Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Email Marketing Topics: As we’ve said before on this blog, the various channels you leverage in your overall marketing strategy should work in tandem, not in silos. When individual marketing channels — social media, blogging, email, search, etc. — work together to promote an offer, promotion, or even a full-blown campaign, they can generate even better results than they would have on an individual level.Email, for example, is one of those channels that is most powerful when it’s integrated with the rest of your marketing efforts. So let’s review some of the different ways you can achieve integration between email and other marketing assets , such as search, social media, mobile, and analytics. Email & Social Media Integration Study after study shows that email strategies that integrate social media lead to better results. According to Aberdeen Research, 65% of the top 20% of B2B marketers in social media lead generation integrate email with social media, compared to the industry average of 51% .Integrating social media into your email strategy is easier than you might think. Here are some tactics to help you get started: Add Social Media Sharing Buttons to Your Emails Adding social media sharing and follow buttons to your emails will extend the reach of your email sends beyond the recipients in your database, expanding the visibility of your content and brand. Make social media buttons a part of your email templates so recipients can easily share your email content with their individual networks. Leverage Social Media Insights for Email Sends Send targeted emails to subscribers who have mentioned you in social media. Using integrated marketing analytics ( like HubSpot’s ), you should be able to see a list of email subscribers and leads who have mentioned your company on Twitter. In addition to responding to those highly engaged leads via social media, you could also send them a follow-up email with targeted information and content. Grow Your Email List Through Social Media Leverage your social media presence to give followers a reason to subscribe to your email list. For example, consider placing a call-to-action on your Facebook page or in a dedicated Facebook page tab . Make sure you demonstrate the clear benefits of your email subscription so you can convert your social media followers into subscribers. Email & Search Integration It’s true: Optimized emails can help you get found in search. Many email tools, like HubSpot , enable you to create and host HTML versions of your emails on the web for people who are having trouble viewing email in their inbox. Not only is this web-based version beneficial for usability, but it also helps you boost your SEO. Knowing that an online archive of your email will exist, make sure your email content follows the same SEO best practices as your website and other content does. Use your best keywords and anchor text when constructing the body of the message. Ensure all images have alt tags and include social media sharing buttons to stretch the content further. Originally published May 9, 2012 12:30:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Email & Mobile Integration According to Return Path, 16% of all emails are opened on mobile devices , and this number can rise to 50% for some companies and industries . Creating a strategy that reflects the changing way recipients open and read emails is only going to increase in importance in the coming years. So what does it take to make your email strategy mobile?Test your email templates to see how they comes across on different mobile devices.Give your calls-to-action (CTAs) wiggle room – make sure buttons and links are easy to click for readers using touch screens.Offer both plain text and HTML versions of your email .Use descriptive alt text with all your images in case they don’t display. Optimize for mobile on the landing pages and forms your email links to.HubSpot’s marketing software automatically optimizes your emails and landing pages for mobile viewing, so if you are a customer, you’re all set! This article is an excerpt from our free ebook, The Complete Guide to Optimizing Email Marketing for Conversions . Learn more about how to increase the ROI of your email marketing by downloading the ebook here . Email & Analytics Integration Today’s marketing should extend well beyond the boundaries of your website. As a result, individual analytics for your website, social media, email, and other channels just aren’t enough anymore. A multichannel view enables you to see how prospects are navigating their experience with you across various marketing properties. Marketing analytics data can answer cross-channel questions, such as: How many people clicked through on your email but didn’t convert?Of the people who converted on your website, how many of them came from social media?How many opened your last email message?Which results in more leads: PPC or organic search, email or social?Not only do integrated analytics reports show you the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, but they also help you get more targeted in your email sends. According to B2B Magazine, 37% of B2B marketers say lack of user data is the major obstacle to effective segment targeting . By exchanging single channel analytics for integrated marketing analytics, you can begin to segment your mailing list and send communications based on the lead’s history of downloads and pages viewed.In the screenshot below (of HubSpot’s Sources tool ), you will see that email and its analytics are only one piece of the inbound marketing puzzle. You need to look at the entire context in order to make smart decisions on segmentation and nurturing.
As you can see, on-page SEO is only part of the equation. It helps you get indexed by Google, but it’s not the only thing you need to do to get on page one of google.co.uk. So to make sure you’re also strengthening your website’s off-page SEO, in this post we’ll discuss a few link-building best practices for targeting a UK-based audience. Focus Your SEO Efforts on Google Before we get into some specific link-building recommendations, make sure you’re considering focusing on Google in your UK SEO targeting strategy. According to Hitwise , Google has a search engine market share of approximately 90% in the UK , with Bing, Yahoo, and Ask.com trailing far behind. So it’s worth your time to focus on Google when measuring the results of your SEO efforts. Topics: Okay, now let’s get into some off-page SEO best practices for targeting a UK-based audience … Guest Blog for UK-Based Blogs Google determines your rank for different search terms based on the number and quality of the inbound links pointing to your website. So if you want your site to rank well on google.co.uk, generating inbound links from sites on a .co.uk domain will help you more than inbound links you might get from another domain extension, such as .ie or .de. Guest blogging can be a great strategy for generating inbound links , since the sites you blog for will often let you include a few inbound links back to your own website. Just make sure you’re optimizing these links with appropriate, keyword-rich anchor text for the maximum SEO benefit.While there’s nothing wrong with blogging on blogs outside the UK, if you’re targeting an audience in the UK and your goal is to rise in google.co.uk’s search rankings, then you should aim to guest blog for blogs that are also on the .co.uk domain. Identify the Right Blogs to Target First, m ake a list of all the top blogs in the UK that are relevant to your industry. To find relevant blogs in your industry that have a .co.uk extension and are actively accepting guest blog submissions, do a Google site search for: site:.co.uk your keyword “guest post” site:.co.uk your keyword “guest blog” Just replace your keyword with a keyword you’d like to blog about. This query will lead you either to a guest blog post submission page or a post written by a guest blogger on websites with the .co.uk domain so you know those websites accept guest blogging submissions. Participate in Comment Threads and Communities in Your Industry Before you pitch a guest blog post, it’s also a good idea to comment on the blog you’re targeting and connect/establish a relationship with the blog’s manager on Twitter. This will help you become a familiar name/face, so that when you do pitch the blog manager about your guest post, he or she will already know who you are.Even if you don’t end up getting accepted as a guest blogger, establishing relationships with other UK bloggers will make them aware of your existence — and your blog. And any inbound links you naturally accrue from these influential bloggers, or any tweets in which they share links to your content, will help to boost your SEO efforts. Remember: Social media now directly impacts your website’s SEO , so it’s well worth your time to create a Twitter list that includes influential bloggers in your industry, and interact with them regularly. Pitch Your Guest Post Before pitching your guest post to a blog manager, familiarize yourself with the content on their blog. What kinds of posts do they typically accept? What topics do they blog about? Is their audience B2B or B2C? This will help you pitch the right type of blog post, which will increase your likelihood of getting accepted. For more information about following guest blogging best practices, including tips on crafting the perfect guest blogging pitch, check out our article, ” 17 Foolish Mistakes to Avoid as a Guest Blogger .” Tailor Your Content to Appeal to a UK-Based Audience Make sure you’re creating interesting and valuable content that’s particularly relevant to your audience in the UK. Just like any great marketing content, your UK-targeted content needs to address the interests of and provide solutions to the problems your UK audience has. Consider the buyer persona(s) of your target UK audience. How can you help them? What is the latest industry news in the UK, and how does it impact them specifically? There are several other things to consider to ensure that your content is relevant to a UK audience. These tips may require some additional effort if you don’t live in the UK, but they’re important considerations to make: Spelling Nuances: Favorite is spelled ‘favourite,’ optimize is spelled ‘optimise,’ and so forth. Know which words to pay attention to , and edit their spellings accordingly. Pop Culture References: If you’re making an analogy or providing an example that incorporates a pop culture reference, make sure your audience in the UK will ‘get’ it. Industry News: If you’re writing an article about how your industry has been impacted by some recent news in a country outside the UK, make sure it applies to your UK audience as well. Events: Furthermore, think twice before covering an event that happens outside the UK. If it was inaccessible to your audience, will they even care about it? Aim to Create In-Depth, Valuable, and High-Quality Content No matter which audience you’re targeting, it’s now more important than ever to focus on creating high-quality content. So rather than pumping out tons of subpar content, spend the time to craft valuable, high-quality pieces of content every single time. Google’s Panda update has made content quality an extremely important factor for marketers , as search engines are starting to reward sites with high-quality content with better rankings, and penalize websites with low-quality content . Not only does high-quality, insightful content attract more views, but it is also more likely to naturally to attract inbound links as well as social media shares — both of which are factors that strongly influence Google’s search ranking algorithm.When creating content, keep the following attributes of high-quality content in mind — which we elaborate on in this blog post : It’s helpful or fulfills an interest/need for your target audience. Above all, make sure your content is helpful and valuable to your UK readers. Have you included all of the information they need to be successful at whatever it is you’re trying to teach them or inform them about? It’s interesting. Don’t underestimate the value of entertainment. Make sure your content is not only helpful but also interesting to read, rather than sounding like technical documentation. Keep readers engaged and entertained, too. It’s well-written. High-quality content doesn’t just hit on the right ideas and points, but it’s also well-written. Don’t overlook the importance of great copywriting . In addition, use data to support your points when appropriate, and attribute your sources with the proper citation . What other link-building tips do you have for getting found in search by a UK audience ? When measuring your results, you can use a tool like HubSpot’s Keyword tool to show you two things: how much traffic you’re generating for your target keywords, and your rank in Google for those keywords. Is your company based in the United Kingdom? Does your business target an audience in the UK? If so, there are several SEO strategies you should be adopting so you can rise in the rankings of google.co.uk, and thus, attract more traffic from your audience in the UK. To help you understand the best SEO tips for targeting a UK audience, we’ve developed a helpful, free tip sheet — 10 Quick SEO Tips to Target a UK Audience — that you can download, print, and keep handy. On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO Our cheat sheet includes tips specifically for targeting a UK-based audience in respect to two types of SEO strategies: On-Page SEO Strategies: This includes optimizing the pages on your website for search, such as adding keywords to your URL structures, your page titles, your header tags, and so on. Off-Page SEO Strategies: This primarily involves generating inbound links from other websites into yours — to signal to search engines that you have an authoritative website.Keep in mind that on-page elements are much easier to optimize for because you have direct control over your own website. And while these on-page SEO steps are definitely important, they’re usually not enough to get to the first page of Google. Here’s why … When you search engine optimize your on-page elements , it helps Google and other search engines understand what your web page is all about. Search engines then index your page by the keywords you used on that page. Originally published Jan 23, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 But on-page elements aren’t the only thing search engines take into consideration. When other websites link to you (AKA inbound links ), it helps Google and other search engines understand that your content is remarkable, and that your website is authoritative. And because search engines want to be as helpful as possible to its users, they only want remarkable content on page one of their search engine results. As a result, the more inbound links you have pointing to your site, the more authoritative search engines will think your website is, the better they’ll rank your pages, and the more prominently they will display you in their search engine results pages (SERPs). Link Building Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Originally published Aug 3, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Have you ever wondered what the future of business will look like? Maybe you figured it’s going to be something like business in the past: buy stuff, sell stuff, try to make a profit by selling stuff for more than it cost you to make it, building a better mousetrap, winning friends and influencing people, crossing the chasm, riding the long tail to the tipping point with the other outliers, going from good to great, and dealing with cheese that keeps moving around.The future of business won’t be like that. The future of business is all about dazzling people with amazing customer experiences, says Brian Solis, whose new book, What’s the Future of Business? Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences, has a cover with the letters “WTF” in huge block letters — a hint, perhaps, that this is not going to be some ordinary business book, but rather a radical manifesto about change, innovation, and disruption. It’s business with a dash of irreverence and punk rock thrown in, a little sneer that says, Look, people, the world has changed, there’s this thing called social media, have you heard of it? In this new world, the marketing of products becomes as important as the products themselves. Marketers are the ones who create experiences. Which means suddenly marketers stand at center stage, instead of off in the wings. Suddenly all eyes are on you. Are you ready for your close-up? Read this book and you will be.The Influencers’ InfluencerWho is this Brian Solis? Folks at HubSpot know him as a pal who will be speaking at our INBOUND conference this August alongside Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin, and Nate Silver. But according to the book jacket, Solis is “globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in new media,” as well as a “digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist.” He’s an influencer’s influencer, whose blog, BrianSolis.com, is considered a must-read for marketers. Solis is a rare web intellectual, a guy who can melt your brain on Twitter but can also think and write convincingly in chunks of more than 140 characters. At INBOUND, Brian will talk about how the pace of innovation has sped up and impacted the pace of change within business overall, and probably expand upon the ideas presented in his book.His Bold IdeasBut what is the book about? It has one big takeaway. Companies are on a journey of transformation. We’re living in an age of digital Darwinism where you must innovate or die, all because consumers are more empowered than ever with the internet at their disposal.And in this new age, Solis argues that we shouldn’t segment these consumers by age — Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z, Boomers, and Matures. Instead, we should use “Generation C,” in which the C stands for Connected. Generation C serves as umbrella to describe consumers who are active on the internet and social media, regardless of age. “Gen C is not an age group — it is a way of life,” he proclaims.In this worldview, the binary is between those who are Connected and those who are Not Connected. The chief distinction is that, “To Gen C, experience is everything. What they feel about your products and services now and over time is shared through these connected networks.” The challenge for brands is to design the experience that those people will have, and “design the journey that they will embark on.”Too many companies are using social media but still not really talking to customers — and that’s partly why they fail to deliver a complete experience, Solis asserts. Presumably these companies deserve points for trying, and it’s nice that they’ve hired someone to run their Twitter feed, but they’re not making the most of the medium. To paraphrase the late great Steve Jobs: You’re doing it wrong. Solis shows you how to do it right.What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences is an ambitious and ultimately optimistic look at the challenges companies face as they adapt to a digital world, a world where empowered and ever more demanding consumers bring to each transaction a new set of expectations. It’s not just a how-to book, though plenty of advice is offered. Rather it is a call to arms, a call to action, a wake-up call to brands in every industry, a book that will help anyone in marketing do a better job of surfing the storm of change that surrounds us. A must read.Also, don’t forget to come see Brian Solis speak at the INBOUND conference Aug. 19–22 in good old Boston.Image credit: Brian Solis Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Marketing Trends
Topics: You may know it as ham. Or bacon (spelled ‘bacn’). I guess email marketers have a penchant for meat products.Most people, however, just call it graymail.Never heard of it? I hadn’t either, until a coworker casually dropped it in conversation and left me with a few dozen follow-up questions. Here’s what I learned.What is graymail?Graymail is email you opted in to receive, but don’t really want.For instance, you know when you go shopping, buy a few things, and during the checkout process someone asks you for your email address so they can send you deals? The subsequent emails you get from them are often a type of graymail. You technically opted in to receive those emails, but most people grow weary of them and don’t engage with them.ISPs know these messages are graymail based on recipient engagement — or lack thereof. So if you open an email from a retailer — and then never open or engage with their subsequent 50 or so emails — it’s a good sign that it’s graymail.Over time, ISPs learn what you consider graymail based on your actions — and the actions of all recipients across email sent from that domain — so it gets smarter with categorization.What isn’t graymail?Again, graymail isn’t spam. It’s content that’s perceived as spam-like, in that recipients often don’t want the email and may mark it as spam out of annoyance — but it doesn’t meet the legal definition of spam.It’s also not the same as graylisting, a term you may have heard a few times. Graylisting refers to the idea that ISPs might not deliver an entire batch of mail all at once if they don’t trust your IP. So let’s say you just got a new dedicated IP and want to send out 100,000 emails — they might accept some of those emails, graylist the others, and send the remainder when they know it’s safe to deliver messages from you.Graymail and graylisting, however, aren’t directly related — they just both have gray in the name.Where does graymail go?So you’ve got all this graymail out there — where does it go?A lot of companies have come up with products specifically to address graymail. That’s what Gmail’s Priority Inbox is, for instance. Hotmail actually helped coin the graymail term and created a product to address it, as well.If your message is identified as graymail, it will likely get routed to one of the graymail products — like your Promotions folder, for instance. So it got delivered … but it might not get seen.How does graymail affect email marketers?Graymail is another reason to do what good email marketers already do: focus on segmentation, personalization, and engagement. You should:Use post-send engagement data to develop a strategy for combatting the prospect that graymail might route your messages into other inbox tabs and folders.Test your email send frequency.Develop re-engagement campaigns for contacts who have stopped engaging with your messages.Work to always improve your segmentation rules so you can send more personalized, relevant content that recipients will take time out of their day to seek out and readIn that way, graymail’s actually great for email marketers — because it sets aside marketing emails for a time when recipients are in the mood to be marketed to. And when they’re in the mood and have the time to consume marketing emails, they have all of those messages at their fingertips. It’s a better experience for the recipient and, thus, a better result for the marketer. Originally published Feb 13, 2014 11:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Email Deliverability Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Last November, I got my team in a room and asked them to do something that sounded nearly impossible: brainstorm a year’s worth of blog topics in under an hour. That’s an aggressive target — I know — but we needed enough titles to support the Blog Topic Generator’s algorithm. So we all sat around the conference room table, writing blog ideas in a Google spreadsheet. The first five minutes, we were stumped. The eight of us tentatively put in a few ideas … and then all of a sudden ideas were flowing. One idea would suddenly morph into 10, and before we knew it, we had almost 300 titles … and we still had 15 minutes to spare. Sounds like a fairytale, right? Who has their next year of blog post ideas at their fingertips, never mind thought of them all within an hour?Well, it’s certainly not a myth. It’s not even a luxury reserved for only well-established companies that are rolling in dough. All you need is a Google spreadsheet/Word doc/Evernote note/pen and paper, and the right blog topic brainstorming process.You’ve already got the first part covered, so keep on reading to get the process we used to come up with those few hundred titles in under an hour. Remember: The key to this whole process is to not start from scratch each time you need a topic — just iterate off old topics to come up with unique and compelling new topics. So let’s get to it!Free Download: Marketing Editorial Calendar Template1) Come up with your first topic.This step is probably the hardest of the bunch: coming up with your very first topic. If you’re struggling to get down even one idea, there are a few go-to places you can always turn. First are your customers. What kinds of questions do they have, and how could you answer them in a blog post? If you don’t know what their struggles are, send them (or someone internally who deals closely with them) an email. You could also try sitting in on a few sales calls to see what your company’s prospects are asking — not only will you suddenly have way more to blog about, but you can also help your sales reps close more deals. There are lots of ways you can get blog ideas, but these are two of the most efficient and effective ways to get them. 2) Change the topic scope.Okay, so now you have one idea. Great! Now it’s time to iterate.The first way you iterate is by changing the topic from something broad to something narrow. Let’s say your first idea is “15 Social Media Tips and Tricks for Beginners” — you can change that topic to more niche ones like “15 Pinterest Tips and Tricks for Beginners” or “15 Facebook Tips and Tricks for Beginners”. You can also go from narrow to broad in the same manner (“15 Marketing Tips and Tricks for Beginners”), or go from one narrow topic to another (“15 Twitter Tips and Tricks for Beginners”), or even go from narrow to narrower (“15 Facebook Company Page Tips and Tricks for Beginners”).Then boom: you have a bunch of ideas from one, all because you changed the scope of the topic. 3) Change up the timeframe.Even though these post ideas are evergreen, you can use specific timeframes to iterate on a blog topic.Let’s take a very broad topic like “The History of SEO.” This is a field that has been around for years, so if you were to write about the entire history, it’d be a long, comprehensive post … but if you wanted to squeeze more juice out of that topic, you could restrict the topic to a certain timeframe like the past month. The new title would then be “What You Missed This Month in the SEO Industry”. Or you could restrict it to a year: “The Biggest Changes in SEO in 2013”.4) Choose a new audience.Often, you’ll have multiple audiences you’re writing for — and they probably aren’t interested in reading the same exact post, even if they’re interested in similar topics. For example, a post for a CMO and a post for an entry-level person might both be about Facebook, but one will be more strategic and one will be more tactical.It’s easier than you’d think to frame the post for that person — one way to do it is to just add their name in the title. For example, “What Every Entry-Level Marketer Should Know About Facebook” could also be “What Every CMO Should Know About Facebook”.Obviously those will be two very different posts when you get down to it, but the initial concept is one and the same: Facebook tips.5) Go negative or positive. When most people think of blog post ideas, they think in the positive mindset: “20 Social Media Rules You Should Always Follow.” It makes sense — we’re trying to be helpful with our content, so it’s natural to try to be upbeat and positive. But you can actually come up with way more topic ideas if you embrace your negative side.So let’s take that initial post idea and turn it negative: “20 Social Media Rules You Should Never Follow”. Simple, right? This little trick can help you think of more creative and attention-grabbing blog topics — that are often more fun to write, too.6) Introduce new formats. When all else fails, try plugging recurring themes into new formats. So a title like “The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing” could easily become “The Ultimate Email Marketing Checklist” or “The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing [Infographic]”.The angle of your post will likely have to change to correspond with the format (not everything should be an infographic, or a video, or a cartoon), but thinking through new format types alongside your regular topics will help you identify new ways of thinking about something you’ve blogged about over and over.7) Remove titles that don’t solve for your customers or audience. At the very end of all this, you’re going to have a huge list, but not every topic is going to be a great choice for your blog. Some may not align with your brand’s positioning or some may feel played out and stale. Be ruthless and cut out any topics that don’t fit the bill. You’ll be left with some great ideas that you can use as you like through the rest of the year.But remember, the goal of this brainstorming process is to set a good foundation for your content backlog — not dictate what you must blog about over the next year. It’s likely that your editorial or marketing strategy will change, or you hear about some breaking news that you need to blog about ASAP. So use this brainstorming session as the foundation of your editorial calendar, not the entirety of it.Do you have a process for thinking of new blog post topics so your well doesn’t run dry? Share your tips with us in the comments below. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Brainstorming Techniques Originally published Feb 19, 2014 9:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Topics:
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack “If you build it, they will come.”Time and time again, marketers have rejected this statement as brand-building’s biggest fallacy.Growth doesn’t just happen. It’s carefully planned. It’s highly strategic. And most importantly, it’s tough.Marketing requires a nimble combination of left-brained and right-brained skillsets — a delicate balance of quantitative and creative chops. But no one brain can be a conversion optimizer, designer, and content expert at once. We rely on the talents and skill sets of others. We follow the paths of marketers who have tackled the same customer acquisition challenges before us.In following (or avoiding) the experiences of others, however, we risk overlooking opportunities that are unique to our brands and companies. Not to mention, the competition in already-flooded marketing environments is fierce. If we flock where other marketers are running, we’ll overlook the assets — and untapped opportunities — that give our brands their unique competitive advantage.Why follow the beaten path when you can design your own treasure map? Here are three critical marketing distribution channels that you can tap into today:1) Your Existing CustomersThe Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs estimate that 58% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months, which is up from 54% from the previous year.The question is — who are these marketers aiming to reach with this content?It’s common for marketers to prioritize content as a top-of-the-funnel marketing activity to build reach and awareness for a company’s unique thought leadership and products. But what about your existing customers?Many organizations rely on strategic upselling as a high-value revenue stream. This process leans heavily on consistent relationship-building and continued engagement. Enter content marketing — a tool for building relationships with an organization’s stakeholders and prospective customers.Content marketing should be executed in tandem with your company’s account managers and client service representatives. Ask your customer-facing team — what questions are existing customers asking? And which of these questions are most directly relevant to the upselling process?Then, bridge the gap with content.2) Your In-Person InteractionsWomen 2.0 co-founder Angie Chang explains this concept elegantly:“When you first have an idea, TELL EVERYONE. This will help vet your [startup] idea.”Marketers tend to differentiate communication in the online and offline realms. The fact is that these two worlds aren’t distinctly separate — they meld together. Your customer’s online identity is an extension of who she is offline.Conversation is the heart of inbound marketing — and conversations happen in our everyday interactions, at in-person events, and at conferences.When you meet prospective customers, tell them about your blog. Reference specific posts that you’ve written. Offer to follow up with a link to the resource that you’ve put together.Word of mouth is a powerful marketing force. As Wharton MBA professor Jonah Berger puts it, “There’s a science behind it.”His research explains that organizations ‘live and die’ by word of mouth. In one recent study, Berger analyzed word of mouth data across 10,000 products and brands, ranging from Coca-Cola and Walmart to tiny startups. He and his team analyzed the virality of almost 7,000 pieces of online content — everything from politics and international news to funny pieces, sports, and style. Berger’s goal was to determine what people feel compelled to share. What he found were six common characteristics of brands that spark conversations:Triggers: If someone is top-of-mind, people are more likely to talk about it. The more we think about it, the more we talk about it.Emotion: If we care about a topic enough to be angry, sad, inspired, or ecstatically happy, we’ll share it.Social Currency: We’re inclined to follow the crowd and share popular ideas.Observability: Products that are highly visible sell themselves.Practical Value: We share based on a natural urge to bring value to others.Stories: We talk about narratives that inspire us.Word-of-mouth is media agnostic — and social media is an extension of natural conversations that we’re having every day. Talk about your marketing campaigns — especially your content — with new friends and business connections in real life. It’s a quick, efficient, and natural way to prolong the lifespan of a one-time conversation.3) Your ProductThe concept sounds simple enough — build your marketing into your product. But what exactly does this mean?In a nutshell, I’m saying that marketing is the polar opposite of a standalone activity. It should be wholly integrated with your product roadmap. Even the most subtle addition of a social media share button can amplify user engagement, distribution, and new user acquisition.I learned this lesson from Prerna Gupta, co-founder of Kush, a mobile development firm that built intelligent music apps. She explains:“Marketing is often treated as a bad word in Silicon Valley. To many, it connotes bloated budgets and the use of psychological trickery to make up for the fact that your product sucks. If a product is good, we are told, it should simply sell itself.”What Gupta points out is that some of the best products are created by marketing geniuses — and that’s precisely how she inspired millions of users to download her company’s apps.She explains three steps to integrating marketing with your product:Step 1: Sell it before you build it. Ask prospective customers what they want. Build your product to address their most pressing needs, and you’ll have an instant customer base.Step 2: Develop a laser sharp focus of what you want your product to be. Nail it.Step 3: Make your product social. When a product requires collaboration between customers, sharing will come naturally. Remember that digital media bridges us together. Social can be a part of your product. This list could go on forever, but for the sake of word count, I’ll stop writing. The bottom line is that your company will have natural growth levers. The distribution channels you’re missing are the areas in which opportunities are already strong. Why follow beaten (and competitive) marketing paths when you can forge one that is truly unique to your company? The most tough-to-see marketing opportunities are often what’s right in front of you. Topics: Originally published Feb 25, 2014 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Marketing Strategy
How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen TweetHow to choose the right imageCreating it on your own Finding images to use legally Optimizing the image for TwitterSizing images for TwitterTagging people in imagesUsing Photo Collages Measuring Your Strategy’s SuccessWhat results they should expect to get How to Write a Blog Post How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen TweetHow long their tweet should be with the image in itHow to actually upload an image to Twitter (This is a pretty basic step that someone would already know if they’re reading this post.)What sizes they need to make imagesHow they can create images on their ownWhere they can find images to use legally What sets a good image apart from a bad one on TwitterShould you tag people in imagesShould you use photo collagesWhat colors you should use to stand out (Don’t believe there’s hard data on this, just speculation. Let’s cut it.) 4) Add more takeaways to some sections. At this point, you should have a pretty weird looking outline. Mine is. Some sections have lots of little bullet points, others have only a few, and others have nothing. Now’s the time to fill in the holes. What did you miss in your initial brainstorm? Thinking about what’s missing is always hard, but it will help improve your final post significantly. Don’t forget to beef up your intro here, too. Have a great point you think would set the stage for the article? Add a little reminder below that section so you don’t forget it. Below shows how my outline’s evolved. I italicized all the things I added, and the outline is becoming closer and closer to being a post:IntroImages work really well on Twitter (find study) Measuring Your Strategy’s SuccessWhich metrics to look atHow to find them in your analyticsHow to adjust your strategy to get better results How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen TweetHow to choose the right imageCreating it on your own Finding images to use legally Optimizing the image for TwitterSizing images for TwitterTagging people in imagesUsing Photo Collageshttp://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/twitter-photo-collages-ideas-list Crafting a Twitter Image Lead Gen StrategyHow they can generate a lead on TwitterHow often they should tweet images Measuring Your Strategy’s SuccessWhat results they should expect to get (The study in the first part should cover this bullet point.)Which metrics to look atHow to find them in your analyticsHow to adjust the above to get better results Crafting a Twitter Image Lead Gen StrategyHow to generate a lead on TwitterHow lead generation fits in with the rest of your Twitter strategy How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen TweetHow to choose the right imageCreating it on your own Finding images to use legally Measuring Your Strategy’s SuccessWhat results they should expect to getWhich metrics to look atHow to find them in your analyticsHow to adjust the above to get better results Optimizing the rest of your tweetHow long the tweet should be with the image in Optimizing the rest of your tweetHow long the tweet should be with the image in Crafting a Twitter Image Lead Gen StrategyHow to generate a lead on TwitterHow lead generation fits in with the rest of your Twitter strategyReference Anchorman line: “Come and see how good I look.” 7) If any details come to you that you don’t want to forget, add them in. Last, but certainly not least, spruce up the outline with anything you don’t want to forget while writing. Maybe you’re writing the post right away — or maybe you won’t have time to actually start for a few more days. Regardless, having these details in your outline will make sure you’re not missing a thing. I do this often if I think of a terrible pun or pop culture reference while outlining … and trust me, that’s something I definitely wouldn’t want to forget. ;)Here’s my final outline: IntroImages tend to work really well on Twitter (http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/tweet-images-improve-lead-gen-ht) Topics: Crafting a Twitter Image Lead Gen StrategyHow to generate a lead on TwitterHow lead generation fits in with the rest of your Twitter strategy Optimizing the image for TwitterSizing images for TwitterTagging people in imagesUsing Photo Collageshttp://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/twitter-photo-collages-ideas-list Measuring Your Strategy’s SuccessWhich metrics to look atHow to find them in your analyticsHow to adjust your strategy to get better results Measuring Your Strategy’s SuccessWhich metrics to look atHow to find them in your analyticsHow to adjust your strategy to get better results How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen TweetHow long their tweet should be with the image in itHow to actually upload an image to TwitterWhat sizes they need to make imagesHow they can create images on their ownWhere they can find images to use legally What sets a good image apart from a bad one on TwitterShould you tag people in imagesShould you use photo collagesWhat colors you should use to stand out Optimizing the rest of your tweetHow long the tweet should be with the image in What makes a blog post bad?There are lots of reasons a blog post could be less-than-perfect. Poor formatting. Poor grammar. Poor word choice. Poor shareability. The most pervasive problem? Poor flow. The post jumps from one idea to the next to the next and then circles around again for a split second to the first idea, then back to the fourth, and so on. Or the post reads like a stream of consciousness — but it wasn’t a stylistic choice. Luckily, you have a simple solution. Before diving headfirst into writing your post, you can create an outline. I’m not talking about jotting down a few quick bullet points — even experienced writers can go astray with just a few talking points. I’m talking a fully fleshed-out outline with enough details that make it virtually impossible for your writing to go off the deep end. And it’s pretty easy to do.Download Now: 6 Free Blog Post TemplatesBelow is my method for outlining posts and organizing my thoughts. You may prefer to switch up some of the steps depending on your writing style, but your end goal should always be to get an outline detailed enough that its result is a cohesive, logical piece. Here’s one way you can do that. 1) Nail your working title.This is the most important step of this entire process. You want to have a clear understanding of what you’re going to write before you start outlining. My colleague Corey wrote an awesome post about how to pick a great working title. Go read it, now. I won’t go too much into the weeds here (that’s why you should read her post), but a great working title is specific. It’s “How to Use Images to Generate Leads on Twitter,” not ” Twitter lead generation.”Spend time getting your working title to something specific and easy to tackle in a blog post format — but don’t waste time getting nitpicky. You can refine your title later. The goal here is to have a title that gives you a very clear idea of what the whole piece is about. You can make it sound catchy later. 2) Write down as many distinct takeaways from the article as you can.Next, you get to brain dump. Write down all the things you want your readers to get out of the article. These won’t always be the main sections of your article — it’s just all the things you want your readers to know by the end of reading your post.This is the only time in the whole process you’re not worried about organization — just let your ideas flow naturally. You need to get out all of your wild and crazy ideas now so they won’t muck up your post later in the process.Let’s use the previous example to show you what I mean. If my working title was “How to Use Images to Generate Leads on Twitter,” I’d probably want readers to know:What sets a good image apart from a bad one on TwitterWhere they can find images to use legally How they can create images on their ownWhat sizes they need to make imagesHow often they should tweet imagesHow to actually upload an image to TwitterHow they can generate a lead on TwitterHow long their tweet should be with the image in itWhat results they should expect to get Notice how these are really unfiltered and all over the place. That’s okay. We’ll wrangle it all in in the next step.3) Break up those takeaways into larger sections.Now, we’ll take that jumble of ideas and place them into overarching sections. Think of it like sorting laundry — each thought belongs to a different pile. From your brainstorm, you should come up with a few big themes. Sometimes, one of your brainstorming bullets will be a theme in itself, but usually several bullets will fall under one overarching theme. You may also realize that there’s a theme that you may not have any bullets for, but the post definitely calls for it. Lots of people recommend sticking to 3-4 larger sections, but it really depends on what type of post you’re writing. If you’re writing something that’s long and comprehensive, you might need more. If it’s a quick post, fewer sections would be ideal. But if you need a benchmark, 3-4 sections are fine. So if we’re writing that post about generating leads on Twitter using images, we’d bucket my ideas into the following buckets:IntroCrafting a Twitter Image Lead Gen StrategyHow they can generate a lead on TwitterHow often they should tweet images Crafting a Twitter Image Lead Gen StrategyHow to generate a lead on TwitterHow often they should tweet images Essentially, you’re re-doing the second step, but in a more controlled, organized manner.5) Revise, remove, and reorganize details in each section.Now comes the fun part: editing your outline. You’ve already done the hard part of actually thinking of your ideas. Now, you’re tightening up your outline to include only the most relevant information, revising the sub-bullets to actually make sense, and reorganizing the sub-bullets to tell the most logical story.First, let me show you what I’d cut — shown in bold. IntroImages work really well on Twitter (find study) How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen TweetHow long their tweet should be with the image in itHow to actually upload an image to TwitterWhat sizes they need to make imagesHow they can create images on their ownWhere they can find images to use legally What sets a good image apart from a bad one on Twitter And that’s it! Once you have a solid outline, writing the actual post should be a breeze. Do you outline your posts before writing? What else do you include? Originally published May 5, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Ta-da! A much more comprehensive outline that makes your post easy to write.6) Include links to your examples and/or data.This is purely a time-saving trick. After you’ve fully fleshed out and then trimmed your outline, you should look for examples and data to support these claims. Once you find a source to support your arguments, just add them as a note underneath the section — that way, when you go to write it, it’s all organized for you. Here’s what my outline morphed into. I grabbed the link for the Twitter study I wanted to reference in the intro and added a reference to an article we’ve written on Twitter collages.IntroImages tend to work really well on Twitter (http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/tweet-images-improve-lead-gen-ht) I cut things usually because the sub-bullet didn’t add value to the post or the reader would already know it. That’s a pretty good benchmark to remember if you’re not sure whether to cut something. Next, we’ll reorganize the remainder of the sub-bullets and rework them to sound like actual takeaways. We’ll also turn some of the sub-bullets into sub-sub-bullets. Here’s what this outline looks like now:IntroImages tend to work really well on Twitter (find study)
The Holiday Season. It’s a season of giving. A season of eating, drinking, and being merry. And, most importantly of all, it’s a season of buying biomorphic robots, sleeved blankets, and sexually suggestive fitness equipment.Don’t worry, all of those references will make sense soon … I think. But the main point here is that each and every holiday season, we’re presented with a fresh array of “must-have” products, from toys and trinkets to consumer electronics.Now, some of these products go on to become store shelf staples, returning each and every holiday season while gaining (or at least, maintaining) market share. Other products never take off, and are pulled from store shelves before they ever get any real market penetration.And then, we have the fads: products that drive people bonkers for a holiday season or two before seeming to disappear completely.I’m sure you can recall at least a few of these fads from the 1990s: the golden era of holiday toy fads. There was Tamagotchi, Beanie Babies, Furby, Power Rangers … the list goes on and on.For the purposes of this post, however, I’ll be looking at the next generation of holiday product fads: product fads from the 2000s. And I’ll be using Google Trends to illustrate how interest in particular products has changed over time.Let’s get to it!RoboSapienIt walks. It talks. It grabs stuff. It throws stuff. Heck, it can even do kung fu!Yes, my friends, I’m talking about everyone’s favorite biomorphic robot toy, the RoboSapien. Never heard of it? Welp, that’s because after its 2004 heyday — which saw 2 million units sold — the RoboSapien sort of took a nosedive.Check out the Google Trends chart below to see how interest in the RoboSapien peaked in December of 2004, before gradually declining.Interestingly, RoboSapien was used as an example in a free, online business and marketing book. And I think this book can help shed some light on what happened.The problem? Too. much. hype.“Robosapien was also getting lots of free publicity. Stories appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world, including the New York Times, The Times of London, TIME magazine, and National Parenting magazine,” the book notes.“Commentators on The Today Show, The Early Show, CNN, ABC News, and FOX News remarked on it; it was even the talk of the prestigious New York Toys Fair. It garnered numerous awards, and experts predicted that it would be a hot item for the holidays.”Those experts, of course, were right. RoboSapien was indeed a hot item for the 2004 holiday season, and interest flickered again in the 2005 and 2006 holiday seasons … before tapering off for good.SnuggieIt’s a blanket. It’s a bathrobe. It’s not supposed to be worn instead of actual clothes, but hey, I didn’t read the instructions!Oh, the Snuggie. The most popular “sleeved blanket” (that’s the generic term, no joke — I looked it up) of all time.The Google Trends analysis of interest in “Snuggie” tells the story of the sleeved blanket fad perfectly.First, we see an initial spike in the 2008 holiday season when the Snuggie is launched. By the 2009 holiday season — that massive spike you see — the Snuggie is a cultural phenomenon, and is the target of many-a-late night talk show host.So, why does interest in the Snuggie eventually peter out? My answer: market saturation.Everybody and their dog has a freakin’ Snuggie. I have one. And I have no clue where it is.According the Huffington Post, it only took until 2010 for 25 million Americans to have Snuggies. That’s about 1 in 12 Americans. And of course, that number has only grown.You can see in the Google Trends chart that while interest is considerably lower compared to its 2009 heyday, Snuggies are still getting mini-spikes in interest every holiday season.Shake WeightImage credit: Herrea“Call it this year’s Snuggie.”That’s the opening line of a 2010 CNBC article about the Shake Weight: the almost too-suggestive-and-weird-to-be-true oscillating dumbbell that racked up more than $40 million in sales in 2010.You can see in the Google Trends chart that interest in Shake Weight peaked during the 2010 holiday season (specifically in December). But after that, there was a fairly steep decline.Of course, we can also see that search interest in Shake Weight hasn’t fizzled out completely. Why is that? For starters, it’s still so darn funny, people are still talking about it and cracking jokes about it. There are still also plenty of people out there debating the Shake Weight’s effectiveness. Does it really tone your arms, or is its sole purpose to make people uncomfortable?I’ll leave that question to the experts.Xbox vs. PlayStationMicrosoft’s Xbox vs. Sony’s PlayStation: It’s the Red Sox / Yankees rivalry of the video game console world.In terms of search interest (comparing the search term “Xbox” with the search term “PlayStation”), Xbox is the clear winner. But keeping with the holiday theme, the more important thing to notice is when spikes in interest in those two search terms happen. And, of course, the answer is during the holiday season — specifically December.Now, if we drill down and look at the individual Xbox and PlayStation consoles that are competing with each other for interest, we can notice a cool trend. As interest in the next generation of consoles rises, interest in the older generation drops (which makes total sense — consumers are moving on to the latest innovation, the better version). In the chart below, you can see interest in the Xbox console (blue) and PlayStation 2 console (red) declining, while interest in the next generation Xbox 360 (yellow) and PlayStation 3 (green) increasing, eventually overtaking their predecessors.In this next chart, we’re taking the Xbox 360 (blue) and the PlayStation 3 (red), and comparing them to the next generation of consoles: the Xbox One (yellow) and the PlayStation 4 (green). As you can see, interest in the next generation is on the rise.In a sense, Microsoft and Sony are manufacturing mini-fads. They want interest in their new consoles to (eventually) fizzle out so consumers can start getting excited about their even newer consoles.And so far, the strategy has paid off. Sony and Microsoft haven’t sold millions of consoles, they haven’t sold tens of millions of consoles … they’ve sold hundreds of millions. And they’re able to do that by continually coming out with newer — and presumably, better — iterations of their products. The Return of Tickle Me ElmoIn 1996, Tyco Toys took a beloved Muppet character, turned him into a cyborg, and convinced children across the country to tickle him. Then, the cyborg-with-stuffing would laugh at these children.Needless to say, it was a huge success! In addition to Tyco seeing its sales increase from $70 million to $350 million in 1996 thanks to Tickle Me Elmo, an entire secondary market (a.k.a. “black market”) developed around the toy during the 1996 holiday season. There was so much demand, desperate parents were willing to pay well above market price for this plush little bugger. Of course, Google wasn’t around in 1996, so we can’t use Google Trends to analyze Tickle Me Elmo’s search interest during this craze. But for the sake of science, I plugged “Tickle Me Elmo” into Google Trends anyway. And lo and behold, there was a massive spike during the 2006 holiday season.What’s up with that? Turns out, Tyco released a new version of Tickle Me Elmo in 2006 to celebrate the toy’s 10th anniversary. But as you can see in the Google Trends chart, the celebration didn’t last very long. ZuneAlright, alright. I hear you. The Zune probably doesn’t deserve to be on this list since it wasn’t a holiday product fad. It could be more accurately described as a non-seasonal, total product disaster.For those unfamiliar with the Zune, it was Microsoft’s 2006 response to Apple’s iPod, which had made its debut five years earlier. You can see in the Google Trends chart below that interest in “Zune” peaked with its 2006 release, and spiked again during 2007’s holiday season (which coincides with Microsoft’s release of its second generation Zune). Now, to be fair, the Zune wasn’t a total disaster. According to tech journalist Farhad Manjoo, its development actually went on to help Microsoft in the long run.And, at the end of the day, the Zune’s lack of adoption — and sales — wasn’t due to it being a crappy product; And it wasn’t due to a lack of marketing (Wikipedia has a pretty good write-up on all the tactics they used). Manjoo has the answer:“Microsoft’s player is just as good as an iPod — it performed all of that device’s main functions pretty well. But there’s no way in which it’s better than an iPod. And that’s why it was doomed.”Silly BandzNow this is an interesting case; And not because it was a holiday fad in 2010, but because it was so bad that it fizzled out before it even got to become a holiday fad in 2010.Silly Bandz. They were those elastic, bracelet things. That were shaped liked animals … and other stuff.Look, I’m not gonna lie to you here: These things were stupid. Silly Bandz was perhaps the worst hybrid toy-jewelry-office supplies product to ever come to market. And it only took millions of units sold before everyone caught on.And then, blammo! See that steep, steep decline? That starts just after August of 2010. While interest (and sales) in Silly Bandz was soaring in the spring and summer of 2010 (the peak of the fad) it declined drastically before the 2010 holiday season.“Don’t tell Santa, but the national infatuation with Silly Bandz and other shaped, silicone bands that were America’s hottest fad in 2010, seems to have snapped,” reads a USA Today article from December 2010.“With Christmas days away, many retailers say they have cut way back on the number of bands they carry and some have stopped selling them altogether.”Silly Bandz suffered from market saturation; incredibly rapid market saturation. But it make sense: Silly Bandz were cheap, and you could buy them in packs of 24. After a few purchases, a kid would have more Silly Bandz than they’d know what to do with.(Note: if you have any innovative ideas around how I … I mean my friend, uh, Jimmy can use my … I mean his stockpile of Silly Bandz, please write them in the comments section below.) Originally published Dec 8, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Marketing Case Studies Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Originally published Aug 20, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Website Design There are a lot of metrics that you can look at as a publisher to understand how well your content is resonating with audience members—pageviews, returning visitors, keyword performance, referrals, etc. Each of these gives you insight into some form of reader engagement.One metric in particular that is particularly indicative of overall reader engagement, is time on site.Why Time on Site is ImportantWe’ll start with an example.Let’s say you see an average page view count of 4.5 pages per visit. Sounds great, right? But then you take a look at your average time on site, and it’s around 55 seconds. This means people “read” each of those 4.5 pages in less than a minute. It doesn’t take much math to realize that’s not a lot of time on each page, meaning your readers are just skimming. Or, even worse, this could indicate your readers aren’t finding anything valuable enough to look at more deeply.The longer someone remains on your site, the more likely they are to convert on an offer or display some other trackable form of purchase intent. So, while overall traffic indicates top-of-the-funnel strength, time on site is indicative of middle-of-the-funnel health. At the top of your site’s marketing funnel, a high number of visitors is healthy. As you move down the funnel however, your job is to identify those visitors who are demonstrating more interest in your content, and possibly more purchase intent. Time on site is an indicator of how much and how deeply readers want to interact with your content. If someone is on your site longer, they’re more engaged. When they’re more engaged, they’re more likely to trust you, and exchange personal information for sponsored content and even product/service recommendations.To advertisers, these engaged users are the needles in the haystack that they care about. These readers are the qualified leads you want to be generating. What You Can Do to Increase Time on SiteThere are several things to think about if you want to see your time on site improve. Create Great Content Most obviously, you need to continue to create great content. Always think about value and relevance to your reader, and balance in-depth pieces with short, snackable articles that are easier to digest. Make sure you’re including visuals and have well-organized articles that appeal to different target personas, and use on-site analytics to understand what content is performing best! Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and try new formats.Encourage Exploration Your site should encourage exploration to lead people from one piece of content to the next. Make page or section transitions clear, include additional content suggestions related to what readers have already consumed, and have an easy site search tool available. Even after you’ve gotten a conversion, you should encourage them to stay on your site rather than close the browser. For instance, if you have someone come in on a landing page that doesn’t feature a navigation bar (so they focus on the CTA), bring the navigation bar back on the confirmation or thank you page so they have more places to explore.Personalize the On-Site ExperienceRelevance has everything to do with time on site. The more a page is geared toward your unique user experience and interests, the more likely you are to continue browsing. Amazon.com, and the titans of ecommerce have learned this lesson, and now it’s time for publishers to take note as well. Use smart content to serve followup content and CTAs that are new and relevant to their personal interests. Additionally, make sure that people aren’t being driven away by ads that aren’t relevant to them.Think Mobile FirstRemember, 27% of consumers will leave a site if it is not mobile-optimized. The second screen has to be a first thought when you think about web design, sponsored content distribution, emails, and any other type of content that readers will be interacting with. Analyze and AdjustMake sure you know where your strong and weak points are. Look at the bounce rates and exit rates of individual pages to see where people are leaving your site and where they’re sticking around. Use that data to improve page content and build out new strategies to keep readers engaged.With a few quick changes and a focus on site organization and structure, you’ll likely see increases in the amount of time readers are spending on your site, and therefore their overall engagement level with your content.
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Career Development Originally published Jan 18, 2016 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 How many times a week do you hear the phrase, “Oh, you have to check out that blog post/podcast/book/TED Talk. It’s the best!”I’m a low-stakes betting person (not the billion-dollar-Powerball-jackpot type), but I’d put good money on the fact that you probably hear that a lot.The problem? You’re busy. You don’t have time to check out every single thing someone sends your way. You’ve got actual work to do and people to manage. If you’re going to make time for reading, watching, and listening, you want it to be relevant to what you’re currently working on. But, you don’t know whether something is worthwhile until you do it. Where do you see yourself in five years? Take our free quiz here to figure out the next step in your career.With this in mind, I polled the rest of HubSpot’s content team, pulled some recommendations from an internal wiki page by my colleagues Rebecca Corliss and Andrew Rodwin, and did a little old-fashioned digging of my own to find the best blog posts, books, TED Talks, and podcast for every stage of your career. While I’ve tried to bucket each of my recommendations by a stage of your career, it’s by no means meant to be restrictive. Borrow recommendations from other categories — you never know what you might learn. Want to jump to a certain category? Click one of the following links:Fresh Face to Your IndustryDeveloping Individual ContributorMid-Level ManagerAccomplished Individual ContributorExperienced ExecutiveFresh Face to Your Industry1) Book: So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, Cal NewportWe’ve all heard the refrain, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” We’ve probably all questioned its validity, too. Cal Newport’s whole book is about questioning that saying. In his book, Cal uncovers how passion fuels hard work and success — and vice versa. For anyone who’s struggling to choose a career (or just wondering whether the career you chose is the right one for you), this book will give you the advice you’ve been craving.2) Blog Post: Any Post on Your CEO’s BlogYes, I know this isn’t a specific blog post, but I wanted to include this generic recommendation because I think it’s solid: Find where your CEO/CMO/COO/manager blogs — and read it. Not only will it prevent you from struggling to make small talk in the hallway, but it will also give you a window into how your boss (or your boss’ boss, or your boss’ boss’ boss) thinks. And the latter is especially important — especially as you’re hoping to move up at your company.If your CEO doesn’t blog yet, find another CEO/boss who you admire, and follow their writing. Need a suggestion for someone to follow? I’m biased, but my CEO wrote a very smart and interesting piece on our blog, ReadThink, recently. Check it out.3) Podcast: Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!When you’re getting started in your career, you spend a lot of time absorbing your domain knowledge. If you’re new to marketing, for example, you’ll probably read a ton of content on how to blog, how to create landing page, how to measure the effectiveness of your marketing, etc. And with only so much time in the day, you might ignore learning about current events. The thing is, knowing about the world around you can unlock creative ideas about your work … and you know, just make you a more informed person in general. That’s where the podcast Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! comes in. It’s a quiz-style show from NPR that helps you catch up on current events in a totally fun way.4) TED Talk: “The Power of Introverts,” Susan CainIt can be tempting to feel like you have to be gregarious to be successful in business, but that might not be the best way for you to get ahead. Turns out, introverts can be just as successful as extraverts. For a reminder that there’s no reason for you to contort your typical demeanor to fit into either end of the personality spectrum, I’d highly recommend watching the following TED Talk from Susan Cain.Developing Individual Contributor5) Book: Think Like a Leader, Act Like a Leader, Herminia IbarraThere’s no one way to be a great leader. Some people are loud extraverts, some set quiet examples for their team, and others may find some sort of middle ground. When you’re a little ways into your career and thinking about your next steps, you’re going to need to start developing your own leadership style. This book will come in handy to help you find a unique style that helps you succeed in your career.6) Blog Post: “Do You Have a Manager’s Mindset?”This time in your career is one where you might be asking yourself one question almost every day, “What’s next?” Many people will wonder if management is the next step. But how can you figure out whether you want to be a manager before you actually make the switch? While you certainly should chat with managers at your company, research roles and responsibilities, and do some soul-searching, I’d highly recommend starting with this article. It’ll give you a good overview of what life as a manager looks like. 7) Podcast: FreakanomicsAt this stage, you’ve learned a ton. You’ve got some years of experience under your belt. You’ve had some big wins. Maybe you’ve gotten knocked down once or twice, but you still retain that bouncy pep in your step you did right out of school. As you grow, you need to maintain that balance of humility and confidence. And what better way to fuel that than by listening to a podcast that’s all about challenging common assumptions? Freakanomics will make you think critically about what you believe, and challenge you to continue to think differently. 8) TED Talk: “5 Ways to Listen Better,” Julian TreasureListening is crucial to any stage of your growth, but it’s especially essential to this stage of your career. Though you’ve learned a ton so far, you still have a long career filled with learning (and listening) ahead of you. So use this TED talk to get some tips for making your listening skills better.Mid-Level Manager9) Book: Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, Simon SinekNot every boss is great. Some are okay. Some are just … bad. And when you’re the boss, you don’t want to be in the latter camps. You want to be the amazing manager, the one your team goes home and gushes about at the dinner table. If you want to make sure you’re on the right path to becoming an amazing boss, I’d recommend starting with this book. It gives you a great framework to build off, regardless of where you work.10) Blog Post: “What Amazing Bosses Do Differently”This blog post is a great complement to the book above. It’ll give you some solid advice for building and growing a team that people love to be on. Plus, it’s way shorter than a book, so you’ll have time to read this on your lunch break. 11) Podcast: StartupBefore Startup, I had a rule for the podcasts I listened to: None should be about business. I wanted to keep work at work, you know?But then I heard how great Startup was, and finally decided to listen to an episode. It is hands-down one of the best podcasts I’ve listened to. It’s open, honest, and frank about the struggles of building a team. And when you’re a new(ish) manager, it’ll be refreshing to commiserate with someone about these things (even if that someone is a host of a podcast and doesn’t know you’re commiserating with them). 12) TED Talk: “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” Amy CuddyUp until this point, your tangible work has probably shaped the majority of your success. That blog post that generated thousands of views, for example? That showed how well you understood your audience. But now, as a manager, your body language can have a big impact on how well your feedback is getting received. And because feedback is so crucial to your team’s growth (and thus, your success as a manager), you can’t afford to mess this up. So, use this TED Talk to get a lesson in adjusting your body language. Bonus: It can help you in non-management situations, too. Accomplished Individual Contributor13) Book: Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, Austin KleonSo, you’ve advanced up the career ladder and gotten lots of experience in your field. At this point, you’ve probably built some great habits that’ll help you uncover your next big ideas. But what if you’re struggling? What if you hit a creative rut, and need to get unstuck?This book can help. It’ll give you some great advice on being more creative, and hopefully get you on your way to tackling your next big idea.14) Blog Post: “Nobody Cares How Hard You Work” It can feel like the only way to make progress in your career is to put your head down and grind away at work. After all, hard work is the most important — and effective — way to get things done. Right?Not exactly. In this article, author Oliver Burkeman explains why hard work isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Reading it might inspire you to think differently about how you’re approaching your work — and make changes that’ll benefit both you and your team. 15) Podcast: Mystery ShowLet’s be honest: At this stage in your career, you need a little mystery in your life. This quirky podcast is made by the folks who are behind Startup, so you know it’s got to be good. The show uncovers answers to questions you didn’t even know you had (e.g. How tall is Jake Gyllenhaal?), and is entertaining to boot. The host has some awesome tactics for getting to the bottom of a story that just might come in handy in your work. At the very least, you’ll learn exactly how tall Jake is. 16) TED Talk: “Got a Wicked Problem? First, Tell Me How You Make Toast,” Tom WujecWhen you’re this advanced, you’re going to start running into problems no one has ever solved before. Everyone will look to you and assume you know how to do it. (Or, they’ll assume you can figure it out.)But maybe you’re worried you can’t tackle it. The problem is really big, after all. If you’ve ever had that twinge of doubt, this TED Talk will be the welcome antidote. Experienced Executive17) Book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeownWhen you’re an executive, you get pulled in lots of different directions. Budgets! Hiring! Strategy! Seating plans! Happy hours! Just 15 minutes to pick your brain!The thing is, less can often be more. In this book, author Greg McKeown talks about the idea of removing the unimportant things in your life to be even more effective at what you do (and happier to boot). 18) Blog Post: “Radical Candor — The Surprising Secret to Being a Good Boss”As an executive, your job is to make sure your team stays on track to hit the goals and fulfill the vision you have set out. The way to make sure that happens? You’ve got to give great feedback. This post outlines an easy-to-understand framework for giving feedback that’s actually helpful to your team, regardless of how long they’ve been in business or what level they are in your company. This framework for radical candor can also be applied to you, so you can get even better feedback from your team. Win-win, if you ask me. 19) Podcast: The Growth ShowLast moment of bias, I promise. Here at HubSpot, we have a podcast that uncovers interesting stories and advice from every corner of the business world. One week, you can hear about how Mozilla’s CMO identifies the next big thing for his team to tackle, and the next, leadership advice from a classical musician-turned-engineer-turned-entrepreneur. Taking 30 minutes to learn from someone outside your industry can help you step up your game immensely. 20) TED Talk: “Why the Best Hire Might Not Have the Best Resume,” Regina HartleyWhile you may not be in the trenches every day, you are responsible for hiring people who are in the trenches every day. That’s a tough job. If you make the wrong call, you drag down your team. But if you make the right call, your team’s productivity and success can skyrocket. How do you make sure you’re hiring the right person? In this TED Talk, Regina Hartley argues that you should ignore their resume. Watch the video below to learn why you might want to rethink your hiring practices in favor of landing smart, talented people.What other books, blog posts, podcasts, and TED Talks would you recommend? Topics:
Originally published Aug 5, 2016 6:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Let’s face it: 2016 (so far) has brought about a number of shocks, surprises, and setbacks for businesses — from stock market instability to events like Brexit. And as a result, it’s likely that many people are likely feeling a little less certain about their strategies than they did a year ago.Now, I’m not suggesting this heralds the return of the wartime CEO, but a lack of certainty always forces business leaders and marketers to look at ways they can add more predictability to their organisations. They want to increase operational efficiency so no spend goes to waste, but also balance this by investing in sales and growth.Thankfully there’s an existing playbook marketers can follow to help navigate uncertainty. Below you’ll find five smart ways that marketers can think ahead during times of transition and change.5 Smart Ways Marketers Can Prepare for Unexpected Changes1) Double down on testing.If your competitors are tightening their belts and scaling back marketing investments, use this to your advantage by doubling down on testing. The most effective marketing leaders encourage a culture of testing within their teams and run experiments to A/B test and optimise activity at every stage of the marketing funnel. Doing this helps to improve the operational efficiency across the board.Using a marginal gains approach you can and should run a number of small tests to see which variants — from website copy to landing page design — perform better. At HubSpot, the conversion rate optimization (CRO) team continually runs tests to improve upon our existing efforts and identify new solutions for the future. A few recent examples include:The historical blog optimization project which increased organic search views of old blog posts by an average of 106%A series of technical SEO updates which increased organic traffic by over 50% in just one month.And the best part? We didn’t need to invest in the creation of new content.Others may see uncertainty as a reason to pause or cut investments, but you should consider it an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of what moves the needle on your marketing efforts.If you’re looking for A/B testing inspiration, work your way through these conversion optimization case studies or check out this handy A/B testing checklist.2) Focus on the value in your value proposition.In uncertain times, many organisations look to curb spending on nonessential items. This makes clearly communicating the value your product creates to prospects and clients more important than ever.Developing your product’s value proposition is both part art and science. You need to craft compelling copy, but also test different versions to see which works best. While it can be tempting to focus on product features, always bring it back to the job to be done and what the end-user values most, such as helping them do something faster or better, or by enabling the user to make more money.Amazon is well known for making developers draft a product’s hypothetical press release and FAQ announcement before even a line of code is written. This helps the company to fully define the product’s value proposition and how it will be pitched to customers.Here are three examples of very different businesses that effectively communicate their value proposition to give you a better sense of how to approach this:StripeStripe spells out exactly what its product is, who it is aimed at, and the value it generates. Ecommerce and online payments are notoriously complex industries with high barriers to entry, but Stripe shows how it enables developers to quickly and easily get businesses set up to send and receive money online.Tortuga BackpacksThe value proposition communicated by Tortuga Backpacks is that its backpacks make traveling easier. This is important to its target persona — urban travelers who value convenience and want to avoid checking their luggage — which adds cost and an unwanted visit to the luggage carousel.UnbounceThe value proposition here has two clear strands. First up, Unbounce mentions that marketers can use its product to build, publish, and A/B test landing pages — activities that help marketers generate results that create value for their business. Secondly, marketers can achieve this without the help of IT, which highlights how the product saves both time and money.How do you position your products and services? We recommend partnering with your product and sales leaders to define your product’s “must have” value proposition.Want to see some more examples of effective value propositions? Take a look at this post, or this one from IMPACT Branding & Design.3) Invest in predictable lead generation.All businesses need to sell their products or services so they can generate revenue to grow and invest in the future. But in order to sell effectively and hit quota each month, sales organisations need a pipeline of leads.To that end, marketing teams run programs that create a consistent pipeline of high volume, quality leads. But what’s the most effective way to generate leads and customers?For one, investing in the creation of content such as ebooks, webinars, whitepapers, blog posts and more, will help your business attract qualified traffic to your website. This is because content has a compounding impact that increases in value over time, whereas many traditional tactics are quick to lose steam.Some organisations adopt a blended approach where they use inbound marketing for the majority of their lead generation activity, and occasionally top up their marketing funnel with PPC advertising.How you approach it will be determined by the unique demands of your organisation, however, the important thing is that there are numbers to prove that the inbound methodology works. Just check out this HubSpot ROI Report. In short: the businesses best placed to ride out any uncertainty have a pipeline of quality leads that is consistently topped up, as well as a marketing team that knows the right levers to pull to increase lead flow. Investing in predictable lead generation is what leads to predictable sales and revenue growth.4) Explore new and emerging markets.If a market becomes less attractive to do business in, then you should rightly look at alternatives.Entering new markets doesn’t necessarily mean building a bricks and mortar store or opening a shiny new office. You can take the first steps by creating a local market website and launching marketing activity specifically targeted at that market. This nimble and “digital first” approach will enable you to test your hypothesis on whether or not a new market is right for your business at that time.Tools like Google’s Global Market Finder can show you online search volume as a proxy for potential customer demand for products and services. This coupled with the location data of your customers and leads will help you make more informed decisions about customer demand and where to plan future investments.Why is this important? Organisations that understand high potential markets can more easily move to overcome changes in the business environment, such as currency fluctuations or economic uncertainty. Strategic marketing leaders know not only where the customers of today are, but more importantly where the customers of tomorrow will be.5) Make marketing a profit centre.With marketing becoming more data-driven and trackable, there’s growing consensus that marketing should be viewed as a profit, rather than cost centre. Much marketing activity now directly drives revenue, so it stands to reason that it should be considered an investment in future growth instead of an expense.When marketing is viewed as a driver of growth, the idea of an annual marketing budget seems at best outdated and at worst a threat to the bottom line. But the reality is many business leaders still see marketing as a discretionary cost that can be topped up or cut each year.You can take the first steps to making marketing a profit centre within your business by identifying spend which directly drives measurable revenue and looking at the ROI of this activity. If a particular marketing activity generates sales within an acceptable acquisition cost, marketing leaders should have the flexibility to invest more heavily (or perhaps infinitely) in this activity, rather than be constrained by budget.Positioning marketing as a profit centre is a bold move, but uncertain times calls for new and innovative thinking. Importantly, this approach gives marketing leaders the opportunity to move from functional experts to full business partners and drive growth for the organisation.In uncertain times, some businesses see a threat and look to consolidate, while others spy an opportunity to move quickly and gain an advantage over the competition. Admittedly, this is something of an oversimplification, but the best way to approach the challenge posed by uncertainty is by focusing on both today and the future. This means striking the elusive balance of increasing operational efficiency to reduce costs, while also investing in the future growth of the business by continuing to spend on marketing, sales, and research and development.This approach — although easier said than done — can help you lay the groundwork for future success in more certain times. And while the tips we’ve suggested are by no means a one-size-fits-all solution, the important thing is that you and your team start thinking about these things sooner rather than later.How does your business plan for change or uncertainty? Share your best tips below. Topics: Marketing Analytics Don’t forget to share this post! 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Originally published Feb 11, 2018 10:32:00 PM, updated July 12 2019 Most pre-roll ads on YouTube are something to be endured, muted, and skipped immediately after the mandatory five seconds have passed. It’s nothing personal — people just want to get to their video.So how can advertisers create branded videos that users actually want to watch?For an ad to be sought out and consumed willingly on YouTube, it needs to stand out as an enjoyable, compulsively shareable story. It can’t just be a typical advertisement — it needs to compete for attention with viral, non-branded content.To better understand what YouTube users want in a watchable online ad, let’s take a look back at what worked in 2017.Click here to unlock videos, templates, resources, and tips on how to get your video marketing strategy off the ground.Google released a list of the top 10 most watched ads on YouTube from 2017, and we’ve compiled them here to inspire your next digital ad campaign. All advertisers and marketers should be taking notes: These are the most watched YouTube videos by brands people actually wanted to see in 2017.The Most Watched YouTube Ads of 2017Samsung India Service (SVC)Clash Royale: The Last SecondPing Pong Trick Shots 3 | Dude PerfectMiss Dior — The new Eau de ParfumBudweiser 2017 Super Bowl Commercial | Born The Hard Way2017 Kia Niro | ‘Hero’s Journey’ Starring Melissa McCarthyadidas Originals | ORIGINAL is never finishediPhone 7 | The Rock x Siri Dominate the DayLevi’s “Circles” CommercialMr. Clean 2017 Super Bowl Commercial | Cleaner of Your Dreams The 10 Most Watched YouTube Ads of 20171. Samsung India Service (SVC)150.3M viewsSamsung India crushed it with this beautiful short story, called “We’ll Take Care of You Wherever You Are.” The company used it to promote its customer service expansion across rural India last year. Created by the agency, Cheil, it spans four minutes and collected 150 million views for its multinational appeal.The ad follows a Samsung van through a cumbersome rural drive to answer a service call at a small Indian home. Who the driver meets inside is exactly what made me cry watching this viral sensation:2. Clash Royale: The Last Second110.7M viewsThis zany, offbeat, and yet still universally appealing mobile game developer won the fifth-most watched YouTube ad of 2016. It’s now back with the same agency partner, Barton F. Graf, and a suspensful 50-second spot that garnered nearly triple the views of its clip from the previous year.The ad for Clash Royale, a multiplayer mobile game, opens with a three-second countdown and a pink-haired archer releasing an arrow into a battleground. What happens in “the last second”? Well, you’ll just have to see for yourself:3. Ping Pong Trick Shots 3 | Dude Perfect90.6M viewsIf you’ve never seen Dude Perfect, you’re missing out. This group of friends’ homemade clips of sports tricks spawned one of the most successful independent YouTube channels in history — so successful, in fact, that food brands like Ruffles and Oreo have partnered with them to advertise on their videos.What started as a series of basketball stunts (some of which are literally in the Guinness Book of World Records) is now a goldmine of addicting content promoting popular snack foods via awesome trick shots.Their latest? Dude Perfect and the Oreo Dunk Challenge — using nothing but ping pong balls:4. Miss Dior – The new Eau de Parfum43.0M viewsNumber four on YouTube’s list is an empowering ad for Dior’s newest women’s perfume, Miss Dior. Created by the production company, Iconoclast, it’s another installment of actor Natalie Portman’s longstanding work with the Dior brand. This ad is just too powerful to not watch.The ad, set to the tune of “Chandelier” by Sia, focuses on love and the diverse emotions with which the modern woman can express it — something Natalie Portman sees “reflected in the duality of the fragrance.” Check it out below:5. Budweiser 2017 Super Bowl Commercial | Born The Hard Way28.5M viewsBudweiser has an expectedly large presence in the ad space of every Super Bowl. In 2017, that presence became unforgettable. Working with Anomaly, a New York-based ad agency, America’s beloved beer-maker blew the doors off with the unexpected story of the company’s founding.The ad introduces us to a young man immigrating from Germany to an unwelcoming American community. Who he ends up befriending is, well — I won’t spoil it for you:6. 2017 Kia Niro | ‘Hero’s Journey’ Starring Melissa McCarthy25.9 viewsComing in at number six is the most hilarious of the most watched YouTube ads of 2017, starring a lovable and heroic Melissa McCarthy. Made by the agency, David&Goliath, the commercial is classic McCarthy in an unusually slapstick video for one of Kia’s newest sedans.McCarthy plays herself in “Hero’s Journey,” but with hopeless loyalty to a few too many world causes. The ad originally debuted during the 2017 Super Bowl, along with an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot called NiroBot that viewers could interact with through Facebook Messenger during the game.See why Kia focused on social responsibility in this amusing but compelling spot:7. adidas Originals | ORIGINAL is never finished25.4 viewsThere’s something mesmerizing about this obscure commercial for the adidas Originals line of shoes. Colorful, aggressive, raw — I can’t seem to put my finger on it. But in partnership with the agency, Johannes Leonardo, it continues the brand’s “ORIGINAL is never finished” series, celebrating originality in perhaps the most stylish YouTube ad of 2017.Set to the rising sound of Frank Sinatra’s song, “My Way,” the ad takes you on a ride where moment-to-moment, there’s no telling what’ll come next. See if you can spot the Snoop Dogg cameo in this cool piece:(Note: adidas’s “ORIGINAL is never finished” ad for 2018 has already surpassed the view count of its 2017 predecessor! Watch it now.)8. iPhone 7 | The Rock x Siri Dominate the Day25.3 views“Siri, show me that crazy Apple commercial featuring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.” If she doesn’t give you the video below, she’s probably just shy — Apple’s AI-based voice assistant is as much a star of the ad as Johnson is. This clip was the brainchild of the agency, TBWA, and grossed more than 25 million views by the end of 2017 having debuted just last summer.Apple ultimately cut the ad into three smaller commercials to promote the iPhone 7’s launch (no pun intended, as part of the clip takes The Rock and his new hardware to space).TBWA calls itself “The Disruption Company,” and it’s no mystery why with this flashy plug for the sleek smartphone. Watch it here:9. Levi’s ‘Circles’ Commercial22.3 viewsLevi’s is celebrating more than excellent dancers in this fun commercial for everyone’s favorite jeans, and it only becomes clearer as the ad progresses. The clip showcases as many styles of jeans as it does cultures of the people dancing in them, making this not only one of the most watched ads of 2017, but also one of the most heartwarming.Said FCB West, Levi’s agency partner, “Different cultures, religions and groups all share dance as a common unifier, and when we come together to celebrate, we all dance in a circle — a forum for connections and individual self-expression.”See how that idea manifests in this catchy spot:10. Mr. Clean 2017 Super Bowl Ad | Cleaner of Your Dreams17.6 viewsKnowing what I know of the animated Mr. Clean, this ad made me laugh. The man in the famous white muscle shirt never looked so endearing while mopping hardwood floor before … Kudos to Leo Burnett, the agency behind this charming Super Bowl commercial.Within seconds of this animated head-turner squeezing out the sponge, he likely became every man’s new marriage coach. As they say at the end of this one, you gotta’ love a man who cleans. See why below:As YouTube continues to release these greatest hits lists every year, the content we’re forced to sit through before our video plays will become the videos we actively seek out. Learn how to delight your customers with sweet video content below. Youtube Advertising Topics: Don’t forget to share this post!
A growing number of people are giving even bigger bucks online. A new study, “The Wired Wealthy” by Convio, Sea Change Strategies and Edge Research, looks at these major online donors in depth. Read the full study below, or just check out these key points from the study:Major and moderate donors are generous and onlineThe e-mail files surveyed represent one percent of the membership but 32 percent of the revenue for this sector80 percent of the wired wealthy made donations both online and offline72 percent say donating online is more efficient and helps charities reduce administrative costs51 percent said they prefer giving online and 46 percent said that five years from now they will be making a greater portion of their charitable gifts onlineMost charity Web sites are missing opportunities to fully engage wealthy wired with their organizationOnly 40 percent said that most charity Web sites made them feel personally connected to their cause or missionOnly 40 percent said that most charity Web sites are inspiring48 percent felt most charity Web sites are well-designedEmail shows signs of lost opportunities to connect with various donors74 percent said it was appropriate for the charity to send an email reminding them to renew an annual gift74 percent said that an email from the charity about how their donation was spent, and what happened as a result would make them more likely to give again65 percent said they always open and glance at emails from causes they supportThree distinct groups of donors emerged based on the extent to which the donor sees the Internet as a source of connection between themselves and the causesRelationship seekers (29%) – the group most likely to connect emotionally with organizations onlineAll business (30%) – not looking for a relationship or emotional connection, but a smooth and simple donation processCasual connectors (41%) occupy the middle ground, showing some interest in sustaining an online relationship, but also wanting a smooth and simple processNonprofits should create and provide options that let the wired wealthy customize their online experience with the cause, says the study.
I have a pretty boring business card, but that’s about to change. Ever since a designer friend handed me a clear plastic business card with a field for inking a personal note, I realized this is a neglected opportunity.What are you doing to make your card about your cause?Here’s a great source of inspiration from librarians. Librarians rock. Not only do I love them, I think they are marketing superheroes. Here’s the proof. Is this a fabulous card or what? I share her source of power, by the way: coffee.Write me if you have a heroic business card.
First things first: Make sure your organization can accept online donations. Though you’re clearly getting on the ball by tackling end-of-the-year fundraising now, your donors may still put off “the big give” until the last minute. Make sure your donors have an easy-to- use, customized donation form that generates that vital tax receipt immediately – all without having to leave your website. (Don’t have a custom donation page? Contact us to try out our DonateNow service.) Make a plan.Tips 1-4 get right to the practical heart of your marketing strategy. Don’t forget to take a step back to plan ahead. Do you have year-end fundraising goals? Do you know who or what you’d like to highlight? What positive information and updates will you highlight for your audience(s)? And, maybe most importantly, what are your donors looking for – news, updates, stories, numbers/figures/results of a past campaign? Ask your audience what they need and want from you and deliver it! They’ll remember it when your well-crafted appeals start rolling in a few months.*Don’t believe that tax breaks are a major influencer? Network for Good processes 30% of its annual donations in the month of December, and the majority of that comes December 30 and 31. It’s not exactly a coincidence that this time is right before the tax-year ends! Nonprofit organizations can fulfill supporter’s desires for tax deductions just by being a 501(c)(3) (about.com has some info you can share with your potential donors about this). Get your story straight. Passion about your work is infectious, but too often fundraisers sap the emotion and color from our work when we seek to put it into words. We talk about our work in analytical ways when we should be speaking from the heart to compel people to action. Find out how to break out of this pattern and get the tools to help you write the right (brain) way every time. Determine the fixes/updates you can make prior to December to your organization’s website. Can you make your donate button bigger? Do you need to add a “why give” page? We’re not talking a website overhaul – just a few minor modifications you’ll be thankful for a few months from now. Check out these three steps you can take toward a better nonprofit website. If your website is already up to par, and you’re ready to move on to social media, here are 11 Steps to Success (and 6 Things to Avoid) with Social Networking. Now is the time to focus on building stronger relationships with supporters to lay the groundwork for a big year-end giving season. By checking these items off your list now, you can strengthen the vital relationships that will set your organization up for a strong holiday giving season.Here are five tips to help you kick off your holiday fundraising now: Become friendly with an email marketing tool to communicate with your donors regularly – not just when you’re asking for money. And we’re not talking about Outlook. Giving your supporters content of value as it happens, rather than just at the end of the year will increase your donors’ feeling of investment in your organization, which leads to higher gifts. An email marketing tool will also help you comply with CAN-SPAM laws, allow your supporters to easily share your information with a friend on social networks and generally keep them happy! (Want to send out great emails your can track and tailor? Get started with Constant Contact, an easy-to-use and affordable email marketing tool.) Supporters choose to donate to organizations for a variety of reasons. While most of the time you’re better off focusing on the emotional side of giving, at the end of the year data shows you can get away with an appeal that’s focused on the financial side because people love tax deductions.* Photo source: Big Stock Photo
Here’s the last of my thoughts, pulled from my book, on benefit exchanges. Don’t forget: you can’t ask for action without them!If we make promises about our nonprofit, especially bold ones, we need to support them. We don’t need to quantify every reward or produce scientific evidence for every point we propose. We simply need to show that our benefit exchange is credible. In other words, we need to ensure that the action we ask for is feasible and the reward we offer is possible.Facts and figures are one approach to sounding reliable, but the problem is that they are quickly forgotten. Also, a lot of people don’t trust them. We need to make statistics as personal as possible so they will be remembered and believed. The average person won’t recall how many pounds of nitrates run off into a river or the concentration of E. coli in parts per million in an aquifer, but they will remember the poop in the tap water.A slew of psychological studies have shown that vivid personal stories are incredibly convincing, far more so than quantifiable statistics. I make many decisions about the products I buy, the books I read, and the places I go based on recommendations from people I respect. I think the person who offers the testimonial or stars in the success story we use is as important as the story itself. The right messengers lend great credibility to our claims. We should choose messengers who are known or respected by our audience or their immediate peers. We can also add credibility to our message by convincing our audience it can take action without too much effort and fuss. If an action seems like a big undertaking, that perception will undermine the idea that rewards are attainable. For this reason a lot of private-sector advertising has the word easy in it. It’s also why people love remote controls and drive-through windows. We don’t want to have to work too hard to get what we want.Another approach is showing our audience members that many people like them are taking the action. Social psychologists and marketing experts talk about the power of “social norms” or “social proof.” Social proof is the powerful idea that if we believe everyone is acting in a certain way, we’re likely to act that way too. We’re conformists by nature, and we take our cues about how to think and what to do from those around us.
RFP/RFIScripted demosUsability testingReference checksFull-cost proposals 5. Test vendors against your needsRFP/RFI. Issuing a Request For Proposals can help you identify vendors. If you can ask clear, unambiguous questions that can be answered with a yes or a no (andmaybe some amplifying text), an RFP can be helpful. Recognize that any question you ask the vendor should be a question that you can score a response to. So a “yes” answer has to mean something specific, and that gets points. A “no” means the opposite and gets no points. A well-written RFP can help you identify vendors who wouldn’t have been on your radar otherwise, or help narrow the field when you have too many vendors to evaluate in-depth.However, it is difficult to craft an RFP that will accomplish this goal. Also, some vendors do not respond to RFPs. Depending on your needs, you might be able to get the information you want with a short Request for Information (RFI), or even a phone call. RFIs are good for answering basic, factual questions.Scripted demos. You are really only going to hold demos with a few vendors-three or four is usually the ideal number. The goal in holding demos is to compare apples to apples between the different vendors.The most critical step is to use a script to tell the vendors what they need to show you to prove that they can meet your requirements. The demo should focus on those areas that emerged as the top priorities in your needs assessment.Have everyone on your team rate the demos (usually a 0-10 scale with a space for comments). These ratings should not be anonymous. For instance, it’s important to know whether it was the gift-entry person or a program manager who rated a system poorly on gift entry features.You will probably have a list of questions that arose during the demos that you’ll want to ask their customers. You’ll also have general questions about the vendor: Did it cost what they told you it would cost? Do they answer your questions promptly? Do they introduce new bugs every time they upgrade the software?You need to talk to enough references to distinguish between bad clients and bad software. So if you hear something from just one site about problems, it could be that their staff wasn’t trained properly, or they didn’t configure the non profit database software properly, or they outgrew the software but can’t afford to change it.Approach reference checks like reference checks for hiring someone: you may live with this database longer than you will live with most of your employees. It’s critical to ask detailed questions about the software and vendor.Optionally you may want to visit client sites that are using the non profit database software and find out how it works in real life. That can be incredibly educational. If you take this step, look for organizations similar to yours in size and complexity.Full-cost proposal. You may have received a cost estimate when you first talked to the vendor. As some point, you will need to get a detailed cost proposal. It should include the software, training, conversion, and ongoing maintenance fees. Particularly with non profit database software that is sold by module, you really won’t know the final cost until you have a conversation with the vendor and say, for instance, “We think we can do without the volunteer module. We can keep tracking that in Excel or in our FileMaker database. But we really need the events module.”Adapted from Robert Weiner’s “All You Need to Know about Choosing a Donor Database” presentation. You can listen to the complete presentation or read the transcript by clicking on the presentation title above or the “related article” link below. 2. Complete a Needs AssessmentWhat are your requirements? What’s working well now? What can you not give up? And what’s wrong now? What are goals in doing this project? What are you trying to fix? Maybe it’s not something that’s broken now, but it’s something that, as you consider the growth the organization is going to experience, you think will become a problem in the future. For example, you’ve never done major-gifts fundraising, but you’re going to start within the next year or two and your current software won’t support that activity.Here are the questions to ask yourself and your team:Is software really the problem? You might have the right database already, but the people who were trained have all departed the organization and no one has been trained since. Or the database may have modules that can do what you need but you haven’t purchased them. Or your organization might have mis-configured the non profit database software -it can actually do what you need but it’s not set up properly. Or perhaps the wrong people are managing the database.If software really isn’t the problem, new software isn’t going to make your life any easier. So first you need to decide whether this is a truly a software problem, or a people or process or policy/procedure/communication problem.What do you really need? You need to distinguish wants from needs. A true need is a single requirement that will disqualify any non profit database software that lacks it, regardless of price or other attractive features. For instance, if you’re a Macintosh shop, Mac support is mandatory. Those features that are not mandatory need to be prioritized. When you look at systems, you should first eliminate those that don’t meet your mandatory requirements. Then you can and focus on those that meet most of your top priorities.What can you afford and support? There may be non profit database software out there that can meet every one of your requirements, but will it cost vastly more than you can spend? Will it require new staff people to support it-positions you can’t afford? Or will it require a higher level of technical skills than your staff possess? The following article was transcribed from a teleconference presented by Network for Good on April 15, 2008. This post was updated March 28, 2016.When you boil down your non profit database software selection process, there are five basic steps:Convene the right team.Specify your needs and priorities.Secure funding.Identify a pool of potential vendors.Test vendors against your needs. 3. Secure FundingDepending on the non profit database software, software may be the smallest part of your purchase. As databases become more complex, you often need other things to go with them. For instance:A new server to run the software onUpdates/replacements for hardwareUpgrading your network so you have a fast-enough connectionTraining for your staffConverting your data from your old system to the your new oneDeveloping new reportsAn annual or monthly fee to continue using the software (unless it’s a free piece of software to begin with)There is set amount for how much you should spend on your database. It really depends upon your needs.|4. Identify a Pool of Potential VendorsNow that you know what you’re looking for and have a ballpark budget in mind, you need to identify a list of potential vendors of non profit database software . If you are part of a network of organizations that do similar types of work, that’s usually a great place to start. There might also be deals between your national headquarters and vendors or deals between other chapter offices of your organization and vendors that can save you money. Even if you’re an independent group, you can find out what other similar organizations are using.You can also ask on general purpose lists, such as TechSoup and Idealware. Talk about your specific requirements so that you hear from comparable organizations.Try to find vendors that have experience working with organizations that are similar to yours, unless you are willing to take risks. Sometimes it is completely justified to take a risk on a vendor who has never worked with your kind of organization before because their technology meets your needs, they inspire confidence, and they are interested in getting into your market. They may be willing to give you a great discount in order to prove themselves in your market. But only accept the discount if it is software that looks like it’s really going to meet your needs.From Network for Good: Our donor database software is specifically designed for small to mid-sized nonprofits. 1. Convene the Right TeamFirst, convene a group of people who will select the non profit database software . The team should consist of subject matter experts in the areas that the database is going to address. Since we’re talking about a donor database, that’s usually direct mail, major gifts, grant writing, gift-entry, and IT staff. You need to get input from the people who will actually have their hands on the keyboards, getting the donations in, running those reports, etc.Selecting a non profit database software is not an IT decision. It is a business decision about how you’re going to run your nonprofit. Techies should be included on the selection team so they can advise you on the standards that are appropriate for your organization, but it’s not a technical decision.You also need to realize that while you’re trying to get input from everyone, you may not be able to satisfy everyone in this decision. You’re probably not going to be able to afford, or necessarily even find, a database that will do everything the team can possibly imagine.So part of the exercise is going through a prioritization exercise so that you know which needs are most important.
Here is a great guide from See3. Free and helpful!