Saving Sustainably: Installing Drains and Vents

first_imgEditor’s note: This is one in a series of blogs detailing the construction of a net-zero energy house in Point Roberts, Washington, by an owner-builder with relatively little building experience. A list of Matt Bath’s GBA articles can be found at the bottom of this page. You’ll find Matt Bath’s full blog, Saving Sustainably, here. If you want to follow project costs, you can keep an eye on a budget worksheet here. Now that the frame of the house is complete and safe from the elements, I have some flexibility on what to do next. I could, for instance, decide to finish the exterior of the house, put the shingles on, run electrical wire, or install the ductwork. There really isn’t anything to hold me back from working on any of those things. I decided that the most intelligent thing to do would be to finish installing the roofing as soon as possible whenever I had some decent weather, and when it was too wet to be on the roof I will work on the plumbing. The drain, waste, and vent (DWV) system really needs to be done first because there are three vent pipes that will penetrate the roof, so I want to have those installed before putting the shingles on. The only other roof penetration will be the Soladeck for the solar array electrical connection.RELATED ARTICLESSensible PlumbingService Cavities for Wiring and PlumbingGreen Plumbing Systems Save Water and Energy The DWV is one of two systems that make up the plumbing of the house, the other one being the water supply system. The job of the DWV system is to remove water from any plumbing fixtures in the house (drain), transport it to the septic system (waste), and ensure that air pressure doesn’t interfere with the process (vent). Most people have a pretty good sense of how the first two parts work but are completely oblivious to the operation of the last one. An easy way to explain it is to think back to when you were a kid playing with a drinking straw. You could fill the straw with water, hold a finger over one end of the straw, and the water would magically defy gravity. The venting part of the DWV system is the equivalent of removing your finger from the end of the straw to allow the water to slide out. Without it, all of the pipes installed to drain and waste would be completely ineffective. In fact, best practices allow for each individual fixture to have a vent of its own. Some of these vents are eventually combined together until they exit out of the roof. Start with the building code There is quite a bit of planning that goes into installing a DWV system, but all of the rules are clearly spelled out in the building code. Washington State uses the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC), whereas other areas may use the International Residential Code (IRC). Planning starts with deciding on the number and type of plumbing fixtures you will have in your house. Next, you will use the tables in the code to figure out what size pipes to use for the drains and vents. The code dictates minimum pipe sizes and applies a number to each fixture called a “drainage fixture unit value” or DFU. That becomes important when you decide to combine drains or vents. The system would be pretty inefficient if every single fixture had its own independent drain and vent, all running separately into the sewer or septic. The code allows you to use larger pipe sizes than the minimums and combine smaller pipes into bigger ones as long as the total DFU in the pipe is below the maximum allowed for that particular pipe size. Additionally, each fixture must have a trap, and the codes spell out what size trap must be used for each fixture. A trap is the U-shaped part of the pipe you may have seen under your sink, and it’s a monumentally important part of the DWV system. Without a trap, noxious fumes from the sewer or septic tank would be free to travel directly into your home.  Water in the trap prevents those fumes from entering the house. Armed with this knowledge, you are now prepared to grab a piece of paper and a pencil (or a computer with CAD) and plan your very own DWV system. There is no wrong way to do it as long as you stay within the rules. But if you are wise about things you may be able to dramatically reduce the amount of piping you need to buy and install.  The best practice is to design the system before the framing has been started so that you can plumb in any hard-to-reach areas, as I did before installing the subfloor. Remember to include a slope Installing the plumbing is a relatively simple process that involves drilling holes in studs and joists, cutting the pipe to fit, and cementing the fittings to the pipe. The key is to always remember the old plumbing sage’s advice: “Don’t be a dope, slope.” Every drainpipe must be angled so that it descends towards the septic (or sewer) at the rate of 1/4 inch  for every foot of pipe. Vent pipes, on the other hand, should be installed level, or with only a very slight slope toward the drain. Flexible metal straps must be used to attach the pipes to the framing at least every 4 feet on a horizontal run. This will ensure that the slope is maintained even if the pipes get jostled in any way. Drain lines should be secured firmly with flexible metal strapping. I had already installed the drains for the first floor way back, before I poured the concrete slab on which the house is built. Furthermore, I had installed all of the vents and drains that ran through the load-bearing wall when I laid down the subfloor. This left very little plumbing to complete on the first story – basically just the stub-outs and vents for the kitchen and bathroom sinks, and excavation of the tub and toilet drains. Sink stub-outs are typically placed 19 inches above the floor level. I attached a test cap to the end of each stub-out, and once the entire DWV system has been installed I’ll fill all of the pipes with water to make sure I don’t have any leaks. If the water test is successful, I will cut off the test caps and install the traps for the sinks. After the stub-outs, the pipe continues as a vent up to the second story. Uncovering drains for tub and toilet One of the last things I did before pouring the slab was to place a cardboard box around the trap for the bathtub and fill it with gravel.  A thin layer of concrete had been skimmed over the top so the box was now completely invisible. I took a sledgehammer lightly to the spot where I knew the outer edges of the box were, and it cracked away pretty easily. Once the thin layer of concrete was removed, I was able to scoop out the rocks and uncover the trap. I was pleased to see that it was exactly 15 1/2 inches from the wall, which placed it right in the center of the tub. Later, I will use some leveling compound to ensure the area below the tub is perfectly level, and then connect the trap to a tailpiece that will link the drain and the overflow for the tub. Likewise, a thin film of concrete covered the drain for the toilet (also called a closet bend).  I had to chip it away so that I could align the metal ring correctly. In the photo below, you may be able to spot two mistakes I made during the concrete pour. The water supply for the toilet should come up inside the wall, but perhaps I didn’t secure it well enough and it got jostled during the pour. I will end up just plumbing it up out of the floor instead of out of the wall which is the standard practice. The supply line for the toilet should have been routed through the wall directly behind. In this case, that won’t be possible. The other mistake is that the toilet flange is supposed to sit up 1/4 inch or so above the concrete so that after the tile is set in place it is sitting on the tile. I will most likely have to cut it off, go out and buy a new one, and reattach it. If I leave it as is, the connection between the toilet and the flange will need to be filled with an extra wax ring or a spacer. Both methods are widely used but neither is as safe as just installing the flange at the correct height. When it comes to the possibility of dirty toilet water leaking, you can never be too safe! Drain lines installed between the joists For the second story, the drain lines run between the floor joists just under the subfloor. I drilled holes in the top plates of the first story walls and then installed the horizontal drains between the joists. There was just enough space to ensure they were adequately sloped. The photo below shows the stub-out for the washer and dryer.  You will notice there are two drains, one for the washer and one for the ventless dryer. Instead of venting the moist, hot air to the outside, as would be the case with a conventional dryer, this one will keep the heat in the house. The water drains out, just like the washer water. The rough-in for the washer and dryer drain has two outlets instead of one. The second drain will accommodate the ventless dryer. In addition, there were stubouts for the shower, two sinks, and another toilet. The closet bend for the second story is screwed down to the subfloor once it has been aligned in just the same fashion as the one on the first floor. After the stubouts, the vents continue up through the walls and connect above the bottom chord of the trusses.  To satisfy building code, at least three of the vents must continue through the roof. Through the roof The whole point of working on the plumbing first was to make it easier to install the shingles. I used interlocking aluminum shingles due to their proven record of longevity and their ability to stand up to the high winds and salty air of Point Roberts. As an added benefit, the shingles are made from 95% recycled material, and they reflect heat back into the building rather than absorb it like most roofs. One of the few downsides is that because the shingles interlock, the only way to adjust one of the shingles in the middle of the roof is to start removing them from the top corner and continue removing them until you get to the one you want to adjust. Obviously that wasn’t something I wanted to take a chance on having to do, and if I tried to just drill through the singles after they were installed they would get bent. The best approach was to complete the DWV system and install the vents through the roof before installing the shingles. According to building code, plumbing vents must extend a minimum of 6 inches above the roof.  Due to the slope of the roof, an oval shape must be cut out to accommodate the round pipe. Once the three vent pipes were brought through the roof, I glued test caps onto the two lower vents but left the highest one open. This completed the DWV system so that every single outlet was capped and sealed. Now it was time to test for leaks. I dragged a hose up to the uncapped vent and filled it up all the way to the top to ensure the entire system was filled. Then I turned a full water bottle upside down and placed it over the top. This gave me a reference to look at to check for leaks. If I could no longer see the water in the bottle, then there obviously would be a leak somewhere. Fortunately, I had done an adequate job of cementing all the ABS together and there were no leaks. The test caps will remain in place until the water supply system has been installed and tested, at which point I will be ready to have the building inspector come by to check everything. The only other roof penetration will be for the electrical connections to the rooftop solar array. I will be using a Soladeck to both protect the roof opening as a flashing and house the electrical connections all in one. The Soladeck can be positioned pretty much anywhere. I decided the best spot would be near the top of the solar array at the center of the roof ridge. The key was to position it so several of the screws would attach to one of the trusses, which will provide a much stronger connection than just attaching it to the roof sheathing. With all of the roof penetrations complete, I was ready to install the shingles. Other posts by Matt Bath: An Introduction Foundation Formwork Designing and Installing a Septic System Pouring the Slab Framing the First Floor Framing the Second Floor Framing the Roof Shingling the Roof Wall Sheathinglast_img read more

World Cup fever and Brazilians in India

first_imgAs the FIFA World Cup is upon us, table clocks of football fans will change the world over. Hosts Brazil, for their enviable World Cup record, continue to be the favourites. But not all in India who will turn all-nighters to watch the matches ‘Live’. Many would be just happy to back the favourites and stay connected with the carnival.For Roberto Da Silva (better known as Beto) and Jose Barreto, though both Brazilians, the occasion means a lot more to them. Barreto spent a decade playing top-level club football in India as he later roped in Beto to make a living, while they struggled for a break back home in the ultra competitive Brazilian football world. “It’s a first for those of our generation since we hosted the World Cup back in 1950. The atmosphere is great. There are a few protests. But it happens everywhere,” says Beto.He will miss the kick off on the 12th as he has to be at work. “I had to give away my ticket to someone before coming to India,” he says. Beto and Barreto will watch Brazil play Croatia in the tournament opener from India where they start their third in a series of football academies to help kids learn football – the Brazilian way.Both the footballers have taken their career call to make good money in India, otherwise ranked 140 odd in the FIFA rankings?. Their chance to give it a shot to become international stars or even performing club footballers at home has long gone for a toss.advertisementFor both, being players and coming from Brazil, they say, they feel for their national stars, who face the challenge of living upto the massive expectations of fans back home. “We can feel for our team?; there is a lot of pressure. It’s important to start well. If we don’t get positive results, then pressure will mount,” says Barretto.And that is the fear. While Brazil have been able to remain one of the giants of the modern game over the years, they are  hosting the World Cup after a gap of 64 years. “For us, if Brazil doesn’t move into the next round, it would be disastrous.  The mood is ‘we want to be champions’. As it is, finishing second and last means the same for Brazilians,” Beto attempts to simplify what expectation means back home these days.?Both back their team to reach the final, which they call “the best in recent times”?. But what if they fall short? They say in unison, “If not Brazil certainly not Argentina.””Anyone can win but not Argentina,” Barretto smilingly drives home his point. The Latin American rivalry coming to the fore. Brazil has beaten Argentina two of the four times they have met in the mega event but were pushed out by their arch rivals  in their last encounter in Italia ’90. Even as the Pele-Maradona greatness debate still rages on, it’s now over to the Neymars and Messis to keep the rivalry alive.If ever Brazil would fall short of support in this part of the world, the Beto and Barretto – Brazilian football academy in Goa, Kolkata and Mumbai will make up. Their cheer may not be riotous but will certainly be boisterous enough, when Neymar scores.last_img read more

7 Common (and Dangerous) Misconceptions About SEO

first_imgWith regular algorithm updates and new factors influencing search all the time, search engine optimization is a bit of a moving target these days. Add in the level of nuance that tends to surround search rank and you’ve created a perfect storm for misunderstanding and misattribution.Does factor X directly affect rank or merely influence it? What are the differences among Google+, Google’s +1s, and Google Authorship when it comes to search? How important are keywords and where do I put them now? I’ll stop there before my head starts to hurt. These are some of the biggest areas of confusion I’ve come across (and experienced myself) in learning about SEO.Below, you’ll find some clarification regarding these sometimes confusing aspects of SEO that could help make it easier for you to optimize your marketing efforts for search moving forward.Misconception #1: SEO is all about keywords and links.Keywords and links certainly play a role in SEO, but they aren’t the only factors. Everything from the mobile optimization of your site to the social virality of your content also influences your search rank.With the release of Hummingbird, Google is getting much better at understanding full queries in addition to just single keywords, which means placing your keywords at the very front of your title may not be as important.Reflecting the way that people have begun to search, Google is starting to recognize search queries in the context of the sentences around them —  even factoring location into some search queries. In a video released this summer, Google’s Matt Cutts noted that he thinks marketers spend too much energy on link building. Inbound links certainly help pages rank well, but it is better to focus on creating the sort of content that gets shared than finding places to plant links. More and more people are finding content through social media, so optimizing your content for social shares is also important. Bottom Line: Search is becoming more complex with more factors influencing rankings. The good news is this complexity adds nuance and an understanding of the context of the person searching. Write for people first, search engines second.Misconception #2: Bing doesn’t really matter. According to comScore’s October search engine rankings, Bing received 18.1% of searches in the U.S. in April 2013. It’s a figure that has doubled since 2009. While Bing may not be ready to overtake Google as the most widely used search engine, there’s plenty this data should make you think about.Bing’s Relationship With FacebookIn early 2013, Facebook introduced Graph Search and its partnership with Bing. Graph search enables people to search for places and things within their social reach — for example, “Restaurants in Key West liked by my friends.” But it can’t handle every search. For those it can’t, it defaults to a Bing search. Bing’s Relationship With YahooIn 2012, Bing became the engine which powers all Yahoo searches. Since the same comScore report puts Yahoo search traffic at 11.1% of the market, combining Yahoo and Bing, you’re now talking nearly 30% of searches. New Opportunities With BingBing’s algorithm is a little less complex than Google’s and prioritizes slightly different things, so if you’re in a competitive space and have had trouble with Google, Bing might present some new opportunities to you.Keyword Data From BingAs noted above, this year, Google began encrypting all keyword data from its users’ searches, cutting marketers short when it comes to keyword insights. Bing, on the other hand, still provides marketers with keyword data. While that doesn’t change your prospective customers’ search behavior, there is more opportunity for you to learn from the keywords that have brought in Bing searchers. Bottom Line: Optimizing for Google should probably still be your main approach, but Bing is on the move. Strategic partnerships with Facebook and Yahoo, make the search engine an interesting force for some marketers. Misconception #3: ‘Keyword (not provided)’ means the end of SEO.Google’s move to encrypt all keywords would be the worst thing ever if SEO were entirely about keywords. Thankfully, it’s not.Instead of focusing on the keywords that brought visitors to your site, focus on the content. For instance, it’s best to go to your analytics and see which pages on your site had the highest portion of visitors from organic search (regardless of the keywords). What is the focus of those pages?  You can even go to Google and type in a few of the phrases you want to be found for. How do you currently rank for them? Focus your next quarter on creating useful relevant content fort those phrases, then compare your ranking to the original benchmark. Were you able to move the needle?Also, talk and listen to customers about what they were seeking when they found you, and focus on getting your content spread across social channels.Search Engine Watch has even more options in this informative post: Google ‘(Not Provided)’ Keywords: 10 Ways to Get Organic Search Data.Bottom Line: It’s an inconvenience that Google encrypted its keyword data, but it’s not the end of days. SEO is about creating relevant and spreadable content, so focus on that. Misconception #4: I can get a good inbound link by linking to my site from the comments.This one has mostly been put to rest, but I thought I’d include it for good measure.Inbound links to your website are like votes of confidence for your content and have a positive impact on your page’s ranking, but inbound links should be earned. Leaving links behind in the comments section of a blog isn’t going to help you in that area. Most blogs have “no follow” instructions built into their comments section to avoid spam. Just as it sounds, “no follow” instructs the search engine crawlers to ignore any links within the comments. It’s certainly not bad to occasionally link to relevant content in the comments you leave. In fact, if it’s an insightful comment, it may get you some good traffic — it’s just not likely to increase your search rank directly. And be careful not to overdo it. “Having a large portion of those backlinks coming from blog comments, it can raise red flags with Google,” explains Search Engine Watch. Bottom Line: Leave links in comments when they make sense or allow readers to learn more about your comment. Don’t expect them to help with SEO.Misconception #5: Subheaders are important for on-page SEO.I found a number of differing opinions on this, so it might be one to keep an eye on, but by and large, SEO consensus seems to be that for ranking on Google, subheaders H2 through H6 don’t actually carry much weight. They do have value in terms of accessibility, user experience, and reinforcing semantics, or meaning, of the content on the page, but they don’t add much for SEO. The main header tag, or H1, does have some SEO value, but even that seems limited, according to the experts. Pitstop Media has a really in-depth post on H1 headings, if you want to dive in. Bottom Line: Use subheaders to improve your site’s accessibility and HTML semantics. Put keywords in your subheaders if they help convey the message of the content underneath, but avoid keyword stuffing.Misconception #6: Google +1s directly affect search.Every two years, the search pros at Moz run a scientific correlation study to examine what webpage qualities are associated with high ranks on Google. In its most recent study, the company highlighted an interesting conclusion. What it found, Moz’s Cyrus Shepard explains, was this: “After Page Authority, a URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor. In fact, the correlation of Google +1s beat out other well known metrics including linking root domains, Facebook shares, and even keyword usage.” Once released, the interpretation of these findings got a little warped into a belief that +1s on Google were directly leading to higher search ranks — a classic correlation-causation debate, but it caused a bit of a kerfuffle.With one-click retweets and the common act of paraphrasing online, some began to interpret this discovery as a sign that that Google was actively giving more search credit to pages that had earned Google +1s. Google’s Matt Cutts even joined in to state clearly that Google +1s do not directly lead to a higher search rankings, saying:”If you make compelling content, people will link to it, like it, share it on Facebook, +1 it, etc. But that doesn’t mean that Google is using those signals in our ranking. Rather than chasing +1s of content, your time is much better spent making great content.”So why does matter? After working through some of the debate, Shepard added some thoughts to his original posts which focused more on Google+ as a platform rather than the act of voting on a post through +1s. He explained:”It’s clear that Google doesn’t use the raw number of +1s directly in its search algorithm, but Google+ posts have SEO benefits unlike other social platforms.”For example, Shepard noted, content on Google+ gets crawled almost immediately and, unlike Facebook or LinkedIn, Google+ posts are treated as blog posts with unique URLs and title tags. Bottom Line: Posting to Google+ as a platform has search value, while clicking the +1 button on posts just correlates to good content. Misconception #7: Google Authorship drives higher rankings.The answer to this one is no — at least not yet. Establishing Google Authorship involves adding Rel=Author tags to your content and linking your Google+ page back to your blog.Authorship helps Google attribute a collection of content to its author, which doesn’t add to that content’s rank, but DOES make your content stand out on the search engine result page by adding an image to your search result.In the example below, you can see I’m not the first result for the search, but because of authorship, my result includes the picture.In a really well-written post over on our Insiders blog, Gray MacKenzie summarizes the value of this well:”Your goal isn’t high rankings for the purpose of high rankings — you want to rank well so that you drive more quality traffic to your site. One important metric for growing your search traffic is your clickthrough rate (CTR). How many people who see your page in Google results actually click through to your site? Google Authorship puts a face and a name to the search engine results, helping to build trust, communicate relevance, establish credibility, and improve CTR — in some cases by upwards of 150%.”Bottom Line: Authorship doesn’t increase rank (for now), but it does grab searchers’ attention and increase clickthrough rate, so you should absolutely still do it.To attach an image to your search results, use this helpful tutorial from MacKenzie. (Note: If you’re a HubSpot customer using the COS blog, the Rel=Author tag is already built into your author profiles, so you only need to do the first part and add your author profile in HubSpot.)I hope that cleared a few things up. Since SEO is an evolving space, we may very well revisit this topic again (and soon).If you know of any other confusing areas you’d like us to address or can think of a better way to explain what I’ve laid out here, let us know in the comments! SEO Mistakes Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: Originally published Dec 11, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017last_img read more

Announcing the 30-Day Blog Challenge Winners

first_img Blog Optimization Topics: Attention all 30-Day Blog Challenge participants! It’s the day you’ve all been waiting for. We’re excited to announce our three 30-Day Blog Challenge winners.First off, let’s give a big round of applause to all of the participants. We had 1,062 companies participate in the challenge and saw some really phenomenal results from their blogging efforts. Even if you aren’t one of our winners, we’re thrilled to see your success in growing blog traffic and leads through this challenge.Now, without further ado, here are our blog challenge winners (in no particular order). Varonis: The Metadata EraThe Varonis blog is about big data, IT operations, security, and technology. It’s not easy to write engaging and exciting content about this industry — and yet, Varonis does a fantastic job at making the content interesting and easy to read for people who aren’t necessarily in or familiar with the industry.For instance, here are some examples of its blog posts:”Is 2014 the Year We Get Serious About Cyber Attacks?””Cryptography May Not Be Dead, but It Is on Life Support””My Credit Card Was Stolen (Again). It’s OK. Here’s Why.”Varonis’ blog post titles pull you in (I may not know what cryptography is, but I definitely want to know why it’s on life support), and the blog content itself keeps you engaged and interested.Oh, and did we mention Varonis’ blog saw amazing results from the challenge?:36% more leads168% increase in blog traffic to a total of 16,220 page viewsOver 6,000 page views for one blog postCongratulations, Varonis!Too Cool T-shirt Quilts: All About T-shirt Quilts BlogHow many topics do you think you could come up with about creating T-shirt quilts? Andrea Funk showed us she was more than capable of finding unique angles to cover on her blog, as she wrote one post every day during January as part of the Blog Challenge on her Too Cool T-shirt Quilts’ Blog. Andrea started off by using HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator but soon found that the more she blogged, the more topic ideas easily came to mind. And her content is fascinating.On the blog, Andrea covers everything from different types of T-shirt quilts (for example, “A His & Her Quilt and College Quilts”), to the history of T-shirt quilts, to what Miley Cyrus and T-shirt quilts have in common.Not bad for a one-person operation, right?Andrea told us, “My blog quality improved. As with anything, practice makes you better. Writing a blog a day did that for me. The time it takes to write a blog has been cut in half, while the quality has gone up.”In addition to improved quality, Andrea saw improved metrics:109% more leads388% increase in the number of blog posts written52% increase in blog trafficCongratulations, Andrea!Marketplicity: Web Design & Digital Marketing As its blog name denotes, Marketplicity’s blog focuses on web design and digital marketing — but the content isn’t just your regular design and marketing content.On the blog, you’ll find posts about eye-opening marketing experiments (“My Facebook Campaign got 28,000 Impressions – It was a Total Failure”), to in-depth survey results and commentary, to analysis of major studies.The results from Marketplicity’s blogging efforts? Pretty fantastic, if you ask us:80% increase in blog traffic (including 2,758 unique visitors)79% increase in page views to a total of 4,321 page views61% increase in organic search traffic20% increase in social traffic400% increase in email subscribersCheck out more of Marketplicity’s results by reading its 30-Day Blog Challenge Recap post.Congratulations, Marketplicity!To all three of our winners, look out for an email from me to award your free INBOUND ticket. If anyone else is interested in tickets for this year’s INBOUND conference, pre-order them for a discounted price before February 13!What did you learn from the 30-Day Blog Challenge? Share your takeaways with us in the comments. 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 Feb 7, 2014 6:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017last_img read more

How to Optimize Your Page Titles for Mobile Search [Quick Tip]

first_img On-page SEO Topics: Originally published Feb 19, 2014 4:30:00 PM, updated February 01 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 Mobile continues to change the way that we search, explore, and shop, and as consumer behavior comes further into focus, there are clear opportunities for marketers to take advantage. Mobile is always on for consumers, so marketers need to make sure their mobile search strategies are reaching people in these different search contexts.According to the Mobile Movement, a study by Google, 77% of smart phone users visit search engines. And page titles are the first thing that mobile searchers evaluate when browsing search results on their phone. The closer you can match your page titles to their search queries, then, the higher the likelihood that a user will click through to your content.Despite its apparent simplicity, the title of a page is an important marketing tool that allows you to create content that’s optimized for internet presence, and facilitates navigation for your audience. Try not to think of a title as a feature of a page (or website), but as a property that affects the entire page by setting the tone and context of that page itself — it’s your first impression.Here, take a look at an example of a well optimized title, and then we’ll break down the elements to replicate in your own page titles.Optimizing your page titles for mobile search is really simple. Here’s what you should look out for:Aim to limit your page title to only 45 characters, unlike for desktop which is 65 characters.Position your primary keywords toward the front of the title.Continue to apply SEO best practices. That means no keyword stuffing, and maintaining a title that reads naturally.As a bonus tip, take a look at your site’s analytics (Google Webmaster Tools offers great insight as well) to see what keywords consumers use when on mobile versus desktop. It’ll help you make good keyword decisions when titling your page.Not too hard, right? Let me know what other common SEO questions you have that I can try to answer in future blog posts.last_img read more

Why You Might Already Be in Ecommerce

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Ecommerce Marketing Originally published Apr 3, 2015 10:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Most companies don’t think of themselves as ecommerce, but if you’re using your website to sell a product, you are in ecommerce! Adding the high-volume and fast sales cycle ecommerce business to any existing website can allow you to learn more about your customers, learn it faster, and make money as you do. Here’s a quick crash course in how to make the most of your ecommerce capabilities — from what you can sell to how to start selling, and how to set yourself up for ecommerce success. What Type of Products Can You Sell?Even if it’s just a tshirt or a book, it’s ecommerce. For example, you can sell: Simple products: this could be a book, a digital product, a tshirt — anything that customers or advocates could buy.Bundles: you can put multiple products together to raise the average sale price and add more value to every transaction.Donations: for some nonprofits, the only ecommerce aspect they need is to be able to accept credit card payments for donations.Subscriptions: a monthly recurring subscription, much like a software as a service business, is a profitable great business model.4 Ways You Might Already Be Set Up For Ecommerce Success:1) Responsive DesignAs more traffic goes mobile, it’s vital that the product presentation is easily viewed on any device. Expecting someone to pinch and squint then input their credit card is unrealistic today. There are still ecommerce sites running antiquated non-responsive designs. Some shopping carts even charge extra for to be responsive, which is part of all HubSpot subscriptions. And with the new Google algorithm changes, it’s going to be more and more critical for your ecommerce site to be responsive — and your products to look great on any devices. 2) FastAs you add more data (and more products) to your ecommerce sites, the load time is vital. Load time can make the difference in a visitor adding a product to their cart or just leaving. The HubSpot servers load the images, videos and content faster than most self-hosted ecommerce solutions.3) PersonalizationThe biggest sin of ecommerce is that we count unique visitors and then treat them all the same. For any content to convert it must have context. Personalization allows ecommerce merchants to welcome return visitors by name, show special pricing, and even show country-specific content on the first visit.4) Lifetime ValueMost ecommerce is focused on a quick, efficient transaction. Today that is a given to get the first order. The smartest marketers and brands are focusing on the lifetime value of customers. Inbound marketing goes beyond the transaction to build a relationship with post-transactional nurturing and segmentation, to help continually add value.3 Ways You Can Start Selling:There are three major ways you can start selling and taking payments through HubSpot. 1) Integrate a standalone full shopping cart.When most people think ecommerce, they think of a large stand-alone shopping cart. Some of the biggest, like Magento, Shopify, and BigCommerce have integrations with HubSpot. These sites typically have a separate subdomain and hosting. While there are additional monthly costs for the hosting and integration, this solution may be best for those that need to use third party logistics (3PL), sell through multiple channels (brick and mortar, eBay, Amazon, etc.), or have inventory allocation needs.2) Add PayPal buttons.This an easy way to accept payments right from your HubSpot website. You simply need to make a button in your PayPal account. Then cut and paste the HTML code to your page. In under 10 minutes, you can start taking payments. Integrating PayPal with HubSpot so you can automatically capture the customer information can be done using Zapier. 3) Use FoxyCart.FoxyCart is a solution typically used by large enterprise sized companies that want to add ecommerce to an existing content management system (CMS).  It was made by developers for developers, so they could accept payments in whatever architecture they were building. FoxyCart is a standalone shopping cart that just does the credit card transactions. After adding the code to the header of your portal, you then add code to all of your “Add to Cart” buttons. From the customer experience, it appears that they remain on your site. The customer gets post-nurturing transactions on both the order and the credit card processing. FoxyCart naturally fits into the look of your pages.Did You Know HubSpot Does Ecommerce, Too?Check out HubShop where advocates can easily buy products to be walking billboards for a brand they love.The higher volume, faster sale cycle, and ease of automation makes ecommerce ideal for HubSpot. Sellers can learn and implement quickly. For those companies not primarily focused on ecommerce, adding this functionality to their current HubSpot site can allow them to learn faster and delight their customer. With little additional expense in some cases, it can also be a way to get even better return on investment (ROI). Topics:last_img read more

Are Publishers Measuring Success Correctly?

first_img Topics: Originally published Jun 16, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Marketing Analytics For digital publishers, there is no shortage of data you can glean from your website. Rather than waste efforts trying to drink from this fire hose of information, you should instead determine which metrics are worth paying close attention to—and when.What Are You Trying to Measure?Before you can begin looking at individual stats, you should first stop and separate out the key goals you have in pursuing this data—the areas of your business you need to track, optimize for, and pay attention to in order to offer advertisers a worthy value proposition.  Generally speaking, this comes down the three things: 1) Outreach MetricsTraffic-producing keywords, site visits, headline clicks, social media shares and engagements, etc.These are metrics that help you understand how you’re succeeding or failing at getting eyes on your page. A failure at the outreach stage can result in low traffic (or high-volume, low-value traffic).2) Sales MetricsConversion rates, ad impressions, ad clicksThese metrics indicate your ability to make visitors transition to potential customers—your ability to sell your readers on a course of action. When your readers won’t take action, these metrics help indicate why. 3) Value MetricsQualified lead rates, number of SQLs, pipeline generated, sales-per-lead, advertiser ROIHere is where real ROI numbers begin to develop. Publishers should think like marketers by setting goals and tracking long-term progress using these metrics; developing outreach and sales efforts without considering the value of the effort is bad for business.There is, of course, going to be overlap—some metrics matter a great deal to two or even all three areas. Finding Value in Publishing Industry MetricsDigital publishing industry metrics associated with outreach and sales have been discussed at length, to the point where most every publisher understands them. What many articles skim over however, is that the worth behind these metrics alone has dropped markedly in recent years as content loses it’s independent allure. Instead, digital publishers should be paying increased attention to the third group: Value metrics—the metrics that advertisers really care about.While outreach and sales numbers play a major role in illustrating site and content performance, value metrics inform to a great degree whether traffic and engagement is actually making an impact on revenue. More people clicking on an article or ad is a good thing, but proving that those visitors are transitioning into qualified leads and paying customers matters more.First, it’s important to understand how traditional marketing lifecycle stages translate for a publisher:Subscriber: People who regularly visit your site and read your contentLead: Readers who have shown additional interest by filling out a form or converting on your site in some wayMarketing Qualified Lead (MQL): Leads whose personal or professional information indicates that they’re particularly valuable to you or your advertisersSales Qualified Lead (SQL): Leads who your sales team or your advertisers consider worth direct follow-upOpportunity: Leads who become real sales opportunities in your CRMCustomer: Subscribers or contacts who have made a purchase from one of your advertisers as a result of your sponsored content campaignEvangelist: Satisfied customers who refer new business to youWith this in mind, your ability to generate MQLs and SQLs is extremely indicative of your site’s ability to monetize visitors for advertisers. If you’re generating a high value of qualified leads, but still unable to create worthwhile ROI from them, it may be one indication that you’re not creating the right content offers or need to improve your lead-handoff proccess with advertisers.So where do the ‘opportunity’ and ‘customer’ lifecycle stages fit into the picture? Connecting the dots between the first time a visitor lands on your site and these two stages is one great strategy publishers can use to ultimately prove-out ROI for their advertisers. Having a closed-loop reporting system in place, with one unified database, is crucial for measuring this outcome. When you understand which leads are converting to customers and which are not, you can begin to edit and optimize your outreach and sales strategies. For example, if your visitor to contact or contact to opportunity rate for a particular workflow, like: SEO > landing page > newsletter > email nurturing > sponsored seminarleads to more profit for your advertisers than one like:social media clicks > landing page > subscribed reader > native advertisementyou gain insight into what’s hidden behind your other top of the funnel site metrics.When final ROI becomes a tangible number rather than a theoretical goal, you can use your other metrics more efficiently to improve your publishing and profitability together. The actionable data that you find at the bottom of the funnel is what proves your site is a sound investment for advertisers. Don’t forget to share this post! 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20 Essential Books, Podcasts, TED Talks & Blog Posts for Every Stage of Your Career

first_img 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? 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Content Marketing A to Z: 40 Tips, Tricks & Tactics for Mastering Content Creation and Promotion [Infographic]

first_imgWhether you’re a seasoned content marketing connoisseur or you’re just getting your content marketing sea legs, it’s never a bad idea to review the basics.From doing keyword research, to guest blogging, to sharing content across different social platforms, there are a lot of different levers content marketers can pull. In their new infographic, “A to Z of Content Marketing: A 40 Point Content Marketing Checklist,” the team at PageTraffic helps us understand all of the different content marketing tactics and channels available.Download 195+ visual marketing design templates to use for social media posts, infographics, and more. While your company may not need to use all of the options you see below, being familiar with them can definitely help inform your overall content strategy. Originally published Apr 15, 2016 6:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Topics: Content Marketingcenter_img 84Save84Save Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

5 Smart Ways Marketers Can Prepare for Unexpected Changes

first_img 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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