate a brand as “necessary, believable, and integral” are the most effective for engaging and influencing consumers.

Dove employs storytelling in its campaign partnership with Operation Homefront. The videos feature real stories of military men and their families being reunited. The advertisements don’t directly promote Dove products but instead tell the Dove brand story (and pull on a few heartstrings, too).

Determining your brand story will help you learn how to best discuss your brand in all marketing efforts, not just advertising.

Next, let’s take a look at some of the most memorable ad campaigns, a few of which put these best practices in action.

Five Memorable Ad Campaigns

The best advertisements are the best teachers. Whether it’s the copywriting, design, medium, or target audience, well-executed campaigns can always teach you something new about advertising or positioning. (Consider Westinghouse Electric’s “We Can Do It” ad…)

Here are five campaigns that left a noticeable mark on advertising history:

Nike: Just Do It

In the late 1980s, Nike launched their “Just Do It” campaign.

At the time, Reebok was outselling Nike, and Nike needed to act fast to compete against the sneaker conglomerate.

But it wasn’t just the three-word phrase that earned global attention. Their new ad campaign also focused on real people wearing and working out in their products, as opposed to simply featuring clothes and sneakers themselves.

advertising-nike

This powerful combination of people plus product helped Nike go from $800 million in 1988 to $9.2 billion just 10 years later.

The Absolut Vodka Bottle

Did you know Absolut’s “Bottles in the Wild” ad series is the longest uninterrupted campaign in history? The campaign was Absolut’s attempt to grow their name internationally, especially throughout the United States. It featured the Absolut bottle in different cities and countries worldwide.

advertising_absolut1-1

It launched in 1985 and ran until 2000 — lasting an impressive 25 years.

Absolut’s campaign helped grow the company from a tiny slice of the vodka market share (2.5%) to over half the U.S. imported market share.

To this day, the Absolut brand is the fourth largest spirit company, thanks to their focus on the overall story, not just the product itself.

Miller Lite

The folks at Miller Lite used differentiation to reach their goal: to get “real men” to willingly drink light beers. With their “Great Taste, Less Filling” campaign, they maintained a leading position in the light beer market for several decades after this first campaign aired.

advertising-miller

Volkswagen

Though Volkswagen has officially discontinued its production of Beetles, its iconic “Think Small” campaign will be forever ingrained in advertising history.

Doyle Dane & Bernbach (DDB) advertising agency knew it had to change the mind of consumers if it wanted to compete with industry leaders. So, VW admitted that though the Beetle was, in fact, tiny, it was still a force to be reckoned with and worth a purchase.

advertising-volkswagen

Authenticity and honesty went a long way in this seemingly small campaign.

Dos Equis

With its edgy, cool, and sophisticated aesthetic, it’s no surprise “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign put Dos Equis on the map.

This campaign created a positive association between the Dos Equis beer and the feeling of sophistication and poise. Sales quickly jumped by 22% after the campaign launched.

advertising-dosequis

Even more impressive was how Dos Equis found success in a time when craft beers grabbed a foothold in the market and imported beer took a 4% hit. This campaign was major component of that success.

To learn how to grab the attention of your audience, learn from the professionals. These campaigns are a great example of how brands have used real stories, real people, and real talk to grow their businesses.

Advertising Helps You Grow Better

Equipped with a dense, dynamic history, advertising is an incredible tool to add to your marketing tool box.

Between print ads, radio sponsorship, TV commercials, and social media promotion, the opportunities to advertise and promote your brand are endless.

To best connect and engage with your audience, speak your customer’s language, appeal to their emotions, and tap into their desire to be a part of a community, create a clear and authentic brand story to illustrate how your brand aligns with their values.

By applying these tried and true practices to your advertising, you’ll build a magnetic brand that attracts customers, establishes a following, and generates revenue.

Do this and your brand will grow into a household name that stands the test of time — just like advertising itself.

 

How to Make a QR Code in 8 Easy Steps

“Really? We’re talking about QR codes?”

Fair reaction. For several years now, QR codes have been at the center of the popular “___ is dead” trope we marketers love to argue when talking technology. We’ve even debated it ourselves on this blog.

But if there’s one thing the QR code debate shows you, it’s that there sure isn’t a consensus — the efficacy of QR codes still hotly contested.

Nonetheless, there’s no denying the popularity and convenience of the QR code. Keep reading to learn how to create your own QR code, and how you can encourage your customers to scan them when they come across your content.

What Is a QR Code?

QR codes, short for “quick response” codes, are square-shaped black-and-white symbols that people can scan using a smartphone to learn more about a product.

These encrypted squares can hold links, coupons, event details, and other information that users might want to take with them for referring to later.

QR codes usually look something like this:

Although not every QR code is shaped like a perfect square, they’re most often found looking like the image above — with varying patterns displayed inside. You’ll often find them on direct mail, signage, billboards, and even commercials where you can quickly scan the code on the screen using your phone.

QR Codes vs. Barcodes

Does the rise of QR codes mean traditional barcodes are a thing of the past? Of course not. Traditional barcodes are still a common way for businesses to identify consumer packaged goods (CPGs) and manage their product inventory. 

        Barcode example             QR code example

Images via Wikimedia Commons | Wikimedia Commons

However, there are a number of differences between barcodes and QR codes — both in their uses and their characteristics. Here are three important differences:

QR Codes Are Shaped Differently

Barcodes are typically rectangular in shape, requiring scanning devices to read the barcode’s data horizontally. QR codes are often square-shaped, displaying their data vertically or horizontally. 

QR Codes Hold More Data

Due to a QR code’s square shape, it can hold much more data than a barcode. In fact, QR codes can hold hundreds of times more encrypted characters than a barcode.

QR Codes Hold Different Data

QR codes are often used differently than barcodes. Barcodes hold key product information at the point of sale, such as the price and name of the manufacturer. QR codes offer more passive and intangible information, such as location data and URLs to promotions and product landing pages.

How Do QR Codes Work?

Originally designed in Japan for the automotive industry, marketers adopted the barcodes because of their large storage capacity and ability to translate additional information to consumers beyond what creative and/or packaging could convey.

If a consumer sees a QR code somewhere, they can take out their mobile device, download a free QR code scanning app, and “scan” the barcode to gain access to additional information, like so:

Person scanning QR code with a scanning mobile app

So if you wanted to create, say, a bus stop advertisement promoting your podcast, you could display a QR code on that printed ad that brings people right to your iTunes page when they scan it with their phones. Pretty simple, right?

How to Make a QR Code

The QR code creation process is pretty straightforward. Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Select a QR code generator.

There are tons of QR code generators out there. The best ones give you many options for using your QR code, and compatibility with most mobile QR code reader apps.

Other things to look for when choosing a QR code generator are whether you can track and analyze performance, and if it allows you to design a code that’s unique to your brand.

Some QR codes, for example, display logos and other icons within the code that immediately tell people what information they’ll get from scanning it.

Step 2: Choose the type of content you’re promoting.

Let’s select one of the QR code generators above and do a walk-through together. I’ll select qr-code-generator.com, one of the eight preferred QR code generators above.

First, select what type of content you want your QR code to show the person after they scan it. You can choose from one of 10 types, as shown in the screenshot below. For our purposes, we’ll promote a URL that directs users to our podcast.

Icons detailing types of content a QR code generator can promote

Step 3: Enter your data in the form that appears.

Once you select the type of content you’re promoting with this QR code, a field or form will appear where you can enter the information that corresponds with your campaign.

If you want your QR code to save contact information, for example, you’ll see a set of fields where you can enter your email address, subject line, and associated message.

To save a link to our podcast, we’ll simply enter the URL in the field that appears, like so:

QR code URL form

Step 4: Consider downloading a dynamic QR code.

See the option below for “dynamic”? One significant pitfall to making a QR code is that you can’t edit the data it contains once you print it. But with dynamic QR codes, you can edit this data. 

Dynamic QR code generator

With a free membership to QR code generators like qr-code-generator.com, you can print a dynamic QR code, scan it, and pull up an editable form where you can modify the data your visitors will receive when they scan the QR code themselves.

Step 5. Customize it.

The fun part of creating QR codes is customizing the design of the codes to your brand. Want your code to look like your logo? Go for it. Want it to reflect your website’s design scheme? No problem.

Using qr-code-generator.com, we can customize our QR code by clicking the button to the top-right, as shown in the screenshot below. Keep in mind not every QR code maker offers this design option — depending on the QR code you’re looking to generate, you might find some tools limited in their functionality.

Customize your QR code with a logo

Of course, you can customize your QR code further — adjusting the colors, adding a logo, creating social options, and more. 

Keep in mind, however, that some customizations can make it more difficult for QR code scanning apps to properly read the code. It’s a good idea to generate two versions of your QR code — one plain version and another with your preferred design.

Step 6: Test the QR code to make sure it scans.

Because a customized QR code can make it difficult for some mobile apps to “read,” don’t forget to check to see if the QR code reads correctly, and be sure to try more than just one reader. A good place to start is the free tool Google Goggles, which takes a picture and then tells you what link or item it “reads to.”

Another great free tool is QR Code Reader, which automatically takes you to whatever it “reads.” Apple’s Passbook also offers a built-in QR code reader on iOS 7, so you should test to make sure your code is readable there, as well.

Step 7: Share and distribute the QR code.

A QR code won’t be able to do its job unless its seen. So make sure you come up with a distribution plan for sharing the code. This could include displaying it on social media, in print ads, on clothing, or in physical locations where people will pick up there phones to scan it. 

Along with sharing the code, you might also want to include text instructions in your various promotions that show less tech-savvy people how to scan it. This way there’s no friction if people want to scan the code but don’t know how to. 

Scroll down for more tips on properly displaying a QR code.

Step 8: Track and analyze performance.

Just like any marketing campaign, you should follow up on any collateral or campaigns using QR codes to see whether they’re actually working. How much traffic comes from each specific code? Are people scanning your code but not redeeming their offer once they get to the landing page? Or are they not even compelled enough to scan your QR code?

Knowing this will help you troubleshoot and adjust your poorly performing QR codes to more closely mirror those that work well. I recommend you include a UTM tracking code on your URL so you can better measure performance — this is particularly important if you use closed-loop marketing analytics, and are used to more in-depth reporting on your campaigns.

How to Use QR Codes (And How Not to)

Now that you see how simple the QR code creation process can be, let’s talk about some best practices that’ll help increase the likelihood your QR code actually gets used.

Display your QR code where it’s convenient for people to scan.

Put QR codes in places where scanning is easy, and there’s enough time for the consumer to actually scan the code. While you may often see QR codes on billboards and TV commercials, they’re not exactly the most user-friendly locations. Think of places and mediums where consumers have the time to scan the code, and, ideally, a Wi-Fi connection as well.

Optimize the QR’s destination page for mobile devices.

Mobile-optimize the page to which you’re sending people. Consumers will be on their phone when scanning the QR code, so they should be brought to a page with a positive mobile experience.

Include a CTA that prompts people to scan your QR code.

Offer a call-to-action (CTA) with the code — that is to say, tell people what they’re supposed to do when they see the code, and what they’ll receive if they do it. Not everyone knows exactly what a QR code is, and those that do won’t be motivated to scan it unless they’re sure there’s something worthwhile on the other side. 

Don’t limit your QR code to one mobile scanner.

Don’t require a special QR code scanner. Your QR code should be app-agnostic so anyone can scan your code with any reader. A lower barrier to entry makes success more likely for you and the user. 

Use your QR code to make someone’s life easier.

Don’t use a QR code just for the sake of using one. For instance, it’s common for marketers to think, “How can I bridge the offline experience with the online experience? Uhhh … QR code!” That’s not wrong … but it’s not always right, either.

If you have content that makes sense to deliver to a mobile user, and you have an appropriate channel to do it (see use #1 at the beginning of this section), it’s more likely your QR code will drive results. For example, in South Korea, grocery store chain Tesco drove tremendous national business growth by using QR codes in subway stations (I guess they have mobile service in their subway stations) to let riders order their groceries while they wait. It’s a great example of using QR codes for the right end-goal, at the right place and time. 

This article from Search Engine Journal has some more examples of good times to use QR codes, as well

If after reading this you’re not convinced QR codes are the right move — or you just want some additional ways you can connect the offline world to the online world — consider also adding a short, memorable URL people can type in easily on their mobile phones in your creative. 

The future of QR codes could also mean an evolution — augmented reality apps certainly stem from the same concept, after all. Consider the AR News App, which lets readers augment a newspaper story into a child-friendly article by downloading an app and hovering over stories with a special marker (sounds pretty close to a QR scanner, doesn’t it?).

It may be that QR codes aren’t quite dead, but just the first step in a long evolution.

 

The Ultimate Guide to Content Distribution

Year after year, hundreds of marketers report increased efforts and spending on their content marketing — or the intention to do so.

But great content is a waste if your audience doesn’t know it exists.

Content distribution is an integral, if not the most important, part of your content strategy.

In recent years, there’s been a rapid influx of content … met with dwindling demand. With almost 4.5 million blog posts published every day, there’s only so much content we can consume. Marketing influencer Mark Schaefer argues that, because of this “content shock,” content marketing may not be a sustainable strategy for every business.

While I won’t agree or disagree with this theory, I will equip you with the tools you need to distribute the content you create. By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to build a content distribution strategy that gets your content in front of — and consumed by — your audience.

Although the content distribution process happens after you create your content, it should be step one of your content marketing strategy. You should know where and how you’re going to publish and promote your content before you put the proverbial pen to paper — otherwise, your time and resources could go to waste.

Where should I publish my content, you ask? Through the various content distribution channels we discuss next.

Content Distribution Channels

Content distribution channels are the channels through which you share and promote the content you create. There are three types of content distribution channels: owned, earned, and paid. The channels you use to distribute your content will vary based on your audience and resources.

Owned Content Distribution

Owned channels are the content properties your company owns. You can control when and how content is published on your owned channels. These include your website and blog, your social media profiles, your email newsletter, or a mobile publishing app.

Earned Content Distribution

Earned channels (also known as “shared” channels)are when third parties promote or share your content. These third parties could include customers, journalists, bloggers, and anyone who shares your content for free — hence the name “earned”.

These channels include public relations, social shares and mentions, guest articles and roundups, and product reviews. They also include forums and communities like Reddit or Quora — while posting on these sites is free, the content is owned by these third parties and therefore falls under earned channels.

Paid Content Distribution

Paid channels refer to when your company pays to distribute your content on certain channels. This primarily includes pay-per-click (PPC), paid social advertisements, and paid influencer content.

The following diagram illustrates how these three content distribution channels overlap and how you can combine them to enhance their impact and reach.

If 70% of marketers lack a content strategy, how many do you think have a content distribution strategy? I’d bet not many.

Moreover, some marketers recommend that you spend 20% of your allotted content marketing time creating your content — and the other 80% promoting it. Sound like something you’re doing? If not, this is where a content distribution strategy comes in handy.

A content distribution strategy is important for a few reasons:

  1. It boosts your content impact past curation and creation. As I said above, great content is practically useless if nobody’s reading it. A content distribution strategy gets your gorgeous content in front of the right eyes.
  2. It aligns your team and the teams with which you collaborate to create and share the content. Depending on the size of your company, you may have several cooks in the content marketing kitchen. (I know we do at HubSpot.) A content distribution strategy aligns all these different parties and ensures you’re all collaborating efficiently.
  3. It sets goal benchmarks against which you can measure your distribution performance. Content distribution can be vague — a simple press of the “Publish” button, and you’re done. A content distribution strategy helps you set benchmarks and hard goals to chase while publishing and promoting your work.

Here’s how to build a content distribution strategy for yourself.

1. Research your target audience.

Content distribution is all about getting your content in front of your audience. You can’t do this properly if you don’t know where they are and what they like to read. Before you build your strategy any further, research your target audience so you know precisely who will be consuming your content.

Start by collecting demographic data from your website visitors, email subscribers, social media followers, and customers. Take a look at your audience’s gender, age, income, location, education, and related categories. You can pull this information from Google Analytics or your social media analytics tools.

Next, collect feedback directly from your customers, email subscribers, and social media followers. Ask them about their pain points and needs as well as how they feel about your current content and distribution efforts.

Use these two data points to create your buyer persona. Your buyer persona(s) act as models of your ideal customers and content consumers and represent their pain points, information preferences, and motivations as you build out the rest of your content distribution strategy.

2. Audit your content.

You may already have some published content out there, such as blog posts, videos, social media content, and more. While your new content distribution strategy doesn’t involve removing that content, you should perform an audit to understand if it’s helping or hurting your distribution efforts. Auditing your current content will also remind you of which topics you’ve already written about and which ones you can expand on.

A thorough content audit is comprised of three main parts:

  1. Logging your content. Logging your content can be done manually or with a tool. (We recommend the latter, especially if you’ve been publishing content on multiple properties and channels.) Tools like Screaming Frog can help you crawl and collect your content, listing each URL, title, and description in a spreadsheet. The free version crawls up to 500 URLs. If you opt for a manual content audit, follow the steps in our blog post here.
  2. Assessing your content impact. If you crawl your content with SEMRush, the tool will also list content length, social shares, and backlinks. This information can help you assess the impact of each piece of content, alerting you to anything that needs to be updated, rewritten, or erased.
  3. Identifying your content gaps. You can also identify gaps in your content using the Ahrefs Content Gap tool or by performing keyword research to discover new keywords or keyword phrases to add to your content, thus helping it rank higher and for more terms.

Check out this blog post for 30+ more content auditing tools.

3. Choose your content distribution channels.

Your content distribution channels are arguably more important than your content itself, hence why this step comes before content creation and after target audience research. Once you know your target audience, you’ll have a much better idea of how to get your content in front of your followers and customers.

Depending on your analysis, you may post on forums and communities like Reddit or Quora — and pay to promote your content on those sites, too. Alternatively, you may choose to exclusively share content on social media channels, or perhaps you find that traditional PR is your best route.

Regardless of which content distribution channels you choose, ensure they align with your audience’s preferences and behaviors.

Also, be sure to optimize your owned distribution channels — your blog, email newsletter, and social media profiles — as these are relatively inexpensive and in your control. Even if research shows that your audience prefers forums to social media or news sites to company blogs, never neglect your owned properties as these reflect on your brand and product.

As you work through this step, set aside time to optimize your blog-to-gain readership, brush up on how to send email newsletters (or start sending them), and learn about organic social media marketing.

4. Decide on your content types.

After you determine your distribution channels, consider what types of content you’d like (and have the resources) to create.

Many companies choose to publish all of their content on their blog and then repurpose and re-publish it. Blog posts are universally consumed, easy to repurpose and localize (i.e. translate into other languages), and simple to share — not to mention that almost 50% of buyers read a company’s blog while making purchase decisions. For these reasons, we recommend building a business blog and then expanding your content types from to share on other channels.

Consider these content types — and how you’ll repurpose and distribute them — as you create your blog posts:

  • E-books
  • Podcasts and interviews
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Testimonials
  • Webinars
  • Checklists and listicles
  • Datasheets

5. Set your content distribution KPIs and goals.

Goals help us recognize where we’re going and what success might look like when we get there. Your content distribution strategy should involve setting goals for your content key performance indicators (KPIs) and their subsequent metrics:

key performance indicators related metrics
Traffic/reach Unique page views by channel and source
Engagement Bounce rate, average time on page
Top content (and falling content) Top page views, top exits
Impact Click-throughs, conversions, backlinks
Sentiment Comments, social shares

These metrics may vary based on your distribution channel (i.e. you can’t track comments on your email newsletter or top exists on your social media ads), so be sure to choose the metrics that correspond best to each channel. It might take a few months to establish a baseline for each channel, especially if you haven’t used it before.

Set SMART goals for your content using these metrics. Here’s an example:

  • Specific: I want to increase our blog’s organic traffic by boosting backlinks from other reputable websites and blogs. This will increase our search engine ranking, thus bringing in more organic traffic.
  • Measurable: I’d like 30 new backlinks to our blog.
  • Attainable: We’re already generating 10 new backlinks each month without an intentional strategy, so I believe 30 new backlinks this month with our strategy is feasible.
  • Relevant: This goal aligns with our broader organic content marketing strategy and could also boost our earned media as we get mentions from press outlets and third-party bloggers.
  • Time-bound: I’d like to receive these backlinks within the next month.

6. Build an editorial calendar (and include distribution).

Content marketing and distribution require lots of planning to be successful. This is where an editorial content calendar can come in handy. You can create one in Excel or Google Sheets, or even use Google Calendar. Tools like CoSchedule, Asana, and Trello are helpful, too.

Your editorial calendar, like your content distribution strategy, helps your team stay aligned and work towards common goals. It also gives your writers and editors a roadmap for what they’ll be working on in the coming weeks and months.

Here’s what your editorial calendar may look like (using this post as an example):

content-distribution-content-calendar-social-1

Your editorial calendar is the perfect place to include your content distribution plans and goals. Here’s what that may look like on your editorial calendar:

content-distribution-content-calendar-social-2

See how the right-hand columns now include categories like “Publish Destinations” and “Repurposing Plans”? Your editorial calendar should serve as your hub for all content creation and distribution plans.

Manage and plan your social media content with our free Social Media Content Calendar Template.

7. Create your content.

After you research your audience, audit your content, decide on your distribution channels and content types, and build your editorial calendar … it’s time to create your content. Content creation will vary based on your resources, team size, industry, and brand, so to get the most pointed, applicable advice, check out our Guide to Content Creation.

As you work on your new content, check out these tools:

  • AnswerthePublic, which can help you flesh out topics and understand what your audience is searching for
  • Canva, which can help you build gorgeous infographics and images
  • Vidyard, which is a video hosting and publishing platform made for marketers
  • Anchor, which is a free podcasting tool for beginners

We’ll talk more about content distribution tools in the next section.

8. Distribute and market your content.

You’ve created your content … now it’s time to put it out in the world. Following your editorial calendar and chosen distribution channels, publish and market your new content. As for any marketing channel, be sure you follow rules to optimize your posts on each channel.

For example, our team at HubSpot paid for ads on Reddit and found that it was helpful to organically engage with Redditors as well as pay for ad space. Alternatively, if you’re posting on (or paying for) social media, be sure to follow the guidelines for the best times to post and share content — the same goes for sending emails.

9. Measure and analyze your results.

As always, be sure to keep an eye on your content distribution results. Remember those KPIs, metrics, and SMART goals you established in step five? Time to pull those out.;

After you’ve published your content, take a look at Google Analytics, your social media analytics dashboards, and your blog performance — depending on where and how you distributed the content. Make sure you set a routine time to measure and analyze (weekly, monthly, or quarterly) so that you can establish a baseline and know which numbers you can beat the following week or month.

Whew! So, that’s what it takes to build a content distribution strategy. Be sure to iterate on this process; these guidelines may change as you expand your content efforts and scale your team. Now, let’s talk about the tools you need to get it done.

Content distribution can be an arduous process, but thankfully there are many content distribution tools out there to help you get your work discovered and consumed.

Content Tools

These tools help you publish your content on additional networks and forums to reach broader audiences.

Medium

Medium is a content platform that individuals and businesses alike use to publish content. You can use Medium in addition to or in lieu of your traditional blog. (We recommend in addition to your blog as this will give your content the broadest reach.)

Medium is where thousands of readers consume content. It’s a one-stop-shop platform for all kinds of content … kind of like Amazon is for products. For that reason, consider publishing to Medium to increase the number of people who see your content.

Price: Free and paid

LinkedIn Pulse

LinkedIn Pulse is similar to Medium except it lives on LinkedIn. While there isn’t a homepage that aggregates all the published content, it’s still a helpful tool for getting your written content in front of your followers (for free). You can publish on LinkedIn Pulse through your personal or company LinkedIn pages by simply clicking “Write an article”.

Note: LinkedIn Pulse is also a mobile application that you can download to receive daily headlines and trending news.

Read more about publishing on LinkedIn Pulse here.

Price: Free

PR Tools

These tools help connect you with journalists and publications to help expand your earned distribution channels and gain backlinks.

PR Newswire

PR Newswire is a press release distribution network. The platform helps you target and contact journalists and outlets by specific industries, geographic areas, and topics. It offers packages for state and local, regional, and national press.

Price: Paid

HARO

HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out, which is an online platform that connects journalists and sources. In this case, you’d be the source.

When you sign up for HARO, you’re sent daily emails with journalist queries. Respond to these queries to be potentially featured in an article. This is a reactive content distribution tool, but it’s helpful for getting press mentions and backlinks.

Price: Free and paid

Social Tools

These tools help distribute your content on social media and amplify your posts.

HubSpot

HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing software, meaning its useful for email marketing, analytics, and social amplification. I’ve placed it in the “Social Tools” section because its Social Inbox is incredibly helpful for content distribution.

From your Social Inbox, you can monitor, schedule, and post content to your social networks. You can also access information from your email marketing campaigns so you have the big picture of your readers and customers.

Price: Free and paid

ClickToTweet

ClickToTweet is a tool that equips your readers to share soundbites of your content on Twitter with a single click. You create your content soundbites, and ClickToTweet provides a link. When readers click that link, the tool opens their Twitter with the content soundbite already ready to post.

It also links to your Twitter account and content — allowing your readers to distribute your content for you.

Price: Free

GaggleAMP

GaggleAMP is a social amplification tool that allows you to aggregate your employee’s social networks and post company content directly to them. Employees have the option to review and improve content before it’s posted or allow it to go through automatically. This is a great alternative to constantly bugging your staff to post on about your business.

You can also use this tool to link to social networks from partners, customers, brand advocates, and more.

Price: Free and paid

AddThis

AddThis is an on-page social sharing tool. It allows your readers to share your content without bouncing from your page (and potentially getting distracted). You can also integrate AddThis share buttons into your email newsletter and other assets.

Price: Free

Analysis Tools

These tools help you measure and analyze the impact of your social posts and other distribution efforts.

Mention

Mention is a social media monitoring tool that provides social media listening, publishing, crisis management, and more. You can use Mention to monitor any mentions of your brand name, content, or social networks and respond accordingly. This is a great tool for measuring the impact of and engagement around your content and see who is promoting it for you.

Price: Free and paid

SharedCount

SharedCount is a tool that helps you measure the engagement of your social media posts. Simply input a URL, and SharedCount will report on its likes, shares, comments, and other engagement measures. While it can’t help you distribute your content, it can alert you to which pieces are performing well and which pieces may need to be updated or scrapped.

Price: Free and paid

Additional Tools

Outbrain

Outbrain is a paid amplification tool that aggregates your content at the bottom of other articles. You can set up content campaigns with an RSS feed or specific URL(s), and Outbrain will place them under related content, encouraging readers to click and read yours.

Outbrain works with an impressive network, including digital publications like NYT and Mashable.

Price: Pay-per-click

WiseStamp

WiseStamp is an email tool that allows you (and your employees) to share your latest content in your email signature. Your email signature is often a forgotten but important piece of digital real estate that practically everyone who opens your emails will see. WiseStamp helps you make the most of that space.

Price: Paid

Distribute Your Content to Grow Better

Amazing content is a waste if no one is consuming it. Content distribution is a critical piece of the content marketing puzzle. It’s is also the key to boosting your brand awareness, collecting loyal followers, and encouraging your readers to click, act, and become customers.

Put these content distribution tips and tools to get your content in front of your audience.

14 of the Best Public Relations Examples to Inspire Your Next Campaign

Sometimes, a press release about your company’s new product launch, significant hire, or acquisition fails to pick up the coverage you were expecting. Journalists crave juicy stories and viral marketing campaigns, but standing out in a sea of conventional pitches is one of the biggest challenges for any public relations professional.

When you need a dose of inspiration, blogs like PR Examples are a great place to find the most compelling PR plays. To save you some time, we curated a list of the absolute best of the best to get the creativity flowing for your next campaign.

Read on to get inspired by some of the best minds in public relations.

1. Lyft & Netflix: Strange Mode 

Industry Relations

With over 360,000 people who binge watched Stranger Things 2 within a day of its release, it’s clear the show created unprecedented amounts of hype leading up to its premiere date. One of the stunts that built up this hype was Lyft and Netflix’s Strange Mode prank. By immersing Lyft customers in an environment that was as terrifyingly strange and eerily similar to Hawkins, Indiana, they made Stomranger Things fans feel like they were actually in the Upside Down.

2. HostelWorld: Even Divas are Believers

Customer Relations

Traveling the world can give you some of the best experiences of your life, but it can also thrust you into situations that you’ll want to scrub from your memory, like staying the night in a hostel. There are countless hostel horror stories online and hundreds of videos that mock their hospitality scattered throughout social media — so needless to say, they don’t have the best reputation.

But HostelWorld, a hostel booking website, decided to team up with Mariah Carey to freshen up their image and showcase the pleasant reality of staying in a modern day hostel. Together, they blasted through affordable accommodation stereotypes by spotlighting the lesser known luxuries of hostels like having access to the same facilities as more expensive accommodations, but at a cheaper price, and being able to connect with other fellow travelers.

HostelWorld’s message is simple: if hostels are nice enough for divas like Mariah Carey, then they’re nice enough for everyone..

3. Lawyer.com: Choosing Lindsay Lohan to Be their Spokesperson

Customer Relations

Picking Lindsay Lohan to be your company’s official spokesperson could spark a lot of backlash. But when you connect people with lawyers, the move can produce loads of smiles, publicity, and customers. Lawyer.com’s brilliant marketing play resonated with audiences because Lohan’s troubled past and her frequent brushes with the law makes people who might’ve gotten in a little trouble feel like they’re not alone. It also makes them feel better about themselves. If a high-status celebrity needed a lawyer — multiple times — then maybe it’s not so bad if you need one too — right?

4. Stabilo Boss: Highlight the Remarkable

Corporate and Social Responsibility

There have been remarkable women throughout history that might not have been celebrated as they should have been. Stabilo Boss — the company that sells highlighter pens — started a campaign to highlight these women and their incredible accomplishments. 

Stabilo took famous black-and-white photos from historical moments and drew a yellow highlight line to showcase the woman in the photo that made it all happen. The Boss PR campaign highlighted women like Katharine Johnson, the NASA mathematician responsible for the calculations that sent Apollo 11 to the moon. Other examples include Nobel Prize winner Lise Meitner ando First Lady Edith Wilson.

The campaign blew up on social media and went on to win multiple awards.

Photo credit: Ads of the World

5. Logitech: BS Detection Spoof

Industry Relations

Hours after April Fools Day, almost every marketing publication rounds up the best spoofs, pranks, and stunts that distracted everyone at work that day. One of the funniest spoofs that earned a spot in all the major roundups this year was Logitech’s fake Business Speak Detection product video. By giving their product a punny, yet subtly accurate name, the video pokes fun at most businesses’ obsession and overuse of buzzwords. But it also has the feel of a real product overview, which makes it even more hilarious.

6. Old Spice: Paper Blazer Ad

Marketing Communications

Photo Credit: PR Examples

When Fragrance brands advertise in magazines, they usually show off their aromas by drenching an ad with their latest cologne or perfume. But Old Spice realized people usually don’t enjoy unexpectedly pungent scents violating their nostrils when they’re flipping through their favorite magazine. So in typical Old Spice fashion, they gently ribbed other fragrance brands by inserting a paper blazer doused in their new cologne, Captain, in their print ad in GQ magazine. Then they wrote about how these paper blazers can help men attract attention not only with trendy style, but also with masculine smell. The only drawback of the blazer is that it’ll turn into papier-mâché on you in the rain.

Humor and cleverness is one of the best ways to appeal to your audience and gain earned media attention, and it seems like Old Spice can leverage them both on any marketing channel.

Photo Credit: PR Examples

7. Star Wars: Passing the Box-Office Baton to The Avengers

Social Media

Avengers: Infinity War just shattered Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ record for the biggest opening weekend ever by grossing over $250 million. LucasFilm, the studio that created and produced Star Wars, wasn’t bitter though. Instead, they were proud of their friends over at Marvel Studios, and sent them a heartwarming congratulatory tweet. By applauding them for their incredible accomplishment, and not sulking about their broken record, Star Wars earned the respect of movie lovers everywhere — not to mention some media coverage for the gesture.

8. Johnnie Walker: Jane Walker

Corporate and Social Responsibility

 

 Photo Credit: PR Examples

To promote gender equality and honor the many achievements of women throughout history, Johnnie Walker launched a female version of its whisky on International Women’s Day called Jane Walker. The limited-edition bottle featured a woman on their iconic logo, instead of a man, which connected the brand to individuals who also support their commitment to social progress.

In March 2018, Johnnie Walker released 250,000 bottles of Jane Walker, and for every bottle sold, they donated $1 to organizations that empower women. This tangible impact helped their campaign gain even more support and publicity.

9. AirBnB & BBC Earth: Night at Blue Planet II

Industry Relations

Blue Planet II is considered the greatest nature series of all time, with its first episode attracting over 14 million viewers and earning the title of Britain’s highest rated TV show in 2017. Watching the show can almost place you into the habitat they’re filming, but BBC Earth wanted to take things to the next level for their biggest fans: they offered them a chance to experience what it’s like to be a researcher and filmmaker for Blue Planet II.

To do so, they teamed up with AirBnB to run a contest for their members, and two lucky winners got to spend three days and two nights in the Bahamas on the research and exploration vessel used in the show’s filming. During their expedition, they lived with and discussed work with researchers and dove deep into the Atlantic Ocean in a submarine with filmmakers to observe some of nature’s most unique underwater wildlife. By offering a once in a lifetime opportunity, BBC Earth could get more people to watch their hit show, and AirBnB could build their brand affinity.

Photo Credit: PR Examples

10. SpaceX & Tesla: SpaceX Sends a Tesla into Outer Space

Public Affairs

Everyone knows Elon Musk wants to send humans to Mars. So when SpaceX launched their newest rocket, Falcon Heavy, into space, it made some headlines. But when the Falcon Heavy suddenly shot a cherry-red Tesla Roadster blasting David Bowie’s 1971 hit “Life on Mars?” into orbit, it was being called the greatest automotive PR stunt in history.

The car will now float between Earth and Mars for millions of years, and serve as reminder for current and future generations to always reach for the stars. The success of both launches also improved SpaceX and Falcon Heavy’s reputation. Falcon Heavy is now the most powerful rocket on earth, so it’s realistic to say it can launch heavy satellites and future space stations into orbit, shuttle cargo to Mars, and even transport humans to the moon. And that’s exactly what Elon Musk needs the public to think if he wants to accomplish his ambitious goals.

11. BBC Scotland: Scotland From the Sky: Glen Coe

Integrated Marketing and Communications

In 2017, Rough Guides, a renowned travel guidebook, named Scotland the most beautiful country in the world. And a big reason why it’s such a spectacle is because Glen Coe, a Scottish valley that cuts through the ruins of an ancient super-volcano, is one of the most striking landscapes in the world.

BBC Scotland’s immersive, 360 degree video of Glen Coe grips viewers because they’re able able to experience the landscape from an intimate point of view at every possible angle, which makes them feel like they’re actually there. Publicity of this video benefits both Scotland’s tourist industry and BBC Scotland because it compels people to travel to Scotland and consume more of BBC Scotland’s content.

12. State Street Global Advisors: Fearless Girl

Corporate and Social Responsibility

On the morning of International Women’s Day, the world woke up to find a four-foot high statue of a girl across from the Charging Bull statue on Wall Street in New York. She is standing tall and brave, hands on her hips, in a dress and high top converse. 

Fearless Girl, as she is called, was commissioned by the investment management firm State Street Global Advisors as a part of their campaign to pressure companies to add more women to their boards. By standing up to Charging Bull, she is standing up for gender diversity on Wall Street. 

fearless-girl-PR-campaign-exampleSource: Forbes

Some argue that the girl’s defiance toward the bull — and male-dominated corporate boardrooms more generally — is controversial. There has been lots of pushback to the statue, but in general, this PR campaign received widespread support for the women’s movement and diversity in the workplace and remains outside the New York Stock Exchange.

13. ALS Association: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Corporate and Social Responsibility

A few years ago, videos of people dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads flooded social media, now known as the Ice Bucket Challenge. The viral sensation of 2.4 million videos was a way to raise awareness of a neurodegenerative disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The idea was to raise money for the ALS Association and research on the disease. 

 

The viral challenged raised more than $115 million dollars, with almost $80 million going towards research. The campaign was a massive success — awareness and funding for ALS has skyrocketed, all thanks to millions of people giving themselves brain freeze.

14. Guinness: Guinness Clear

Corporate and Social Responsibility

Guinness pushed a series of ads to promote its newest product: Guinness Clear. This completely transparent, refreshing beverage “will keep you hydrated and help you stay in control.” Their secret recipe? It’s just water.

This lighthearted PR campaign is actually trying to address a more serious issue — binge drinking. The company hopes that consumers will drink more of their “Guinness Clear” to remember their nights and not overdo it while still having fun. Guinness hopes the ads will drive conversation and healthier habits.

 

 

Designing for Humans and Bots, Too: How a HubSpot Designer Approaches SEO

In the early days of the web, design and SEO weren’t really friends — websites with good SEO often had a weak design, while websites with impressive design often weren’t great for SEO. During that era, there was some crazy stuff going on involving stuffing keywords into content, bad website navigation, and just plain ol’ outdated design.

When I joined HubSpot, I partnered with our SEO team to design online experiences that could grow organic traffic to our website at scale. Knowing the reputation that SEO has amongst designers, I was skeptical about being able to produce engaging designs while delivering the traffic and lead counts for which I was accountable. However, I welcomed the challenge!

Luckily, I was in for a surprise. Working with our company’s SEO team over the past year has led me to realize that the goals of SEO and design don’t have to be at odds with each other — in fact, they’re intertwined around anticipating and delivering value to your customers.

Designing with SEO in mind ultimately creates an excellent customer experience.

Here, I’m going to explore how you can use SEO-minded design to increase traffic while still maintaining an engaging user experience — but first, why is it even important?

The Impact of SEO-Minded Design

At its core, our team is looking to deliver traffic to our website, which impacts our ability to acquire leads and product sign-ups.

I see design as an integral part of being able to deliver these KPIs, because we directly influence what visitors — and search engines — see on a given page.

Ultimately, designing pages to provide a thoughtful and valuable experience for visitors affects whether our content appears in a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) or not.

For instance, if users find our navigation confusing, they might exit our page quickly — which will indicate to the SERPs that our pages are outdated or don’t match the keywords at hand.

There are plenty of other design-related factors that could influence SEO — take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Google Ranking Factors in 2019 to learn more.

Next, let’s explore how your team can practice SEO-minded design.

How to Practice SEO-Minded Design

There are a few concepts that tie SEO and design together that are helpful in balancing the best practices of both areas, and I want to cover four in particular today. Let’s dive in.

1. Don’t neglect the mobile experience.

Google has shifted to mobile-first indexing, which means that it uses the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking.

The crazy reality is that Google may never see a desktop version of your website.

This change makes it imperative to ensure content quality isn’t compromised when designing for smaller screen sizes. Hiding content on mobile but showing it on desktop is like clipping a bird’s wings — crawlers (the bots that scour the web for new content) won’t be able to explore the breadth of your website and gain enough context regarding the value your content provides.

In practice, this means that your site navigation should be fully available to mobile users.

Additionally, you’ll want to ensure the link structure on mobile isn’t dramatically different from navigation options offered on desktop. Plus, text content and images should remain available to ensure crawlers have enough context to understand what your website is about.

I’ll be the first to admit that reducing content for mobile is a bad habit I developed earlier in my career, and it’s really tough to break.

To better embrace responsive design, I’ve shifted my mindset from trying to
replicate the experience across all touchpoints, to delivering the
best experience possible on each platform.

This gives you the freedom to optimize conversion flows on a per-platform basis, leveraging what you know about the needs of your users when they visit your site through different devices.

In support of mobile-first indexing practices, search engines also heavily weigh the mobile friendliness of your website. As a result, you should pay close attention to the following things when designing your site for mobile devices:

  1. Size of tappable areas: Ensure there’s enough space for a person to tap on a link with their fingers. Tap targets of at least 48 pixels in size are considered standard by search engines like Google.
  2. Using legible font sizes: Text sizes should scale to ensure legibility on each device. Using fonts that are too small will result in penalties from search engines.
  3. Image asset file sizes: When exporting images and other media content, try to optimize the file size for web so it doesn’t take forever to load. User attention span is short and if pages take too long to load, potential visitors will abandon your site.

We used this approach when building HubSpot’s Business Templates directory, which launched in March 2019. The content we offer is in the form of editable document templates, which users can download and use. Since the templates are offered for Microsoft Word, Excel, and PDF — typically desktop applications — we realized users probably wouldn’t find much value in downloading the templates to their mobile devices.

On mobile, I decided to prioritize the option to email a link to themselves to download the template later, enabling users to achieve their goals regardless of the platform they were on.

 

Slight modifications in the download experience between desktop and mobile create an optimized experience for each platform. These screens show how email to self is the primary option on mobile, while downloading is prioritized on desktop.

I also made a very simple change to my workflow to ensure I’m considering responsive design at every stage of the design process. When I set up a new file in Sketch (the main software our team uses for interface design), I always create two “artboards” next to each other — one for desktop, and one for mobile.

As I’m designing a screen for desktop, I concurrently arrange the same content to the mobile screen size without deleting anything, then make adjustments needed based on the mobile context. It’s not quite a mobile-first approach, but it’s a step in the right direction.

An example of a file set up for a responsive design approach.

2. Make navigation meaningful.

The better your navigation is at surfacing the way your website is structured, the better crawlers will be able to discover content and understand what your website is about.

But clear navigation isn’t just for bots — it also helps visitors navigate your website and find interesting, relevant content. Think about your own experience visiting a website for the first time. Perhaps you’ve found an article on Google that you enjoyed reading and want to see more articles by that author. A well-organized website makes that content readily available to you.

You’re probably familiar with several modules that are commonly used to organize content: “Related” feeds, “People also search for”, “People also bought …” — these features are commonly employed on ecommerce and directory websites. Although they might seem gimmicky, they can be valuable to customers for the following reasons:

  • Reinforces content categorization. Visitors will learn about how you define categories on your website and the type of content that belongs in each. This empowers them to find specific content without aid.
  • Promotes discovery of relevant content. This allows websites to deliver value for customers beyond their original query, encouraging customers to perceive us as knowledgeable, helpful sources for information. When they see content from us in the future, they may be more likely to trust us.
  • Helps with decision making. These components reduce the cognitive load of having to recognize versus recall data, and customers feel reassured that they are not alone. However, it’s important to use this data wisely to be helpful — and to not abuse it.

Other UI components like breadcrumb navigation and table of contents may have a bad reputation in the design world, but they’re useful for leveraging complex information architectures.

These components help manifest how your website is organized — and let crawlers and visitors more easily find their way around your website.

From a user perspective, clear navigation acts like road signs, telling you more about where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. There’s nothing worse than having to resort to the Back button on your browser because you don’t know where else to click.

3. Give people what they want.

How many times have you searched Google for answers and clicked on a link that gave you different content than what you were expecting? We can probably agree that getting content that doesn’t answer our question is a frustrating experience, and can result in a loss of trust.

Search engines want to serve quality content that answers the queries they receive — which makes designing pages with relevant content one of the most important parts of enabling strong SEO. After all, when search engines don’t deliver quality content, they lose customers and revenue as a result.

Understanding what will be valuable to visitors comes from understanding their intent behind a query. Being familiar with user goals lays the foundation for you to create content that will deliver value.

There are a few simple ways to learn more about user goals (short of being able to read their minds) that I like to practice on a regular basis:

1. Keyword Research

Keyword research examines the terms that people are typing into search engines, the number of times it’s being searched in a given time period (usually monthly), and a few other metrics that help you determine the value and difficulty of pursuing a search engine ranking for that term.

Examining the full queries people are searching allows you to uncover more about the user’s knowledge of the keyword and intent behind their search. Matching the specificity of your content to the user’s expectations is critical for ensuring you deliver value.

For instance, here’s an example to consider:

In the first example, someone searching for “business plan proposal template download” might expect a page that enables them to directly download a business plan template, and connotes a high level of specificity and intent — this customer is likely in the consideration phase of their search, and probably already knows what a business plan proposal is and how to use it.

On the other hand, someone typing a query like “business plan proposal template examples” might not know what goes into a good business plan, and might be interested in a high-level article that gives them more context, as well as a few different options.

Keyword research also serves as a good litmus test for how well your copy resonates with customers. You can use metrics like monthly search volume (MSV) to see which keywords are commonly typed into search engines. This can help you understand how customers are referring to relevant concepts in the real world. You might consider this when weighing the cost and benefits of leveraging a commonly known term versus teaching a new one.

However, it’s important to understand the limitations of using keyword research when incorporating it into your process. Keyword research shows you what users are searching for, but doesn’t tell you what they’re actually looking for.

People searching for the same term might be looking for very different things, and that depends greatly on the context that prompted them to enter a query. You can use keyword research to help you form a hypothesis about user intent, but you can’t draw any conclusions about causality from it. Using keyword research can be a powerful tool, but only if you take its findings at face value and use it properly.

2. Empathy Exercise

Once I’ve looked at the words people are searching for, I start to analyze the possible intent behind their query. For each page or asset I’m creating, I’ll create a brief list of the keywords, goals, and content a visitor might find valuable to accomplish their goals.

This simple empathy exercise helps me consider the context in which people are visiting, and map out the modules that would create value to users.

Here’s a template to help you get started with your own empathy exercise:

empathy-exercise

For the Business Template directory, I made a list that looked something like this:

example-empathy-exercise

The context behind a user’s search query can have a huge impact on their expectations for your content — so while performing the empathy exercise, it’s important to know that you might not capture every use case or scenario.

I use this empathy exercise to form a hypothesis about a user’s goals, and then determine what content might be most valuable on that page. This sets a benchmark of the content that must be included, which allows me to wireframe modules that will showcase essential content.

We can build off this foundation and add content that oru marketing team or stakeholders may require, as long as it doesn’t prevent customers from reaping the most value.

3. User Research and Testing

User testing or research is another helpful tool in evaluating the assumptions you bring into a project. It’s incredible how often your assumptions could be off-base from the actual values your customers hold, so it’s critical to get their direct insights whenever possible.

On our team, we’ve incorporated both moderated and unmoderated user testing into our arsenal using programs like Validately and Respondent, both of which allow you to recruit and screen users to test your designs.

When used together, these three methods can give you a stronger understanding of the context behind people’s search terms, as well as the goals they might expect your content to help them meet.

4. Apply accessibility best practices.

Making your content accessible for all visitors is an important but often overlooked step in the design process. There are a lot of common explanations for why accessibility hasn’t been prioritized — unfortunately, some of these might sound familiar:

“Accessible design isn’t as visually interesting and looks boring.”

“It takes extra time to make something accessible for all.”

“It only impacts a small subset of our customers.”

The truth is that accessibility isn’t that hard, and it’s unacceptable to make excuses about why we can’t do it. Making content accessible impacts SEO because it creates a better user experience and helps search engines understand what your content is about.

If it sounds daunting, these are a few simple things you can do to improve the overall customer experience and positively impact your SEO:

1. Add descriptive alt text.

Alt text helps people who have visual impairments understand what non-text content on your website is about. Technology like screen readers are used to help people with visual impairments interact with websites, and these tools read the alt text you provide when it encounters an image, video, or other non-text content.

Additionally, in cases where images aren’t able to load (like slow or unstable internet connections), alt text appears in place of the image so users can still understand the content they’re unable to see.

People aren’t the only ones who use alt text — search engines do, too. Crawlers use alt text for two things:

  • Understand what an image is about. Capturing the topic and purpose of your image in the alt text description helps search engines rank your image in image searches and drive additional traffic to your website.
  • Understand what your website is about. This helps search engines better understand what your website is about and the value it delivers to users, which impacts what SERPs your page is seen on.

Designers, developers, and marketers can work together to ensure that descriptive alt text is implemented on all content. Collaborating and keeping each other accountable for this practice can drive traffic to your site, and help us create an inclusive experience for all.

2. Create a clear content hierarchy.

Using headers to establish a consistent visual hierarchy makes content more digestible for both people and crawlers alike. It’s difficult for people to read long bodies of text, so headers play an important role in providing users a way to quickly scan and find their way through long pieces of content.

Headers should be visually distinguished, clear, and descriptive, and tell readers (and crawlers) exactly what lies ahead.

3. Write descriptive anchor text.

It’s relatively common to see buttons and CTAs that say “Read More” or “Learn More”. Unfortunately, this isn’t very helpful for visitors or bots in understanding what they should expect to see next.

When effectively used, CTAs and hyperlink copy should help set the visitor’s expectation about what a linked page is about, allowing them to evaluate whether or not it would be valuable for them to visit the page.

Anchor text is also read by screen readers for visitors with visual impairments, and using links that aren’t descriptive can be especially confusing for users who don’t have the visual context of where your CTA lives.

Designing with SEO in mind will help you create a stronger, better customer experience. Ultimately, the best thing you can do in any situation is put the customer first.

By using a collaborative, intentional approach to design and SEO, we can drive measurable impact for our businesses — and create more inclusive experiences for all.

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags for 2019

Did you know an Instagram post with at least one hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than a post with no hashtags?

Hashtags are powerful. They can help your posts reach a target audience, attract followers in your niche, increase engagement, and develop a more positive and recognizable brand image.

Here’s the thing, though: with great power comes great responsibility (#spiderman).

Hashtags can skyrocket your business to new heights, but if used too frequently or without a clear strategy in mind, they become pointless and inefficient, e.g.: #happy #superhappy #ecstatic #jumpingforjoy #whatsanothersynonym.

We want your business’s Instagram posts to receive optimal engagement, so we’ve put together an ultimate guide for using Instagram hashtags in 2018. With this guide, you won’t just attract followers — you’ll attract the right followers.

Why are hashtags important?

Hashtags are essentially Instagram’s sorting process. With around 95 million photos posted on Instagram every day, it’s difficult for Instagram to efficiently deliver the right content to the right people. Hashtags help your post get discovered by viewers most interested in seeing it.

Krystal Gillespie, HubSpot’s Social Media Community Manager, explains the importance of hashtags this way: “Hashtags are like a funnel. For instance, #marketing is incredibly broad and attracts all types of posts. We’ve found #digitalmarketing or #marketingmotivation gives us a more specific, targeted reach. The audience searching for these hashtags are also trying to narrow their search to what we offer related to Marketing, so we’re actually reaching more of the right people.”

Essentially, hashtags are a better way to categorize your posts. They help you reach a target audience, and more importantly, they help your target audience find you. These users are more likely to engage with your post because your post is exactly what they wanted.

Adding one of the most popular Instagram hashtags to your post doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll see more interaction. Since the hashtags above are so popular, they are being used by millions of people, so your post will most likely be obscured by the competition. Narrowing your hashtag topic is important, but we’ll get to that next.

Here are some of the top Instagram hashtags of 2018.

1. #love

Instagram users build their photo galleries on good feelings. For this reason, the #love hashtag is ever present next to the pics of friends, family, vacations, and beautiful scenery.

2. #instagood

Occurrences of this hashtag are inspired by the @instagood Instagram account, which scours the Instagram community for excellent photos and videos that are just too #instagood not to share. Add this hashtag to your content for a chance to be reposted.

3. #style

This hashtag has more than 400 million posts associated with it, making it one of the top tags in 2019. It’s used for beautifully edited photos of outfits, vacations, luxury products, and anything aesthetically stunning. Tag #style on a gorgeous outfit inspiration or new product, and Instagram users looking to add a little glamour to their lives will find you.

4. #dogstagram

We all know that the internet loves cute puppies, so it shouldn’t be surprising when a hashtag for our beloved doggos trends on Instagram. It’s always a good idea to include man’s best friend in an Instagram post — your followers will love it and you’re almost guaranteed dozens of heart emojis in your comments.

Source: Instagram

5. #me

This is the quintessential selfie hashtag, indicating to the Instagram community that the photo it’s captioning is a picture of you.

6. #fashion

People often turn to Instagram to see what styles are “in”, looking at posts ranging from fashion week to everyday outfit inspirations. This means that a significant portion of the content on Instagram revolves around fashion — in fact, there are more than 700 million #fashion posts on Instagram today. You will find celebrities, luxury brands, clothes, makeup, and other aspirational images tagged with #fashion.

7. #cute

#Cute puts your content in a pool of Instagram photos and videos that elicit “awes” from all over the Instaverse. If you think your puppy is the cutest puppy that ever lived, it deserves a photo with this esteemed hashtag.

8. #tbt

#Tbt stands for “Throwback Thursday,” and encourages Instagram users to post an old photo of themselves or an event they’re reminiscing over. Everyone likes content from the good old days — here’s your hashtag for enjoying the nostalgia.

9. #foodporn

I hope you’re hungry! The #foodporn tag is brimming with mouthwatering posts of desserts, pizza, recipe videos, and so much more. This hashtag is for the best of the best when it comes to delectable treats on Instagram — find the most original, delicious, and tantalizing food pictures on the internet under this hashtag.

10. #photooftheday

Managing a business account? This hashtag is a surefire way to attract more followers and repeat visitors. If you plan to post daily content, all around a common theme, add the #photooftheday hashtag to increase your exposure.

11. #instamood

#Instamood is all about the vibe or emotion a photo or video elicits. Pretty scenery, a day at the beach, or a night out with good people were all prominent under the #instamood hashtag in 2018. Landscapes are a popular starting point when figuring out what to post on Instagram, according to Jumper Media, and they fit into this hashtag perfectly.

12. #follow

This hashtag — currently tagged on half a billion posts — is a tactic used by public accounts looking to gain more followers. It’s a ubiquitous tag, non-specific to any one type of content creator, so you’ll see #follow on fashion accounts, travel blogs, makeup tutorials, celebrity fan pages, and much more. The idea is that if a user comes across content that they like on your explore page, they might be motivated to follow the account for more of that content.

13. #iphonesia

#Iphonesia is dedicated to the burgeoning community of Instagrammers in Indonesia.

14. #food

Meal pics are the bread and butter (no pun intended) of a people-oriented Instagram account — and 2018 was no exception. Use the #food hashtag to caption your next delicious Instagram photo.

15. #motivation

On Twitter, #MondayMotivation encourages inspiring quotes and messages to help people start the week off on the right foot. On Instagram, the #motivation hashtag has come to caption anything from a photo of a user after a big gym session, to a computer screen right before he or she gets to work.

The above 10 hashtags might have helped define Instagram over the last year, but there are still plenty more that end up trending every year. The following hashtags can help inspire photos and videos that Instagram users always seem to find captivating — and are sure to in 2019.

16. #Instagramhub

This hashtag isn’t specific to one type of post — #instagramhub is a place for active Instagram users to demonstrate their presence on the platform and reach larger audiences. By including this popular hashtag, influencers on Instagram are able to connect with as many users as possible.

1. #life

This one goes out to all the photos and videos that encompass the essence of your life.

2. #beautiful

Instagram is the place to go to put your best foot forward — whether it be your amazing getaway, a new hairstyle, or a breath-taking sunset, #beautiful photos encompass the best of what the platform has to offer.

Instagram Hashtag #beautifulSource: Instagram

3. #travel

Away for the weekend? Show your followers where you are, using this hashtag to indicate you’re traveling somewhere new.

4. #fitness

Get in on a trending community of workout warriors with photos and videos from your best exercise sessions, using the #fitness hashtag to share the moment.

5. #happy

Sometimes the best part of feeling good is sharing that sunshine with others. The #happy group of posts is full of radiant people and lighthearted content that brings us joy. Tag a photo of a cute kitten or one of yourself after getting a promotion with #happy.

6. #repost

Reposting is a common function on Instagram that allows you to share content from other users, with credit back to the original user. Use the hashtag, #repost, to tell others on Instagram that you were inspired by this photo or video.

7. #igers

#Igers is short for “Instagram users.” If you’ve got a photo or video that encompasses the Instagram community, show your solidarity with this colloquial hashtag.

8. #photography

At its core, Instagram is a photo sharing media, so it makes sense that there are some stunning and artistic images shared in #photography. Instagram is unique in that a user could be scrolling through the #photography posts and see National Geographic and professional photos next to amateur photographers.

9. #instadaily

This hashtag is similar to #photooftheday — one of the most popular hashtags of 2018 above this list — and is perfect for Instagrammers who post every day.

10. #bestoftheday

The #bestoftheday tag offers a glimpse into the massive amount of varied content that is posted to Instagram every day. Here, you’ll find some of the most noteworthy images on the platform — images of beautiful spots around the world, award-winning photos, yummy recipes, adorable animals, and so much more.

11. #followforfollow

Interested in building a fast list of followers on Instagram? #Followforfollow tells everyone who browses this hashtag that you’ll follow users who choose to follow you. This hashtag is always trending highly.

12. #likeforlike

#Likeforlike is similar to the #followforfollow hashtag explained above. Use this hashtag if you want to increase engagement on your Instagram account, telling users that you’ll like their photo or video if they like yours.

13. #tweegram

There is plenty of multi-platform sharing across social media sites, and in #tweegram, you’ll find images taken from Twitter, Pinterest, and more. #Tweegram is best known for quotes, screenshots of Tweets, and memes.

14. #summer

The summertime is the best season to enjoy fun vacations, fruity drinks, and time by the pool. This tag is full of Instagram users enjoying the long summertime hours on the beach or showing off the breezy outfits keeping them cool under the hot #summer sun.

15. #nofilter

Instagram offers so many different filters to help enhance photos, it’s practically assumed that any picture on Instagram has been edited. But if you’re posting a pic that was beautiful all by itself, let the world know that this gem didn’t need a filter to look so nice.

16. #ootd

#Ootd stands for “Outfit of the Day,” a hashtag dedicated to Instagram users who love showing off new clothing and styles on a regular basis.

17. #instafood

This popular tag is different from other food hashtags because it accompanies food pictures that are gorgeous, creative, and, most importantly, worthy of Instagram. Instagram posts are  known for being aesthetically appealing, and #instafood is no different. Use this tag if you’re posting a photo of a colorful, unique, and sumptuous dish!

18. #fun

If it’s not fun, it’s not Instagram-worthy. Make it known to millions of Instagram users that you had a blast in your latest photo or video with this popular hashtag.

1. Keep your hashtags organized.

To create an efficient hashtag system, you can use Excel or an Instagram analytics tool. If you choose an excel sheet, you’ll need to manually keep track of which hashtags you use, how often, and which ones correlate to your most popular posts. Over time, you’ll see relationships between certain hashtags and your most popular posts, and this can help you decide which hashtags work best for your brand.

If you have a more advanced social media team, you might want to consider a tool like Iconosquare, which automatically stores top hashtags and provides reports on which hashtags reach the most people.

For smaller businesses with limited budgets, Krystal Gillespie says that, “an excel sheet is the best way to start. Once you get more advanced I would highly recommend using a tool to track the data. A manual system can get overwhelming when you’re posting three times a day and using about 20 hashtags per post.”

2. Figure out your magic number.

Most top brands — 91% of them, to be exact — use seven or fewer hashtags per post, so it’s easy to assume that’s the magic number for everyone … right? Krystal explains that this isn’t always the case: She told me HubSpot has been more successful with hashtags ranging in the low 20s.

The point is, you can’t know how many hashtags work best for you until you test it. For HubSpot, it took the team several months to find a number that worked best, and during our trial period, we ranged from seven to 30. Give yourself the same flexibility for trial and error.

3. Narrow your hashtags.

There are two big reasons more specific, smaller-volume hashtags are better for your brand: first, you can compete in a smaller pool. HubSpot, for example, doesn’t typically use the hashtag #marketing because it’s too broad. If you search #marketing, you’ll find pictures of restaurants, inspirational quotes, before-and-after hair style pictures, and memes.

The randomness of #marketing leads me to the second reason specific hashtags are a good idea: as a user, I’m more likely to find what I need if I search for something specific, and when your business comes up for my specific search request, I’m more likely to be happy with what I found.

Krystal explains: “Keeping a hashtag close to the interests of your brand really helps. We try to use hashtags tailored for a specific topic and then narrow it down further — for instance, we’d use #SEOTips if our marketing post was mostly about SEO.”

Think of it this way: #dogs is more popular, but it has a wide demographic. If I search #goldenretrieverpuppies and I find your post, I’m more likely to engage with it because it’s exactly what I wanted.

4. Research what other people are hashtagging.

An easy way to generate hashtag ideas is to make a list of your followers or competitors and research what they’re hashtagging on their own photos. It can also be particularly helpful to research what influencers in your industry are hashtagging — by definition, influencers are people with a large social media following, so they must be doing something right.

5. Test out related hashtags.

When you type a hashtag into Instagram’s search bar, Instagram shows you related hashtags in the scroll-down menu. Instagram also delivers related hashtags on the next page after you click on a hashtag. This is a simple way to create a longer list of hashtags to try out.

6. Follow your own hashtag.

Another way to use Instagram hashtags for your marketing purposes is to follow your own hashtag. Krystal explains, “On Instagram I actually follow the hashtag #hubspot so I can find anyone who talks about us and connect with them. As long as your account isn’t private, people will be able to find you via the hashtag.”

Following your own hashtag is an effective way to engage with other people talking about your brand and develop better relationships with them.

7. Create a brand campaign hashtag.

This is the trickiest item on the list, but if done successfully, it can pay off big time. Some businesses have successfully attracted followers by creating their own campaign hashtag. A campaign hashtag needs to be funny, clever, or at least memorable in order to work.

Campaign hashtags are particularly useful for promoting a new product or upcoming event, or even just inspiring people. Red Bull, for example, encouraged followers to post Red Bull pictures with a #putacanonit hashtag (see what I mean about clever?). LuLuLemon, rather than running a more traditional ad campaign, developed a positive connotation for their brand by asking followers to post real, active pictures of themselves with a #sweatlife hashtag.

Now that we’ve covered the importance of using Instagram hashtags for your business, you might be wondering how to search for Instagram hashtags within the app, or how to use the search function to find related ideas. If you’re unsure of the technical process for hashtag searching, here’s how:

1. Open Instagram and tap the search icon.

Instagram wants you to use hashtags, and has made it extremely easy to find the perfect ones for your post. To start, open the Instagram app on your mobile device and tap the magnifying glass at the bottom of your screen.

Instagram home screen with magnifying glass icon and search bar highlighted in red

2. Tap the search bar at the top of your screen.

The search screen on your Instagram might first send you to a newsfeed-style page with suggested content based on topics you’ve demonstrated an interest in on social media. To switch to a hashtag search, tap the search bar at the top of this page, as shown in the screenshot above.

3. Tap “Tags.”

Once you’ve tapped the search bar at the top of your screen, Instagram will give you four options with which to filter your search. Instagram refers to hashtags as simply “Tags,” as shown in the screenshot below. Tap this “Tags” option, then tap the search bar above it, and begin searching topics for which you want to find a trending hashtag.

You don’t have to include the pound sign (#) in your search — your results will be the same with or without it — but you will need to use this pound sign in the caption of your photo once you choose a hashtag.

Search page where you can search hashtags on Instagram

4. Browse hashtags based on post count and current content.

Voila! You should see multiple options for hashtags based on your search. Browse around at each related hashtag that Instagram suggests for you — you might find that a hashtag with slightly fewer posts includes photos or videos that are more in line with the content you’re posting.

Happy hashtagging!

The 14 Best WordPress Appointment Plugins in 2019

As a marketer, one of your main goals is to collect high-quality leads for your sales team — but, when those leads try to make appointments to learn more about your products or services, are they being delighted as well as they could be?

Ultimately, creating an efficient, streamlined process for client appointment scheduling is essential for satisfying your prospects and ensuring you don’t lose their interest simply due to a lack of simplicity.

If you have a WordPress site, you’re in luck — there are simple, clean, easy-to-use appointment plugins you can implement to ensure you’re delighting your prospects every time.

Plus, optimizing your scheduling process doesn’t just help your prospects — it also helps you make scheduling the least time-consuming thing you have to do.

Here, we’re going to dive into our favorite 14 WordPress appointment plugins. But first — what are some characteristics of an exceptionally good one?

The Characteristics of the Best WordPress Appointment Plugins

What makes a good appointment plugin? There are nine criteria that a plugin should meet to cover all of your bases:

  1. A customizable appointment booking system where you record your availability or the availability or your staff.
  2. The ability for clients to self-book based on your availability.
  3. Integrations with common calendar tools like Google Calendar, Outlook, and iCal.
  4. Automatic meeting notifications.
  5. Lead generation tools to capture client information and create a database for future communication and lead generation.
  6. Payment integrations.
  7. Multilingual and multi-currency options.
  8. Adjustable time zones and time format.
  9. The ability to embed the calendar on your WordPress page.

An expansive collection of calendar integrations opens up your field to more new users. Most of the below tools hit all of the criteria above, so any of these would be worth considering for your business needs. However, when selecting the one that best serves your target market, make sure to focus on these elements before choosing your plugin.

1. HubSpot WordPress Plugin

Price: Free

The HubSpot WordPress Plugin includes several lead generation tools like popup forms, a web form builder, and kickback emails. Additionally, you can integrate it with your other HubSpot freemium tools, including the Meetings app.

Native within the WordPress plugin, you can use the following to collect client data on your WordPress pages:

  • Banners
  • Scroll Boxes
  • Embedded Forms
  • Pop-ups

Once you collect client data, all that information is sent to the HubSpot free CRM (or anything else you integrate with), so you can get a full view of website behavior.

Additionally, the analytics tool helps you find important information like bounce rate, time on page, and traffic source to help you improve your conversions. Additionally, no API integrations or extra coding is necessary. It’s free, and very easy to sign up and give it a try.

Finally, all of this can integrate with the Meetings app. However, while there is a free version that includes a custom meetings link, you have to upgrade to have the ability to embed your calendar on your WordPress website.

2. Amelia Appointment Booking WordPress Plugin

Price: $59

The Amelia plugin is a fantastic appointment tool for enterprises and chains because of its expansive set of functionalities.

Designed with simplicity and mobile optimization in mind, the plugin helps you manage multiple employees and schedules by providing customizable booking forms and a responsive availability calendar. You can use this to manage both customers’ and employees’ schedules.

Booking an appointment is an easy two-to-three step process, where customers can fill out your contact information, the type of service and location desired, the specific staff members requested, and more.

The plugin is compatible with multiple payment gateways and you can set it up so customers pay directly through your on-site booking system. Plus, email notifications are sent out when an appointment is booked.

You can filter and sort the calendars as needed (by day, week, month, year, and view), and Amelia provides a shortcode to easily embed and sync your calendar on your WordPress site. If you need help with site design, it also offers demo sites.

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3. Appointment Booking Calendar Free WordPress Plugin

Price: Free, but additional features cost extra

This is one of the stronger free appointment booking plugins out there. It has some limitations — namely, the free version only works with PayPal, and in order to accept money through another service, you’ll need to invest in the premium version. It works with iCal, Outlook, and GCal.

Some solid features include:

  • Availability displays
  • Frontend customer self-booking with captcha
  • Customer database creation (available for download and print)
  • Individual customer file editing
  • A downloadable customer database sourced from created appointments

Once an event is created, you can edit as needed and notify participants. Plus, you can display multiple pages for your calendar.

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4. Bookly Appointment Booking and Scheduling WordPress Plugin

Price: Free, Pro is $89 per month

Bookly is designed to help your customers book appointments across multiple platforms and for various group sizes.

Designed for mobile use and translatable between a wide selection of languages, this WordPress plugin is a leader in the pack in terms of plugin usability.

You can display your availability and allow clients to self-book — this remains true even for recurring appointments and group bookings. You can arrange for custom notifications to be sent both to you and to your customers on multiple devices, and editing events is easy.

Administrative functions can be performed and function smoothly within the plugin, so managing time-off, holiday parties, individual employee schedules, and bookings can all be managed or assigned.

Bookly is compatible with a variety of currencies and integrations like WooCommerce, PayPal, and Stripe. Check out the site to see the entire list of payment integrations.

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5. Appointment Booking and Online Scheduling Free WordPress Plugin

Price: Plans range between $15 per month to $99 per month

Booking appointments has never been easier than with vCita’s appointment booking plugin. Whether you need to schedule group events or one-on-one sessions, this is an effective tool for getting those events on the customizable calendar.

It also makes it easy to keep in touch with clients by allowing you to send documents like invoices, reminders, event change notifications, and follow up messages. Additionally, it lets you send follow up emails to increase communication.

Operating via the mobile app is simple and intuitive, smoothly functioning between multiple calendars, employee schedules, and payment types.

Automation has never been easier than with this app, but you can also exert control when it comes to contacting your clients with the built-in messaging and call service.

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6. Book an Appointment Online PRO WordPress Plugin

Price: $39

With slick mobile and desktop booking design and text reminders, this plugin makes it nearly impossible to forget an appointment.

Aside from clients being able to choose what type of appointment they want, when, and with whom, you can use PayPal directly within the plugin once you pick a time. It’s integrated with Google Calendar so your appointments are inputted directly into your personal GCal as well as your clients’.

The plugin works with multiple currencies and both 12-hour and 24-hour time formats, so managing international clients is a breeze. Booking employees by shift or by hour is available, as well as booking internal team events like retreats, vacations, and sick days.

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7. StartBooking

Price: The basic plan is $6.39 per month, the business plan is $15.99 per month

StartBooking is a decent choice for users looking to keep variety in the equation for their appointment booking calendar. Managing multiple clients and staff members is easy with this simple service.

You have the option to offer multiple options to book from in the following categories:

  • Times
  • Services
  • Hours
  • Employees
  • Days
  • Users
  • Locations

The plugin’s strength is in its form capabilities — you can customize and embed appointment forms on your site using the provided shortcode.

The system creates a customer profile and tracks their history once you book, so you can monitor and evaluate your connection with your users as you see fit. Booking groups and classes are a breeze, and you can send customized batch notifications to attendees as needed.

StartBooking offers a secure connection so processing online payments (through Stripe specifically) is safe and easy. It works across mobile devices and with your GCal, but if you have another type of calendar, you might want to use another plugin.

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8. BirchPress

Price: Tiered pricing, starts at $99 per year and goes to $249 per year

BirchPress is similar to other appointment booking systems on this list with the customer-facing appointment booking calendar. However, this system is particularly customizable. Forms templates are provided and can be altered to reflect your design and question needs.

Notifications and reminders can be edited and automatically sent when events are generated or changed.

BirchPress has a ton of options when it comes to integrating with calendars — if you use iCal, Android, Outlook, or GCal, you’re good to go, and embedding it on your WordPress site is easy with the provided shortcode.

However, when it comes to payments, it only integrates directly with PayPal. If you use another service, you need to use WooCommerce process payments. However, credit card booking, aside from a third-party source, is easy.

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9. Booking Calendar

Price: Custom pricing based on your needs

Booking Calendar is a popular plugin that works especially well with hotel and Airbnb-style appointment creation. It offers a simplistic client-forward booking form to get meetings on your schedule. Once the event is created, a database is built as client bookings increase.

Customized notifications can be sent out to both you and your clients regarding the event in question, and you can even include captcha.

The plugin is optimized for mobile and integrated with PayPal and Stripe so that you can manage all of your booking steps in one place and across devices.

Additionally, this is a fantastic calendar plugin for developers because it works with jQuery.

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10. Easy!Appointments

Price: Free

Easy!Appointments is an open source plugin that allows you to build calendars and forms into your WordPress page using shortcode. Calendars can be divided into individual client calendars, locations, employees, and services. Group booking is simple and you can assign multiple employees to an event.

You set the buffer times and hours available for clients to book, and it all syncs with your GCal. Specialized calendar URLs are sent out for you to share with event participants. It has a flexible REST API endpoint.

You can design the event notifications as you need for the following changes:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Provider
  • Location
  • Topic
  • Service change
  • Cancellations
  • Reminders

It’s available in 21+ languages and is optimized for mobile devices.

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11. PinPoint Booking System

Price: Limited free version, PRO version is $70

PinPoint is a super simple one-page appointment booking plugin. It’s a front-end, Ajax-based client booking system that can switch back and forth between currencies, time zones, users, and languages.

You can choose between European or American date formats, as well as AM/PM or 24-hour time format. Additionally, you can embed it in widgets, or edit the calendar appearance with the CSS Editor.

This is a great option for organizations that provide room bookings for individuals and groups. Admins can control as many calendars as they need using the PRO version. Both the free version and PRO version allow you to display your availability and include locations in your events.

You can search for pre-existing events or specific data like discount codes using the search sidebar. Set up booking forms, email or SMS notifications, or promos and discount codes.

It integrates with PayPal, GCal, iCal, and AirBnB. If you use the WooCommerce add-on, you can integrate with other payment portals like Stripe.

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12. Calendarize it!

Price: $30

Calendarize it! Is a WordPress plugin that works best with the Gutenberg Editor. It’s a bit on the expensive side but should cover all your needs. Embed the calendar on your site with a shortcode, or explore the expansive add-on library.

It works with WPBakery Page Builder (formerly known as Visual Composer) so you can drag-and-drop elements to construct your own plugin customized to your needs.

Paid add-ons expand the functionality. CSS Editor is also a free add-on, which you can use to adjust your calendar’s branding, font, color, style, or template.

Users can also attach social sharing buttons and include maps with events. Once the appointment has been created, Calendarize it! creates client profiles and allows client’s to leave reviews.

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13. MeetingBird

Price: $49

MeetingBird isn’t specifically a WordPress appointment plugin, but the features included make it worth noting here. For one, it has strong integration capabilities, and can hook into your CRM or marketing stack. Additionally, it lets you integrate with support tools and help desk software like Zendesk.

With customized colors and complex translation capabilities, you can easily show your availability to your customers and incorporate buffers between events.

Upon the generation of the event, a customer creates an account and chooses their desired meeting time, which is then synchronized with your Google Calendar (and other integrations you’ve set up) if you choose to do so.

Both you and the client will receive reminders and notifications of event changes automatically.

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14. CozyCal

Price: The starter plan is free, the Pro plan is $10 per user, per month and billed annually. If billed monthly, the price jumps to $20 per month.

CozyCal is a very flexible working calendar for those with a crammed schedule. The calendar has four critical elements it allows you to set:

  • Event time
  • Event length
  • Free times
  • Buffers

It’s important to note, you can only integrated this plugin with Stripe or GCal. You can include a specialty URL designed for easy client booking that you can share with the relevant parties.

It’s designed to adjust to customers’ timezones and currencies to make international appointment booking and transactions smooth. Notifications are simple to set up so both you and your customers won’t forget your meeting.

Customized forms collect client information and funnel it into a client database for you to use, and floating booking buttons can be set up to appear on the purchase page when customers checkout.

Group and class bookings are available, or if you prefer, individual and round robin-style appointments. Assigning employees to clients is simple from the administrative dashboard or from the team booking calendar.

Umberto Pellegrini from The Influencer Marketing Factory said it best:

“We are huge fans of CozyCal. This WordPress appointment scheduler is perfect for SMEs and created to convert visitors into leads right on the hosting website. Great UX and design, easy to manage, fast and reliable. We really love it. To quote the CEO Alessandro Bogliari, ‘this tool, mixed with the other ingredients, gives us the opportunity to make magic happen.”

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There’s a huge market for appointment booking plugins out there in the tech sphere. It’s critical you evaluate which one you need based off of your clients, and your own team’s workflow.

If you want a super easy way to get your appointment scheduling streamlined and off the ground, check out HubSpot Meetings.

How to Write a Creative Brief in 7 Simple Steps [Examples + Template]

The first step in any successful project is drawing up a game plan with a clear objective. That’s why marketers love creative briefs. But if you’re just starting out in a creative role, or are taking on your first gig as a designer or consultant, you might not know how to write one effectively.

 

The idea of a creative brief sounds simple, but it can be hard to wrap a bunch of important details into just a few pages.

Whether you’re a consultant pitching a creative brief to a client, or a project manager presenting a brief to your team, it can be helpful to start by speaking with project stakeholders. These discussions will help you drill down on the company mission, project goals, and challenges your team faces. Then you’ll be able to write a compelling brief that focuses on what’s really important to your company or client.

Once you’re fully informed and ready to write, use these seven helpful steps to draft a solid brief in a short amount of time. If you’re still having trouble organizing your thoughts, I’ve included a fill-in-the-blank template to help you in the sixth step.

1. Write about the brand and the project’s background.

This area is meant to set the tone of your entire brief. It allows you to show your team or your client that you understand their mission and project motivations. It also provides a list of company goals that you can keep in mind while aiming to develop an on-brand project.

Set the scene with one or two sentences that sum up the brand’s mission. Follow this with a few sentences that give background on the brand and what led to the development of the project.

While some creatives have put this information all together in a quick paragraph, others separate it with headers like “Brand Statement” and “Background.”

Here’s an example of how the brand statement and background was discussed in a fictional creative brief for Hush Puppies:

2. Highlight challenges and objectives.

Next, write a short paragraph about the brand challenge(s) that your project aims to solve for. Then give more detail on how the project will offer a solution.

This section will be helpful in emphasizing why the project needs to happen. The goal aspects will help you and your team align on the project’s expectations.

If the company or client hasn’t identified any major challenges, you can focus this section on goals and objectives. Explain what a successful project looks like and how it will benefit the company.

If there are a lot of objectives and challenges, you can split these up into two subsections with headers like “Challenge” and “Objective.

Here’s an example of a sample creative brief for PayPal that offers separate sections for “The Problem” and “The Goal”:

PayPal Sample brief showing The Problem and The Goal

And here’s an example of a sample brief for RedBull which just focuses on the objective:

3. Describe the target audience.

To know what type of content will engage your audience, you and your team need to know your audience. This section requires you to drill down on a specific type of audience and describe what’s important to them.

Along with basic demographics like age, gender, and geography, you should also include factors like customer pain points and motivations in this section of the brief. If you or your client has developed a detailed buyer persona already, this would be a great place to include some of this character’s information.

Here’s how the sample brief for PayPal noted above thoughtfully explains a new product’s target audience:

PayPal sample brief target audience

4. Walk through the competitive landscape.

Knowing what your competitors are doing is advantageous for the whole team. You can use competitive data to come up with ideas that they haven’t tried yet, learn from their failed projects, or build a project that improves on a strategy they’ve used in the past.

Include a quick list of competitors with similar product or service offerings. Briefly list a few things your company has in common with them, how your brand has differentiated itself already, and a few areas where this project can help you get ahead.

5. Offer a brief distribution plan.

When the project is done, you’ll need to make sure your audience actually sees it. List a few channels or platforms that you plan to announce the launch on, as well as any promotional content you plan to create.

When drafting this section, think about your target audience. Don’t waste time on a promotional strategy that they won’t see. For example, if you’re promoting a project to Gen-Z, you’ll want to invest in social media rather than billboards or newspaper ads.

Along with listing distribution points, you should also include messages or captions that will go along with promotion.

Here’s a sample brief where a specific promotional message is directly stated:

Gray's Cookies brand message

In this section of the brief, you should also note the appropriate voice for your audience. While some audiences, like those in the business world, might prefer more formal language, others might engage more with a casual, relatable tone.To acknowledge the best brand voice, you could write something like, “Our brand voice is a casual and care-free tone because it speaks to younger Gen-Z audiences.”

6. Organize with a template.

Having trouble with the flow and organization of your brief? Here’s a simple template that could help. Copy and paste it into a document and fill in the blanks. You can also add to it or adjust it as needed for your project.

[Inset Company or Client Logo at top]

COMPANY BACKGROUND:

For ___ years, ______ [Brand Name] has been serving customers in the ____________ [group/job field/geographical area] with ____________________ [product or service].

[Brand Name] has made achievements including __________,__________, and ___________. We have also launched marketing campaigns that have touched on ____________,________, and ____________. With the launch of _________ [project name] they hope to ___________.

CHALLENGE/OBJECTIVE:

With this project, the company aims to solve problems related to ____________________, while also expanding on ___________ and improving on _____________.

TARGET AUDIENCE:

Our target audience is ____ [gender], in the age range of _ and _, and live areas like ____, _____, and ______. They enjoy _____, dislike ______, and might work in fields like _____, _____, and _____. They want more of ________ and their daily pain points include ________.

Their favorite products might include _______ and ______. They learn about these products through channels including ________, _________, and _______.

COMPETITION:

Our three biggest competitors [are/will be] ________, ________, and _______. These competitors offer _____, ______, and ______. We are ahead of them in _____ and ______, but we are behind when it comes to product offerings like __________ and _________.

DISTRIBUTION:

We will promote the launch on platforms and channels that our demographic regularly engages with. These will include ________, ________, and _______.

We will also release content including _______, _______, and ________ to gain attention from our audience and inform them of the project.

Below are a few messages we will use:

  • _________________________________________________.
  • _________________________________________________.
  • _________________________________________________.

7. Share the brief.

Once you’ve drafted a creative brief, share it with the team you’ll be working with. You’ll also want to circulate it around the company via Slack, email, or presentations. If you’re a consultant working outside of a client’s company, encourage your clients to share the brief internally.

As you or your clients spread awareness, you should be open to answering questions or taking feedback from colleagues in case they have any great ideas. This strategy will improve team alignment, increase support of the project, and insure that all of your colleagues are on the same page.