The Traditional Marketing Analytics Buckets


Marketing campaigns have always involved the creation of a message, the insertion of that message into a piece of content and the transmission of that content over a channel to an audience.

And as I wrote in my prior, much-discussed TechCrunch column that discussed how too many marketers in the tech world do not understand basic marketing terminology and practices, that overall process occurs within the strategic frameworks of the five “buckets” within the Promotion Mix (“promotion” is one of the four Ps in product marketing): direct marketing, advertising, sales promotion, personal selling and publicity.

In this lengthy tutorial on integrating traditional and online marketing on Moz, I described how each of these “buckets” has pros and cons, as well as best practices:

When marketers brainstorm campaigns, they typically ask these questions, in this order:

  1. Who is our target audience and what are our goals?

  2. What is the best message for that audience?

  3. 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?

  4. What are the best online and/or offline channels for that strategy to reach that audience?

  5. What marketing collateral and creatives should we create and transmit based on the answers to the prior four questions?

  6. 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 is no “digital marketing” and “traditional marketing.” There is only marketing — just ask Campbell’s, which has now consolidated all offline and online work under the CMO.

Download It's Not the Market, It's Your Marketing 
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4 Sales Funnel Stages Where Prospects Quickly Fall Out Of Love With You

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.

Buyers (and daters) are more empowered by choice and technology—which makes them more skeptical (and picky) than ever before. Over two-thirds of buyers wait longer to contact vendors than they did a few years ago because they’re doing more of their own research.

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…

To present yourself as a safe bet, encourage your customer advocates to write genuine reviews when they’ve reached a certain level of expertise with your product. You can also direct them to discussion threads about your product or industry where they can showcase their knowledge.

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:

  1. Have a way to continually invite and uncover new references so you don’t burn out the handful of customers you always turn to
  2. Make reference requests a volunteer opportunity, and position them as a chance to network with others
  3. 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.

 Download It's Not the Market, It's Your Marketing
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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.

Hold on to your hats, here we go.

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How to Create the Perfect Facebook Page for Your Business: The Complete A to Z Guide

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:

  1. Local business or place
  2. Company, organization, or institution
  3. Brand or product
  4. Artist, band, or public figure
  5. Entertainment
  6. 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 will ask that you reach 25 fans first before you can unlock a custom Facebook URL)

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.

First thing, add a cover photo. The cover photo appears across the top of your page and is a great opportunity to deliver a visual element that supports your branding, draws attention, or elicits emotion from your visitors. 

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.

Therefore, Facebook cover photo dimensions are 851 x 315px, but only the center 563 x 315px portion of the picture appears on mobile.

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.

Keep in mind that visual content does exceedingly well and that Facebook is now ranking Live Video higher in people’s news feeds.

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:

  • Photo/video
  • Text update
  • Links

As mentioned above, posts with photos garner 2.3x more engagement than posts without photos. 

Definitely make visual content a huge part of your Facebook strategy as well as your larger social media marketing plan.

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.

HubSpot collected a ton of research from the folks at CoSchedule and from a variety of sources, including QuickSprout, SurePayroll, The Huffington Post, Buffer, TrackMavenFast Company, andKISSmetrics.

Their takeaway:


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:

You can also gain a huge number of stats and numbers from Facebook Insights.

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.

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Topics: Sales and Marketing, sales, sales leads, Leads, app, real estate, marketing, Roman Badnarchuk, lead generation, Sales Training, N5R Sales Training, marketing agency, Top condo sales trainers

How to Write Good Instagram Captions: 8 Tips for Perfecting Your Copy

8 Tips for Writing Great Instagram Captions

1) Write several drafts first.

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.

But thanks to the impending Instagram feed algorithm change, the level of engagement your posts receive will soon matter more than chronology. Soon, our Instagram feeds will be ordered to show the moments Instagram thinks we'll care about the most. The visibility of your posts in your followers' feeds will depend on the number of Likes and comments a post has, your relationship with the user posting, and other factors.

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.

2) Front-load the important stuff.

The maximum character count for an Instagram caption (2,200 characters) is basically a formality. But the important thing to note is that captions cut off in users' feeds after three to four lines of text.

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.

Pro tip: Use shortened links that include UTM tracking codes so you can see how much of your traffic came from your Instagram page. (Learn how to create UTM codes to track your URLs here.)

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 do have. 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:

Here's another one from Chobani:

If you're experience caption writer's block, the Wall Street Journal's Elizabeth Holmes suggests playing a word association game or brainstorming with a friend.

6) Use emojis.

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.

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Topics: Sales and Marketing, sales, sales leads, Leads, real estate, marketing, Roman Badnarchuk, lead generation, Sales Training, N5R Sales Training, marketing agency, Top condo sales trainers

7 Surprising Benefits of Exercise


1. Exercise is great for your brain.

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.

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Topics: Sales and Marketing, sales, sales leads, Leads, real estate, marketing, Roman Badnarchuk, lead generation, Sales Training, N5R Sales Training, marketing agency, Top condo sales trainers

How to Engage Your Audience Using Digital Advertising


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:

  1. They're something users have chosen to receive.
  2. 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.

On Facebook

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.

On Twitter

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.

  1. Followers: Target your ads based on people who follow certain users.
  2. Keywords: Target people who are tweeting about certain topics.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.

Via LinkedIn

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.

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Topics: Sales and Marketing, sales, sales leads, Leads, real estate, marketing, Roman Badnarchuk, lead generation, Sales Training, N5R Sales Training, marketing agency, Top condo sales trainers



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