Google’s decision to reorganize itself around A.I. was the first major manifestation of what has become an industrywide machine-learning delirium. Over the past four years, six companies in particular — Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and the Chinese firm Baidu — have touched off an arms race for A.I. talent, particularly within universities. Corporate promises of resources and freedom have thinned out top academic departments. It has become widely known in Silicon Valley that Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, personally oversees, with phone calls and video-chat blandishments, his company’s overtures to the most desirable graduate students. Starting salaries of seven figures are not unheard-of. Attendance at the field’s most important academic conference has nearly quadrupled. What is at stake is not just one more piecemeal innovation but control over what very well could represent an entirely new computational platform: pervasive, ambient artificial intelligence.
Late one Friday night in early November, Jun Rekimoto, a distinguished professor of human-computer interaction at the University of Tokyo, was online preparing for a lecture when he began to notice some peculiar posts rolling in on social media. Apparently Google Translate, the company’s popular machine-translation service, had suddenly and almost immeasurably improved. Rekimoto visited Translate himself and began to experiment with it. He was astonished. He had to go to sleep, but Translate refused to relax its grip on his imagination.
Home builders are constantly on the hunt for the latest ideas to improve their presence on social media. A quick search for the phrase social media for home builders delivers a slew of tips, tricks and success stories of home builders using social media to drive more leads and sales. The latest research from the 2015-16 Home Buyer Conversion Report helps us look at social media in the home builder industry from the perspective of the home buyer.
This year’s survey data on sales technology makes one thing abundantly clear: It’s time for sales and marketing tech vendors to have an integration conversation. “Lack of integration” tied for respondents’ #1 CRM challenge with “manual data entry,” the #1 challenge in 2015.
There’s always room to improve the handoff between Marketing and Sales, and our data shows marketing and sales teams need to continually communicate and refine their SLA, even if there’s already one in place.
Over the past few years, we’ve established the challenges and priorities for marketing and sales teams in the State of Inbound report. This year, we introduced a new angle in our study: do marketers believe in their organization’s marketing strategy?
Marketers today are focused on converting the visitors they attract into leads and customers. Next is growing traffic to their website, followed by increasing revenue from existing customers (upselling). Clearly, the mandate marketers received is: “Keep the engine running” with a keen eye toward monetizing their marketing activities.
For the last eight years, HubSpot surveyed thousands of marketers and salespeople around the globe about their challenges, priorities, and strategies in marketing and sales. The result is a testament to the trends and growth of inbound, something you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.
The overall theory: Segment the target demographic and create a persona. Decide the 4 Ps. Create an overall strategy that assigns weights to each part of the Promotion Mix. Choose the messaging. Select the best online and offline channels. Produce the marketing collateral. Transmit to the audience. Measure the results.
Few take the time to research the facts, and instead just regurgitate whatever spews forth from the digital marketing echo chamber. And most people are selling something. An advertising consultant or SEO agency is always going to say, respectively, that advertising or SEO is the solution to everything.
Google transformed the marketing industry. However, the introduction and widespread adoption of GA pushed marketers to change their focus from the strategy to the channel (this is a screenshot from an old client of mine back when I was a consultant):
Traditional marketing allocates activities based on the strategies that comprise the traditional Promotion Mix: direct marketing, advertising, personal selling, sales promotion and publicity. Google Analytics replaced those “buckets” with these entirely new ones: direct, organic search, social, referral, paid search, email and display.
However, that shift in assumption has led to poor marketing because almost any strategy can be executed over any channel — and it is strategies, not channels, that have associated best practices and deliver results.
Take “social media marketing,” a vague, useless phrase that refers to channels but not to any specific strategy:
Direct marketing campaigns (that are inaccurately called “advertising campaigns”) get direct responses from a specific set of people on social media based on their demographics and what they “like”
Advertising campaigns put paid media published by an identified sponsor in front of a mass audience on social media
Publicity campaigns gain mass exposure through earned or owned media that is spread on social media
Personal selling campaigns have salespeople contact prospects and leads over social media
Sales promotion campaigns circulate coupons, discounts and codes on social media to generate immediate sales
Each of these five things can be deemed “social media marketing” — but when a term means everything, it means nothing. The five traditional strategies have best practices, as well as times and places to use — and NOT to use — them within an overall marketing plan.
To ask “What is the ROI of social media?” makes as much sense as asking “What’s the ROI of the telephone?”
By not using and knowing the traditional terminology that the marketing industry uses for precise reasons, marketers are only hurting themselves and their own campaigns.
When one now looks at Google Analytics and sees the results, for example, in the “Social” bucket, it’s rarely clear which of these strategies and activities delivered which results. The same is true for almost all of the “buckets” that appear in online marketing analytics. The strategic activity matters more than the communications channel. The channel merely dictates the format of the marketing collateral and content that one creates within an overall strategy.
To ask “What is the ROI of social media?” makes as much sense as asking “What’s the ROI of the telephone?” Activities, not channels, generate ROI. But after Google Analytics and every other marketing platform defined “social media” and other channels as buckets, and therefore as marketing strategies, people have confused strategies and channels ever since.
The positive thing about GA is that we can know which channels tend to perform the best. The negative thing about GA is that we know less about which specific, overall strategies and activities over those channels lead the best results.
When marketers brainstorm campaigns, they typically ask these questions, in this order:
Who is our target audience and what are our goals?
What is the best message for that audience?
In light of our goals, which strategies within the Promotion Mix — advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, direct selling and publicity — should we use to communicate that message?
What are the best online and/or offline channels for that strategy to reach that audience?
What marketing collateral and creatives should we create and transmit based on the answers to the prior four questions?
How can we measure the results based on which metrics are relevant to each strategy within the Promotion Mix that we will use?
The strategy, message and marketing collateral matter more than the channel.
Here’s a publicity example. Say that someone uses the various tactics that I describe in my publicity tutorial on Moz to get a New York Times reporter to write about his company. The resulting article will appear in print, on the website and on the Amazon Kindle. The article will be spread on social media and shared in online forums and news aggregators. And so on. This is why there is actually no such thing as “digital PR.” It’s just “PR.” The best publicity practices to get coverage never change, regardless of the channels over which the coverage will appear.
It is strategies, not channels, that have associated best practices and deliver results.
Here’s a direct marketing example. Say that one writes advertising copy to generate direct-response leads. That same copy will often deliver similar results — subject to specific, individual format restrictions of each channel — across platforms, including direct mail, email, Facebook ads and Google AdWords, because human nature does not change.
There’s something comforting about the traditional sales funnel stages for B2B salespeople and marketers. You know that if you toss a certain number of leads in at the top, you can expect a (small) percentage of deals to shake out at the bottom.
It’s just like lining up tons of online dates hoping to find ‘The One’.
I think I have some pipeline problems…
However, the good ol’ sales funnel isn’t holding up as well as it used to.
The reason? They’re scared to make a wrong decision. No one wants to waste time and resources, especially if it means losing their job (or getting dumped—not sure which is worse). And, in these digitally-connected days, there’s no excuse for not doing in-depth vendor research.
Let’s hope the next person you date NEVER sees your search history.
All of this means your sales funnel stages (or dating pipeline) is a minefield of potential relationship killers and exit points.
Is this seriously the best email nurture you could write? I’m done.
Read on to learn why and where your prospects are dropping out of your pipeline, and how to prevent them from straying. (Consider the dating advice a free bonus!)
1) Flirting: the awareness stage
Getting someone’s attention in a crowd can be tough, no matter how tight your value prop is.
Unless you’re this person:
No one can resist gold lamé. It’s a fact.
It doesn’t matter what your reps or marketing messages say; prospects don’t trust them. If buyers haven’t heard of your product or talked to someone who has used your product, they won’t feel comfortable giving you their contact info or answering a cold call.
How to get their digits: Don’t be an unknown to your prospects. This doesn’t mean plastering your logo everywhere or posting more from your corporate social media accounts.
Get some mutual friends to intervene on your behalf: your brand advocates. If you uncover these super fans, and treat them right, their genuine enthusiasm and product expertise will ease your prospects’ buyer doubt at every stage in the sales funnel.
Incentivize your advocates to make introductions to their peers—who likely have potential matches for your brand in their Rolodexes. Starting a referral program, or running a referral contest, can help you kickstart the process. The key is making sure you thank your advocates in an appropriate way for making an introduction—especially if it turns into new business.
2) Dating: the interest stage
So buyers have heard your name. Big deal. They’ve still got lots of choice, and they will string you along until they’ve made a decision.
Why is love—and B2B sales—so cruel?
While you may have potential to make the vendor shortlist, they need to know that you can deliver on your promises. And it’s going to take more than a few case studies to make that happen, especially if they want their friends’—err, I mean coworkers’—approval before they make a choice.
You need to surround your prospects (and all key decision makers) with social proof from people they trust. It’s even more powerful when it comes from channels you don’t own. A hand-picked testimonial on your website isn’t enough.
Courting your prospects: Make sure your online reputation on 3rd-party resources—like review sites, industry forums and social media—is pristine. If prospects only find negative comments—or nothing at all—in these places, they’ll suddenly become really busy, you know, because work is so hectic right now, and they just aren’t sure what they want anymore…
If you position the request as a chance to boost their professional profile, they’ll be appreciative. Make sure to internally and externally recognize them for their help. Feature their comments in a newsletter, blog or a thank you tweet to keep the buzz going.
3) Ready to commit: the decision stage
What happens when a buyer is ready to seal the deal, but can’t find a good reference to confirm your sales rep’s promises right away? They get spooked.
My mom is very objective. Plus, her raisin muffins are THE BEST!
The problem with references is prospects often demand to talk to *really* specific ones. It can take your team days to search Salesforce for a senior manager in an identical vertical at a company with a similar team size, business model, revenue level and location. Oh, and who is really happy with your product/service right now.
Sealing the deal: Most reference programs don’t help you continually (and easily) uncover new, relevant customers for your prospects to talk to. They also don’t prepare customers to be superb references. If you want to make sure you can quickly turn around reference requests, you need to do a few things:
Have a way to continually invite and uncover new references so you don’t burn out the handful of customers you always turn to
Make reference requests a volunteer opportunity, and position them as a chance to network with others
Continually engage and educate references so they can easily and happily discuss your product
This means setting up new systems for grooming references and making sure the process is valuable for everyone involved.
4) Marriage: the retention stage
What happens after your prospects say “I do”? Usually, this is the moment sales and marketing disappear. That’s a shame, because oftentimes, a buyer’s anxiety kicks in soon after that new signing glow fades—especially if on-boarding doesn’t go smoothly.
Now, all the promises made during the buying process are left to the customer success and support teams to fulfill.
“Aaaaand half of the features in this contract aren’t out of beta…”
Retention is the most ignored stage of the sales funnel. If you aren’t actively engaging new customers from Day 1, their insecurity will grow. Then, by the time contract renewal rolls around, they’ll churn.
More importantly, these neglected customers won’t help fuel your sales funnel stages by advocating for you.
Keeping the honeymoon phase alive: Make sure you’re regularly educating your advocates and helping them build connections with your team and each other. You can do this by building an online community and hosting local meet-ups. If you give your advocates personal connections and opportunities to grow, they’ll be more inclined to stick around and become vocal champions for your brand.
Need Traffic This Week? Here Are Inbound Marketing Tactics To Put People On Your Site Today
Inbound marketing is great, but what are you supposed to do if you need to increase website traffic and visitors to your website? No matter how many offers you add, if you’re only seeing 300 visitors a month even the best-converting sites would deliver a meager 10 leads. And if only 10% are sales-ready leads, that’s just one sales opportunity a month. Not the kind of mind-blowing results inbound promises.
The answer is to quickly drive new visitors to the site and maintain a high conversion rate. This might require an extra budget, but if the return is there you should be comfortable investing a little extra money to get a big return in a short amount of time.
Facebook now has over 1.65 billion monthly active users. And as small business owners and brand managers, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to reach and connect with your target audience through Facebook.
Great! So where should you start? And is there an easy blueprint to follow?
From creating our Facebook Business page to posting several hundred times over the past few years, we’ve experimented a lot with various Facebook marketing tips and have enjoyed figuring out the best way to create and manage our Facebook page here at Buffer. I’d love to share with you how the process has worked so far from start until now!
Since things continue to change regularly with Facebook and its algorithm, consider this A to Z guide as a great jumping off point for creating a Facebook business page and growing your audience. Start here, test what works for your individual business and brand, and make changes as you learn.
How to Create a Facebook Business Page in 5 Simple Steps
Step 1: Fill out your basic business info
Open the following URL to create a business page on Facebook:
Once there, you’ll choose one of the following six categories for your page:
Local business or place
Company, organization, or institution
Brand or product
Artist, band, or public figure
Cause or community
Keep in mind that you can change the category and name later on if needed.
Also, at this stage, it might be helpful to know that a physical address figures prominently in the setup of a local business or place, and the actual Facebook page will appear differently as well.
Here’s the look for a local business:
Here’s the look for a company or brand:
It’s something to think about when choosing a category.
Following the category selection, the next setup screen will ask for a descriptive sentence or two about your page, a URL, a Facebook page URL, and a profile picture. If you’ve selected a local business, you’ll also have the ability to select category tags to further define what your store sells.
About your page – You get 155 characters to describe your page. This description appears prominently near the top of your Facebook page on both desktop and mobile. Be as descriptive and helpful as possible.
URL – The web address for your store, company, or brand.
Facebook URL / username – You may have the option to choose a custom vanity URL for your page, i.e. facebook.com/yourbrandname.
Profile picture – Upload a main profile picture/icon for your page. This photo will appear as your icon every time you comment on a post or publish in a news feed. Square dimensions are best. Facebook will force rectangular photos to be cropped to squares.
Profile pictures should be at least 180 pixels wide by 180 pixels tall. Here is a full list of the sizesthat Facebook uses for your profile picture in various places around the site:
The main profile image on your page – 160 x 160
In a news feed – 100 x 100
In your timeline – 86 x 86
Next to comments – 43 x 43
The final two steps in the setup process include adding your page to your main Facebook menu (so you can access it quickly and easy each time you log in) and setting up a Facebook ad to promote your new page. These options can be skipped for now.
Step 2: Create an awesome cover image in a snap (no designer required!)
By this point, your page is live for all the world to visit. Let’s see if we can make it look even snazzier.
A note on ideal Facebook cover photo size and dimensions:
Facebook cover photos appear at 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall on desktop, however, Facebook crops out some of each cover photo on mobile devices. It specifically strips out 144 pixels off the right and left sides of the image.
You can certainly hire a designer to make you something fabulous, or you can go the DIY route. Many photo editing apps like Pic Monkey or BeFunky can help with creating images of just the right dimensions. If you’re a Photoshop user, we’ve created a couple of Facebook cover photo templates that might be helpful. Canva is another super helpful tool for Facebook cover photos as it comes with several premade templates that look great right out of the box.
Here’s an example of a Canva template you could choose. You can upload your own image to use as the background, and you can edit the text to say whatever you’d like. If you’re looking for high-quality image options, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite sources for free social media images.
Once you have created your cover image, upload it to your page by clicking on the “Add a Cover” button.
If you happen to upload an image that isn’t quite the exact dimensions of the Facebook cover, you’ll have a chance to move and edit the image to fit the available window. When you’re happy with the final look, you can click “Save Changes,” and you’ll be set!
Here’s a pro tip: When you upload a cover photo to your page, the photo is added as an update to your timeline. If you edit the description of the photo, you can add a message to the update. Click on the photo to open up the photo viewer, and you’ll notice a link that says “Add a description.”
You can add description, tags, location, and date to your photo. Once you’ve finished, the update to your timeline will be changed to reflect your edits.
Step 3: Fill out your profile completely
Next, you can fill out your profile even more by adding information to your Page Info section. To access this section, click on Settings in the top menu bar on your page, then click Page Info.
Your name and category will be filled in already. Some of the most helpful bits of information to add next might be:
Start Info – You can choose when your company or product was founded, created, started, or launched. This information will appear on the history timeline to the right of your page’s feed and as an update at the very bottom of your main feed.
Address – Enter this if you want people to be able to check in via Facebook when they’re near your place.
Long description & Mission – Add additional details that explain your business or brand even further. This is a great way to go beyond the 155 character description that appears on the main page.
Phone number / Email address – Add additional contact information.
All of these details will appear on the About tab of your Facebook page.
Step 4: Add collaborators to your page
If you plan on sharing your Facebook marketing duties with a team, you’ll want to grant access for various folks and various roles.
Here are the roles that you can choose from:
Admin – Complete and total access to everything (you are an admin by default)
Editor – Can edit the Page, send messages and post as the Page, create Facebook ads, see which admin created a post or comment, and view insights.
Moderator – Can respond to and delete comments on the Page, send messages as the Page, see which admin created a post or comment, create ads, and view insights.
Advertiser – Can see which admin created a post or comment, create ads and view insights.
Analyst – Can see which admin created a post or comment and view insights.
To add collaborators, go to your page settings and the “Page Roles” section. You can type in the name of any Facebook friend or person who has liked your page. Alternately, you can type in an email address associated with a Facebook account.
Step 5: Publish your first post
Add content to your page by publishing a post—a status update, a link, a photo, a video, an event, or a milestone. New, fresh content on your page will make it look all the more enticing once new visitors come over to check it out.
Here’s a telling graphic from a BuzzSumo study showing how Facebook posts with images receive2.3x more engagement than those without photos.
And there you have it!
Your Facebook Business page is up and ready to deliver awesome content to your fans and grow into something wonderful.
Read on to learn more about growing your Facebook page and posting best-practices!
How to gain your first 100 fans to your Facebook page
The temptation might be to share your Facebook page right away with all your Facebook friends. Not so fast. Take a moment to think strategically about your plan and to seed your page with content so that it looks inviting and engaging when visitors do stop by.
Publish three to five posts before you invite anyone.
Then try out one of these strategies to get to your first 100 fans.
Invite your Facebook friends
Facebook has a built-in feature to tell your Facebook friends about your page. Click on the Build Audience link in the top right corner of your page, and choose Invite Friends from the dropdown.
You can then pick and choose which friends you’d like to invite, and you can drill down into specific sections of friends, filtered by location, school, lists, and recent interactions.
Once invited, your friends will receive a direct message with an invitation to your page. You won’t have a chance to edit the message they receive.
Invite your coworkers
One of the best sources of social media promotion for your company could very well be your coworkers. Ask everyone who works with you to like the page and—if willing—to recommend the page to any friends who might be interested.
Promote your Facebook page on your website
Facebook offers a full complement of widgets and buttons that you can add to your website to make it easy for website visitors to like your page.
One of the most ubiquitous plugins is the Facebook Page Plugin. With Page Plugin, you can easily embed and promote any Facebook page without visitors ever having to leave your website.
Promote your Facebook page in your email signature
One of the most visible places you might find to promote your page is in your inbox. Edit your email signature to include a call-to-action and link to your Facebook page.
Hold a contest
Facebook contests can be huge for gaining likes on your page. Two of the best apps for creating contests are ShortStack & Gleam which help you create custom campaigns to drive Likes to your page (or email capture or fan engagement or any number of different ideas you might have).
What to post and when to post it
In general, there are three main types of posts you’re likely to publish on your Facebook feed:
As mentioned above, posts with photos garner 2.3x more engagement than posts without photos.
As far as the frequency with which to post, Facebook’s algorithm changes have made research into the topic rather difficult. The consensus seems to be to experiment as much as possible. As often as you have fresh, compelling content to share on Facebook, give it a try. Try testing post frequency in week-long intervals so that you can measure the results quickly.
With that, we recommend being consistent with your content. When your content is good, your audience will start to expect it on a regular basis. Even if you’re only producing enough content to post to Facebook once per day, try to stick to that schedule.
Social media scheduling apps like Buffer help make this easy by letting you schedule posts ahead of time. You can add to a queue so that your page always has fresh content being posted automatically on schedule.
Ideal length and timing of Facebook posts are another area you might want to experiment with.
As far as ideal length, we partnered with our friends at SumAll to place the data and insights into a fun infographic. What we found was that Facebook posts with 40 characters receive 86% more engagement than those with a higher character count.
How to tell what’s worked and what hasn’t
After sharing posts, you’re likely to want to know how they did. Your social media management tool would figure to have some built-in analytics that can help you better understand how your posts performed. Here’s a peek at what the Buffer for Business analytics look like:
Once you’ve shared several pieces of content to your Facebook page, you’ll see an Insights tab at the top of your Facebook menu, between Activity and Settings.
At the top of the Insights page, you’ll see your Page Likes, Post Reach, and Engagement stats for the week, along with a comparison to the same stats from last week.
Another neat area to check is the demographic information on the people who visit and engage with your page.
Click on People from the Insights menu, and you can drill down into demographic information of your fans, the people reached by your posts, the people who engage with your post, and the check-ins you receive at your physical location.
Here’s an example from Buffer’s page insights about the people reached by our posts.
One of the newest features of Insights is the “Pages to Watch” section at the bottom of the page. You can add other pages that you want to monitor—a great way to grab some competitor research and take inspiration from the way that other pages market themselves.
To add a page, simply click on the Add Pages button at the top of the section.
Search for the name of the page you want to watch, then click to add it to your watch list. Once a page has been added, you can click on the name of the page from your Insights dashboard, and you’ll see an overview of their best posts from the week.
Ever thought of the perfect joke after it was a liiiittle too late to tell it? We've all had a similar feeling when we come up with the perfect Instagram caption once we've already published the post.
The lesson? Don't rush the process. Instead, write a few ideas for captions down, sit on them for a bit, poll coworkers on which one is best, and generally take your time.
You might be asking yourself at this point, "But aren't timeliness and chronology important on Instagram?" They can be, depending on the subject of your post. For example, professional Instagrammer Patrick Janelle says he uses Instagram as a kind of chronological journey of his activities and lifestyle. He likes to post in real time to document what he's doing at a given moment.
That's why it's important to take your time constructing a great caption that'll keep your followers around, delight them enough to share with their friends, and encourage them to engage with your content.
That doesn't mean you should keep your captions super short so users can see 100% of it without having to click "more." Instead, frontload your captions with the important content or text calls-to-action -- and leave any hashtags, @mentions, or extraneous information for the end.
Here's an example of an enticing, front-loaded caption from coffee-based skincare company Frank Body:
3) Include a call-to-action.
The best way to increase the shareability of your Instagram post and engage your followers is to have some sort of call-to-action in the captions of your photos. That means using action verbs to prompt people to do something, instead of just passively scrolling by.We found that verbs generate more shares on Twitter than nouns and adjectives -- the same can be true for Instagram.
For example, you might say, "double-tap if you find this funny" or "share your story in the comments."
Here are a few other action-based ideas to get you started:
Ask a question.
Encourage people to comment with their own experiences. You might be able to draw on these experiences to shape your Instagram strategy moving forward, or to come up with new content ideas. To increase engagement and delight your followers even more, respond to users' answers to make it like a conversation.
H&M: "All you need for a weekend get-away. Where would you go?"
Lorna Jane: "Be you, everyone else is taken. Today's inspo inspired by our leading lady @ljclarkson - how are you finding your BELIEVE today?"
Direct people to a link in your bio.
Clickable URLs aren't allowed anywhere except the single "website" box in your bio. That's why optimized Instagram profiles update that URL frequently to point to their latest blog content, YouTube videos, products, or offers -- and then refer to that link in their Instagram captions.
For example, are you running a contest, or want to increase subscribers to your blog? Just change the link, and then post a photo that mentions the new link in its caption.
To change the link in your bio, go to your profile page and click "Edit Profile."
Then, simply insert the URL of your choosing into the URL box.
Invite people to tag their friends.
Encourage your followers to share your post with friends by inviting them to tag their friends. Here are a few examples of fun, clever ways brands have asked followers to tag friends.
Frooti: "It's scrabble day! Tag some friends you'd like to play with."
H&M: "Planning for a luxe escape with your bestie? Tag your travel partner in crime!"
HubSpot: "Coffee with coworkers make Friday mornings that much brighter. Tag your office coffee buddy - and better yet, take a break!"
Invite people to enter a contest.
Contests are great for increasing engagement and brand exposure on Instagram.
Simply invite people to post their own pictures and tag them in the caption using a hashtag, like BuzzFeed Tasty does below.
Consider including the contest's official rules in your caption for folks who are interested, and even a link in your bio.
4) Limit yourself to 0-4 hashtags.
On Instagram, a hashtag behaves the same way as it does on Twitter and Facebook: It ties the conversations of different users into one stream. As long as your account is public, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Instagram post. (Read this blog post to learn more about how hashtags work on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.)
Hashtags are great for connecting users who aren't otherwise connected to one another, but who are talking about -- and interested -- in the same topics, events, brands, and so on. They're also a great way to add some fun and coy humor to your posts, like FOMU did below.
But: Use hashtags sparingly.
Some Instagram users include a string of searchable hashtags as a way to get more followers -- but the fact is, it looks spammy to the followers you dohave. If you use a ton of hashtags, people will notice, and they will think it's lame. Limit your hashtags to three or four, tops.
And remember, you don't have to include any at all if you don't want to. You don't need a hashtag to have an awesome Instagram caption. Here's an example of a good caption with no hashtag from Starbucks:
Use hashtags at the end of your caption.
Unless the hashtagged phrase fits naturally into a sentence, don't list any hashtags until the very end of the caption. That way, the part of your caption that's more appealing to humans will come first, making it more user-friendly.
Plus, if your caption is long enough to get cut off, the hashtags that are there to connect people (as opposed to delight people) will be hidden. So the hashtags in this caption:
Will be hidden from folks scrolling by in their Instagram feeds -- which is totally fine, since they're just there for search reasons.
Pro tip: Need inspiration for a hashtag that's already popular? Instagram will suggest hashtags to you based on their popularity when you open up a new post and type out the # symbol followed by an incomplete search. Here's an example of that in action:
5) Meld your brand voice with Instagram's lighthearted tone.
Every social network has a different tone that works best. While serious, jargon-heavy copy may work well on LinkedIn, for example, that same copy won't work as well on Instagram. The best Instagram posts tend to have a lighthearted, fun tone, showing off the more authentic, human, and personable side of brands.
That's why you'll want to adapt your brand voice for Instagram's more lighthearted tone. This'll be easier for brands whose brand voices are already lighthearted and fun, like Wistia's.
For others with a more serious brand voice, find a balance between sincerity and relatability.
Being relatively consistent in your Instagram voice can help you build your brand on the channel. For example, think about how long you'll typically want most of your posts to be. Do you want to be a storyteller who writes a paragraph or more?
Or do you need the space to write out instructions, or a recipe?
Or do you favor a minimalist approach with just a few words?
When in doubt, be punny. Cleverness tends to perform quite well on social media, especially Instagram. People love when brands crack a joke or include a play on words. JetBlue, for example, is always an excellent source of puns:
Emojis, the cartoon-like emoticons available to most smartphone users, can add some personality to an Instagram caption. That's why a lot of brands use them in their captions -- even the more "serious" brands.
There are a lot of different ways to use emojis in your posts. For example, you can use them at the beginning of post to catch people's eye, like this:
You can also use them in the middle of sentences to replace words, or at the end of a post as a sort of "punchline," like this:
7) Cross-promote your other social channels.
You can also use your caption to cross-promote your other social media accounts. This is a great way to let your followers know where else on social media they can find you -- so that your Instagram followers can become your Twitter followers, your Facebook fans, your Snapchat audience, and so on.
For example, you might promote a campaign that's taking place on another channel, like Coca-Cola did here:
Pro Tip: If you have a Snapchat account, Snapcodes are perfect for cross channel promotion on your other social media profiles. Every Snapchat user has a unique Snapcode, which is an image that looks like the Snapchat logo but with a unique pattern of dots. To follow you on Snapchat, all users will have to do to is open the Snapchat app, take a photo of your Snapcode, and tap their screen.
Here's an example from WeWork:
8) When in doubt, keep it brief.
Depending on your audience, your captions might need to be longer than a few words or a sentence. For example, if you're a food company, you might post entire recipes in your captions -- and that's OK, as long as you're front-loading the caption with the most important information (like the name of the recipe) so it doesn't get cut off.
But if you're not sure what your brand voice is yet, a good rule of thumb is to keep it brief. Some of the best Instagram captions are short punchlines, or in some way make their point quickly and let the visual content do most of the talking.
Coca-Cola: "Goodbye, tan lines. Hello #SpringBreak."
WeWork: "Every day."
BuzzFeed Tasty: "Whip it good."
As you test out different types of posts on Instagram, keep track of how different post types work -- including your captions. Instagram doesn't have a whole lot to offer in terms of analytics, so you'll have to do this manually. Try listing each post on a spreadsheet and keeping track of its URL, the time it was posted, how many Likes and comments it got, and the types of feedback you're getting from your followers.
It’s linked to less depression, better memory and quicker learning. Studies also suggest that exercise is, as of now, the best way to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, a major fear for many Americans.
Scientists don’t know exactly why exercise changes the structure and function of the brain, but it’s an area of active research. So far, they’ve found that exercise improves blood flow to the brain, feeding the growth of new blood vessels and even new brain cells, thanks to the protein BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF triggers the growth of new neurons and helps repair and protect brain cells from degeneration. It may also help people focus, according to recent research.
2. You might get happier.
Countless studies show that many types of exercise, from walking to cycling, make people feel better and can even relieve symptoms of depression. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain—serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, dopamine—that dull pain, lighten mood and relieve stress.
“For years we focused almost exclusively on the physical benefits of exercise and really have ignored the psychological and emotional benefits of being regularly active,” says Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise.
3. It might make you age slower.
Exercise has been shown to lengthen lifespan by as much as five years. Asmall new study suggests that moderate-intensity exercise may slow down the aging of cells. As humans get older and their cells divide over and over again, their telomeres—the protective caps on the end of chromosomes—get shorter. To see how exercise affects telomeres, researchers took a muscle biopsy and blood samples from 10 healthy people before and after a 45-minute ride on a stationary bicycle. They found that exercise increased levels of a molecule that protects telomeres, ultimately slowing how quickly they shorten over time. Exercise, then, appears to slow aging at the cellular level.
4. It’ll make your skin look better.
Aerobic exercise revs up blood flow to the skin, delivering oxygen and nutrients that improve skin health and even help wounds heal faster. “That’s why when people have injuries, they should get moving as quickly as possible—not only to make sure the muscle doesn’t atrophy, but to make sure there’s good blood flow to the skin,” says Anthony Hackney, an exercise physiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Train long enough, and you’ll add more blood vessels and tiny capillaries to the skin, too.
The skin also serves as a release point for heat. (See “Why Does My Face Turn Red When I Exercise?” for more on that.) When you exercise, your muscles generate a lot of heat, which you have to give up to the environment so your body temperature doesn’t get too high, Hackney says. The heat in the muscle transfers to the blood, which shuttles it to the skin; it can then escape into the atmosphere.
5. Amazing things can happen in just a few minutes.
Emerging research suggests that it doesn’t take much movement to get the benefits. “We’ve been interested in the question of, How low can you go?” says Martin Gibala, an exercise physiologist at McMaster University in Ontario. He wanted to test how effective a 10-minute workout could be, compared to the typical 50-minute bout.
The micro-workout he devised consists of three exhausting 20-second intervals of all-out, hard-as-you-can exercise, followed by brief recoveries. In a three-month study, he pitted the short workout against the standard one to see which was better. To his amazement, the workouts resulted in identical improvements in heart function and blood-sugar control, even though one workout was five times longer than the other. “If you’re willing and able to push hard, you can get away with surprisingly little exercise,” Gibala says. (For more on the 1-minute workout read this.)
6. It can help you recover from a major illness.
Even very vigorous exercise—like the interval workouts Gibala is studying—can, in fact, be appropriate for people with different chronic conditions, from Type 2 diabetes to heart failure. That’s new thinking, because for decades, people with certain diseases were advised not to exercise. Now scientists know that far more people can and should exercise. A recent analysis of more than 300 clinical trials discovered that for people recovering from a stroke, exercise was even more effective at helping them rehabilitate.
Dr. Robert Sallis, a family physician at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center in California, has prescribed exercise to his patients since the early 1990s in hopes of doling out less medication. “It really worked amazingly, particularly in my very sickest patients,” he says. “If I could get them to do it on a regular basis—even just walking, anything that got their heart rate up a bit—I would see dramatic improvements in their chronic disease, not to mention all of these other things like depression, anxiety, mood and energy levels.”
7. Your fat cells will shrink.
The body uses both carbohydrates and fats as energy sources. But after consistent aerobic exercise training, the body gets better at burning fat, which requires a lot of oxygen to convert it into energy. “One of the benefits of exercise training is that our cardiovascular system gets stronger and better at delivering oxygen, so we are able to metabolize more fat as an energy source,” Hackney says. As a result, your fat cells—which produce the substances responsible for chronic low-grade inflammation—shrink, and so does inflammation.
Digital advertising doesn't have the best reputation amongst consumers. In fact, earlier in 2016, HubSpot Research dug into how people interact with digital advertising, and it confirmed what many marketers have known for a long time: Consumers are actively avoiding our ads.
Over half of the respondents said they used ad blockers or were planning to install one in the next six months -- certainly not something most brands want to hear, but what's the solution?
For many businesses, the solution is simple: inbound marketing.
But inbound marketing is a long-term play, and building a loyal audience and a constant flow of organic traffic isn't an easy task. Is it so wrong to supplement your inbound strategy with digital advertising? Can digital advertising ever complement your inbound marketing and provide a positive, valuable experience for your prospective customers?
Absolutely, but it's all in the execution. First, we need to understand why people are so turned-off by conventional online ads to ensure we can create better ones.
Why Do People Hate Digital Advertising?
The report from HubSpot Research on consumers' relationship with advertising uncovered some truths behind why people are avoiding online advertising:
Here are the top three reasons ...
1) It's annoying and intrusive.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest reason people are turned-off by digital advertising is because they find ads to be annoying and intrusive.
We've all experienced those terrible mobile pop-up ads that cover the main content the second you get there and require multiple attempts to dismiss them. In fact, Google recently announce that it's making a conscious effort to crack down on websites that employ those types of ads (read more on that here).
2) It disrupts browsing experience.
The second biggest reason is that digital ads are downright disruptive to a user's browsing experience. Auto-playing videos and flashing banners exist to distract people from the content they're actively trying to consume. Whilst auto-playing videos might succeed in doing that, it's for all the wrong reasons. In other words, people are usually only paying attention to these ads because they're scrambling to turn them off.
As for banner ads, it's no secret that 'banner blindness' is real. We've become desensitized to this kind of advertisement because we've learned where it appears, and know when to tune it out. These ads are often poorly targeted and badly designed, meaning we've developed both a conscious and subconscious ability to simply ignore their existence so we can focus on the content we actually want to consume.
3) It creates security concerns.
The third biggest reason for people disliking digital advertising is the security concerns it brings.
Lots of websites host third party advertisements distributed by ad publishers. In this case, it’s difficult for websites to control the quality of the ads they display or ensure their security. The disconnect in quality and security between the website host and the advertising publisher has caused a lot of tech savvy browsers to use ad blockers.
How to Engage Your Audience Using Digital Advertising
There's an obvious misalignment between brands utilizing these kind of advertisements and the consumers they're trying to pull in.
For anybody who's familiar with inbound marketing, you'll know that what we've discussed so far doesn't align with the fundamentals of inbound: to market your products and services to people in a more human, more helpful way.
But that doesn't mean digital advertising can't be considered inbound-y. We just have to adjust the way we're thinking about advertising to create a more positive experience for the people on the receiving end. Here's how marketers can start doing that.
1) Focus on native (or social) advertising.
In the same HubSpot Research report we mentioned above, we learned that in the eyes of consumers, not all ads are created equal.
Whilst no ads generated an entirely positive experience for respondents, some did receive a more neutral reaction:
In the above chart, there's a commonality between the types of digital ads that received the highest score. They're the types of digital advertisements that fall into one of two categories:
They're something users have chosen to receive.
They're non-disruptive within their platform.
Email newsletters are an opt-in form of communication, in which people can choose to unsubscribe whenever they want to. They tend to be less pushy in nature, and focus more on sharing great content or offers, so it's no surprise to see that people don't react negatively to them.
Sponsored Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter posts, however, do feel more like traditional online advertising in the sense that users don't opt-in to see them. Yet there are a few things that set them apart from the likes of auto-playing videos and pop-ups, which received a very negative reaction.
They're not disruptive: They match the look and feel of the platform they're on.
They usually provide useful content: They're not simply asking you to buy something.
They can be highly targeted: You tend to see content that's relevant to you.
For that reason, native advertising on social media platforms can be a much smarter use of your digital advertising spend. It's not as likely to be subconsciously blocked out by your audience, and it allows you to add value by offering something that's relevant to them.
Google AdWords is a common advertising channel that can also be considered 'native' as it's non-disruptive in nature and can be highly targeted based on what a user is searching for.
Because of the amount of data these platforms have collected about their users, you can segment your advertising on a really granular level, allowing you to serve up the most relevant content, to the right people, at the right time.
2) Add value with your ads.
Your digital advertising is still a form of content, so why aren't you using it as an opportunity to add value to your audience, rather than push them into a purchase?
Nobody loves being advertised to, but not all ads have to feel sales-focused or pushy. Use paid channels to promote your content with the goal of turning the traffic generated by your ads into leads, and you'll be adding far more value to your audience and positioning your brand in a more positive light.
But what does that look like in practice on native advertising platforms? Let's take a look at how digital advertising can be made more inbound-y using Google AdWords.
When I search for interior designers using Google, I'm served four ads from companies trying to promote their services. But if I've never heard of these companies, how do I know which interior design company is right for me?
That’s where content-based pay-per-click (PPC) ads come into the picture. If you’re advertising an ebook titled “How to Find the Best Interior Design Company for Your Project”, it's likely to stand out against the other ads and search results because it directly helps solve a problem. This means your ad is more likely to get the click and the conversion.
Here's an example of a content-led ad for the keyword 'blogging'.
3) Improve your targeting.
One of the biggest advantages of using digital advertising as opposed to offline advertising is the targeting options available to you. Here are some examples of brands using targeting to ensure they're adding value to their prospective customers with their ads.
This ad from Contently was targeted towards Facebook users that are interested in content marketing according to the data the platform has collected about those users.
Rather than bombarding everyone on Facebook (including those who Contently's post might be irrelevant to), this ad only appeared to the segment of Facebook users who are most likely to find it useful.
This example of digital advertising fits into the realms of inbound marketing as it’s adding value by offering useful content, driving relevant traffic, and turning those visitors into high quality leads.
Similarly to Facebook, Twitter can also be used as a paid channel to promote useful content to a segment of your audience. Twitter offers four main targeting options with its ads.
Followers: Target your ads based on people who follow certain users.
Keywords: Target people who are tweeting about certain topics.
Tailored audiences: Upload your email database and target people who are at certain lifecycle stages (your blog subscribers who aren't yet leads, for example).
Remarketing: Set up conversion tracking and target users who have previously been active on your website.
After I visited this page which showcases Twitter's various advertising targeting options, Twitter used their own platform's advertising capabilities to remarket to me using useful content (see below image).
They knew I'd visited that page and must be interested in Twitter ads, but they didn't serve me a message pushing me to advertise with them. Instead, they targeted me with someuseful content to help me learn more about using video on Twitter to increase engagement, gently moving me through my buyer's journey by adding value.
When a user saw this advertisement in their LinkedIn feed, it was as a result of visiting Bupa'swebsite and entering their details to receive a quote for health insurance. Whilst this ad isn't overly intrusive as it's 'native' to the platform, it's certainly doesn't feel as inbound-y as the other examples. However, this is likely because of the intent this user has already shown by requesting a quote.
Whilst inbound digital advertising is generally content-centric, it's smart to use the targeting capabilities of social media platforms to tailor your ads depending on where someone is in their buyer's journey.
For example, in the example above, it wouldn't make sense to target that user with a piece of content about different types of health cover. They already know they need the overseas visitor cover and have requested a quote, meaning they're probably ready to buy. In this case, it makes much more sense to target them with product-specific messaging that demonstrates the value of Bupa's overseas cover.
Inbound Marketing + Digital Advertising = More Loveable Ads
We've seen some example of how targeted digital advertising can add value to your audience, rather than putting them off your brand. The final example from Bupa however, demonstrates the importance of getting even more granular with your advertising to make sure you're reaching the right people, in the right place, at the right time with your ads.
It's totally possible for your digital advertising to coexist with an inbound marketing strategy. In fact, the two can work alongside each other really effectively to ensure you're providing the best possible experience for your audience, whilst improving your business' bottom line.
Monitoring social media is hard. The person monitoring your social media must have a balance of industry knowledge, customer aptitude, resourcefulness and marketing/diplomacy skills. As a one to one interaction, monitoring can also be a patience game. Monitoring, however, is one of themost important things you can do on social media.
This is especially important, since 70% of Twitter users surveyed by Search Engine Watch expect a brand to respond to a question on Twitter. Of those folks, 53% of those want a response within an hour. Yikes.
There is good news: it IS possible to monitor social media with limited time and resources. I know this from experience here at HubSpot. People are often surprised to hear HubSpot has such a small social media team (right now a team of one!). In this post, I'll give an overview ofwho, what and how we monitor on social media using Social Inbox.
The WHO and WHAT We Monitor
The first major decision to make when monitoring social media is thinking for whom you want to be monitoring. When monitoring social media, I break up our activities into four categories: Customer (or Prospect) Care, Funnel Nurturing, Blue Ocean (attracting new prospects) and Special Projects. Let’s dive into each.
Customer (or Prospect) Care
Throughout the funnel and lifecycle of a customer, our aim is to assist people who are speaking about us directly. This is the monitoring activity that takes up the most time and gets the most focus. That’s because it’s the most important; it involves listening and responding to those who are already talking about you, your current advocates. When monitoring for these folks I set up two primary streams in Social Inbox:
”?” without links. This is a stream of people who are mentioning the word “HubSpot” and who use a “?” in their tweet, but do not use links. This is because many of the people who mention “HubSpot” and use a link are actually tweeting one of our articles. This filtering leaves us with the people who are asking a direct question involving us, and if they have a question, we want to be able to answer it as quickly as possible.
This stream is one that I have set up to email me immediately if a tweet matches the criteria. These are the people who are most actively involved with us. The volume of tweets in this stream ranges from about 30-50 on any given day, but it allows me to make sure that whatever I’m doing, I’m able to attend to these questions ASAP. Now you all know how to get my attention!
To set this stream up in Social Inbox, I do everything I need by clicking Social > Monitoring > “+” and using the following criteria:
Replies to HubSpot without links. This is a stream of people who mention “HubSpot” or “Hub Spot” who do not use a link in their tweet. This allows us to filter out the majority of people who are tweeting one of our articles but giving us credit (thanks, guys!). I don’t get any alerts from this stream, but I check it whenever I have free time in the day (at minimum once in the morning, once early afternoon and once before I go home around 6pm).
To set this stream up in Social Inbox, I do everything I need by clicking Social > Monitoring > “+” and using the following criteria:
I also spend time on a few other streams:
Mentions of HubSpot without “Via”. Of course, people tweet important things at us involving links. More often than not these are people tweeting pictures at HubSpot or questions about the software. Since use of links is a lot less common, the previous two streams cover most of the volume, but I set up an email reminder to myself once a day to scan through this stream to make sure there is nothing I’m missing.
In this case I excluded the word “via” from search since that word is the most common indicator of someone sharing a HubSpot article. As much as we appreciate that gesture, it’s too much volume for us to monitor at that time.
Facebook/LinkedIn. These networks are more focused on in-depth content than their dynamic, cousin, Twitter. As such I make sure to log into these platforms to check the comments at least once a day. I also bucket moderating our LinkedIn group here.
Messages. Some [potential] HubSpot users feel most comfortable messaging our social profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) if they feel they have no other avenue. For that reason, I make sure to check the messages for these networks at least once a day (more if I have bandwidth or am expecting a particular message).
BONUS: HubSpot mentions during Twitter Chats. This is one of my favorite streams. It was born out of necessity when we realized we weren’t participating enough in real-time conversation. The goal of this stream is to catch when people mention HubSpot in Twitter chats, so we are able to appear in the chat (potentially to new audiences) and thank users quickly.
To create this stream, I researched the chats related to our industry that were most commonly attended, and the ones in which HubSpot was often mentioned (Buffer, Sprout Social, SEMRush). I set up the stream to email us immediately upon mention of HubSpot with any of these chat hashtags. This was a place where we saw a specific need and created a stream to adapt.
Social media covers the entire lifecycle stage of the customer from prospect through to customer. As such, we make sure to pay attention to users at all stages of the funnel. What we look at each stage is different. At the top of the funnel we look at mentions because it helps us narrow the field and at the bottom it helps to figure out when customers need help. We think a little different at the middle of the funnel.
Just like any nurturing, our aim in the middle of the funnel is to remind prospects we exist, and when necessary, provide them a little extra love. To this end, we keep an eye on two different streams.
Prospect to Lead Nurture and Leads & MQLs. The first is prospects who have had a first conversion event on a prospect form in the previous month, while the second is leads and MQLs who have converted on a lead form in the last 30 days. To do this, we create a list in our list tool of people who have had a first conversion event in the last 30 days, as well as are at a certain lifecycle stage.
We create a stream in Social Inbox of people who are on the list we created (since it’s dynamic, people can get added over time). We then narrow the stream further by only including tweets that mention certain words related to marketing automation or inbound (power of knowing your keywords!).
I check these leads a couple times a week, primarily because I’m not trying to be creepy, but to remind people we are there to help. It’s an important step though as in past HubSpot experiments, we found that lead nurturing via social can improve conversions by up to 11%.
Blue Ocean (attracting new prospects).
These are the users that are not even in the HubSpot funnel. This is the trickiest area since it is the largest category of users. As such, I spend the least time monitoring for new users.
#swsw [or other relevant hashtag] Rather than monitor uses of a particular word (ex. marketing automation), I limit this kind of monitoring to relevant hashtags. For example, if I see a user mention HubSpot with the hashtag of a particular conference, I will check that hashtag to see if it is a conversation about our industry. If so, I will set up a stream for the rest of the day to monitor that hashtag and show some quick love to users there. If nothing else, it helps us get us on their radar.
This is the most ad-hoc of what we monitor. That’s because it has to do what is happening in the department any given day. Examples of special projects have included events such as webinars we’re hosting, #HubSpotBookClub, April Fools Pranks (#DeskFree, anyone?), CRM launches, partnership deals, Partner Days at HubSpot HQ, etc.
#GrowWithHubSpot [or other relevant event hashtag] - (temp). The way this works is that I keep a close watch on our content calendar (keeping in the loop with the PR and campaigns team helps a lot!) so I know when we have a special event coming up. I will set up a stream for this particular event, typically pulling in tweets that include the relevant event or hashtag and setting up email alerts for 8m & 4pm.
This provides me a few reminders to check this stream since it’s not a part of my everyday routine. I can also share the stream with a specific team if they want to stay on the lookout for that event. The key with this stream is that I label it with(temp) to remind myself when I stop seeing tweets relevant to that event, I can remove the stream. Typically, I catch anything remaining in our regular streams.
This is probably also the place to talk about influencers. When possible, we take time to identify and engage with influencers, but our primary method of this comes from reading our own twitter feeds or twitter lists and finding articles naturally trending. We have experimented with streams of these folks, but find that most engagement comes organically following and engaging in our own streams rather than monitoring for that specifically.
You may notice that there are some things for which I don’t monitor on social media. For example, I do not monitor for product support-related questions (though we get them anyway), Sidekick questions, #INBOUND15 questions (though we will eventually during the event) or questions in foreign languages.
This is because I do have limits! While I get, and answer, many of these questions, the primarily responsibility to monitor them goes to the teams that own those projects (psst- if you’re not following @HubSpotSupport, @Sidekick or @INBOUND you should!)
Now that we’ve discussed WHAT we monitor, I want to take a moment to address HOW we monitor.
The HOW We Monitor
Knowing what to monitor is important, but it’s also imperative to know how to monitor effectively.
First, Define a persona. When my team started monitoring from HubSpot, the first thing we did was to come up with a monitoring persona. This was the person we wanted to embody when speaking to people on social media.
To do this we brainstormed a list of traits we wished to embody (helpful, nerdy, witty but not mean were some of them). We then made this list public to remind ourselves who we wanted to be when answering questions. We also reference this when publishing content.
Second, Be helpful, and gracious. One of the most important parts of our persona is to be helpful and gracious. When someone has feedback, accept it, when they love us, love them back and when they have a problem, provide some avenue to resolve it (a trick I learned in support), even if it’s just to contribute to our “ideas” forum.
Direct questions appropriately. I like to jokingly refer that I am like the company “traffic director”. That’s because monitoring is a team sport. Even if I am the one ultimately typing the responses, I am responsible for listening to what people are saying about HubSpot, and responding appropriately. Sometimes this involves notifying an account manager, sending to a sales rep, conferring with support or referring to PR and sending those responses back.
To maximize the conversion potential of your landing page, it’s a common best practice in the industry to use an image. It’s a good suggestion. If nothing else, a wall of text without any visual imagery can make for a pretty boring and poor performing landing page. But why do we actually want to use images for communication?
Why we use images on a landing page
Neuroscientists at MITfound that humans can process and identify an image in as little as 13 milliseconds, whereas previous research had suggested that the quickest time in which an image could be identified was in 100 milliseconds.
It’s not merely that our brains process images at a lightning speed, we’re also making decisions quickly. Consider that the average visitor is spending less than 15 seconds on a website.More specifically, if your visitors are spending less than 15 seconds on your landing page, then capturing their attention is of paramount importance.
As you work to determine the right image for your landing page, keep the following concepts in mind in order to have your image work to drive conversions, rather than driving your visitors away.
Visual storytelling for a concept
As the old adage goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” When describing a complex system, process or a brand-new object or idea, a visual representation might explain it best. For example, a diagram is a concise way to describe how a car engine works or an intangible concept such as how cloud computing allows for the transfer of files across the Internet.
Companies continue to create new products and develop things that people didn’t know that they needed or wanted. When you are tasked with promoting the only product of its kind on the market, you might need to show your visitors what it is and why they need it. Can you imagine trying to describe a microwave to a person who was born before humans were able to harness electricity? It would be a bit difficult to describe if you were to communicate solely with words.
When selecting an image for your landing page, use infographics, charts and diagrams when explaining new ideas or complex concepts to your website visitors so that they can swiftly grasp the idea and hopefully, convert on the landing page.
Directing and influencing the conversion
Using arrows on your landing page can allow you to literally direct traffic on your landing page. Having an arrow pointing towards specific areas of your copy or to the form on your landing page can allow your visitors to think less and simply follow instructions.
Another way to use imagery to direct traffic is through visual cues. Whether you use a photo of a person holding a product and looking directly at it or more subtly a person looking in a certain direction. Instinctively, when we see people looking in a certain direction, we want to follow their gaze and see what has their attention.
By using an image of a person looking in the direction of your form on the landing page, provided that it is logical (and relevant) for a person to be in the image, you can subtly place emphasis on different elements of your landing page and direct attention to the form.
Antonio Damasio, a renowned neuroscientist, has been studying the connection between consciousness and emotion for several decades. Damasio’s research shows that emotions play a large role in how we arrive on a decision. How does this help marketers in creating a landing page?
By using images that not only appeal to your visitors but also elicits an emotional response, you may be able to increase your conversion rate. If you are able to bring about a sense of urgency (to act now!) or a feeling of happiness and relief (that a visitor’s issue is being solved), then you might experience higher conversion rates.
How to know if you have the perfect landing page image
Numbers don’t lie. Check out your conversion rates to see how the landing page is performing. An optimized, high performing landing page has a conversion rate of 20% (or higher) of the total number of views converting and filling out the form on the landing page. If the conversion rate is less than stellar, there are many elements that come into play when assessing the overall page. So, the best way to hone in on your image is to do some A/B testing and try different images on your landing page to see which resonates more with your visitors and ultimately converts more visitors into leads.
We all suffer from only having 24 hours in a day. Chances are, you’re spending a chunk of that time writing emails. Lots of them.
In fact, we spend 28% of our workday in email,
according to McKinsey & Company, and if you’re a marketer, you’re likely rolling your eyes at that amateur percentage.
Nevertheless, you’d probably like to have 2 hours and 15 minutes back in your day, right?
Here’s the action: write short emails. The benefits of writing short emails are limitless. Shortening your emails will not only reduce time spent on email composition, it will increase your communication clarity and reduce the necessity to repeat yourself the next day.
Email is digital words, written on lines and, therefore, has lines to read between. Email is capable of immediacy, its human operators are not. In this post, we’re going to learn how to write shorter emails in four easy steps.
Step 1) Identify the email’s recipient
You wouldn’t use a megaphone to shout at your aunt Delores, would you? Of course not. You’re a tactful professional.
Same rule goes for email. Identify its recipient or audience.
Is the recipient a new acquaintance? Are they a superior? A subordinate? A peer?
I’ll share an experience that got me thinking about this. I was replying to a message from someone that is five management levels above me. I handled every syllable like a baby chick and was crystal clear on each detail. I anticipated the superior’s questions. I provided direct answers. I lost four pounds of weight from sweat while writing it. The results were remarkable. I found myself motivated to shed extra words. I didn’t wander or try to fudge answers. I also noticed its brevity.
Warren Buffet says, in as many words, to demonstrate your capability with clarity in words in the SEC “plain English” handbook, and excess is not required:
Perhaps the most common problem, however, is that a well-intentioned and informed writer simply fails to get the message across to an intelligent, interested reader. In that case, stilted jargon and complex constructions are usually the villains." -- Warren Buffet
When you can identify your audience, you can anticipate their needs. When you can be direct toward those needs, it will be clear you respect their time enough not to blither, and that your words bear authority, reducing their need to ask for a follow-up.
Step 2) Reduce the reader’s time to answer and simplify the conversation
You are emailing or being emailed because you are helpful and needed. Make your answer simple, and shortened emails will follow. The reasons why are numerous.
Put yourself in a recipient's shoes. I imagine they receive innumerable messages a day, just like you and me. What do you typically look for in an email? You want to clearly understand the message but you also want it to be short, to the point and respectful of your time.
Consider some common email questions that you might receive. Here’s one example:
Hey Alex, can we move the call from 3pm to 3:30pm?
Recalling Step 1, identify the audience, I can approach Step 2 with clarity—simplify. It is not always just a matter of producing a response in fewer words since they may be asking more in their message than is revealed. It is up to me to know the whole answer and remove the extra wording.
Visitors won't even make it through to your content if the website does not load fast. And what keeps your website from loading fast? If you have really large files, videos, or images on your website, it can add to the size of the page and greatly affect the load time.
Yottaa, a content delivery network (CDN) platform that helps speed up websites,recently benchmarked the speed of HubSpot's CMS. In this post, we will discuss three ways HubSpot keeps your website fast, and share some of the details of Yottaa's report.
#1. All Customers Hosting Their Website on HubSpot Are Powered by a CDN
HubSpot utilizes a leading CDN to help ensure all customers websites load quickly. There are numerous benefits to a CDN, such as keeping your website content on a server closest to them. But there are numerous front-end and back-end factors that contribute to the speed of a website loading.
For example: the device type, operating system, and even location can all affect how a website loads and displays. If you have recently browsed the Internet on your smartphone and switched between WiFi and the cellular network, the speed difference was likely clear.
However, unlike the days where text-driven websites ruled supreme, visitors are demanding a rich experience that is relevant. To do this, we've built Smart Content and other capabilities directly into HubSpot to ensure you can easily build an experience for each unique visitor.
But that experience also means that your pages will gain weight, but not necessarily sacrifice speed. According to Yottaa's performance test, the average page weight now exceeds 2MB in size for webpages, which is also close to the page weight from the HubSpot CMS.
Even though the rich features offered in HubSpot's CMS have increased the page weight, you can see in the chart below the time for the page to load is still incredibly fast. To explain this chart:
T2D stands for Time To Display, which essentially means that the core elements of the web page have loaded and design is displaying properly (instead of just text or content without any CSS styling).
T2I stands for Time To Interact, which means the moment you can actually start scrolling, or clicking links on the page. Time to interact follows the time to display as key pieces of your website need to load first before you can begin interacting with the site.
According to the metric that began this blog post, if your website is not hosted on HubSpot or using a technology to speed-up your website, you could be among the average and possibly losing 40% of visitors.
A fast website means more of the visitors that land on your pages will stay, and improves your overall business experience. Here at HubSpot, we utilize a CDN that hosts servers around the world to ensure you and your customers have a fast experience, wherever they may be.
#2. Responsive-Design is Built-In
The speed of the desktop version of your website is important, but it's become even more crucial to also offer a fast mobile experience. Now that mobile searches have surpassed desktop and search results are impacted by mobile-friendly websites, you should offer a fast and rich experience for mobile visitors. But offering that same rich experience on mobile can be difficult because it naturally increases page weight. That's where responsive design comes in.
Responsive design dynamically loads your website based on the screen size of the visitor. For example, open a new browser tab on your desktop or laptop, and take out your smartphone now and visit HubSpot.com from both. You will immediately notice the difference and how images on your smartphone appear to be properly sized, but naturally smaller.
Responsive design is Google's #1 recommended design pattern as it only requires one set of code, and Google's crawler only has to go through your site once. If you have a separate version of your mobile site, such as mobile.example.com, it requires a duplication of all the assets on your homepage to the mobile version which can be costly from bandwidth and maintenance.
Going back to Yottaa's report, you can see the HubSpot CMS still outperforms the average on mobile due to the combination of responsive design and the CDN. This is shown by both the average time to start render, which essentially means that your website design appears on the device, and the time to display until your website is fully loaded and can be interacted with. This speed benefit means more mobile visitors will stick around your website and actually read your content.
#3. Dynamic Image Resizing and Image Compression
Have you ever experienced an image that loads sort of like a window shade? It slowly starts to fill-in from the top to bottom until it's finally done. One of the key reasons this happens is because the file size on the image is likely very large. Your connection can also play a key part, but even on a high-speed connection a large image can still have this effect.
This is why using the HubSpot CMS you can solve this using dynamic image resizing and image compression which are built right in and how your website stays fast on HubSpot.
What is Dynamic Image Resizing? To explain, let's walk through an example. Let's say you upload an image to your website that is 5000 x 5000, but are only displaying the image at 500 x 500. This means that the browser still has to download the larger image and then display it within the smaller size. This can severely affect loading time, especially for any mobile visitors on a cellular connection.
When you are using resizing within HubSpot though it means the browser will only display the image in the dimensions you specify. So in this example, instead of loading that large 5000 x 5000 image, the browser only loads the 500 x 500 image saving precious seconds that it takes your site to load.
Dynamic image resizing will take effect in a few different ways:
Manually changing dimensions of an image after upload
Editing the HTML code of an image that directly affects the image dimensions
Along with the image resizing, we also have taken steps to reduce the overall size of images. With image compression, any new image uploaded into your HubSpot account will have it's file size reduced while retaining image quality. This happens automatically when uploading an image and doesn't require any manual steps, but enhances and accelerates the experience for your visitors.
Note: dynamic image resizing and image compression only affect new images uploaded into your HubSpot portal. Existing images will not be affected, unless you change the dimensions. Also note, the speed benefits from HubSpot only apply to the content you are creating or hosting with HubSpot.
With the CDN that powers all websites using HubSpot, to responsive design, and image resizing and compression your website will consistently stay fast. A fast website helps rank better in search, and retains visitors once they land on your website which naturally helps all of your inbound marketing.
It can be very, very tempting to create that email as one big image so there's no chance it will have funky characters, or the spacing will be off, or the graphics pixelated. Seems like the solution to your email marketing problems, right?
Most marketers are understandably dismayed when they spend hours creating a beautiful email design only to send themselves a test email and find that it looks nothing like what they've worked so hard on. Even though creating the email as one big image might seem like that right first step, it actually introduces a host of other issues that could result in an even worse user experience for your recipients.
In this post, we will discuss five reasons why sending an email that's just an image can hurt your email marketing.
1) It's likely your email will trigger spam filters
Email spammers are notorious for using images to hide the text of their email - if it’s in an image, most email clients won’t be able to read the spammy message about a far-off prince who desperately needs you to wire him money immediately. To make up for this blind spot, many spam filters will reject image-only emails.
For more ways on how to make sure your emails don't get caught up in spam filters, check out this post.
2) Some email clients will not display your email images
You don't want people to have to go through an extra step to see your message (e.g. click to ‘download images’ in Outlook). If the image is blocked, the entire email will appear to be blank and the recipient is more likely to ignore it, unsubscribe, or mark the message as spam.
For example, I took a screenshot of this email and sent it to myself. Here's the email as it is meant to appear compared to how it showed up in Outlook: If you are using an image in your email, don't forget tooffer both an HTML and a plain text version of your emails; it’s not only an indicator of legitimacy to ISPs, but it also makes your emails more reader friendly.
3) There is no preview text for an image-only email
Every inch of inbox real estate is valuable, including the brief line of preview text often shown in inboxes. Granted, you could use just one line of text in order to fill that need, but then you would still be left with the other four points outlined in this article.
4) Images in your email may be slow to load
Depending on the end user’s internet connection and browser speed, it may take a while for the email to load. The longer it takes to load, the more likely they are to click away from the email, send it to the junk folder, or unsubscribe.
5) The recipient of your email will not be able to search their inbox for keywords in that email
Do you want recipients to be able to find your email when they want to? Of course! There may come a time when an email recipient wants to reference an email you sent them a while back which has now been lost in their busy inbox. Give them the option to search for that email by using text for most of your content. A good rule of thumb is to use a ratio of 60% images, 40% text.
Email notifications are still very relevant today. According to the State of Inbound report 2016, released by HubSpot today with lots of new data, when something new is published on a site that is of interest to them, they still prefer email over any other type of notification. Have a look at the graph below.
Defining your buyer personas should be the first step when developing a marketing campaign – and one of the most crucial ones as your marketing message and content should be targeted to your buyer persona’s needs.
Every year, HubSpot surveys thousands of the world’s foremost marketers and salespeople to ask them about their most pressing priorities, the challenges they face, and the strategies they plan to add in the year ahead.
More and more companies are realizing that they can get better ROI from inbound marketing than traditional outbound strategies. In an age when most buyers prefer to do their own research before engaging your sales team, providing informative content is key. Content marketing is especially important in technical industries, where sales cycles are longer and engineers are often making purchase decisions. Yet many high tech companies still rely on an outbound marketing approach.
Marketers desire to add video content to their marketing mix to amplify their message, find new distribution channels and bring in new customers. This is the top use of marketing resources for 2107, according to a survey of marketeres (B2C and B2B) by Hubspot in 2016.
You've spent hours researching and crafting the perfect blog post. The information is sound and you have written it with your ideal buyer in mind. This stuff is gold, you think. Except... nobody is reading it.
Successful inboundmarketing programs focus on delivering content in the context of the buyer journey, working to create a remarkable experience from the first time prospects land on your site to the moment they choose you over your competitor.
HINT: IT ACTUALLY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR WEBSITE
I know, surprising, right? Everyone thinks that conversion rates are all about the website, but when all our testing and experiments wrapped up, we learned that conversion rates have very little to do with website design. We found that content offers, marketing messaging and stories had more to do with conversion rates than the actual design of your site.
Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. If you have a horribly designed website with landing pages that are awful, you’re going to have a very low or potentially non-existent conversion rate. What I'm saying is that today a lot of sites look similar and are well-designed. Landing pages have been scientifically engineered to eliminate friction and most pages we see deploy many of the best practices.
Although cultural generalizations can be overly reductive, Lewis, who speaks 10 languages, insists it can be done fairly. "Determining national characteristics is treading a minefield of inaccurate assessment and surprising exception. There is, however, such a thing as a national norm," he writes.
Scroll down to see Lewis' insights on negotiating with people around the world.
Jenna Goudreau contributed reporting.
Americans lay their cards on the table and resolve disagreements quickly with one or both sides making concessions.
Marketers get caught up in their own creativity and sometimes bury the lead, making it even more difficult for prospects to quickly know what you do and how you can help them. A cyber security company used the headline “Appearances Can Be Deceiving.” It's creative and it’s accurate, but can you tell me what they do? No!
Here's a better headline: “Your Job Might Be In Jeopardy If Hackers Are In Your Network Right Now.” This would likely encourage targeted prospects to read more, visit more pages on the site, and then convert from an anonymous visitor into a lead for this company.
2. You Have To Pass The 'Scratch Out, Drop In' Test
Your website has to be different than your competitors’ websites. If you can scratch out your name and put in the name of any competitor and what the site says would still be accurate, you have an issue. Your prospects are going from site to site looking for differences. Your site needs to be different. It has to look different, say different things and provide a different experience.
Good marketing is about standing out in the crowd. Make sure your website stands out and helps your company appear different than all of your competitors. Again, this is not about design; it's about messaging, stories and the experience.
3. Make Sure Your Story Is In The Right Order
Human beings process information in a very linear and systematic way. If your website presents information out of order, the people you want to convert on your site are going to feel uncomfortable and bounce off before converting.
You're remarkable, right? Of course you are because you’ve been following our advice and you know your business has to stand out. Make sure your visitors see how remarkable you are right on your home page.
Now that prospects know you understand their pain and you have remarkable solutions, it’s time to make them feel even safer. This is where you bring in the social proof. Only now are they ready to evaluate your case studies, success stories, logo library or testimonials. But if you present these too early, your prospects won’t mentally be ready to process this type of information out of order.
You can’t put all your offers on every page and expect that the more offers you use, the more leads you’ll get. Trust me, we did that and it didn’t work. We want you to avoid making the same mistakes we did. Less is more in this case. Prioritize your best offers at the right stage in the sales funnel and then use only those offers.
5. Always Answer Questions
Your prospects have questions and they’re coming to your website to get answers. Make sure your website is built, designed and written with this in mind. Each page should have a specific question in mind, answer that question and then offer even more information to help prospects with their individual buyer journeys.
If you don’t know what questions your prospects are asking, you need to find out. You can ask them directly, you can ask your sales reps or you can ask your customer support people. All these folks know exactly what prospects and customers ask at all stages of the sales funnel.
6. Make Sure It Works On All Devices
Search for the keyword "mobile searches" and you’ll see a variety of data points that all point to the same conclusion. People are doing searches on their phones. In some cases, 50% of the initial searches for content are done on mobile devices, and the initial experience prospects are having with your company is on the responsive version of your website.
This means your site has to not only be responsive, but it also needs to be designed deliberately and strategically to support that initial experience on a prospect’s phone. How many times have you visited a website on your phone only to have a mediocre experience? Probably too many times. The result is a less-than-stellar feeling about that company. Perhaps you never even try to connect with them again. This is what you want to avoid.
7. Watch Visitors' Behavior
As smart as we all think we are, we rarely nail anything right out of the gate, and your website is no different. No matter how much time and money you spend designing it you won’t actually know how users, visitors and prospects will respond to it until you launch it. That’s why we prefer an Agile, 30-day approach to website builds instead of the long and painful six-month website project. Get something up quickly, get data and then make adjustments over time based on visitor data.
Since conversions are our goal, you need to see how visitors are making their way through your site. For example, I see a lot of sites with the offer at the very bottom of a long scrolling page. That might make sense on paper, but when you see that visitors are not reading all the way down the page, you have an issue.
If you don’t get this user behavior data you’ll never know whether the issue is your page, your offer, your copy or your design. This could contribute to inaccurate decision-making based on bad assumptions. You should be able to limit this with the right application of tools and technology.
Tightly integrating messaging, search and content along with web and conversion strategy is at the core of what an inbound marketing engagement is all about. If you think about your website as more of an experience for your prospects and you include conversations about the above marketing elements, you’ll see a major lift in your lead generation in no time.
“Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will nd your customers buying from them, not you.” - Mark Cuban
40% (20 out of 50) of the fastest-growing B2B companies make their pricing public.
Of the 20 companies that make their pricing public, 14 use tiered pricing.
Of the 14 companies with tiered pricing, 6 have CTAs prompting enterprise customers to request quotes.
Why do companies treat selling to the enterprise di erently than selling to everyone else? ere are lots of factors, but it usually comes down to scale. Rolling out a product or service to a massive organization can be a seriously complex (and expensive) undertaking.
So while being able to make unassisted purchases on a B2B website is convenient for most, enterprise customers need to be able to talk through the ner details of your product/service with a real human before they buy.
“Our jobs as marketers are to understand how the customerwants to buy and help them do so.” - Bryan Eisenberg
B2B websites lead people down 1 of 2 paths: toward a product, or toward a salesperson.
The experience prospective customers have when they land on your website can be crucial to whether or not they end up converting. As Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield once commented:
“... even the best slogans, ads, landing pages, PR campaigns, etc., will fall down if they are not supported by the experience people have when they hit our site, when they sign up for an account, when they first begin using the product and when they
start using it day in, day out.”
In analyzing the websites of the 50 fastest-growing B2B companies, we found two distinct paths that companies typically try to send potential customers down. They either direct people to A) engage with the product or service in some way, or to B) engage with a salesperson or other company representative to learn more.
62% (31 out of 50) of websites have primary CTAs directing people to the product/service.
38% (19 out of 50) have primary CTAs directing people to talk to Sales.
Of course, many of the companies that have product-focused primary CTAs also have secondary CTAs for talking to Sales. And remember the 11 companies with live chat from the previous chapter? All 11 of those websites have product-focused CTAs.
e takeaway: It doesn’t have to be one way or the other. Within the 50 fastest-growing B2B companies in the U.S., both tactics are employed. You can encourage people to discover the value of your product through having them experience it for themselves, and you can provide them with an opportunity to talk to a real person if that’s what they want.
Regardless of the path you choose to send people down, make sure that their rst experience is (as Slack's CEO recommended) a positive one.
36% (18 out of 50) of the fastest-growing B2B companies o er free trials or freemium versions of their product.
A free trial or freemium version of a product can be a driving force behind a company’s growth. It’s a model that allows prospective customers to experience rst-hand how a product is going to perform, which reduces the need for canned sales pitches and aggressive tactics.
As Roger Lee of Battery Ventures once wrote:
“Instead of hiring a huge sales force and sending these people out to convince potential customers to buy your product -- the way Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, and even Salesforce.com built empires -- a freemium model is a perpetual motion machine through which your product sells itself.”
Of the 18 companies with some free component to their product ...
“ These days, people want to learn before they buy, be educated instead of pitched.” - Brian Clark
Live chat provides an additional channel of communication for customers and prospects.
Based on our research, 80% of the fastest- growing B2B companies maintain a blog. And just under half offer downloadable resources. So there’s no denying that, for many of these high-growth companies, content plays a significant role in how they communicate with customers and prospects.
But what about the people who engage with this content and then have questions?
Or the people who don’t want to wait for someone to email them after filling out a form? People who want to talk to a real person right now?
One solution that's emerging is 1:1 messaging, which allows prospects and customers to have 1:1 conversations with support reps, sales reps, and other employees via a "live chat" widget on a company's website.
22% (11 out of 50) of the fastest-growing B2B companies have a live chat widget on their website.
Of the 11 companies using live chat, 5 are also using gated content.
Of the 11 companies using live chat, 8 have it on their homepage. 3 have it appear after you navigate to a pricing or contact page.
Of the 11 companies using live chat, 3 show photos of the employees you're chatting with.
“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.”
With the rise of inbound marketing and content marketing, content has become the cornerstone of many modern B2B marketing operations. Here’s how it typically works: Blogging drives top-of-the-funnel traffic to a company’s website.
From there, callsto-action (CTAs) encourage visitors to download content (e.g. ebooks, whitepapers, and templates) so they can learn more about a particular topic. This process can be repeated and scaled by marketing teams to include a wide variety of tactics at every stage of the funnel, but the end goal is always the same: to add value and build relationships that drive revenue for your business.
80% (40 out of 50) of the fastest-growing B2B companies maintain a blog and/or online publication.
44% (22 out of 50) of the fastest-growing B2B companies offer downloadable content, like ebooks or whitepapers.
28% (14 out of 50) of the fastest-growing B2B companies use gated content. 16% (8 out of 50) offer ungated content.
These differences in content accessibility highlight an important, ongoing conversation in sales and marketing: Should required forms and lead capture remain central to what we’re doing? Or are there other ways we can communicate with prospective customers once they’ve engaged with our content? For some companies, forms are being replaced or supplemented with 1:1 messaging, which allows sales and marketing teams to communicate with website visitors in real-time.
A quick review of what most people are doing on social media will make it clear why it’s not working. Social media is not simply a repository for auto-posting existing blog articles. If that’s what you’re doing, you might be underutilizing a very powerful tool.
To optimize social media and drive more visitors to your website, you’re going to have to work harder to engage your followers and get them involved in the conversation. This means asking questions, getting opinions and coming up with creative campaigns that take full advantage of the sharing potential built into social media platforms.
For example, instead of just posting blog articles, try posting conversation starters. Then follow up with supporting information to fuel the conversation and engage your audiences. Wrap up the mini-campaign with content that people can download. Now you’re not only driving up social media reach numbers and new visitors to your website, you’re also giving those visitors the opportunity to convert into leads right from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Another way to improve conversion rates is to place offers across your site more strategically. Your website needs to have a variety of different pages for different phases of your prospects’ buyer journeys. You need pages for awareness, pages for consideration and pages for decision-making, and you need offers that align with those pages.
If you put a Contact Us offer on an awareness page, the conversion rate is going to be very low, because the people on that page don’t want to talk to you yet. If you put a Request A Demo or Free Trial offer on an awareness page, they’re not going to convert, either. Why? Demos and free trials are usually bottom-of-the-funnel, decision-making offers, and putting them on the home page – or every page – is a big mistake.
Instead, take your website through a mapping exercise where you identify the role of each page in the buyer journey. Then add the right offers to the right pages. This exercise often reveals that your site is actually missing pages for different stages of the buyer journey. These pages have to get added if you want to give visitors the experience they need to convert from visitor to lead.
We tackled ways to increase the number of visitors to your site, now let’s tackle ways to drive leads. As I mentioned earlier, the key metric on leads is the conversion rate. Improve conversion rates and improve leads: It’s that simple.
The best place to start is by targeting high-traffic landing pages. Through a series of optimization exercises, you can double, or in some cases triple, the conversion rate on these already popular pages.
Of all the recommendations in this blog, this one is by far the fastest, easiest and most efficient way to improve lead generation, especially if your site already has decent visitor numbers. I’ve written a number of landing page optimization articles over the past couple of months, so instead of going over it again, here’s a link to a recent article on improving conversion rates on landing pages.
The on-site tactics discussed above are only half the equation. The other half is finding prospects who are online but on other sites. They’re not searching for you, but they are spending time online: visiting similar sites, communities and groups and reading blogs, emails and content from related providers – not competitors, but information sources that already exist. Remember, 90% of people get the information they need to make a purchase decision from online research. Your content has to be available and easy to access.
Driving new visitors to your website from other online properties is complicated. You have to take your target persona and create an online behavioral profile, identifying the blogs they read, the emails they subscribe to, the sites they visit, the groups they’re members of and the websites they frequent. Once you have that target list, you can start reaching out to those communities to help them with their mission.
Your goal is not to sell anything to community members, your goal is to help those community members with valuable educational content. Since you have created tons of new educational materials (you have these assets, right?), now you’re in a position to share these materials with community managers. Remember, the manager's job is to educate and provide value to members. So you now share the same goal.
Once you get a critical mass of off-site referral properties like this, you’ll see this visitor source increasing, with leads from these new visitors following.
In social media, timing is everything. You only want to send messages when someone is around to see them. And a larger audience means more opportunities for engagement and meaningful connections—all of which benefit your business.
So when are the best times to post on social? There is no definitive answer to that. But there are resources that can serve as a guide to help you find the optimal posting times.
The best time to post on Twitter
As a constant stream of information, getting your timing right on Twitter can seem like a fine art. With the half-life of a Tweet being 24 minutes—four times shorter than a Facebook post—your window of opportunity is tight. As Wiselytics explains, “For Facebook, a post reaches 75 percent of its potential engagement in five hours. A median Tweet reaches this 75 percent mark in less than three hours.”
This short timeframe means that the Tweets you do send out get in front of as many eyeballs as possible. How do you do this? Our previous post, 3 Tips On How To Find the Best Time to Tweet, gives some advice for finding the optimal time for your Twitter activity:
Location matters—”One useful strategy is to create a Twitter handle for each region, use a social media management tool to manage and monitor all of them in one place, and then create social media reports to track when you get the most engagement for each Twitter handle.
Use the right tool—There are numerous tools out there to help you find the best time to Tweet, such as Audiense (previously SocialBro) and Hootsuite’s AutoSchedule which “chooses a time based on when your Tweets have performed the best. You can AutoSchedule from both the dashboard and theHootlet extension.”
Make sure you engage on social media—”Knowing when the best time to tweet from your company’s Twitter handle starts with social media engagement.”
We’ve gathered data from a variety of sources so that you can use these tips as a starting point, rather than a blind trial and error. Here are the best times to Tweet, according to data gathered from a variety of organizations:
The Huffington Post: “For maximum retweets, post at 5 p.m., 12 p.m., and 6 p.m. Additionally, 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. also deliver higher click-through rates. The best days to Tweet for business-to-business organizations is Monday through Friday, for business-to-consumer it’s the weekends and Wednesdays.”
Hubspot: Between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. from Monday to Friday, and between5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Kissmetrics: Weekdays at 5 p.m., where the highest percentage of Retweets occur.
So while there are some overlaps, there is no one definitive answer to this question. But this information is a great place to start with your own strategic trial and error efforts. Start Tweeting at the above times, and pay attention to when your audience engages the most. This is the only way to find out when the best time to post to Twitter is—at least for your own business.
The best time to post to Facebook
As Facebook is often a smorgasbord of personal connections and brand interactions, it’s an interesting one to try and navigate from a timing point of view. Throw in Facebook’s algorithm, and this might feel like a more difficult task than it truly is. A whopping 75 percent of your Facebook post’s engagement will happen within the first five hours, which means that while it’s not a huge amount of time, you have more leverage than with a Tweet. But as Post Planner explains, your Facebook post “impressions hit their climax much sooner than engagement.” A full 75 percent of your post’s lifetime impressions are reached after just two and a half hours.
To make the most of this time, you want to ensure you’re paying attention to when your audience is most active. Just like Twitter, the best time to post on Facebook will obviously depend on your business. But here are some recommendations to get you started:
Quick Sprout: Thursdays and Fridays, either at 1 p.m. for the most shares, or 3 p.m. for the most clicks. As explained, “The less people want to be at work, the more they are on Facebook!”
Optimizely: Mondays through Thursdays between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Microsoft: Thursdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Hubspot: Thursdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
While there are some differences, there’s the consistent finding that Thursdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. are a good place to start when trying to find the best time to post to Facebook.
The best time to post on Instagram
Although its name originally suggested that you should be posting to Instagram, well, instantly, that simply isn’t the case these days. As Likes are the main measurement approach to Instagram posts, you might feel as if there is more pressure to get timing right with your content here. I can confess that I’m definitely somebody who has delayed putting up a picture because I felt it wasn’t during a ‘peak time’ and would get less Likes. (This way of thinking is broken down in a hilariously accurate Man Repeller post The Instagram Post-Time Debate, which I highly recommend reading.)
Think about a day in the life of your audience, and try to strategically post according to this. What time are people waking up and doing their first-thing-in-the-morning-Insta-scroll? Do they work full-time? Where do they live? Consider your audience’s down time such as between meetings, commuting, lunch, and before bed. All of these are things to think about when trying to match post time with your audience’s use time.
In addition to considering these factors, test out some of the following recommended times:
Hubspot: Anytime from Monday to Thursday except from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
As Mavrck explained, “While posting volume is relatively low during those morning hours, users are still peeking at their feeds regularly on their smartphones. Therefore, they represent a sizable audience during a time when there’s less competition for attention.”
If no one can find you on Google, Yahoo or Bing – your business is invisible. If people are finding you for keywords you think are important, but your prospects aren't using those keywords – you’re invisible. If your website isn’t responsive and people are doing searches on their phones – you're invisible. Make sure your business isn’t invisible.
Getting Google and the other search engines to rank your website pages is complicated, and it takes time. It involves a variety of related tactics such as content marketing, social media marketing, website architecture, blogging and conversion rate optimization. All of these areas have to be tightly integrated, and you have to constantly track your ranking and organic visitor metrics to know what’s working and what’s not.
Do you know how many leads you received from organic visitors over the past 30 days? Do you know how many visitors came to your site from organic searches over the past 30 days? Do you know how these numbers compare to the previous month? You need to know this data cold. If you’re not tracking these metrics, you’re not improving. You won’t see a 10x improvement without this effort.
To improve visitors from search, look at increasing the number of blog articles you’re writing. If those blog articles have keywords, keyword phrases and questions tightly integrated into the blog strategy, those articles will improve your search results and impact visitor numbers. Also look at your website architecture. You can change URL naming conventions and impact results quickly. Change a services page to a page with a question in the URL: Google sees this as a more valuable page.
Finally, and this is a recent change to the Google algorithms, your pages have to convert. When someone finds your link and clicks on it, you have to make sure they convert on that landing page. This signals Google that the visitor found what he or she was looking for, and improves your ranking. Clearly, conversion is now a major component of search. Again, all the tactics need to be strategically connected.
Yes, I said it: a 10x improvement in leads. If you’re getting two leads a week, when your inbound marketing program is up and running you’ll be getting 20 leads a week.If you’re getting four leads a month, you’ll be getting 40. It’s a very attainable goal, and one we’ve delivered for countless clients over the past 14 years.
However, there are just as many CEOs, VPs of marketing and business owners who have attempted inbound marketing and not seen this kind of impact on their business. So clearly this isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s not easy, but it isdoable.
These six tactics, if planned, implemented and optimized properly, will contribute to lifting your inbound leads by a factor of ten.
To make this as simple as possible (and to reiterate what we’ve been saying for years): Marketing is a mathematical calculation. If you want more leads, you have to move two numbers: website visitors and sitewide conversion rate. That’s it. So we’ll share three recommendations for increasing the number of visitors to your website and three recommendations for improving your conversion rate. Execute these properly and a 10x improvement in leads will be your reward.
Don’t leave offer creation to the business- or salespeople. Contact us, speak with a sales rep, free demo, free download or trial – these are horrible, generic bottom-of-the-funnel offers. You’re going to have to work much harder if you want more leads, especially if you want more sales-ready leads.
Thee horrible examples of offers are all about you. Contact you, speak with you, see your demo, try your software – what’s in it for the prospect? Your bottom-of-the-funnel offers have to deliver value to your prospect.
For example, if you’re a builder or construction company, offer to value-engineer plans for a current project with the promise to save money on the build. If you’re a software company, offer to evaluate the prospect’s current process and provide process improvements that include your software. If you’re an accounting company, offer six tax-saving tips for prospects after a quick review of the prospect's current situation.
In each of these scenarios, the offer is probably something you would happily do anyway, so why not offer it as a way to get sales-ready prospects to contact you today? Keep rolling out new and more creative offers until you get the bottom-of-the-funnel lead flow you need to hit your goals.
Here’s more good news. If you do all six of these tactics at the same time, you’re going to improve the chances of achieving that 10x improvement in leads. This is actually where a lot of practitioners go wrong – they only do a few of these tactics. They either underestimate the effort or under-budget the entire program, so corners get cut and results suffer.
Don’t make the same mistake. Whether you’re building a new inbound marketing program, working to optimize your existing effort or comparing inbound marketing agency proposals, make sure you see money, time or points allocated to all six of the tactics described above. If any of these is missing, it’s usually a pretty good indicator that the team isn’t as experienced with inbound as they need to be to deliver a 10x improvement in generating leads.
Once your plan is in place, you can start production on the asset or event at the center of your campaign.
Regardless of format, your rst step should be to create an outline in Google Docs. Start by guring out how you can organize information into di erent sections or chapters. Then, add bullet points beneath each section to highlight speci c examples and advice.
For a webinar, you might also want to include how long you expect it will take the webinar host(s) to speak through each section.
For something more visual, like an infographic, you can use the Drawing tool within Google Docs to create some initial sketches.
Again, the beauty of using Google Docs is that once you create your outline, you can easily share it with stakeholders to get approval and/or feedback.
If you are responsible for creating the content (or running the event), this outline will serve as your production roadmap. Use it as a guide as you esh out each section with information you gather via research and interviews.
Need to gather some contributions (e.g., quotes, pro tips, examples) for your campaign? You can use Google Forms to create and share prompts/questionnaires.
At HubSpot, we try to make our forms as speci c as possible, so contributors know exactly what we’re looking for (e.g., a piece of advice on X subject, written in less than 100 words, along with the contributor’s name, their job title, their headshot, etc.)
During this stage of managing your campaign, you’ll also want to create promotional images that you can use in emails, on your blog, and on social.
Use Google Drive to keep all of your campaign images organized and easily accessible. At HubSpot, we have a dedicated Campaign Images folder with sub-folders for each individual campaign:
And within those campaign-speci c folders are sub-folders for the di erent channels and platforms where particular images will be shared.
Using these sub-folders helps ensure that you’re always using the proper image dimensions when posting to di erent social channels.
Brad Lamb walks Toronto residents through the real estate market they are living in.
We are not going to do a very good job creating semi or detached homes anywhere close to the city. In the 416 we will not be able to add to the existing stock of houses ever again as all the land is developed. The supply is fixed in the 416 and very limited in the 905. The demand for homes is going up every year. Population growth guarantees higher prices forever, with occasional moments of recession and panic. During a recession, prices will fall but only momentarily, creating an amazing buying opportunity. The condominium market is a bit of a different story. Some think that it is due for a fall. I believe that prices are set to soar. Land in central Toronto has become scarce and very expensive. Condominiums have remained very affordable. Most development land that remains consists of sites with under utilized buildings or assemblies of multiple properties. Both options are typically seen in fully developed expensive cities (like London, Hong Kong, New York, Paris etc). This is what Toronto is becoming; an expensive international city. Local, federal, and provincial levies and taxes continue to drive development costs higher. This combination of fees and taxes currently eats up approximately 25% of the cost of new high-rise new housing in Toronto. It is only going to rise. Green technologies and other new building code initiatives like fully sprinklered buildings and ground water taxes are adding additional costs to high rise housing. Currently, the cost of delivering a high rise in Toronto before profit is edging close to $600 per square foot. In some areas, it is closer to $800 per square foot. Keep in mind that this is the cost of creating high rise homes. New sales prices must now commonly be $700-900 per square foot (PSF) to allow for a reasonable development profit. The MLS condo resale market will see a 10-15% increase in sales volume this year. It will be a record year for sales. I believe prices will rise 5-10% this year in the resale condominium market. Over the last 5 years, we have seen a more stable 2-3% increase in prices, I believe that scenario is now over. Detached and semi-detached homes will appreciate 10-15% this year and sales will be up 10-15% in volume largely because so little will come up for sale. An interesting statistic that I follow is the number of condos for sale in C01, C02, C03, C08, C09, C10, C11 (an area bounded by DVP-Eglinton-Dufferin-Lakeshore). The volume of condos for sale in the region is down 14.5% this year and the volume for rent is down by 32.3%. This all points to significant increases for both sale prices and rental rates. Condo rental rates will rise 5-10% this year alone. There are not enough condos for sale or rent in central Toronto. It is currently particularly difficult to find a condo rental in any part of the GTA.
Now, some of you may believe that interest rates are going to rise and rain on the parade. That is not going to happen any time soon. Low rates are here for a long time. I believe at least 5 more years, perhaps 15 years. Even when rates start to rise we will stay in a low interest-low inflation environment for a long period of time. When interest rates rise it will be gradually. Governments are huge borrowers. All the municipal, state, provincial, and federal governments around the world are essentially bankrupt. Higher interest rates makes the situation worse. I cannot see any country intentionally bankrupting itself through a high interest rate policy.
2016 is going to be a very big year for Toronto real estate. Prices will be significantly higher in all areas and categories. Volumes for resale homes will smash last year’s record by 10%. Average prices will soar by 10%. New condo sales will stay robust with demand outstripping supply. Toronto will continue to be a hot spot for international money as it will continue to be considered a safe haven for money and investments.
Get the 2016 Developer's Guide. It's made by us, the people who sold 367 condos in 90 minutes, and it's only a matter of time before your competitors get their copy. Take the initiative, and click the image below:
Buyers are taking control and tuning out impersonal and interruptive
old-school marketing tactics. We’re able to skip commercials, screen calls, and largely block out unwanted communications. This means that outbound marketing methods like cold calling, direct mail campaigns, and purchasing email lists are steadily losing their effectiveness.
Wouldn’t it be great if instead of hunting down your buyers, you could swoop in and answer their questions while they’re making purchasing decisions? Inbound marketing turns your website into a magnet and pulls people towards your company by
aligning your content with their interests.
N5R’s Sales and Marketing Platform
Built to complement the inbound methodology, Our all-in-one marketing software is easy-to-use and helps businesses grow. So, is inbound right for you? Let's explore the marketing funnel to see how an inbound marketing strategy and our software work together to solve business challenges.
A few years ago, a Quora user asked the internet if they would share some lesser known Gmail tips. Over 100 answers later, the thread has become a surprisingly useful resource for anyone who uses Gmail on a regular basis.
Rather than ask you to sort through all 100+ answers, we’ve cherry-picked 6 of the most valuable tips and tricks from the list, all of which you can see below:
You might be thinking there’s a lot of work associated with an inbound marketing effort. That would be an astute observation. There is an incredible amount of work to be done to get all the necessary pieces of an integrated inbound marketing program together including all the blog posts, email, lead nurturing, video and educational materials. But all that work doesn’t have to be done at once. The best way to focus your efforts is to take a campaign approach to your inbound marketing. A campaign allows you to focus your marketing and content development efforts on a particular industry, service or targeted persona. The result is a concentrated effort that typically delivers improved results because your content is focused and direct. Campaigns are typically three to four months. An overall theme is created for the campaign.
The messaging is specific based on industry, service or persona. A few high priority keywords or keyword phrases are selected and the content includes a high concentration of these keywords. The Trio of Offers is designed to be directly related to the campaign theme. Blogs and emails are focused on this campaign. Landing pages and call-to-action buttons are created specifically for the focused effort.
Here is a representation of a real campaign for a national payroll services provider:
Campaign Strategy: Focus on acquiring new small to medium-sized business clients who have a variety of payroll or HR needs.
Target Persona: The business owner thinking about outsourcing their payroll. They are extremely busy managing their company. They might have an internal administrative person helping out with general HR or payroll processing issues. They have had some mistakes in the past and just want payroll to be processed without errors, on time and without their personal involvement.
Campaign Theme: Payroll Personalized For Your Business
Sample NRO: Whitepaper – 9 Secret Challenges Most Payroll Providers Hope You Never Find Out
Sample LRO: Webinar – Tips And Techniques When Outsourcing Payroll For The First Time
Sample DBO: No obligation, 30-minute call with a payroll specialist to discuss payroll processing at your company. Email Topics: Outsourcing Payroll Means You Get To Work On Strategic Issues For Your Business
1. What ADP And Paychex Don’t Want You To Know About How They Process Payroll
2. 3 Tricks To Make Sure Your Payroll Is Perfect Every Week
3. How A Payroll Specialist Works With You To Save You Money
4. What Government Regulations Impact Your Payroll And What You Need To Do About it
Campaigns provide two other success factors that can’t be overlooked. First, they allow you to set performance-based expectations at the start of the campaign. Metrics like website traffic growth, conversion rates and leads generated. As an example, for a campaign like the one above, you might look for 20% increase in website traffic month over month and a lead goal of 30 new leads over the course of three months.
TIP : Working to continuously improve the performance of your marketing month over month is the fastest way to realize the kind of results worthy of celebration.
Your Analytics - Tracking, Testing and Goal Setting
Over the past few years, marketing has transformed from an art into a science. Tracking, testing and metrics are key data points to help you make decisions that drive your business. Today we get real-time insights into what’s working and what’s not. Right now, from my smartphone, I have access to our company’s marketing metrics and the metrics for every single one of our clients. I quickly see if organic traffic is up or down vs. last month. If the social media initiatives we launched across are working or not. If a specific client’s conversion rates have increased as a result of a new piece of content we created or if we need to reconsider the CTA (call to action) button we created for that content.
Never before have we, as business owners, CEOs and marketing professionals, had this level of insight into marketing performance.
One of the most important parts of tracking the performance of your inbound marketing program is setting up a regular rhythm to review your performance. Even if you are looking at your stats daily, you still need a weekly 30-minute session to dig a little deeper and you need a monthly 60-minute session to review performance for the past month, set goals for the next month and discuss any adjustments that need to be made so that you ensure you hit your goals going forward.
It’s actually less critical that you hit your numbers and more important that you have a plan in place when you don’t hit your numbers. Every business can have a down month, but making sure your down month doesn’t turn into two, three or four down months in a row is the objective of this monthly session.
Here are some actual tactical adjustments we have made during one of these sessions:
• If visitors to your website are down for this month vs. last month, schedule a series of weekly guest blog posts for the upcoming month. Guest blog posts can add hundreds of visitors over a few days and contribute up to 20 leads a day in some cases.
• If leads are down this month vs. last month, time for a new free report or tip guide to drive up conversions. One you get traffic to your website up on a consistent basis, you should consider adding new educational content to turn those visitors into leads. Adding new content to your site on a monthly basis could increase lead generation by 30% month over month.
• If your site is getting a lot of returning visitors and not enough new visitors, take a look at your publication strategy. Find a few new websites that cater to your target personas and get them to publish one of your existing whitepapers, tip guides or e-books. Create a dedicated landing page to track traffic and conversions. If the website you select has enough daily visitors, then this tactic is sure to increase both traffic and leads for your business.
What gets measured gets done. Once you have this process in place, you will see month over month improvements. When you look back over a 12-month period you will see dramatic increases in both website visits and leads for your business. In some cases, clients have seen 5x increases in traffic and 3x increases in leads.
You don’t need software to implement an inbound marketing program for your company, but it sure does make it easier. It’s going to help you in three very specific areas: education, analytics and automation. For most of you, this is going to be your first inbound marketing program. Some guidance and education is necessary when you do something for the first time. Software provides that guidance. For example, you might forget to include one of your keywords in the title of your blog post. You want a software tool that reminds you. You might forget to tag a new landing page, but if your software recommends keywords that makes your job easier.
TIP: If you want an inbound marketing program that generates leads, software isn’t optional, it’s a requirement for automation and analytics.
There is a community of inbound marketers and if your software connects you to that community you benefit from their experience, knowledge and learning. Now you become a better, more effective inbound marketer, too. There are a lot of marketing analytics tools. Google Analytics is a free tool available to everyone, but marketing automation software typically comes with everything you need to gain insights into the performance of your marketing and make the necessary adjustments to see you reach your goals in short order.
You don’t want to spend your time creating charts and graphs and you don’t want to spend your time trying to interpret them either. It should be quick, clear and flexible enough for you to drill down into important areas on an as-needed basis. Part of inbound marketing is executing a consistent and repeatable set of tactics like blogging daily, emailing monthly, nurturing leads as they come in and sharing content across all your social media sites. Marketing software helps make these regular tasks easy and it helps make them fast. Remember, you want to be spending your time thinking, being creative, coming up with new ideas to generate leads – not posting every single blog post to all your social media sites. There are a variety of good marketing automation software tools including Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua and Infusionsoft. If you are looking to automate some of the marketing tasks you execute today all of these software tools provide a lot of value, but if you are planning to implement an inbound marketing program, HubSpot is the only one that helps you with all aspects of inbound marketing including connecting you with a community of inbound marketing experts.
Just because someone visits your website and downloads one of your e-books doesn’t mean they are ready to chat with you about hiring your company or buying your products … at least not yet. Actually, no one is really ready to have a personal conversation with anyone until the pain associated with their issue becomes acute. As marketers, you never know when that pain is going to be acute, so you have to continually nurture your leads with even more educational content. The real purpose for this nurturing is to help them feel progressively more comfortable with your firm. The more you help them with links, educational materials, videos, blogs and other relevant content, the more likely they are to hire your company.
TIP: Since your prospects will never buy until their pain becomes acute, lead nurturing keeps your company in front of them, so when their pain does become acute, they pick you.
This nurturing process can be automated and it’s recommended that this not only be automated but also planned out and personalized based on the lead’s target persona and profile. This ensures that everyone has the same remarkable experience, regardless of who they are and where they are in their own internal buying process. Regular email marketing campaigns are excellent examples of lead nurturing. Every month you publish an educational article along with a few other items you want your prospects and clients to know about and now everyone gets reminded of what you do, how you do it and why they should feel good about working with you.
Another great way to nurture your leads is with automated personal emails. These Outlookstyle emails come for you or someone at your company. They are personalized and include links to additional educational content. They could be specific blog posts, additional whitepapers, upcoming webinars or special e-books available just for them. These automated emails are scheduled upfront to send at predefined intervals (say 3 days, 6 days and 9 days) after a significant event or interaction with your company. Of course, the timing can be adjusted at any time and customized for any situation. Along with these emails we also get intelligence on the performance of these campaigns. Who is opening them? When did they open them? Did they click through to any of the materials? This information is critical to helping you adjust the performance of the campaign and move these leads through the funnel toward becoming a new customer as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Your Publication - Placing Content Drives New Prospects
Publishing is a concept that is familiar to everyone. Newspapers, magazines, TV stations and even websites publish stories in one form or another. I bet you didn’t know that, as a business, you have to be a publisher also. Why? Because your prospects are out there and with the traditional media infrastructure fading fast, you have to be smart enough to get your educational content in front of your target prospects.
TIP : Don’t duplicate content. While it seems like you would be able to reuse a blog post from your site on an industry site, if Google finds out (and they will) it’s going to be a long time before you see the top of any search rankings.
A great way to do that is by guest blogging. Popular blog sites have thousands of readers and even more people who have subscribed to the blog. By offering your opinion and sharing helpful tips and advice on a popular blog, you drive brand new prospects to your website. If they like what they see on your website and they get a remarkable experience (remember this from earlier in the book) they turn into leads. Another way to publish your content is to extend your existing relationship with trade publications, trade associations and industry groups. Every industry has associations and groups like this. While their magazines might be getting thinner and thinner, their online properties are growing fast. They are looking for smart, educational and creative content to share with their readers, members and visitors. If your company can provide that content, they are usually happy to give you access to their website. Now these perfectly targeted prospects see your content, click through, land on your website and turn into leads. When you think about it, it’s not much different than what you used to do. Instead of buying space and placing advertisements, now you offer educational content with links back to your website. It should cost a lot less and drive a lot more business for your company than traditional outbound marketing. Better yet, it’s perfectly aligned with how your prospects want to buy, bringing your company that much closer to getting the deal.
Your Social Media - Give Them Something To Talk About
If you think your prospects and customers aren’t on social media, think again. If you believe that your prospects aren’t searching for businesses just like yours on social media, think again. If you still feel strongly that prospective customers aren’t talking about your business on social media, think again. With 1 billion people on Facebook and 250 million people on LinkedIn and 200 million people on Twitter and 190 million people using Google+, you can be sure that your prospective clients are on social media looking for firms just like yours right now. Social media has never been more important to businesses like yours than it is today. In the past 12 months, clients have seen social media catch up to organic search as a major source for new visitors to their websites.
TIP: If your content is remarkable people will share it and when you have people talking about your content you have more visitors to your website and more leads for your business.
The key is not to create another profile page, but to create social sites that continue your inbound marketing approach by leveraging educational content. Social media is where people come to converse. Your company has the expertise to facilitate those conversations, to start those conversations and to feed those conversations with content. The more active you can be in those conversations, the more new visitors you will send to your website, the more your website will be found on search engines, the more leads you will generate for your business and the more new client opportunities will present themselves to your firm. It all fits together, perhaps even more perfectly than you think. When you blog, you need to share that blog on social media. Besides publishing that blog content to your corporate social media sites on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google +, you also need make sure that all your people are sharing that content with every single one of their business contacts on LinkedIn.
In addition to all that personal sharing, you should be pushing that blog content into the LinkedIn groups where your prospects are members. These groups have literally hundreds of thousands of members all looking for educational content to be shared in those LinkedIn groups. This isn’t always easy. Some of those groups are moderated and moderators typically have to publish that content. Most moderators do a decent job keeping up with it, but others are actually absentee moderators. The best way around moderators is to be an active contributor to these groups. If you are a top contributor, you can be sure your content will be distributed to all the members in a timely fashion. Finally, instead of just using a static corporate profile, make sure you reuse your offers from the Trio of Offers on your website. This entices visitors to your social media pages to click back to your website to download the educational materials. Now your social media pages are actively driving traffic to your site and turning that traffic into leads. These four small changes to the way you market your business could result in an increase in social media traffic to your website and an increase in leads over the next few days – not months.
If you skipped all the other sections, this is the section you MUST READ. One of the major differences between traditional advertising and inbound marketing is its perspective on educating your prospects. The key to inbound marketing programs that generate leads for businesses like yours is the amount of educational content created by your company. The more content you create and add to your site, the more leads you generate for your business. Typically businesses like to talk about themselves – our people, our building, our experience, our products, our credentials or memberships. Like it or not, your prospective clients don’t care about that. They care about how you are going to help them. Think about your own buying behavior – do you care how long the car dealer has been around or how many years your sales rep has worked there? No, you just care about getting a fair deal on the car you want. You want to make a safe purchase decision. People hiring you or your company feel the same way.
TIP: By giving your prospects creative, fresh, engaging and informative content on a regular basis, you establish your business as a trusted resource. Crack that nut and build that trust and the leads will follow.
Educational content delivered on your website or as part of your business development process achieves the same goal. It helps your prospective clients feel like you want to help them. You want to educate them. You want to make them smarter. This experience goes a long way toward differentiating your company from other competitive businesses who don’t take this approach. Let’s face it: most people like to talk about themselves. But those who advise, guide and counsel are the ones that typically get the most referrals. It works the same way here. The more you help, the more leads you are going to get from inbound marketing. Typically, this educational content takes a variety of formats. E-books like this one, whitepapers, tip guides, research studies, surveys, webinars, live workshops, podcasts, how-to videos and infographics are all excellent examples of educational content that, when used properly, turns visitors into leads and moves prospects along the sales process without having to use the “hard sell.”
All educational material is not created equally. Some of your visitors are ready to hire you today – most are just starting to look around. Others might be in the middle of their process and are comparing your company to your three top competitors. The key is to have educational offers for everyone regardless of where they are in their personal decisionmaking process. The Trio of Offers ensures that you have educational content for all types of visitors. This trio includes the No Risk Offer, the Low Risk Offer and the Direct Business Offer.
No Risk Offer – People at the top of the funnel, who are just starting their research are naturally suspicious. They don’t want to sign up for anything, nor do they want to give away any personal information until they start to trust you. But if they have a genuine interest and your content is appealing, they will engage. This educational content is typically a free report, whitepaper, tip guide, e-book or video that provides the visitor with information that helps them make an educated purchase decision or learn something new. In exchange for this information, they simply need to provide an email address. You could ask for additional information, but only the email address should be mandatory.
Low Risk Offer – If your audience is satisfied and intrigued with the content they received in the No Risk Offer, many times they come back for the Low Risk Offer. If they are a bit more trusting, or further along in their purchase process, the Low Risk Offer provides them access to additional, more in-depth information. This offer requires a bit more engagement on the part of your audience. Those who engage with a Low Risk Offer are ready to move further down into the middle of the sales funnel. While you are going to ask more from them, you are going to provide them more in return. Low Risk Offers typically include free webinars/seminars, free assessments or reviews. Free trials or samples are also strong Low Risk Offers. Obviously, visitors need to provide additional contact information if they want to participate in or access these offers. This is typically their name, company name, website and even perhaps address and phone number. After all, if you are inviting them to an event and they are planning on attending, you might need to give them a call to confirm.
Direct Business Offer – Whether or not they have taken advantage of your Low Risk and No Risk Offers, there will be visitors who have already decided that they want to start a more active sales conversation with your company. The Direct Business Offer gives them the opportunity to jump right to this step, or to initiate this step when they are comfortable with your company, products or services. These offers typically look like, “Contact Us Today!” or “Schedule A Call.” Of course, there are a number of ways to make these offers more creative and enticing. 12 For instance, we provide prospects with a 30-Minute Website Review and Website Grader Report. Giving your prospect something of value is important to convert more visitors into leads. As we mentioned in the first part of this e-book, the buyer is in control. The Trio Of Offers gives potential buyers all the information they need to get comfortable with your company on their own terms. This makes them feel safer and more likely to do business with you.
Fifty-five percent of businesses who blog report their blog as a major source of new business. 73% of businesses that blog more than three times a week report that their blog is a major source of new business. People are searching for businesses like yours right now. One of the best ways to get found on the web is to have a blog on your website, post regularly and gain authority with search engines as a respected source of information. Over the past two years, Google has changed its search algorithm to promote more natural content like blogging. In short, the more you blog, the more visitors you get to your website. Google is also rewarding websites that have fresh content added regularly. Every time you create a blog post, you add another indexed page to your website. The more pages you add, the higher you rise in the rankings. Blogging provides one additional benefit to an inbound marketing program. It’s sharable content.
Today, more people will likely find your site from social media than from a searchengine. This means you need to share your voice, opinion, position and blog on social media. Blogging regularly is a great way to consistently share blog posts via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social sites. The more you post, the more people connect with you, follow you, like you and view your messages. The more people you are connected with, the wider your reach and the more opportunities to turn that reach into new business. Your blog quickly becomes some of your most popular pages. On our site, 30% of our most popular pages are blog pages. Your prospects enjoy reading blogs because they are educational, contain stories and have a conversational tone to them.
Finally, there are a few best practices that need to be considered when blogging for your business.
• Every blog post must use a keyword from your prioritized and targeted keyword list in the title and in the first line. Do your best to get that keyword into your post two or three more times. Don’t do “keyword stuff” and don’t write for search, always write for your clients first and search second.
TIP: The more you blog, the wider your reach. The wider your reach, the more people visit your website. The more visits you get, the more prospects convert into leads. The more leads … well, you get the idea.
• Every post must have a graphic CTA (call-to-action) button. • Every post must have an image that is tagged with one of your keywords. • Every post must have meta tags and a meta description that uses the related keyword or keywords. • Make sure your post is between 600 and 800 words. • Make sure your post is assigned to an individual so that you are able to build up authority over time. • Every post must have social sharing icons that allow readers to easily share it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and email it along to a friend. • Make sure that the keywords in your post are linked back to relevant pages on your site. Try to use other links to other sites so your blog posts represents a variety of opinions besides just yours.
Follow these simple instructions and your blog will quickly lead to an increase in overall website visitors to your site and, eventually, more leads for your business.
Google reports that nine out of 10 people visit your website before they reach out to your company in ANY way. Microsoft Research reports that people spend 10 seconds on a website before they hit the back button. This means that your company is already getting prospects to visit your website but, in most cases, those prospects are leaving quickly to check out your competitor’s site. The good news is that an inbound marketing website provides many more opportunities to grab someone’s attention and turn them from an anonymous visitor and into a lead. The key is to create a website experience that delivers powerful messaging to the visitor, enticing them to stick around and get to know your company better. They have to feel as if you want to educate them. The more your website helps, the more leads you will get from your firm’s website.
TIP : Your website has to tell a story about how your prospects are going to see real value by working with you and you have to do it in 10 seconds.
Today 60% of people report viewing websites on their smartphone or tablet. This means your site has to be responsive (work on all devices seamlessly). Your site should adjust based on the device a visitor is using. The experience shouldn’t be degraded at all and, most importantly, the educational content should be deliverable regardless of device. This is a major issue with most sites over 12 months old. More and more people will be visiting your site from a device other than a PC. Make sure your site works right, every time.
Your website is going to need a little planning, too. What are the keywords you want your website ranked for? What keywords are your targeted prospects searching for online? You have to know the answers to those questions before you start redoing your website. You should consider dedicated pages on your site that highlight keywords. You need to plan for landing pages and conversion pages that make it easy for visitors to download educational content (more on that later) and you need to make sure that you have the proper tags, descriptions and URL naming conventions to ensure your site ranks on all the major search engines. Most businesses make two major mistakes when launching a website. First, they talk all about themselves and spend very little time helping the prospects and new visitors see exactly what you are going to do for them. Make sure your site passes the red/blue test. Go through your site and circle, in red, all the times the site mentions your company name or words like “we,” “us” and “our.” Then go through and circle, in blue, all the times your site mentions clients, or uses the words “you” or “your.” You should have 80% blue and 20% red. This simple exercise ensures your site is about your prospects and not about you. Next, make sure that your site has messages that connect emotionally with your visitors. People make purchase decisions emotionally and then rationalize their decisions. If your site doesn’t connect with them in the first ten seconds, you have a good chance of missing out on opportunities to deliver leads for your business. Remember, as human beings we don’t remember features and benefits but stories and experiences are memorable and sharable all across our individual networks and our social networks. Your website has to tell a story and deliver a remarkable experience if you want to use it to generate a significant stream of leads for your business.
Buyer behavior has changed forever. That means the time has come for companies everywhere to either get on board or get out of the way because there’s no going back to the old way of doing business.
To truly understand this new shift in buyer behavior, you need to take a look at how and why it came about: In the beginning, before the invention of mass media, buyers everywhere relied on salespeople and word of mouth to inform their purchase decisions. Then mass media came along and advertising was created to take advantage of the reach associated with mass media.
All of a sudden, you could reach millions of people with a single advertisement. This helped spread sales and marketing messages far and wide. Reach and frequency was the name of the game. Tell as many people as possible, as many times as possible about your product or service and hopefully, when they needed it, they would remember your message and choose to purchase from you.
In the early days of the internet, marketing professionals adopted and adapted advertising’s interruptive best practices and broadcast-style approach. That was a mistake based on an old, outdated way of thinking. The fact of the matter was, just like with every other mass media invention (print, radio, television) that preceded it, the internet permanently changed the way people interact and exchange information.
Today’s buyers have access to more information from more sources than ever before. They ask questions, get answers, read reviews, do comparisons and start conversations with people they’ve never met; all on the web, all on their own terms and all on their own time schedule. Look at the buying patterns of your own prospects and clients.
Chances are, they are researching the purchase of your services or merchandise via the internet long before they ever step into your store or give you a call. Today’s buyers are looking for informative educational content followed up by a consultative, guided sales process.
As a result, the traditional outbound advertising and marketing techniques that worked so well over the past century just don’t perform like they used to. Faced with that reality, businesses have two options: throw increasingly large sums of money at the problem or find an alternative approach. Inbound marketing techniques are perfectly aligned with this new buyer behavior and they do a much better job delivering a remarkable purchase experience that helps to differentiate and ingratiate prospects with your business.
One of the key mistakes made by most business owners, CEOs or marketing executives is hiring a firm or firms that specialize in a specific tactic (website design, search engine optimization, PR or social media) without having a well-thought-out overall marketing strategy and plan for the firm. Even if you hire an inbound marketing firm, starting tactics without a solid plan in place is a recipe for disappointing results. Before you jump in and start working on the marketing tactics for your company, you MUST create an overall marketing strategy and marketing plan that addresses some key areas.
Buyer Personas – Who do you want to attract with your marketing? Who do you want to repel? You might want to ONLY work with large corporations and you might NOT want to work with individuals. This business strategy has to be reflected in your marketing. Creating target personas (detailed bios) for the people you want to attract to your firm is critical.
TIP #1: Executing inbound marketing tactics without a solid marketing strategy and plan is one of the main reasons inbound marketing programs fail to deliver significant improvements in lead generation.
Voice & Tone – What do you need to say to those people to get them interested in your firm? Knowing how to connect and engage with your target personas is critical. If you skip this step, you run the risk of spending money on marketing that never attracts a single prospective client for your firm. You need to create messages that emotionally connect with your target clients.
Differentiation – What do you do that’s different than all the other companies in your market? What makes you stand out? What makes you remarkable? Yes, it’s safe to look like the rest of your competition but if you want to attract new leads for your business – you have to look, sound and act differently than your competition.
Tactic Mapping – What tactics do you need to implement to get to your goals? You need to have a broad overview of everything you need to do, when you need to do it so that you meet your new business acquisition goals. You need to have editorial calendars, schedules and detailed plans for each of the multiple tactics in an inbound marketing program.
Budget – How much investment is required? A marketing plan highlights a budget for the year and directly correlates that budget to expected results. Without this, you are just flying blind.
A little more on personas – One of the most important parts of your marketing strategy and plan is the creation of target market personas. Why? If you don’t intimately know who you are marketing to, you will never achieve your lead goals. Personas are more than just demographics. They include as much intelligence on your target market as possible. For instance, what blogs do they read? What email newsletters do they subscribe to? What trade associations or industry magazines do they read? What conferences or trade shows do they attend? What LinkedIn groups are they members of? Who do they follow on Twitter? Knowing these details about your prospects influences almost all of the marketing tactics included in your inbound marketing plan. It impacts the creation of your website, your social media sites, your blogging, email marketing and content creation effort – the more detailed your personas, the better your results.
TIP #2: If you’re not keeping score, you’re just practicing. Establish the number of leads your business needs to meet its new revenue objectives and then track performance against those lead goals daily, weekly and monthly.
A little more on goal setting – What gets measured, get’s done. Marketing has historically suffered from ambiguous goals, like getting your name out there or building your brand. Today, marketing has only one goal: generate leads for your business. But how many leads and in what time frame? Your marketing must be aligned with your business goals. Start with your high level goals. What are your revenue objectives for the year? If you need to add $1 million in incremental revenue to the top line and each new client is worth $10,000, then you need 100 new customers to hit your goals. If you have a 20% close rate on all sales opportunities, now you need 500 sales opportunities. If only 50% of the leads are actual sales opportunities, then you need 1,000 leads over the course of the year. If you don’t know these KPIs (key performance indicators) for your business, then getting to know them should be your first priority. Once you know how many leads you need, now you need to figure out how much website traffic is required to generate 1,000 leads. This is where inbound marketing shines. Each inbound marketing tactic in your strategic marketing plan contributes to website traffic, and overall lead generation. Welcome to marketing in 2013. I hope you see how important marketing strategy is to the performance of an inbound marketing program. Without it, you are virtually driving your car blindfolded.
Yong Kim, The CEO of Wonolo elaborates on the unspoken but known magic formula of success for students pursuing a business career. I don’t blame them as I fell into this same path in my early career. At the time, I recall the utter need and desperation to follow this algorithm, as I believed this was the only path to success.
Yet, if I could do it all over again, I would take a completely different approach. What would I do now? I would get a sales job. In fact, it does not matter what type of sales - insurance, cars, cell phones, cosmetics… I would take any opportunity that would teach me how to prospect, qualify, pitch, close and manage customers. And here is why.
The most important skill in business is sales
If I look at some of the most successful leaders in business, one undeniable common thread they all have is that they are incredibly gifted at selling. They know how to create and share the story with their customers in a way that is difficult to resist. Customers will say, “Wow, I really believe in this person. I want in.”
I am not just talking about selling a product or a service, but selling a vision. Ultimately, you have to get people to buy into you, follow you, and choose to support you. So, you have to sell not only to external customers, but to investors, your internal teams and new hires once you have your own team to lead. Building a strong team culture, with enthusiastic and excited employees requires selling your vision of why the work is important to them and to your customers. So, it’s critical to perfect selling, in all areas.
The most difficult skill to master in business is sales
Sales is not just about closing deals. It involves careful strategy around how to identify and prospect target customers. Then, once you have successfully reached out to key customers and have gotten their attention, it requires thorough preparation of your pitch. What are your customers’ unique pain points and how can you help offer solutions? This courtship may take a few days to weeks, if lucky, but often times, it can take up to many years. After successfully convincing them to trust you and your product/service, your job doesn’t end there. The goal is to maintain a strong relationship, and keep your customers happy for many years to come.
Each part of the sales process presents unique challenges and requires a multitude of skill sets to master. Along the way, you learn how to be mentally strong; being diligent, persistent and patient are core traits of being excellent at sales. So, the earlier you start, the more time you have to learn and master.
The most transferable skill in business is sales
Various researches have estimated that people switch jobs about 7 times in their career. Though the validity of this number has often been argued, one thing is clear; no one will have the same job, same role forever. Case in point: people switch jobs at some point even within the same company. Accordingly, roles and responsibilities associated with new jobs change, requiring a different set of capabilities. Regardless, there is one skill set that is required in any job - effectively communicating with both internal and external members, collaborating across cross functional teams and delivering results. These are fundamental skills naturally trained and developed in sales. In fact, if you look at the background of top executives at successful organizations, many of them started their career in sales and continued to prove their leadership in different roles.
I made my first cold call when I was in my mid thirties and only after I started my own startup. Many long months went by without a single sale, even after making hundreds of cold calls and sending out thousands of emails. I felt hopeless. Even with my MBA degree, prior experience in investment banking and consulting, I could not get a single new customer. It was a very painful truth to swallow - I did not know and had never learned how to sell.
Fast forward several years (and I have gotten better at it), I am still learning. I look back at the many years of missed opportunity to learn the art of selling and wish that I could have started the process much earlier in my career. It’s been some of my most challenging times, but sales has taught me so many things about business in a holistic way. Study your prospective clients, build relationships for the long term, nurture relationships once formed, never give up, etc.
Most importantly, it helped me become a better listener and more empathetic to my customers’ needs. Truly, having to work so hard to get one customer and seeing that that person has made a conscious decision to say yes, to give you a chance, and to choose to spend their resources on you, makes me that much more passionate to serve my customer.
So, if you are debating between Goldman Sachs or McKinsey, think again and get a sales job.
You might be tempted to sit back and relax once your campaign has launched. But in order to understand how your campaign is performing (and how you could potentially improve it) you should monitor key campaign metrics in an analytics tool like Google Analytics.
So, what metrics should you be paying attention to?
Here are the basics:
• Views: how many people have checked out your landing page • Downloads/registrations: how many people lled out your landing page form in
order to download content/register for an event
• New contacts: how many new contacts has the campaign added to your database
• Conversion rate (downloads/registrations): % of landing page visitors who end up downloading content/registering for an event
• Conversion rate (new contacts): % of landing page visitors who download content/ register for an event and become new contacts as a result
• Ensure that your landing page is mobile-optimized (learn more).
• Use target keyword(s) in the page title.
• Keep the URL structure clean. For example: o er.yourwebsite.com/free-marketing-guide = good
o er.yourwebsite.com/id=4673007niner/free-marketing-guide-07-17-15 = bad
• Write a compelling meta description. (Note: this won’t a ect rankings, but it can help encourage searchers to click on your website’s result, so make it count!)
In order to compare the performance of two or more campaigns, establish and stick to a speci c time duration that you can use for all of your measurements.
For example, if one campaign launched last January and another launched last March, comparing their total views, total downloads, etc. would be misleading: the rst one’s had more time to perform. To account for this, simply decide on a timeframe (for example, from a campaign’s launch date to 2 weeks after launch) and use that for every metric you calculate.
Sound a bit complicated? At HubSpot, we’re able to keep tabs on all of our campaign metrics with the help of Google Sheets. Here’s a mock-up of what one of our quarterly campaign performance spreadsheets might look like:
Need to present your ndings to a coworker or third party? Select your data and use Google’s Chart Editor (Edit > Insert > Chart) to create a chart, graph, or other visualization.
Once a campaign has launched and you’ve collected data on its performance, it’ll be time to run a “post-mortem’ meeting with your coworkers and collaborators. You can do this in-person, via Google Hangouts or Gmail, or even in a Google Doc that everyone can update or comment on.
Here are some of the questions you should answer and explore:
• Which sources (organic, paid, social?) drove the most tra c to your campaign’s landing page?
• Which sources drove the most-quali ed (i.e., most likely to convert) tra c?
• Which sources drove the least amount of/least-quali ed tra c?
• If you were able to launch the campaign again, what would you do di erently? What would you do the same?
It’s one of the most exciting moments in the lifecycle of a marketing campaign: the launch.
If you’ve been methodical in your planning and executing (with the help of Google Calendar and Google Drive, among other tools), then the launch of your campaign should go smoothly.
In addition to promoting your campaign externally, be sure to promote it internally as well. At HubSpot, we send out a noti cation email (which anyone at the company can sign up to receive) to let coworkers know when a new campaign has launched.
In addition to providing talking points and links to the campaign’s landing page, be sure to include a link to that Google Drive folder you created with all of those neatly organized promo images. This will make it easier for your coworkers to share the campaign with their networks.
Launching your campaign is an important milestone. But remember, in order to get long-term value out of your e orts, you can’t take a one-and-done approach to promotion.
One of the best ways to get sustained value from a marketing campaign? Search engine optimization (SEO): the practice of improving the ranking and visibility of your website’s pages in organic (unpaid) search engine results.
If the goal of your campaign is lead generation, your campaign’s landing page should be the focus of the majority of your SEO e orts. (You should also spend time optimizing blog posts that link to that landing page.)
Here are some of the most important SEO tasks for your checklist:
• Ensure that your landing page is mobile-optimized (learn more).
• Use target keyword(s) in the page title.
• Keep the URL structure clean. For example: o er.yourwebsite.com/free-marketing-guide = good
o er.yourwebsite.com/id=4673007niner/free-marketing-guide-07-17-15 = bad
• Write a compelling meta description. (Note: this won’t a ect rankings, but it can help encourage searchers to click on your website’s result, so make it count!)
Thinking for the long term, you should also spend some time scheduling social posts for the weeks and months following the launch. Think of new angles or insights you can highlight each time so you’re always sharing something fresh with your audience.
If you’re looking to give your campaign a little boost, you always have the option of purchasing search ads around speci c keywords via Google AdWords. This will allow you to show ads to users who use Google to search for keywords related to the main themes of your campaign.
For best results, create alignment between the keywords you bid on, the copy in your ad, and the copy on your landing page (your landing page is where you should be sending people who click on your ads, FYI). If your ad promises something that your landing page fails to deliver, people who click-through will be likely to bounce; and you could end up losing out on potential leads and customers because of it.
Pro tip: make the Google AdWords Keyword Planner your best friend early in the process. The tool will allow you to see and compare the competitiveness (and cost) of purchasing ads around di erent keywords and keyword variations.
And remember: your search ads will only yield results so long as you continue to pay for them. In the long run, investing in SEO and organic audience-building (e.g., through engaging with people on social media) will have a more positive e ect on your campaign.
Ideas for marketing campaigns can come from a variety of sources. Sometimes, for example, there’s a speci c request from another team, while other times it’s your own research and analysis that leads you to a topic.
Regardless of where your campaign ideas come from, you should store those ideas in an easily accessible location. You and your coworkers should be able to regularly add to and comment on those ideas.
Here’s what to do:
1. First, open Google Drive and create a “master” folder for your campaign where you can store all your campaign assets.
2. Next, create a new spreadsheet. Name it “Marketing Campaign Ideas” or something similar.
3. Create separate columns for the following criteria and label them accordingly: • working title (e.g., “How to Stay Organized”) • format (e.g., ebook, webinar, video) • persona (e.g, Renter Rick, or Buyer Beth)
• goal (e.g. lead gen, page views, social buzz) • notes (where you can explain aspects of your idea in more detail)
Once you’ve nailed down the speci cs of your marketing campaign with the help of Google Sheets, it’ll be time to add that campaign to your team’s campaign launch calendar in Google Calendar.
At HubSpot, we can see all of the launch dates for all of our upcoming campaigns— including the precise times for things like webinars, Twitter chats, and contests—all in one, shared calendar.
For a high-level look at what marketing assets and events are coming down the pipe, this calendar is indispensable.
However, to make sure you—as an individual marketer—are keeping track of your speci c responsibilities for a campaign, you can create personal calendar reminders as well.
For example, if you were creating an ebook, you could create calendar reminders for when the rst draft of the ebook’s copy is due, when the nal draft of the copy is due, when the rst draft of the ebook’s design is due, and so on.
Of course, setting all of the milestone dates and deadlines associated with planning a marketing campaign requires a ton of communication.
Google Hangouts is an easy-to-use solution for hashing out the details of a campaign with your coworkers, even if some of those coworkers are working remotely.
At HubSpot, we use our campaign planning Hangouts to answer questions like...
• Who is responsible for X task? • Does anyone need help with a task? • Does everyone agree with the timeline / nd it reasonable? • Are there any potential roadblocks that could delay launch? • Do we have a backup plan if X doesn’t work out?
At the end of every campaign meeting, we use Gmail to send out a meeting recap, which highlights all of the key takeaways from the meeting as well as what decisions were made.
For complex, multi-channel campaigns (which perhaps include some advertising spend), now would be a good time in the process to create a promotional plan in Google Docs. What should you include in the document? For starters, you can copy and paste all of your meeting recap notes. You’ll also want to answer the following:
The best part about doing this in Google Docs is that you can easily share the planning document with your coworkers and collaborators. And they can either edit the document directly or leave comments to the side. (You can control whether someone is able to view, comment, or edit a document via the share settings.)
Through maintaining this “living” document, you can have ongoing virtual meetings throughout the creation, promotion, and measurement phases of your campaign.
The great part about booking a meeting is meeting someone. Sound familiar? That's because booking a business meeting holds the same rituals we find in our private world when we meet our future life mates. It's all about stages of success. The winning formula
Wix informs readers where they are going wrong when promoting their website!
The Big Bad Blogosphere
A blog is the best place to start interacting with your client base and getting them to interface with your brand. It’s crucial to provide original, authentic and inspiring content that will let your followers get to know you and your brand. Look no further than the Wix Blog, for everything you need to get your blog up and running in no time. In order to get the most SEO bang for your buck, make sure to optimize your blog by writing often and including lots of long tail keywords (longer, specific phrases that describe your site in more detail).
Simple Tips to Win Your Blog
Write. Write Often. Write Lots.
Break Up Text Chunks with Headings
Sprinkle Your Text with Keywords
Give Yourself Some Links
Label Each Post with Categories and Tags
Submit Your Blog to Search Engines and Directories
BONUS! Guest blogging on other relevant sites is one of the best ways to promote your site. Gain street cred with your target audience and drive referral traffic from sites with similar topics as yours and in turn, grow your followers.
N5R.com is pleased to present a four minute film it produced about one of its projects in Rosseau, Ontario called The Rossington.
This investment property sits in the heart of Muskoka
Muskoka is the world's best vacation destination according to National Geographic Magazine
Enjoy the montage of views from the surrounding area, The Rossington exterior, and what awaits the visitor inside
This is just the place a renter from Toronto heading to Muskoka would want, and that's what makes it a brilliant property investment
At 2:13 – It's not only families who go to Muskoka. Hear who else could be interested in renting at The Rossington.
At 2:33 – What can The Rossington offer that its competitors can't, and in a more fun environment?
At 3:14 – You don't need a plane to visit The Rossington if you're from Toronto. Hear how close it is.
Want the whole story on N5R.com, Roman Bodnarchuk, and condo mastery? Give us a call. Before you do, it would save you a lot of time to read The Million Dollar Minute which is currently available on Amazon. Click the testimonial below to get it.
Or are you actually interested in The Rossington itself? In that case, click the preview image below. Of course, getting the book and investing in The Rossington aren't mutually exclusive!
Greater Toronto Realtors reported 5,974 condo apartment sales through the MLS in the first quarter of 2016. The number of transactions represented a 21.2% increase compared to 4,930 transactions reported in Q1 2015.
In the City of Toronto, which accounted for 70% of condo apartment sales in the GTA, sales were up by 20.0%. The average selling price in the City of Toronto was $423,166 up 9.7% from Q1 2015.
The number of new listings in the GTA reported in Q1 was down by 1.7% compared to the same period in 2015.
"It is clear that the demand for condominium apartments more than kept up with the supply of listings in the first quarter of this year. This housing type is an important entry point into home ownership for a lot of GTA households, particularly in the City of Toronto. Recent polling undertaken for TREB by IPSOS suggested that approximately half of home purchases made in the GTA this year would be accounted for by first-time buyers ," said Toronto Real Estate Board Mr. McLean.
The average GTA selling price grew in Q1 up by 8.1% from the same time last year to $393,589.
“While the condominium apartment market segment remains the best supplied in the GTA, market conditions have tightened considerably since the first quarter of 2015. Not surprisingly, the pace of year-over-year price growth has accelerated over the same period of time,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analyses.
Other notable statistics include the average days on the market for Q1 at 31 days. Active listings were 5,245 in Q1-down 15.9% from Q1 2015.
Sellers are looking for market value for their property. I prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA) for all of my Buyer clients prior to submitting an offer to determine the property's market value range
Real estateis very building specific. The numbers as reported above are GTA averages. Results in one building do not indicate that all other buildings are experiencing the same results.
There were 6,458 condominium apartment rental transactions reported through TREB’s MLs system during Q1 2016. This result represented a year-over-year increase of 6.5% compared to Q1 2015.
Tighter market conditions translated into strong average annual rates of rent growth. GTA-wide, average one-bedroom and two-bedroom rents were up by more than the rate of inflation.
The vacancy rate for a condo apartment in the City of Toronto for Q1 2016 was 1.8%.
Toronto's blistering housing market has prompted a 30 per cent jump in residential property values over the last four years, according to the company that assesses real estate in the province.
City homeowners will receive assessment notices — their first since 2012 — from the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. (MPAC) beginning next week showing a 7.5 per cent annual increase in their property values.
That's well above the 4.5 per cent provincial average, but lower than the double-digit increases in some 905-area communities such as Richmond Hill and Markham.
The average assessed value for a single-family detached home in Toronto is $770,000, up about $200,000 on average from the last assessment in 2012. Toronto condo values increased 2.9 per cent on average to $363,000, about $35,000 higher than four years ago.
Although assessments are linked to property taxes, homeowners should not panic about a steep rise in taxes, says MPAC.
"Just because the assessment does increase doesn't necessarily mean that this is going to have an impact on their taxes," said Greg Martino, director of valuation and customer relations MPAC. Municipalities, not MPAC, determine property tax rates.
How much an individual owner pays depends on where their assessment ranks compared to the city average. Owners whose properties are assessed above the 7.5 per cent average will pay more. Those with below-average assessments pay less. In Toronto, virtually every property will be assessed at a higher rate than it was in 2012.
If two properties were assessed at $500,000 in 2012, each would share an equal portion of the city's tax burden. But if they are reassessed and one home remains at $500,000 but the other is now valued at $600,000, the higher valued property now carries a bigger tax responsibility.
"It all depends on how your assessment changed relative to every other property within the area. If you are similar to the average there should be no impact as a result of the reassessment," he said.
Townhouses and semi-detached homes had the highest average annual assessed increases at 9.5 per cent and 9.6 per cent respectively. The typical townhouse or row house in Toronto is valued at $666,000; a semi at $653,000.
The highest residential assessments in Toronto — 12 per cent annually on average — are in the wards of Davenport, Scarborough-Rouge River and Scarborough Centre.
But in Willowdale, Trinity-Spadina and Toronto Centre-Rosedale, overall annual residential assessments were lowest, rising only 2 to 2.5 per cent on average. That's because their assessments were higher relative to other areas of the city in 2012.
Condos are also a factor. Although some of the most expensive real estate in Toronto is downtown, some of the lowest valuations are in the core because the residential landscape is dominated by lower-valued condos rather than single-family homes.
The assessment also depends on what properties sold in a given time frame, said Martino.
"When we're quoting our numbers, we're talking about the entire population, whether it be single-family, detached, condominiums — the whole gamut. If you've got a month where you've got a lot of high-end, single-family detached selling it could be driving up average value,” he said. “This gives you a view of the entire population."
This year's valuations are based on the property's assessed value of Jan. 1, 2016.
"The key question a property owner should ask themselves is, 'If I were to sell my house on Jan. 1, 2016 is this assessed value something that I think I could have reasonably achieved?' If they can answer that question, 'yes,’ then that assessment is accurate," said Martino.
If not, the homeowner can call MPAC or do some research themselves at its website,aboutmyproperty.ca.
A first round of Toronto assessments will be mailed on Friday with the remainder going out on June 1 and 6.
The Toronto increases compare with a Mississauga annual average of 6.8 per cent and Brampton and Barrie averages of 6.6 per cent each. Those assessment notices have already been mailed.
Other 905-area assessments will go out mid- to late June. Preliminary MPAC data shows they range from 7 per cent in Milton and Oakville to 12 per cent in Whitchurch-Stouffville and Richmond Hill.
Top 3 average assessed neighbourhoods:
Average increase since 2012:
11% overall residential
12% single family homes – typical residential home assessed at $839,000
3% condominiums – typical condo assessed at $320,000
Average increase since 2012:
11% overall residential
12% single family homes – typical residential home assessed at $740,000
5% condominiums – typical condo assessed at $268,000
Average increase since 2012:
11% overall residential
11% single family homes – typical residential home assessed at $576,000
4% condominiums – typical condo assessed at $211,000
Lowest 3 average assessed neighbourhoods
Average increase since 2012:
2% overall residential
1% Single family homes – typical residential home assessed at $1.19 million
1% condominiums – typical condo assessed at $398,000
Average increase since 2012:
2% overall residential
10% single family home – typical residential home assessed at $1.38 million
2% condos – typical condo assessed at $412,000
Toronto Centre – Rosedale
Average increase since 2012:
2.5% overall residential
10% single family home – typical residential home assessed at $1.2 million
2% condos – typical condo assessed at $424,000
Average for communities around GTA:
MPAC's website lets property owners compare their assessment to up to 100 other homes.
A redesigned MPAC website will allow owners to get a complete look on the information behind their property valuation and compare their home with up to 100 others in their neighbourhood.
To access the information, homeowners need to type in the roll number and access key clearly listed on their assessment notice.
That enables them to download a complete report with all the information the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. has on file about their home.
"The privacy commission has reviewed and awarded the site," said MPAC chief operating officer Rose McLean.
Those who want their assessment reconsidered by the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. can look at other homes in their neighbourhood to figure out how their own stacks up.
The new website allows users to build a list of "favourites" as they search so they can go back and exam those properties more closely.
One of N5R's key areas of expertise is sales video production. N5R works throughout the world of real estate, and beyond, adding a personal touch to every sales video to represent each client in the best way.
Today, consumers across the US have more powerful computers in their pockets than whole corporations had five or six years ago. We use our pocket-sized computers to click, swipe, search, play... the old phone call functionality almost seems like an afterthought. The funny thing is, phone calls still rule a world of smartphones.
In about a minute of video produced by N5R.com, you can see the top reasons why you should invest in Delhi. New Delhi is the capital of India, a city of 22 million people, where the power and the action is, but the reasons don't stop there. Learn why this vibrant and growing community is the smart choice for a property investor.
Just after your first interaction with your prospect is it critical to add them on all forms of social media. At this point you are still fresh in their minds, so it won’t come across as bothersome, and it will give them a chance to further explore your business. It is through social media that you can express personality, successes and other updates.
Add them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
The opportunities that arise from social media are potentially limitless. Marketing through social media can be a very powerful tool. The more people you connect with and the more times you post you drive up your chances of connecting with new leads. Keeping on top of your social media campaign can help you gain followers leads and brand advocates. You are aiming for the most exposure possible and in turn it will increase your website traffic.
Shopping manuscripts to publishers is no different than trying to do business with a client. Imagine you get into an elevator with an editor, or an agent. You have 30 seconds to sell them your book before the elevator reaches their floor.
Author Jeff Kinney spent eight years writing his first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book only to have it rejected by multiple publishers. Abrams finally gave him a chance and there are now over 115 million Wimpy Kid books in print (not to mention the movies).
N5R.com is so proud to present these two and a half minutes it expertly produced about an exciting project in Owen Sound, Ontario. World class golfing and an amazing view of the beach await at Blue Bay Villas. Through a stunning series of aerial action shots and 3D design concepts, you're introduced to “Blue Bay Villas”, a classy turn-key community by Cobble Beach. CEO and Founder Rob McLeese also makes an appearance, describing the project and some of the standout amenities within walking distance of these villas. Watch closely and it also tells you what you need to know about the target market of this smart property investment.
Almost everyone needs to work on their time management skills. Whole books have been written on the subject, like The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. It's a personal favourite. However, we can start with a few time management tips in one post to begin structuring our day better and getting efficiency out of our sales and marketing teams.
Start Your Day With What's Usually Most Difficult, Yet Most Lucrative